Archive | May 2012

The War

My dad fought in the Vietnam War. He was part of the United States Army.

I wish I could say I know more, but I don’t. I have never heard stories of his time serving. I have never seen pictures or held medals that he earned. He never came to my school and talked to my classmates about his experiences. I don’t know how many years he served… If he went voluntarily or if he was drafted.

I know that upon his return, he was spit on and called a baby killer.

I wonder what hurt more? Knowing he was, but had no choice, or looking forward to the comfort of home, only to be greeted without compassion.

In my almost 38 years, its the only information about the war he has ever volunteered. Never in sadness, always with hurt and anger.

I wonder what he was like before he went. Did the war change him? Did the protesters? What did he see? Hear? Feel?

Some say he is one of the lucky ones, because he came back. I wonder how lucky he felt. I wonder if his nightmares ever made him wish he was one of the ones that wasn’t “lucky”?

Memorial Day has always been painful for him. He has said “they didn’t honor me then, why honor me now?”

I don’t know, dad. I don’t know why some people were so awful to you then. On days like today, I
remember and thank you, and everyone like you for what you did, for what we gained, and what you lost.

I wish it had been different. I wish I knew more. I don’t. I thank you anyway.

The Elephant in the Room

When I was in grade school, we had a speaker come and talk to us about the power of suggestion. She/ he said “I am going to say something and I want you to NOT think of it…. ready…. do not think of a pink elephant”. 

Well, you know, if we were honest, every single one of us did. Even now, I am thinking about pink elephants. Are you? 

That’s the thing, once the elephant is there, it’s hard not to think about it. Elephants take up a lot of room. It’s hard, if not IMPOSSIBLE, to move around them. 

That’s what we have. We have an elephant in the room. He moved in and took residence last week. I am pretty sure my husband knew something was there, he just didn’t know it was an elephant. He does now. 🙂 

I spent so much time worrying about telling him about the elephant that I nearly had a stroke. (not literally) So one day, I just told him… and confessing it wasn’t as bad as worrying about it. He has been so good about praying me through this. Why didn’t I tell him earlier?

Fear… and elephants. 

So the thing is… I like to blog what is on my mind. (and have you ever noticed that I use “….” A LOT? I have) Right now, I CAN’T blog what is on my mind. That darn elephant is all I am thinking about. Maybe as time goes by, the feeling of the elephant in the room will fade. Maybe, just maybe that elephant will leave for good. But today? Right now? When I am with you, I am thinking about the elephant. When I am writing, I am thinking about the elephant. When I am talking to you, yep, that elephant is on my mind. 

So even though I can’t blog about it, even though I can’t talk about it. I want to. Someday. I want to introduce you to the elephant and perhaps even have your assistance in moving him out of here. Unfortunately TODAY is not that day. 

Until that day comes, will you pray for me? Pray for us? (and as a side note, just so you don’t worry, my marriage is FINE. There are no worries there. This is nothing that a little time, love and tenderness prayers won’t get us through)

When the time comes, you will know. Until then, I will be answering any questions about the elephant with the same thing my grandma used to say… (there I go again with the ….) “If I had wanted you to know that, you wouldn’t have to ask”. Gosh I miss my grandma. LOL. 

Do you have any elephants in the room? Can I pray for you? 

Perspective – Things Aren’t always What They Appear

Aw, Friday, why do you have to come at the end of the week? It gives a whole  new meaning to “Save the best for last”.

Why do I love Fridays? Because I pretend I am not going to get up early tomorrow… But I know I will.

Also, Five Minute Friday posts at the Gypsy Mama’s blog! Her prompt this week is Perspective. I get 5 minutes to write. No more. Unscripted, unedited, just writing.

Here goes:

While the Mr. was unemployed, we spent a lot of down time hiking. We hiked the same area, because there were so many trails to choose from. Every time we went there was something we hadn’t seen before. In the picture above, this was a trail we had seen many times before. As you can tell, it goes straight down and over the cliff. OBVIOUSLY. I was a little hesitant to go look over the edge of this so called cliff, because I had already slid on my bum, down one. My phone barely missed being shattered and I had a bruised bottom for weeks. So I did what any good wife would do. I sent my husband. I stood behind him shouting “Be careful! Don’t fall! I LOVE YOU, JUST IN CASE!”. In my mind, what I could see, was DANGER.

