Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Time-Out: Germany Intro.

Ready or not here we go!!

 Time – it’s always such a fleeting commodity in this life, especially when it isn’t managed well.  Now, that mine is slowing down for a short time, I can look back and see that more clearly.  Excuses are always abounding, I started working as the Pastoral Secretary at our church, it just kind of happened one day while I was filling in while our staff went through some changes.  Then, after a while it became a permanent thing.  It’s a blessing, and the timing was right, but being the part time secretary is a bit of an oxymoron at a bustling church like ours.  We have one of the busiest calendars in the land.  With that comes the people work, which usually is the heap of the time spent.  Paired with continuing to home school my kids and those same kids getting older and busier themselves, can lead to a full-on anxiety attack on any given day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the work, I mean, love it!  I get to sit in an office across from my husband’s office every day.  We have five ministers on staff, and I love every one of them!  I love their wives and the other part time staffers as well.  I mean, we have THE best staff in the land.  I would vacation with them all!  We work well together and even get frustrated well with each other.  The humor is never lacking in our office.  Even when I have a bad day, these guys know how to make me smile.  However, I still fall prey to mismanaging my time – often.  It’s a gift, or maybe a curse that I have.  My personality is bent towards spontaneity, which can be good when fun is to be had or I get a creative spurt that needs to be followed.  But day to day, it can get out of hand and that’s exactly where I’ve been this past year.  Anxiety city.  And then God….

He knows what we need, and he knows what we want, and he cares about them both!  Oh I’m not saying that we always get those things that we want, nor should we, but like any good parent (even better!) he allows for those wants when it works within his will.  That is exactly what he’s done for this family. 

Our time-out started back in July 2018.  Pastor walked in one day and stopped by at my desk.  “What do you think your husband would say if I asked your family to go to Germany for several months to fill in for our missionaries who need a furlough?” he asked.  “Yes! We’re there!” was my immediate response.  Of course I thought he was only joking at the time until he assured me, he was serious.  He went on to explain that the Clark family needed to come back to the states for several months.  They have one daughter graduating from Bible College over here, another who is ready to graduate her home school and is preparing to start college next year and he also needs to visit some supporting churches and new churches too while he’s here. However, he doesn’t have anyone who can take over the work he is in while he is gone.  Being the wanderlust side of this family I kind of figured that my spontaneous response would be met with a more practical view by my husband and there would probably be some reason why this would not be a good idea.  Not that he is a downer, it just seemed like a possibility that was far too awesome to actually happen.  Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when his initial reaction was an excited “Yes!” as well!  Of course, we still took time to pray about it, and there were plenty of excuses that would prevent this from happening, but here are the awesome reasons why both Lynn and I were on board so quickly:

  1.  Friends in Need:    We came to Central 21 years ago when the Clark family was just starting their internship.  We were both young couples excited about new ministry.  This led to a friendship that would span continents and time.  Dalene and I became fast friends.  They already had two girls, but we were pregnant at the same time with my now oldest, Katie and their third, Kyndall, (who are both going off to college this next year! Sniff sniff).  I still remember us with our babies at the airport seeing them off when they initially left for Germany.  We’ve always picked up where we left off, whenever they’ve been able to come back on furloughs.  Now, there was a legitimate need at this work they are in and we would be able, as friends and colleagues to be a help to them.  How awesome is that?!
  2. Answer to prayer for our son:  Just last summer, while our girls were away at camp and we had only our son at home, we had an emotional discussion with him about his sisters.  He was feeling a pressure and desire to be closer to our oldest but felt like he just didn’t connect with her due to the age difference among other things.  He was in tears just thinking about her going off to college in only one year and not getting that chance.  Just as we, as parents, were absorbing the idea that our family was on the brink of change with our kids growing up and leaving, Jarod, too, was rolling around these thoughts.  We encouraged him to pray about opportunity over this next year to grow closer as a family while we had the time.   Then, along comes an offer of just the 5 of us in Germany for three months!  What better way to grow closer as a family than through stepping out of all of our comfort zones together with no peers along for the ride or crazy work, school, youth group schedules to contend with?
  3. Opportunity for life decisions:  Our middle daughter, Megan, has wanted to be a missionary since she was a little girl.  Her hero as a child was Amy Carmichael, she even dressed like her one year for our fall festival.  However, last year, she read a book.  It was a good book, that was challenging teens to consider their futures.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  However, she seemed burdened by a statement by the author who challenged readers to reconsider their own desires and make sure it was God’s will – also, a good thing to do.  She seemed to be confused and burdened by this, though, wondering if she was just in love with the romantic idea of going to far off places as a missionary or if it was really God’s will for her.  Again, what better way to get a taste than to actually go on a mission trip, not for a week but for three months.  Getting to feel what it is like to be away from home, comfort zones, and all things familiar.  Yet, she gets a chance to do this with, at least, the comfort of her family with her and the knowledge that this is just a short-term commitment.  We’re praying that God will show her His desire for her during this time.
  4. Time with our oldest:  Just as our son was wrestling with the fact that our family dynamic is about to change, we have been wrestling too.  I absolutely love where we are right now with the ages of our kiddos.  We embarked on this parenting adventure knowing that we were raising them to send them out.  However, the fact of that time coming soon, weighs heavy on this momma’s heart.  I’m a bundle of conflicted emotions.  Excited to see where God will lead her and how He will use her and also heartbroken at the thought of missing her.  Not seeing her face daily, hearing her laughter, seeing what cool pictures she has drawn recently sitting on her bed listening to music, or even just enjoying a movie together or dinner time conversations.  It’s natural, it’s good…it’s heart achingly coming too soon!  I treasure the thought of 12 weeks to just huddle in close with my babies and absolutely absorbing each moment with them.
  5. My desires:  I have long wanted to be able to take my kids to see things in this world!  We’ve done the Disneyworld fun trips, but I have expressed multiple times how I’ve wanted to take them on a mission trip so that their eyes may affect their hearts.  We just haven’t had the opportunity.  The trips that Second Man and I have been blessed to go on were when it just wouldn’t be feasible to take our little ones along.   Not only missions work, but also, seeing some of the wonderful things in this great big world that God has created, has been my desire for my kids.  Well, here it is just plopped in our laps.  It isn’t the sole reason for accepting the call, but it sure was a fabulous extra!  What a blessing the leadership of our church has been as well.  When Pastor first posed this to the deacons of our church, one of the first questions was, “Will they get to do some traveling?”  This is so important.  Second Man is an extraordinarily hard worker and even hard on himself to be busy about God’s work.  He’s not a workaholic, but he is exceptionally careful with the stewardship of the ministry in which God has put him.  The assurance of our deacons and Pastor being behind the idea of us getting to use some time to travel while in Europe freed up his conscience to be able to do so.
  6. Reward:   This is a personal matter and small on the whole scale, but special to us, nonetheless.  We truly are hoping that we can consider it a reward for something personal to us, that I don’t even want to give detail about here.  However, we, as a family gave something up recently that was both enjoyable and a desire of ours.  We felt led out of conviction to give it up and it hasn’t been easy, both socially and personally.  I don’t give details, because it truly isn’t something that I would want others to think I am imposing on them or judging them about.  But I do believe in a God of rewards and can’t help but consider that maybe that would play a part in this.  I won’t truly know that until I reach Heaven and get to ask Him about it, but for now, I know that this is a blessing in our lives!
  7. Time:  The mere logistics of this trip lend a look at time.  Though Second Man will be preaching each week, leading a Bible study and discipling an individual who is a shut in, his schedule and mine are both extremely lightened while we are in Germany.  We need this.  We both need it physically, as stress due to schedules, extended family issues, and other life pressures has taken a small toll on the both of us.  I was diagnosed this past year with Rheumatoid Arthritis and am still trying to navigate my way in this new journey.  He has suffered from heart palpitations among other physical ailments that all tend to come from stress and…well…getting older.  We can’t deny that little tidbit, now can we?  We both plan to use this time to work on our physical, spiritual and mental health.  This is such a luxury that everyday normal life doesn’t always give us.  How blessed we are! 
  8. Opportunity to be used:  How honoring the thought that God can use us to help a missionary and to get minister to people in a foreign land.  How honoring the thought to do that even at home!  I never want to miss the opportunity to be used by God!  There is no great feeling in this world!

