Monday, December 28, 2015

The Present vs.The Future Thinker

The other night I was talking with my husband about the future. I don't know why I still do this; after eighteen years of marriage, I get the same answer:

Me: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
Him: I have no idea.
Me: not even an inkling of what you'd do?
Him: Not really.

Do you see what I have to live with, creative people? He's a present-minded person, and I'm a future-minded person. He drives me crazy! I married a guy with no imagination- except when it comes to the present. Only then does he shine.

If I need something special made or done within a few days, he's the man for the job. But if I want him to help with a five-year plan for our lives? I'm doing it myself.

Though I have to admit sometimes his way is better. Sometimes.
Let's take the finances for instance. One week we didn't make the quota I set to keep the budget on track...

Him: Well, we didn't make it this week, but we should be okay if I can do some side jobs in the next few days- and if I can't, we'll manage. I'll pray about it and see what God does.

Me: We didn't make the goal? Okay, if we can't find extra work, that means I have to stint on the groceries this week, or buy a little less for the whole month. We have to eat though, so if that doesn't cover it that means we can't pay the mortgage, then they'll come take the house and we'll be homeless- I better pack up some essentials with extra blankets and pillows just in case...maybe we can use the camping tent on the streets? Maybe the cops won't arrest the lot of us and put us in jail- I can't get a fifth job if I have a record....

As you can see, my perspective is much more reasonable. Extra blankets and pillows are needed because it's winter- duh.

His perspective does take the worry out of the picture. Of course it doesn't always keep the lights on, but at least it will be darker at night since the clock radio won't be shining its bright digital display at me.

Hmm...Maybe God had a point when He said not to worry for the future? At least not so much that worry is all we do.

Future thinking has it's advantages and disadvantages. Future thinkers like me are the ones always inventing new things, writing new books, and creating new crafts. In fact, we can't stop coming up with new ideas! But a detailed future-minded imagination can be a heap of trouble too; like the time before cell phones when I couldn't contact my husband when he was working late, and by the time he came home, I had his funeral planned and was on the floor sobbing in a puddle of tears- all because he never heard the work phone ring over the noisy machines.
Of course he didn't think to call, because he told me a few days prior that he was working that night- I just forgot! Present thinkers...bah!

God said not to worry about the future. He's got our back. Had I known Him better back then, mayhaps my husband wouldn't have found a sopping wet wife with swollen eyes and the funeral parlor on the phone the moment he came in the door!

You future thinkers- you creative minded folks know exactly what I'm talking about. You present thinkers probably think I'm one chapter short of a Bible. That's okay. I probably am. Future thinkers are usually a little bit loopy- that's what makes us so special.

I'll probably never fully understand my husband. He'll never ever understand me. So I'll make my five-year plans, ignore his smirks when I show them to him, and I'll ignore his lack of a future imagination. I'm just glad we both have cell phones when he goes to work!

What will we be doing in five years? I don't have a single idea. I have twenty. And maybe, just maybe, one of them will come true. But that's not up to me or my husband- that's up to God. I think I can handle that. But I still like to dream about it!

Monday, December 21, 2015

I'm Hypercrafetic!

The definition of hyperkinetic means fast-paced or frenetic activity. This implies physical movement. But for those whose brains just can't stop creating new things to do (like mine), I have dubbed a new term- hypercrafetic. In other words, your brain is constantly turned on, the creative juices are not just flowing but are torrent, and there's no way to shut it off- not even with chocolate.

If my body matched the speed of my brain right now, weight loss wouldn't be a problem- weight gain would be. I'd be skin and bones, covered in craft glue, glitter, and little bits of fabric and paper.

But my Etsy shop and home would be awesome.

My entire house would have hand-crafted furniture with intricate ornate carvings, the curtains home-sewn, and the cats would have bedazzled collars- not to mention the homemade three-day gumbo simmering in the crockpot for dinner. Maybe I'd even quilt a cozy for the car.

I've limited myself to two crafts; paper and fabric. Little does my husband know when I made this promise just how diverse paper and fabric crafts are! Foolish mortal, never mess with a hypercrafetic woman! Here's a small example of my interests.

My personal paper crafting faves are:

Paper cutting
paper sculpting
card making
paper beads/jewelry
game creation (board and cards)

My personal fabric crafting faves are:

denim bags
fabric bowls/boxes
home dec (small items)
accessories (for the purses)
Outerwear (scarves, vests, etc.)

And this list is just off the top of my head!

This doesn't include writing, which also permeates everything I do. Ideas for writing pop up several times a day, and I'd have to write for another three hundred years before I'd finish half of them- and that's if I had no more ideas in the meantime! 

Yah- never gonna happen.

Just for fun, here's a list of current topics I'm writing for books, magazines, and fun:

blogger (this one was obvious...right?)
family humor
fantasy (at least three in several stages)
children's (I have about nine in the works at present)
Women's humor
How NOT to (at least one parody and one serious)
puzzles (word and math)

And I have file folders full of anything else that pops into my head!

Part of me feels like starting a Crafters Anonymous chapter- but the problem is, if I got a bunch of other CA members to join, we'd come up with even more ideas to make awesome stuff! Going to CA? We have jackets- really nice hand-crafted ones with beadazzling, tons of pockets and a GPS system so our husbands can find us...eventually.

And I bet all of them would start out with the same club confession...Hi, My name is _______, and I'm hypercrafetic....

I like being hypercrafetic. I get excited by all the new ideas, the plans, the out-of-the-box thinking that often comes along for the ride. My biggest regret is that I don't have the time to devote to doing most of the things that pop into my head. The best thing I can do to stem the tide is write and craft whenever I can, and share my ideas with others- maybe they can do something with the ideas that I can't- And we all know what that means- I might have to write another book!

Maybe "The Inspirated Guide of Neato Ideas"? Hmm....

Monday, December 14, 2015

No Time For Christmas!

