Monday, June 25, 2012

Treehouse Faith

Have you ever felt like your faith was strong, until something shakes you up so bad you wonder if you ever had any real faith to start with?

Me too.

Recent events have shaken my faith like a rickety tree-house in a windstorm. Despite the tree-house looking sturdy, it wasn't- and my faith came crashing down the moment the wind kicked up. But God is good and left me enough debris to rebuild a better, stronger faith. And this time I want to build it the right way- slowly with more supports!

God tests our faith every day by the things that happen to us and around us, both good and bad. Why? Because He wants us to be better, stronger people in the long run. What would you rather have, a faith like a tree-house thrown together with scraps of rotting wood, or one made with solid, seasoned wood that can stand the elements?

God sends those windstorms not to punish us, but to show us where our faith is lacking so we can make the proper repairs. That's where Free Will comes in- either we make the repairs, or we leave it, hoping the tree-house will survive the next storm. 

As for me, I waited too long and my tree-house collapsed. Now I'm smarter for the experience. It will take time to rebuild my tree-house the right way. Sometimes I might  use some old boards or rusted nails, thinking that will be good enough- and if I do, God will surely let me know of my mistakes and give me another chance to make repairs. He's good like that.

Yesterday my faith was a single board. Today I nailed another board to it. Soon enough I'll have a floor, then one wall, then another three. Then the roof. By the time my tree-house is fully built, there will be no trace of rotted wood or rusty nails, and it will survive a tornado. And God will be smiling the entire time.

Inspect your tree-house faith and see how sturdy it is before the windstorm comes. You might be surprised! It could be stronger than you thought, or it could need some work. Either way you'll benefit from it!


Monday, June 18, 2012

MommyZuma's Revenge

I was amazed at how fast my kids went from "YAY! No more school!" to "I'm bored!"- I think it took about 2.3 seconds.

My daughter graduated from 5th grade, and will be attending a new school next year. My son made it to 7th grade, by the skin of his math grade- but he made it. Both my babies will be attending the same school once more, though I doubt they would ever actually see each other next school year.

Friday was the first official day off for them both, and it wasn't long before the 'I'm bored!' began resounding in my ears. But I remembered what happened last year, and I had a plan. Heh, heh, heh....

I let them get away with the plaints for the entire weekend. But this morning, I just smiled at them, oh-so-lovingly. They knew something was up, but had no idea what. My son was more savvy than my daughter, because I overheard them talking.

Daughter: "She must have something awesome planned- Mom's smiling a lot!"
Son: "Don't count on it- Mom smiles when she's giving us work to do."
Daughter: "Why would she do that?"
Son: "Because she likes to build character by making us miserable and sweat to death."

Dead in the black, my son....dead in the black.

I gathered my children together after breakfast, then handed them each a check-off list. Then I told them my plan. "To assuage any boredom this summer, I'll be teaching you some new life skills."
My children groaned. I heard my son mutter, 'I told you so."
Undaunted, I proceeded to explain the list, which was pretty extensive. They would be sharing chores that their sibling was in charge of before every other week, therefore, learning a lot more skills by the end of the summer- some were new to them, but more were not. The emotions were mixed.

My son was happy that he wasn't going to be doing laundry forever, and my daughter wasn't going to be doing the dishwasher until she died. However, my son hated folding clothes (new chore) and my daughter really didn't like taking out the trash. Tough Noogies, kiddos- you were the ones that were bored!

I used to have one child in charge of washing the table in the morning, and the other in the evening. this became troublesome because both kids would bicker because someone wasn't doing his or her job, and they had to clean up a big mess that the other left. I fixed that by scheduling one child for clearing one week, and washing it off the next. List One was one set of chores, and List Two has a second set. This week my daughter has List One, and my son has List Two. Next week they switch.

Never, ever tell Mom you're bored- especially this mom!

As we speak, they just finished their lists and are now collapsed on the couch- one is reading, the other is watching a movie. Neither child has told me how bored he/she is.

Silence is indeed, golden.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Changing the Life Bulb

I admit it takes a lot for me to make changes in my life. The issue itself doesn't matter- it's my refusal to accept change, at least at first. I have to shock myself with the idea of change, then fret over it, start making plans to change, then start making changes. 