God’s just so good!  I can’t wait to see what He’s gonna do!

Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons, Parenting

No Sarcasm Saturday

I’ve found it!    What, you ask? The secret to building up your savings account? The cure for cancer?  The gumption to train and complete a marathon? Oh no my dear friends that’s all cupcakes and fluff.  I’m talking about THE most difficult self-imposed discipline outside of diet and exercise…No Sarcasm Saturday.   I know, I know this raises many more questions like “what on earth would motivate you to do such a thing?” or “Why?” or even “How long did you make it?”  All in good time my dear friends.  First let me give you a little background.   It all started way backlast week sometime.  I was trying to watch one of my favorite HGTV shows called “ Love it or List it”.  However, during the show one of my children (who shall remain nameless for her, his, ahem it’s protection) was just deriding these poor people on the show.  I found myself getting more irritated by the moment.  This child sounded so mean, so hateful, so judgmental and uh…so much like me!  Sarcasm is one of our main sources of humor in this family.  2nd man and I love watching Food Network, HGTV or even ESPN shows and totally deriding the logic behind which most of the decisions are made.  Truly, this is just a coping strategy for our own lusty jealousy.  Hmmm do I want the brand new house with five bathrooms and all new appliances that is $100,000 over budget or do I want to stay in my mid-century “bungalow” with it’s outdated electrical system, bowing floors and cracked foundation without a dishwasher?  Ah the decisions people must face.  It’s sad really.  We watch and shoot out scathing remarks about how materialistic our society is and how there are people starving in other countries living on floating shacks along rivers (funny though, they still have smartphones and reception –true story I saw it on TV too).  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, the degradation of our American society.  Like I said, I’m basically just jealous and get a kick out of the whole process. However, listening to my own kid doing the same thing sounded so harsh and critical.  I went from being irritated to being strongly convicted.  She/he sounded like a bully on a playground.  If I had caught him/her doing this to someone face-to-face I would be mortified and then I’d lay into him or her about apologizing and how we don’t treat others this way.  I’d probably go into how that person is one of God’s creations and therefore we have no right to be so critical.  All of this is true.  However, somehow people don’t seem as real to us if they’re on TV so a freedom of expression gets exercised regularly. We’re sarcastic with each other as well.  I’d say 95% of it is truly meant in good fun and humor.  However, there are those days when someone gets their feelings hurt.  But, mostly it’s how we relate to each other in a humor filled way.  2nd man and I often find ourselves even having the same sarcastic thoughts about different situations.  But, as a friend of mine explained to me, it can all be taken and given in different spirits depending on the people involved, so sarcasm must be handled delicately.  For instance she is a choleric personality and tends to go from humorous to critical in a quickly falling landslide; whereas her husband, who is very sanguine, keeps it on the light and humorous quite easily.   This made a lot of sense to me.  I know there’s a lot of debate about the validity of the whole personality thing, but I’m a believer in how it plays out in people’s lives.  My choleric child sounded scathing and harsh, but my own sanguine/melancholy personality keeps it on the humorous or sometimes overly-sensitive side.   So, with all of that said, I approached 2nd Man and told him I thought we should have a “no sarcasm day.”  He thought it was a good idea, but didn’t do anything about it immediately.  Then, Friday evening at the dinner table I made some kind of sarcastic remark and he pounced.  “Your mother and I have been talking about something lately, kids.”  He said.  To which thy replied, “are we in trouble?”  “No,” he said, “but we’re going to try to have a No Sarcasm Saturday tomorrow.”  Our oldest was instantly worried. “But it’s outreach day at church and, well, we teens speak in sarcasm.”  “I understand that.”  Replied 2nd Man, “but we’ll have to make do the best we can.”  We determined that everyone would start out with 100 points and the person with the most points left will get a dessert treat of their choice at a special place on our vacation in a month. I have to be honest here.  It was hard.  I woke up with much trepidation, scared to enter public with my family, wondering how ashamed I might be.  But, overall it was a good experience.  I caught myself having sarcastic thoughts all day long.  The hardest part of the day was going to Wal-Mart (did I mention we did this on a Saturday?)  I was never so thankful to go to the grocery store ALONE.  Even in the parking lot where Honey Boo boo’s mother’s look-alike about rammed my car to get a space she thought I was going to get to first. (You must understand how hard it was to even write that last sentence.  I had to wait a day so as not to get docked points.)  We had one daughter who tried hard, but was honest when caught.  Daughter number two kept docking herself and was about out of points when we confirmed that you had to be caught by someone else, and then our youngest son didn’t quite ever get the concept of what sarcasm even is.   However, it was a good exercise in discipline and learning to be kind.  We really didn’t have a winner at the end of the day.   We’ve actually decided to do it again perhaps next week.  I’ll confess I’m not willing to give up this form of humor for a lifetime – I don’t think that’s possible.  However, temperance is never a bad thing, so I’ll take it one challenging Saturday at a time for now.  

Posted in Life Lessons

The Loss of a Baby

Today I was praying for some friends of ours who are going in to be induced to deliver their baby who has already passed in the womb.  The death of an unborn child; it is something that happens to many of us, but seems to be this unnoticed, unsympathized loss.  2nd man and I have been through this three times.  I know everyone’s experience is different, so I don’t try to speak for anyone else, but here are my thoughts and observations about the losses that we’ve been through.

