Not A Real Blogger

bablogosml

I met a “real” blogger a few weeks back. A mutual friend introduced us and through conversation, said friend proudly mentioned that she had a blog.  The blogger must have been pretty serious about it because she mentioned protecting her computer because in doing so, she was protecting her livelihood. I was impressed.  I have never met a “real” blogger before; one that has sponsors or sells ad space on their page.  I declined to ask about it further.  We were on a field trip and the setting didn’t seem appropriate plus the two of us didn’t hit it off (I am not everyone’s cup of tea (wink)) so I didn’t think the conversation would be fruitful to say the least.

Having met a “real” blogger, I immediately thought of my fledgling blog. I blog but I never considered myself a blogger.  Why?  Well for one thing, I don’t work this like a job, I blog anonymously, and the few times I’ve attempted to expand my social presence with Facebook and Twitter were unsuccessful because my heart wasn’t into pushing this blog further. Am I proud of this blog? Yes. Yes, I am. Very much so.  But this venture never began with a me focus.  I felt led by God to do this so I did.

I check my blog stats.  I can see how many views I get per day. I can see what my most popular posts are.  I can see that it is rare that anyone reads the most recent post I publish. That’s fine.  I keep my eyes on my why and my why is Christ.  I am not ashamed of this blog but having met a “real” blogger, I can tell you there is a HUGE difference between someone who has a blog and someone who is a blogger.

Much success to both camps!

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

Shoebox

I don’t know how long Operation Christmas Child has been around but I found out about it about five years ago through MOPS. I did not participate the first year.  I was a little put off by how much service this particular group was seeking us to participate in and declined but I am glad the idea grew on me.

We have now participated in the program for four years.  We started out with one box, then three, then four, and now we are at five. A few years ago, we recruited two of Jazmine’s cousins to come pack shoeboxes with us.  It makes for a nice family memory and we can talk about being the hands of feet of Jesus.

Up until this year, we’ve always done our Shoebox shopping at the Dollar Store. We included princess tiaras, fairy wands, sidewalk chalk, crayons, coloring books, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. We were heavy on the toys and since we are all girls, we pack boxes for girls. I thought we had always done a bang up job. That was until I read this article.  It is called Unsolicited Advice About Shoeboxes.  It was written by a missionary in Senegal who witnessed first hand the joy Shoeboxes bring children.  She had great advice on what items work and what items don’t work in Shoeboxes.

We used to pack hats in the Shoeboxes.  I was thinking of the girls in Russia or other cold areas who would appreciate another layer of warmth but since we don’t control where our Shoebox ends up, that may not be the best idea.  I had no idea that sidewalk chalk may not be an ideal gift.  Here, in the US, sidewalks are plentiful.  That is our reality.  It is unlikely that our Shoebox will be handed out in a place that would find the same joy we do in sidewalk chalk.

I had no idea that stuffed animals could strike fear in the heart of a child.  I didn’t forward think to send sharpeners with colored pencils. We treated the Shoeboxes like mini toy chests, filled with fun toys and little necessities.  I mean, who wants to get toiletries as a gift?

Well it turns out, my first world thinking was missing a dose of third world reality. The lists she wrote in her letter was so enlightening and helpful.  I am only sorry I didn’t get to see it until after we turned in our shoeboxes last year.

In previous years, because of my Dollar Store shopping, I only sought to spend $20, no more than $30 dollars to fill up all the boxes and I stayed well within range. This year, because I was interested in giving things that the children would need and enjoy, I spent about $15 per box. It was a bit of a sticker shock this time around but I considered it a valuable investment. This time around, our boxes had flashlights, T-shirts, jump ropes, soap containers to go with the soap bars, a plate, and hard candy!  We had other things too; crayons are a staple and getting a new toothbrush was always fun for me when I was little.

I am so appreciative of this article.  I will have to print it out so I always have it before it gets lost in the internet 🙂

 

Woman! Beware of the Pitfalls! Part 1: Crushed By Your Own Standards

Behaving as a victim of her own standards and demanding everyone in earshot do the same  –http://shereadstruth.com/2015/07/22/martha/

 

This statement began the entire thought process for this series.

