Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Are You Thankful For?

Wow, can you believe we are almost out of January already?  While the north east is digging out of several feet of snow and ice, here I am in the south looking at my weather for the week hoping for peeks of springlike weather already. Indeed, next week some of us will be watching for a certain rodent to predict whether we will have an early spring or six more weeks of winter weather.  I confess I'm one of them...not so much that I believe that a groundhog can tell us that information, but because I love love love warmer weather and the blessings spring brings. Don't get me wrong, I like all of the seasons and what each brings. And in the last day or so, I'm thankful that my friends in the northeastern states are warm and safe despite all the snow they've been getting.

This morning I got the pleasure of sleeping in a bit. Not my favorite thing to do because I tend to get more accomplished when I am up by 7:15 each morning. But this morning I missed my alarm, I'm guessing because I needed the rest. Baby Bear was awake with me and joined me, as he sometimes does, in my "quiet time." He looked at me, shivered a bit in the cooler morning air, and said "Cold." This Mama's heart rejoiced. He communicated with me! I was so proud of him. I love those moments of clarity when he can use words to tell me what's going on his world. Yes, i am very thankful for that. I believe he was thankful that I brought him a blanket to cuddle up in, too. 

As I read today's bible passages (Luke 22:39-71; Genesis 40; Psalm 31; and Proverbs 28, in case you're interested) I became aware of lessons that hadn't really occurred to me before. I'm not comfortable sharing those just yet, but I am thankful to still live in a country where I am free to read and study God's word, and take to heart what he wants to teach me each day. I feel sad that on so many occasions I've neglected to pick up that precious book (or in today's world, bring it up on the screen) and immerse myself in it.  A meme on Facebook said it perfectly: The Bible is meant to be bread for daily consumption, not cake for special occasions.

I could come up with more that I'm thankful for: my husband, who traded places with me so I could go into the bedroom to finish my quiet time in, well, quiet this morning. My brother, who has helped out so much and taught me so much since moving in with us. But i have a young man who wants attention. I'm thankful he's in a good mood this morning, and I pray it continues. It means he's in good health. Now, what about you? What are you thankful for this morning? 

Older pictures of me and my boys. I am thankful for these guys all the time.

Monday, January 26, 2015

One Goal at a Time: Bible Study and Housework

 Description Bible chouraqui.jpg

Y'all, if I believed in signs and wonders I'd be wondering if time was going to stop.  I say that in jest, of course.  I'm in a good mood this morning and I'm writing again. What I would like to do is get back to posting here on the blog more often, but I'll take it one step at a time.

Since the last week or so of December I've been changing a few things in my life. I've wanted to talk about those things here, but I've been hesitant to do so, given my flaky background. I'm a great starter, but not always a great finisher, you know?

Like a lot of people, once Christmas was over, I started thinking about the new year and what i wanted to do with it. I usually have a list as long as my arm of things I want to try or do. This time I decided to focus on just one thing: Bible study. I've started that in years past and have only gotten so far before I let life get in the way. Even discussing here at Home only lasted for a little while. But I've never read the bible in its entirety before and that's what I focused on. Thanks to something I saw on Pinterest I checked out  They have many different reading plans that last from a day or two to all year. Some focus on single topics such as Anger, others take you through the bible in a year's time. I chose one of the latter, as well as a few smaller topics to tackle. That seemed to be a little much for me so currently I read in Proverbs as well as the readings for the bible in a year.  I'm happy to report that I've been doing this for 29 days now. I read the passages online but I have a notebook by my side to write down observations, questions, and such. 

It's been rather humbling to begin this journey once again. I'm noticing things that I hadn't before, even in "stories" that are familiar to me. I find myself talking to my husband about what I've read. And it's helped me with my word of the year:Patience. More on that later, if you'd like.

Strange thing about focusing on one thing at a time and making that a habit; it flows into other parts of life as well. If you've read any of my Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife  posts you know that it's a continual struggle for me. When my brother moved in last August I worked hard at it and grew increasingly frustrated. Finally early this month I sat down and wrote out a chore list for each member of the family. The dishes, for example, are done by Bobby and me. I do breakfast and lunch, he does the supper ones. And I'm happy to say that it works so far. I still have a long way to go in making sure that all of the housework is getting done in a timely manner, but the dishes are done after each meal without fail (okay, it failed once --but we caught up at the next meal). Three of our public rooms are kept up better, if not perfectly the way I want them. It's a work in progress.  

