Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Year of Jabba

Happy New Year!

I spent New Years' morning looking at all of the posts people made about what they did the previous year. Some had great family moments. Some lost loved ones. Others had accomplished major goals, and others a few minor ones.

So I took a trip down memory lane into my past year. 

Hoo boy.

At the beginning of last year, I was recovering from a hysterectomy. I kept overdoing it, sending my poor, sore self back on the recliner for another few weeks. A six-week recovery took more than twelve weeks. Three months of just lying there, doing nothing.

It was the Year of Jabba for me. Jabba as in Jabba the Hutt. That oversized, dictator slug in those Star Wars movies. I'd gained 70 pounds, lost most of the strength in my core muscles, and my mobility was about as good as the SlugFather. 

That wasn't the plan. I was going to write my heart out during my recovery but found that laptops don't work well when you're laying down. Seventy extra pounds made it hard to sit at my writing desk- the drawer handle at the top pressed against my still-healing scars. 
Eventually, I started to like binge-watching Netflix and being waited upon by my family. So...

I stopped writing. 
I stopped ministry.
I stopped blogging.
I stopped crafting.
I stopped living.

Even my muse (who never shuts up) went on vacation and didn't come back until a few weeks ago. Maybe it was depression. Maybe it was (and is) the pain I'm in from the weight gain and back spasms from core muscle loss. 

And now it's 2019. Time to put the Year of Jabba behind me.

I still hurt, but I'm working through it slowly so I can stand longer than a few minutes. I've managed to walk through Sam's Club instead of using the motorized carts (as long as I had a short shopping list). Though I'll be honest here, I like those little carts! It's so fun driving down the aisles announcing 'Watch the tram car please!' and see who gets out of the way without even looking. You know who you are, New Jersey shore people!

I've also started putting together my own version of a bullet journal. Mine is a small binder that I'm filling with my own printable journal sheets, and though I was hoping to have it finished by the new year, I almost have it completed.

And now, here I am blogging once more. I'm so sorry you had to wait so long for me to get my Schmidt together!

Things are still in flux around family life- we're currently looking at minimalist videos to see where we can cut costs, get rid of clutter, and just think a little differently concerning simpler living. Both kids should be out of the house within the next few years so we won't need as much stuff- or space. 

There's a lot to think about. And plan for.

I'm probably not going to get everything on my To-Do lists done but I do plan on conquering most of the things listed.

No, I'm not telling you what those things are. But you can celebrate with me when they happen!

Maybe I'll dub this year the Year of the Tortoise. Not just any regular old reptile, but the one that beat out the hare in the fairy tale. Slow and steady progress is still progress, and with God's help, I intend to win the race!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Lion King Moments

Remember the opening song in Lion King when it talks about the Circle of Life?

My life isn't a circle- it's more like this:

There's one line that always sticks out to me-'More to do than can ever be done'. Oh yeah baby, I'm living that lyric!

Here are just a few things going on:

My husbands' work situation is in flux- we have no idea what God has planned for him concerning his job, but for now, he's in limbo at the workplace.

We're trying to start an at-home baking/cooking business. That includes the classes and supplies needed to get this puppy started. 

I working to create a craft business starting next year.

My son is in a work program for autistic adults, working his way into independence- the step he's in currently is voluntary work to gain experience. We hope he will go back to college in the next two years.

My daughter is a senior in high school during the week and works weekends doing what she loves for a small salary. She should be in college by next year if the scholarships come through.

With both kids gone most of the week (and weekends for one of them), chores fall on the parental units- moreso on the female of the species. Chores I became dependent on the kids to do. I'm not ready for Empty Nest Syndrome!

Chores. It had to be chores...

Since the surgery (and the weight gain) I've been slower than usual. This makes everything I have to do even more fantazmagorical.
All this on top of writing, crafting, ministry, cooking, momming, and wifing. Never in that order. Not even close.

Oh, and we're trying to deep-clean the house and make repairs as we go. Why? Because we might be hosting Thanksgiving (or at least have Friendsgiving the day afterward), we're definitely baking for Thanksgiving orders from local friends and family, we're supposed to get windows installed three weeks before Christmas, and then have a Christmas Open House party two weeks before Jesus' birthday. 
Normally this annual party is held between Christmas and New Years, but my husband is working that week. As for me, I just might collapse on the couch in gratitude that it's all over until January!