A huge pitfall that women face is becoming a victim of the very standards we have for ourselves and then demanding that others meet that same standard. Let me give you a real life example.

Standard: You must never be late.

Martha is always on time and is very self righteous in her timeliness.  There is never an acceptable reason or excuse for one to be late in her book. However, one day, Martha was late. Not only was she late, she was the last person to arrive when everyone else in her party was gassed up an ready to go. She walked without haste to the waiting cars and did not apologize but she did exude an air of you-better-not-say-anything-to-me-about-being-late because if you do, I’m going to let you have it. So she forced her ill temper on everyone else in the party. If the situation was reversed, she would have found a way to let the tardy person know how she felt about her tardiness.

That is a general example but you can see how the effect of your standards can ripple toward others. Not only are you crushed by your own standards but you crush others with it.  Standards in and of themselves are not the problem.  Our take on our standards can be problematic.

Martha’s take on her standard was that it is the rule at all cost.  When she fell victim to it, instead of assessing her standard, she enforced her failure on others.

Let us stock of our own standards.  If we are crushed by them, how might they be making others feel?

Lord, Have Your Way?

Have Your Way.  The song goes like this

Yes, do your will, yes, do your way
Yes, I will go, yes, I’ll obey
So, whatever you desire to do in this house today

Have your way, have your way, have your way
Have your way, have your way, have your way
Have your way, have your way, have your way
Have your way, have your way, have your way

Have your way, have your way, have your way
Have your way, have your way, have your way
Have your way, have your way, have your way
Have your way, have your way, have your way

So, whatever you desire to do
So, whatever you desire to do
So, whatever you desire to do in this house todays

Read more: Joe Pace – Have Your Way Lyrics | MetroLyrics

You can listen to it here.

Another artist has a song by the same title and it tells of the artists own redemptive story. But it got me to thinking. Do we really believe the words as we sing this song to God? Do we really want God to have his way in us?  I have prayed these words and sang this song in church but honestly, there were times where I was convicted that I really didn’t want God to have His way.  I either wanted to get my way with His blessing or I wanted Him to have His way in my life as long as His way wasn’t uncomfortable, painful, or otherwise undesirable.  I’ve grown some since this realization hit me but I often wonder, when I hear others say it, if they mean what they are saying or are they caught up in genuine words with a double meaning like I was?

I wonder if the phrase, ‘Lord have Your way’ has been relegated to just being something popular to say in Christian circles that give a face of humility without the heart movies attached to it?  I wonder if saying, ‘Lord have Your way’ is the new cliché saying replacing the old stand-by ‘God knows my heart’?

Do our hearts match our words? We sing the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:5) but is it really praise if we don’t believe what we are saying?

Things that make you go hmm…..

 

Standing 8 Count

Gym time, quite time, Bible Study preparation time, hubby time, me time, stay-at-home Mommy time, homeschooling time, household chores and responsibilities time, social time, blogging time, church blogging time, I got tired.

I didn’t slow down.  I just stopped.

Something happened the week of Thanksgiving.  I got a hint, a taste, of time free of restrictions.  Thanksgiving break always makes me feel like I am in school again where I refused to do anything that resembled work during that time.  During school, I wouldn’t do any school work unless it was absolutely necessary and even then, I would do it at the last possible minute because I did not want to do “their” work on my time. Now that I am an adult, I still feel that way.  Instead of absolute refusal of school work, its hit-or-miss (mostly miss) Wifommy work.

We had no home school during the week of Thanksgiving.  My son was up and I baked and baked and baked.  I enjoy baking and being in the kitchen so I do not consider that work.  It’s fun.  I view it as my me time that other people enjoy.

After Thanksgiving, school work resumed, scheduled gym time resumed, household responsibilities etc resumed.  By mid December, I all but quit.

No more school. No more blog(s). Minimal housework. Happenstance dinner plans.

