Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Homeschooling Took Over My Life

I just checked this thing out of curiosity about when my last blog was... it was July 8th of last year. It turns out I really did need to "break up with facebook," because if I hadn't, there's no way I would have been able to focus on homeschooling my daughter.

I have found there are several things in my list of things I "used to do," including writing stories, posting blogs, drawing/doing artwork, reading books on a regular basis... lots of creative things that I found going by the wayside once I realized I was going to be homeschooling, working, taking her to Community Day (a weekly meeting for her charter), and taking my youngest to Speech Therapy.

The funny thing is, I'm not really upset about the fact that I haven't been able to express myself as I normally do. I mean, I still think about it every so often, and I'm grateful for Summer Break as I'll hopefully be able to do a little bit more of it, but it hasn't "broken" me. I'm not resentful for the fact that I've had to put some things on hold: I'm just grateful I've been able to get her through the school year pretty well, in spite of the fact that there were some crazy changes in our family (not the immediate family, but family nonetheless) and our church that I was definitely not expecting.

We have another (unexpected, but fun and exciting) change coming up: I found out in January that I was pregnant again... this time, it's a boy! We're going to name him Isaiah. It's the name Daddy has always wanted for his son (ever since we found out we were going to have our first). I'm totally excited and I'm a little bit bound and determined that he's gonna be a Momma's Boy. :P My wonderful husband has always enjoyed going on "Daddy-Daughter Dates," and they certainly adore him quite a bit (our youngest even more so than our oldest), so now it's my turn for some "Mother-Son Dates". (Well, not yet, of course... he hasn't even been born yet!)

Anyway, those are a few updates... Amber's homeschooling doesn't actually end until next Wednesday, so I'm going to help her get a few more lessons knocked out.

If you're reading this, thank you. It's pretty easy to get bored with a blog (especially when the blogger doesn't ever post something new), so I appreciate that you took the time to read this. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I broke up with Facebook. Here's why.

Anyone who knows me, knows I adored facebook... I practically lived on there.

My days usually consisted of getting up, waking up the computer, and promptly visiting facebook in an attempt to catch up with my friends. I'd scroll down my news feed, looking for things to comment on. I LOVED seeing all of the beautiful pictures my friends shared, especially when it was of them or their kids. There were so many wonderful things to do and see there! Commenting on photos, taking quizzes, playing games, messaging friends...

And that's why we had to break up.

You see, I have two beautiful daughters. Two blessings straight from Heaven. And I'm pretty sure God didn't give them to me so I could waste my time with them by being on facebook instead of paying attention to them. Instead of loving them, playing with them, caring for them.

I need to be a more attentive mother.

On top of that (and as you may have read from a past post), I am homeschooling my oldest in August. That's going to take all of my time and attention. I can't be torn between teaching her and going on a social networking site. I can't take her education for granted or put it on the shelf because it's just not as important as finding out who has the latest status update.

So I did it today... I prepared a week ahead by posting status updates saying I would be leaving, and asking email addresses from anyone who cared to keep in touch with me.

I was going to do it tomorrow... but I chose to do it today. Why? Because I started getting cold feet about the whole thing. I found myself rationalizing that I didn't spend THAT much time on facebook, and maybe I could control myself. (See, I've tried taking breaks from facebook before... and they worked, for maybe a week. Then I would find myself back online, and worse than ever. My poor kids didn't get much time with their momma at all. I was always too busy on facebook.) I told myself, "Maybe this time will be different! Maybe I will instantly be more mature about my facebooking choices, and not spend so much time on there. Maybe I will change!" but deep down I knew this wasn't true. My husband even started talking to me about it, "I thought you said you were going off facebook... why are you on there so much now? It's like you're trying to really milk it before you leave."

And he was right. I was.

I was trying to get as much in as possible... much in the same way a smoker will decide to quit on a certain day, and then chain smoke up until that point. I was milking it... I was overdoing it, even though I'd told myself I was determined to quit.

The thing is, the addiction didn't just stop there. I pushed the "deactivate your account" button, filled out the questionnaire (complete with pictures of friends who will all "miss me"), and finally confirmed that I was deactivating. My heart hurt as I did it. It literally ached... like I was moving away from friends forever, or like someone was dying.

