A “Ho-Hum” Kind of Day

Today is kind of a “ho-hum” day.  Those are the best days to write blog posts, right?!  I need to write.  Somehow that just makes me feel better.  We, in my family, are really struggling financially.  I know that the Lord will come through for us.  He always does.  I just don’t know how.  And, I have to admit, I am afraid.  I can say all I want, that I don’t care what people think of us, but let’s be honest, everyone does to some extent.  

We are really broke right now.  In fact, we are so broke that we are applying for food stamps and had to appeal to the powers that be at CitiMortgage in hopes that we can catch a break on our mortgage.  No, I’m not talking about a refinance.  I mean, I hope we don’t lose our house before things start to look a little better.  The very idea makes me want to sob.  The trite answer to that would be, well, God must just have something better.  But, then there are those that would look at the situation and say that Derick and I are simply not doing enough.  We are not working hard enough to earn the money that is needed to stay in our house.  In fact, in all appearances we are actually goofing off when we should be working.  After all, I don’t have a steady job at all and of all things for Derick to do, he is playing baseball while he is in college, instead of supporting his family.  

I would really like to solicit the great wisdom of one or more of the older and wiser women at church.  But, I am afraid of getting in trouble, of being told that we are in the wrong.  I’m afraid of being scolded, instead of someone coming along side me and working with me where I am and encouraging me to keep going.  It is my greatest desire to be a supportive wife.  My greatest desire, above everything else on this earth!  I know that I don’t always do a very good job, sounding more like a dripping faucet rather that the head cheerleader.  So, when my full-time, college-student husband comes to me and says he wants to try out for the college baseball team, what should my response be?  When he comes to me a week later and announces that he actually made the team, what should my response be, as a supportive wife?  My response was that I am not the head of the house and it is not my decision to make.  If he wants to play, and our family can be better served in the long run with him on the baseball team, then who am I to tell him he can’t play?  But, is that enough?  I responded by not only supporting him in his decision to play, but also by being excited with him at this amazing triumph in his life!

Now I’m going to tell you the inside story.  The truth is, God provided a way for Derick to go to school and not work.  And it is by his grace that Derick has stayed in good enough shape for the last 17 years that he can play college baseball at 36 years old.  And I believe, even though sometimes I don’t want to, that it is actually in God’s plan for me to be a cosmetologist at home for a limited number of hours a week, just so that I can make women feel beautiful that would not normally be able to go to the salon to pamper themselves for one of 2 reasons, a) the cost or b) lack of child care.  

In July of 2009, when I was 8 months pregnant with Brody, we received word that Derick would be deploying to Central America for at least 6 months.  And he would be leaving in 5 weeks.  Three weeks before he left, he received notice that Caterpillar had eliminated his contract position.  (Thank God for the deployment!)  Immediately upon his return he got new job that seemed to have lots of potential.  Only one problem, it wasn’t what he wanted, or felt called by God to do.  He has known for several years that he is meant to be a high school math teacher.  Well, at some point during his employment with this company, it was decided that the company would go in a different direction and his services were no longer needed.  And suddenly he was calling on the aide of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.  He tried to get jobs at many different companies but to no avail.  

In the end he enrolled at ICC to pursue his dream.  The baseball part is kind of a bonus because he also wants to be a baseball coach and his chances are greatly increased if he plays college ball.  With unemployment and with his monthly weekend job as a Navy Reservist, we discovered very quickly that he cannot work many hours without endangering his unemployment benefits.  He can work some but if he works too much then the amount he gets for unemployment every month goes down considerably.  In order to make it worth it for him to not get unemployment, he would have to work 40 hours a week or more, making at least $12/hour.  Unfortunately, when he tried to get a job like that he was met with rejection after rejection.  So, instead, he has been filling out every scrap of paper he can get his hands on to get money from the federal government and from the Navy and from the VA for us to live on while he is in school.  We have been cutting back severely, but even after all that, we still seem to fall short every month.