No Time for Christmas

They say that it's Christmas
but all through my house
there is one tired wife
and her quite tired spouse.

The kids are on cell phones
the dishes aren't done
the floors aren't vacuumed
and errands aren't run.

My house has no tinsel
no garland, no tree
no ornaments shining
no lights or candy.

They say that it's Christmas
but the weather is warm
too hot for a sweater
or chilly snowstorm.

No cookies are baked, 
no pies in the oven
no time for kid cuddles
or family fun lovin'.

So what is the point?
I ask with a sigh,
I'm too busy to wrap
Barely time just to buy!

I bought things on Ebay
and Amazon too
and they will all get here
before Christmas is due.

So here are your gifts guys
You wrap them instead
I'm going upstairs
and I'm going to bed!

Is this you? I know this is me!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Asperger Teen vs. Mom

I love my son. I do. Really. But sometimes I wish I had a Star trek Translator so I could understand how he thinks.

He has Aspergers. It's high on the autism spectrum, and that means he's able to find a new way to do Trigonometry, but can't wash a dish properly to save his life.

Let's just say that living with him is both a tremendous blessing, and might cause me to have psychotherapy very, very soon.

Let me explain what living with an out-of-the-box thinker is like:

At three years old, he loved his 'big boy' underwear so much that he wore it for at least two days. I told him that morning to put on a clean pair, to which he replied, "Okay mom!" Later that evening, I was getting him ready for a bath and noticed that he had on two pair of underwear- the old ones underneath, with the clean ones on top. You see, I never told him to take the old ones off!

When he was ten, his younger sister became afraid of graveyards. Every time we drove by one, she would try to hide. During one episode, he put his arm around her and said in a soothing tone "Don't worry- it's just a bunch of leftover people."

My daughter was tickling him behind his knee, and wouldn't stop. Finally, he yelled, "Would you stop tickling my leg pits?!?"

And now he's a teenager. 

The game has changed to one of strategy, cunning, and trickery. I swear, the kid could be a lawyer, he finds so many loopholes! So now I have to watch everything I say, how I say it, and in what order I say it. For example:

We had a really messy kitchen. Dishes, pots and pans everywhere because my husband (the chef of the family) can't cook with less than one hundred culinary tools. I told my son to wash the dishes. He washed them. The ones in the sink. He didn't seem to notice the ones on the counters next to the sink, the stove, the get the idea.
Yet whenever I tell him to wash the dishes step-by-step (please wash the ones on the counters, stove, etc.) I get an eye roll and "I know Mom...I know! You told me a hunnerd times...I know what to do!"- and then he still doesn't do them. This might be partly the fault of being a teen, but I know the Aspergers has something to do with it too. If there's no interest, it doesn't get done.

Now if the dishes were all Star Wars related, they'd be shiny clean and displayed all over the kitchen. But they're not, so they remain in the sink, slowly becoming my daughter's next science experiment.

He will also argue with me until he thinks I'll give in. I'll admit he's good at arguing- the boy can argue the paint off a door- but when I want something done, I want it done, period. He's taller than me so I threaten to climb a ladder to swat him upside the head if he doesn't listen; then he grins and does at least one of the things I told him to.
And then off he goes, up to his room, before I notice he:

Didn't do it,
Didn't finish it, or
Did it wrong.


Dishes with either so much soap they're greasy, or so greasy I know he didn't use soap. Crud never scrubbed off (because it's too hard, Mom!) or dishes soaking for three years for the same reason. The stovetop looking like a Zombie Apocalypse because he forgot to wipe it down when everything was still liquidish. Dishes on the drainer for three days so God can dry them, or stacked in the cabinet wet, so the cabinets warp.

And this is just doing the dishes. Can you imagine the chaos when I had him on laundry duty? Three loads of moldy laundry got him off that chore list quick!

But maybe that's his plan.......

I love my son. I do. Really. So I'll put up with the arguments and the dish fiascoes and the Star Wars paraphernalia all over the house. But when he get's his own place, I am not going over there for dinner- unless he's getting take-out! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Secret Sin Is Like Cheating On A Diet

 You see a bowl of chocolate on the table. But you're on a diet. You're not supposed to be having chocolate (or any kind of sugar for that matter), but the candies are so small- no one will miss just one...right?

So when no one is looking you take one. Oh man, did that taste good! The next thing you know the bowl is half empty, yet no one suspects you- because you're on a diet.

You know you snuck it.
Your hips will know you snuck it.
And everyone will know- when you can't fit back into your jeans- that you ate something you shouldn't have been eating.

Secret sins are a lot like cheating on a diet.

No one sees you do it. The only ones who know are you and God. But eventually that sin will start to show in everything that you do, much like the extra calories on the hips. Your sins will show in your actions. Your words. How you react to things. And the longer you continue secret sins, the more it shows, like tomato juice on a white rug. If you clean it right away, you might be able to get most of it out, but leave it there and you're going to need a pair of scissors to get rid of it.

Or in the case of consistent overeating, liposuction.

The funny thing is, you can't hide it from God. He knows everything- it's an omnipresent thing with Him. He's got to be in everyone's business to get them back on the right path- sometimes against our so-called better judgement. I believe that's why this world is in so much trouble. 

Our current culture is to revel in sin. Sin isn't really bad if it feels/tastes/looks good. And if you sneak it, it doesn't count. In fact, there's probably an app for that. There's probably twelve apps for that!

I know what secret sins I do. You know yours. Personally, I don't want people finding out I ate that chocolate- I'd rather skip lunch and count the calories even than to gain and have people see me fail. But I've already failed the moment that chocolate touched my lips. God doesn't give a hoot that we've sinned, because we all have done it- it's our nature! But He does care if we repent of them- especially the secret ones. He doesn't even care if we falter during the process of giving it up- as long as we keep coming back to Him for advice, support, and love.