 Our first loss, consequently, was our first pregnancy.  I had discovered in this tiny, scary, gross bathroom at senior camp that I was pregnant.  I remember the joy and excitement as my dear friend, Dalene was with me and I shared this moment with her before anyone else even knew.  We were like two schoolgirls giddy and giggly with a secret.  When I told 2nd man we immediately started calling the family from the camp payphone.  I was eager and excited like most first time moms.  Then just weeks later while at about two to three months along, we lost the baby.  Our pastor’s wife was so precious as she came into the house while I was put on bed rest and cleaned and spruced.  I’m not sure if she did it for me or for her as I could sense she was so sad for us and didn’t know what to say or do.  Then I had to go through doing blood work, but the nurse couldn’t seem to find the vain.  After about 8-10 pokes she sent me up to the hospital lab to get poked with a child’s needle…in the hand! 

     I didn’t know how common miscarriage was at that time.  All I knew and 2nd man knew was that we had lost our baby and we were devastated.  I say that to show how even more devastated I was at the response of others.  Many people came and gave us hugs, but I was astonished at how many people, even women, said things like “you’ll have more.”  Excuse me?  I’ll have more?  Is that supposed to be comforting? My arms were empty, my baby gone, and I was mourning.  This response made me feel ignorant and patronized, As if I wasn’t supposed to mourn this loss simply because it is a common occurrence.

            After a while and some heartache at watching teenagers get pregnant, we finally were able to have our Katie.  About a year and a half later our sweet Megan came along and we were overjoyed.  We desired more, but were ecstatic at our sweet little girls.  We felt blessed.

            After Megan, came another pregnancy we were excited about in the fall of 2003. We were preparing for our annual teen retreat called Spiritual Boot camp that 2nd man put on every year for about 400-500 teenagers.  We held it in Tulsa, which is about an hour and a half from where we live.  The night before leaving to set up we went out to eat and I discovered to my dismay signs that I might be miscarrying.  We decided to have 2nd man go on down and I would see the Dr. the next day before heading for Tulsa.  The Dr. alleviated my fears saying that something looked a little off and my progesterone was a little bit low but that it didn’t look like it was a miscarriage.  He suggested rest and taking it easy as well as taking some progesterone.   I went to the retreat, but didn’t really do much.    However, after multiple trips to the dr. about a month and a half later we ended up in the E.R. delivering our baby.  I was only about 18 weeks along.

            This one, I’ll admit, was a bit rougher.  People don’t recognize the loss as a legitimate death of a child unless you’re 20 weeks along or more.   There was no ceremony, no naming of the baby.  We went in contracting in pain, delivered a baby and went home empty handed two hours later; nothing, but a phone call a few days later from a nurse who was confirming that I delivered tissue that was my child.  Tissue! 

A few weeks later a dear couple to us also delivered their baby early.  She was further along than me and the baby much more developed.  There was naming and a funeral for this sweet dear child.  I’m not proud of this, but I lost it at the graveside.  Here I was again empty handed and an unnoticed loss of a child.  More people were sympathetic this time, but the comments didn’t get any better.  This time it was things like, “well you have two sweet healthy ones at home.”  I am so thankful that even 2nd man didn’t like this comment.  His response was, “that doesn’t take away the loss and heartache of this one.” 

     I had my moments and got through the mourning stages and discovered just a few short months later that I was pregnant again.  This time I was warned that the progesterone was again low.  Immediately, my Dr. put me on progesterone supplements and tried all he could to save the baby.  We lost this one too. 

     It was a week after this miscarriage that I went to Jr. camp with our church group.  Knowing that I had to move on.  While there, though, my pain got unbearable.  I called my Dr.’s office back home and was told by the nurse that, “sometimes we just have to suck it up.”  WHAT!?  I explained that I had been through two losses already and had never experienced this pain. 2nd man took me to the ER. there in the town where our camp was located.  After being forgotten in the room for 5hours!  They determined through ultrasound that my body was just building up fluid in my womb area in response to the loss and everything would be ok.  They put me on Loratab and sent me on my way. 

     The Loratab was great.  It knocked me out for a couple of days and then it just really eased the pain both physically and emotionally.  I’m not saying I was addicted, but I ended up throwing away the bottle before finishing because it kind of scared me.  I loved the feeling of not feeling for a while.  After throwing it away though, the depression really set in.  I loved the girls I had, but mourned the children in heaven.  I sunk deeper and deeper in a spiral of negativity that I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t get out. 

     On our vacation back to my parents that year 2nd man got me a hotel room by myself for two days.  Those two days meant the world to me.  I don’t know if anyone other than he and I really understood just how important they were.  I holed up and hashed things out with God.  No kids or husband to distract or take care of, just God and me alone.   It was then, in that quietness, that He spoke to me and comforted me and even chided me too.  I was brought to the realization that it was I who was not excepting the comfort he had been sending my way through his word and the words of my own husband.  I hadn’t wanted to listen; I wanted to be mad a while I guess.  I remember before those two days the Psalms didn’t seem applicable to me and I couldn’t even sing hymns as I had a sarcastic thought to argue almost all of them.  I had allowed myself to be blinded to God’s goodness.  I relinquished all my rights and even my children back to God.  Knowing that I was blessed to have the two at home and blessed that I had three who were being taken care of perfectly in heaven.  I found Grace and contentment in those moments. 

     As time passed and I did become fully content with our family the size that it was, of course, I became pregnant again.  This time it was the son for whom 2nd man had specifically prayed. 

            I do feel blessed and contented now.  However, I have some thoughts about losing a baby or babies.  It’s ok to mourn those children.  Feel it, express it, take it to God and trust Him.  We Christians are so vehemently fighting these days for the rights of the child in the womb, and trying to convince mothers to have their babies.  Yet, we lack in the area of comforting those who’ve lost their unborn babies through natural causes.  We over look it like the mother just went through a common flu or something and is now “over it.”  This is a shame.  The commonality of miscarriage does not negate the precious life that was created and now lives in heaven.   Nor does it negate the feelings of the parents who already love that child.  Why do we judge the level of pain upon whether or not we got to hold our baby?  As if those who have lost children already born are more qualified to mourn?  I am not trying to lesson those situations, only reason with the thought process.  I understand and have witnessed the trauma of losing a baby only a few months old.   But, I challenge us to also remember those who’ve been unseen and not forget those mourning parents as well.

     I am thankful for the deeper perspective I have through these losses.  I am thankful for being able to realize just what a miracle birth actually is.  My strong feelings for mourning parents parallels, our often lasez faire attitude, with the miracle of a healthy birth. 