I haven't been online even for emails and Facebook, no less actually sitting down and writing something comprehensible for a blog! And for that, I do apologize, my Dear Readers. 

So many activities, so little time. Definitely more to do than can ever be done!

How am I handling all this spendiferous chaos? To be honest, I'm not. Not well, anyway.

I know how to handle everything, I just haven't done it yet. And if I don't get my act together soon, things will really go haywire.

I can schedule like a boss- I just need to get up off my butt and do it. If only I did this with the rest of my life, I'd be one wickedly productive individual.

First I figure out where and when certain events are taking place, then I work back from that date and schedule the things I have to do. 
If I have more than one thing going on, I give myself a little space in between everything to allow myself to breathe- Because breathing is a good thing.

Now if I can just get started...

Do you have trouble getting done what you need to do? Maybe we can pray for each other- I know I can sure use the help! And when two or more gather together in prayer...awesomeness happens!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When God Calls You On The Carpet

Did you ever ask God to give you guidance?

I have. I fasted for it. I prayed for it. I begged and pleaded to Him for an answer. I even threw myself on my bed face down and ugly-cried for His answer. 

What was my question? 
'What do You want me to do Lord?'

Just when I thought He'd never answer, I heard His voice ring in my ears. "Write books."
Being the good, obedient Christian I am, I replied, "All of them?!?"
And I know I'd heard a chuckle when He said, "Yes. All of them."

Now He didn't mean all of them, as in the whole-wide-world 'all of them', but all of them as in 'all of those partially-finished writing projects that are sitting dormant as notes in the folders on your desk'. 

I tried counting those folders once, but I ran out of fingers and toes. Twice.

That's a lot of books.

This exchange took place a while ago, mind you; in fact, I wrote a blog post about it. And yet here I sit, still bookless and folder-full.

I can understand how the Hebrews felt when God wasn't pushing them 24/7. The miracles are noted, praised on, and then left to be forgotten in some dusty notebook- or in my case laptop- until we heard from Him again. Last week I was sitting all alone and wallowing in misery about my purpose, but this time God decided to let me wallow- at least until Sunday.

When I went to church, there was a visiting speaker. I love new speakers- at least most of them. I liked this man too- he had a lot of great insights to share. 

And then he said...'Stop giving God excuses! If God told you to write books, write books!

I know the speaker gave other examples after that, but I was too busy giving an 'uh-oh I'm in trouble' look to my best church buddy sitting next to me, who gave me an 'oh boy, yes you are' look in return.

She knew my 'write books' story. She also knew I was full of excuses for not writing. Any writing. 

God called me on the carpet. Big time. 

She knew it. I knew it. And God certainly knew what I wasn't doing.


No more excuses. This was a warning, and I didn't want Him warning me again. No forty years in the desert for me, thank you very much.

But what to write first? Same problem as before (since there are no fewer than seventy book ideas with half-written notes in my folders), but God was nice enough to give me a little clarity this time around.

Three books are on the list to start with (the first needs a final edit as the artwork is being done, the second is half-written and the third is a coloring book for my artsy muse moments), and I'm telling you all of this, my Dear Readers, just to make sure I stay on track to get these books finished!

I don't know how long the art will take, but even if I get the final editing done before the art is finished, I already have that half-finished book lined up. The best part is the second book cover is so simple, I'm going to create it!

If all goes well (and fast) at least one book will be out before the holidays. At least, that's my goal. Setting deadlines are also something I have to do. Small goals, small successes, but big results!

Has God ever called you on the carpet? What's your story and how can I pray for you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Juice Your Creativity!

Reality is getting in the way of my creativity!

You know what I're too busy to do this, your schedule won't allow you to do that; there's no time, money, resources or room to do what you really want to do.

The creative juices dry up if they're not used, folks. Believe me, I know!

So what do you do when your creative well goes dry? Juice your creativity!


Ask yourself a few questions. What do you love doing? What actions do I need to take to get inspired? How can I make these ideas become a reality? When can I make these ideas become reality?

One of the things I love doing is fabric art. I opened my drawers of fabric and started with them.
I looked at the bright colors.
I let the fabrics flow through my hands.
I wrinkled each piece, laid it against the other fabrics for companions and contrasts, and unfolded it to see just how much fabric I had to work with.