Then I sat down for lunch. Camron had made some amazing tacos for us. I sat at the table, bewildered that I would feel so strongly about a website. In our table conversation, it came up that I had deactivated my account. I told Camron that my heart was hurting, and suddenly ended up bursting into tears. "It's so stupid," I said between sobs.

Yep, I am definitely addicted to facebook. That just confirmed it, if I'd ever doubted it before. I wasn't just letting go of a website, I was letting go of hundreds of friends I'd made on there, who I had grown used to seeing and talking to. I was letting go of my desire to always BE there... to want to be part of something all the time. I was letting go of my constant need for approval. I had grown so dependent on others that I'd stopped taking a stand for my views, instead pushing them aside in order to gain more "likes". I chose not to say what I really think about things, because I would be attacked by a slew of people who thought differently than I did and had absolutely no problem saying what they thought. I was letting go of my comfort, in order to do something reckless for the Lord.

No, I'm not going to a third world country to rescue orphans, but for me, leaving facebook was reckless. It was challenging. It was CRAZY, because I was so comfortable there. People knew me and I knew them. What would happen to me now?

Like I said, I just quit facebook today. I don't think I'm handling it well. I watched a few Tinkerbell movies with my kids, worked on our finances, and then felt compelled to blog about my lack of facebook. To me, that's like an alcoholic going on and on about how they're not drinking anymore. Kinda hard to get your mind off it when all you do is talk about it.

You know what? I think I'm actually gonna ask my mom about her twelve-step problem... because I think I could use all the help I can get. Yep, that's what I'm gonna do.




Monday, June 23, 2014

Changes in Life

There are those who do well with change, and those who don't.

I think I'm one of the latter.

See, I'm going through a few changes right now myself... my daughter is going to be homeschooled by me (something I've obviously never done before), my youth pastors (yes, the ones who pastored me when I was a teenager!) are retiring, and all kinds of other things I'm not at liberty to speak about are going on. Needless to say: CHANGE.

I don't do too well with change, I guess because it's so unpredictable. See, if I'm miserable doing something, at least I know it's something I'm doing and it's making me miserable. That, I seem to be OK with. But changing things up and doing something that might possibly be amazing (OR can be highly disappointing) is new to me. I don't like to take risks.

You're talking to the kid who wouldn't try to do a flip on mom and dad's bed because I'd read about how Christopher Reeve got paralyzed from the neck down because he was thrown off a horse. You're talkin' to the kid who, when her bike would speed up a little bit going down a hill by her house, would see images in her mind of the front page story in the paper about the kid who died by going too fast on her bike.

Yeah, you're talkin' to me.

I don't know how these changes are gonna go... and honestly, I'm pretty nervous about them. I not-so-secretly fear I'll be awful as a homeschooling mom, and that whoever's the new youth pastor won't be ready to take this gigantic task of working with and for these youth... and I'm honestly kind of a worrywart. Not cool, I know, but that's just how I roll.

This is the thing: My worrying helps NO ONE.

It doesn't help my husband, who believes wholeheartedly that I can do this. It doesn't help my daughter, who needs Momma to be focused on this monumental responsibility, and it certainly doesn't help me... the one who's debated whether she should pull her hair out about a zillion times, just because it would be its own kind of relief.

So I'm gonna do something no one has EVER done before (yeah right). Something so clever (not), so MIND-blowing, that you might not even be able to comprehend what I'm about to say...

I am going to give it to God.

Yep, that's right. I'm gonna hand it over to Him. My days only get shorter by worrying anyway... I'm gonna give it to Him and let Him work things out. There's no use worrying today about what's going to happen tomorrow anyway! Every day has enough trouble of its own.

So I'm gonna give my worries to God, because He knows what to do with them. Is anyone with me? He can hold your worries just as well as He holds mine... :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yesterdays Mishaps

Yesterday I found myself as I find myself fairly often lately: overwhelmed. I took my two-year-old to get blood work done, then went straight to Walmart to purchase some wipes and rice milk for her. After that, I drove to the other side of town to pick up my sweet momma-in-law and take her home.

