Thursday, June 6, 2013

I'm Moving, Please come with Me!

Hello wonderful friends who take time to read all my ramblings!

Good news: I shall still be posting all my little bloggity blogs!

Better News: It will be on a new site that is supposed to be better for me to really add some fun aspects to my blog I'm currently limited on.

Bad News: It'll probably take me till Jesus comes back to figure out how to do all those fun things, so presumably the blog will feel the same to you for quite some time. Apologies in advance for our little Millinery site being well, slightly behind the curve in cool technology. I'm just not that kind of girl, much to my dismay.

So dear friends, come on over and follow me at my new site:

I promise it'll just feel like when your favorite little shop moves into a nicer little space!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bathing Suit Support Groups- An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I have already ventured into the abyss of Lycra and under wires and tropical prints twice this year already. Twice. There were drones of other women, all desperately looking for the last suit in a size 10, or something that will hide all the flaws while simultaneously reveal a slimmer figure. It was not madness exactly. More like resigned fortitude. Must.Get.New.Bathing.Suit. I swear I heard some muffled sobs coming from one dressing room followed by an expletive or two. One woman almost called 9-1-1 after being unable to extract herself from the contraption she had wriggled into (that may or may not have been me.)

Yes, ladies, Bathing Suit Shopping is upon us, unless you were lucky enough to find a decent suit in the past year to tide yourself over. My current swimsuit situation is as follows: one very cute brown tankini that mostly contains me, but is also incredibly faded  AND one maroon one piece with a bandeau style halter top that causes a searing headache from the halter being tied too tight, which is needed for, you guessed it, containment. So, in light of my current dilemma, I will once again venture into the abyss to search for a suit next week.

Here is my proposal, and I am telling you, Dillards or Target or whatever retailer decides to catch on would rake in a fortune if they followed my idea:

What we need is Bathing Suit Shopping Support Groups! For real. Group women together based on sizes and life stages. The "never given births" have differing issues than the "had 2 babies and over 40's" but let's face it- ALL women could use a cheering section while going through this yearly ordeal.They could turn off all the overhead fluorescent lighting, which as we all know makes the most lovely complexion look garish, and replace them with lamps. Also, offering an assortment of snacks and perhaps a little wine, to take the edge off, would be delightful. But here is where I think my idea goes from clever to genius: when we emerge from a dressing room in a potential suit, and ask "does this make my thighs looks fat/my butt look big/my middle look too roly poly?" the resounding answer from your own personal support group is "WHO CARES?" Because you know what we don't need? A bunch of false compliments, or distorted reality. We don't need to find the One Suit to Rule Them All. (yep, Lord of the Rings reference. apologies.) We don't need to believe better things about our bodies- we need to believe different things about our bodies. We need an altered perspective on the importance we place on how we look! So let me say it to you sisters- YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY! Your worth is not based on how well you rock a bikini! I don't care what society, your husband, your boyfriend or your friends think- God created you as he wanted you to be. He gave you a body to take care of, to use for loving and serving others and to enjoy. None of us are perfect stewards of any gift God gives us, and if you haven't taken care of your body in the way you think is responsible, then you can work on that, but you don't have to hide in shame! And let's face it, a lot of what we aren't happy with are parts we can't change anyway, and represent no failure on our parts.

So if you need to go shopping over the next week, grab a couple of women friends, invade the dressing room and tell each other the truth: how you look is not all that important- who you ARE in Christ is what matters. And you are lovely- really, you are. It is impossible for a creation of the King to not contain some piece of His image, some reflection of His love and goodness. And that makes you more beautiful to behold than "a perfect 10" will ever be.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Don't Forget Your Hair Spray, and 5 Other Ways to Enjoy Get-AwayswithYour Husband

We just got back from a little " in town, get away" anniversary adventure. It was the best 24 hours I have spent in months. Some couples are excellent at money management, conflict resolution or DIY house projects. The hubs and I have decided "Celebrating" is one of our strengths as a couple. Now before you chalk us up as "low skills" I'd like to point out that many couples have disappointing date nights, vacations and holidays together. Why? Because it actually takes a certain perspective and a little bit of skill to do well in these areas, especially once you throw a few kiddos in the mix.