I am doing hair 3 days a week now, but I really don’t make very much money.  It would be nice (and I think I would be lucky) if I were to make enough money to keep gas in our cars every month.  I could work full time in a salon and make a lot more money, but I think the overhead of renting space and the cost of daycare would suck away all of my income and we would be worse off than we are now.  Not only would I be working to pay the daycare, but then I wouldn’t be home to take care of my family.  A salon in the basement would be nice!  But, that brings me back to our primary dilemma.  It is expensive and we can’t even afford our house right now.  So, if we lose the house, then I lose the salon (if I even had the means to install a salon in the first place).  

But, what about Peoria Christian, you say.  How can you pay for that and not for your house?  Well, that’s simple, we got a discount of 40% in financial aide.  (Yes, some private schools offer financial aide).  And Christian has a very generous benefactor.  Plus, every time we have tried to withdraw Christian from PCS, God has miraculously provided just what we need for him to stay.  Besides the fact that I don’t want to send my kids to separate schools, and I really don’t want to send them to District 150.  Sad, but true.  I’d rather home-school and that’s saying a lot!  So, we pay Aida’s portion and Christian’s benefactor pays his portion.  

Anyway, now you know the whole story, all 3 of you that read my blog!  I don’t really know what the point of writing this blog is, but sometimes writing it out makes me feel better.  Things in our life need to change, I know.  But I don’t know how.  And, I’m really afraid that they will change in such a way to make people point fingers and say that we are not being good stewards of the gifts that God has given us.  I really think we are, but what do I know.  Maybe I’m so close to the situation that I can’t see the woods for the trees.  

God, please rescue my family!  It feels like we are drowning!       


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Birthdays and Such…

Today my family is having a birthday party for me and Brody.  Derick is hosting it.  I am cooking for it.  And I am skipping church so that I can clean my house for it.  I guess I don’t really have time for this blog, but sometimes writing about what I have to do helps me clear my head so that I can be more productive.  I guess this is a good way to get a jump start on my house.  I am constantly lamenting to Derick about the state of… everything.  Well, not everything.  Sometimes when my house is a mess it feels like everything else is bad too.

I think I’ll start in the bathroom and go from there.  The bathroom is quick and it’ll make me feel like I’m actually getting something done.  Then the hall and follow it to the kitchen and down the basement stairs.  Not really sure what I’m gonna do once I get down the stairs and actually in the basement (since I usually want to run and hide rather than face the mess that is my basement).  I guess I’ll just start at the bottom of the stairs and work my way out from there.  We’ll see how it goes.  I guess Derick’s family already knows that I have a bad case of the messies.

I really believe this is a spiritual battle for me.  I want help from God to have strength, energy, etc… But when it comes to cleaning my house, sometimes I think that praying for help is too trivial.  Why would God care to help me with that?!  Maybe because He knows that I want to honor Him with my house and everything in it.  *sigh*  Well, I guess I better get to it!

I Corinthians 10:31~

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Colossians 3:23~

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

WHATEVER I DO!  Anything!  No thing is too small for me to work at it  for the Lord.  So, work hard.  Work hard until my family returns from church.  Work hard until my family returns, not for them or me, but for God and to His glory and with His strength.

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Happiness vs Holiness

Focus on the Family, this morning, was a repeat from yesterday.  I was a little irritated at first.  I listen every day that I deliver the papers.  Of course, I can never listen to the whole thing.  I’m constantly getting in and out of the car.  Most days I listen to WCIC, the Christian contemporary radio station here in Peoria.  The songs get old sometimes but I like the overnight DJ.  He talks like no one is listening.  Its pretty entertaining.  Then at 5:00 they air Focus on the Family.