      For those related to, or friends with, someone going through this kind of loss, please don’t ignore the loss.  One of the best comforts for parents who’ve miscarried is the acknowledging of their loss and their love as real.  Let them know you are sorry and for goodness sake don’t try to lessen the pain.  Just try to sympathize with it.  Pray for them and let them know you are praying.  Those friends who cried with me and prayed for me are the ones who helped me the most in this world. 
Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Blessings in Disguise

Yesterday 2nd man was at the helm while Pastor was speaking in Tulsa.   So, today, I decided to give a synopsis of the message that he preached.  For those who were there, well, here’s “the rest of the story” as Andy Rooney used to say.  For starters I’ll go ahead and let you know he could have entitled the message “My Wife Needed This.”   However, being the sensitive man that he is, he entitled it instead, “Blessings in Disguise.”  You can hear the entire sermon from our church website  

The gist of the sermon was to take notice that the blessings in our lives don’t always come in material, family, financial, or even enjoyable form (i.e. in obvious ways).  Sometimes it is the working through the tough times that can bring the greatest blessings in our Christian lives.  It is during those times that we grow the most and are tested and tried by the fire of the world to prove that wonderful Lord that reigns within us. 

 2nd man used Psalm 66, which is a Psalm of praise for the great works of God.  It starts like many Psalms and praises in the Old Testament with listing the great and mighty demonstrations of the power of God.  Yet, in verse 10 it takes an unexpected turn.  Praising God for trying them (the Israelites) as silver and laying affliction upon them.  2nd man also used Hebrews 11 as an example of this same kind of working of God.  Most of us are familiar with Hebrews 11 as the “Hall of Faith” listing some very popular and famous people from the Old Testament and how God worked mightily through them.  However, in verses 33-40 there are some pretty horrible things that happened to some who are unnamed to us, but blessed and honored by God nevertheless.

He even used some examples of famous people from American history as a great illustration (I think).  For instance, why do we know George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?  Well, of course, because they were presidents of our United States.  However, there are many presidents that I know nothing about except for maybe their name.  Yet, these two men were propelled to greatness because of the challenges they had to overcome during their presidencies. 

With this concept I am in total agreement theoretically, theologically, and philosophically.   I mean we’ve had hard times before.  Looking back over our nearly fifteen years of marriage, I can see how God has used some pretty hard times to strengthen both 2nd man and I in our Christianity and in our marriage.  The loss of three babies all at different stages and ages was pretty tough.  I remember crying out to God knowing full well that he had the power to save those babies, but he didn’t.  I remember walking down some dark paths after some of those experiences only to learn so much about how our God works.  I still don’t have a corner on Him, but I know He’s been so merciful to me.  I saw how God could use my husband as a source of encouragement and grow him by leaps and bounds as well, as he dealt with a difficult wife and sorrowful loss.  I also grew in compassion for those who are hurting around me in similar ways.  So much good came out of those losses that now, years later, I can say I wouldn’t trade them at all. 

2nd man mentioned at one point that we had experienced a bit of an overwhelming 2011.  I’ve listed a few of the items in previous blog posts but here are our unexpected financial woes of 2011 in list form (so you don’t really have to pay attention…just look at the length of the list)

  • Feb.- Medical test for 2nd man – $1200.00
  •  March – dental work for myself $1,600.00

                   Dental work for daughter #1 $350.00

Broken finger for daughter #2 $200.00+ (required a specialist because of the          growth plate)

  • April – Dishwasher broken –no fix = no $, but No fix = dishwashing by hand L

  • May –family in town J replacement of broken borrowed boat motor – $250.00 L
  • June – broken water pump or something like that on the “good car”  $120.00

                Car broken again L fixed by friend $28.00 J

  • July – orthodontics started for daughter #2  $1200.00

Gauges are out on “good car”

My car –well the fact that it still exists is really a miracle, no left turn signal, crack in windshield, leaky radiator, homeless man broke seat when he slept in it.  Funky smell emanating from the carpet (I think)…Cost = 0 we just live with it.

  • August – glasses needed for daughter #1 $200.00+
  • Nov. Quakenado damage!  Front tree had to be chopped (huge tree) – $400.00
  • Nov. washing machine broken

      Replacement of washing machine and dishwasher $780.00

  • Then the Piece de resistance (said with French accent), a bizarre, unexpected charge of $35,000.00!  I’m not able to give details on this one right now as we’re trying to appeal it.


So when the year of the worm (aka 2011) was upon us, I wasn’t scared.  I mean, we were just dealing with money right? This wasn’t moral ruin or a tragedy of some sort.   After a while it even became comical.  My post from June 2, 2011 entitled  “Best of Times Worst of Times” kind of shows you where I was in my mindset.  Of course, keep in mind that the year wasn’t quite over yet when that was written.  However, with each financial blow, 2nd man and I tried to respond with our heads bowed down and our confidence pointed up.  It meant we couldn’t have a vacation to Ohio that year.  A heartbreak for me, as I miss my family and enjoy those trips to see them.  I had to miss the adoption day of my new nephew and the funeral of my grandmother. We even had to cancel a family trip to Disney World for which we had been saving for two years and planning on taking in 2012.   That money had to be broken into to pay for the ever – multiplying crises that kept popping up. 

We’ve spent most of this past year encouraging each other in the Lord and trying to praise Him in these storms.  I can honestly say we’ve had confidence in his ever- present care and sovereign power.  But, (you knew this was coming didn’t you?) I finally had a little bit of a meltdown last week.  Yes, I know I’m not required to post these confessions, but I want to log it for myself to look back on when things have calmed.  Last week 2nd man and I went on a little date.  After dinner, with no money to spend, I suggested we just take a dream trip to Lowe’s.  I may be weird here, but my family knows that Lowe’s is my favorite store in town.  I enjoy just looking and dreaming. Usually 2nd man is good at entering into this with me.  That night he wasn’t.  It all came to a sudden end while looking at the countertops.  You see, the wonderful new dishwasher he bought me in November can’t be installed because the countertops in my house are ¾ inch shorter than normal.  That means we need to raise the countertops, which means we have to do something with the backsplash as well.  Mind you I wasn’t thinking granite…just the prefabricated granite looking laminate ones.  (We don’t live in a granite neighborhoodJ).    I’m not sure what spurred it but at some point 2nd man gave me a reality check of the fact that these dreams aren’t even on our radar right now.  To which I responded in full Proverbs 31 graciousness…NOT!  No, I regretfully bristled.  We got in the car and I let it all out.  The tears and fears that I had been letting creep into my thoughts came to full blows.  Oh, I wasn’t questioning God.  But I sure was on a slippery slope of wavering in my trust.  I lamented over all things money related down to why I ever even went to college since I’m now staying home but still paying for it.  When I was all done there was some silence.  I’m pretty sure 2nd man was considering which path to take; talk her off the ledge or just go hock the farm and buy those countertops.  As usual he was loving, responsive, and encouraging helping me rebuild my trust in the Lord and realize that we’re not through this storm yet.  We don’t know how it’s going to end, but whatever God asks of us we’re willing to do it for him.  He is right.  I mean there are some people who live their life on this earth with no countertop at all.  I’m stressing over the little junk that I usually don’t stress over. 

