Monday, February 16, 2015

My Crazy Life (and I Wouldn't Change a Thing About It--Mostly)

Have you tried studying the bible in a house with paper thin walls? Have you tried? Just in case you haven't, I'll tell ya:It's super hard. I have one hard of hearing brother watching television in his room (three rooms away, just so you know) and I can tell he's watching Hazel reruns. Dear Hubs is listening to the Beatles and other bands from yesteryear in the living room where Baby Bear is happily singing along. I'm holed up in the bedroom trying to focus on Exodus 21 and at the same time holding a conversation with a cat who suddenly does not want to be in the room. As if that isn't enough, someone I've never heard of calls and says she got my name from a friend (Thanks, Carrie.) and wants to send me a gift. All before ten in the morning. Honestly? I blame Downton Abbey, Tyler Florence and Anne Burrell.

Yes, I heard those tires screech. I heard the needle scratch the record as it stopped. I can see the large question mark over your head as you scream HUH????

Okay, so last night I just had to see the current episode of Downton. Had to. Hubs says that's my soap opera. And he's right. I also got hooked on watching Worst Cooks. Last night was the finale. Problem is, both of those shows inhabit the same time slot. Easy choice most of the time. I just watch Worst Cooks on Saturday to catch up. Last night i decided it would be worth it to stay up to watch the midnight airing of Worst Cooks so I could see who won. (No, I'm not telling.)

So what happens when the early bird stays up to watch a tv show? She wakes up later than her normal time and the boys tend to be awake as well. So she retreats into the bedroom with the laptop to focus on reading. She needs to invest in noise blocking headphones. She's going to stop referring to herself in third person now.

As of this very moment it's closing in on eleven in the morning.  Everyone is in their jammies. Breakfast hasn't even been thought of until now. Baby Bear, usually our huge reminder that food is important, is content to listen to the music. The only things accomplished on this lazy Monday morning is the aforementioned Bible study and an online job search by the Hubs. Yes, that search is ongoing for now. 

In just a few moments brunch will be attended to. We will begin our day, if a little late. Chores will get done. Order will be restored once again. But I enjoy slow mornings now and then. I like the chaos that ensues --not the fact that sometimes it distracts me from my learning (I have a feeling I'll be going over Exodus 21 again sometime tonight. Or at least I hope to.)  but I love my family. I like that there are days where we can all take the time to breathe and just be instead of running from one activity to the next. Those will happen soon enough, and will develop into a pattern that lasts for quite awhile. And although I may complain about the hustle and bustle, I hope I'll take the time to reflect and enjoy those moments as well.

Yup, that's me, just in the older abode before this house. Enjoy your day. I know I'm going to enjoy mine. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Helpful" Advice: A Plea From a Guardian

Since the death of my mother,  I have assumed guardianship for my brother.  It's an honor, a pleasure, and both something I've expected to do for a long while and a responsibility that I take seriously. Well meaning people have questioned my decision to take him in when I already deal with Baby Bear and his needs. I've thought about that myself, and prayed about it. I still believe this arrangement is best for everyone. 

While the day to day life has settled down a bit and we are figuring out (still) how to make life run smoothly for everyone, sometimes we do hit a snag. Sometimes it is an easy fix, sometimes not, just as it would be in any family. Today we ran into a brick wall of sorts, and it is heartbreaking for my brother, but much more for me. 

Because of his disabilities, my brother cannot get his driver's license.  As sister I would love to get him that much wanted document. Well meaning family would too, and they have a habit of encouraging him to try. For all well meaning, loving people out there, may I please say STOP IT. Please do not undermine the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for someone's safety and well being. It makes it harder to do our jobs when we are confronted not only with "I want" but also "so and so says...". I know you have the best of intentions and love B. and others like him. That is wonderful. But discuss it with the guardian first, please.

