Monday, September 26, 2016

The Trouble With Being Multi-Talented- Part Deux

I wrote a post a few years back about being multi-talented (2011- Egad! Where has the time gone?!?), and now, I feel I must expand on this. Because the issue has gotten worse, not better.

I am multi-talented. I'm not bragging or one-upping anyone- trust me- this is more of a burden than a blessing most of the time! I like to do too many things, and when I find something new I like to do, I tend to dive in and get good at it fairly quickly.

For instance:

I went to a women's fellowship meeting. We were given play-doh and asked to make something within ten minutes. This is what I made.
I used a pen cap to make the face and paws.
And yes. I watch waaay too many Pinterest videos.

Want to know the weird part? I'd never sculpted a thing in my life. Great. Go ahead God, add another talent on the pile. 

Why do I sound so snarkish about all of this? Because I have no idea what to do with all of these gifts! Think of a juggler. It's easy for a juggler to juggle two balls in the air, but how about five? Or ten? How about trying to juggle twelve or twenty balls? That's basically what I'm trying to do- and failing miserably.

Sometimes I get a bit miffed at God. Why did You give me all of these talents? What am I supposed to do with them all? It's not like I can give them away or sell them on Ebay. Yet when I don't use them, I feel like I'm doing God a disservice. That's why being multi-talented can feel like a curse more than a blessing. How can one person use all these talents to glorify God? 
I can't be a novel, blog, and children's book-writing, paper-cutting, quilting, sculpting, teaching, speaking, humorist, ventriloquist videographer! Well, I could be, but then the nice men in white coats would need to put me in a cell where there's no Pinterest. (GASP!) Trying to be everything would also suck out the joy and thoroughly mess up the life God has in store for me, because any down time would be spent sleeping!

Some choices have to be made. 
By me. 
With God's help. 
Lots and lots of God's help.

Lucky for me God sent me a guy named Bob, who still answers my phone calls (maybe he doesn't have caller ID?). I talked to him about this very subject. Bob is a wise-guy, but also a wise guy, and his words of wisdom were these; Think of using your talents in seasons- let God help you choose which talent is in season right now, and see where He takes you. Do what brings you and God joy. He'll tell you when you're ready to enter into the next season.

I'm glad he answered the phone. He's brilliant.

So I put time aside this week, fasted, read His Word, and asked God what He wanted me to do. After a long, heartfelt chat (read: me with my face buried in my pillow begging for an answer) He finally said something. 
Write books.
"All of them?" I asked, incredulous (because I'm all over the map genre-wise).
Yes. All of them.

Whew! I know what ball to focus on! 

Yes, I have a lot of genres. I even have two books ready to go (minus the artwork)! But there's nothing stopping me from writing them all. Just not all at once. If I'm in a puzzle mood, I'll write puzzle books, Flesh out children's story notes. Work on that fantasy world. Write proposals and one-sheets for the finished works (also Bob's suggestion). Just...write books. 

This isn't surprising news. He's told me this before. But being the distracted, multi-tasking person I am, I get off-track and then need Him to tell me again. Write. Write books. Write all of them. That alone will take me several lifetimes- especially if I keep going off-track. But if I work on the big stories a little at a time, and finish a lot of small stories, by the time God calls me home, I should have a library's worth of books on the shelves. 

I'm so very glad God is patient. I'm also glad he gave me these talents, despite my earlier groaning. Maybe He gave me the artsy talents to use as recreation, to bless others or the church, or use them to help with the family finances until the books take off- I have no idea. But I have them, and I'll use them when He tells me to. I just have to wait for the right season!

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Am NOT Your Mother!

I never thought of myself as Youth Impaired. Yes, I'm a bit big around the britches, but all in all, I'm young at heart.

Apparently my outsides aren't reflecting my insides.

