Friday, April 28, 2006

Am I Where I Should Be?

I moved to Georgia from Arkansas 2 years ago, 2 1/2 months after my husband and I married. It wasn't an easy decision. I was born and raised there and had never lived anywhere else. Nearly all of my family is there. My kids' dad lives there. This was a big step, especially since my girls did not want to move. Their dad was going to fight me in court, and from the looks of his argument he was willing to do anything, including lying, to keep me from moving. I couldn't afford a court battle. I could barely afford to put food on the table because he refused to pay child support. I had no idea what to do, other than pray.

My husband and I searched for jobs for him in Arkansas. We discussed every possible alternative, including continuing to live separately until the kids were grown. Most marriages end that way - in separation - but maybe if we started out from that end, we could beat the odds against lasting marriage. But I wanted to live with my husband and give my kids an example of a healthy, whole relationship between husband and wife. I wanted them to see first-hand how God expects husbands and wives to treat each other. I wanted to give them a home built in love on the firm foundation of Christ.

I shared my concerns with prayer warriors from my church, and they prayed with me and for me. One night, I dreamt about two women fighting over a child, and the king ordered the child to be cut in half. You've heard the story. The king was Solomon, and in his wisdom, he ruled in favor of the woman who chose to give up her child rather than see him killed. WOW. A ton of bricks. So there was my answer concerning the court battle. "Do not tear the children apart by fighting over them." Plain as day.

But what about moving? We still didn't know which, if either, of us should move. From a financial, logical, pragmatic viewpoint it made more sense for me to move because I hadn't been at my job as long. My husband was well-established in his career, and he had other people depending on him for their jobs. Those were all human concerns, however, and I wanted to follow God's lead.

I hadn't really ever done that before. I had always made decisions first, then asked God to bless them. Sometimes He did, but most often, I found myself wondering if I was anywhere near His will, much less in it. This time, I wanted to be sure. I wanted clarity before I made my decision. So I laid it at His feet.

I prayed, "Lord, You know the desires of my heart. You know I need Your guidance. I'm seeking Your will in this, Father, and if it is Your will that I sell my house and move, please send me a buyer. If it is not Your will, then please, because You know my track-record, Father, keep me from straying. I ask that You place insurmountable obstacles in the path that would lead me out of Your will, and make clear the path that I should take."

I prayed this way many times, then I contacted a realtor. I prayed again, "Lord, please do not send a buyer if this is not the way You would have me go." We listed the house on a Tuesday, and the very next day he had an appointment to show it. They made an offer that evening. Their offer was slightly lower than what I had hoped for, so I countered. They accepted! I was amazed. I was also a little apprehensive. Deals fall through. People change their minds.

Again, I sought intervention from God. "Father, You are awesome and mighty; Your plans are perfect. I don't know what you have in store for me, Lord, but this door just opened before me, and I am prepared to walk through it if that is what You would have me do. If not, I ask that You close it quickly. Slam it in my face if necessary." We set a closing date, and the prospective buyers were incredibly persistent. They kept asking to move the date back. From the time the house was listed until the closing was finalized took less than 30 days. My realtor said he'd never seen a house move that quickly.

This was the beginning of a new way of life for me. I would soon be learning to fully rely on God. For now, this is precisely where I need to be.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Somewhere Between Six and Eleventy Weird Things About Me

OK, I was going to do this list, and I probably will eventually, but I have to admit that there are way more than 6 weird things about me. Seriously. I'm a real piece o' work. I'll have to come back to this one. After I've condensed my list. Yeah. Later.

All right, just for fun, I'll list one:

I'm a BIG time procrastinator. You'd have never guessed that one, would you?

I promise I will come back to this one. Really.
And now, thanks to BooMama for encouraging me to "let my freak flag fly" - (drum roll, please) without further's my list:

1) As I've already mentioned, I can procrastinate like nobody's business. I was born late, and I will be late to my own funeral (hopefully).

2) I have laundry OCD. Read the label, people, or don't touch my laundry. "Machine Wash Warm" means wash it in warm water. "Line Dry" means hang it up. "Tumble Dry Low" means in the dryer on low heat. Etc.

3) There are exceptions to the laundry rules. Learn them and nobody gets hurt. I don't care if my jeans label reads "Tumble Dry Medium" - they're going in the dryer on low. Period. I don't care if my undies label reads "Machine Wash Cold" - they will be washed in warm water. Or else. If there is the remotest possibility of shrinkage, it will either be dried in the dryer on low or hung until only slightly damp then tossed into the dryer on LOW.

4) Laundry OCD applies to my laundry only. If you don't care, I don't care. But since I do care, please do me a favor and don't do my laundry. Unless it's towels (preferably warm), t-shirts (whatever), or socks (whatever).

4) I can't wear lipstick because it chaps my lips. I always, always have chapstick on hand, and on my lips of course. It has to be chapstick moisturizer spf15. Hate cherry. Hate the original stuff.

5) I don't wear makeup. Used to wear it in high school when I didn't need it. Need it now, won't wear it. (I'm a wash'n'go kinda gal.)

6) I like puns and corny jokes. Flatulence jokes, funny. Flatulence, not funny.

