Saturday, December 31, 2016

What I'm asking God for in 2017

I love new beginnings!  It's almost a new year, and you know what that means...a new planner! Have I mentioned I'm getting a new planner? And a new journal too...both filled with crisp, bright white blank pages just waiting for ideas and plans and goals and prayers to make their way from my mind and heart onto paper. I love writing, I love everything about it. I don't mind typing out my thoughts like I do on this blog, but there is something about holding paper in my hands, turning actual pages, and writing out my life and thoughts in my own handwriting on sheets of real paper spread out before me. I find it refreshing and inspiring.  I may have mentioned that my 2017 planner is on it's way (I ended up ordering a different one than the one I had last year and wrote about here).  I'm just a wee bit excited about it.

It's New Year's Eve and as I am sitting on the couch reclining next to my husband, half paying attention to the black & white movie he's watching, I am contemplating the new year.  I'm wondering what 2017 has in store for us and praying that it is mostly good things.  I know that if God allows trials into my life, that He will have a purpose in it, and I pray that I remember that when they come.  Even so, I am asking God to bless this year. For myself, my husband, and our kids.  Here is what I'm asking Him for, for all of us...

Deeper Faith
Unconditional Trust
Complete Surrender.

A new year means a chance to start over.  



And for me, this new year means resurrecting old passions that have gone stale, like writing, playing piano, photography, women's ministry, time with friends, believing for good things.  It is surprising to me that I have let these passions fall by the wayside, but what's even more surprising is that I haven't really even missed them.  But there is an emptiness that remains in their absence that is becoming obvious to me now and I'm beginning to long for them again. Especially the believing for good things.  I've gone kind of numb to that. Not cynical exactly, I just haven't been expecting good things to happen and I don't like that feeling.  That's not who I want to be, and it's certainly not who God wants me to be.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

So, it's a great time for a new year to happen!  My hope is renewed and I just know that 2017 is going to be a great year because God is good,  my husband started blogging again, and my new planner will be here in a couple weeks! Cha!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

When your kids are hurting

It's hard.  To see them struggle.  Life is full of struggles, I know, and sometimes they are strung together one after another and one on top of the other even.  That's life...part of it anyway.  I know this, but it's so much easier to accept when it's my struggle...not theirs.  When it's theirs....hoooo, man that's hard.

My 47 year old mind has learned a thing or two.  Such as, don't look at your face in your car mirror on a sunny day.  No matter how tempting it is, don't do it.  All the facial hair and pores the size of won't be able to unsee that.  And also, I have learned that it is in life's struggles that we find growth.  We build strength and learn lessons and (hopefully) learn to turn to God when the things of this world fail us.  I know this, and I want my kids to know this too, but my mamma heart aches to see my babies hurting. Not just disappointed or sad or mad, but really, truly hurting.

That's hard.

I want to hold them and make it better.  Like I could when they were little.  I don't care how big they are, that is still what I want to do. My mamma heart wants so badly to help, to protect them...but not too much. They are teens and adults now and I know that they need to go through things, just as I have gone through things. I don't necessarily want to protect them from all their struggles, even if I could, because in doing so I would cheat them out of the opportunity to learn to fail and try again.  To face rejection and keep going. To be lost enough to look to our Savior to be led.

I've been in all of those places...I've failed, I've been rejected, I've been lost, I've looked in the mirror. Sometimes I handled it well and many times I didn't, but with each trip around those mountains I learned a little - even if what I learned was how NOT to handle things!  I know I can't protect my kids from struggles - I just want to protect them from the really bad ones. The ones that result in broken hearts, heavy burdens, and especially the ones that suck the hope out of them.  But even if I could protect them I don't think they would let me.  Sigh.  That's the thing.  All of my warning and (unsolicited) advice can't change a mind made up. It just ends up pushing away the very ones I am trying to hold close, and I really don't want to make that mistake.  You can only guide someone who is willing to be guided.

And so, it's hard. Parenting babies and toddlers and tweens was a breeze.  Seriously.  I didn't think so at the time, of course, but I see now that things were so much simpler.  I knew what to do (usually) and what I did helped (again, usually).  Now, I too often find myself feeling lost, feeling rejected, and feeling like a failure as a mom because, you know, if I had done things right they wouldn't be going down these paths and needing to learn these hard lessons.  Sigh.

Oh dear.  I thought I was writing about what my kids are going through and learning, but apparently I am writing about me. GAH!

Thunk (head hits table).

Ok fine.  I suppose I should figure out what it is I'm supposed to be learning here.  Maybe it's this...that it's time for me to stop holding on so tightly and let go just a little more. To trust God a lot more.  To stop feeling guilty that I have failed them somehow and that's why they are going through these hard things - and just be there. Even when they tell me to go away (ouch). To offer guidance and love and open arms.  To do what I can, what they will allow me to do, and what God leads me to do.

And wait.

And cover them in prayer.

And trust.

I guess this is another opportunity for me to fail, and try again. To face rejection, and keep going. To be lost enough in this whole "parenting kids who are going through hard things"  to look to my Savior...and let myself be led.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Things I am obsessed with right now, including but not limited to my planner

Vince and I watched our first Hallmark Christmas movie last night and I AM NOW OBSESSED WITH HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES.  It was so good!  Cheesey and sweet and made me think about Christmas and love and cozy blankets and good feels.  Hallmark Christmas movies might now be the only thing I want to watch until January.  Well, except for "This is Us"...which is SO MUCH AWESOME!!!  Oh, and of course, "Criminal Minds".  Ok, fine...also "Married at First Sight" even though the last three seasons have been disappointing and somewhat annoying.  Only the first season was really good (I binge watched the entire first season on Netflix all in one single day, it was that good). but I keep watching each season because I can't NOT watch it.