So as he left us in the sermon yesterday with a challenging question, I leave my blog today.  Am I willing for God to skip these blessings and forfeit any growth he has for me?  Or am I willing to go through it with Him and For His glory.  Honestly, the question did cause me some pause at first.  But truly, I don’t want to forfeit the growth and blessing He has in store for my family or for me…how about you?

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

While the Pastor’s Away…

            While our Pastor and his wife were away (no I didn’t get to play) I got the honor and privilege of teaching the ladies Sunday school class.  Originally, she asked me to cover the two weeks while they were out of town.  However, in some moment of madness I offered to her that I’d teach for the whole month if she’d like.  That way she gets a little bit of a sabbatical like he does.  Which led me, after this first week, to ask…. what was I thinking?  I was all, “ yeah, I can take the whole month, cuz I got this book that I’ve been wanting to share.”  (Said in a high confident kind of voice).  Now, I’m like “Whaaa?”

            You see, the plain fact of the matter is…I’m a thief.   I’m on the decorating committee, not because I’m creative, but it somehow rationalizes my time spent on looking at all of the creative things other people have come up with.  I teach, not because I’m a great discerner of biblical messages, but I get excited when I read what others have discerned and I want to share it with people.  This gets me into trouble, as my relating capabilities are hindered by my excitement sometimes.  That’s what happened this morning.

            The book I chose to outline through this month was, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them free by Nancy Leigh Demoss.  Frankly, I’m sure the ladies class questions my groupiness with Ms. Demoss. I use her books practically every time I get a chance to fill in for this class.  I don’t apologize; I really think she has a knack for discerning the word of God in practical ways for ladies.  Anyway, I’ve had this book for almost 10 years, but it’s a hard one to go over in just one class, so I honestly thought it was a good time to use it since I have four classes to stretch it into.  Looks like I’m still gonna be in trouble

            The first week I walked in all ready to go. I was workin my high heal boots and denim jacket; I even painted my nails to feel really put together.  (That’s right; start out with the vanity a really godly way to start the day huh?) Actually, the reason I pay attention to this goes back to when I was student teaching high school and it took until third period for any of my students to let me know my shirt was unbuttoned!  Since then, I try to make sure I don’t have anything too distracting going on.  My motto is look nice, don’t be self-conscious and don’t distract.  That’s about the best that lesson got.

            I don’t sing anymore in front of this class after a time of severe embarrassment in relation to singing.  I once was teaching a lesson on the Holy Spirit.  I had spent the entire week excited and revived and was soooo looking forward to sharing what I’d learned.  I thought it would be the perfect time to sing “There’s a sweet sweet spirit in this place…” I warned the ladies that I wasn’t a good singer so that they’d join in all the more.  Unfortunately just the opposite happened.  It was more like a solo rendition on my part which quite frankly quenched the Holy Spirit before I even got into the lesson.  So, now when I fill in it’s right to the lesson we go.

            Well, I tried to cram too much into one lesson.  I had already cut a lot out, due to time constraints, but realized I’d have to do more in the future.  The ladies class meets in the sanctuary so I knew I’d have to cut it short so people could file in for main service. When I finally got near the end and to my two favorite points, I was in rush mode.  At one point I looked back to see what seemed like a sea of faces smashed up against the glass that flanks the back of the sanctuary doors.  It kind of made me giggle to see all of the noses pressed up against the glass.  I guess they were hinting that I was going too long.  I wrapped it up and dismissed with an awkward, “well…you’re dismissed” no prayer or anything.  The usher at the back door let me know the protocol for looking at the back window and knowing that he would give me a 5-minute warning. I was glad he filled me in.

            The next two weeks were ok, but being out of practice with teaching, I left out a lot of things that I had wished I was able to say better.  Today I am putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s lesson, the last lesson of the month.  I have already typed out my outline, but I’m sure praying that I’m able to put on the personal touches and illustrations that might make it meaningful or at the very least, understandable to the ladies.  The fact is, I’m a little bit glad it’s over.  Oh, I actually enjoy the teaching aspect, it’s the learning that goes along with it I don’t like.  Here I am trying to teach about Satan and his deceptive lies and I’ve had nothing but a month in full out battle with him over lies he’s been whispering to me.  Ughhh!  Of course the end of teaching a series doesn’t exactly mean he’ll let up, but I’m so exhausted from it all right now. 

            To top it off my personal devotions have been in Ezekiel lately.  I mean, have you ever really read that book and thought about Ezekiel the man?  The things the Lord had him do were outrageous (in my meager opinion)! Cook bread over a fire made from poo!  Lay on his side every day for like 300+ days!  The Lord even let him know that He was going to take his wife’s life as an example to the Israelites and Ezekiel was no allowed to openly mourn her!  Doesn’t exactly sell ya on the desire to be a prophet does it?  Of course I’m not trying to say I’m anywhere near to being a prophet or anything, but I do take sharing even a ladies Sunday school lesson important, because I’m trying to represent the Lord and His message.  I haven’t experienced near the outlandish requirements of Ezekiel and I’m exhausted.  Let’s just say my respect for these prophets of old went up a hundred fold as well as my respect for our pastor and my own husband.  2nd man loves these times.  Oh, he doesn’t like to see me struggle, but he does appreciate the fresh perspective it gives me for the men of God and what they go through.  And hey, the ladies that teach ladies too!  Welcome back Miss Brenda!

Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons, Marriage


     Isn’t nice to see progress? I was recently talking with a friend who is getting married. She was feeling the pressure of wedding plans and jitters of getting married. One of the things she said that struck me as interesting and poignant was that she wants to be a great wife. No not a learning wife, but a great wife…right out of the starting blocks…no lessons learned…just great. My first reaction was laughter (inside of course) with the memories of all the mess-ups I’ve had in the past fourteen years of marriage. But then, I thought to myself, “what was I thinking when I first got married?” Probably pretty close to the same thing. I understand her thinking really. She doesn’t want to be the cause of problems that they may/will have to work through.
Don’t we all feel that way about various aspects of our life? I know I have visions of what I want to be, you know, Proverbs 31ish and all. I’d like to be a great bargain grocery shopper, a great gardener who cans her veggies and has a yard that is magazine worthy, a baker who bakes homemade bread, a super teacher to my children, an energetic and upbeat wife for my husband, a frugal furniture refinisher, decorator who has a Pottery Barn look to her house.
Instead, reality keeps slapping me. We all know about my grotesque tree mess in the front yard that I wrote about in a recent post called Timber!!!
Then, there’s the bread machine I bought on Ebay. I’ve been making bread for over a week now trying to come up with a healthy and yummy recipe so I can stop buying so much bread. Oh, yes the whole garden thing was a wash this past year due to the horrible drought and 100 degree temps we had all summer. And lately my house seems to be a pit every time I turn around. I started dishes at 8am yesterday and finished at 4:30 if that tells you anything. Yes, then there’s the fact that daughter #2 had a meltdown last night because she didn’t get all of her schoolwork finished yesterday due to goofing off while I had to be out running errands. And finally, (but I’m sure not the last) there’s the little problem of our son, who keeps getting scared and coming into our room…every night for the past 4 months!
Well, obviously I didn’t share all of these precious tidbits with my soon to be married friend. However, I have been mulling them over and have come to the conclusion that I need to focus on the progress. I may not be wife, mother, friend, and teacher of the year anytime soon, but I have accomplished some little things along the way: like the bread I made today was pretty yummy. Doesn’t yet qualify for super healthy yet, but…its progress. I sat down last night and created an excel schedule for my children, so they can be sure to get their necessities done, even while I’m away. (I’ve always struggled with this one myself, because I’m a spontaneous kind of person –schedules stress me out.)
The dishes did get done…yesterday. There’s more in there now, but hey –progress right? Not too bad until I get a new dishwasher.