I took a break.  Normally I feel so bad for saying that but I don’t this time.  I didn’t quit.  I didn’t refuse to come back to normal.  I stopped going so hard in one direction and rested.

I learned an important lesson in this and learned something more of myself.

Well placed breaks make me more effective in my role(s).  I returned back to all of the things I wrote at the start of this post with eagerness.  I was excited to begin again.  My  motive was not to ever come back to myself and my responsibilities.  It was to stop all of the day-to-day and enjoy the time and the season.  Because my motive was well placed, I believe my outcome was positive to all involved.

I rediscovered my love of reading through audiobooks!  I enjoy reading a good book but my family cannot afford for me to be engrossed in a book to the neglect of dishes, laundry, and family time which is exactly what I used to do.  Audiobooks enable me to do chores because I can listen to my book while I complete those tasks.   I actually look forward to doing laundry, dishes, and the like because I can escape to my book.  I don’t think I would have ever really discovered this for myself if I didn’t have this break.

I took a standing 8 count.  Now I’m back.

Sin In My Life

My own sin humbles me every day.

My Pastor preached a couple of weeks ago and said that when we go before the Lord to confess our sins, we aren’t to unspecifically ask for forgiveness.  We are to go before the Lord and be very specific of where we sinned.

Once my Pastor preached that part about confessing specifically what your sins are, I was obedient.  To further my state of humility, I started to lay prostrate before of the Lord.  I felt completely humbled and thoroughly embarrassed to confess anything to Him.  I truly felt the burden of my sin and after I confessed, asked for forgiveness, and repented, I truly felt free of my sin; forgiven immediately.  Because I couldn’t stand to lay before the Lord in that sin state, it helped me not sin throughout the day.  Alas, like everything else in my life, I got lax.  I went back to doing what was easy and familiar to me. I stared making unspecific confessions and saying them while laying in my bed  before going off to sleep or in the morning before taking off in our van.

It isn’t until now, less than 24 hours after committing a sin that I struggle with, that I find myself once again in the position of taking that long trip from standing to kneeling/laying in front of the Lord.

The sin I struggle with is lust of the flesh.  It presents itself in my thought life.  If I don’t win the battle there, it takes shape in the physical.  I get tired of going to the Lord with this same old crap!  I want to get better, to be better!  Sometimes I don’t even realize I am sinning in my thought life until it has gone too far.  But that’s sin isn’t it.  It will ALWAYS take you further than you want to go.

So now, with great humility, embarrassment, and shame, I go before the Lord to confess, ask for forgiveness and repent.  I hope this time I last longer (for lack of a better way of say this) between sin episodes.

Speaking The Truth

“But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ-”                                                                                                                                                                       Ephesians 4:15

I love the truth.  It is not always easy to hear.  It is not always easy to say.  It is hard hearing something against what you believe to be true.  It is hard telling someone something you know they may not take well or are not going to like. Nevertheless, I love the truth.

I’ve not always been that way.  I knew the truth was right but the consequences of saying the truth was rarely favorable.  To deal with, hear, be around, and speak the truth requires you knowing, accepting, and desiring the truth for yourself.  For example, I was speaking to someone about probiotics.  I said the brand I used was the best because it kept its potency without needing to be refrigerated.  I was asked what else about the product made me think it was better than the rest.  I choked.  I didn’t have an answer for the person that asked me.  Something as simple as that and I was left speechless.  I felt like an idiot.  The question took me by surprise.  Instead of thinking through or just frankly giving my answer, I had nothing to say.  I had to sit an examine why I did that.  What I found out, the reason why I choked, was because I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own opinion to leave it at that.  I thought because I was asked for another answer that I had to have another answer; a more thought out, profound, and convincing answer.