And in much more exciting news about my life...I have ordered my new 2017 planner!!!  It is important that my people know how obsessed I am with my planner.   I am literally in love with it.  I look at it multiple times a day, and write all my lists and plans and important things in it.  Every year I get super excited when it's time to start looking for one for the next year, which for me starts sometime around August.  I have been on the search for the perfect planner for years now, and it's not easy to find.  Much like the most perfect purse, it is important to find the just right planner.  It has to have a cute font, large squares for every day of the week, including Saturdays and Sundays (why do calendar people think that we have less going on on the weekends?)  Well, after years of searching and trying different ones, last year I found it.  The perfect planner...

They are called "Bloom Daily Planners" and I love everything about them...the fonts, the size, the colors, the layout...everything.  

As I said, I ordered my 2017 one this week and when it comes I will hug it and hold it up to my cheek and sit down and admire it and fill in all the birthdays and anniversaries and anything else I know about for next year.

Pentatonix singing "Jolene" at the CMA Awards this week was pretty awesome.

Now I might need to break out the Christmas music because.......Pentatonix!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Empty Wells

Sometimes I surprise myself.  That can be a good thing, but this time I'm surprised at how long it can take me to learn something that I already know.  

We have a note on our refrigerator.  I made it myself and we've had it on our frig, in one form or another, for years now.

It is the five most important things that I (we) need to do everyday.  Five things to be healthy and live well. Five things. Everyday.

Simple, right?

And yet as simple as it is, it so often eludes me.  All too often I allow myself to get distracted from these five simple things and when I do that for very long I inevitably start to feel overwhelmed and empty.  Thirsty. And that's when I start looking for water in empty wells.

Empty wells like my iPad, my phone, my computer, TV, food...things that I think will fill the void that I feel in the moment.  But they never do.  Not really. 

But the thing is, I know where the water is!  I KNOW.  Jesus sat at a well that must have looked similar to this one.  He sat there and explained to the woman who came there for water, that He was the source of Living Water, the water that we all thirst for...

John 4:13-14

13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. But the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water [satisfying his thirst for God] welling up [continually flowing, bubbling within him] to eternal life.”
I know this.  So why do I keep going to empty wells?  WHY? They distract me for a time, and then they leave me wanting for more.  They don't satisfy. Not for long anyway. They only make me thirstier. 

So, about a week ago I decided to listen to the sign on my frig, specifically, the last one on the list. "Rest". I hadn't been sleeping well for some time which led me to feeling exhausted, which led me to feeling unmotivated, which led me to staying up too late and reaching for something to fill my water bucket.  So, I decided to do two things...go to bed by 10pm, every night, and no technology after going to bed or in the mornings before work.  (Except to play Pandora or read the bible or my book on my Nook app.)  No Facebook, no Fox News, no Wikipedia, no Google. 

No empty wells.

And guess what....I have been sleeping SO much better!  I've been less anxious, better rested.  More present.  I'm not rushing so much in the mornings and usually have time to pack my lunch before work (#3). I'm more focused on praying while I get ready in the mornings instead of checking Facebook (#1), I'm reading my bible before bed (#2), and doing my "not-yoga"  more regularly (#4).

Wow.  I didn't realize until I typed that all out that just making that one change has affected all the other things!  Now, to just keep this going.  That's why it's on my frig, to remind me everyday (because goodness knows that I'm in the frig everyday!)  

I got some confirmation from my son about this recently too.  His phone was damaged several weeks ago, and even though we have insurance on it he was close enough to qualify for an upgrade, which was actually cheaper than paying the insurance deductible and replace his current phone (thanks, rip-off cell phone insurance people).  Anyway, he decided he wanted to wait for the new iPhone 7 Plus which is on back order until November (which he will be paying for 100% himself, btw).  As we were driving the other day, he told me that he has actually felt happier being without his phone.  He is more relaxed, and I have noticed him spending more time with us, talking face to face

Imagine that?!  I'm almost glad that he wrecked his phone!  (Almost.)

So...listening to Pandora this morning and this song came on.  It was just what I needed to hear today.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

I'm tired and some good ideas

I need a do over.  Not a major do over like I have made the wrong choices in life and now I'm going to go all Thelma and Louise.  No, I've just been feeling like in certain areas of my life I'm stuck in a rut, spinning my wheels...

I SO don't want to be that girl that lives my life hearing all the good advice and reading all the books and going through one bible study after another and having all the big ideas and making all the plans.......but never truly making any real, lasting changes.  Consuming but never digesting.  Taking things in, but not applying them to my life.

What in the world am I talking about?

Top on my list is, and has been for a couple decades now...I want to be healthy.  Truly healthy.  Physically. Spiritually.  Financially.  I want to have an organized house that is clean and well maintained.  We aren't hoarders or anything, and our house isn't in complete disarray.  But it could use some help.  I want our home to be warm and inviting and comfortable.  One that I feel good about having people over without notice.  It doesn't have to be perfect, and likely never will be, that's ok with me. I just want it to be the place where our family can't wait to be.  A place that is "come on in" ready so if someone stops by I don't feel embarrassed about the walls that need painting, the windows that need cleaning, and the carpets that need shampooing (replacing, really). Basically I want our home to feel like a coffee shop.  Warm atmosphere, good smells, music...a place where we can relax without all the distractions of things undone.  (And I suppose without all the strangers on their laptops drinking coffee, that would be weird.) (People making mochas for me whenever I wanted, that would be ok).

I know it's totally do-able.  We can do all the things it would take to create our oasis.  We know how to paint and clean and update fixtures and such, and contrary to (my) popular belief, we can make the time. So, what's stopping us?  Well that's where the other areas come into play.  Specifically, my health.  To be brutally honest,  I don't have the energy.  I'm tired.  And I'm tired of being tired.  We've been eating out too much for some time now, so in an effort to be healthier and also in a better place financially, I've been cooking at home more.  It's been great and I've made some yummy new things (don't you just love those "Tasty" videos on Facebook?  I've made a few of those recipes so far and they have all been awesome!).  But it comes at a price...for the past few nights of my home-cooking adventures I have stopped at the grocery store after work for essential ingredients, gone home and got to cooking (with a glass of wine in hand) and really enjoyed the process!  Garlic and onion saute'd in olive oil and butter smells like heaven.  But by the time we ate and cleaned up it was literally 8pm.  And after a poor night's sleep the night before, which has unfortunately become a regular thing for me lately, I have no more energy to do anything around the house.  Combined with running into town, or waiting in town to pick up the kids from their highschooly things, we get to bed too late most nights and by the time the weekend hits, we just want to relax, or get away, or both.


