Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Clean Toilet and A Cleaner Conscience

Ok, so here's the thing- it's late January already and like (hopefully) most of the rest of y'all, I'm already struggling to keep some of the resolutions I made for 2016. 

Except for daily yoga/exercise. I MADE A POINT not to resolve to increase my levels of physical activity this year, BECAUSE TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE. I know that right now, in this season of life I'm living, waking up even earlier than I already do to do yoga on my cold living room floor or staying up late to do a YouTube "Dance Your Pounds Away" channel is not, and will not be happening. So instead of making unattainable goals for myself that I'm doomed not to achieve and thus feel massive amounts of guilt about, I decided to break with the "Get Fit This Year" tradition and only set goals for myself that I MAY ACTUALLY WANT TO ACHIEVE. Maybe 2017 will be the year I can finally touch my toes while doing a basic forward fold, BUT IT AIN'T GONNA BE NOW. Namaste, y'all. 

Before I set goals for this new year, I thought about what I wanted 2016 to be for me that maybe 2015 wasn't. And the main thing I pinpointed was peace. I live and teach and work in a house that's filled with three rowdy young kids. IT CAN BE STRESSFUL. I'm amazed at how quickly things can disentigrate when a kindergartener, preschooler and toddler join forces. It can happen at lightning speed. They've got a gift for losing toys and breaking crayons  and covering flat surfaces with unidentifiable sticky substances. 

And most of the time, things like this happen when I'm distracted. OF COURSE. When I'm on a phone call with the dentist  or paying bills or unloading the dishwasher- they spring into action. Toys are dumped, skirmishes are fought and somehow the dog gets locked in a closet. These are distractions that are a normal, natural, necessary part of my day. I can, and should, and do manage to handle them appropriately. It's the unnecessary, unimportant, frivolous distractions that become my Achiles heel. 

I'm talking about Pinterest. And Instagram. And Facebook. And texting. 

I recently lost a valiant battle with a frozen turkey that has left me sporting a stylish air cast boot and a foot that throbs constantly by 3pm each day. I've been trying to stay off it as much as I realistically can, and to elevate it on the couch while I teach Luke, and when I can stop and take breaks to get off it, it does feel better. But sometimes, taking breaks is the LAST thing I need to do. Because sitting down for 10 minutes, turning Netflix on for the kids and reaching for my phone is the worst possible thing I can do for the (mostly) peaceful climate in my house. 

Because the second I sit down and distract myself with Pinterest, I'm not 100% focused on what's going on in my living room, right in front of me, five feet from the end of my air cast boot. I get sucked into links to fifteen different crock pot recipes I know I'll never cook and tune out to the fact that my youngest who is 2, just uncapped 17 Crayola markers. What should have been a 10 minute break somehow turns into two back-to-back episodes of Curious George and has left me flustered and frustrated and frazzled with my kids. I've wasted time looking at mason jar bathroom organization while my kids have emptied our toy chest and dumped out every box of Legos we own. The two oldest are fighting over who-knows-what, and my youngest has covered my coffee table in black and green and red washable (hallelujah!) markers. I slam my phone down and start barking orders, cutting down defenses and mowing through the mound of crying kids and scattered princess accessories. I'm left feeling angry and hot tempered and guilty over the way I've lost my temper yelling at the kids about the mess they've made. I HATE THAT.

I shouldn't be like this. And Paul knows all about it. In his first letter to Timothy, he talks about how widows/young wives should conduct themselves. 

"...and at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach for some have already turned aside to follow Satan." Paul, 1 Timothy 5:13-15

When I sit down and become needlessly distracted and my kids turn my living room upside down and then I lose my mind about it, I'm giving Satan a foothold in my house. I'm willingly allowing a climate of stress and strife to grow instead of working hard to produce peacefulness and brotherly kindness. 

How much better my days run when I purposefully park my phone on top of my planner AND LEAVE IT THERE on the bookshelf from the hours of 7:00am-7:00pm. When I take a 10 minute break to put my foot up but use it to snuggle the kids and read a book or play the 1000th round of Spot It. When I devote those spare few moments of idle time to wiping down bathroom counters or matching up socks or picking up lost blankets. Bedtime rolls around and the sinks are toothpaste free, the floor of the living room is ACTUALLY visible and there are no last minute, tear filled, frantic searches for Lamby or penguin blankets or stuffed kittens. 