Well, there you have it. That's my goal this year, one thing at a time. I have much more to talk about and it's my plan to write a bit more this week. How has your year started out? Do you have goals and plans you're working on? I'd love to hear from you. Although I may not always answer I do read and enjoy your comments.


Monday, January 12, 2015

I Blew It: A Lesson in Anger and Patience

Hey, Want to know a secret? Come here. Closer. Ready?

I'm not perfect.

I know, right? Shocking. Or not so much. I am a human. I make mistakes.  I sin. I yell at the top of my lungs in front of the people I love most in this world. And i feel like a world class heel.

Remember the Looney Tunes characters when they get mad? Yeah, that was me. I'm not proud of it. There are all kinds of excuses. It's Monday. I was hungry. Blah blah blah. 
   The truth of the matter is I let stress and anger get the better of me and I blew my top. Two people were in tears and everyone in the house was stressed. 

The King James bible says in James 3:8,  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Anger is as contagious as the measles. One person goes off the deep end, others follow. It isn't pretty. What gets me is I've been studying about anger and patience in my quiet time. I've been praying about it. I've been trying to learn the lessons God would have me to learn. I'm trying to see this morning's screamfest not as abject failure, but, as a friend touched on yesterday, a moment of clarity. 

One of the verses that stood out to me in today's study was Luke 11:40

Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. 

While that verse actually means to have yourself ready spiritually when Christ comes for his bride, I think it can also be applied to not letting your guard down when it comes to sin.

The bible tells us  
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  1 Peter 5:8
  The end result of the big blow up?  I apologized, the offended party apologized, and we hugged. I still feel like a world class heel, but maybe that's a good thing right now. It's like a mental spanking. That sting can remind me to hold my tongue and speak more calmly next time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gratituesday: The Perfect Christmas

Each year, amid the onslaught of Rudolph, White Christmas,  nonstop Christmas music starting just a few days after Halloween (Seriously!??), and the shopping, baking, and family, I begin dreaming of the perfect Christmas.  Truthfully though,  I start thinking and planning it a few days after the last Christmas.
And each year, the "perfect" Christmas both eludes and appears.

I am a self proclaimed Christmas nut. I read Christmas stories in July, start wondering about my Christmas cards in August (although I may not get around to actually making them until early December most years), I look for the holiday magazines starting in September. I start planning and hoping for family to be together.  Visions of TV and movie perfect Christmases dancing in my head.  And then reality hits.

Things happen each year. Family members can't always make it home.  Money doesn't always stretch far enough to pay the bills and the gifts for everyone so I have to become creative in how I handle the presents.  This year my mother passed away in August and my husband lost his job in November.  Those two were enough to make me not really want to bother with the holiday this year. I have family members however, such as my son and my brother, who look forward to the festivities. So onward I go, making a simple, but good Christmas for those two. I look forward to seeing some family members and calling others. And yet, I allow myself to be swept up in preparations that my my heart isn't much up for. And it makes me grouchy. No matter what, I'm still looking for the perfect Christmas.

But what is the perfect Christmas? Has there ever been one, other than in movies, tv shows or books? Yes. I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. I see it more as a time for fun and togetherness and yes, gifts. But over 2000 years ago a star shone brightly in the sky. In the stillness of the night (although most likely not a night in December) a baby's cry rang out. A woman named Mary, gave birth in a simple manger. The gift that night was not only for her, but for those living then and now and forever, if we choose to accept it. The baby Jesus was born so that he would grow up and teach, and ultimately to give his life as a sacrifice so that we may live eternally. All we need do is accept that gift by hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and living the Christian life. 

Earlier I said that the perfect life both eludes and appears. Am I crazy? A little. But both are true. You see, no Christmas (or life, for that matter) goes off without a hitch. There are always things that make us stumble. But each Christmas as I look back, I have the perfect Christmas. No matter what is under the tree or on the table, I have loved ones around me. I have some quiet moments to reflect and enjoy. And for those I am thankful.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Been a Long, Short Month

My brother mentioned on Sunday that it had been one month since our mom passed away.  It hardly seems possible. But time continues to march on, whether we realize it or not. It's been a month of sadness, grief, drama, and change. 

