Tuesday, June 24, 2014

permission to grieve

everyone has their own story.

this is mine.

364 days out of the year i try not to define myself by my past. i'm strong and move forward. i try to see the positive side. i focus on a plethora of blessings. i try to live forgiveness and i try to grow. it's not always easy, but usually it's relatively doable.

but there's always that one day.

and it always hits me like a ton of bricks.

and i always seem to forget that it's going to hit me like a ton of bricks.


sometimes i'm just flat out cranky. sometimes sad. sometimes bitter. sometimes i have no words. sometimes i pretend i'm great. sometimes i feel rejected. sometimes i feel forgotten. sometimes i cry. sometimes i hold it in. sometimes i want to drive off. sometimes i want to drink. sometimes i want to forget. sometimes i just want to sit in silence. sometimes i want to be alone. sometimes i feel alone. sometimes i want to be surrounded by my friends. sometimes i wish things had been different. sometimes i want to scream. sometimes i want to run. sometimes i get anxious. sometimes i panic. sometimes i ignore it. sometimes i feel guilty. sometimes i feel selfish.

what i realized this year... is that even if i can make it through the one day... if i don't let myself feel all the feels there are to feel (also known as grieving)... it'll still come bite me in the butt days or weeks later. i can't escape it.

and i've decided it's time to stop trying to escape... stop trying to be strong. stop trying to act like it doesn't effect me. it's time to give myself permission to grieve and simply let another layer of the wound be exposed... so it can heal.

the specifics don't matter. i'm sure many, if not all of us, have a day, or an experience, or an event, or a person that we have to deal with every so often. and i hope you can give yourself permission to work through it however you  need to work through it. i hope you can face it head on and let yourself be vulnerable to the pain AND the healing.

and that's all i have to say about that.


Monday, June 16, 2014

the latest

phew, just checked the date of my last post and was glad it hadn't quite been a month yet. just 3 weeks. technically i have a post that i started the very next day... and then a bunch of stuff kicked into gear aaaand here we are.

so just a quick review of the last three weeks. it's basically been day after day after day of cleaning the house and not really doing a lot of anything because you wanna be ready to leave if you get a phone to show the house.

we've also been busy selling stuff that wont fit or work well in our different space. and technically we should have already been in the new house by now and had a nice empty house to show with cleaned carpets instead of a half decorated, half organized, half packed, half a house of weird-not-matching-things going on. i can't even put it into proper words and sentences.

anyways. a few plans have changed since last we met. but let me catch you up on specifics since some people seem to enjoy that kind of stuff. we've sold our couch and loveseat, two twin beds, our entire queen bedroom suite, school desks (we had six in the house. six. really? we have four kids. and really we could do with two since we need places to put school laptops, but anyways, bye bye desks), a round table from the school room... silliness. i mean, i'm not schooling 10 children here, why so many desks and tables? um what else... a bench, tv trays and oh yeah ANOTHER table (like a little indoor picnic table). aye aye aye. oh we still need to sell a desk that we've been using as an entertainment center. whew.

thanks to a plethora of garage sale type facebook groups, i haven't actually had to deal with having a garage sale. awh yeah.