I'm grateful Paul's warnings against idleness. I see it as a reminder that Satan can try and use any weakness to expose me to sinfulness. That, as a distracted and stressed out and hot tempered Mom I am working against all the qualities I should be instilling in my house. If 'keeping my house' is going to keep me out of trouble, then I can see how cleaning a toilet or scrubbing dried peanut butter off a kitchen chair or refilling soap dispensers is a holy exercise. It keeps me focused on the things that are most important, my home and the souls that live within it. 

And that's a resolution worth keeping. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Closet Throws Up On Sundays

Y'all know what I mean. 

Every other day of the week, the embarassingly large amount of clothes that hang in my closet are completely and totally fine. They sit there on their hangers grouped by color family (Because I've got a touch of OCD and I'm not afraid to admit it. My friend Tamra will wholeheartedly agree. She understands the need for order and organization and perfectly stacked cans in the pantry. It's a little like Sleeping With The Enemy in our houses but without the rated "R" psychological thriller part. Obviously.) and appear normal. Innocent, even. They're sort of stylish, sort of cute, sort of out of date but still- they never fail me. 

I've developed a deep and abiding love for my classic SAHM homeschool uniform: jeans, Tshirts, and cardigans. My stylish love language could be comprised of a headband, comfy jeans, loads of ridiculous string bracelets, funny/quirky/homemade tie dye Tshirts, all topped off with a cardigan, bare feet and toe rings. (Toe rings. I KNOW, don't judge.) If there were a capsule look that would define me in my early 30's- this would be it. I'm sure Josie is going to look back at pictures of me and be absolutely blown away by how stylish her Mom was when she was a little girl because that's exactly how I feel when I look back at my Mom's awesome perms and homemade fabric painted sweatshirts. And it's obvious where I get my incredible sense of style from. YOU DID YOU, Mom. So am I. 

I said all that to say: My clothes are usually comforting. UNTIL SUNDAY ROLLS AROUND. Getting dressed for Sunday morning worship is probably one of the most stressful things I do all week. NO LIE. Then, it's as if my entire closet stages a mutiny against me. Every single thing I go to put on looks terrible and awful and makes me nauseated just looking at it. WHY DO PANTS NOT FIT ON SUNDAYS?! I will go through outfit after outfit and try different shirts with different bottoms with different hair and just about the time I'm seriously considering wearing my bathrobe to worship, I throw my hands up in surrender and hope that whichever child I'll be happening to hold on my hip will mostly cover whatever awful ensemble I've managed to put together that day. 

(There's a small voice that tells me I'm being psychotic and self centered and obnoxious. But it's reeeeally hard to hear over my unnecessary whining. My husband has the patience of Job, y'all.) 

I was reading through 1 Peter this morning, and I came across those verses in the third chapter that we, as women, know all too well. But today, the first part of verse four really struck a chord with me. 

"...let not your adornment be merely external- braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
 -Peter, 1 Peter 3:3,4

I may feel insecure as I get dressed on Sundays. I may dislike all four (or fourteen) outfits I try on. But, when my focus turns more to my Pinterest boards than it is to my purity of heart, I'm not doing my job. I'm being sinful. Sundays are for worshipping Christ, not my cute outfit. They are for fellowshipping with my church family, not for focusing on myself. The hidden person in my heart is the one I should put my time into preparing as I get ready for worship. I need to humble myself more and look at my reflection less. If my heart is pure, then the rest of my ensemble is complete. When I get stressed and frantic and self centered on Sunday mornings, I'm taking away from the One who really deserves it. I'm putting myself up on a pedestal where He belongs. 

 I've made myself a goal to hang up ONE Sunday morning outfit for myself on Saturday night. It'll be an easy, tried-and-true ensemble that I know I'll be sure to like in the harsh morning light that only Sundays bring. I'll hang it up before I go to bed, find BOTH of my coordinating shoes, lay it all out together and BE DONE. Then, when Sunday morning comes, I'll drink my coffee and read my Bible and get myself dressed for worship without turning my closet info a heap of jumbled clothes that I'll have to spend 20 minutes rehanging on Sunday afternoons. 

These verses may find a home on my bathroom mirror sometime soon. And when my Josie gets old enough to feel the Sunday Morning Stress for herself, I'll make her a copy too. 

Be blessed today, y'all. I'm going to get dressed. 
(After another cup of coffee. OF COURSE.) 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When Love is Crazy: A Story About A Couple Of Chickens And A Cup Of Coffee

I dropped a 22 pound frozen turkey onto my left foot Saturday night. 

