What I Use to Make Housecleaning More Fun

I am not really into housekeeping.  I like a clean, ordered home.  Most of the time ours is clean, but not very orderly.  We always seem to have a clutter problem which I attribute to three things:  full schedules, too many possessions and the fact I refuse to take care of other people’s clutter.  My Granny was great at taking care of other people’s clutter, namely my Granddad’s.  I remember on more than one occasion them frantically searching for an object or missing paper while my Granddad muttered, “You probably threw it away.”   For a time they lived in a trailer house near my cousins.  Shari and I used to sleep on the floor on little pallets Granny made with her handmade quilts.  I got up around 5:30 one morning to go to the bathroom and quickly ran back to my pallet to finish my slumber only to find my comfy quilts gone.  Granny had seized the two minutes I was in the bathroom to fold it up and put it away for the day.   This sleepy granddaughter was not happy, but it was a prime example of her ability to keep clutter at bay.  I did not inherit this gift.

I have never been blessed with a hired housekeeper.  There was a time when child number three and four came close together and my dear husband told me to hire some help.  That was easier said then done however when you lived twenty miles from the nearest town and two miles from the closest neighbor.  We managed through and now I am still keeping our home.  It is one cost saving measure we have used so I could be a stay at home mom all these years.   I do make my children care for their spaces, but the majority of the work falls on me.  I have found four things that really help me have a better attitude about doing this.

  1. I buy good tools that help me get the job done well.  I am saving by not hiring anyone so I invest in tools that are efficient and effective, like a Dyson vacuum.  You get the idea.
  2. I have set days for specific chores and try to schedule everything else around these.  For the most part, I clean the majority of my home, including my bed and bath onThursdays.    I have some chores I do once a month, either in the week that the 1st falls on, or the week that includes the 15th.  This just helps me keep up with it.  Obviously, there are occasions where I have to adjust this, but it helps keep the house maintained.
  3. I tell myself that cleaning our home is like getting a workout without going to the gym.  The French clean their homes (for the most part) and consider all their daily chores to be their physical fitness.  Most of the French do not “go to a gym”.  They walk everywhere, use the stairs and take care of their homes.  Granted, their homes are much smaller than Texas homes, but it helps to pretend.  On a side note, I wear a Fitbit and I usually hit over 12,000 steps on Thursday without ever leaving my home.
  4. I listen to podcasts.  Yep, the number one thing I found to help me get through my big cleaning day is to listen to podcasts.  Since I started doing this over two years ago, I have found I actually look forward to Thursdays as it is the day I can soak up several stories in a row.  Occasionally, I will listen to a book on Audible instead, but I have found I can focus on shorter podcasts better than a book.  My husband encouraged this habit by buying me a great set of wireless headphones so I wouldn’t get my cord caught on everything.  (refer back to number 1., good tools help). Obviously, this is not the best thing if you have small children, but you can work with anearbud out, and turn it off to engage with your child.  I love the earbuds because I can do noisy things like running water or vacuuming and still hear the podcast.

Some of you may be saying, “What is a podcast?  How do I get one?”  If this is you, click here for an amusing little video explaining it.  Also, the “Serial” Podcast they mention is like the number one podcast of all time.  Very addictive; great for a long road trip, but not for young children.

So what do I listen to?  Well, I am going to list some of my favorites.  I also listen to a bunch of writing related podcasts, but I won’t include those here.  Here is my list, in no particular order.  S

I usually start every morning with:

Proverbs 31 Ministries.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/proverbs-31-ministries/id757953988?mt=2

For Spiritual Encouragement:

Family Life Today.   https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/familylife/id903170704?mt=8

Java with Juli.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/java-with-juli/id1116000318?mt=2

Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast by Gospel in Life.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/timothy-keller-sermons-podcast-by-gospel-in-life/id352660924?mt=2

Story Tellers:

This American Life.  (sometimes contains rough language, but they warn you.) https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/this-american-life/id201671138?mt=2