I grabbed some branches out of our huge pile out front yesterday…gonna make wedding branches with glitter paint and crystals.

Then there’s this. What a beautiful sight.

Little man slept all night in his room.
Ah progress

I tried to give my friend words of encouragement about her impending nuptials and new life. I don’t know if I convinced her, but I at least convinced myself that progress is the way to go…not accomplishment. After all, I’ll end with a bad cliché, but “A woman’s work is never done.” Even the Proverbs 31 woman.

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Edmond Ladies Retreat 2011

My beautiful pastor’s wife Brenda

Went to a ladies’ retreat this past weekend with our church in Oklahoma City.  Quite honestly, it was the last thing I wanted to do this weekend.  I usually have a pretty good time on these retreats, but life is busy right now, and I just didn’t want to go.  It’s been so busy, that my time with God has suffered greatly.  It’s been either rushed or pushed off altogether, which then results in the rest of the areas of my life suffering like my patience, my efficiency, my compassion and my ability to just be nice.  Knowing all of this, I wasn’t looking forward to having to be nice to a bunch of ladies who either think I have answers to their questions or they have fun picking on me.  I also didn’t want to hear from speakers who would tell me what I already know is wrong with me and make me feel even worse.  How’s that for a good attitude?  Sounds like I need a little cheese to go with that whine. 
            I went anyway.  After all, our own pastor’s wife was one of the keynote speakers and I needed to support her. (Actually, I really love to hear her speak so that part wasn’t hard.)  Of course I got just what I needed.  God’s so good about that.  He even used all the speakers to tie in and make his point.  And it wasn’t even really the theme of the event that he was speaking to me about. 
            I might as well be transparent here, it’s not like this blog is one of those “how to” kind of blogs.  It’s more like a “why can’t I…?”  kind of blog.  One of my biggest head battles is that of worth, but not necessarily in the usual way.  I’m not like suicidal, nobody loves me or anything.  It’s more like I wear so many hats (as do all women).  But I don’t have a specialty hat.  I want so desperately to be used of God with my life…I mean desperately.  I don’t need it in a famous kind of way.  Just a way that I can hang my own private hat on knowing I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do in a manner in which is should be done.  But, when I examine the hats I wear, I struggle to find even one that I’m good at for Him.  I get food on the table for my family, but I’m not a very good cook.  I clean my house everyday, but I struggle constantly with keeping it clean and organized.  I home school my kids, but (chuckle chuckle) I’m far from starting a “how to blog” on that one.  I’m a youth pastor’s wife…really struggle with being any good there.  Don’t sing, don’t play piano..blah blah blah, I could go on.  Quite frankly if I ever did write a book I think I’d call it The Art of Self Deprication.
            So, with all of that said you can now understand the mind frame I was in as I went to the retreat.  First up was our own Pastor’s wife.  She really did a great job.  Sharing her passion for wanting to really know God.  Something I also desperately want.  In my life it looks like this.  I push through a crowd of life junk to try to catch a glimpse of him.  Sometimes I even push forward and catch a tug of the hem of is robe.  I have a time of awe and thanks. Then, when I’m just expecting him to turn to me and tell me what he wants of me…he walks on.  Anyway, she shared some alarming trials in her life that have brought her closer to God.  Then, at the end of speaking she sang a song in honor of her mother (also a pastor’s wife and a speaker at this event) for the godly example she provided.  It was precious.  My pastor’s wife can do this amazing thing of crying and singing at the same time that just pierces your heart.  I wondered as she sang if either of my daughters could or would ever be able to sing such a song to me.  Oh we “do right” in our house.  But would my grumpy failing side be more of what they remember or the times of living victoriously?   What kind of memories am I building?  I mean, here I was at a retreat on my oldest daughter’s birthday!  (I did celebrate with her earlier in the week, but still…)
My pastor’s wife’s sister – a.k.a. Theresa
            The next morning, our pastor’s wife’s sister spoke (follow that?)  She too was married to a pastor who just suddenly and unexpectedly passed away last year.  She has a testimony of handling the whole thing just beautifully, leaning into God and his comfort through scriptures the whole time.  I had heard her give this testimony a few months ago, but I was so enthralled with her encouragement to find encouragement through the scriptures.  That’s what I wanted.  Scripture to tell me I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  To give me the affirmation that I’m not just somehow touching everything and making it rot for the cause of Christ.
 Wouldn’t ya know that he gave me that in the very last speaker of the day’s message.   The theme of the whole event was “The making of an instrument” which is ironic, because I’m not a musician at all.  Of all the speakers tying this theme in, this one really did.  Showing how we as Christians can be just like an instrument made by and worthy of being used by God.  It was only in one little point of her whole message though that I found the hope I was looking for.  She shared how we are all unique instruments.  That even in an orchestra you can have multiple violins, but each violin is different..there are no two alike.  I know very elementary stuff huh?  But it was the scripture she used that really caught my attention:
The ladies God used last weekend

1 Corinthians 15:10a  But by the Grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;   Wow, it his problem not mine!  Don’t get me wrong here.  All I mean by that is that it was He who sought me out and graciously chose to save my soul. He has a purpose and He knows who and what I am.  So it is He that worketh in Me.  No matter how dismal my abilities look in my own sight.  I can do all things through Christ…  I realize this is no new revelation or anything, but it sure jumped out at me just when I needed it.  
Posted in Daily Musings, Healthy Living, Life Lessons