so all those things have been sold at a decent price and the funds used to replace it all with the following:
  • a slightly smaller, sleeker couch (on sale at the furniture store. awh yeah. i wanted to find one resale but everyone's pretty much just selling the bulky kind we just got rid of) 
  • a smaller, simpler desk that will replace the current bigger desk/entertainment center (resale facebook group)
  • 3 twin mattresses (decent price at Sam's club) and dave and i have moved down the the full sized bed that was micah's and double as a guest bed 
  • to match the colors in the new house we bought new sheets for everyone. sam also got a new comforter and i purchased a new quilt and sheets for our bed since the queen sized stuff obviously wont fit (and i didn't want dave having to sleep in the shabby chic floral stuff micah had)
  • a new rug (since we will have hardwood floors, and the coffee table will serve as school desk area, i figured we outta buy a somewhat decent rug). which reminds me, i guess we can give away the previous rug since it was given to us.
  • two chairs from a local resale shop (i tried to look up the type... one is basically called a vintage midcentury modern chair... huh? and the other i dunno. i dont really care. all i care is that i got TWO chairs for the price of... well like HALF of a new chair!)
  • 3 retro suitcases (local thrift shops)
  • a few (ok FIVE... i guess i have a thing for tables) of the super simple but colorful Lack tables from ikea. 1 for each of the girls to have in their room to place their retro suitcase "vanity" on and serve as a desk when needed... and two to use as a very inexpensive split coffee table (i don't know if that's what you call it, but that's what i'm calling it). i WAS going to drive to ikea this weekend, but it was cheaper to have it shipped than spend on gas as well as all the other stuff (aka non-essential junk) i would've unintentionally carried out of the store.
  • and i still have enough from what we've sold to get paint for the house, an end table to go between the chairs (resale of course), and a cheap but somewhat decent rug for our bedroom, and probably a couple more of the Lack side tables since we dont have nightstands anymore... but we gotta wait to see what space is left once we move in... more waiting. sigh.

ok that was probably way too detailed... oh well.

i really have tried to be very mindful of everything i'm looking at and purchasing. and i still face the temptation to get things that will "look great" and "go perfect" but if it's not on the list then i just gotta remind myself not to get it. right now i absolutely need to focus on the absolute essentials (and even that's been pretty lax... new sheets aren't essential.xbut you gotta decide what you gotta decide and you gotta be content with your decision and i am. content.

and a bit stressed. not gonna candy-coat it... its not easy planning so much ahead and making countless trips to stores and spending numerous hours online to find the best deals and comparing quality with affordability and necessity and so on.

the hardest part really is that I am SO ready to BE in the new house and to put what we do have where it will go and to stand in the middle of the room and smile and think to myself ,"...ahhh" and "thank you Lord". and i am SO ready for colorful walls and rooms!!

"A home filled with only the things you love or use is a home you will truly love to use." -J. Baker
... that's my goal right now in all this planning and selling and purchasing... keep and/or get the things that are essential and efficient and in the colors that we love... and let go of the rest.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

house plans

you know those times you feel guilty for not feeling guilty?

this is sorta like that... i mean, it's supposed to be "hard" to downsize right? it's a sacrifice. it's crazy.

meh... it's really not a big deal though. of course it's requiring a significant amount of my time to think through our little downsizing adventure, but i'll say it again... it's STILL a LOT of ROOM!!

anyways, it's been really fun thinking of how to fit things in. i just posted some large items to sell and the question has come up about where we're going to sleep if we're selling all our beds (we're not, but i guess it seems like it)... and i kinda just wanna be a little sassy pants and respond, "the girls are gonna sleep on the floor"... which they are. but don't call cps, that's not as terrible as it sounds.

aaaaaaaaaand pause for perspective: in the blistering heat of summer, the beautiful children at asha house in India (whom i miss terribly) sleep right on the concrete floor. Helps them stay "cool" (yeah, it's still terribly hot). and it's not much harder that the mattress they otherwise sleep on. and they don't complain.

aaaaaaaaaand back to our regularly scheduled program... the girls will still be on mattresses that are soft and bouncy and comfy and in air conditioned and heated rooms... and they're excited about it. we're gonna have fun and do it up like a morrocan or arabian type bedroom. 3 twin mattresses together to make one huge sleeping area and drape some pretty sari fabric canopy style. then we'll have colorful pillows everywhere (i'm already imagining the great reading spot it'll become). and i wont have to buy a bunch of overpriced pillows... i have a lot... and by "a lot", i mean a lot for a texas resident... a lot of quilts that have been gifted to us that pretty much only get pulled out when someone sleeps over. well i'm going to roll them up like a sleeping bag and put them in a handy dandy little drawstring type cover and BAM... bolster pillows gallore! Hello! can i get a hallelujah?!?! decor and storage rolled into one. YES!!!

see what i mean... i'm so excited about this... remind me again how is this difficult??