God loves us, even if we have chocolaty-smeared faces. All He wants is for us to love Him, praise Him, and come to Him when we slip.

And that's so much better than liposuction when you cheat on your diet!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ask The Busy People

There's a saying I've heard many times when I needed help with a project or a ministry- "Ask the busy people". I never really understood why I had to ask the busy people. They're busy after all!

I used to think I was busy. Mentally I might have been, but if I'm honest here, I wasn't truly busy. Most of my days were filled with busywork (not the same as a true, purposeful busyness) and time-wasters on the computer. If someone came to me for help, I had trouble offering my services because I was just too darned slothful to leave the protection and comfort of my house.

I was lazy.

Now my days are filled with actual work. I'm truly busy for the first time in a long time. Yet I can still make time for people- more than I used to when Jabba the Hutting at home. Why? Because I am busy. 

I've managed my time better over all.
I have a sense of purpose in what I do.
I'm more focused on the work I'm doing.
I schedule my free time and use it wisely.

Now I know why people say "Ask the busy people". Because the busy people will figure out a way to get it all done. 

No, I don't have a lot of free time. Yes, sometimes I do use my free time to veg-out at home. Sometimes I take a nap, or play a computer game, but the time spent now isn't even close to the time I wasted in front of a screen just a few months ago! Just thinking about it makes me mad. I had all of that free time, and I wasted it!

The good part is I don't have the spare time to berate myself about it. Lament, get over it, do it better, get stuff done. Period.

I just make sure that I do schedule free time, otherwise I'll burn out faster than a microwave cooking tin foil. Sometimes I have to remind myself- even God rested on the seventh day!

I'm busy. I'm productive. I'm sometimes in need of a nap. But when I come home to my home and family, I appreciate them more- even the cats! I think God likes to see me busy- I feel His smile upon me every time I collapse into bed each night.

And let me tell you, that's an awesome feeling!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stop the Calendar- I Wanna Get Off!

Once upon a time I had free time. So much free time that I squandered it shamelessly. I dallied on the computer, played games, and sat around waiting for the muse to tip me off on what to write.

Until I did the family budget. I needed to get a job. Fast.

I didn't get a job. I have four. Yet all four jobs play nicely with each other. Don't ask me how that happened- I've no idea!

Job one is driving for Lyft.
Job two is driving for after school care.
Job three is editing and writing.
Job four is face painting.

This doesn't include the volunteer stuff I do like bread ministry (twice a week) and the big rec center yard sale (twice a year)

Let's take a look at the schedule, shall we?

Monday through Friday
Wake up at 4:30. Pray, Do the morning stuff. Take Schmoopsiepoo to work by 6:00.
6:00 to 11:00- Job one.

11:00 to 2:00- eat lunch, Job three, prep dinner (my husband cooks for the most part now...Yum!)
2:00 to 3:30- Job Two Pick up. (except Friday)
3:30 to 6:00- Job one or Job three (except Friday). Yes I write in the car, since it's too far to drive home and back.
6:00 to 7:00- Job two drop off. (except Friday)

This is where it gets interesting. In the evenings....
Monday- get daughter from therapy horse ranch (she volunteers there.) 8:00
Tuesday- Bread pick up 9:00
Wednesday- get daughter from therapy horse ranch 8:00
Thursday- Nothing?!? How did that happen??
Friday- Bread pick up 9:00

Basically I come home, eat, go out, come home, collapse into bed. At least I sleep like a brick now! 

I have no schedule for the fourth job (face painting) but most of the work is done on nights and weekends (mostly weekends.)I joined up with a party planning company, and since this is the lean season, I don't expect many jobs until Christmas and New Years. 

January starts the planning for the Yard Sales for the year. I'll worry about that in January. I might catch my breath by then!

God says for every time there is a season (I think that's how it goes!) This is my You-Better-Make-Some-Money season, and when things pick up with the face painting (most likely in the summer, I won't have the after school care, since that's based on the school year. My calendar, though full, is a well-oiled machine right now, and even though I'm tired, it's a good tired. 

The best part is, when we start getting caught up and are in the positive zone financially, I can wean off some of the jobs bit by bit. And when I have the extra time, I plan on using it well this time!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Let The Son Shine Through!

I do a lot of driving. When I sit at the lights, I people-watch. And do you know what I see?


No one seems to notice anything. No one acknowledges each other. No one smiles.

I wanted to test out this theory, so I decided to make myself up as a rabbit for one of my shifts. Here is the picture:
My riders loved it!
However, very few people outside the van windows noticed there was a rabbit driving. Some did noticed, and avoided looking at me again like I had Rabbititis- or fleas or something.

But there were a few who saw me and smiled. Some even laughed. And that made me smile too.

I was surprised by the results. I thought surely, people were more observant and interested in the real world that this! But no, people really weren't and that's sad, really.

However, I did another experiment. I took a walk along those same streets and made sure I said 'Hi' to as many people as I could, smiling the entire time. (This time not in the rabbit makeup.)

Most people acknowledged me, some muttered a reply, and some ignored me- but the ones that responded had smiled back- and their smiles lit up their faces. Smiles are small but amazing things!

I truly believe when we smile- not just our mouths but with our entire faces, eyes included- God lets a little of Himself shine through. Each one of us was made by God, saved by His Son, and filled with His Spirit, so we all have the potential to let the Son shine through every time we share a smile with someone.

I want to offer a challenge- Take a good look around you in a busy, bustling place and just start smiling and saying 'Hi!" to everyone you make eye contact with- and see what happens. Smiles are almost as contagious as laughing- if you start it, it might just make an entire crowd start smiling!

And then they smile at those in the parking lot, and they smile at those in traffic, and they smile at those in their workplace...oh boy, can we do some serious good stuff here!

Let the Son shine through. Smile. You never know what a difference you can make in someone elses day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Don't Mess With The Recipe!

My husband and I are bakers in a microwave world.