7) I am easily amused. When I start laughing, I can't stop, especially in church. Flashback: My daughter and I were visiting a local church, and the pastor's sermon was about the identity of Christ. He said, "he looked like a man..." and we didn't hear another word. One look from her turned my giggle box over, because I knew we were thinking the same thing: The Chinese lady witness character from MadTV whose only English is "he looka lika man."

8) I'm a good cook, but I hate to clean. Therefore, I rarely cook.

9) I'm good at math and can balance my checkbook to the penny, but I'm about 6 months behind.

10) I love thunderstorms. I like to stand outside when it's storming, if there is an awning or covered porch, if not then I'll have the door open.

11) I like peanut butter and syrup on my pancakes, but only butter and syrup on my waffles.

12) I didn't like steak when I was a kid. Until I was grown, I never knew it could be tender.

13) Kraft Mac'n'Cheese, please, if you're making the boxed kind. Homemade is best. With cheddar, not Velveeta.

14) I drink skim milk. I love skim milk. I can't stand whole milk. When I was a kid, I would only drink whole milk.

15) I've never been on a "diet" of any kind. I used to eat whatever I wanted, in moderation, then exercise like crazy. Now I think about exercise and lose my appetite.

16) I love oranges, but I hate to peel them.

17) I don't mind shopping, but I hate to spend money. I can window shop all day and go home empty-handed, yet satisfied. My kids do not understand this.

18) I'm a night owl. I stay up too late every night and look like death-warmed-over in the morning, but I cannot go to bed before midnight.

19) I have a nice singing voice, so I 've been told. I've also been told that I have a nice speaking voice. I enjoy singing, and I've sung solos in church, but I always get so nervous, even my lips quiver. I should be a backup singer.

20) I don't mind being last. As children, when my sisters and I had to take turns, playing a game or whatever, I would volunteer to be last so they could fight over who would be first.

21) This should probably be nearer the top: I met my husband online. Playing Scrabble. We dated long-distance for a year and a half before deciding to marry. After we married, we continued to live separately for 2 1/2 months. Then I moved to his home state.

22) My younger daughter lives with her dad in my home state, 10 hours away. This was not my decision, and I am praying that she will join me and her sister very soon, while there is still time for me to "bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." This will be the topic of another post.

23) I won a spelling bee in the 4th grade. I didn't know it was the real deal (thought it was just a fun way to learn new words), and wound up beating out my 6th-grade sister to represent the school in the area competition. Won area, and was the second one disqualified at district by misspelling "guillotine", which, by the way, I've never had any occasion to have to spell, but have never forgotten since. Flashback: I was sitting in class one day when I got called over the loudspeaker to go see the principal. I nearly wet my pants, and for the life of me I couldn't think what I had done wrong. He met me in the media center to present me with a plaque in front of the whole school (we had open classrooms, which surrounded the media center). Blew my mind.

24) In school, I was usually some teacher's pet. Because I was the quiet one, not because I volunteered. No wonder I was unpopular.

25) I never make plans. I have attempted this feat, but have never been successful. Everything is tentative. I use the word "plan" as in "we're planning to come visit" and "I'm planning a party" but I'm not actually making out a schedule or anything. We'll come visit, but we can not tell you exactly what time we expect to arrive. We can give you a general idea, then we'll call to warn you when we're close (it's a 10-hour drive.) We'll get there when we get there (traffic is unpredictable, you know) and just enjoy hanging out. We do not require that you go out of your way for us, and we'd really prefer that you didn't. Plans spoil the fun. Say you've gone to a lot of trouble to arrange a cookout, and it rains. What then, Miss Had-it-all-planned-out? <--- That's my older sister, and if I did have plans, hers would be better so we'd abandon mine and go with hers. Why bother?

I was just going to ask "Could I be any weirder?" But the answer, sadly, is yes. Actually, I am.

Words of Wisdom from the Spiritually Retarded

Yes, you did read that right. You see, I've been a spiritual toddler for the better part of my adult life, and have only recently begun to experience any growth. I was saved at the age of 14, and I am now 40. Can you say SLOW LEARNER?

Thank God that He is patient. As I mentioned in an earlier post, He's working on me in that particular area.

I've always been fairly laid back, and I don't mind waiting in line, and I don't get stressed out in traffic, so it never occurred to me that I needed any more patience. As a matter of fact, I used to say quite often, "Whatever you do, don't pray for patience, 'cause you'll get it the hard way." And it's true. You know it is. Even when we don't pray for patience, some circumstances require it of us, and our choices are to let it get the better of us or to grin and bear it.

Me? I'd smile and wax all self-righteous (inwardly, of course - I'm no Pharisee!) for remaining calm and "bearing much fruit" in those situations. It's a wonder I didn't dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back like that. (Little did I know that fruit was artificial.) I've had many difficult situations in my life that have brought me to my knees asking for His divine intervention, but you can bet your sweet bananas that I didn't mention the P-word.

Alrighty then, if I'm so patient, what's the problem? Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, right? It says so right there in Galatians 5:22. The problem is the word "Spirit" - the source of the fruit. If it doesn't come from Him, it's artificial. Hmmm. (cue the lightbulb) I didn't ask Him to produce that fruit in me, did I? I had resisted, flat out refused to do so. Now we're getting somewhere.