RadioLab. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/radiolab/id152249110?mt=2

Revisionist History.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/revisionist-history/id1119389968?mt=2

How I Built This.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/how-i-built-this/id1150510297?mt=2

The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-way-i-heard-it-with-mike-rowe/id1087110764?mt=2

I want you to know that I do not agree with everything that is said on these podcasts, but I find all of them thought provoking and entertaining.  They make me want to learn or know more or they give me a story to share with my family at the dinner table.  They keep me moving through my cleaning list!  Which reminds me, it’s Thursday.  I have to go now.  I must clean.  The house is a mess and I am the only one who has been here since the last cleaning day.  Hmm… Oh yeah, the dog has been here too.  Of course!  That is why the house is a mess, it’s the dog’s fault!

Be sure and leave a comment sharing your favorite podcast, there are so many good ones out there, I love discovering new ones!

“Happy Independence Day”

We rarely say, “Happy Independence Day!”  Any greetings around this time usually go something like this:  “Happy 4th!”   “Are you going to the lake for the 4th?”   “Will you be traveling for the 4th?”

I am afraid many children, and adults for that matter, likely do not know, or have forgotten, what the 4th of July is all about.  It is isn’t about fireworks and parades, hotdogs and hamburgers, boating and swimming. And, yet, it is.

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The reason we do all these things on the 4th of July is because we can.  We can because someone had the foresight to fight for the freedom for us to do this very thing.  Someone had the selflessness to risk their own fortunes and their very lives so we can.

We celebrate in these ways because we are saying, “We won!”  We won the freedom to use our own skills and abilities to generate commerce that is not taxed by a State that gives us no representation.

We celebrate in these ways because we won the freedom to practice our religion in our manner without the State dictating how we must practice.

We celebrate in these ways because while we are not a perfect union, we are a “More Perfect Union,” which brings a cornucopia of nationalities together to live and thrive, to give voices to everyone, voting rights to every adult citizen,  and the ability to help not only the persons in our nation, but literally every other nation in the world.

Yeah, we have a mess.  We have so many things that need fixing.  I personally would like to fire every elected official in Washington, minus a couple.  My thoughts are to send a mom in there for a few days to clean things up since they are all acting like a bunch of junior high kids.

The point I want to bring us back to though is,  we have rights and privileges and wealth that almost all other people are earth dream of having, and we need to be thankful today and everyday.  So while you are out there eating your hotdog on your boat and seeing the fireworks on the shore, don’t forget why you can do this.  Someone, actually thousands of someones, paid dearly for you to celebrate today.

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I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.  

—John Adams to his wife Abigail on the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Dated July 3, 1776

Not Just a Tag Along

Five Reasons Why You Should Go On Your Child's Field Trips.

Well, I am pretty sure I just rode along on my last high school field trip.  I am a year away from my 16th, and final, consecutive year of high school.  I know, I know, don’t think about that statement for too long.  Anyway, I recently was invited (along with other parents) to tag along on a field trip with my son’s Teen Leadership Class to the District Courthouse here in Houston.  I had made the same trip with my older son last year and found it very interesting.  I wondered if I would even get a chance this year.  Knowing my younger son, I thought maybe he would try and let the date sneak by so his mother couldn’t go, but alas, I outsmarted him and warned him early that I really wanted to go and not to let me miss the sign up.

This Teen Leadership class is a wonderful opportunity for the students at our school.  It is the brainchild of Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Entrepreneur Flip Flippen.  The class focuses on developing future leaders through speech, peer reviews, interviews, and case studies.  Formerly it was an elective, but now it can also be used for a speech credit.  Our teacher, a former corporate accountant,  is interesting, engaging and strict with deadlines.  The students quickly learn that she means business and most rise to the standards she sets for them.

