Tuesday, April 16, 2013

If I Were To Write A Book. . .

Funny this should be a prompt in my 30-Day Blog-A-Thon, because that's exactly what I intend to do this coming year.

We are embarking on a new adventure as a family and I plan to document it as best as I can. Many will be able to live it with me just in blog posts alone, but I think that the journey of a sarcastic parenting blogger and stay-at-home-mom turned "missionary" would be quite the entertaining story. Especially with a back-story like the one we have as well. I've wanted to write a book my entire life and I truly feel like there's no time like the present, even more than I ever have before.

So, if I were to write a book. . .it would be about LIFE. About the raw and the real and they transparency of a woman who has been through the trenches and how God can and has given her a new purpose. I would want the pages to be full of dirt and honesty and insecurity, because that is what life is all about. But I would also want it to be about unwavering faith and providence. Because I've found, with everything that I've been through that THAT is what life is about as well. I'm excited about this project, and I promise that I will share excerpts as they are written.

First things first, however. We must get settled into new life in Nicaragua in T-minus 46 days and counting. I cannot believe we are so close to this new chapter in our lives! We are packing and organizing and sorting and freaking out a bit too. But we are READY. We are looking forward to all that Central American culture has to offer us. New cuisine, new language, new friends. And an opportunity to live out love and blessing on people so much less fortunate than us. We want to help, and in more ways that just the tangible. We can't wait to offer ourselves to the people we meet. If you want to experience even MORE of this journey than what I will write about here, feel free to follow along on our other blog at Abroad Perspective.

And stay tuned, ya'll! That book is "in the works"!! I can't wait to share it with the world someday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Too Many Choices??

There I stood in the toy department of Target, with two different Iron Man action figures in my hands. One had the original suit; the other in the new silver suit. Which one had my 5-year-old begged me to get for his birthday just weeks ago??  How could I not remember? With a hundred different options of suits and guns available, how could I have not written this down?  I fell into the trap at that moment of feeling like a failure as a mother because I had to get it right. I couldn't screw up his birthday. (GASP!)

I don't have a degree in child psychology, but I have read almost every parenting book that exists on planet Earth. I know that choices are important to help our children form opinions and gain confidence. My five-year-old is not the "easiest" of my children. He is passionate and strong-willed to the degree that water is damp. He's particular and picky and thrives on "options" to make him feel in control of his little life. He can be a walking litmus test for patience, and I fail regularily.

He's inherited more than my blonde hair/blue eyes. I too feel the weight of the tyranny of choice.  How can a simple trip to the grocery store for sandwich spread turn out okay when you are faced with fifty-seven grape jelly options?!? In what world is that necessary??  What if I get the reduced-sugar grape jelly and it tastes horrible? What if I'm limited to only fourteen options this trip?? What if my child chooses the wrong shoes today. . .the rebellious child on the playground to befriend. . .the wrong future spouse???

This may seem like a drastic jump in situations, but it may not be. I've been convicted and overwhelmed over the nature of my humanity and the fickleness that is bred by entitlement. This is what we, as parents are passing on to our kids as well.

It dates back to the very first household that God created, when God gave Adam and Eve everything that was good, but they didn't think it was good enough for them. Even the first man and woman felt entitled to choose what they wanted even when He had told them that choice was forbidden. They didn't need "one more option". They weren't entitled to everything. He had given them enough. He had given them Himself.

I'll be the first to admit that standing in the middle of Target clutching two Iron Man figurines and screaming, "He only needs Jesus!!" might not be the best response to feeling overwhelmed by choice.

The ugly truth is that the color of the suit DID matter to my son.  At least I thought it did. In reality, he probably didn't remember which one he had wanted. The whole situation made me ask myself if I was fostering a sense of entitlement in my children, not necessarily by giving them too much, but too many choices.