Sam will inherit the musical instruments into his room (thanks to his current loft bed, he can still have plenty of room for all is lego creations). we're getting rid of the chair that he hardely ever uses and mostly gets used as a collecting spot for clutter.

we wont have a fireplace so that means more wall space for bookshelves and a deep window seat that can double as a guest bed (sounds so fun... i wanna sleep there!). school desk/laptop area will be the cubbied-crate-coffee table i plan to make (hobby lobby + coupons = affordable supplies).

and as far as everything else goes, really we just need less "bulky" items. more of a sleek and "modern" style. so we'll sell what we can and  be very thoughtful about whatever we do purchase to make sure it's going to be practical and beneficial to the space it will fill.

like i said before... we have so much.

Lord, let us be generous with every item and every square foot of space and every dollar that this whole process frees up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

a conundrum. a confirmation. a challenge.

A CONUNDRUM.
Sometime last summer, our family went to a local splash park. It's the newest and promises to be the biggest park complex of our little city. It's technically in the south part of town, but it doesn't "feel" like the south part of town. and if you dont live in Longview, then you may not understand that everything south of Hwy 80 is just not as... desirable. Ya know... you don't forget to lock your cars... and there are certain streets you just don't even drive down.... and houses are smaller and older... and the ratio of pimped up cars to minivans is the exact opposite of the north side of town. but really, i grew up in Houston. (yeah the 4th largest city in the U.S)... So to me Longview is just a little bump in the road/ Main Street town (which i love btw way) and the differences between north and south longview aren't anywhere near the range of differences in H-town.

back to last summer though, we visited the splash park and it happened to be at a later time of day (most often I would meet other moms and kids at the park during the morning or afternoon hours) but this time it was after work and the hubs came along.

i'm not usually surprised by much, but i was pretty surprised that night. it was like walking into a completely different place. it was like walking into a park in south Longview (as terrible as that sounds). the whole atmosphere was different. families were different in their attitude and treatment of one another and a million other things

and the whole time i just kept trying to think of a way to connect with someone, anyone. and i was completely blank. (and embarrassed and disappointed that i was blank) not that there was much opportunity to get a word in edge wise between all the yelling and boisterous banter. i couldn't even think of anything to comment on or ask about... it was... it was so foreign to me... honestly it was like culture shock (and i've visited other cultures and i've grown up in ghetto schools, i shouldn't have felt that). And the kids... the kids who are usually such a great way to segway into the adults... they were just plain rude. and the parents seemed to have such little regard for their children anyways that even the sincerest of compliments about their kids wouldve been scoffed at and laughed off.

over the next few days i just couldn't get over how i just had NO CLUE how to make a connection. and i realized that it was because i had no 1st hand understanding of how these folks live, or what they deal with, or have been through, or were raised, or anything (other than the older woman telling her children they needed to go to church; gotta love grandmas).

fyi: my mind runs through a crazy progession of thoughts in an insanely unexplainable fashion.. so to sum up part of that... my thoughts, with numerous stops in between, went from: asking how to make a connection in order to make an impact... to: once in a while outreaches are stupid and dont really do much or make a lasting impact (at least the ones i've been involved in)... to: well who would want to connect with me when i live across town... to: we'll just have to live in the same community in order to connect.

and thus began the thought process and the path toward moving further south.

really our house moving plans have been three fold: to cut down our mortgage (sorta explained HERE), to downsize, and to move into south longview. and surpisingly the reactions haven't been that extreme at all when i mention to people who ask that the house we're so excited about is in south Longview... but i can tell there's at least an ounce of...
...running through their minds. its ok. i knows we're crayzee.