I need a plan.  I know that the first step to accomplish any goal is to make a plan.

Well, the thing is I have made the plans.  I have read the books and the blogs, and coveted friends and Pinterest strangers who seem to have it together better than I do.  And I have repeated my mantra that "every choice, every step, every bite, every hour and every dollar counts".  I have believed this and committed myself to living this way...over and over...and then before I know it I find myself in my recliner scrolling through Facebook and eating Ben &  Jerry's out of the carton.

I find myself if I didn't put myself there.

It's all about choices.  I know this.  But I think if I just wasn't so tired I would make better choices.  So that is where I need to start I guess...make myself not so tired.  Which brings me back to my health.  It seems to always come back to my health.

Funny that.


I think my plan needs to include doing some prep work on the weekends so that my weeks aren't so overwhelming and exhausting.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  Ok.

Good idea #1.  Get grocery shopping done on the weekends and plan (healthy) meals ahead of time so I'm not stopping at the grocery store after work. (Or just saying "screw it" and getting takeout).

Good idea #2.  Make myself start getting ready for bed by 9pm.  I always sleep better if I get to bed earlier.

Good idea #3.  Exercise.  That seems to be the tough thing to work into my days.  Partly because my days are so packed with other things, and also because I don't want to.  But I need to get over myself and make the time.  And do my "Not-Yoga" routine in the evenings (it's like Yoga, but not Yoga because I don't do Yoga), and also walking the dog and doing my elliptical at least a few times a week.  I can do these things.

Good idea #4.  Be consistent in taking my Plexus supplements...a post for another day, but this I have discovered is HUGE in improving and maintaining my health and energy.  (But I have to cooperate with the healthy eating and exercise and rest, it's not a magic pill).  (Wouldn't it be nice if there was a magic pill?) (Sigh).

Good idea #5.  Hire someone to do some cleaning and painting in our house.  Seriously.  I'll have to talk to Vince about that one.

Good idea #6.  Pray about all of this and rely on God's help, every day.  Because I can't do this on my own.


That, kids, is how I make a plan!  Which, as I have already said, I have done many times before...but the thing about making plans is that you apparently have to DO the plans in order for them to work.

Funny that.

I'll let you know how this one goes.  Prayers welcome.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's about time we talk about my driving

I'm a bit of a distracted driver.  Oh, I keep my eyes on the road and I don't run into things, and I NEVER text while driving.  But I do miss turns and take wrong streets, and as I like to say, take "interesting" routes to get places.  The people in my circles know this about me...the ones in my close circles anyway (aka anyone who has actually ridden in a vehicle with me ever).  They like to say "Where are you going, hon?"  Or "mom...Mom...MOM!"  Or just sit there politely wondering what's wrong with me.

Like the other day when I was taking Hope downtown and we ended up in Wisconsin.

But I always get us where we need to be, yes I do.  This interesting way that I like to drive was easier to pull off before my kids were old enough to know where we were going...when they weren't really paying attention to all the turns and kept themselves occupied with other things. Things other than the turns we were making or the scenery out the windows.  Things like iPods and arguing.

But now that our youngest two have their driver's permits, it's a whole new game.  They pay attention to everything now and so does my husband, by the way.  This he has always done.  He is a silent road rager...I mean "driving expert"...and he makes comments in the car about other drivers (most of whom don't know how to drive and are in his way).  He can spot someone three cars ahead of us who doesn't use their blinker and will be all "oh nice, yea let's ALL not use our blinkers I mean really the rest of us don't need to know where you are going.  Wow. Have fun in driving school." This I don't understand. I keep saying to him "why do you care about that?  It doesn't affect us at all." And I shake my head with superiority, because I don't freak out over such things. Even when something major happens, like someone cuts us off and nearly causes an accident, I might say "oopsie, that was close" while Vince has a mini stroke.


As I mentioned, our youngest two have their permits now.  Which means that in less than a year they will both have their licenses and their own cars and won't need us to drive them around anymore.


This is both cause for happy dances and sadness for me, because I actually do enjoy our car time.  I drive them to school everyday and pick them up most days too, and our car time is often when we have the best talks and laughs.  We connect and talk about our days and have each other's full attention (which may have something to do with the interesting routes I take). And we listen to music together - hello Sirius Radio my new best friend!  We listen to real music on stations like The Blend, Y2Country, Classics Rewind, 80's on 8, 70's on 7, and HAIR NATION!!  Cha!  Sometimes I let them choose but usually not.  Mama's car, Mama's choice.  And there are so many teachable moments, I mean how can we call ourselves parents if we don't teach our kids about Kansas and Elton John and Queen and Billy Joel and Guns N' Roses and Cyndi Lauper???  I mean honestly.  If our kids launch without knowing the words to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Sweet Child o' Mine" then we have failed as 80's parents.  That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just for a night

When your 19 year old son calls you at 11:45pm on a Sunday night because he needs to talk to you, you pick up and shut up about the lateness of the hour.  You listen and rejoice inside because your baby-turned-man-overnight still needs you.

Nicolas has always been the kind of kid that will talk about something when he is ready.  Not before, and not after.  If I would have picked up the phone and said "Son, it's late and I have to get up for work in the morning and can I call you about this tomorrow?", he would have said "fine" but then tomorrow would come and he would have told me "never mind, I figured it out."

And I would have missed the opportunity to be there for him.

Those times seem to be fewer and farther between these days.  He is out of the house, living on his own, going to college, serving in the army and paying his own bills.  He's the third of our six to fly the coop, so we have had some practice at this already...but this is my firstborn and even though I knew this day would come, I never really imagined this day actually coming...