It was only when I was back in my driveway, starving for food (since I'd, of course, skipped breakfast in order to do the other things) that I realized I'd left the groceries in the cart. I'd been so involved with my baby girl (trying to cheer her up and carefully buckle her into the carseat), that I didn't realize I'd left my things until almost thirty minutes later.

I freaked out. It may not seem like a big deal, but our family has been struggling financially as of late. That "six dollars and some odd cents" was a huge deal... and the fact that I'd have to spend ANOTHER because of my own dumb carelessness was almost too much to bear.  I left my momma-in-law in the driveway with my daughter, and hopped back into the driver's seat.

I rushed back to Walmart, hoping that maybe, just MAYBE, with the temperatures as cool as they were, the rice milk would still be good and the wipes would be in my cart along with them. Of course, when I arrived, they were nowhere to be seen. Frantic, I hurried inside the store and asked a cashier if anyone'd brought in a bag of wipes and rice milk, and she referred me to Customer Service.

While in line at Customer Service, I called my husband to let him know what I was doing. He told me not to worry and that things would be fine, and maybe someone just really needed those items. I said goodbye and that's when I lost it: tears streamed down my face just as the woman called "Next" for me. I approached, totally ashamed of my utter tearfulness, and tried to explain to her my situation. I brokenly asked if anyone had brought rice milk and wipes inside the store, knowing it was a long shot. She looked around and saw nothing, then asked if I had a receipt. I told her I thought it was in the bag, but then remembered that I may have put it in the diaper bag I had on me, so I searched for it. Miraculously finding it, I thanked God for having me put it in there rather than in the bag of groceries. I handed it out to her and she checked it, then left to ask a coworker or boss of hers a question.

When she came back, she said that she'd been told to have me find the items again and then come back to Customer Service. I was so full of relief that I literally said, "ohhh... thank you!" to her, and went to get the things. I stood in line again (the line had gotten longer since I'd been retrieving my items), and waited until it was my turn again. She rang up the items and then zeroed them out... and I said thank you a couple more times.

I was and still am so thankful that there are people out there who care about individuals. It may have been "just six dollars" to some people reading this, but to me, it meant the world. I'm so grateful to the woman who helped me and I hope some day I can help make her day brighter as well.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Death

I don't fear death for myself... but I hate it.

I hate it for every friend it's taken away; for every loved one I've lost.

I hate it for what it does to people. I hate it for wearing us down and making us forget the beautiful, vibrant glory that is living... because all we can remember is what we've lost.

I hate that it gives nothing, yet takes everything.

I hate that it's hurting the people I care about most. Death cares not whether you're ready; whether it's convenient. It charges on, harsh and unyielding. It leaves devastated lives in its wake... left to carry whatever burdens the Taken left.

Death is an awful, horrible thing... something which changes those of us who are left until we can never be the same. It's like torture... you're having parts of you removed, a little bit of a time. Sure, you can carry on. But you walk with a limp. You're missing fingers and toes and an ear, but not everyone can see that, so they wonder why it takes you so long to do what you need to do. Death handicaps us. It breaks us.

That's just the side of death that I know, though. This side of eternity.

On the other side, death is a herald for the return of loved ones to their home. It signifies reunion, pieces of the body of Christ coming together forever. Rather than a slow torture, it's like a party which lasts forever, and which people can come to whenever they're ready. I

 believe Paul was ready... but at the same time, I don't think we were. I don't think we were ready for the pain. I don't think we were ready for the shock of hearing him so willingly accepting his transition into eternity. Of course, he did nothing wrong by saying it... in fact, I think it helped us realize that he wasn't going to bounce back from this. There was no denial... and I don't think my dad will be in denial when it's his time either. But it was still hard. I felt like I instantaneously became Tish and Ruby. I saw Tish's love for him as a life partner, and Ruby's innocence as she was raised by her daddy. It broke my heart, seeing this family, who I so dearly love, going through this.

I don't want to think about death from the other side. I hate it too much to want to see it in that light.