It would have to be something dire for me to make an overnight transformation. For me, it might not be possible!

The bulb that is my lifestyle has been getting dimmer this past year. I've gotten myself into a rut, and I need to change that bulb to a brighter watt. But in order to change that bulb, I had to think outside the, bulb. What I was doing had worked before, but not now. I needed to go to the next level. Maybe you're like me and want to make changes too- you just don't know how. So I'll tell you.

You have to start from scratch.

What do I mean by that? Think of your life as a big, cluttered room. You need to clear out that room entirely (mentally of course) so you can see the lay of the land, and how the furniture (aka, the issues you need to deal with) can be rearranged. Then see if anything needs to be adjusted.

Issues like:

Physical clutter in your home and/or office
People who drain your energy
Changes in diet and/or exercise
Balancing Work/Play/Home Time

If you have something not listed here, write it down.

Once you've established what you want to change, you need to believe you can actually make those changes. I told myself for years I was going to diet and exercise, but until I committed to it and signed up at a gym so I'd be accountable to someone, I didn't lose any weight. The clutter in my home stayed right where it was until I got off my butt and organized it. 

Start small. But start. That's the most important thing. Things won't change overnight (unless your only issue is clutter and you stayed up all night cleaning), but they will change. And these changes, when done over time, will become habits. Start small, refine, then start something else until the list is done. Then remake that list and start over, because life changes as we change!

But it's not all unicorns and rainbows either. Severing toxic relationships can be hard if it's a family member or your boss. You might not be able to sever certain relationships if he/she is someone you deal with every day. But you can limit your contact or communications with him/her as much as possible. Do what is within your power.

Dieting is hard when others around you are enjoying foods you want, but know you'll overeat if you taste them. It's hard getting up to exercise when you hurt from yesterday's adventures at the gym. Life is hard. Change is hard. But not changing your life for the better is worse, because you stagnate. The bulb dims.

Which would you rather have your life resemble, a swamp or a bright, happy room? I know which one I want! Do you?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fun Isn't a Fantasy!

I see it happening every day.

People wanting to go on vacation, but they're too busy.  Whining about not having enough money, so they need to work harder or longer. In the meantime we're getting older, and our bodies will probably give out before our schedules will. 

That's what happened to my dad, and I see it happening to me and my family.

Why do we need to save a boatload of cash and find a lull in our lives that will 'allow' us to have some time off to relax? Why can't we take the proverbial bull by the horns, and turn him into a barbeque picnic pig-out? (or is that beef-out?)

I'd like to know who gave us the idea that relaxing must consist of beaches, room service, and plane rides- that guy needs some serious noogieing. 

You don't need any of that fancy stuff to retreat into relaxation. You don't need two weeks off. What you do need is the guts to tell everyone you and the family are going out to have fun this weekend, and hang the chores, the work, and all the other junk hindering you. 

Then work towards that goal like a ram on a roller coaster- don't let anyone stop you!

I'm not just talking spur-of-the-moment surprises (though I have to admit, those are fun too!), but plan everything so you have some time together every other month as a family- or as a couple. But make sure you go to relax, whether that's riding a bike on the boardwalk, or just sitting with your loved ones reading a book as they play in a park.

The point is you need to take the time to recharge- no one will do it for you. I've been married for fifteen years and I've just learned this! If we can start planning, so can you- it just takes a little self-discipline. 

Don't turn fun into a fantasy to be dreamed about. It can be achieved, if you make it part of your schedule! 

Sometimes my husband takes a day off for a three-day weekend. This is great for day trips, because we can shop, fly kites, or play frisbee without dealing with a lot of weekend traffic or crowds. I make food ahead of time so I don't have to cook, and we spend the weekend enjoying ourselves. Oh sure, the house is usually a wreck by Sunday, but the fun was totally worth it. 

And the best part is we're ready to face the world again on Monday because we're refreshed, recharged, and relaxed!

Make time for you and the family. Don't wait for the right time- it will never come. Plan these weekends every other month at least. No excuses, no whining, no procrastinating. You'll be happier, healthier, and have memories that will last a lifetime!