...not when my kids were little anyway.  When they needed me all the time, it was easier to be their mom. I saw them everyday and knew who they were with and what they were doing and if they were eating/sleeping/happy/sad/mad/scared/safe.  During those years, I don't think I would have described it as easier.  But what I am realizing now is that while parenting gets less exhausting physically, I think emotionally it gets harder.  At least it does for me.  As they get older and more independent it gets scarier and as they leave the safety of solid ground and wade into deeper waters, I find myself standing on the shore longing for the days when I could keep them close.  They don't want to hear me yell warnings to watch out for sharks, or to wear a life jacket, or not get caught up in the currents.  They want to go their own way, charter their own course, face the dangers and navigate the waves on their own.

Yet, as I was reminded by a phone call at 11:45pm on a Sunday night, they do still want to know that they have a lighthouse waiting for them on the shore.  One that will always be there, shining a light to guide them home.  To provide for them a hot meal and a warm bed and a reprieve from the harsh reality of the sea, even just for a night.  And then, just for a night, I get to cherish being needed.  I get to be mom. Not that I want our kids to remain dependent on us forever, that doesn't prepare them for life and it's not loving. I know that.  But I'm still learning to balance the holding on and the letting go.  It's a process...a journey that I think I will be on for a while.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Heroes, another edition of "perfect purse awesomeness", and being in a funk

Husbands who get up at 4am to kill spiders, with nary a complaint, score BIG POINTS with their wives!!!

I don't like spiders, but I can usually handle grabbing them with a kleenex and flushing them down the toilet. However, when they are big, black, gross baby tarantulas, then I'm out.  (That is not in my job description, and is one of the reasons I got married).  The intruder was in my bathroom sink and as creeped out as I was, I did not take my eyes off it while Mr. W was waking up and putting on his cape to come to my rescue, because if the thing would have scurried off somewhere and escaped I would have had to move out.  Mr. W took care of it without batting an eye (or even sighing at me) and went back to sleep.  As did I, however my torment continued in my dreams, where the spider's MOTHER, which was as big as my hand, was crawling around on our carpet and I was throwing all kinds of stuff at it to try and kill it.  Mr.  W was not available in my dream, but my son Kyle was sitting in a chair calmly watching my antics as I freaked out about the mother spider.  (That's totally something he would do by the way - he obviously gets his calm demeanor from his dads.)  I don't know if I killed it tho, because all of a sudden my dream diverted to me trying to use our kitchen sink and discovering that the faucet had shot out through the roof of our house like a rocket and got stuck on top of some phone lines above our house. I'm not even going to try to analyze what that means, but it distracted me from the spiders so that's fine with me.


I've been in sort of a funk lately.  I'm not sure why, nothing bad has happened, in fact some really good things have happened.

Like, I got a new purse.

I have been using it for exactly two days and already have decided it meets my standard for "perfect purse awesomeness".  It's been a while since I had one that met my stringent criteria   (you can see previous winners here and here and here), so I'm pretty stoked.  Here is how my new purse stacks up to the criteria:

1) It has to be real leather. Or a fake material that I happen to think is real leather.  This one might actually be real leather.  I mean I got it at Nordstroms so there's a chance.  It's soft and has that wrinkled leather look and feel that I love. Good 'nuff for me.

2) It has to have a short handle.  Check.  It's short enough to carry around like a grandma, yet long enough to fling over my elbow, and over my shoulder if I am in the mood to be annoyed by it falling off 8 times before I resorting to my other two carrying options.

3) It has to have separate pockets for my cell phone and lip stuff on the outside of the purse.  Check.  This has one large pocket on the outside of the purse, which is perfect for my phone and lip stuff.  Score!

4) It absolutely cannot have any sequins or tassels or unnecessary gaudy embellishments.  Check.  Not even a buckle on this baby.

5) It has to be able to zip shut. Well, here is where we deviate a bit from the criteria.  It doesn't zip.  It has one magnetic snap, tho.  We'll see how this goes.

6) It has to have at least two big separate sections - one for my wallet and notes, the other for all my crap important stuff that I don't leave home without - which now includes my planner, iPad, notebooks, and sometimes my lunch.  Another deviation:  this one has just one large compartment.  It's more of a bag than a purse, but that's ok. I have a bag obsession too so a purse-bag is a winner on all fronts.

Another good thing that happened this week is that Vince and I purchased our first vehicle together.  We have had the same two vehicles since the summer we first met, which was dark grey Pontiac Grand Prix and his bright red Kia Sedona.  They have both been great vehicles, but the van is approaching 200k miles and after sinking a few thousand dollars into it this year already, when the "check engine" light came on last week and I was told  it would cost $94 JUST TO FIND OUT what was wrong (and me having a subsequent snit about it) we decided that it was time for "Suzanne the Van" to go buh-bye.  Hope named her that, by the way.  She really wanted us to let her have it as her first vehicle, and we considered it, but now we just want Suzanne to find a new home before she overstays her welcome (and we go broke).

Back to my funk.  I get into them from time to time, and every time I do it is usually because of one of two things...either something is bothering me that I am not aware of yet, or I have not been spending time with God. And sometimes both.  I can say in all honesty right now that the latter is true.

I have a prayer table at home that I have set up in our office.

It is an antique table that belonged to my Grandma, and has a matching chair and magazine rack which are on either side of it.  Mom told me that Grandma and Grampa bought this set early in their marriage, which would have been in the 1930's.  I love the idea of this being my prayer table.  I have no doubt that my Grandma prayed at this table, and most likely my Mom did too.  There is a legacy of faith in my family that I am so grateful for...there is power in generations of women who love the Lord.  Power in prayer.  And I can imagine the prayers and tears of the wives and mothers and grandmothers who sat at this table...moving Heaven to intercede for our husbands, children, grandchildren, and friends...for generations. The bible says that our prayers are like incense, rising up to Heaven, and God hears every one.

"May my prayer be set before You as incense, the raising of my hands as the evening offering." - Psalm142:1

I can imagine all the prayers that have been offered at that tear soaked prayers...rising up as a fragrant offering to God. Carrying with them the echo of the prayers of my mother and grandmother.  He receives them, breathes them in, allowing them to mix with His wisdom and love and grace.  And in His timing, He breathes out His a cloud of smoke that descends on me as I sit at the table. Desperate to believe and trust that His answers to my prayers will line up with His promises.