2016 has firmly introduced itself in my house, y'all. 

My husband Matt's birthday was Sunday (Happy Birthday, Boo!) and his all time favorite meal is turkey. With creamed potatoes. And his Mom's awesome sweet potato casserole. With spicy corn and a pineapple upside down cake. 

So, BECAUSE BIRTHDAYS y'all, I found myself wrestling through my chest freezer to unbury one of these prized poultry products. And, since it's practically unSouthern to NOT have multiple frozen Butterball turkeys in your freezer, I found myself having to play my own icy version of Tetris as I resituated my freezer after I chose the bird whose valiant sacrifice we would pay homage to on my man's very special day. 

It was all going well until I got to my last turkey to reshelf. It was the biggest one in my freezer, so I should've known it would give me the most trouble. As I hoisted it up and seemingly into my freezer, the nylon looped strap gave way and it came crashing down unceremoniously onto my bare.left.foot. 


The shock blinded me from any immediate pain (I love you, adrenaline!) and I somehow managed to hop/limp/shuffle ungraciously into my living room where I collapsed into a heap and began to whimper and then continued to alternate from quietly moaning to silently sobbing until sometime Sunday afternoon. 

My Bible Class was covered by my back up, morning worship was skipped and I stayed virtually immobile for what felt like 63 straight hours. (It was only about 18 but it felt SO MUCH LONGER.) Matt, AKA The Most Amazing Husband/Dad That Ever Lived took all three of the kiddos to church BY HIMSELF ON HIS BIRTHDAY. While there, my precocious Kindergartener Luke managed to tell anyone that would listen (Sorry, visitors!) about how his Momma "dropped that big ol' turkey on her foot". Mercy. 

It wasn't long after services were over that the calls and texts started flying in. It's a story that I have to laugh while telling because WHO DROPS A FROZEN TURKEY ON THEIR FOOT?? I have the best friends, and there was no shortage of people that offered to come by and fold my laundry or mop my floors or buy me groceries or wash my car or give the dog a haircut. Just hearing the offers and seeing the willingness of my friends and church family to help out was enough to bless me immensely. I declined the offers of help, because really and truly, I'm fine. I've got mobility in all my joints and I can stand on it now for a while without it hurting. (But then the throbbing starts again and I've got to ice it. Hooray for homeschool from the couch! #silverlining) It's turning a nice purple color and I'm sure that in a week or so it'll all be history. I hope. ::wink::

But I had some friends who were just crazy enough, who loved me from that "there-are-no-boundaries-in-our-friendship" kinda place that didn't take no for an answer. This morning around 11:00, my doorbell rang and the sweetest, most gracious, most loving couple from our church was  standing on my front porch with WalMart bags in their hands. Bro. Don hugged my neck then bustled his way into my kitchen with a trailing call of "You're hurt! We brought you chickens!" as his wife Mrs. Cora laughed and explained that when they'd heard about my predicament they decided to just come on over and bring us sustenance. THEY ARE SAINTS,Y'ALL. If they'd called and asked if there was anything they could do, I'd have told them no. BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE CRAZY, they bought the chickens, showed up, ignored my unwashed hair and rowdy kids and messy house and dropped off supper. Hallelujah. 

My friend/neighbor (bonus!) Cindy called me this afternoon to inform me that she's coming over to mop my kitchen tomorrow. I told her that it was completely unnecessary. She ignored me. I countered with asking her to simply  help me move my breakfast nook chairs off the tile so I could mop and she ignored me AGAIN. She proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that she WOULD be coming by tomorrow and that she WOULD be mopping. God bless her servant heart because my floors are disgusting and I could weep at the idea of having them dog hair and peanut butter and chocolate milk free. As if that weren't enough, she upped her ante by walking over not twenty minutes later with a freshly ground, freshly brewed cup of Starbucks RESERVE BLEND Because coffee is our lifeblood. 

And I think that's how the church should be today because I think that's how it was back then:  With big hearts and blind eyes and willing servants and eager hands. I can't wait to pass their crazy love onto someone else soon. It's blessed me more than they know and taught me that sometimes, it's OK to ignore the 'No thank you's' so you can become the 'God bless you's."

Who knew I'd be itching to buy rotisserie chickens for someone?? 

Now go and find someone you can spread that crazy kind of love to, y'all!
As for me. I'm going to ice my foot. Again. ::wink:: 

Thanks for stopping by, y'all!