So he went ahead. He called me forward. There was nothing to be afraid of. The trail went down a little further. There was a cross, a tribute to a young man who had died. (hopefully not in that spot) The trail winded down and then it did drop steeply off. It was beautiful and peaceful. I was so glad we  he had checked it out. 😉

It just took a fresh perspective. I could have stayed on the main trail, but I might have missed beauty like this:

Things aren’t always as they appear.

Done. (and I had one minute left!)

 

Living Above the Doubt

I have history. 

When I was working a $20 an hour job, I was miserable. I even had good benefits. A yearly bonus that would pay my bills for 2 months. But none of that changed the fact that I hated it. I hated being away from my family. I hated the stress. I hated leaving my babies with someone else. 

Then I got pregnant, so I stayed. Just for the benefits. The moment Miss Piper was born, I knew I could never leave her. I had done it before, but this time was different. It seemed physically impossibly for me to separate from her. 

I was told many things, such as I was crazy for giving up that much income, that I would be bored silly, that we would never be able to make it on my husband’s income alone. I was told that it wasn’t sensible to just up and quit. I needed a plan. 

There was no time to plan. I quit. 

I was living above the doubt. 

When I felt called to go to Nicaragua, there were naysayers. There were people that told me to not be disappointed if I didn’t get to go. I was told it wasn’t safe. The cost of the fees even seemed insurmountable to me, but I knew I was supposed to go. 

I was living above the doubt. 

When I came back from Nicaragua, I left my old life behind. It just didn’t seem that I could go back to who I was and what I used to do. I quit my part time job. My husband took a pay cut at work. We got hit with a huge medical bill. We had to ask for help with our mortgage. We were offered help “with stipulations”.  They felt that we couldn’t  make it on my husband’s income alone and thought I should get a job. Understandably, they didn’t want to help with the house payment if we were just going to lose it anyway. I knew what I was called to do at that time, and turned down the help. I started to wonder if I had heard Him wrong. 

I was living above the doubt. 

Here we are again. Chad was unemployed for 4 weeks. He’s employed again, but for much less than he was making before. We’ve asked for help again, because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We know that there are good things coming, we know things are going to get better. We know that we have done this before and been okay, we can do this again. I’ve started making beads and necklaces again. I enjoy doing it.

I have doubts. 

It’s when I have to remind myself to live above the doubts.

 Because… we did make it on my husband’s income after Piper was born, I did raise enough money to go to Nicaragua and we didn’t lose our house. It was all hard, but it wasn’t impossible. 

We have lived above the doubts before. We are going to live above the doubts again. Things may not turn out the way we hope, but things will turn out. 

Have you ever had to live above the doubt before? I would love to hear your experience. 

What does a SAHM do anyway?

My sweet friend, ex-neighbor made me laugh today. I posed this question on my Facebook page:

“Is it unrealistic to think that a family in this day and age can survive on one income? Why or why not? Would love to hear your thoughts.”

I  don’t have many followers, but out of those who responded, not one person said it was impossible. Hard, yes, impossible,  no.

My friend said “It’s doable, and it takes a lot of sacrifice. However, you may get bored w/ being at home alone when the kids are in school next yr…” (there was more, this is the important part)

I laughed , because, well, my kids have been in school, all of them, full time… for TWO YEARS!

I have yet to be bored. 🙂

When I look at my schedule, I am not actually sure how I can work in being bored. Here’s a look at what a typical day entails for me:

6:30 – up and at ’em. I will usually check my email, glance at FB, make my coffee, stumble around the kitchen. 😉

6:45 – make lunches and snacks for the day

7:00 – make and eat breakfast, WAKE UP.

7:30 – make breakfast for Jack and Piper, unless Piper makes her own, then I just clean up whatever she spilled.