I have not been spending enough time at my prayer table lately.  When I go too long without being in the Word and in prayer, well, that is funk material right there.  Things in life start to bother me, I begin to feel "off" and am tempted to fill the void with all kinds of things to distract me (social media, news, shopping, and of course, food.)  I start sleeping less, get more tired during the day, and then want something to make me feel better...and the cycle continues until I find myself here, blogging in a coffee shop figuring it all out.

It's not a bad place to be, in fact it's good therapy for me and helps me clear my cluttered mind and get back to what's important in life.  Like purses and prayer.  And green tea lemonade.  With a splash of raspberry.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Things that give me anxiety that probably don't bother normal people

I have issues with anxiety.  So, it's kind of funny how I get told, quite often actually, how calm I am.  I mean, I guess I can see it.  I don't tend to get riled up about stuff very often - not in certain situations anyway.  Like at work, I am told frequently that I have a calming effect on people.  I suppose that's a good thing since I'm a social worker.   I can't explain why, except to give God ALL the credit, but I am generally not uncomfortable in emotionally charged situations.  Someone is sad or grieving?  I'm on my way. Someone is angry, furious even?  I'm on it. Confused? Agitated? Unreasonable? Show me the way.  I will be on a mission to make things better.  I love the opportunity to diffuse, comfort, bring clarity and healing.  In every job I've ever had, the most challenging people are my favorites.

But then there's the fact that I am also crazy.  I mean, my family and some lucky friends know all about my crazy, but I am usually able to conceal it well enough from the rest of the people in my circles.  Where things are a little less transparent.  Where it's kind of a necessity to keep a lid on the crazy and maintain some assemblance of normal.  Like at work, and at church, and well, in public - it's kind of important not to FREAK THE CRAP OUT.  But there are some situations that get me rattled and anxious that probably don't bother normal people.

1.  Small talk.  We just met five seconds ago and you want to talk about something deep and personal? Well pull up a chair, my good friend, I'm all about that.  Let's get some coffee and bear our souls.  But saying "hi" and "how are you" and trying to figure out something superficial to talk about makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.  I never know how to answer the "how are you" question.  I don't like to be fake, I much prefer real and transparent.  But if I don't know you very well then I am not quite sure if you are just being polite, or if you really want to know that I'm a little crabby because I got into an argument with my husband/child/dog this morning and have a headache and a raging case of pms. Is that what you want?  Or will you look at me like "Heh, um ok. Well, nice to see you (wow, TMI much?)"

2.  Running into people I know while shopping.  Uh boy, here we are - carts approaching. Should I stop my cart to chat or will we do a drive by hello?  What if I stop and you don't want to, but feel obligated to stop because I do?  And then we will be in a full on small talk situation.  And if we do stop, how long will we talk? Am I blocking an aisle and people are getting mad at me?  GAH!  This has nothing to do with whether I like you or not.  I probably really do, and in another situation I would love to chat a while, but when I am shopping I am on a mission and I just want to get in and out of there as quick as possible and if I see you I might skip two whole aisles just to avoid the awkward grocery store greeting scenario.

3.  Sitting in back seats of cars.  This is a claustrophobia thing as well as a motion sickness thing.  If it is a large vehicle with a roomy back seat and I have the whole back seat to myself and some Dramamine in my veins, I will probably be ok.  But put me in the middle between two other people in a cramped back seat and I will go into full freak out mode.  This also applies to buses.  I just can't do it.  No way, no how.

4.  Being in a crowded room.  It doesn't even have to be like shoulder to shoulder crowded, it can be a spacious banquet room, but even then I could not sit at a table in the middle of the room.  I would have to sit in the back, or along the side where there is easy access to an exit.  This stems from my social phobia as a child.  First days of school were so stressful for me because teachers made seating charts and I didn't know where I would have to sit.  What if I had to go to the bathroom or vomit or something and I was sitting in the middle of the room and had to get up in front of everyone?  I was much better in high school when teachers started letting us pick our own seats.  I would always strategically place myself closest to the door.  I still do that to this day if I go to a workshop or church or any other type of gathering.

5.  Having to introduce myself in a meeting.  I can lead worship at my church or give a presentation at work, but when we have to "go around and introduce yourself" all the blood drains from my brain and I suddenly can't remember my name.  I have even been known to write my name down on my notepad in front of me in case when it's my turn I freeze.  Seriously.

6.  Paying at the pump.  This has to do with my (I know it's irrational) fear of getting arrested and going to jail because I did something illegal and didn't realize it.  This is not new for me, it's been a (irrational) fear of mine for my entire adult life.  I am a rule follower.  I don't even speed (ok, maybe four miles over). I wear my seatbelt, even if I'm only driving a block away.  I put my cart back.  And I don't park in the spots designated for "senior shoppers".  Ever.  So I am always a bit anxious paying at the pump with my debit card because what if my card doesn't work and I drive away without paying for my gas and an hour later a cop shows up at my house to arrest me?  Accidently shoplifting, having someone stash drugs in my car, or running over a pedestrian are also ideas that freak me out because they could land me in the slammer.   Or, I suppose, the psych ward would be a bit more realistic.

7.  Walking out of a store without buying anything.  This also stems from anxiety #6.  As I said before, when I shop I like to get in, get my stuff, and get out.  I do not enjoy leisurely pushing a cart around without a purpose anymore.  So if I happen to go into a store for one thing, and they don't have it, I will leave and I always feel like all the employees' eyes are on me walking out of the store without going through the checkout line, and as I take those first few steps out the door and onto the parking lot, part of me (the crazy part) waits to see if alarms will go off and I will be tackled by the Target security guy for shoplifting nothing.