I took my husband to the doctor a while back. He was dizzy and had no business driving, so I went with him and helped him into the doctor's office. The nurse smiled and asked "So, what's wrong with your son today?"
My son? What was she talking about? My son was in school, and...wait...oh no she didn't! This woman did not just assume I was my husband's mother, did she? I gave her another chance. "Excuse me?" I asked, raising a brow in warning.
She nodded towards my husband. "Your son- What's wrong with him today?"
That's it. She was on my hit list.
I smiled oh-so-sweetly. "My husband is having dizzy spells, like vertigo."
The nurse hid her incredulousness well. "Your husband? Oh- sorry about that."
Not well enough though. I could see the look in her eyes.
It said Humph. Cougar.
I sat my husband down, trying not to swat the little grin off of his face, and turned to the nurse, my composure riposted by a deep breath. I smiled again. "That's okay- we just had our nineteenth anniversary."
Let her chew on that for a while, I thought. Cougar, my Aunt Fanny.He's only five years my junior!
The nurse remained quiet except for a few medical questions, and then we went back into one of the little sub-offices to wait for the doctor.
When he came in, he greeted us and started asking much of the same questions to verify what the nurse wrote down. Then he turned to me and asked "And what's Mother's health history?"
Seriously? Did he just imply the same exact thing the nurse had?
This time I didn't miss a beat.
"I don't know about 'Mother's' history, since she's back at her place, probably gardening. You'll have to ask my husband about her health history."
"Oh!" he exclaimed, looking deeper into the paperwork. "He's forty-one, not twenty-one! He looks like a college kid."
Yeah. Thanks a lot, Buster. I heard my husband snort. I sat in the second chair, folded my arms and and gave a disgruntled snort.

Yet this wasn't the first time this has happened.

My husband had to return something to a local home improvement store, and as I sat on the bench (due to a pulled muscle in my hip), he went up to the returns cashier to get his refund, chatting with her about our impending lunch date. The young girl glanced at me and smiled at my husband. "Oh! You're so sweet to take your mom out to lunch!"

If my hip wasn't bothering me at the time, I would have vaulted over that counter and let her know what's what. Darn hip.
It didn't help that he grinned like a Cheshire cat through the entire lunch, telling the waitress what had happened. She thought I didn't look old at all and that we were a very adorable young couple. 

I gave her a big tip.

Now it's a big family joke. Anytime anyone refers to my husband as my son, we just laugh and tell the offenders the other stories and share the joke. The kids especially love to share the stories. But there's a little more to the stories than this!

Sometimes my daughter is called my husband's wife- and I'm still his mother. I'm my daughter's mother-in-law, despite the fact we look a lot alike.
My son is referred to as my husband's brother- and I'm still considered their mother.
Apparently I look my age. At least these people don't think I'm ancient. They just think my husband is my son, my son's brother, and my daughter's wife.

Nothing confusing about that at all.

It could be the grey hair the three of them gave me. My husband has a tiny bit of grey in his sideburns, but no one seems to notice that. Mine is a lightened blaze at the top of my forehead, and one single curl on the side (like a reverse dalmatian) which apparently can be seen via satellite.

I hope it becomes that pretty white kind of grey and not that 'non-color' grey- I'd have no idea what to put on my renewed driver's license under 'Description'. Maybe 'Platinum Blonde'. Yeah. I like the sound of that.

To my darling husband...I am not your mother. You don't want me as your mother, trust me- just ask the kids!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Get Over It...NOT!

Has anyone told you that you just need to 'Get over it' when you lose someone?

Maybe he felt that six weeks was enough time to mourn, no matter who it was.
Maybe she felt you were milking your sorrow, trying to garner extra helpings of pity.
Maybe they felt like you were wallowing too long, and needed a mourning 'intervention'.

The fact is folks, when you lose someone, you never 'get over it'. Ever.

That person, the one you were close to, was a piece of your life- and you can't 'get over' the memories that come when you're reminded of that someone, or when thinking of them on occasion. 

'Get over it' could possibly be the worst thing anyone could say to someone who suffered a deep loss.

But there is a dawn after the darkness.

Sadness fades. Scars heal. Memories start to make us smile instead of cry. The pain becomes a ghost of its former self, and the good things start showing through. It's not something to 'get over'- it's something to get through.

And yes, sometimes it takes more than six weeks.

If you know someone who has lost, the most comforting words to say can be "I'm sorry."
Then give them a hug.
Listen as they talk.
Offer them a shoulder to cry on.
Then give them a tissue, because shoulders aren't very absorbent- unless you're wearing shoulder pads.
Then hug them again.

You don't need longish speeches, the right words, or spout inspirational Bible passages to make someone feel better. All you need to do is be there when they need you. Hug them when you see them. Ask if they have any stories about their loved one. Listen. Cry together. Hug again.

You will never know the blessed impact you'll have when you do.

I'm beginning to remember the good stuff. I'm reminded of mom whenever I see okra (her favorite fried side), and though there's a little hint of sadness to my smile, I remember how much she enjoyed it- and the joy on her face when I got her an extra order to take home.