A CONFIRMATION.
today the big splash park was closed for construction (adding more of the next phase), but we didn't know that until we drove up and we were ready for some water fun. i couldnt' remember where the other "north-sided" splash park was, but i knew about one in south longview that we had been to once before for a homeschool park day a few years ago. and the closer we got... well pretty much i just kept hoping we weren't going to interrupt any drug deals. haha... no seriously.

fortunately there was a family there... or at least 2 kids with a group of adults... that pulled up moments after us. within seconds all the kids were joyfully playing together. the two kids were super sweet and polite (which i have to say was surprising since the women of the group that they were somehow related to, were walking around very loudly fussing about "mother-f this and mother-f that"). and based on all the other vehicles and groups that pulled in and out during that hour, our little family stuck out like a sore thumb (but i have to admit that having a spraypainted van and a couple tatts helped me feel a leeeeetle bit more confident that i could maybe blend in a little... at least enough to keep from getting us killed... haha... no seriously). but we did what we could to just.. well... be ourselves. sharing towels with the kiddos and just ya know, just being there. this is where the "confirmation" came that the kids really are the best way to connect... they're simply more open, and have fewer assumptions towards other kids. reach the kids and you'll reach the parents.

A CHALLENGE.
so this evening my thoughts have turned to how shall we prepare the kids for the "world" they're about to enter. i didn't point out the mistreatment or the foul language of the other adults towards each other today, but it'll have to be discussed. What did they hear? what did they see? how did they feel about that? what do we do about it?  and then also trying to discover the right way, or shall i say, the biblical perspective of safety.. (ya gots to have street smarts). i don't want to raise "safe and scared" kids. i want to raise adventurers who take risks for the right reasons. who don't cling to their own lives but lay it down for others. and i don't want them to be afraid of what "might" happen, i want them to trust that every moment the Lord will lead them in wisdom and love and self sacrifice. i want them to go to hard places and do hard things. and i want them prepared and equipped.

ultimately this whole thing is bigger than me and my blank brain, bigger than the kids and their future everything, bigger than our soon to be house (situated in one of the nice "pockets" of south longview), bigger than our lives and the air we breathe... and knowing that makes it seem a little less... scary... cause it's not just us or about us. but most importantly, it reveals how desperately we must trust in the Spirit's leading and lean on the truth of God's word and follow the example that Christ set for us in order to take even just one tiny step in this journey.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It's Hard to Explain

Pretty sure that this will be the fourth time I have written this post... er, re-written.

it's almost like when you have a dream and then you attempt to actually vocalize it and you just can't get it to make sense, or you just can't seem to paint a proper picture of what you saw and you sorta wish you hadn't really tried to explain the whole thing. like that. that's a bit how i feel right now, but i keep getting asked the question and so i'm going to do my best to very simply answer it. {my problem is that i like to anticipate what responses or questions might arise and try to address those, but since this is my fourth or fifth attempt, i'm just going to go with simple and I'm sure by the end I'll be wondering why in the world this has taken so long. oh well}.

so...

...we have a nice house in a nice neighborhood and we have plenty of room and many wonderful things to fill those rooms with.

*now insert 4 years of radical books, mission trips, intense bible studies, discussions with friends, and so on... right... about... here*

...but another way of looking at it is that we have a lot of stuff. and it just keeps growing and we keep cramming and storing and organizing and we're pretty much done with that whole thing.

...and we pretty much wanna use our resources on less stuff and live to be more people focused. locally and globally.

so...

...we've decided to buy a smaller house {really it's still huge by comparison to the rest of the world who often fills one room with an entire family, but it's the step we're taking for now}.

...and we're hoping that by getting a smaller house we will force ourselves to de-own and reduce our stuff and stress and all that...

...and by doing so we can hopefully have more resources available for that "people focus" thing i mentioned above.

it's been an adventure to say the least. my theme song has been "let it go". i grab an item as i sift through a drawer or closet or pile and ask myself if I need/use it or love it? if the answer is no, but i still hesitate getting rid of it, i sing "let it gooo, let it gooo" and quickly place it in the give bag or the trash bag. some stuff has been easier than other stuff. and i'm ok with that although it is a little embarrassing. but we've really tried to take this whole process with a posture of learning and growing. we pause and talk through things with the kids (sometimes not so beautifully because i'm dealing with my own sentimental attachments) but at the end of the day, we know it's all worth it and we're doing our best to place our complete trust in the Giver of all good things, and know that as we lighten our own material burden, we'll make ourselves more available to give more, and do more, and learn more, and grow more, and love more, and so on.

it really has been quite exciting. and challenging.

so that's it in a nutshell... my little explanation of our current path of life. :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

someone once said

"It is an anomaly of modern life that many find giving to be a burden. Such persons have omitted a preliminary giving. If one first gives himself to the Lord, all other giving is easy." — John S. Bonnell

found this qoute this morning and thought it was reaffirming to what i wrote in my last blog post.

here are a couple more good ones...