Are they learning from us that Jesus is enough or are we teaching them to have a drive inside them that longs for the tree that we weren't supposed to have? When we are tempted to feel overwhelmed by first-world problems and choices, as parents we must come back to what Jesus has provided us already. We don't need a buffet. We don't need an Iron Man in every available suit color. We need "just enough" and we need to teach our children the same.

Does this resonate with you too?? Are we setting the stage for our children's desire for "more options" by giving them too many choices in life?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pet Peeves, Please?

First off, let me just note that apparently, blogging EVERY SINGLE DAY is way too much for me. I'm cutting myself some slack because I am trying to keep a clean house, apply for passports, plan, organize, and execute a HUGE benefit garage sale in a week, AND go through EVERYTHING I own to sell it to move to Nicaragua in exactly 60 days. . . .(and that's just the short To-Do List). Bare with me because my intentions for this month-long blogging stint were good. But God doesn't agree that I need more hours in my days, so we'll work this thing in where we can. :)

Onto "Pet Peeves". (As I am praying that yours don't include people who say they will do something and then don't follow through promptly. . .)

I decided to do this a little different. So much of the time, we focus our pet peeves around things that others do that drive us bat shiz crazy. I'm finding as my perspective on life is changing immensely lately, that the annoyances and flaws of others are falling slightly to the wayside as I notice more and more things about MYSELF that drive me bonkers. So this edition of "Pet Peeves" is all about ME, people! All the things about myself that I wish I could undo. These are the things that I do consistently that I'm SURE frustrate the heck outta other people. I know I'm someone else's walking "pet peeve"!

PUNCTUALITY: It's on almost every list of pet peeves of others. I have to admit that I struggle with being on time. To EVERYTHING. It never fails. I tend to dawdle, as my husband says. He usually doesn't know what in the world he's talking about, but in this instance, he's got a point. If ever you invite me to something, please know in advance that you will have to tell me to be there 15 minutes before you actually want me there. Just to be safe.

TALKING WITHOUT FILTER: This is the story of my life. I'm sure you've all noticed by now my inability to withhold personal information from the masses. I'm an open book. Inevitably, I say things without thinking. I tend to not get embarrassed easily. Others, that share a life with me and my antics, usually take the brunt of the retribution when it comes to my "lack of filter". I will apologize in advance if I ever say anything to offend, embarrass, annoy, or frustrate anyone. My big mouth gets me in more trouble than it's worth.

CELL PHONE STAGE FRIGHT: Let me tell you a little something that I do on the regular. I freak out when my phone rings. I'm an extrovert, mind you. I am energized by talking to others. But when my cell phone rings spontaneously, I get a little nervous. Maybe because most people communicate primarily online nowadays, with social media what it is. Or texting. It's so non-evasive. When I get a phone call, immediately I conclude that the person needs a "voice", so it must be serious. And let's all face it, I'm not good at "serious". I've been known for sending peeps to voicemail, simply because I want them to leave me a message as to why they are calling so that I can emotionally prepare before I call them back. Frustrating, eh? I'm completely aware that this is something that I should just get over, but it's something I do.

FINGERNAILS FROM HELL: This one shall bother my cousin, Jaci (of THIS amazing blog!) the most. She loves nail polish and beautiful nails. I do too, but I do not possess them. I used to get them done regularly as I was working full time and had the extra moolah. Once I started staying home with the munchkins, that's one luxury I could no longer afford. My nails have been through the ringer. I have forever been a "biter". I bite nails, I bite cuticles, I bite skin around my nails. As I type this out, I fear I am part-Cannibal. Eeeeek. This habit has bothered me for decades, as I'm pretty sure I bit my first nails off in the womb. I've never had gorgeous nails that were not acrylic. Call it a nervous tendency, I've always hated this about myself.