That whole experience, choking and thinking about why I did later, took me on a new journey with Jesus.  I had to learn to embrace the truth no matter how vulnerable I might feel after speaking it.  And, I learned to like it.  (pardon the fragment) Speaking the truth, acknowledging the truth, and being around people who speak the truth is humbling.  You can not be prideful and expect to do either of those things.  Pride will prevent you from putting yourself in humbling situations.  (Being vulnerable is one of the most humbling things I can think of) Pride will keep you from asking a simple question.  Pride will tell you that you must pose questions in terms of statements and hope that the other person offers up the information you seek.

So what happened with the whole probiotic question?  I had to figure out why I liked the product I used.  The answer I gave was a textbook answer that anyone who sells the product should know.  Even though I believed what I was saying for myself, it didn’t have any feet to it; I wasn’t settled enough in my mechanical answer to feel that I didn’t need another reason.  I ended up emailing the person who asked me several weeks after I choked and answered her question.  I told her I didn’t have an answer at the time as to why my I preferred my brand over hers other than brand loyalty.  I then pointed out some of the facts I found in my research (specific strands in the product etc).  I also told her I was just stating my opinion.  I in no way was trying to sway her.  I didn’t care if she ever tried the product or not.  I had to answer the question for myself .  It was left unfinished.  I finished it.

Please Lord, Hold My Hand As I Go Through

So often I enter into a storm asking God to get me out.  I ask Him to remove whatever it is that is causing me pain.  I don’t think that is the way we should go through things.

I’ve started to ask God to hold my hand as I go through.  The hard part is trying to remember to do that all of the time. I get so caught up in the moment that I don’t think about asking God to hold my hand.  I start praying the same old “take the pain away” kind of prayer.

I loathe my interactions with Tanya.   The only constant I have found in my interactions with her is…I can’t even describe it.  (It would require more brain power than I would care to exhort to put that into words especially for those who have never met her before).  One of my more recent interactions with her almost made me ill.  My stomach clinched in knots just on the drive down.  I so want to excise her and the poison she brings from my life but that is not an option.  (Just to be clear.  I mean her no violence.  I just want to be able to take my ball and go home never having to play in her sandbox again.  If she were anyone else, anyone other than the mother of two of my children, this would have been done.  But again, it is not an option.)

I didn’t remember my goal of asking the Lord to hold my hand until after the drop off occurred.  Normally after drop-offs with Tanya, my life returns to normal.  My stomach unclenched.  My anxiety level, that I didn’t even realize was elevated, returns to its normal low.  I can breathe.  It wasn’t until all of those responses took place and I breathed a sigh of relief, that I even thought to pray and ask the Lord to hold my hand as I face this uncomfortable situation.  I blew it.  I have been trying to make mental efforts to remember to pray the right prayer instead of what was easy and familiar to me.  Sometimes I get it.  Other times I don’t.  I just want to get better moment by moment, situation  to situation, to pray for Him to hold my hand as I go through instead of praying the situation away.

Lord, Please Grant Me Greater Grace To Suffer The Consequences Of My Own Actions

In January, I learned that I had to listen to my body.  I could no longer dictate what it was going to do.  If I felt like I needed to rest, I should do it.  If I felt that something didn’t feel right, I should pay attention to it.  I thought I learned my lesson.

A few weeks ago, I jacked my knee up.  It was the day of my brother’s wedding.  I went to the gym as I would have normally done that morning.  Big mistake.  (prepare for a MAJOR run on sentence here) Not just for the obvious reason of trying to keep with my normal schedule on his big day especially when I was in the wedding and so was my toddler and we both had 8:30AM hair appointments 20 minutes away from the house and I was just getting back in the house from working out for an hour at 7:45.  Aside from that, I could feel my body saying I didn’t need to exercise that day. I didn’t listen to it.  I went anyway.  I didn’t stretch as I should have afterwards because I was already good and late.  I paid for it dearly.  I was standing for four hours straight later on that day.  Both of my knees locked up something serious on me.  They remained stiff for several days but I didn’t stop working out.  I just used the elliptical instead of the treadmill.  I prayed that God would heal my knees and I did take a day off from exercising.  My knees got better.  My left knee was back to normal.  My right knee was getting there.  I should have remained on the elliptical until my right knee was healed.