Once the juices started flowing, I looked at books of fabric projects, odd notes I'd made about fabrics and project ideas, and the next thing you know I was excited. I wanted to create again!

What happens when you get excited about something? You make time for it.

The activity itself doesn't matter. Whether you write, do paper art, or make a quilt like me, or something else that's just as awesome- the idea is to get excited so you're more motivated to get a project started- and finished.

It also helps you organize your time and space. I have a great sewing space that fell into a catch-all for a face-painting project, and I haven't sewn in months because my machine is unbelievably cluttered. But after playing with my fabrics, instead of dreading the mess to clean, I'm looking forward to using that space for sewing once more.

And when the sewing wanes, I'll do something with paper. Or writing. Or attempt new experiments with fabric I haven't dared to try yet. I want to keep those wonderful juices flowing in a positive, more productive direction.

Have you been feeling juiceless lately? Ask yourself the questions I listed, and let me know how you juiced your creativity!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Clutter-Colored Glasses

It's amazing how your vision clears when you go away for a few days.

I went to a writers' conference, and though I came home at night, I was basically home just to sleep and have some breakfast until my eyes fully opened. Then out the door I went, into the world of the written word.

When I returned, I'd noticed changes in my family- and my house.

Have you ever noticed something odd or off or just plain not right in your home after coming home from a trip? It's like I'd taken off clutter-colored glasses.

My family was in a funk- and that funk was absorbed by the contagion of their funky surroundings.

There was clutter everywhere. Stuff I either didn't notice before, or was placed there while I was gone. It didn't help that the basement had partially flooded earlier that week and they brought a lot of the funky stuff upstairs to dehumidify.

Yet the basement had dried out days ago, and still the stuff sat in our living room and dining room. Instead of putting it all back (and then some), all of us just stepped around it like it was a natural growth forest of clutter.

At least until I came home.

Okay, so that's not entirely true. I had a lot of writing stuff to go through, so I walked around the junk and made my way to my writing sanctuary upstairs.

I slighted the sloppiness.
Passed over the papers.
Disregarded the dishes.
Usurped the upstairs and hid like a hermit.

Apparently the clutter-colored glasses were also worn in my sanctuary, for it was strewn with papers tossed (as I looked for the good stuff to submit for the conference), craft supplies left out and partially toppled, all in a chaotic, glittery pile. 

Maybe I can sell this mess as art on Etsy. So much for escaping the clutter!

I said to myself 'if they don't care, neither do I' and went back downstairs to watch funny cat videos with the family. But the depressive air continued to stifle. We constantly tripped over stuff, squabbles over who stuff was whose to move out of the way, and I was embarrassed to have people over. 

And what the heck was that smell?

The more the clutter grew, the less anyone wanted to do anything about it. And I was part of the problem because I'd never noticed.

God kept nagging me to do something. We needed to declutter and clean this house top to bottom. But how was I going to do that with a wonky forearm and people not motivated to move? I'm talking everyone, including my normally hyperactive husband!

God gave me the answer.

I talked to my husband about it, and the next day we implemented my clean-up plan.

One room. 

Just work on one room per day (or two if we needed it) for just an hour or two per day. Declutter and deep clean everything. Husband and daughter deep clean and move furniture, son clears and sorts into boxes and bags, and I go through the bags and shred, sort, file and put away things. No taking entire weekends and huge chunks of time out to do the entire house. Eat the cluttered whale one bite at a time.

And on Monday, we went into action. It worked!

First we put on a mix of music everyone liked and could sing as they worked. All surfaces were cleared and anything that we knew would stay got wiped down and put back after cleaning. There wasn't much that belonged on most of the flat surfaces that needed to stay. By the time we were done, half the room shone like a star. Already the house seemed to be more cheerful.

And I shredded enough paper to fill en entire trash bag.

The living room took two days to complete, and I have all kinds of bags to sort through before putting anything back. Right now the living room is sparse and clean-looking, but it lacks that homeyness. Those items are in the bags, ready to be cleaned and sorted. If it doesn't belong, out it goes- either to the room it does belong or to the donations box.

Today and tomorrow we're working on the dining room. I figure if we take two days in each room on the first floor and take Fridays off to play games (now that we have access to them!), that leaves the weekends free. 

We'll keep doing this until both kids are in school or working. 