Here at home our little group of three has been enlarged to four.  Rather than be resistant to this new change, J has been absolutely thrilled. His favorite uncle is now here all the time.  He has someone other than me to see every day. Indeed, he spends a lot of time with Bobby. Although Bobby is patient with him, I know that having all this attention can be a bit much. We are currently having to remind J to stay off Uncle Bobby's bed. J doesn't click with just anyone. Only certain people get to enter his world so I am very happy when I see that connection.

The house is currently stuffed to the gills with furniture, books, and all manner of things that help to make a house a home. Not only did Bobby bring a lot with him, about the same time we were blessed with things from the Hubster's side of the family. Most people use the term "in law" or even "In love" to point out the relationships that aren't by blood. I dropped that a long time ago. They are simply my Mom and my sister. They've downsized a bit to make their lives simpler, and Mom made sure I got the furniture. I love stuff with history so I'm happy it all came to the Hubs and me. Along with a dining set came various other items that I am still going through and putting in place. Things that once belonged to sisters in Christ; lovely ladies who still have much to teach me, even though one dear sister has been gone for a few years now. Remind me one day to tell Miss Erna's story. Suffice it for now to say it is one of dedication. She was a woman of quiet strength. Neither a non believing husband nor cancer kept her from worship if she could help it.

Slowly, day by day and box by box, we are settling in once again. Day to day life is being figured out. Life tends to move on that way.

One month after her passing I'm still scrambling a bit to find my footing. Family that I thought would pull closer tended to pull away into their own safe groups. I'm not so sure that I haven't done the same. Grief tends to do that. Grief heightens emotions and makes people strike out and hurt others in some cases, sends us running to arms we know that are safe in others.  Hopefully, prayerfully, in time family "fights" will heal. 

It's been a long hard month in some ways, yet it's gone so quickly. It reminds me that we need to make the most of life while we have it. And we need to hold on to family while we can. Easier said than done, I know. But life is fleeting, folks. In the blink of an eye it's over. What will we have to show for it at the end?  A life of striving to live like Christ, or a lifetime of looking out for number one? Gathering of loved ones to hold on to, or grabbing for things that give us stature or pleasure?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Open Letter to Adults About Teaching and Correcting Children

 Dear parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, and other adults in charge of children:

Just a few days ago I was verbally attacked by an eighteen year old and her little friends. It happened publicly, on Facebook, because this child has obviously been taught, one way or another, that this is the proper way of handling a situation. Throw out a liberal dose of profanity and beat one's chest in the manner of a gorilla, sprinkling in words like respect.  

Sad to say, at first I took the bait, although I did not read this child's entire rant. I responded from the heart. Then I deleted and apologized to anyone who could have read any of that on my page. I am by no means perfect, but I won't listen to that type of speech. I close my ears to it. Using that language at me on the phone earns a hang up. In print, the delete button comes in very handy.  I even stated that conversations are welcome; profanity and abusive language would be removed and those involved would be blocked from my page.  My husband took it upon himself to guard my page so I wouldn't have to see it all. Why? Because I'm related to the 18 year old and the ones who chose to follow her lead.

I did see that one adult came to the defense of the 18 year old, remarking that no one knows the truth about the 18 year old. The sad truth is, that in this world that can quote and twist to their needs in many cases the verse in the bible that says judge not, everyone does. Matthew 7:1, NIV, states "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."  Because I was judged, those who read the diatribe on my page judged the 18 year old by her words and by what they could see on the 18 year old's own page. 

Truth: People know you by your words and your actions. If you are proud of those words and actions, own it. If you aren't happy with the way people see (judge) you, then perhaps it's time to do some thinking.

Some will dismiss the actions and words of those involved in the verbal attack as those who don't know any better, or "they're going to do stuff like that, they're young".  Just kids. I see. That makes it okay then. Or does it? As i said, the main instigator was 18. One of her followers (whether he wrote himself or was "hacked") is in his late 20's. 