7:45 – see Taylor off to school

8:00 – jump in the shower

8:15 – tell the kids they have 30 minutes!!! fix my hair, get dressed, do make up,  make the bed.

8:35 – tell the kids they have 10 minutes!!! Make sure they have their snacks, lunches, forms signed, etc

8:45 – out to the bus stop with the kids. Wait anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on what kind of morning the bus driver has had and if she lost the bus keys that morning.

9:00 – clean up kitchen, start dishes, recycle papers from the day before.

9:30 – write blog post, make grocery list, balance check book, pay bills

10:00 – gather and start laundry

10:30 – Grocery shopping if needed, run errands, go for a walk (purely health and sanity reasons)

12:30 – come home, put groceries away, get mail, start prepping dinner for that night, make lunch

1:30 – work on making beads, as if I am selling them one day. 😉

2:30 – leave to pick up Taylor from school.

3:00 – arrive home, Michelle has been home for 10 minutes, help Taylor with homework or projects, spend time with girls

4:00 – Jack and Piper are home.

This is just a snapshot of a typical day. I know, I know, it probably sounds a bit boring. And I didn’t factor in the checking emails (which I don’t get many of), texting my cousin, calling my mom, weeding the garden, sorting the recycling, taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat box, etc, etc, etc. I have 5 and 1/2 hours from when the last kids leave for school and the first kid arrives home from school.

I can honestly say that even though the tasks are mundane and repetitive and sometimes frustrating, that I am almost NEVER bored. There is always something to fill my time. There are days that I actually work a little… cleaning (other people’s) houses or child care. I am also a volunteer with CASA, we sponsor four kids through Compassion International who I regularly write letters to. I play with the (fat) dog, because she needs her exercise and needs to lose weight. (not all that different from, ahem, me) If I ever did get really bored, I would clean the bathroom, or finish some of these home repairs.

So, bored? Never! 🙂

How about you? Do you stay home? Are you ever “bored”? Do you ever run out of things to do? 

Perhaps next time, I will share our very personal reasons for me staying home.

(No?) Worries!

As of today, my husband has been unemployed for exactly 4 weeks.

Come Monday the 14th, my husband is gainfully employed! More on that later.

Our motto of the last four weeks has been “no worries”. We had been through this before. We had worried, cried, argued… and then seen the impossible happen, over and over again. We had medical bills up the wazoo, shut off utilities, foreclosure notices, etc. It was stressful.

Even with our lack of true faith at that time, God restored and redeemed each and every issue we had.

We didn’t want to be that way again.

Yes, the circumstances are the same… it’s our response that is different.

We went to the beach the day after he was let go. We’ve spent time together, we’ve hiked, we’ve prayed, we’ve focused on our faith in the God that saved us before, because we know that He will save us again. He’s never failed us.

Just last night, I sent this email to my bible study group:

I just wanted to tell you that Chad got a job! He starts on Monday. It is for a lot less than he was earning before, but we are trusting that God put this job in his path for a reason and that He will provide for us as He always as. (even in spite of other people’s doubts) We are very at peace right now. Our motto is “no worries”. 

That was before I started filling out some financial forms. With each number I wrote down, hope left the building and despair settled in. When I realized how far the gap between our income and expenses is going to be… I started to worry. Though I know that God is in the business of miracles and doing the impossible, I doubted. I thought “Maybe we have already used up our miracle. Maybe He doesn’t have anymore for us.” I was already mentally packing our bags and envisioning us homeless.

Then my email notification popped up, I clicked over and read the response to my earlier show of hope:

No worries is a good motto. As I said on Weds., I haven’t seen any sparrows pushing shopping carts at Safeway lately!!!!!!

And I reread what I had just written two hours earlier. “No worries, no worries, no worries“. “He will provide for us as He always as“. Surprisingly, my own words comforted me.

I laid there and thought about all He has done for us already. I rested in the assurance that His mercies are never ending. I have to assume that His miracles don’t end too. I prayed in my heart and my mind. I lifted my worries to Him.