So in honor of Wedding season, and inevitably, anniversary season, here are my pointers to learn to be "Happy Celebrators in Marital Bliss":

1. Plan your dates together for the big occasions. Now, I know this takes a bit of the romance out of having the husband whisk you away to a charming B &B for two nights, but let's face it: he's probably not going to do that. Maybe once in your married life. But think of all those other occasions you were hoping he would read your mind and just know, that you really wanted to take a hot air ballon ride, go camping, try that new sushi place around the corner, and somehow, mysteriuosly you ended up at Olive Garden. Again. Talking about what you both want to do, think you can afford, etc. leads to a more fulfilling experience for you both.

2. Ditch the Hollywood High expectations. You already know in your day in, day out life, marriage is more normal than epic, more regular than extraordinary. But somehow on important celebrations, we revert into thinking this one night will be magic and fireworks and somehow both your bodies will shape shift into a thinner and younger version of who you currently are. And we find ourselves disappointed in an otherwise lovely evening simply because it was not glamorous enough. No one moment can live up to that kind of pressure, nor can one person. You'll both have so much more fun if you expect it to feel like a date night, not a scene from Titanic.

3. Plan your child care way ahead of time and come up with a back up plan for if the kids get sick. Waiting till the week of your big date is too much stress. By the time you get it all figured out you'll be stressed out and not able to enjoy the evening. This is a great time to point out that part of having community in your life is to support you. Marriages need to be nurtured, and celebrating anniversaries, birth day's and such is one way to nurture them. So, find another family in your community and commit to swap kids for each others anniversary.

4. Do things out of order. Typical date night for a married couple looks like dinner, maybe a movie, pick kids up from sitter, come home and then attempt to enjoy the less clothed part of celebrating. But, who says it has to go in that order? For most couples the struggle to have a happy sex life has to do with a. never being alone in the house and b. being too tired. Mix things up!

5. Do one thing to feel more attractive than usual. Date nights are supposed to be more special than "meatloaf Wednesday" so wear your hair in your  favorite style, paint your toes, put on the good perfume. And certainly, do something you know your husband likes as well. If you're always in pants but he loves you in a skirt, wear one! This is great time to borrow from your friends closets. There's no need to buy a new outfit, especially if you can't afford it, but a cute pair of shoes or a different top, go a long way to feeling special and pretty.

6. For overnight trips: bring some snacks for your hotel room, air freshener for the bathroom, the cutest lingerie you have (no borrowing on that one!) and for heaven's sake don't forget your hair products like I did this weekend! I scrounged a clear ponytail holder and one bobby pin from the bottom of my purse, but had no mousse, hair spray or even a comb. Luckily the hotel had both a hair dryer and comb. It was not my best hair day, but that leads to number seven....

7. Remember to laugh and be silly together! No talking about bills, kids, stress or problems in the relationship. This is a time to reminisce, to enjoy, to delight. We always talk about our memories from our wedding weekend on our anniversary, but we also talk about mishaps and calamities that we can laugh at in hindsight. We usually talk about where we see growth in our relationship and how God has answered prayers in the past year.  We hold hands, we kiss at dinner, we tell each other how happy we are to be "us".

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Till Death Do Us Part is a Sneaky Vow

It's Anniversary Week for my darling husband and I so naturally I am in full on reminisce mode. We had such a blissful dating, engagement and wedding process. Truly lovely with lots of humor and a little romance and oodles of joy. Makes me smile just to think about it. We were one of those couples who wrote our own vows. I worked diligently to memorize mine, so as to recite them flawlessly during our ceremony. And I did, unless becoming so choked with tears I couldn't speak doesn't count as flawless. The husband, who doesn't really like memorizing things, glanced at his before the ceremony. He said several wonderful things about leading me as Christ leads him but at some point got stuck and ended on, "I just love you so much. Just a lot. I just do." At which point I gave our officiant a look that said, He's done here. Put him out of his misery. We then exchanged rings and recited the traditional ring vows which end with "till death do us part."

Till death do us part. It's always been kind of a morbid thought to me that we talk about death in our wedding ceremonies. I mean, I understand the idea- we're committing to love the person as long as we're both physically available. However, when you're all dressed in white and lace and flowers, bringing up death has always felt out of place. And, it seems like something that will happen far into the future. But as my marriage has taught me, and continues to teach me, if I want to be around to love when we're 90 and almost done with this life, I better get used to a lot of dying in the present. There is just no other relationship that asks me to die to myself as often and as deeply as marriage. In the beginning, it's not so hard. Sure, it's annoying to have to compromise on so many decisions I used to make alone, but it's manageable. That's because you aren't dying yet. You know you're dying to yourself when there is no way to compromise. You can't live in two different cities at the same time. You can't save and spend the same dollar or go home and go away on the same holiday. One of you will get your way, and one of you will die. But even those moments can be shuffled about in your mind and kept track of who has given in, how many times to even it out. To keep things fair. But then there come the hard moments. The times where there is no way to make it right, to even it out or pay it back. When one of you sins against the other. When you are both in pain and grief and someone has to be the first to reach out. When apologies are needed, but not offered and yet love still needs to be exchanged. These are the moments you really have to die to yourself in order to love. They feel almost impossible at times. My pride and selfishness are so hard wired into my nature. My need to be validated or be right or be better threaten my ability to love often. The only way I have found to really die to myself is to remember the one who died to Himself for me. When there wasn't a way to make up for my mistakes, to even the score, He made the first move. He willingly laid down his perfect life in exchange for my sinful one.