It makes me wish I were already on that side of eternity... joyously welcoming my friends rather than watching them slip away. I know enough about the Bible to know that there's a very good chance that people who take themselves into that eternity end up somewhere they never would have wanted to be. I hope that's not the case (I have a few friends of loved ones who have chosen that end, and I hope that they will be in heaven), but I don't want to presume anything either.

So rather than trying to make my 'eternity' happen, I'm going to press on. I'm going to do whatever I can (little though it may be) to comfort the people I love... the people he loved. I'm going to trudge on through this, with God's help, because I know He helps me even when I'm broken. Maybe especially when I'm broken.

And in the meantime, I'm going to try to picture death the way Jesus sees it. People joining Him, worshiping Him... so giddy with joy and happiness that they have no idea the people they've left behind. I'm going to try to focus on THAT side of death... because as bitter as death is on this side, I know it's all the more sweet on the other side of eternity.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

For Everyone Who Might be the Teensiest Bit Jealous of Sarah Horn


If you haven't seen this video yet, I'd doubt you're jealous. But if you haven't (and you just watched it), there's a possibility you could be.

This is a video of a recent performance of Kristin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl. The woman who was randomly picked from the audience is my friend Sarah Horn. Since I met her a few years ago, I have known she was a beautiful and talented singer... but since her video went viral, the rest of the world knows too. I think it's great - she's put a lot of work into what she's done and it's fantastic that all of that work (and the prayer her father uttered over a decade ago about singing with her) would pay off.

Yet, when I thought about it, I realized I have had the good fortune of knowing MANY lovely, talented young ladies. Many who have sung onstage right next to Sarah at my favorite theater of all time (Lifehouse Theater), BEFORE she was a internet sensation. So if you're one of those people, you may be wondering, "What's wrong with me? I've been trying so hard... just as hard as she has. I have put hours into my singing and could have even done what she did, if I were given the opportunity. So why wasn't I?"

I don't claim to have the answer to that, but I hope I can provide some encouragement.

You ARE a fantastic singer. I want you to remember back to your own performances. What did people say when it was all over with, when you were greeting fans? I bet you had some kids come up to you and tell you they loved it. And I bet you also had some adults who are theatre fans (like myself) who were gushing so much about your performance that it looked like they were trying to shut up and just couldn't.

What about your acting chops? Yeah, those rock too. People like me sit on the edge of their seats, totally with you in everything you do on the stage. You transport them into your part, and they feel what you feel and see what you see. This is why I almost always emerge from Lifehouse Theater with a new pond's worth of tears on my face. You execute the part so convincingly... so poignantly... that we just can't help ourselves.

Although I didn't struggle with jealousy this time around (I figure there's no WAY I could have come close to that kind of performance and can't afford tickets to a Kristin Chenoweth concert anyway, so why not just be super-happy instead?), I HAVE been known to have the little green bug bite me. Prominent times in my life. In fact, just after my daughter was born, I decided I wanted to be a Hollywood actress. I contacted an amazing photographer about headshots and he was extremely kind. He offered me an enormous discount after my family and I visited his studio. Not long after I did all of this, I had a dream (that I believe was from God) basically telling me that I had a choice: my family or Hollywood. I was brokenhearted because I wanted both... but of course I went with my family. That was when my husband suggested Lifehouse Theater to me in the first place. It's probably good that I didn't jump into it right away, because God still had a few kinks in my character to work out before I would have been ready.

Anyway, enough about me. This post is about YOU. I don't blame you for being jealous. You've worked hard, probably for most of your life. You might also teach voice lessons, or maybe you took lots of singing lessons when you were younger. Musical Theatre is probably your world... something you can't imagine life without. I felt the same way about acting. What I was able to come to the conclusion to (with the Lord's help) was that I'm not right for fame. At least not the kind of fame I would have gotten from being in Hollywood. Some people can handle it, but I found out it would all go to my head.

I would have spent more and more time away from my family, doing what "they" wanted me to do, and less time listening to that still small voice and the Word of God. I discovered that God chooses the meek to inherit the earth, and that some of the people we will see in the highest places in Heaven will probably be people we know little to nothing about. I found out that I had important little things to do.