Mark 9:24 says Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I have been saying the same thing. “I do believe, Lord, help me overcome my unbelief“.

I will say it again and again and again, because I fail at it every day. I am praying for miracles, I am praying for Him to overcome the impossible. And if things don’t work out the way I plan, I am praying for His grace, mercy and peace to see me through.

How can I pray for you? 

The World Went Quiet

In 1980, I was 5 years old. I was attending kindergarten at the local elementary school. It was the first time I had ever been away from my mom. It came as a surprise to my parents when the teacher pulled them aside and said “I think your daughter has a hearing problem”.

They never knew.

I don’t recall much from that time, but the one thing I CLEARLY remember is sitting in the audiologist’s office and my mom saying “If your hearing is fine, you are in big trouble”.

Well, I showed her! The tests came back and I was “hard of hearing”. I was fitted with hearing aids soon after. It opened up a whole new world for me. My mom tells me that I would come in the kitchen and say “mommy, I hear someone talking in the living room, but it’s not daddy or Willie”. It was only the TV. I had never heard it from another room before. Or when I walked my corduroys (it was the early 80’s remember!) would rub together. I had never known that it made a sound.

I stopped wearing hearing aids around the 5th grade, because they weren’t cool. My concerned parents contacted a doctor who wisely told them that around the age of 21, I would be begging for them. He was right. For a solid 16 years, I have worn my hearing aids. Since then, I have had 3 pairs. Since they are not cheap by any means, I have had to go without for months when a pair would finally give up working and were beyond repair.

After the last purchase of hearing aids, I have been a poster hearing aid owner. I clean them, I dry them, I put them in their case every night. (Hmmm mmmm, learned that the hard way. One time my baby (yes, Piper) destroyed one and another time the dog ate it. Okay, they’ve been eaten by a dog 2 separate times)

This past Saturday, I cleaned them, and put them in their audio dryer for the night. The next morning, I showered, did my hair, put my contacts in, put fresh batteries in my hearing aids, put one in the left ear and the world was still quiet. It didn’t sound louder.

What?

I repeated the process with my right ear.

NOTHING.

Just so you know, I am a little… sensitive about these things. They are the link between me and HEARING the world! I have had one aid go out or the other, but NEVER both at one time.

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. I put on my sunglasses, just in case, went outside and told my husband “they don’t work. My hearing aids. Neither one works”. I didn’t cry. He said “they are still under warranty, right?” (yes) “but”, he continued “it’s Sunday, they are not open”.

BINGO.

I would have to go a minimum of 24 hours without my precious hearing devices.

I thought I could at least get a jump on it though. I would call the audiologist and leave a message. She would get it first thing Monday morning and she would call me back. She always called back.

So I called. One, two, three, four, five rings.

“__________ hearing center, this is Shelley”.

Then I might have cried a little. I told her I didn’t think she would be there. I explained the problem. She said if I got there in the next 15 minutes she would take a look at them.

I got there in 10.

I took them out of their box and handed them to her. She went right to work.

I looked at the hours posted on her door. There were hours for Monday through Saturday, but Sunday clearly said CLOSED. I said “Shelley, you’re not supposed to be here.”

She said “I know. ____________ wants to try to have us open 7 days a week. Today is the first time that I have worked a Sunday”.

What? They just happened to be open on the one and only day when I felt like I couldn’t deal with something else breaking? I just happened to call, knowing they had never been open on a Sunday in the 16 years I have gone there? They just happened to be there?

Coincidence?

I think not.

I prefer to think it came from a God who loves me. I went out to my car and literally said “God loves me the best today. Thank you, God”.

This was a God-incidence….

all

the

way.

And the hearing aids? They were fine. She cleaned them up with her super duper electronic hearing aid cleaner and they were as good as new. 🙂 I’m just thankful they both went out at one time, no sense making 2 trips for the same issue. 😉

To read more God-incidences, visit Jennifer at Getting Down with Jesus.  You should also “like” her page on FB. You will not just like her. You will LOVE her. Promise.

And for those of you who have been following along… my husband got a job! More on that later. 😉