So on this wedding anniversary, I am focusing on the cost of real love. It is not cheap. It is not easy. It doesn't always flow like a love song. But in the moments of surrender, sacrifice and serving- there I get a glimpse of my Lord's love for me. And there I find that God changes my heart toward my husband and my marriage so that even in death, I see life renewed. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Glimpses are my Manna

I am, as I've been posting, in a new and uncharted season in my mothering. Two teenage boys and one ten year old girl and me, trying to figure out how much to let go- how much to reign in. In the midst of this strange new parenting world, I find myself unsure and unsteady in my role. I recognize failure at times. I see the tension mount between me and both boys as we all try to learn how to relate to each other and yet maintain the feeling of normal. It is in these times I long to see God's grace for me and for my kids, to comfort me as we journey and unintentionally bruise each other's hearts along the way.

In the Old Testament God gave His children a very literal portion of provision, manna, as food on a daily basis during their wandering in the wilderness phase. I'm presuming Moses shared some of my feelings about being in a new and uncharted place as they wandered around trying to find the promised land. God gave them this manna for nourishment, on a practical level. But on a deeper level, it was a way of reminding them that they were utterly dependent on Him to survive. Because, let's face it, you cannot make food fall from the sky! (Total side note, I have always loved the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs! Moving on....) So every day, God provided His grace to sustain His children in the form of manna on the ground for them to collect and prepare meals for their families. The only caveat was each person could only collect enough to feed their family for the day. Not for a week, or month. In fact, if they took more than one day's worth it would rot. God knew the tendency to be fearful about the future and try to create false security in stockpiling was very real, so he provided a way to keep His children from indulging that fear.

Yesterday, I got some manna. The hardest part of letting go is not always recognizing the person in front of me. Feeling disconnected and out of the loop of their life. Not knowing why they are responding in a certain way, or what the look on their face really means is difficult when you have studied intently each child from the moment they were placed in your arms in order that you might love them well. So, often I find myself tearful or down because a "normal" parenting moment has become tense and strange and I walk away, not sure if I caused a problem or if the parenting simply highlighted my child's heart issues, or if this is all just the inevitable course of growing up. But yesterday, I got a glimpse of reconnecting. A picture of what we really are below the teenage mood swings and parental tension. It was a normal evening, nothing unusual, and yet for some reason my middle was in a light hearted mood and seemed to want to interact with my husband I. We got some dinner together and he had us both laughing at his antics and even spent some time chatting about his thoughts on various topics. It the feeling of exhaling when you didn't know you had been holding your breath- unexpected relief and comfort. Later my oldest volunteered to be helpful with some things I needed for my yard sale. While making signs he shared about his newfound love for reading God's word. Another glimpse. Inside his head and heart where I do not always have access, God is doing His amazing work of transformation and He let me catch a quick glance at it.

These little glimpses into the unseen work of God sustain me. When parenting involves discipline and I feel the loss of closeness to my children in their anger, they help me to remember why I keep at it. When I fail and wonder if my children will be completely screwed up by my mistakes, they remind me that God is sustaining them too. When I wonder what it will be like in he future, I am reminded to only ask for enough for today, because today is all I am promised, and trying to secure the future will pull me away from my Sustainer into Self-Sufficency. There was a time in my life where being showered with gifts or expressions of love on Mother's Day felt paramount. But for now, all I ask for is another glimpse into the harvest God promises He yields from seeds of faithfulness sewn into my children. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Inconvenient Signs of Life

Currently no one in the family is allowed to answer or open the front door. Not because there is anything wrong with our door mind you. No, the cause of this unusual ban are six tiny, speckled eggs. In a nest. In my front door floral arrangement. On the one hand, I just have to say kudos to the bird  for building such a solid, compact little place to incubate your babies. On the other hand, it's totally annoying to not access our front door until these birds hatch, for fear of mama abandoning the nest with all the opening and closing of our door. It's a real inconvenience, yet I do it for the sake of six little baby birds who I figure should have a shot at life in spite of the fact that their parents need a new realtor.