Today, was a repeat of yesterday, though.  I can only imagine that it was an honest mistake by the radio station.  It was the second half of an interview with Gary Thomas, the author of the book Sacred Marriage.  Like I said, I was a little irritated at first.  I’m always interested in what that day’s broadcast is going to be.  Today was supposed to be about dispelling common myths of parenting.  Great!  I can always use some parenting advice!  Can’t we all?!  Anyway, I decided to go ahead and listen instead of changing the station in search of something new.  I can always use marriage advice just as much as parenting advice.  (Sometimes I think I’m doing just fine, and Derick needs to improve our marriage.)  The theme of the broadcast was marriage being design to make us Holy like Christ, not happy.  What a novel concept!  I really believe this to be true, I just don’t think about it very often.  Nor do most people.  Most of us are out to find what makes us happy in everything, including relationships.

I am divorced, so I understand the feelings that go along with being happy and in love to being so anxious to be done you can hardly stand it!  But, for Derick and I, divorce isn’t even in our vocabulary.  We decided before we got married that it simply is not an option.  I was talking to my brother-in-law the other night.  He was expressing some frustrations that he is having with a group that he works closely with.  Basically, he has leadership responsibilities but no authority to carry out those responsibilities.  He said its very frustrating!  I thought about it this morning, and my relationship with Derick as my leader.  If that is how I treat Derick, I’m sure it would not only lead to frustration, but also to anger and resentment.  This doesn’t make our marriage Holy.  Not even close!

Gary Thomas talked about Mary Todd Lincoln for a bit.  Apparently, she was a very difficult woman to get along with.  But, God used that to build the strength in Abraham Lincoln that he would need to lead our country during the Civil War!  Many people say, “behind every great man, there is a great woman”.  Or even the opposite may be true.  But, maybe God wants to use that not-so-great man or woman to make us better husbands and wives.  God has a purpose and a design for everything!  I mentioned yesterday that God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention and draw us to Him.  Even if that means being married to a controlling husband or a contentious wife.

In the past, and even occasionally now, I have a hard time reconciling myself to the fact that I am divorced and remarried.  I was raised to believe that you get married once and its til death do you part.  I never imagined that I would be faced with infidelity and divorce!  But, God has brought healing to my life.  I would not appreciate Derick the way that I do, if it had not been for the first marriage that I went through.

So, God designed marriage to make us Holy.  I Peter 1:16 says, “Be Holy, for I am Holy.”  This is God speaking.  I Corinthians 2:16b says, “But we have the mind of Christ.”  Christ was holy like the Father and we have the mind of Christ.  We can be Holy like God.  So what does that look like in a marriage?  Probably like unfailing commitment, til death do us part.  Probably not how we think of love.  Most people think of loving someone as very similar to infatuation.  God designed marriage to be a picture of Christ’s love for the church.  We, the church, do not deserve to be loved.  We deserve to be left to fend for ourselves.  But, not only did God love us, but when we were at our absolute worst, that’s when he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us.  If we really want to be Holy in marriage, this is the model that we need to follow.  Derick and I have not been at our best over the last couple of weeks.  But, in order to be Holy in my marriage, instead of making myself happy, I need to figure out how to change me, not him.  I need to be mindful of his needs and his desires above my own.  There’s no promise that this change in attitude will produce a perfect marriage.  But, in my own experience, when I focus on Christ alone, He works out situations that I never could, He fills me with more love and grace than I could ever expect to give to Derick on my own strength.  And that is more fulfilling than anything that I could get out of marriage without Christ.

So, today, I’m going to start cleaning my bedroom.  I don’t want to, but I know that’s what Derick wants.  I’m not solely responsible for the mess, but I know that today, this is the best way to put Derick’s interests ahead of my own and allow God to make my marriage Holy.

