Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tears, Trash-Cans and Tight Fists

The Lord is always teaching me something. I know that is a good thing, it means that I am growing in Him. However, it seems that I must be a very slow learner. The reason that I say this is because any given concept that He is teaching me seems to require lessons without number. The latest series has been concerning worldly things. First, there was the "trash can saga" as Joel has named it. The short version of a long,drawn-out story is: Clare leaves for Texas. Clare comes home. Clare takes out trash bag. What?! No trash can. Housing charges $50 fine. Clare is very,very angry. So, I am trying to be Christian about that, but it is hard when it is "not my fault". However, the Bible doesn't say that I only have to act like Jesus when it is my fault. As a matter of fact, I think it actually says to turn the other cheek.

Anyhow, story number 2 involves my double-stroller. After a string of mishaps due to poor manufacturing the final straw came when the cup-holder BROKE OFF! It left an ugly, sharp edge and generally made the whole thing look quite ghetto. So another long story: Clare contacts Graco. String of emails follows. Graco says, "Send stroller back- at your expense- and we will refund your money. I should be happy, right? Wrong! Try mailing a 35 lb. double-stroller and see how easy it is! $85- yes, that's right, almost $100- later, I mailed it today and we will see what happens. I am not holding my breath!

So, I am putting around today, stewing about both situations alternately; because surely that will make it better, right? No, oddly enough, I just continued to get more frustrated. Then, I'm thinking,"Why can't things just work out for me?" Well, then I heard Someone remind me that these things are just temporary. I am so concerned about my "things" that I get all worked up. The trashcan is somewhat symptomatic of a bigger problem but really right now what I can do about it? It is just a thing. The stroller actually is as resolved as I can do anything about. I just have to wait to see what Graco actually does (I am more than a little afraid to believe that they will actually send my money back).

I am usually so proud of myself because I really feel like I have a free hand with my things. These events (and others) have shown me that I am more attached to my possessions than I would like to admit. You don't shed tears, waste time worrying over, or yell about things that you don't care about. I have never considered myself materialistic but it seems that it is being proven otherwise. I really don't want to be that way. It reminds me of my dad who always says it is silly to call an inanimate object stupid. Something that doesn't have a soul, that doesn't last for eternity, is not worth expending my energy over. If I am not using my material possesions to benefit the Lord the Bible pretty clearly says it is a waste. So, here it is: my confession that I love things a little too much and I am ready to break free of my addiction. My own rule of thumb is: if something won't be important five years from now it shouldn't be a cause for concern now. So, with that in mind I will work towards letting go. I think it might be harder than I will want it to be. But don't they say, "No pain, no gain"? Please open my hands, Lord...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Confusing Count Down

I thought I would take a moment and explain my blog ticker to everyone. The JBF sale is the Just Between Friends consignment sale that I take part in every spring and fall to rid myself of untold amounts of clothing that I have collected for my children throughout the previous seasons. Why, do you ask, am I so excited for this event? Actually, I do like it but that is not the real reason. Joel is planning on being home sometime between the first and second weeks of April. Since I don't have a firm date for him, the sale is a nearby event with a solid date that I can look forward to. Also, it takes quite a bit of time to prepare all my stuff and I want to be finished well in advance, in case Joel should turn up early. So really it is my "deadline to get ready for Joel's arrival without really knowing what day he will be home". Since that wouldn't fit in the blog ticker description line I had to make another choice. So really, between you and me, it is just my way of counting down the days until I see my honey without having an actual date to count down to. Oh well, that is just the Army way!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ode to Joel

Yesterday Joel and I "celebrated" our 6th anniversary. I say that because it is a little hard to feel like there was any celebration involved when he is thousands of miles away. At one point I had actually figured up how long we have been apart during our marriage but suffice it to say that it is has been almost half! Some of the seperations have been shorter than others, some only a couple of weeks. However, I must admit that I have hated every one of them. I don't like for him to have Staff Duty (He has to sleep overnight at the Barracks to keep an eye on the single soldiers)! I will say however, that I have tried to allow the Lord to use our time apart to make our marriage stronger.

It also helps me to try to be creative. Let's just say it wouldn't exactly work for me to make a candlelight dinner for him! And, since we are trying really hard to get out of debt, we have pretty much agreed to not send each other presents while he is away. He has sent me a few little things and I, of course, have sent him packages-but nothing big or expensive. So, I decided I would send him a list of 72 things that make me love him, in honor of the 72 months we have been married. Nothing exciting, but it takes a while to get started on that kind of thing. However, I was surprised that as I continued writing I actually could have made the list even longer! So, in honor of Joel, I am posting a partial version of the list I sent him. Some of the things were very personal (and mushy!) so here are just 10 of the things that I love about him:

1. He always smells great (that is a big feat for someone who spends so much time outside).
2.He is handy with cars and is not afraid to try and fix them.
3.He is a pleasure to cook for, he is always very appreciative (Too bad I don't do it more often!)
4.He works hard at his job, even though he doesn't always like it.(And it keeps him far,far away from me!)
5.He isn't afraid to drive in traffic-that terrifies me!
6.He loves to explore new places and travel.
7.He pays attention to what is going on around him.
8.He can program anything-the remote, the computer, my cell phone-anything!
9.He has put up with me for 6 years! Do they give medals for that?
10.He loves me forever, for always and no matter what.