Years ago I told you I was a borderline hoarder. This was how I beat it. I'm still amazed at how bad things got before I saw it happening again- this time with my family. But I am so thankful that God motivated me to see what was going on and do something about it. 

And guess what? The bickering has almost completely stopped. Tempers have cooled and we even played around a little while we were working and the music was playing. When the work was done we had lunch together, talked, and enjoyed that precious time together as a family. And when my husband went to work, the kids and I watched a clutter-free movie- and didn't even have to look for the remote!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Spark Rekindled

Two months ago, life came to a head and my muse decided to lock her doors and become a hermit.

I stopped being inspired. I stopped creating. I stopped everything.

Sometimes life gets so overwhelming, you just have to stop for a while to regroup. Sometimes you just need to stop and breathe. And sometimes you have to stop doing what you love to do what you need to do for your family.

So I did. 

Life hasn't stopped, but when my muse cracked open her door, I jammed my foot in before she could slam it on me again. I apologize to you, my Dear Readers, if it seemed like I fell off the map, but I wasn't about to trouble you with my issues either. I didn't want to turn this blog into a platform of Cheese and Whine.

That being said, I'm attending a writer's conference. In fact, I'm on my way out the door after writing this post! I wasn't going to go this year, but the leader of the conference insisted, so I went. I'm so glad I did.

When your muse ignores you and you're feeling all alone in the world, it does a body and mind good to talk with other Christians- Not necessarily about your issues (though I admit I did that a little), but to just have conversations with people who love to talk about God. Group prayer feels so much more powerful than prayers in private, and there's a connection with others when you sing hymns in unison with strangers. 

Strangers who are fast becoming friends.

And friends whom I've lost touch and now have reconnected.

This morning I woke up earlier than I normally do, because my muse decided to unlock the door to take a peek at the outside world. Honestly, her timing stinks (4 am...really Muse? Really?), but I welcome her with open arms and extra bacon for breakfast. We have a lot of work to do.

And a lot of blog posts to write!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Ministry Momma Bear

I try really hard not to be too serious. I really do. But sometimes things just get so bear-poo crazy that there is nothing to do but get serious- or at least more serious than normal.

Our entire family works in ministry. We love it. We help people, invite people over to our home on Sundays, feed them, talk to them, and try to help them see God in everything around them. We have helped a lot of people in the years we've lived here, and have been so blessed by it all. We encourage our church members to do the same.

You know you're doing really well in the Lord when the bear-poo hits the fan. One teen in a family we were trying to help has now threatened one of my kids, and my husband. Severely threatened. The odd thing is, no one can figure out why.

And there's nothing we can do about it until this teenager actually does something. 

The only thing we can think of is this teens need for affection is so strong, jealousy has taken over and all they want is to destroy what my kids have. 

This is the same kid that cried as I held them and fell asleep against me after a volcanic incident with a parent.
This is the same kid we played board games with, who had no idea what settled family life looked like.
This is the same kid who peeled apples with us as we sang gospel songs, getting ready for Thanksgiving.

And now, the same kid who is drinking, on drugs, and is now threatening bodily harm on my family.

Normally, I would Momma Bear this teen- Angry eyes, toe to toe, with a growl that says 'Don't even think of messing with my kids!' - but I can't Momma Bear him. How can I Momma Bear a kid I'd considered one of my own cubs?

I know this teenager needs comfort so desperately. Momma Bearing is the last thing this kid needs. Inside their heart is a great person who has a craving for Gods' love. I've seen it. But the environment that surrounds them is taking over, and there's nothing I can do about it except pray, lock my doors and windows at night, and keep my own kids safe. 

My Momma Bear heart is so torn right now.

One of these blow-ups happened at our church. Afterward, my husband overheard one congregant say, 'And that is why we don't have people over our house."

That's not the point.

One incident in hundreds isn't going to stop us from doing what we do. We won't let it. God won't let it. We'll still have people over, and we'll still feed them, talk, and let them fall asleep against us, tears and all. That won't change.

But now I understand why Jesus says 'He leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one that went astray'- Because Jesus has a Momma Bear heart too. I want that kid back. I want to love on them until the hate in their heart is gone. Help them get settled in their heart and mind. 

And if they decide to remain lost? 

Well, God doesn't mind if Momma Bear prayers are made with tears.