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The Voice of Reason at 3am

I think the Lord speaks to me when I deliver papers.  He speaks in a still small voice, in the quiet of the night under a blanket of stars.  Sometimes I think I have the radio too loud for me to hear.  The God that I serve is not pushy.  He is not rude.  He is not forceful.  But, at the same time, he will do what he needs to in order to get my attention.  I have been delivering newspapers since the end of January.  I didn’t want to.  In fact, Derick and I had a route about 4+ years ago, and we said when we quit that we would never do that again! We would have to be destitute to do that again!  Well, here we are, delivering papers again, just to make ends meet.  I should be thankful.  I am thankful!  I am thankful that I have the physical ability to deliver papers.  I am thankful that Derick and I are both driven to provide for our family.  I am thankful that I have a reliable car with which to deliver the newspapers.  I am thankful for the exercise.  And today, the Lord asked me to be thankful for the solitude.

I have trouble, sometimes, finding the time to do the things that I need to do, especially the things that really need to be done everyday.  Sometimes I lack that sense of urgency.  That could be anything from reading my Bible, to cleaning the bathroom, to just picking up after myself.  This is a struggle for me.  I also struggle with teaching my kids to have this sense of urgency about getting things done, even homework at night.  Its hard to teach something that you really know nothing about.  So, how do I learn to have this sense of urgency, this need to keep things neat and in order.  I realized today how the Lord wants me to learn to spend time with Him everyday.  It is through delivering papers.  I am past the point of keeping my eyes glued to my route list everyday.  I basically have it memorized.  Well, enough that I can put my mind on other things… like listening when the Lord is speaking.

Like I said in the beginning, the Lord speaks to me when I deliver papers.  Last night, I had a melt down over the state of my house.  It is a disaster and I would be embarrassed for anyone to see it right now!  I feel so overwhelmed that I just cannot move forward.  I feel like no one in my house cares, even though I know that isn’t true.  I remember my mother having that same complaint as I grew up.  She wanted a clean house.  She wanted to know what to do to keep it clean and she wanted to know what to do to teach us to do these things.  I know that I have complained about my messy house before.  I seem to make worthless promises to myself that I’m gonna keep it clean this time.  This time will be different.  But, it never is.

This morning I realized, its not just that I want it to be clean.  I want to be a good steward with what the Lord has given me.  Maybe that’s the key.  I need to view this house and everything in it as belonging to the Lord.  Essentially it all does, but do I really believe that?  Do my actions suggest that I believe that?  I want to believe, but my actions definitely don’t show it!

So, what do I do about it?  I need a plan.  A realistic plan.  A short term plan that I can slowly expand as the Lord teaches me good stewardship.  Two verses came to my mind this morning when I thought about how overwhelmed I get.  The first is Psalm 30:5b which says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”  The second verse is Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  God will bring me new mercy and joy every morning!  Whatever happened to my plan the day before, today is new!  His mercies are new!  His joy is new!  And they are mine for the taking!

The first thing I need to do, is make sure that my kitchen is always clean.  That is the first thing people see when they walk into my house.  If the first impression is a messy kitchen, then who cares about the rest of the house.  The next thing I need to do is use my time wisely, starting with the hours of 3:00am to 7:00am.  I usually leave my house at about 2:50am to go pick up my newspapers.  If the papers are on time, I am delivering between 4:00 and 5:30am.  A few months ago, I wrote out Romans 8 on note cards, fully intending to memorize it.  Well, I got sidetracked and it didn’t happen.  I can’t really sit down and read a few chapters in my Bible at that time, but I could easily spend time meditating on small passages and memorizing scripture while I’m walking the streets of Peoria.  I think I’ll dig out those note cards again.

The next thing I want to do, is help my kids to learn scripture too.  Verses like, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”  Colossians 3:23 or “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31.  I want them to know that every gift is from God alone, and it is our responsibility to take care of it and appreciate it.

And last, I’m going to try to blog about the things that the Lord speaks to me about while I am delivering papers.  Most days, I go back to bed after I’m done delivering.  I love to blog though, even if I am the only one that reads it.  It helps to clear my head.  Oh, yeah, I’m also going to limit my time on the computer.  There are always more important things to do that get on Facebook!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010 – I will get organized!!