Finishing the Race

Surprise!  I’m still alive!  Yes, I haven’t written in a very long while. What, you want excuses?  Hmmmm.  I don’t think I have any good ones, just melancholy head cloudiness going on.  It seemed to set in right after finishing the big 5K race.  Yep, 2nd man and I with the extra gracious help of the Lord ran and finished our first 5K race.  Upon finishing I felt, exhilaration, a great sense of accomplishment, humbleness, all on top of pain and gasping.  Here’s how the whole thing went down.
            I’ll begin with the fact that for over a month now I’ve been suffering from insomnia something terrible.  I don’t know why, I don’t have any unusual stress (outside of training) going on and I’m not depressed so I don’t know…hormones or something maybe.  Anyway, mistake #1 was that 2nd man and I got a run in on Friday before the race. Found out on race day that that wasn’t such a good idea.  Mistake #2 was that I went to bed early Friday night in the same room as 2nd man.  Of course I do this every night, but 2nd man harbors a deep dark secret…well not really, but he does occasionally sleepwalk.  Of course he did that night, of all nights, which awoke my insomniac self with adrenaline rushing through my system.  Arghhhh!  So off to the living room I went to try and bore myself to sleep via late night infomercials.  That’s not a good idea either.  I almost bought a steam mop, a bra, and an “everything” tool for 2nd man.  Thankfully the pocketbook is empty.
            Saturday came and I found out why it’s probably a good idea to run those races that take place in the morning.  I was so jacked up on adrenaline from nerves that my teeth were chattering.  I hadn’t had that happen since I gave birth to my last child.  2nd man likes to call it my Katherine Hepburn look when she shakingly says’, “you’re my knight in shining armor.”  (Not sure what movie that’s from just heard it somewhere.).   Anyway, I was just a bundle of nerves.  I wasn’t sure what a race would be like.  Would everyone be a pro at this?  Would there only be like 12 people even in the race or would I be able to blend in with the masses?  Then of course my worst case scenario thoughts kept plaguing me like coming in so far last that the police would be like, “lady are you coming soon?  We need to open the road back up.”  I wasn’t in it to win of course, but I didn’t want to be totally last either.  My mother-in-law (who is normally a fantastic and wonderfully godly woman) cheered me up by pointing out that these thoughts were prideful…sigh.  Now I was full of nerves and guilt! 
            Thankfully, I had booked a few things into the schedule that day like lunch with friends who were in from out of town and a baby shower too.  I had to inform my kids that they’d have to get themselves prepped for Sunday on their own.  I normally walk them through picking out their clothing and getting their stuff all together like offering, Bibles and Sunday school homework on Saturday.  However, I was useless in any area of practicality for the day.  I even went to the local grocery store to take my blood pressure because of a fantastic headache I was harboring.  Sure enough it was pretty high.  So with all of these conditions and the fact that I’m used to running in the crisp morning air, I learned that the next race will be a morning one.
            However, we did make it to the race.  We had our pastor and his wife come to sit with our kids and watch.  Thankfully, there were a lot of people there and they were all very friendly.  I had read several places that runners have a friendly camaraderie about them, but I just wasn’t sure about our town.  Thankfully it was true.  The vibe in the parking lot was so much fun to be around.  There were all levels of people there.  We were specifically impressed with three lanky young men who were practicing in the field next to us, running like gazelles to warm up. I run very hard, heavy and frenetic.  These guys looked like feathers floating across the horizon…amazing.  There were those in their gear that looked like the ads for athletic footwear, there were chunky ones like me and then there was a pregnant woman.  I figured I could at least beat her.  She looked like an avid runner who was maybe 8 months pregnant or so. 
            When we lined up in the roadway, the organizers announced that people running for best time should move to the front, 2nd man and I sheepishly and slowly started backing up.  Then, in true Oklahoma fashion they started the race, not with a pistol, but a shotgun.  After all of our hearts started beating again, the race began.  I put my I pod on and focused in.  I was pretty amped and feeling good until about three minutes in, the pregnant lady passed us never to be seen again until after we crossed the finish line…way behind her.  Oh well.
            2nd man was great through the whole thing encouraging me along the way.  A few minutes in, people sort of separated into packs of like fitness levels.  2nd man would shout out to me over his headphones, “your looking great babe! We’ve got this!” to which a lady running near us shouted back, “thanks!” 
Although we’ve run together dozens of times in the mornings, for some reason all of the excitement must have worn me out.  That was the toughest run yet.  Even 2nd man said it was tough.  I wasn’t sure I’d finish until I actually did.  I mean, even like 20 yards away, I was actually unsure I would make it.  You know how people have pictures of crossing the finish lines with big smiles and hands held high?  Not mine, nope, I looked like I had just been tortured.  And Nope, I’m not posting that picture online for anything.  I couldn’t even hold the water bottle someone handed out to me.  I threw my I pod and sunglasses on the grass and took a good 5 minutes to catch my breath.  Then I felt like crying.  I don’t know why, I was happy, but also I was so thankful that God helped me finish…and not last, I might add.  We were somewhere in the last half, but not last.  We finished in just over 37 minutes, which was really good for me, having not ever been a runner until 10 weeks before this race.  I’m sure 2nd man could have blown that time out of the water, but he was my coach and encourager and stayed with me the whole way. 
            The whole thing was a very spiritual moment for me.  I don’t mean that in a hokey kind of way.  But finishing this race wasn’t going to be any world changing event, but God cared enough about me that even in my simple small requests, he took the time to listen and acknowledge me.  I appreciate and am humbled by that thought.  I’ve felt throughout the whole training process that it was just full of spiritual symbolism with our Christian race.  The times when your body is shouting at you just quit, it doesn’t matter, but you have to push through anyway.  Then there’s the whole idea of finishing whether it affects anyone else’s life or not.  Even down to the lady at the end of the race who was in our little “pack” that said, “you two encouraged me the whole way.” And we didn’t even realize it.  I can only hope I would live my Christian walk the same way…no…even better and stronger.
            In the days since the race, the perfectionist melancholy in me has been down in the valley.  The high I got from that race didn’t last very long and I still struggle when 2nd man and I go out for a run.  I haven’t lost weight through this whole process and wonder if I’ll ever really feel like a runner.  The mountaintop didn’t last long, but it was enough encouragement to help me push through this valley and keep going.  Part of that is truly why I haven’t been able to even sit and write about it.  God is good all the time, on the mountain and in the valley he’s there with me just like 2nd man encouraging me and saying, “Keep going, we’ve got this!”  Even though he could move on without slow learning me.  So, a grunting onward I go.
Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons

All Hat and No Cowboy

            2nd man preached last night at our church.  His topic was “Being Authentic” or as we say around these part, “keeping it real.”  This topic haunts and plagues me.  I’ve said it before, but people have accused me in the past of not being “real.”  Which totally sends me into a panic of thoughts like, “this is all there is. If this version of real isn’t pleasing you I’m sorry, but that’s all I’ve got.”  The other argument I’ve had (in my head) about this is that sometimes the “real” me is so ugly that I ought not to say those thoughts out loud.  To which 2nd man argued back in his sermon that the goal is for me to get my thought life in line with that which is on the outward so that outward and inward match up (preferably both to the Bible) ala the real Christian.   The whole sermon made me wonder if he was in my head the other day listening in as I was pondering this very topic while I was out weeding the garden?
            Anyway, while he was preaching he used this phrase that just cracked me up and has just stayed with me ever since.  He asked the question, “Are you all hat and no cowboy?”  Pretty catchy isn’t it?  So that led me to thinking about this 5k race coming up Saturday. (Lets face it I haven’t thought about much else lately…at least I’m focused.)  Which lead me to thinking about how I had to run by myself this past Saturday, and, well, it wasn’t that great of a run.
            2nd man was out of town at a men’s retreat and I wanted to impress him, so I headed down to the local YMCA to run their path. (This path is the one where the little rude worker girl told me the race would take place after questioning that I was going to try to run it, to which I just today found out that it’s the wrong path anyway and the race is held on the streets around the area.  But I digress snort snort arghhh.)  Well, I didn’t do very well.  My leg went numb a couple of times and I had to stop and walk.  Then, with only a quarter of a mile left, I came upon a spider the size of my hand (granted I have little hands).  That sent me into some kind of funky dancing and screaming.  It totally spun me out of energy and I had to walk the final part of the lap.  Thankfully, nobody saw me…I hope.
            I’ll be honest; it kind of crushed my confidence.  I’m now scared to death to run this race. Scared of coming in last, or not coming in at all.  Wondering if I’m all hat and no cowboy.  2nd man took me to lunch today to our favorite sandwich shop downtown.  This is how pent up and nervous I’ve become.  After we ordered our sandwiches we were walking to find a booth and I suddenly had a panicked feeling come over me that I’d forgotten to change from my house socks to shoes!  Here I was walking all confidently and suddenly wanted to hide.  I sheepishly looked down to my feet and to my relief; there were my brown sandals.  Whew! 
            After lunch we went to the Y and picked up a brochure showing us the exact route of the run.  2nd man is going to run the route with me tomorrow so I can get this stinkin thinkin out of my head. 
            As for the rest of the “real” me, well, I’m still working on that.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be completely and unapologetically authentic.  If I can silence the critical spirit inside and work on my love, perhaps I can lovingly speak freely.  Until then, I’ll be guarding my words as I work on my heart. There’s definitely room for more cowgirl under this hat.  
Posted in Healthy Living, Homeschooling, Life Lessons, My Interests

Better Is The End of a Thing…

            Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”  Boy howdy that’s been ringing through my mind for nearly two weeks!   Yes, it’s the beginning of another home schooling year.  I love the beginning.  I mean I really love the beginning.  It marks the return of a routine (in theory anyway).  Its precious achievements and light bulb moments all ready to burst forth like a tulip in the spring.  Yes, it’s that time of year when goals are made.  I love the moment when I get to sit down with a new pencil from Mardel’s bookstore and stick it into the electric pencil sharpener getting it as pointed as possible and smelling the sawdust and lead that is torn away.  Then, I crack open my fresh new lesson plan book, not yet marred by the eraser, and start to jot down the weeks and dates, followed by the subject headers and known holidays, the daily schedules and even lunch menus. Oh the sweet joy of a new year that is just waiting to be filled with pedagogy and field trips.
            Then, reality hits in right in the middle of my perfected schedule that I have vowed to uphold and protect.  Yes, just when I’ve sworn off any answering of phones until after noon, no appointments until after 2:00 and absolutely no thoughts of dinner preparations until at least 4:00.  Errrrt! Arghhhhh! Crash!!!!!  “Oh yeah, I already made those eye doctor appointments and dental appointments months ago.  They are at 9:00 and 10:00am during the first week of school!  Then the second week comes with the missions’ conference at church.  What’s that? Oh right I’m supposed to take people out to lunch during that week.  My kids?  Oh they’ll be fine scrounging for peanut butter and jelly.  I’m sure they’ll stay right on task all by themselves.  What?  Their teacher?  Oh yes, that’s me, but they’ll just have to deal until I can give them attention.  Yes, I’ll admit, it was real fun explaining that to my crying 10 year old this morning when she frustratingly let me know that I’ve never explained to her how I wanted her to set up her arithmetic homework page before laying into her about the sloppiness of her work.  Oh yea, we’re off to a greeeaaaat start.
            This is really nothing new to me.  I’m a melancholy sanguine…that means I smile a lot in public and go home and cry about everything.   It also means I have a tendency to start a lot of things but not finish.  Oh how I despise this flaw in my personality.  I can’t tell you how many diets, schedules and gardens I’ve started and blown.  Then comes the self-deprecation and mean talk.  Did you ever see the 1969 movie “Support Your Local Sheriff” with James Garner?  Some of my favorite lines come from that movie:
Joe Danby: I’m gonna get you for this, Jake! 
Jason McCullough: Well, you are the toughest talkin’ blowhard I ever heard! 
Or how about this one:
Joe Danby: I hear you’re gonna try and arrest me. You know you don’t look near as tough as some of them other sheriffs we’ve had lately. Particularly that old boy that done run off about an hour and a half after he took the job. 
Jason McCullough: Joe, you just make me feel tired all over when you talk like that. 
Joe Danby: Now, what do you mean by that? 
Jason McCullough: It’s bad enough to have to kill a man without having to listen to a whole lot of stupid talk from him first. 
I don’t think I’m actually schizophrenic or anything like that.  But I do have a little Joe Danby that whispers in my head and I have to pull out the “Tired all over” quote.   
I was thinking about this just this morning when I went running with the 2nd man.  Yes, surprise, we’ve got a new kick we’re on now.  I decided that since the weight lifting thing wasn’t helping me lose any weight that I needed to add more cardio.  That’s when I happened upon the Couch Potato to 5K running program online.  They insist that you will be able to run a 5K at the end of 9 weeks.  Well, we’re now in week 5, which is pretty impressive to me so far.  However, I’ve reached the stage in the program where I look at the next day’s jogging schedule and about have a panic attack.  Then I get out there and think “what are you doing out here?”  Between the heat rash and trying to keep up with 2nd man (who is exactly 1 foot taller than me), oh yeah and the asthma, I wonder if there really is a way to get this body healthy.  The program looks great on paper, but whoa it’s hard. 
            I must concede though, that doing it with 2nd man pulls some sort of stubborn reserves from me and I have made it through so far.  However, this morning, as he was congratulating me for making it to the final bell on my stopwatch, I explained that what he just witnessed was 8 straight minutes of me arguing with myself.  Truly, I need to put the headphones on and get some diversion. 
            I’ve got us scheduled to run a 5k for our local YMCA on October 1st.  Now, I have yet to reach any weight loss goals in my whole life.  I’m banking on the satisfaction of at least finishing this program and making it to this goal.  I keep saying to myself “Better is the end of a thing…Better is the end of a thing…. Better is the end of a thing.”  Of course it’s about here that I forget the end of the verse…ironic isn’t it? 
            Anyway, I’m hopeful that this will still be our best home school year ever.  It’s just our life that guarantees that the only thing that is consistent is change.  So with a flexible mind, and unwavering desire I’ll press on.  Maybe my kids will learn a lot more about life and flexibility than academics, but at least they’ll be learning.  It’s become one of my greatest desires now just to NOT be a big blowhard, but actually accomplish something…we’ll see.