Our relationship started as friends, and that friendship slowly built up into a relationship that eventually turned into marriage.

We added the ingredients, stirred until smooth, let it rise, then kneaded it and let it rise again. Then we baked that sucker. Our loaf has lasted eighteen years so far.

Today's generation tends to slap everything in the bowl without measuring, stirs it once and tosses it in the microwave for thirty seconds. Then they wonder why it doesn't feel or taste the same. Their loaf lasts about as long as it takes to make it to the trash can, and the misshapen mound of dough barely cools before they are ready to toss stuff in the bowl again.

Young people of the universe, you need to stop messing with the recipe!

Good bread takes time. Sometimes it might take a few years, sometimes a decade- but if you aren't patient enough to let the dough rise, all you'll have is a trash can full of loaves resembling Quasimodo- and a broken heart.

I used to be a microwave baker. I went from loaf to loaf, looking for the right blend of ingredients. When I thought I found the right recipe, I tossed the ingredients in the microwave. Why was I surprised when the loaf never turned out right?

Then I met my husband. He was a true baker. He taught me how to slow down and let the dough rise. And our loaf is still good nearly twenty years later.

Yes, it's a microwave world. But people love to go to those fancy restaurants to enjoy food prepared right. Why spend all that money? Because restaurants don't cook really good food in the microwave. They take time to prepare it, season it, and heat it to the right temperature to make it moist and delicious. Wouldn't you love to live life like that every day?

Let the dough rise.

Start out as friends. 

Don't rush into a more serious relationship.

Commit when you're sure- and you won't be sure for a few years- trust me.

Then bake the bread. It will last a lifetime!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Where Did I Go?

One day you're just speeding along, doing what you need to do every day, when suddenly you realize something. 

You lost yourself.

I don't mean 'lost yourself' like being deeply involved in a book. I mean when you're so darned busy, you forget you're a human being.

I have utterly, completely lost myself these past few months.

For the first time since our marriage, I had to work outside of my home. I worked at a fabric store eons ago, more for getting out of the house than a financial need so that doesn't count. This time I have to work- it's a totally different dynamic.

It's more of a culture shock, really. I no longer have the time to do the things that keep me sane. The things I like to do define me. And for the past few months, I've not had a chance to delve into the things that make me my creative, oddball self.

I miss me!

Some of you can understand how I feel. Some of you might think I'm whining. After all, I had eighteen years to do something with the talents God gave me...right? So what did I do with all that 'slopping over' talent? Not much, really.

I made my fair share of money. I've made handmade gifts for folks. I've even donated my work. My kids have quilts to keep them warm at night, my husband has a quilt that we share when watching movies, and my friends have their kids face painted by me at their parties, with their lady friends wearing my origami jewelry...

Hey, wait a minute. That's more than 'not much'- isn't it? Maybe my talents weren't wasted after all?

Maybe that's what I'm missing!

I like creating things. Oh sure, I like selling my work too, but I really love making crafts that others enjoy. I love writing, brainstorming, and creating new crafts, new characters, and new story ideas.

And that's what's going wrong. I haven't been able to create anything for almost three months!

Where did I go? I went to work. I get up, I work, I come home, I work, I cook, I go to meetings, I come home and sleep. The weekends are a little different, but not by much. 

Creative minds need outlets. I haven't given mine any outlets lately, so it's shutting down and sulking somewhere in my mind- probably by the 'where did I put my keys' section.

I really need to get those creative juices going again!

It won't be easy. But it needs to be done. All work and no play makes Jacqueline a really tired, grumpy old sot. And nobody wants to be that when they grow up!

I still haven't decided what I'll be doing when I grow up- but whatever it'll be, it'll be creative! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

You're Getting Old When...

I didn't think I was old until I had a conversation this morning with my husband. Now I wonder if I'm on the verge of OldCootsdom.

So I decided to write down a few of the latest things we'd been talking about, and overheard from other Cootites.

You're getting old when....

Retirement plans are closer and a lot thinner than you thought.

The kids are almost adults.

The cats are becoming fashion accessories- especially in winter.

You have more than three cats- and you want more!

Having a great poop makes the entire day seem better.

You brush two sets of teeth- the second set is in a glass on the sink.

The kids ask what you'll be leaving them every time you're sick. 

You actually consider what you'll be leaving them.

Your grey hair begins to look sexy.

You have to roll your boobs up like socks to look 'perky' again.

You look into the mirror naked, and realize your body looks like it's melting.

Age spots become beauty marks.

You're no longer afraid to laugh at yourself!

I'm not old yet, just youth impaired. And that's okay too. I've not arrived at OldCootsdom yet- I'll stop off at Fogeyville for a while.

Do you have a Fogeyism you're like to share? Post it in the comments!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The New Vaudeville Act

This week was like some ironic little Vaudeville act.

This is my husband Sick, and I'm Tired- together we're Sick and Tired!
*cue applause*

Today's act features: 
Husband Tossing Cookies- His accuracy is amazing! 
Wife Falling Asleep While Making Dinner- Watch her snore while she cores! Sleeps as she slices! Dozes as she dices!
His fever is so high, she can use his head as a stove-top! Yowza!

Okay, maybe not.

This was a week of sickness.
My son was sick.
My husband was sick. 
I was tired, then I was sick.

I still am. The Vaudeville act continues. This time it's a solo act.

At least I have enough brain cells to write- writing doesn't require much movement- and right now, that's a very good thing. I don't want to take over my husband's act!

He's feeling better now so I took him to work. And that was the extent of my workday thus far. I'm recovering, but that doesn't mean my stomach is ready for calisthenics just yet.

Yet I can still claim that being sick was a blessing. I know what you're thinking. "Wait...What?"
Yep, it's been a blessing.