Life is full of inconveniences, isn't it? Crumbs on the floor, crumbs on the stairs, cat hair on the carpet, spills any and everywhere, papers to be signed, repairmen to be called, bills to be paid and on and on. Do you know what the common denominator is in most inconveniences? People. I have decided it's possible to live a neat, tidy and orderly life. It's just not possible with other people in it. Just as blood pumping through my veins is proof I am alive, these inconveniences show the metaphorical pulse that my life, is indeed full of life. Not only that, they show me that there is more to life than my short term comfort and security. It is through the inconveniences that God burns the selfishness, immaturity and pride out me so I am ready to sacrifice for, battle with and love deeply the people He has put around me.

I'll post a picture of our front door guest's arrival, but in the mean time, if you need something, come on by and meet me at the mudroom.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saving Sanity - Seven Ways to Make it Through Tough Moments

Let's face it girls- some days it's just hard to keep it all together. You know those days where you squeeze into pants that are too snug, after over sleeping by 15 minutes so you get out the door just in time to hit all the horrible traffic, while leaving behind a sink full of last night's dishes, an unmade bed, wet laundry still in the washer (that will smell funny by the time you get home) and your wallet, which you forgot on the dresser.

Or days where your kids are totally ungrateful, disrespectful and downright ornery while you are trying to find a way to salvage the dinner you just burned after reading the email that your checking account over drafted because you had unexpected car repairs and medical bills in the same week.

And sometimes, even though you know deep down this is not stuff that matters in the big picture of life, it feels like all you can see is Polaroid snapshots, not panoramic views. And it is at precisely these times when you must keep handy a little list of ways to stay sane on days that are not. Here is my list:

1. Breathe deep. 10 deep breaths slow and steady. It clears your brain, slows your heart rate, improves your oxygen sat's and lowers your blood pressure.

2. Laugh. There's no excuse with YouTube and Netflix to not have something funny to watch. Laughter is good medicine. I personally laugh at my kids, my husband and Brian Regan- my favorite comedian. Ooh and Tim Hawkins singing. And also Strongbad. And Ask-A-Ninja. Or in a pinch, like say if your Internet is down, you can imagine that the squirrels are arch enemies. And some speak in English accents and some in Mexican accents. And they trash talk each other for intimidation. (Clearly I have a lot of days I need to laugh....)

3. Baseball Bat Therapy. This is a fabulous way to get rid of pent up frustration and stress. Get a baseball bat. Find a big tree. Make sure it's in your yard. Beat the heck out of it. Trust me on this-

4. Sing to Jesus. On days when what you know to be true, simply doesn't feel true, worship lets you focus on the only One who can help you reconnect to truth. He is sovereign, He is faithful, He loves you, He has saved you, He is constant, He is working all things together for your good and His glory. I personally have learned if I will sing to Him, really worship Him- it transforms my heart and renews my mind.

5. Talk to Another Woman. When you're on the brink of completely flipping out over running out of nail polish remover, or your kid's messy room or a voice mail your mother left you- this is no time to involve men or small children. Only another woman can talk you off that precarious ledge without making you feel completely unfit for human interaction. Some issues in life defy logic. The need to have women in your life who understand and can tactfully, ever so carefully, calm you down is paramount. "You are planning to throw the entire dinner into the front yard and make your family eat it like the wolves that they are? Well, of course, of course. But......they probably won't eat it, ungrateful people that they are, and then they'll be whining about how hungry they are later. Sooooo, maybe just go ahead and serve it to them at the table and go get in the bath while they eat. And, you know, perhaps you should just not speak to anyone until like, oh say, next Tuesday. I mean, just to teach them a lesson, and ahem, prevent any calls to the authorities."

6. Keep a stash of really good chocolate hidden for these moments. This requires no further explanation.

7. Pray and Journal. Lamentations says to "pour out your heart like water before The Lord" and sometimes I can do this in my mind. But sometimes my mind is so jumbled, it helps to write my prayers down. And even just write down all the stresses and hurts and worries and then pray about them. This is different from worship slightly. While worshipping I focus on who God is.
In prayer I tell Him who I am and allow Him refine, redirect or mold those beliefs so they are in line
with what the gospel teaches me.

So, these are mine. Tried and true. What keeps you sane when life feels crazy?