ABSURDLY OBLIVIOUS HOUSEWIFE: I'm really not sure I will ever grow out of this. It bothers me more than just about anything else that I do or am. I am a TERRIBLE housewife. Seriously. I stay home all day with the kids and truly love blogging, counseling, fundraising for our upcoming mission trip, etc, but I HATE CLEANING. And not because of the cleaning, but because I am honestly oblivious to it. Or at least unbothered by uncleanliness. Dishes in the sink, Tupperware in the fridge that's been growing mold for 6 months, enough dog hair collecting in the corners to put together a whole scarf, decomposing tator tots in the floorboard of the Jeep. . . .totally blind to it all. I just don't see it! I know you're shaking your head thinking, what is this chick's problem? She must be "dirty", by nature. I promise I'm hygienic! I brush and shower and floss! But the day to day dirt and grime of keeping house just escapes me. I need someone to come around beside me and point these things out. Is there such a thing as a "housewife's assistant"??

These are just a few. I promise I could leave you with about 607 more peeves that I have with myself. I'm a work-in-progress. God is not through molding me into something that looks like a normal functioning adult. :)  I struggle, but we all do.

What about you?? What are some "pet peeves" about YOURSELF that drive you bananas??

Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome to the Parenting Olympics, Here's Your Bronze Medal

I thought I'd take a quick break from the 30-Day Blog-A-Thon to post a bit about parenting. Cause, well. . .that IS what this whole blog is about. And also because I haven't written my next Blog-A-Thon post yet. So there ya go. We're gonna give you this one instead. :)  We'll be back to talking about my "Pet Peeves" tomorrow.

Are you IN on the competition? This "Parenting Olympics" we've created as a society? This culture in which we, as parents, are in a constant battle to be the better parent.  The mom who bakes the homeroom snack from scratch or the dad who is available for every single after-school function and glares with eyes of disappointment when you hear of other parents who are just not as "involved" as you are?

If you're anything like me, you may fall into the other category of parents. The ones who try as we might, can't make it to every single school recital or who is a cooking catastrophe in the kitchen and should never attempt anything but store-bought brownies for the kindergarten class party. I know a lot of times, we can look at the achievements of other parents, even those we have friendships with and compare "parental accomplishments". Sometimes we don't measure up. Other times we become prideful in the fact that our children are better behaved, trendier dressed, and developmentally on-track compared to that parent's children. When did the business of raising little people become such a competition?

A few days ago, I was driving home from picking up the kiddo at school. In front of me was a man on a motorcycle.  As I followed him through an intersection, we passed another motorcycle going the opposite direction.  As they passed each other, the second rider raised his hand to the guy in front of me in a show of solidarity.  The man in front of me returned the way.  The simple fact that they were both driving motorcycles was enough for them to feel a connection and greet each other that way. 

I pulled into my driveway a few minutes later and remembered the exchange with envy. The two motorcycle riders weren't sizing each other up, glaring judgingly at the type of bike the other had or what technique he was using to maneuver the streets. They were linked by motorcycle experience alone. Imagine be accepted, greeted---SEEN!---simply because of the vehicle you were driving. It occurred to me in that moment that in a perfect world, we parents should do the same.  Instead of judging and comparing on who's children display a better representation of our superior parenting, what if we simply acknowledged each other as fellow strugglers on this journey of parenthood?  As we pass each other in our minivans with our mutual silhouettes of kids in the backseats, our windows revealing the messy undersides of their sticker collages, we should make eye contact, raise our hands, and wave just to salute the other person to indicate that we SEE each other and that we are on the same team. 

I know, I know. All that parental waving and smiling on the road might result in a spate of minivan collisions. But on our way to playgroup, the grocery store, or the park, we aren't exactly tearing up the streets, are we?  So maybe we can avoid all the fender benders and just be a little bit more aware that there need to be more acceptance among parents and not so much competition. We need to be more open-minded and non-judgemental. We don't have it all together, and we shouldn't rag on other parents who struggle with the same things that we do. We should be lifting each other up, in prayer and in affirmation. Let's teach our kiddos by example that no one has it all-together; no parent, no child, no peer. We all need encouragement. We all need unity. No competition needed here. We're all on the same team.