Once I learned not to be jealous, I found that the best thing to counteract it, for me, was just being happy for people. It's that simple! In the Bible, Johnathan was the one who had the claim to the throne, but he was willing (although he didn't get to see it with his own eyes) to stand aside and let David, his friend, take the throne. I'm sure he had plenty of reason to be jealous... so why wasn't he?  I think it's because he chose to celebrate with his best friend rather than sulk. I found out that I had a choice: I could join the party and eat cake and have a blast dancing like a crazy white person with no rhythm; or I could sulk, refuse the cake, and let that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach rule my life for the next few weeks. I actually learned that from Lifehouse as well - surrounded by beautiful, talented people who were nothing but humble and kind. You can BE that gorgeous, gifted person (in fact, you probably already are, for me)!

I get the jealousy thing... believe me, I do. You see the celebrities getting things handed to them on a silver platter just because everyone knows who they are, and you might think, "Why don't people know ME yet? I want to walk a red carpet, get those crazy-awesome gift bags you see at award shows, go to the front of the line just 'cause I'm famous..." It's hard to live a life without immediate reward, or in the spotlight where everyone notices when you're awesome.

(But did you ever think about this: that same spotlight also captures you in your worst, most embarrassing moments. The times when you made a poor choice, and wish it never happened? I have a feeling a certain Cyrus will be older and wiser one day and wish the VMA incident hadn't.)

God has done things in my life that I haven't wanted Him to do. On the flipside, there have been times where He's done nothing and my prayers have been crying out for Him to help, asking Him why there is silence. I have learned that although I don't always like it, He does know what's best for me. And His timing is perfect. You never know... you might have your moment, too. And wouldn't it be funny if that moment came through Sarah Horn herself. :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fro Wisdom and Happy Trees

When I was a kid (and there were no Saturday morning cartoons, namely because it wasn't Saturday and I didn't have 200+ channels to choose from), I used to sometimes find myself watching "The Joy of Painting" by Bob Ross. 

For those of you who haven't had the honor of seeing the show, it was an older show (first aired in '83) that centered around painting. Bob Ross, a soft-spoken man with a soothing voice and peaceful demeanor, taught the viewer how to draw numerous landscapes over a ten-year span. 

There are a few emotions I remember feeling strongly as I watched the show, including  admiration and awe (because he was so GOOD at painting!), jealousy (again - SO GOOD at painting!), but most of all, outrage. 

Why would I be outraged, you ask? And why, especially, would I be outraged by a show that I just claimed featured a mild-mannered painter (I mean, he calls his trees "Happy Trees," fer cryin' out loud! How can a kid be outraged by that)?

Well, I'll tell you. I wasn't outraged because Bob Ross was a bad man. I wasn't outraged because I felt he was a bad painter. 

I was outraged because he painted differently than I thought he should have. 


See, bein' a young punk kid, I saw these masterpieces in the beginning of the show, and then I would watch him construct it with his paint. At first it was OK, but inevitably he'd so something unexpected (like take his paint and smear it all around the canvas until it looked like an ugly blob to me) and I'd call to the TV: "WHY??? You just ruined it! You killed the painting!" I would sit, frustrated and almost unwilling to watch the rest of the episode, because I thought the painting was irredeemable. 

But it WAS.

Every SINGLE time... EVERY time I thought a painting was damaged beyond repair by some unknown whim of the painter's, he brought it back. He added detail that I'd never even thought to use, and he breathed life into the canvas. 

I may not have known what he was doing, but I didn't have to know what he was doing. HE knew. 

And what he was doing was beautiful. 

There's a lesson in there for me. When I started out on this journey called Life, I thought everything had to be perfect from the start. I didn't want to allow myself room to make messes. I didn't want there to be any ugly blobs in my life... things that didn't make sense to me. In "The Joy of Painting," Bob Ross didn't call his screw-ups "mistakes". He called them "Happy Accidents," and that's slowly what I'm learning to do in my own life. 

I can mope and complain about the things I don't understand: the things that are unpleasant and ugly in life... or they can be Happy Accidents. I can learn from them and grow into a better person having known the lessons that they taught me. Those flaws are still waiting to be redeemed, and I know they can be. 

It turns out that a mild-mannered artist knew more about life (and painting) than I wanted to give him credit for, and I'm glad he did. :)