My husband though sick, got to rest. Yes it will hurt the budget for a bit, but it was rest he needed. I managed to make some good home-cooked soup before I succumbed to the flu, so everyone was pretty much fed when I was down and out. And I lost five out the the seven pounds I just recently gained.

God is so good!

I feel well enough to get the house out of the "disaster zone" stage, and since the kids are off today, they are definitely helping- or maybe I'll help them instead. We're going to do an extra good job on the bathrooms, doorknobs and banisters- you'd be surprised how much better everyone gets when these "handy" parts of the house are scrubbed down. 

Soon the Sick and Tired Vaudeville act will be over. The curtains will come down, and I can work on my next acts- Budget Balancing and Job Juggling- or maybe a clown act with the cats!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Life- The Overdone Steak

Ever have a steak that's been on the grill just a little too long? Tire treads would be more tender than that piece of beef, but it's all that you have, so you have to eat it.

Sometimes that's life.

You bite into it, realizing that that sucker is going to take a lot more chewing power, so you take a smaller bite. and a smaller one. and a smaller one. You keep doing it until it's a small enough bite for you to handle. It still tastes good, but the texture needs work before it can nourish your body.

Life can be tough, like a steak. Sometimes we just need to take smaller bites to handle the entire thing. Sometimes there are just too many jobs to do, and they need to get done yesterday.

Then the car needs fixing. Or the kids get sick. Or you have a menopausal breakdown. Or all three. Oh yeah, it's been one of those months years.

We needed money. I got a job. The job works great, but then the extra funds go to repairs for the van. Lack of exercise makes me gain weight. So I go to the gym. Then menopause hits and I have the energy of a drugged sloth in syrup. 

The devil is stomping on my life with barbed-wire cleats- while dangling an overdone steak over my head. Jerk.

I can almost hear the theme song from the Lion King: "...more to do, than can ever be doooone..."

I don't want to be a part of the circle of life- I just want a circle of sanity!

Okay, so maybe I'm a little hormonal. A little. I'm driving my family nuts right now because I'm taking too big a bite of that steak and trying to force it down without water to drink. Instead of a nice, sane mommy that says "I love you, pookums, now please go paint the house", I'm the insane, nutball woman shouting, "I need the house painted! AAUGH! Why are you painting the house! I need a hug- I'm having a hot flash-DON'T TOUCH ME! Where's the chocolate- I need it! AAUGH! I gained weight! WAAH!"

And that was only yesterday. Sigh. I really do need to take smaller bites. I just have to learn how.

This world is just too busy, and I get caught up in it just like everyone else. But sometimes I just need to step back, breathe, and pray about it. 

I'll grab a knife and fork (or maybe a blender) and with God's help, tackle that steak one eensy-weensy bite at a time!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sharpen Spiritual Shears

Remember last weeks post about Pruning Neck Branches? Well, I took a week off from work (the papal visit closed practically every road, so it was a good call) and tried to use that time to trim some of the brambles in my life.

Unfortunately I didn't get far.

I'd worked six days a week for three weeks straight, missing church for those three weeks. Granted, we needed the fundage, but I still felt like I really needed to be at church.

I was physically, emotionally and spiritually tired when those three weeks were up. I wasn't ready to handle trimming the neck branches. My spiritual shears needed sharpening.

It didn't help that I wasn't in the mood for attitudes. I won't go into details, but someone decided to 'educate' me on the new church ministry rules, and I turned it into a huge deal.

I wasn't ready for change. I wasn't ready to handle an attitude- I just wanted to get my ministry set up. And since my spiritual batteries were nearly dead, I reacted badly. I yelled. I ranted. Then I left church to take a nice long walk, fully intending to go home.

I needed God's Word, but to go back meant I had to see this person again and those that saw me blow up. Not exactly how I wanted to attend services after being away so long! But I wasn't going to let Satan keep me from hearing the sermon, so I turned around and started back, waiting until services started before going back in.

Some congregants noticed I wasn't acting like myself and tried to get me to talk. I wouldn't. I blamed my red nose and puffy eyes on allergies until the sermon started.

After services were over, I walked home. I just wanted to be alone.

I was embarrassed that I lost control. I was angry with that person. And I was angry with myself. Who loses their schmidt like that? No one else I knew. I still have no idea why I reacted so badly.

I needed help. Despite being angry at everyone and everything, I cried out for God to help me, even though I was mad at Him too. It was Sunday and I was curled up into a big ball of misery alone in my bedroom. No one could hear me. I wasn't sure if God was listening.

He was.

Today a friend called, wanting me to take a walk with her. We go to the same church, and my first thought was she's going to tell me what everyone said about my blow up. Egad, let me crawl under a rock and die! But she didn't. She chatted with me and never even mentioned church. Apparently my blow up wasn't as momentous as I thought- she hadn't heard a thing. But since I brought it up....

She asked if I would talk about it. I did. Then we prayed. She let me sharpen my spiritual shears by listening and praying with me- but I had to open up first.

Only then did I start feeling better.

I still have to face those same people next week, but my heart will be in a better place by then. Fuller. More humble. And this time, I'll be caught up on the new ministry rules.

Please don't do what I did and run down those spiritual batteries! Read His Word. Pray. Take a walk and talk with a friend. Don't let life dull your shears. How else can you trim those branches and blossom into what He sees in you?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pruning Neck Branches

It's been five weeks since I started working as a driver part-time. I also drive private clients once or twice a week. The private ones pay more, but aren't regular; the new job provids less pay but steady work, hence a steadier income. 

The past three weeks were very, very busy. So busy that I worked private drives on Sundays three weeks in a row. Just one job for those Sundays, but big ones that paid very well. I would've worked Saturdays too, but my husband took those runs for me the same three weeks. 

The good news is we're finally up to date on bills and groceries. The bad news is we're both tired.

Very tired.