So there it is, I hope nobody is put off by my "mushiness".However, love only grows when it is shared so I encourage everyone to put together a list for someone they love. Share them with me because everyone knows-I love a list!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Niggly-Wiggly Goldfish

I have goldfish in my brain. No, not really, but sometimes that is how it seems. Anyone who has met me for more than, oh five minutes, will quickly draw the conclusion that I am a perpetual worrier. In the absence of an actual concern I have been known to make stuff up. I am not proud of it, but it seems there is always something niggling at the edges of my mind. Just in case you were wondering, yes, niggle is a word. Actually, a really good one. American Heritage dictionary defines niggle as:

(v.) To be preoccupied with trifles or petty details.
(v.) To find fault constantly and trivially; carp.

So you see, that is where the goldfish come in. Carp are fish, a relative of the goldfish.Goldfish are useless little creatures. They are not productive in the slightest and the have no discernable benefits when kept in a tiny bowl. All you really have to do is clean up after them and feed them. Have you ever seen a goldfish eat? They qualify for Miss Piggle-Wiggle's Slow-Eater Tiny-Bite-Taker Cure! They are very persistent and often you don't even see them eating. That is what worry does to me. Slowly, while I am unaware I find fault with myself,constantly and over things the Lord really has no concern over. I allow the worry to consume precious gray matter over trifles and petty details. I feed it the parts of me that should be committed to faithfulness and trust in the Lord.

And you know what? In return for this precious food my goldfish worries grow into huge carp (think koi at the Botanical Gardens) and all they do is poop! Not a nice word to use in a blog, I know, but what is the fruit of worry besides more worry? Filling up your mind, leaving behind useless piles of trash, ruining the area for anything productive. I am tired of allowing my worries to carp on me. It is my own fault, I allowed them in, put them in the little bowl of my head and fed them tirelessly. Some of them I won, by being in places I shouldn't, doing things I shouldn't. Some swam in, during the endless ebb and flow of the world going around me. Some of them I purposed to purchase at the pet store (the ones that I make up myself!).

Well, I know I won't be able to keep them all out. But I know I don't have to feed them anymore. And I also know Someone with a really big net. I love what Ephesians says and this is my prayer: "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with that power through His spirit in you inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled with the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him that is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (verses 14-20 NIV).

Wow! He can do immeasurably more than I can imagine (bind all my worries) and fill me with the measure of all His fullness! His love, faithfulness, and the ability to do good works for Him are all mine fore the taking. Sounds a lot more enticing than hungry, useless fish. Goodbye, goldfish!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thankful with the Letter "A"

I have a list longer than my arm of things that are making me crabby right now. So instead of grumping I thought I would challenge myself (in the trend of making alphabetized lists) to name 5 things that make me happy or thankful starting with the letter "A". If this happens again (and I am sure it will) I will just continue down through the alphabet.

1. Apple Empanadas from Taco Bell. I love "Haco Belle" as Kelly used to call it and if you haven't tried this deep-fried treat, you should!

2. Awana, specifically my kids in the yellow group. I could have hugged them when they were so sad to find out I would be gone the next two weeks. Really makes me feel good!

3. Ambulatory-I am so thankful that I have full working use of all my limbs and that I can walk! I really am not thankful often enough for that.

4. Aunts- I am thankful for mine (most specifically, you, Rachel Dawn!) and that I am one to all three of my wonderful neices and nephew.

5. Air Conditioning- I know it is winter but I am surely thankful for this all summer long. After living without it for almost the first summer in this house I know what it is like to not have it. Just because I don't need it right now doesn't mean I can't be grateful for it.

So, you can obviously judge by the number of posts that I have about not complaining that it is an area I struggle with.Just bear with me as the Lord teaches me to do all things with "complaining or arguing" and to be "thankful in all circumstances"!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pretty Creative for Clare!

I always feel left out of the creative loop. I don't stamp, scrapbook, decorate or bake. So last week I was feeling a little overwhelmed when I needed to provide a favor for a baby shower I was helping to host. However, with a little help from my mom and sister (they are the best!) I came up with these. I thought they were terribly cute-and yes, I made the sugar cookies (or rather baked them, but rolling out that pre-made dough can be pretty tricky!). The guest of honor was thrilled. The "E" was for Ezekiel, the baby's name, and on the back I put a custom label with his name, date of birth, and a scripture reference. All in all I was pretty pleased with my handywork. And plenty tired, 25 "cookie pops" later!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Staying Power

1:33 AM-that is when Carson woke up. It is 2:51 AM now and he is still in his bed. The internal argument hasn't stopped. What if there is something wrong? What if he needs a diaper change? I know he isn't hungry, he last ate at 11:00 PM. Well, what if he is sick? And on and on... I know in my heart he is testing me. I feel like I am too far gone now to give in, but the victory seems hollow since I don't think I will be able to sleep very easily after he finally gives up. He is not screaming just whining and now saying, "Ma ma ma ma". Why does being the parent have to be so hard? Why are we faced with the conundrum of wanting to give our children everything yet knowing that would actually do them the most harm? It so reminds me of our walk with our Perfect Father. He knows exactly what we need, but we seldom do. Usually what we demand the most strongly would profit us the least. What we don't want, like medicine, often provides the most benefit. I am so glad that He has staying power. No temper tantrum or endless crying jag sways Him. Yet, if we search our hearts we know He is always in the other room, waiting for us to become calm so He can comfort us. Except for in our case we are the ones keeping ourselves from Him. I can't go to Carson or he will learn to expect it at all hours (oh, wait he already does and that is why we are doing this!). With God it is all about our bad behavior pushing Him away. He cannot give us Himself fully when we are flailing and screaming. He will not be forced into action. It is when we dry our tears and crawl sniffling into His lap that He gathers us in His arms and just holds us. Then we realize that is all we really needed all along. Like the song says, "I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me. I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me."
Well, I feel amazingly lucid for 3:00 AM, only time will tell if this is really all gibberish. But while I am up maybe I will go have a snack to pass the time...


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