Truth: Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Teachers, and other adults in authority, we must remember that the words and actions of our children are a reflection on us. 

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.  KJV Proverbs 22:15

It is up to us adults to teach and to correct bad behavior while the children are young so that when the world sees our little darlings, the world doesn't hold up a mirror that makes us unhappy.  We all love our children and we want to be the cool parent whose home is the local hangout, right? That's what keeps our children loving us, right? Not so much. Being a parent means teaching right from wrong, and how to deal with a situation that makes them unhappy. In other words, if we do not correct our children's behavior now, someone else will do it later, and the way it is done may lead to heartbreak. Not everyone will simply hit delete and move on. Some will choose to involve the police or other court system, some will retaliate in kind and introduce violence. We only have to read or watch the news to know that deaths occur everyday in this country(!) over matters that could and should have been talked out.  Many scream about how far we've come as a society, and how certain groups are dragging us back in time to "the bad old days." Read your history. We haven't gone forward or backward. We're simply spinning our wheels because the lesson's aren't being learned.

I for one, have many lessons still to learn. I am by no means perfect. But when someone has a problem, I am willing to listen as long as it is brought to me in  a respectful manner. Respect is another word being thrown about in this world, like truth, but few know or care about its meaning. That, my friends, is another lesson for another day. For now I have spoken my peace. Thank you for listening.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Everything Changes

My Mom and brother visiting the new house.
Back in the early 2000's when my family lived in Texas, my husband, brother and I were involved each year in Family Bible School at church. During the week long summer bible class we would do a play based on the year's theme. Each night of FBS after the class portion we would put on a 30 minute installment of the play. It was great fun, helped cement some of the lessons we'd been learning, and in some cases, put popular songs of the day into the "never hearing that song after this would be too soon" category. For me, anyway. One of those songs was "Everything Changes." I think we changed the lyrics a bit and used it when we were teaching about Paul. But these days that particular refrain, "Everything Changes" is stuck in my head

The changes began earlier in the month with the death of my mother. That was a blow no one saw coming even though she was 75 years young. She was strong, almost too independent, still caring for my brother who still lived with her. The one thing she could not do was drive. Her nerves were too bad to handle that so while she lived near us, my husband and I taxi'd her around town. Other members of the family did, as well, when the Hubs and i couldn't. 

Her death left more than just the void of her being there. It meant that someone new would be my brother's caretaker. Born prematurely and placed in an incubator with no oxygen for a few minutes by a careless or overworked nurse left him with mild cp (cerebral palsy) that affects the left side of his body and fairly mild mental challenges. Yet he is very intelligent. He may be at a loss for math skills, but he is the family historian. He remembers things many of us have forgotten --and we three sisters are all younger than he is.

My mother never left a will. Whether she didn't want to go through the expense or simply didn't think it was necessary ("Bobby knows who gets what") she didn't get one done, though I urged her to do so many times. With few exceptions there haven't been any squabbles over material possessions. Bobby has been a different story.  There have been heated discussions, hurt feelings, and a lot of stress, simply because two bull headed sisters each wanted what was best for Bobby. Even a few nieces got in on the act. In the end, Bobby spoke up. While he would love a place of his own, it's not going to happen yet. But while he would be happy and taken care of with any of us, his wishes are simple: He wants to be able to go to church every Sunday, wants a karate class, wants to go to the movies now and then. He chose to be with me. 

While I hate all the stress that this has caused, I am happy for this new chapter in my life. Though we are 14 years apart, Bobby and I share a closeness, just as our sisters do with each other.  I grew up taking walks with him, listening to the ghost stories he loves so much. And yes, as the years have gone by, I, the youngest of the family, have been guilty of mothering him a bit. I mother everyone who comes into my line of sight. It's just part of me to be a bit of a mother hen.

As for the Hubs and J, I think they too are happy with Bobby living with us. J adores his uncle. He sees someone who understands him (for the most part) and he has a few of his uncle's traits. The Hubs is one who loves to talk about the bible and faith in general, and Bobby is very much interested in that.

I am looking forward to seeing life as it unfolds. I know I still have much to learn from my older brother, and I hope I can teach him some as well.