While at the District courthouse the students learn about a variety of careers while also getting a quick tutorial in our judicial system.  They are required to wear business dress, act like young adults, be inquisitive and good listeners.  I think most students also leave realizing they do not want to be in the courthouse as a defendant.

In the back of my mind, I was running through my field trip memories.  I counted up and I believe my first field trip was probably in my oldest daughter’s kindergarten class.  If this is correct, my field trip sponsor tenure has lasted 24 years.  While I certainly didn’t get to go on every trip, (nor would I have done this to my children), with four kids I have racked up a whole list of trips.  I got to thinking about what I have learned from all these trips and I tried to compress them into a short list which I hope gives you five reasons why you should be taking a few field trips when you get the chance.

1.Your child’s friends and classmates will forever remember you.  They will call out your name the next time they see you.  They will wave at you in the school.  They will speak to you when you least expect it.  Why?  Because despite popular beliefs, kids really want relationships with adults.  In fact, most children are craving adult interaction.

Research has shown that the number one thing teens want is positive interaction with their parents.  Sadly, many check out during their child’s teen years.  They think since their children have become more self sufficient, it is a time for renewed career involvement while many just struggle to know how to engage their child during these years.  Try going on a field trip with them!  Warning here though, mom and dad…take their advice on what to wear, and just try to be seen but not heard much.    I cherish the relationships I have forged with children over the years through these trips and I am thankful I could be with my own children on these trips, even if it meant I was in more of an observer role.

2. You will learn about the dynamics of your child’s class.  This can be really helpful in understanding your own child better and what his day looks like.  I recall a year where one of our children was really struggling.  There were several potential causes for this and we were trying to figure out which one was the culprit and eliminate it.  Then we offered to be sponsors on a museum field trip.  It was a light bulb moment!  Our suspicions were confirmed that the teacher did not have control of the class.  She offered to take over “watching” two of the four children assigned to us, and then left them in the gift shop!  I had to use the loud voice I was blessed with to round up these third graders in the museum because apparently she lost her “teacher voice” years before, or at  least, her authority.  We also have had the opposite experiences, where our respect for the teachers and their classmates grew.  If you try and be a helpful, unobtrusive sponsor, it can really strengthen your relationship with the teachers, which brings me to my next point…

3. You will have a new appreciation for junior high teachers.  I remember riding fairly far back in the bus on a junior high band field trip.  Wow!  After an hour on the bus with these pre-pubescent and pubescent children I was so grateful for the educators who spend day after day with these lovely, precious, difficult children.  Just go home, pay your taxes or school tuition and be thankful it is not you, unless it is you, then we fall down and thank you deeply for helping us all through this stage of life.

4. You may find out you are in better shape than you thought.  I know, this is a weird one.  In first grade both of my sons went on this amazing trip to a state park where the Native Americans had lived and camped.  It did require some hiking up some fairly tall hills on semi-rocky soil.  I remember the teachers preparing us for this so we were physically ready and dressed appropriately.  The way one of them elaborated…I was beginning to wonder if this was a trip for me.

It just so happened that a former NBA player had a child in one of my son’s class.  It was his turn to accompany his daughter on the field trip.  While I had questioned my strength for this hike, I soon learned that the physically fit NBA player would be the one complaining. Unfortunately, he suffered with back issues, which surgery did not help, and as he was coming up the hill behind me I overheard him tell another parent, that his knee didn’t like the climb ever since “Barkley (Charles) fell on it in practice.”  Here I thought as one of the older mothers (of four)  I was not in very great shape, as it turns out, motherhood isn’t the only thing hard on parents.  You can do this mom.

5. You may learn something new.   Over the years I have learned how crystals are formed, how and where the Native Americans lived before we moved them, and have seen a real sod home which made me realize how rough our pioneering relatives had it.  I learned about responsibilities of the US Marshals, bat colonies living in caves, and just how strong zoo glass is when a lion charged our kindergarteners.  This lion was at the same zoo I went to on a field trip when I was a 6th grader.  I know as an adult, I saw the zoo in a whole different light than I did as a 6th grader.  This is why I needed to go.  I still had much to learn.