My husband did overtime the last two weeks (non-driving related). Driving relaxes him, so doing the Saturday drives revive him. I drive all week (about five hours a day), and it drains me. I love driving, but being out that long sucks the energy out of me like a vacuum hose in a fish tank. Those three Sundays wiped me out, not only because the drives were so long (four to five hours each), but I also missed church services.

Those weeks were a time to work, but today is a time to rest.

Last night my allergies kicked my butt. I slept for a restless three hours, and when I got up, my reflection was one of the living dead. Not really what I wanted to see staring back at me this morning!

Hair disheveled? Check. Especially the gray ones.
Bags under the eyes? Double check. In fact, I had several sets of luggage under my bloodshot hazels.
Teeth? Some of them, but the rest were still sitting in their little case in the bathroom. 
Nose? Yep- it was there, all red and running from sneezing my face off.

It was definitely time for rest.

I took my husband to work (hey, I still needed the van after all- I still have errands and appointments to keep!) came home and collapsed into bed. I slept like a brick for ninety minutes.

God decided to send me a dream.

I was running through an orchard of bare branches, getting snagged as I tried to run through them. I felt a sharp pain on my neck near my collarbone, and when I touched the spot, I pulled away a dead branch that was growing out of my neck. Only when it was removed could I get through the brambles. I have no idea why I thought neck branches were normal, but dreams are weird like that. Despite the weirdness, when I awoke, the message He sent was clear- I needed pruning.

Time to rest, and time to prune. I'm using this day off to get some very much needed housework done, but also figure out what branches of my life need trimming.

I have too many part-time jobs. Two pay, a few have great potential for income, and some are ministry oriented. The choices I make won't be easy ones, but I feel pressed by God to start the pruning process before my spirit dies of neglect!

This is definitely a Best Yes moment. I've got to narrow my focus if I want to be a successful- and sane- woman. I don't mean successful as in rich (though extra fundage is nice!), but successful as in able to pay the bills, bless others, and still be rested and spiritually charged. It's not an easy balance, but it can be done- I just have to prune the right neck branches!

If you have too much going on in your life and you need rest too (as I suspect 99.9% of us do), try writing down all of your jobs (paying, ministry, potential careers, etc.). See what can be focused on, and what needs pruning. Trim the neck branches to free yourself up for what God intended for you!

Monday, September 14, 2015

God- The Spiritual GPS

I have a new app called Waze. It's a really neat little directional app, and I've been using it a lot the past few weeks. One of the things I like about it is that it warns me of hazards (like potholes, construction, and even road kills!) and give me a better way to get there than my usual route.

And when I go the wrong way (which happens a lot) it doesn't condemn me or poke fun at me- it simply gives me a new route to follow to get me back on the right roads.

My GPS is a lot like God.

I make a mistake, Boop! God sends me someone to help me fix it. I make a wrong choice? Beep! God gives me a new way to get there. And when I feel blocked in with no way out? Blip! God shows me a way around it that I never saw before.

God's good like that.

But sometimes I'm stubborn. I know where I want to go, and I know best how to get there. Sometimes I shut the app off and go my own way. 
Then I get stuck in traffic. Or there's construction. Or I hit a major pothole and mess up my tire. Now I have to use the app to find a tow truck!

It's the same thing with God. Sometimes I tell Him "Really, I'm good- just let me do this by myself", thus shutting the God app off. Oh He's still watching me (and probably chuckling knowingly), but He let's me go my way and do my own thing. Then gives me a big hug when I come running back to Him when I make bonehead mistakes.

So I've stopped shutting off my God app. In fact, I look to Him regularly. He keeps me on track and I stay out of trouble (mostly). And I say mostly not because of Him, but because of me

Because I'm still stubborn. Good thing He's patient, hmm?

Turn on your God app and see His direction. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Make Your War Room!

Yes, I saw the movie. No, I won't give details. All I have to say is this:

I want a War Room!

The best part? I don;t need a closet. I have a sewing/writing room. All I need is a bare wall and maybe a curtain, and I'm golden. 

If you've seen the movie (and trust me, you should if you haven't), don't you want a War Room too?

But what if you don't have a closet?

You don't need a closet. I don't think anyone has a spare closet- especially if you have kids! But there are ways to have a 'War Room' even if you don't have the space.

Use a wall. Do you have a private spot in the house? Clear a wall and post those prayers!

Don't have a wall? That's okay too. All you need is one of those science fair boards (you know, the one that folds into thirds?) to post your prayers, and a room with a doorknob lock. The board acts like blinders if you prop it on a bed or desk, blocking you from distractions. The best thing about this War Room is you can take it with you anywhere you travel! Just unfold it when you have some privacy (and yes moms, you can even do this in the bathroom before the kids realize you're missing) and pray away.

Even if you don't have room for a science board, get a notebook and a pen and have a War Book. God doesn't give a hoot where you pray, as long as you pray. Often.

Everyone needs a War Room (or War Book). Everyone needs prayer. Everyone needs Jesus, even if they don't yet realize it.

Watch the movie. Start a War in your house. And watch what God does. It's going to be awesome.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Best Yes

I've been reading a book by the title of The Best Yes, by Lysa Turkeurst.  I'm only half way through and I think she and I could be sisters.

She's as messed up as I am. Maybe she'll adopt me as her sister.

The best part of this book is that she admits that life as a Christian isn't the bed of roses, the bees knees, the shangri-la that secular people think we live in, once we find God. All it just proves is that we need God more than ever- but we have to spend time with Him every day.

I've been reading my bible almost every day. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I want to put it off- but I know if I do,  it will take me down a road of bad habits I don't want. And when I do read it, I feel better about God, my life, and how I'm living.

My infamous schedule, for instance. For weeks, months I've been tweaking this thing until I can squeeze out every second of time doing something useful. But all I've really accomplished is burning myself out and making myself into someone Oscar the Grouch would be proud of.

Then I got to the part in her book (right before I fell asleep on the pages) that asked if I was doing good work for me, or listening- really listening to God and doing what He wants?