8.  Taking the first item off the shelf.  Ok, this one sort of borders on OCD.  I don't buy the first item in the row.  I might pick it up and look at it, but if I decide to buy it I will grab the second one in line and put the first one back.  There are a couple reasons for this.  The first item was handled most by other shoppers and probably dropped.  Or wrinkled.  Or sneezed on.  If I am going to spend my money on something I want it to be in mint condition and booger free.  Also if it is a grocery store item in the refrigerator section, I have this thing that the stuff in the front row is not as cold as the stuff behind.  That probably isn't true, but it is a thing for me.  And everyone knows they put the newer stuff with the later expiration dates in the back. So I will always reach in the back for the coldest, freshest stuff.  Because I have a thing with expiration dates too.

I'm sure I could come up with more, but that is probably enough neurosis for one blog post!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Not My Blog: Classics Edition

Here are some of my all-time favorite posts by other bloggers.  These are just golden.  I'll probably keep adding to this as I discover more gems.  This is mostly a reference for myself, so I don't have to rack my brain trying to find "that one favorite post" that I really want to read again.

15 Minute Lunch:  Strap in, shut up and hold on. We're Going Back.

Stuff Christians Like:  Lists (this is where you can find links to all 500 of his posts - so much funny!)

Stuff Christians Like: The Prayer Grunt of Affirmation

Stuff Christians Like: The Jesus Juke

Stuff Christians Like: Forgetting that you are famous

Jen Hatmaker:  Worst End of School Year Mom Ever

Jen Hatmaker:  Worst End of Summer Mom Ever: A Sequel

Jen Hatmaker: A Fake Film Crew, Armpit Paste, and Beer: A Day in the Life

Jen Hatmaker: Quirky

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not My Blog: Turtle Edition

So I am getting ready for bed and just took a peak at Ann Voskamp's blog "A Holy Experience", and read her last entry from a couple days ago.  I swear I didn't read it before writing my last post!  Sometimes God leads me to the just right thing (book, blog post) at the just right time when I need it most. To continue to lead me through the journey of growing that He has me on. That is what this is...perfectly timed with the just right message, all wrapped up in adorable baby turtles.  God loves me so much!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sort of finishing a book, learning to let go of fear, and getting out of the way

So I just finished this book, sort of....

It's by the same author who wrote "Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs", which is one of my favorite books on marriage - as I have already blogged about.  And what I mean by "sort of" finished reading, is that I didn't actually read all the pages in the book. After about the 4th chapter I started skipping and skimming and I'm pretty sure what the author took 254 pages to write could have been adequately done in about 62 pages.  That's why I didn't finish the whole thing.  He just kept going on and on belaboring the same points...which I may or may not do myself on occasion, but this isn't about me.

As you can imagine from the title, it is a book about mothers and sons, and how respect is the key to winning their hearts.  Much like "Love and Respect" is about spouses building their relationship on the concepts of wives respecting their husbands, and husbands loving their wives because the greatest need for women is to be loved, and the greatest need for men is to be respected.  This book builds on the concept that boys...being men in the making...need to feel respected in order to feel loved.  Respecting my husband, I get that (I'm still working on it, but as a concept I get it). It's a little more complicated when it's a mother and son.  It's kind of a balance that needs to do you respect your child yet remain in a position of authority over him?  What does that look like?  The author does a great job of showing how a mom can respect her son as she corrects him, guides him, disciplines him, and all the while honoring his God-given need for respect.  And that goes beyond just our relationships with our boys.  We mom's really are teaching our sons how they can expect to be treated by their future wives.  Now there's a thought.

And here's another thought:  fear.  Much of my life has been effected by and sometimes controlled by fear, and the book addresses that too. This is an area that God has been working out in me for some time now...most intensely in the past couple of years. Probably because I am finally ready for the healing.  One of the biggest areas of fear for me has been in my parenting.  To one degree or another, I have always struggled with fear that something bad will happen to my kids.  Fear that they will make bad choices or turn from God, or drift away from me.  Fear that although my love for my kids is immeasurable, I will screw it up somehow. They will not know how loved they are and I will fail them.

Fear...the thing that has motivated me so often to hover and protect and react and control and also the very thing that causes me to stumble.  The. Very. Thing.  Fear...not the things I am afraid of...but the ACTUAL FEAR is my greatest enemy.  I recently had a light bulb moment during prayer, where God revealed to me that by holding on to fears I feel like I can control them.  But in reality, by holding onto fear it is fear that is controlling me.  Mind blow.

Here is where the book gets real for me, where the words on the page spoke so loudly to me I had to bookmark and highlight it and read it over and over.  (I really could have stopped reading the book at this point, but I pushed on for a couple dozen more pages.)

"I can say this with certainty: when fear controls a mother, she seeks to control.  In controlling her son from that which could harm him physically or hurt her emotionally, she feels less fear.  Control reduces her anxiety and insecurity."  But as the author points out a few paragraphs later, this type of overprotective and controlling mothering can result in a son feeling disrespected and pulling away from her - the very thing I fear most.  "She does not see him as the conqueror, protector, provider, authority, strong one, problem solver".  And that has an effect on a son's spirit.  By not honoring and encouraging who God designed him to be, a son pushes back.  Even rebels.

If I could recall all the times my boys have said "you don't trust me", or "just let me do it my way", or "stop treating me like a little kid"...I bet in the moment I thought I was loving them by helping and protecting and instructing.  But what they were actually receiving from this was my unintended message that they were not conquerors, not competent problem solvers...not worthy of my respect.  It is no surprise that they pull away from me and act less loving when that happens.

So now what?  How am I going to use this information from this book that I sort of read, and apply it to my relationships with our sons?  First of all I need to stop the temptation to beat myself up over not getting this sooner.  I do that to myself a lot.  But as Maya Angelou would say, now that I know better I will do better.   I will remember not to yell (yes, I admit I yell sometimes), but it is so our daughters as well as our sons.  I will affirm their need to feel respected, as well as their need to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and their competence.  I will trust them more and hover less (it's a process).  I will instruct a little less, and allow them to try on their own more - and fail sometimes, even when I see it coming.  Life is sometimes the best teacher, and even better than that - the Holy Spirit is THE best teacher of all.  Sometimes I just need to shut my yapper and get out of His way.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Even tho we are only halfway done, this is one of the best things we have done for our marriage!