It has been about 2 months since Derick’s return.  I am soooo enjoying him being home.  Its hard to believe its been that long.  He was gone for 6 1/2 months and now he has been home for 1/3 of that time.  Of course, the time crawled when he was gone and now that he is home, it is flying by!  I love having him here.  I love the comfort I feel from his presence around the house.  I love being able to talk to him about things, and show him things, in person, not on the computer screen.  I love fixing my hair and makeup for him.  I love keeping the house clean for him.  Although, this seems to still be a struggle for me, …still. 😦 

On a blog that I posted several months ago, someone posted a comment with a link to flylady.net.  I have checked it out and half heartedly tried to follow her babysteps, but I get so discouraged that I never get very far.  Or I try to do things too fast.  Well, then the more discouraged I get, the less I do.  So, anyway, in order to hold myself accountable, I have decided to follow her 30 days of babysteps and blog about it.  In my head I know what to do to keep up with the house once its clean.  Its just getting it clean that is the problem.  I know, I know… For all of you out there that have helped me clean the house.  I do appreciate it!  And just because I let it get messy again doesn’t mean I don’t care.  It just means that as  a 32-year-old woman, I have never been in the habit of keeping up with it.  I have to learn new habits and its a process.  I can’t change overnight.  Believe me, I want to! 

Anyway, the first day is shine my sink.  So, today I am going to l0ad all of my dishes in the dishwasher and then scrub my sink so that it shines back at me.  And then the idea is that every night before I go to bed I will shine my sink (and turn on the dishwasher) so that I will have a shiny sink and clean dishes in the morning.  I did pretty well at this one when Derick first came home.  And he noticed.  I’m not really sure what happened.  It wasn’t that I quit doing the dishes, because I do them everyday.  I think my tiny kitchen just seams to be a breeding ground for junk.  When we come in the house, everything gets dropped in the kitchen, especially the kid’s stuff.  A lot of things don’t really have a home.  Christian’s jacket should really get hung in the coat closet but he can’t reach it very well and he has a hard time using hangers, so that along with his school bag and his lunch box, gets left on the kitchen floor.  Aida changes her clothes and shoes about six times a day and somehow I usually get a few mismatched outfits on the kitchen floor.  Another problem is the snacks.  The kids have a habit of sneaking snacks when I’m not looking.  Then they bring them in the living room or even just eat them in the kitchen, and leave a huge mess.  I don’t intentionally let them do whatever they want.  They just seem to find those moments when I’m doing something else, and not paying attention to them. 

So, today is shine my sink.  I am doing hair and makeup for the PCS musical and I have to go to rehearsal today.  And their prom is tonight, so I have a couple of people that need me to do their hair.  But after that, I am going to run and I am going to shine my sink.  Not sure yet in which order those will be accomplished.  But those are my goals today :

1. Run 2+ miles

2. Shine my sink

Wish me luck! 🙂

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South America – Day 185

Yes! I figured out the day for my blog title. No, I still don’t have a computer. It still turns on but has a black screen. I counted the days from my last numbered post to get the title of this one. I’m lying awake on my parent’s couch at 545am. My sister Kendra came home from Japan last night so I came out here to see her and sometimes its just a hassle to load up and go home at night, without Derick. My little boys had a rough night last night and this is the usual time I get up at home, so I thought I’d blog a little. Allyn has been sick for the last couple of days and I don’t think Brody has been feeling very well either. They both slept on the living room floor, close to me last night. Christian is staying pretty healthy and Aida had one day that she didn’t feel well but got over it quickly. I stayed home from church on Sunday because I just didn’t want a repeat of last fall. From the time Derick left until New Years, my kids were almost continuously sick. NOT FUN!! I am not interested in doing that again! Right now I am praying for complete healing before next Thursday. I want us all to be 100% when we pick up Derick from the airport!