Do you realize the impact your words have on B. (or other friend/ loved one) and his relationship with me? You say things off the cuff, whether you truly believe what you say to be true, or because you would rather not tell the truth in order to spare his feelings. Then you leave and I get to be the one to be the meanie and crush his feelings (at least that's how I feel). 

In my own situation, I've been around longer. I've seen what my brother is and is not capable of. I know what the government has to say about certain aspects of his life (whether or not I agree with their assessment is another story entirely). I can see more clearly the frustration my mother felt when I or someone else tried to give our own two cents. Yes, sometimes she would listen to advice, but for 57 years, give or take, she was the one who lived with him and took care of him. She knew what was best. 

Believe me, I would love it if B. could get his license. But there are safety issues you aren't seeing. Never mind the financial issues that come with that piece of paper and plastic.  Saying no to my brother on anything is very hard. He's older than I am for one thing. The main reason is I love him dearly and don't want to see him hurt, whether emotionally or physically.

Lest anyone think I am speaking directly to one or more certain persons, I am not. I'm just putting out there what I see in general. Family and friends are very important and should be there to encourage and help, not to cause problems, intentionally or unintentionally.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Are You Thankful For?

Wow, can you believe we are almost out of January already?  While the north east is digging out of several feet of snow and ice, here I am in the south looking at my weather for the week hoping for peeks of springlike weather already. Indeed, next week some of us will be watching for a certain rodent to predict whether we will have an early spring or six more weeks of winter weather.  I confess I'm one of them...not so much that I believe that a groundhog can tell us that information, but because I love love love warmer weather and the blessings spring brings. Don't get me wrong, I like all of the seasons and what each brings. And in the last day or so, I'm thankful that my friends in the northeastern states are warm and safe despite all the snow they've been getting.

This morning I got the pleasure of sleeping in a bit. Not my favorite thing to do because I tend to get more accomplished when I am up by 7:15 each morning. But this morning I missed my alarm, I'm guessing because I needed the rest. Baby Bear was awake with me and joined me, as he sometimes does, in my "quiet time." He looked at me, shivered a bit in the cooler morning air, and said "Cold." This Mama's heart rejoiced. He communicated with me! I was so proud of him. I love those moments of clarity when he can use words to tell me what's going on his world. Yes, i am very thankful for that. I believe he was thankful that I brought him a blanket to cuddle up in, too. 

As I read today's bible passages (Luke 22:39-71; Genesis 40; Psalm 31; and Proverbs 28, in case you're interested) I became aware of lessons that hadn't really occurred to me before. I'm not comfortable sharing those just yet, but I am thankful to still live in a country where I am free to read and study God's word, and take to heart what he wants to teach me each day. I feel sad that on so many occasions I've neglected to pick up that precious book (or in today's world, bring it up on the screen) and immerse myself in it.  A meme on Facebook said it perfectly: The Bible is meant to be bread for daily consumption, not cake for special occasions.

I could come up with more that I'm thankful for: my husband, who traded places with me so I could go into the bedroom to finish my quiet time in, well, quiet this morning. My brother, who has helped out so much and taught me so much since moving in with us. But i have a young man who wants attention. I'm thankful he's in a good mood this morning, and I pray it continues. It means he's in good health. Now, what about you? What are you thankful for this morning? 

Older pictures of me and my boys. I am thankful for these guys all the time.

Monday, January 26, 2015

One Goal at a Time: Bible Study and Housework

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Y'all, if I believed in signs and wonders I'd be wondering if time was going to stop.  I say that in jest, of course.  I'm in a good mood this morning and I'm writing again. What I would like to do is get back to posting here on the blog more often, but I'll take it one step at a time.

Since the last week or so of December I've been changing a few things in my life. I've wanted to talk about those things here, but I've been hesitant to do so, given my flaky background. I'm a great starter, but not always a great finisher, you know?