And I wouldn't be at this point if it weren't for the huggers, listeners, and people with very absorbent shoulder pads- and a boxful of tissues.

The wound is still too fresh, but it's healing slowly. And when it does, there will be even more blessings when I share her stories. Her passing is something I'll never fully get over. But with God and the friends He gave me, I'll definitely get through!

Monday, August 29, 2016

I'm a Writer, Dagnabbit!

Here I am, still sorting out a huge pile of books and papers representing my life.

Bills. Ads. Tons of notes. But what's this? Oh, the missing manuscript I was looking for before the writer's conference. The one I never had time to write a proper proposal for because of the previous chaos. Joy and Rapture, I found it too late- my cup runneth over with no publishing prospects. Again. Ugh.

And yet, once the other papers were sorted, I started leafing through this manuscript- the one I'd haven't read in over a year. Oddly enough, I was reading it like a reader, not a writer. And what I read was surprising.

The stories made me laugh.

A second surprise- I realized that I really am a writer. The fact that I can read my manuscript and still giggle tells me that it's pretty darn good- and that yes, it seems I really do have a God-given gift, and my stories might bring others joy.

I'm a writer, dagnabbit!

Honestly, I'm not trying to toot my own bicycle horn here- I'm as surprised as anyone else! The stories I read made me remember when my brother's goldfish 'mysteriously' died under my care, I felt the awe when seeing my mom panic upon receiving my first scar, and the heat from the glares of the grumpy old man that lived down the street- and the fear I felt when he threatened my little life if I rode my Big Wheel just one more time on his property.

I am a writer. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

It's the strangest feeling, reading your own work and realizing that it's not moose drool. In fact, I'm encouraged to get that sucker published- if it gets in the right hands. Those hands might even be my own.

If you're not a writer, you might not understand. Writers are a very unstable lot- we spend hours in a room by ourselves, writing, writing, writing, then when we're done, we want to go out somewhere to be alone. The truth is we just spent an entire writing session with a bunch of characters in our head, and we need time by ourselves to clear our thoughts.

We constantly second guess ourselves, are over critical of our work, and wonder 'why, oh why did we even try to write this drivel'? Even when published, we wonder if others will see value in our work- though I admit, I have yet to experience that particular phobia.

Writers are a crazy bunch, but an interesting one!

I have two manuscripts. One is long, and one is short. And both could still use a little tweaking. The problem is, a writers' work will always need tweaking- we just have to learn to stop before we tweak the heart and soul out of a manuscript!

I read the stories. I giggled some more. I put the manuscript down with a smile. My work wasn't moose drool after all.

I am a writer, dagnabbit!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Actions Boost Prayer Power

Prayer is an awesome thing. When people gather to pray, those prayers can heal, save, and protect us and those around us, But sometimes God wants us to do more.

In James 2:14-17 it says 'What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.'

Too many times do I see Christians pray for one another through hardships, but offer nothing other than prayer. I've caught myself doing this- a lot! It's one thing if all you can do is pray for someone, but when you can act on those prayers and don't, that's where the seeds of trouble sprout.

Believe me, I have a lot of those weeds in my own spiritual garden! The finger I'm pointing points at myself.

I've prayed for those who have lost a loved one, but until I suffered the same, I never realized that I should've been praying not only for, but with those that had lost someone. I could've given them my ear to listen, spent time hearing their stories or let them vent. But I didn't. I basically gave them a hug, said I would pray for them, and went on my merry Christian way. Only after I was in the privacy of my own prayer space did I pray for them. For all they knew, I'd forgotten all about them and their troubles.

Oh, but when I was hurting and someone came to me who prayed and then listened....

Prayers are powerful. but actions boost those prayers in a mighty way. It made me realize that if I can do more, I should- whether it's the hungry person on the street, a troubled neighbor, or my fellow Christians- actions speak louder than words (especially to unbelievers)- but actions also give prayers a huge power boost. 

Actions aren't the end-all be-all of the universe. Actions are powerful in of themselves, as is prayer. But put them together, and Wow! God loves it when we do both- it let's Him shine all the brighter!

Don't stop praying. Don't stop acting on those prayers if you can. Pull up those spiritual weeds and let the blessings blossom!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mess Monsters

My house is a wreck.

The housework has waned since I started working odd jobs last year, and was nearly non-existent when my mom started getting worse. Two out of three funerals are done (my husband's cousin also passed away two days after his mom, so that's three in less than three weeks), and after coming home from the second funeral yesterday, I realized something.