"I believe with all of my heart that God's people possess God's provision to accomplish and fulfill God's purposes in the world." — Joel Vestal

"There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbour." — John Calvin

"There are many hearing me who now know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart." — Robert Murray McCheyne

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The root of the fruit.

Wow.

Literally, wow. Thats my response to a sermon we just listened to online.

I appreciate pastors who are willing to be vulnerable, to do hard things, to ask tough questions, to challenge himself and his congregation.

Last year dave went to Nepal with Mountain Child. Just a couple weeks ago david platt went on a similar trip with Mountain Child. Then he delivered a sermon at his home church sharing his experiences and asking some direct questions of the congregation that basically require action or inacation as the response.

I'd reccomend watching/listening to it yourself for deeper/further understanding of these questions, but to summarize he asked if we will choose comfort or the cross? will we settle for maintenance or sacrifice for mission? will we be marked by indecisive minds or undivided hearts?

On a bit of a side note, but... not really... our church has been talking about generosity and giving and going through Andy Stanley's book "How to be Rich"... which is great. Believe me, im excited that this is being talked about. Dave and i were asked to give a little testimony of... well... giving. Our journey of giving and sorta connecting the points made in the book. Which is a bit awkward and embarrasing, but more than that its almost impossible to do rightly.

Heres how i picture it: giving, serving, ministering, sacrificing, worshipping, fasting, praying, and so on are all just different branches on a tree, all hopefully bearing good fruit, but perhaps some are in the process of being pruned, or being grafted in, or maybe withering from neglect, etc... different and yet they all stem from one place, they are all rooted in one thing.

So to simply describe any fruit on a branch, is kinda pointless if you dont explain what its all rooted in. You may listen to a speaker tell you how she exercises and eats all organic and avoids processed foods, but most likely only a moment of motivation will come along as opposed to actual transformation unless you really understand and connect with WHY she lives this way and WHY you should as well. Likewise, we can get up and share where we give, what we give, how we give, who we give to... but if folks dont first understand WHY we give, then we're just describing a snapshot of something and not actually teaching or challenging anyone to cultivate the growth of this particular area.

In this case, the questions that platt asked in his last sermon, start to point at the root of the matter of giving because the branch will not bear good fruit if it isnt rightly rooted in, so really, we have to focus on the root; the fruit is only a small indicator of the health of the branch and its roots. And yes, this isnt just about giving money, however, what and where you spend your money is a really good indicator of what you value more. Time is another indicator fruit. And there are others.

So what do you value more, the cross or comfort? Others or yourself? Safety or obedience? If you are rooted in the cross and others and obedience... deciding whether or not to give isnt even an issue. Why? because you have already given everything to Christ. You have already submitted to his ways and recognized that everything is the Father's to begin with, and giving is simply a matter of following (or obeying) where and what and to whom and how much the Spirit leads. And you cant help but give it joyfully and freely because its nothing compared to the endless love and majesty and beauty and holiness and faithfulness and power and might and righteousness and forgiveness of the Creator of all good things. Your comfort, your life, your wants, you, you, you, you, you... have already been placed on the cross. You're dead. And Death isnt halfway. Its final. Its irreversable in your own power. When you choose to follow Christ, you are choosing death. But then HE ressurects you to new life and then you bear HIS name and you carry HIS light and you walk in HIS power and authority you share HIS life and you give HIS good things and you go to serve and love HIS children and you get to know HIS heart and HIS ways more and more.