Like a lot of people, once Christmas was over, I started thinking about the new year and what i wanted to do with it. I usually have a list as long as my arm of things I want to try or do. This time I decided to focus on just one thing: Bible study. I've started that in years past and have only gotten so far before I let life get in the way. Even discussing here at Home only lasted for a little while. But I've never read the bible in its entirety before and that's what I focused on. Thanks to something I saw on Pinterest I checked out  They have many different reading plans that last from a day or two to all year. Some focus on single topics such as Anger, others take you through the bible in a year's time. I chose one of the latter, as well as a few smaller topics to tackle. That seemed to be a little much for me so currently I read in Proverbs as well as the readings for the bible in a year.  I'm happy to report that I've been doing this for 29 days now. I read the passages online but I have a notebook by my side to write down observations, questions, and such. 

It's been rather humbling to begin this journey once again. I'm noticing things that I hadn't before, even in "stories" that are familiar to me. I find myself talking to my husband about what I've read. And it's helped me with my word of the year:Patience. More on that later, if you'd like.

Strange thing about focusing on one thing at a time and making that a habit; it flows into other parts of life as well. If you've read any of my Confessions of a Disorganized Housewife  posts you know that it's a continual struggle for me. When my brother moved in last August I worked hard at it and grew increasingly frustrated. Finally early this month I sat down and wrote out a chore list for each member of the family. The dishes, for example, are done by Bobby and me. I do breakfast and lunch, he does the supper ones. And I'm happy to say that it works so far. I still have a long way to go in making sure that all of the housework is getting done in a timely manner, but the dishes are done after each meal without fail (okay, it failed once --but we caught up at the next meal). Three of our public rooms are kept up better, if not perfectly the way I want them. It's a work in progress.  

Well, there you have it. That's my goal this year, one thing at a time. I have much more to talk about and it's my plan to write a bit more this week. How has your year started out? Do you have goals and plans you're working on? I'd love to hear from you. Although I may not always answer I do read and enjoy your comments.


Monday, January 12, 2015

I Blew It: A Lesson in Anger and Patience

Hey, Want to know a secret? Come here. Closer. Ready?

I'm not perfect.

I know, right? Shocking. Or not so much. I am a human. I make mistakes.  I sin. I yell at the top of my lungs in front of the people I love most in this world. And i feel like a world class heel.

Remember the Looney Tunes characters when they get mad? Yeah, that was me. I'm not proud of it. There are all kinds of excuses. It's Monday. I was hungry. Blah blah blah. 
   The truth of the matter is I let stress and anger get the better of me and I blew my top. Two people were in tears and everyone in the house was stressed. 

The King James bible says in James 3:8,  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Anger is as contagious as the measles. One person goes off the deep end, others follow. It isn't pretty. What gets me is I've been studying about anger and patience in my quiet time. I've been praying about it. I've been trying to learn the lessons God would have me to learn. I'm trying to see this morning's screamfest not as abject failure, but, as a friend touched on yesterday, a moment of clarity. 

One of the verses that stood out to me in today's study was Luke 11:40

Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. 

While that verse actually means to have yourself ready spiritually when Christ comes for his bride, I think it can also be applied to not letting your guard down when it comes to sin.

The bible tells us  
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  1 Peter 5:8
  The end result of the big blow up?  I apologized, the offended party apologized, and we hugged. I still feel like a world class heel, but maybe that's a good thing right now. It's like a mental spanking. That sting can remind me to hold my tongue and speak more calmly next time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gratituesday: The Perfect Christmas

Each year, amid the onslaught of Rudolph, White Christmas,  nonstop Christmas music starting just a few days after Halloween (Seriously!??), and the shopping, baking, and family, I begin dreaming of the perfect Christmas.  Truthfully though,  I start thinking and planning it a few days after the last Christmas.
And each year, the "perfect" Christmas both eludes and appears.

I am a self proclaimed Christmas nut. I read Christmas stories in July, start wondering about my Christmas cards in August (although I may not get around to actually making them until early December most years), I look for the holiday magazines starting in September. I start planning and hoping for family to be together.  Visions of TV and movie perfect Christmases dancing in my head.  And then reality hits.