I have mess monsters.

I'm not talking about my teenagers- though they've had a hand in it. I'm not talking about the cats either. I have little monsters in my house making messes when I sleep- it's the only explanation for the condition of my home.

Dust Monsters collect all the cat hair and scatter it about, making 'tumblefur' balls that roll about the room like a bad western. Then they coat everything in dust, just like in The Munsters. I checked the vacuum- it's not on reverse, but there's not much in it either. I think this is where they get their dust stash.

The Paper Breeders come next to clutter up any flat surface with printouts, old mail, and candy wrappers. I could leave two sheets of paper on the table before bed, and when I come down the next morning, those suckers bred like crazy and now look like giant confetti all over my entire living room- including the couch.

The Crumb Monsters stuff my cushions with everything imaginable. I don't even want to know what that stuff is, but when I vacuum it out, it sounds like fish tank gravel. On occasion I'll find odd things like the TV remote, small children and the neighbors lost pets. I guess the monsters ran out of gravel on those days.

The Clutterbug digs into everything I have neatly stored and drags things out I haven't seen in years. It must have squealed in delight when I brought home mementos from my mom's apartment. I think it conspired with the Paper Breeder, because I don't remember bringing this much stuff home.

Let's not even mention the Laundry Monster. I swear that one switches my socks with several neighbors' just to mess all of us up. Only after I toss the orphaned footwear in the trash a year later do the prodigal socks show up- then I have to toss them too. Ugh.

I wonder if the home improvement stores have monster repellent....I could use a gallon or two...

Or maybe some elbow grease?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tough Marshmallows.

This has been a rough month.

My mom passed away on July 18th- just five days after her 78th birthday.
My husband's mom passed away yesterday morning- exactly two weeks after my mom, give or take four hours.
With the drama of dealing with my mom's funeral and subsequent cleaning out of her apartment on top of it all, I was on the verge of losing it.

I went to a friend's house so my kids wouldn't see me lose my Schmidt.

My friend's name is Marlene. She's God's warrior. She's a Tough Marshmallow. 
This is a woman who will pray for you any time of the day or night, will hold your hands in hers so you don't pull your own hair out, and assure you that God is with you, always.
But don't mess with Marlene. Don't tell her you don't need help when your heart is hurting. She has an excellent BS detector and has no problem telling you your full of it.
Within five minutes she rallied the troops- she had me on the phone with a guy named Bob-someone I met at the writer's conference who's a fantastic speaker and brother of my heart, just to tell me I'm not entirely a deranged lunatic. 
Then Marlene summoned two great spiritual warriors to her house just to listen to me talk myself hoarse for three hours straight and cry myself dry. 
Another dear lady named Marjorie gave me a book to help revive my spirit- one she herself wrote- and had no problem swatting me when I asked her who the heck the author was.

These people rallied around me. Me. The one with the snarky Philly attitude when things go wrong. The one that wants to hide in her room when things go bad, and not help anyone when she's feeling angry. Don't these people know me? Don't they know that I never open up to anyone because when I do, people tend to pat me on the head, tell me they'll pray for me, then find better things to do?

Yet they listened. And stayed. They didn't hang up until I was ready. they didn't leave the room. They didn't make me feel like I was wasting their valuable time.

But they did drop what they were doing to help someone they only knew from a distance. These are really busy people. Their time really is super valuable. Yet they all took time out for me. 


This has never happened to me before. Never

I could see them doing this for my husband. You see, he's the go-to guy. The help-anyone-in-a-crisis man of the hour. I've seen people flocking to him whenever he was in need. He does a lot of stuff for a lot of people and is well loved by all. Seriously. He has touched more lives than anyone I know. He's awesome.

His wife is another matter. She's a snarky, wit-cracking wise-arse who couldn't quote a scripture if her life depended on it. She's just not a rally-to-her-banner kind of gal. 

I'm so grateful to those tough marshmallows that helped me stay sane yesterday. People willing to listen and give me a hug, but weren't afraid to keep things real and swat me upside the head on occasion. Tough people gently nudging me towards God's word, and doing more than just praying.

Don't get me wrong- prayer is powerful stuff! But sometimes you need more than prayer. That's what these people did for me. I pray that God heaps unexpected blessings all over them- so much so that the blessings are slopping over and soaking into the carpets!

Thank you Marlene, Bob, Rob and Stephanie, Marjorie, Ava, and Marti for the support, hugs, and swats. I love you all so very much!