Another problem is that God doesn't operate according to my time table. Not that I follow a rigid schedule or anything - far from it - but when it comes to waiting on the Lord... well, I'm the one in the back hollering "are we there yet?" every five minutes. I mean, it's enough to make any parent want to administer a big ol' dose of extra-strength backhand. But not God. No. What did He do? He out-waited and out-witted me.

One night before bed, while I was focused on an extremely difficult situation, fervently praying, desperately crying out to Him, He gently reminded me that in all my prayers - faithful and fervent though they had been - there was one thing I had never asked of Him. I winced. What?! Are You saying that this situation may have come about because I refused to ask for that? Oh, please Lord, please, say it isn't so. (If the Almighty has ever rolled His eyes, I'm sure He did just then.) I could only surrender, and as soon as I uttered the word "patience", I was overcome with peace. Amazing.

That situation still has not been resolved, but my Heavenly Father has given me the calm assurance that He's on it, and He will handle it as He sees fit - in His time. I'll just have to wait.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Need prayer?

I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. Our heavenly Father cares about every little thing, more than you might imagine, and He delights in us when we humble ourselves before His throne of grace. Of course He already knows our wants and needs, and they may not be as burdensome as some things that others might be plagued with, but that doesn't mean that He doesn't want to be bothered with them. In Matthew 6: 25-33, Jesus tells us that we are to rely on Him. For everything. Yes, He cares.

If you are reading this right now, rest assured that you are being prayed for, and that you are welcome to leave a request for yourself or for someone you know. You may be as general or as specific as you feel comfortable, just keep in mind that He knows everything, and the rest of us don't need details (especially of a gossipy nature.)

I will be more than happy to lift up your needs and those of others that you might mention.

Also, I would like to hear if you have an answered prayer that you would like to share.

God bless you.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm not a Flybaby...

but I should be. I was reading someone's blog the other day, and she mentioned something about the FlyLady and a 15-minute cleaning routine. This sounded like something I could handle. My girls and I used to watch "The Big Comfy Couch" and we often used the "10-second tidy" method. Surely I could accomplish a whole lot more in 15 minutes than in 10 seconds.

The next day at work as I was describing to a co-worker the condition of my living room, another co-worker said "You need the FlyLady." So I had to check it out. I like her ideas. Very sensible. So why can't I follow her advice?

Because I'm a perfectionist (read: procrastinationist) I can't make myself start something that I know I won't be able to finish. The very first step is to shine your sink. If she meant bathroom sink, then I'd be good to go. However, she meant kitchen sink, and oh the horror! There are more than 15 minutes of dishes to do, but I did get started. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and filled one side of the sink with hot soapy water to soak what wouldn't fit into the first load. Then I wiped down and disinfected the counter. It felt good to accomplish that, but I still couldn't get to the sink to shine it. So I'm thinking I'll have to adapt the FlyLady's methods to allow for longer periods of cleaning. At least until I get my sink shined. Then again, maybe I should just follow the rules.

Where's the lesson in all this? Well, we know that God uses ordinary circumstances to change us in extraordinary ways. He's working on me in so many ways all at once.
One big way is in the area of patience. Another is discernment, and another is prayer. The biggest, though, is time management. (I'm all about R&R, at the expense of all things productive.) So what does He do? He plants a little bug in my ear - namely the FlyLady - not once, but twice in less than 24 hours.

Do you see how He did that? Four lessons all rolled into one:
1) He always answers prayer (I knew this, but I love that He likes to remind me.)
2) He speaks to us through others (I can discern His voice if I pay close attention.)
3) He is patient, therefore I must be patient (don't give up if I don't see immediate results.)
4) He wants me to have more time to spend with Him (I need to get with the program.)

There you have it. Now, I'm off to shine my sink.

God bless your day!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

What Was I Thinking?

It seemed like a good idea, so I started my own blog. Now here I am without a clue as to what to post. Oh sure, thoughts are running rampant through my head, like a pinball, and I've never been any good at pinball. Or sharing my thoughts. Much less journaling.

I guess that's the point, though, really, of doing this. It's time I learned something new. I've reached a turning point in my life, not so much because I turned 40, but because I turned 40 without having anything to show for it - save a few wrinkles and a couple of teenagers. Oh, and tons of laundry. TONS.

My procrastination skills are second to none, except maybe my husband's. I don't know - it's a close race to see who can finish last; not that we're trying to outdo (or outdon't?) each other. We're just so happy to have finally found the perfect match that other stuff doesn't matter much. What a blessing to have a husband who'd rather have me join him on the couch than wait on him hand and foot. (Thank you, God!)

Ok, so I'm off to a decent start. We've got church tomorrow, and I need to wash something to wear.

About Me

I am a saved by grace, married for life mom of 2 teen girls and other-mom of 1 teen girl and 1 tween boy. I'm halfway to 80, mostly crazy, often silly, sometimes serious, mildly boring, but always real. I write to encourage, inspire, and amuse, and I pray that God will bless each of you who read.