A few months ago, my sister-in-law Donna (yes I have TWO Donna's - my sister and my sister-in-law and let me tell you, it's a happy day for me when I get to be with BOTH my Donna's at the same time :) Anyway, it was my sister-in-law Donna who told me about these two books that she and her husband Dave (I only have one Dave and trust me, that is enough) had been reading and how profoundly they were impacting their relationship.  So, because of their testimony I did what any sane wife would do...I got myself on Amazon Prime, immediately ordered the books, and announced to my husband that the books would be here in two days and guess what we were going to do.  (Ok, I was a little more gentle than that...I did actually ask him.) I'm not exactly sure what happened first, my announcement or my ordering, but either way Vince was on board with it, so it was all good.

So this is what we did.  First, Vince read "For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men". He hi-lighted and wrote notes about the things in the book that spoke to him, things that he really wanted me to understand.  Things like how important respect is to a man, how most of them deal with unspoken insecurities on a daily basis, how they need time to process before they can talk about issues (this drives us crazy!), and of course - how important sex is to them (our kids are gagging and sputtering and dying right about now).  And while he was reading that book, I read "For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women".  The author explained so well our need to feel loved, how we process emotions, how we need to feel beautiful to our men, and probably most profound - our need for emotional security in a relationship.  I hi-lighted and underlined and wrote notes in the margins like a maniac - complete with lots of stars and exclamation points and smiley faces and hearts (I'm much more obnoxious about my book reading than he is, as I'm very sure you can imagine).  Once we were all done - we switched books. Now I am reading "For Women Only" and he is reading "For Men Only" and we are only halfway through them but already we have gained tons of insights into how each other works!  I think we were doing pretty good in that department already.  I am blessed with a man who knows how to talk about his feelings, and knows how to understand mine.  Sometimes when I don't even understand them myself.  But still, like every relationship we have our challenge areas and these books are helping us grow...together.  As we've been reading, we are asking each other questions and talking about the things each other has hi-lighted and written, and let me tell you, light bulbs have been turning on for both of us.  Things we have misunderstood about each other are becoming clearer. We aren't there's a process, one that takes a lifetime I suppose!  But I am so grateful for where we are already.

Here are some other books that we have read on the topic of marriage that have been awesome and I highly recommend:

Sunday, July 03, 2016


I am reading in Ecclesiastes this morning...not a book I have spent much time in, but for some reason I found myself there today.  It is fitting, since it talks about the "riches" we accumulate in life, as we have just divided up Mom's belongings among her kids and grandkids.  Mom's treasures...her many dish collections, her angels, nativity sets, crystal serving bowls, handmade doilies and bookmarks, and jewelry holders.  She loved things shiny and pretty and "rich" looking, even if it came from the Dollar Store.  I think if she could have been born in another era, it would have been in the early 1900's in England,  like Downton Abbey.  Her and the Dowager would have either loved or hated each other, but I have a feeling they would have found each other amusing.   It wasn't just about the material things for Mom though, I know that.  Her most treasured possessions were things that she had gotten from others...her great grandmother's platter, her grandmother's bible, her mom's teacup sets, and things that us kids and grandkids gave her.  I found many letters and drawings and cards given to her over the years...all saved and kept in perfect condition.

It has been a weird feeling to see all the "things" that are left over from Mom's life.  All in boxes now, waiting to be distributed to their new homes.  Memories of Mom and the things she liked and held precious.   She used to want to ask me what things I wanted when she died...she has been doing this since her 40's and I used to think it was morbid, or obsessive or something.  Now I realize that it probably became important to her when her own mother died.  Mom would be happy to know that most of the things she had in her hutches are now going to the homes of those who love her, and will hold onto these things because they were hers...a little piece of her to remember and treasure.

But when I read in Ecclesiastes this morning, at our table with my coffee and my husband, I wonder what Mom thinks of her things now?  Are they still important, or is she hoping we will see past them to what is truly important in life...knowing God and following the path that He has set before each of us?  Loving each other and spending time together, so much more important than having pretty things in a hutch to look at.  I think one can have both, as long as we keep things in perspective.  As Joyce Meyer said once, it is ok to have nice things as long as they don't have you.

For me, like my mom and grandma, it is the things that others have given me that mean the most.  Without a doubt. Everything else can be replaced.  But these things should never become idols, and neither should the ones who gave them to me.  I am guilty of both, but I think God is teaching me at this season of life that He wants to be the greatest treasure of my heart.  The greatest love of my life.  My purpose is not to accumulate more things, or make more money, or worship the people or places on this earth.  My purpose is to know and love the Creator of all things, the Sustainer of life, the One who gives meaning and purpose to this world and everything in it.  He gives us a love of beauty, both in nature and in things created, because it is one of His own qualities and helps us find enjoyment in this life.  But He also gives us a void that cannot be filled by the things and people of this world...because He wants us to come to Him and realize that He is the only One who truly satisfies the longing of our hearts.

Matthew 6:17-19

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Saturday "Date Day"

Today has been amazing!  Mr. W planned a Saturday date for us today to celebrate our 8th anniversary - we LOVE our Saturday dates, and this one I think has been one of my favorites.

First, we slept in.  No alarm, no people or dogs waking us up, so the day started out nice just because of that.  I have been exhausted for the past probably two months...ever since moving Mom and Curt to Winona in early May, and then Mom being in the hospital for 3 weeks until she finally left us, and by finally I mean it was totally unexpected in the big picture of things.  I'm having all kinds of feelings about it, but that is a post for another day.  Right now, I want to focus on today and how wonderful and relaxing it has been!

Once we got done with our showers and Vince got home from the post office with my mother in a box and I got done crying about it (also a post for another day), we left for one of our favorite local destinations...Cabin Coffee in St. Charles.  Best coffee evah!!  My husband and I sat on the log furniture, ate our breakfast, sipped our coffee and talked.  It was very sweet and rush to be somewhere, and no guilt about not doing something for someone else.  I finally began to feel normal again.