Chapter Eight is Consider the Trade. Basically she writes that we have a decision to make. We had just an occasion come up last night. 

I had been working my fanny off for the past few weeks, and we're almost current with the finances. A few more weeks and we might be able to start paying off a few debts, bit by bit. My husband wanted to spend some time with me, and suggested we go see a movie.

For those that don't know us, a movie is a rare treat. We see them maybe twice a year if we're lucky. 

I really wanted to see a movie. I was worn, I worked hard, and I really wanted a break and spend time with my Schmoopsiepoo. If we scrimped and saved a week or two longer...maybe worked a few more hours...if, if, if...

Then it dawned on me. I was tired now. Was I prepared to work a few more extra hours for the next week or two? How would that effect my family, who was already seeing me come home in ogre mode?

Would this trip to the movies bless my family in the long run? No.

It killed me to tell him that. Truly! I wanted to go as much as he did, but in the end, I'd be making the wrong decision if we went. It was better to plan and put some money aside each week and go when we had enough. Then we could go guilt-free, and be blessed by the rare treat.

That was my Best Yes. And I felt a weight lifted because I don't have to do extra hours to 'make up' for playtime.

I also had to tweak my schedule concerning driving. Should I try to do thirty hours for the small bonus, or do the hours I'm comfortable with? Being comfortable is something I strive for, but not necessarily what God wants me to do. So I plotted my hours for the week and saw something interesting.

If I took just two more hours a day, that threw a monkey-wrench into my entire week! I needed that two hours to bless my family. Sure, I'd be making more money, but (and it's still hard for me to say this!) money isn't everything. What good does money do when I'm a burnt-out husk of a woman, grumping and grousing at everyone because I'm too tired to cook, hug, or talk to anyone?

That is not my Best Yes.

For me, the Best Yes was to keep the hours I had already established, make a little less and budget smarter. Both God and I would be happier that way. And happy people bless others. 

Your Best Yes might be different. Asking God to help you and discerning what is the Best Yes for you and your family can keep you from doing too much, or blessing others more. All the while keeping yourself sane.

And sane is a good thing. I tried it once!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Purpose of Purpose

At first, I knew my purpose. I was going to be a mom, and had certain things to do. Yes, I'm still a mom, but the tasks have changed since the kids are almost independent. I couldn't figure out why I was swimming in an ocean of uncertainty, until one day it hit me- I had lost my sense of purpose.

My kids don't need me as much as they used to. My son is seventeen and my daughter is fourteen- and the diaper stage is over, thank You Jesus! Most of my job now is words of wisdom with a little head-swatting muscle to back it up- but that leaves me wondering what I'm supposed to do when these people leave the house.

And they will leave. Oh, you bet your bippy they will.

When they do, I plan on writing more. A lot more. My tasks might change, but my purpose won't.

So...what is the purpose of purpose?

The purpose of purpose is to glorify God. Period.

God doesn't give a kangaroo's behind what you're doing, as long as you're doing it for Him. You could be a millionaire businessman, a housewife, a janitor, or a writer- it doesn't matter. If you don't have a reason, a purpose, for doing it, then your efforts are worth less than squat.

Doing things for family is great. Doing things for God is awesome. And the best part is you don't have to pick one over the other- you can do both! 

It's like doing a job just for the paycheck. Are you filled with joy? Are you getting a sense of accomplishment? Or are you dragging your feet, muttering under your breath about how tired and worn you fell all the time? It doesn't matter what that job is, you have no purpose in the job if all it does is wear you down.

Your purpose should be your job. I'm not talking about a job as in employment; the job I'm talking about is what you're actually doing. Anyone can do a job, but someone with purpose can do any job, and do it to the best of his ability, with a smile on his face. 

Because the type of employment doesn't matter. He's not doing it only for the paycheck. That's the difference.

I'm a writer. Do I make millions? No. Can I live off my writing? Nope. Not yet. But do I write with purpose? You betcha! Does God care that I'm not a millionaire? Nope. All He wants is for me to use the talents He gave me to glorify Him.

Hence my purpose.

What is your purpose? Has it changed? Have you found it yet? Are you swimming in that same ocean like I was? Look into your heart and find your purpose. It's there. Pray and let God help you find it!

Monday, August 17, 2015

God- He's All In My Head

Let me be totally honest with you- Until recently, I have not been the most avid of Bible readers.

A few weeks ago, I decided that it was time to me to start reading His Word, instead of waiting for Him to speak to me. Yes, I know- "You've been a Christian for how long and you're just reading regularly now?" Yep. Better late than never!

I started with Luke, and have since made my way into Acts. I read a chapter a day, sometimes two if I have time. Funny things started happening. I began to see ways of using the verses in real life.

And God started speaking to my head.

Oh, not the voice He uses for the Seer, the Prophets, or anyone else on the higher-up scale of the God-touched, but when I asked a question, He would give me an answer- in my head.

How did I know? Because it wasn't an answer I always liked.

I would cry out "Why God? Why did this happen?" on particularly frustrating days, and I'd hear "Be still and know that I am God." or "Be patient." Or "Calm down and be at peace." He's a bit formal, but His voice always settles me- and nothing settles me when frustrations get the better of my temper!

Okay, almost nothing.

I also ask things like "Should I?" or "What do I do now?" and He answers "Yes", "No" and sometimes similar responses like the ones above when I'm frustrated. He doesn't always answer, but when He does, it's always clear.  

Want to know the funny thing is? I'm beginning to tell His head voice from my own!

In the past I've heard non-believing friends tell me "This God thing is all in your head." Well, that's true now- He is in my head. And my heart. And my soul. And reading His word helps me to stay on track. But I had to start doing it on my own- no one could tell me to start reading it. God put it on my heart for weeks before I started obeying- and I hope my response time improves. His response time certainly has!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Egg And The Salad

A woman planted a garden and had one chicken, hoping that when the time came she would have a big harvest. When her cupboard was bare, she complained to God. "The food will be gone tonight Lord, I need that big harvest!" And God said, "Rest easy. I will provide."