Next Thursday!! I think its ok to tell people now. He’s coming home on Thursday, March 4. He is a reservist, so he should be home for a couple of years before he has to leave again. The plan is for him to start school in the fall and go straight through until he finishes his Master’s Degree in Divinity. Hopefully it won’t take more than 4 or 5 years. And hopefully, getting deployed again won’t put him behind. I’ve heard there are some schools he can go to and finish his Bachelor’s at the same time as he is getting his Master’s but I’m not sure how that would work with the grants and stuff he can get from the Navy. We’ll see how it all works out. If God has called him to this, then God has a plan! We just have to wait and see what it is.

My mind has been racing for the last few days. All I can think about is Derick’s return. I can’t believe its been six months already! In some ways it feels like it was a very short time and in other ways it feels like six months or more. Sometimes I think about things that have happened and I have to remind myself that Derick wasn’t here when that happened. Like, when the group from Church came and painted our garage. And, when my sister moved in and we cleaned out the basement to make room for her. When Derick left, the garage and the basement looked terrible. (Well, right now the basement looks terrible again but its easily cleaned up.) But when he comes home they will both be new and beautiful to him! Our bedroom is another example and the kids rooms. I think all the bedrooms were disastrous, but not anymore! Even if I left all the decor the same and just cleaned the house, it would be a welcome surprise to him because of all those things that have been done throughout the whole six months. I just can’t wait till he is here and I can’t seem to think about much else!

One more thing, he will be flying into the Peoria Airport. I don’t have a time yet but anyone is welcome to come and see him arrive. Its pretty exciting to see our military come home!

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South America – day ?

Its 6am. I want to go back to sleep but my coffee is already made and I don’t want to waste it. I got up at 5 with Brody. (We’re having some trouble with his sleep schedule.). After that I made coffee to motivate myself to stay awake. I started reading my Bible study book but just couldn’t seem to concentrate. Derick is coming home in 12 days! TWELVE DAYS!!! I think the total number of days he was gone will be somewhere around 190, and we’re down to 12. Wow! I can’t believe we’re counting down to the end. He is back in the United States and he’s preparing to travel home.

I have two major projects going to get ready for Derick to return to us. I am redecorating my bedroom and I am clearing out and organizing the basement. My bedroom is looking more and more beautiful everyday! I think I’ve said before that I want it to be a place of refuge when he returns. Its the entire upstairs of my house. The kids aren’t allowed up there without permission. So far, I have a new comforter set complete with pillow shams and bed skirt. Yesterday my friend Anna came over and we made a slip cover for my chair and ottoman. I have shears to hang. The lamps that were in my living room are getting moved into my bedroom. I need to get some curtain rods and I need to get blinds. I would also love to paint my bathroom. This seems like a tall order. If I get all of this done, I don’t think Derick will even notice the basement or any other part of the house!

Wow! Twelve days! What an adventure this has been! In some ways life seems to stop and in others it just has too keep going. Every night when I pray with the kids, I always tell Allyn what to pray for “Dear God, Thank you for today. Keep Daddy safe. Heal Grandma. I love you. Amen” Its pretty cute. This week though, he has changed the keep Daddy safe part to “Daddy home”. It melted my heart when I heard it! He thought of that on his own! Even my 2-year-old knows we are preparing for Derick’s return!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is actually in Song of Solomon. Song of Songs 2:11-13 says, “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” How appropriate for Derick’s return! The winter is gone literally and figuratively. (Well, figuratively probably before literally… In Illinois, anyway.)

A friend of mine suggested something from Uppercase Living to put on my bedroom wall. But, maybe I’ll just paint that verse on the wall instead. It would be a lot easier if I had an overhead projector. I wish I had another week to work on it. Or that I had thought of it a month ago. How beautiful and appropriate that would be, painted on my wall with little flowers painted to frame it! I guess I just have to see how much time I have.

I think my parents are coming over today to help me work on the basement. Pray that we get a lot done, please! I think the basement could be done in a day or two if we really work hard at it. So, here’s to hoping! Everyone will have to come see my beautiful house after Derick comes home. And you can visit with Derick while you’re here, too!

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