After that, we were off to make a couple stops in Winona and then on to the main destination of the day...Elmaro Winery!  It's been around for a couple years and we've heard so many awesome things about it.  Today was the first time we went and it...was...fantastical!!!  As we drove the country road that led to the vineyard, we both commented about how it reminded us of Door County...the trees lining the county road, and the beautiful homes and landscaping tucked away behind them.  I felt myself relax already.  Vince had pre-arranged a picnic basket for us, which we enjoyed on the patio.  The view was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and live music from a couple playing guitar and djimba added to the ambience.  We enjoyed a bottle of wine, some sausage and cheeses, and each other.  It was a little slice of paradise on earth.

I think we could go to this place every weekend and never get tired of it.  After our picnic we went to the wine tasting tent - something we have come to LOVE to do together.  There was not one single wine that we tried that we didn't wine tasting experience to date, and that's saying a lot because we have probably been to a dozen other wineries between here and Door County.  And to make the experience even better...THIS girl was our wine expert :)

This is Kari, one of my bestest friends since our early teens, and also the person responsible for hooking us up, so we can either thank her or blame her depending on the day - ha!  Just kidding, I am forever grateful that God used her to bring Mr. Wonderful and I and all our wacky and wonderful kids together :)  

So after forcing ourselves to leave this place, we made a stop at this new yogurt place in Winona called "Nate and Ally's", because we hadn't had enough treats for the day.  Super cute place.  Then, the last stop on our date day was to go to the movies and see what I have been waiting for MONTHS to see........"Finding Dory"!!!  It was as great as I had hoped.  

Now as the evening winds down, we are nestled in our comfy chairs at home watching old Johnny Carson shows. Vince is putting together one of his Metal Earth models while I am blogging about our day, feeling blessed, and falling in love with my new cranberry neck pillow that my sister made me buy (because I got addicted to hers in the hospital)...and my Mr. Wonderful, all over again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My feelings that I can't talk about yet

I'm so cool with this.  No big deal, it's just part of life.  I'm very proud and maybe "just a little melancholy" about my firstborn moving out of our home and on his own.  It's not like I'm having a total mental implosion or anything.  No drama here...I'm soooooooo serene.  

Except for the feelings.  I can't even with my feelings.  Can't deal.  I'm kind of numb about it.  I've put all my feelings in a room and closed the door.  Bye-bye.  Not there.  Don't want to see or hear or feel them right now.

I mean, this is what we hope will happen...the way it's supposed to go, right?  We raise our kids to grow up and become adults and move out of the house.  It happens to every kid in every family.  This is what's normal and expected and all moms go through this.  I'm supposed to be excited for him and looking forward to this new "chapter in his life".  So why do I feel such a sense of loss?  An emptiness that I can't even talk about yet.

Maybe it's because of all this I already wrote about last August when he went off to basic training.   I should remind myself that things could be a lot worse.  Of course they could, I'm not crazy.  This isn't a tragedy and maybe it will do me good to remind myself of this and shift my focus off my feelings (that I can't talk about yet).  My son is happy.  He is excited about his "freaking awesome" new place and wants us to come over tomorrow to see it!  He's responsible and hard working and pursuing his dreams and I really am very, very proud of him.  He acts tough sometimes, but he cares deeply about his people and experiences and memories.  And, he's a believer, bless God! That has always been my greatest prayer for our kids...nothing else matters as much.

So, why can't I focus on this instead of all that?  "That", being all the ways that I imagine I have let him down and wasn't enough over the past 18 years.  Sigh.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm a horrible mom and I'm not looking for praise.  I've been a pretty good mom I think, but I am also my own worst critic.  I feel responsible for everyone in our family and all their things and all their happiness.  Oh sure, I know it's not realistic to think that my husband and kids will be happy all the time, and not every disappointment is my fault.  I know this.  But underneath all the choices and circumstances of life there is this undercurrent flowing that tells me that it all depends on me. And if things don't go well with any or all of us, well - it is ultimately because I failed somehow.

All of our kids have gone through profound loss at young ages.  Much of it was beyond our control and although I do not necessarily feel responsible for their pain, I have always felt I need to be the one to make it all better.  I hold myself to nearly impossible standards as a mother.  I need to have an abundance of unconditional and unfailing love, and all the right words of wisdom, and be always patient and kind, and be the example of Jesus in their lives - enough that they will want to follow him.  Whoa.  I just realized something.  I have been trying to be their savior. Since the day they were born and/or came into my life.  It's been far too much for me, and all too often I have given up under the weight of it.  At least momentarily.  No wonder I default to feeling like a failure when things aren't going the way I'd like.  A mother is not, nor is she ever intended to be the savior for her family.

I don't think I'm alone in this.  Other moms struggle with this too, especially neurotic ones like me. When our kids struggle with self esteem, responsibility, faith, anxiety...deep down we blame ourselves because we must have done something.  Or not done something.  Even though my mind knows that is not always the case, I have a harder time convincing my heart.  Because that's where all the feelings are.  The ones I can't talk about yet.  They trip me up every time, because they are tightly intertwined with the impossible standards I have set for myself as a mom.

And how does all this relate to my son moving out on his own?  Have I gone off on a long and winding bunny trail of emotion without really knowing where I was headed, kind of like my driving? Well, give me a sec...oh yea.  It's because as the door to his future has flung open wide and he has sprinted out of the gate, I am left behind watching him go and wondering if I did it right. Was I enough?  Was I the mom he needed, and am I still going to be the mom he wants in his life?  I am reminded now, by God no doubt, that motherhood does not end when they fly from the nest.  It changes, but it does not end.  I will continue to pray for his well-being, for his faith, his friends, his safety, and his future wife.  I will call and text him and bring him food and stop over unannounced even though I have been given strict orders not to.  Just as I always have, I will continue to be mom.  I won't be perfect, and I will mess up....and I will trust Jesus to fill in the gaps, as only our Savior can.