Things happen each year. Family members can't always make it home.  Money doesn't always stretch far enough to pay the bills and the gifts for everyone so I have to become creative in how I handle the presents.  This year my mother passed away in August and my husband lost his job in November.  Those two were enough to make me not really want to bother with the holiday this year. I have family members however, such as my son and my brother, who look forward to the festivities. So onward I go, making a simple, but good Christmas for those two. I look forward to seeing some family members and calling others. And yet, I allow myself to be swept up in preparations that my my heart isn't much up for. And it makes me grouchy. No matter what, I'm still looking for the perfect Christmas.

But what is the perfect Christmas? Has there ever been one, other than in movies, tv shows or books? Yes. I do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. I see it more as a time for fun and togetherness and yes, gifts. But over 2000 years ago a star shone brightly in the sky. In the stillness of the night (although most likely not a night in December) a baby's cry rang out. A woman named Mary, gave birth in a simple manger. The gift that night was not only for her, but for those living then and now and forever, if we choose to accept it. The baby Jesus was born so that he would grow up and teach, and ultimately to give his life as a sacrifice so that we may live eternally. All we need do is accept that gift by hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, being baptized, and living the Christian life. 

Earlier I said that the perfect life both eludes and appears. Am I crazy? A little. But both are true. You see, no Christmas (or life, for that matter) goes off without a hitch. There are always things that make us stumble. But each Christmas as I look back, I have the perfect Christmas. No matter what is under the tree or on the table, I have loved ones around me. I have some quiet moments to reflect and enjoy. And for those I am thankful.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's Been a Long, Short Month

My brother mentioned on Sunday that it had been one month since our mom passed away.  It hardly seems possible. But time continues to march on, whether we realize it or not. It's been a month of sadness, grief, drama, and change. 

Here at home our little group of three has been enlarged to four.  Rather than be resistant to this new change, J has been absolutely thrilled. His favorite uncle is now here all the time.  He has someone other than me to see every day. Indeed, he spends a lot of time with Bobby. Although Bobby is patient with him, I know that having all this attention can be a bit much. We are currently having to remind J to stay off Uncle Bobby's bed. J doesn't click with just anyone. Only certain people get to enter his world so I am very happy when I see that connection.

The house is currently stuffed to the gills with furniture, books, and all manner of things that help to make a house a home. Not only did Bobby bring a lot with him, about the same time we were blessed with things from the Hubster's side of the family. Most people use the term "in law" or even "In love" to point out the relationships that aren't by blood. I dropped that a long time ago. They are simply my Mom and my sister. They've downsized a bit to make their lives simpler, and Mom made sure I got the furniture. I love stuff with history so I'm happy it all came to the Hubs and me. Along with a dining set came various other items that I am still going through and putting in place. Things that once belonged to sisters in Christ; lovely ladies who still have much to teach me, even though one dear sister has been gone for a few years now. Remind me one day to tell Miss Erna's story. Suffice it for now to say it is one of dedication. She was a woman of quiet strength. Neither a non believing husband nor cancer kept her from worship if she could help it.

Slowly, day by day and box by box, we are settling in once again. Day to day life is being figured out. Life tends to move on that way.

One month after her passing I'm still scrambling a bit to find my footing. Family that I thought would pull closer tended to pull away into their own safe groups. I'm not so sure that I haven't done the same. Grief tends to do that. Grief heightens emotions and makes people strike out and hurt others in some cases, sends us running to arms we know that are safe in others.  Hopefully, prayerfully, in time family "fights" will heal. 

It's been a long hard month in some ways, yet it's gone so quickly. It reminds me that we need to make the most of life while we have it. And we need to hold on to family while we can. Easier said than done, I know. But life is fleeting, folks. In the blink of an eye it's over. What will we have to show for it at the end?  A life of striving to live like Christ, or a lifetime of looking out for number one? Gathering of loved ones to hold on to, or grabbing for things that give us stature or pleasure?