I didn’t.

I ran on the treadmill for two days in a row. I am now sitting here with my knee propped up with an ice pack on it.  I soaked in epsom salt earlier.  I am going to take a Motrin tonight to help with the sore and stiffness.  I can’t even do my normal house chores.  No laundry, no dishes, no vacuuming, no washing the toddler’s hair.  Nada.  On one hand, it sounds like a lovely vacation.  On the other hand, it’s not.

I sat in the car today and prayed for God to help me because my knee hurt and I still had a list of things I wanted to get done today.  I started to lie to the Lord and ask Him to heal me as if I didn’t knowingly participate in an activity that was going to cause me pain.  In the end, I sighed and said, “Lord, please grant me grace to endure through the consequences of my actions.”  I accepted the pain and I am growing through.

Trying New Things

I disregarded things out so quickly before. I formed opinions and stuck by them even when I was presented with more information that should have challenged or changed my thought process. Even though I’ve grown from that, I still find different layers of that same issue come up from time to time.

It used to be that all of my opinions were rock solid. They were fact. I held onto every area that I formed a thought about as of it were gospel. I was legalistic to the umpteenth degree. Much of that has been shed but a new frontier has opened up and with that, some of my former opinions are in question. I’m questioning them.

Time outs, there’s got to be something positive about Tonya, home births, and cloth diapers.

Time outs – I thought those were a joke. I had never seen them used effectively. I was spanked growing up and I responded well to it. I’ve been popping my toddler but it hasn’t had the same effect on her as I thought. It was as if she didn’t care if I popped her. I prayed and asked God for help. I was broken and contrite. I didn’t care what I had to do but the negative behavior was going to stop. I needed and wanted to know and do whatever was the most effective form of discipline for this child. I watched Super Nanny a few days ago and I saw how she did time out. Those children on that show behaved HORRIBLY! I figured if it worked for them, it could work for me. And guess what? It did. I’ve not abandoned popping altogether but it is no longer my first go-to form of discipline.

There’s got to be something positive about Tonya – I’ve tried to like this women but we don’t connect on any level. If I weren’t bonus mom to her children, I would have nothing to do with her and that’s the truth. After my bonus children’s last visit, I asked God to show me something positive about Tonya. She was true to form this past weekend: late as usual, not answering phones, being unnecessarily extra. But after she left, I realized how tiring it was to me to only have negative things to know about her. I thought there’s got to be something! Today, Mother’s Day, I receive a text from her number wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. I’ve been so conditioned from her many years of behavior to never take anything at face value that I immediately thought that the only reason she text me a Mother’s Day wish is because I gave birth to a child and, in her mind, I am now a mother. As soon as I had the thought, I had to step back. I just asked the Lord to show me something and here was a very nice and pleasant text, one of several that I received that morning all saying the same thing, and I was downing it. I’ll take the text for what it was, let God continue to show me, and leave it at that.

Home births – I didn’t think I’d want to have a home birth. I’ve seen them and I always thought I’d feel safer in a hospital. Especially after having Jazmine, I was sure a home birth, a un-medicated home birth, would never be an option for me. Now, I’m not so sure. I think I’d like to try it. As with everything else that goes against the grain, I doubt I’d have the support of many family and friends because the subject never comes up when talking about having a baby. (No. I am not pregnant). It is a little scary because this is all unknown territory for me but I am game to looking into it.

Cloth diapering – I’ve heard the most popular reasons why some use cloth diapers. I did some research on them and saw the many options they have now for cloth diapering. As of last month, I wasn’t sold on the idea. I hated cleaning the potty bowl so I know washing out a reusable liner was not for me. I’m rethinking that now. My reason is purely economical. It is more cost-effective to cloth diaper and it would be rare that I would run out of diapers. Most of all, I think I want to try it to see if I can do it, if I like it, and if I can get in my own groove using them. Just like with time outs and home birthing, it doesn’t have to be for everybody. I just want to see if it’s for me.