The next day, she went out into the garden expecting a big harvest. But each plant had only bore one ripe tomato, a few spinach and lettuce leaves, a green pepper and a few peas. the chicken had laid a single egg. "This isn't enough!" she cried, to which God replied, "It's enough for today."

The woman went into the house with her meager fare. She ate the egg for breakfast and had a salad for supper. Then she went to bed.

Each day she went into the garden and received similar harvests. One each of a few vegetables, and a single egg. And each day she cried out to God, "It's not enough!" And God replied, "it's enough for today."

When the growing season was almost over, she once again cried out to God. "The growing season is almost over- what do I do now?" And God replied, "Oh ye of little faith! have I not provided for you this whole season? Why do you not believe I will provide for you in the winter also? Go into the forest and find berries, nuts and seeds, and catch small game- this I have provided for you for the winter."

It was then that she realized He had been providing for her the entire time. Not the massive harvest she had hoped for, but just enough that she never went a day without eating. She looked to God once more. "Just enough for today?" she asked with a slight grin. God smiled. "Just enough." He replied. 

"Thank you Lord!" She made her way into the forest to find God's bounty, carrying a little basket that would hold 'just enough.'

Sometimes I expect a huge harvest and complain when I get tiny blessings instead. I don't always appreciate the little gifts God provides, and instead complain that I didn't get the abundance I was expecting. Little blessings might not seem like enough at the time, but you might be surprised to find just how much they add up over time- and sometimes it's just enough to get the job done right!

I forget to thank Him for all the little things He does for me. It's a good thing He's a forgiving God, because I'd be in some serious trouble right now! So when I'm particularly dense and don't see the blessings until afterwards, I try very hard to thank Him for everything- especially for those blessings that are 'just enough'!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crockpot Conference

After all that activity baking and prepping the past two weeks, when I attended the conference itself, it was almost anti-climatic. A slow simmer compared to the previous weeks sauteing, if you will.

My husband and daughter were stellar in readying the snacks for the faculty, and while she watched over the table to serve and restock, my husband was helping unload (and then reloading) supplies, picking up stranded conferees at the airport and train station, and kept himself available for anything anyone needed.

I was both faculty and a conferee, and had my hands full concerning classes and appointments, both with people I needed to pitch to and people who needed to pitch to me

I still can't get over that, by the way. People came to see me and ask me if their stuff was good enough for Ruby for Women Magazine. It was a confidence building, yet highly humbling experience. Some of the writers were awesome. There were even some poets that came to me specifically because that's one of my specialties. Giving good feedback without hurting someones feelings is hard, but God helped me a lot in that department. I don't think anyone left my table with a crushed soul, only solid ideas for improving their writing.

I was also blessed by being able to host my boss and head Editor of Ruby for Women, Nina Newton in my home! You'd think we'd have a ton of time to talk during her stay, but the schedule was so hectic, we barely got to see each other! I hope to visit her at her home next year, but we both still had a blast with each other- even if it was only during the rides up and back from the conference. 

This was a crockpot conference. No super hot or icy cold moments, but a nice even heat that I sorely needed to function. My manuscripts were enjoyed (if not accepted) and I made a lot of great new friends and contacts in the industry. I also took a lot of notes during some fantastic classes.

I have a lot of writing to do.

I also have a lot of praying to do. My heart was moved in many different ways this week, and I need to figure out where God wants me. Sitting still and listening is not my forte (not by a longshot), but that's exactly what I need to do- listen to Him.

When you think about it, I'm the one who needs to be the crockpot. I have to stop burning through everything or stopping cold, and instead let myself warm slowly and let God fill me with His word, His way, His desires.

And I really need to do this every single day.

Will I? I can hope, but I won't promise anything. Will I pray and listen each day? Absolutely! It just might not be me sitting on the couch in quiet repose for an hour because I still have two teens and three cats in the house who need my attention the second I sit down. But I can have quiet droplets of time throughout the day where I can say a quick prayer, and listen to his answers when there's a lull in the pandemonium. 

Remember the song  'I'm a Little Teapot'?

I'm a little crockpot, short and wide, 
You made me to hold Your blessings inside
When You fill me up Lord, fear subsides
By Your Holy Will I'll abide!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hope Runs Amok!

Right now I'm hoping for a lot of things.

I hope to have all the snacks prepped in time for the conference. (feeding sixty people snacks seven times!)
I hope to finish the totes I hope to sell at the conference.

I hope the totes sell at the conference!

I hope everyone loves my home-baked goodies.

I hope I make good contacts that will bear fruit.

I hope to be a good editor and help writers become better writers.

I hope I survive this week with my brain in tact.

I hope to make new writing friends.

I hope I don't fall asleep in class.

I hope I can be God's Little Prayer Warrior.

I hope I can sneak in a nap sometime today.

I hope God blesses my family for helping me and being there for me for this conference.

I hope my writing makes people laugh while they learn.

I hope my cat Boo-boo stops scratching at the door and meowing to get my attention! (My writing space is a No-Cat Zone.)

Yes, I hope for a lot of things, and this list is just the tip of the mountaintop. My hope meter is off the charts right now. But my biggest reason to hope is God. God is going to get me through this week with a grin that's bigger than a Cheshire cat. He is the only one that can fulfill any of these hopes. He is the rock I stand on (and sometime thump my head against), and the Maker of Miracles. 

And if I get through this week without collapsing and with my brains in tact? That would be a miracle- trust me!

As I look for opportunities, learning, and new friends, I'll be seeing God also. He's like cat hair- He gets into everything once He's in your house! So i'll let my hopes run amok and have all the fun they want- because God is in charge here, and hope really does spring eternal when He's around!