As I close this post I just got a text message from senior son, it reads:

“One more field trip on April 27th.”

Maybe I am not finished after all!

Have you been a sponsor on a field trip? Share with us what you have learned, we would love to hear your insights!

The Very Bad, Horrible, No Good Day

Or, Observations From Another Day in Suburbia

It started with me not wanting to get out of bed.  I haven’t really wanted to since we started back to school last week.  I like the holiday schedule better.  It didn’t help that my right shoulder is playing tricks on me, as in not wanting to work, at all!

I hollered at my youngest to get out of bed and started on lunches only to realize we had no bread.  Yesterday I realized we had no turkey so I had made chicken salad for the boys, just to mix things up a little and to avoid a trip to the grocery store.  I did not leave the house at all yesterday and didn’t want to break my record.  No bread, no worries.  My dear sweet husband bought me a Starbucks Christmas mug over the Holidays and I get free coffee every day in January; yes, every day.   True confirmation that he loves me.  Anyway, I decided that I could jump in the car, run to Starbucks drive up (there are four locations within a mile of my house) and get my free coffee and buy two croissants and solve my lunch problem all with one quick drive.  I quickly decided to switch from pajama pants to sweats, thank goodness, but just donned a jacket over my t-shirt.  I pushed down my overly abundant waves on the top of my head and got ready to go.  The zipper on my jacket split from the bottom up and I halfway attempted to fix it while yelling at my youngest to get out of bed for the third time.  The split zipper and the idea of me going out of the house half dressed to be seen should have been a harbinger of my morning, but alas, I left anyway.

I almost took older son’s newer car as it was parked behind mine, but since there was moisture on their windows, I took the younger son’s car so it would be ready for him as he had to leave early.  That was my second mistake.  I arrived at the Starbucks and was happy to see it was a relatively short line.  I pulled up and placed my order and quickly arrived at the window and handed them my coffee mug while they handed me the croissants.

While I was waiting for them to fill the coffee I noticed the radio quit.

Then the lights on the dash flickered and the car died.

I mean really died.  As in not even shifting to neutral, died.

Right there at the Starbucks drive up window.

At 6:30 on a Tuesday morning.

Did I mention that this Starbucks is located adjacent to the largest highway in the world?

I cannot imagine how many peoples’ morning were “ruined” by the crazy lady in the drive thru.  Thankfully the Starbucks crew were kind and immediately re-routed the line to handle their needs.  I started calling my towing service and noticed my car lights started coming on and off and then I noticed a sheriff’s officer getting in his car directly in front of me.  I jumped out and asked him if he could jump me.  Well, my car, anyway.  He asked if I had jumper cables and I said I was pretty sure they were in the trunk.  I went around got the keys, opened the trunk, but of course this is a Monday on a Tuesday and their were no cables.  The officer had already pulled up in front of me.  I told them I was missing my cables so the Starbucks guy said he had some and went to his car.  In the meantime, the officer opened his trunk and said, “It’s your lucky day!” as he dug out some cables.  Funny, at this point, I was not feeling very lucky.  The Starbucks guy headed over with his, bless his heart.  I gave him my thanks and we set to jumping the car.  It started and I sat there for a bit.  The officer left and I told the employees I was headed out and they said, “Don’t go on I-10!”  I assured them my home was a few blocks away in the opposite direction.  I put it in gear and it died.  Again.  Deader than a doornail.  I was able to get it in neutral and I asked them if someone could help me push it out of the drive.  A girl and a guy quickly came out and pushed me straight ahead to a spot.  Thank goodness I barely had to steer it as with no power steering and one bad shoulder I was not going to be able to turn much.  I thanked them again and began calling my boys.

When the car first died I had tried calling the youngest.

The one who said he was getting up when I left.

The one who now needed to be leaving for school.

The one whose dead car I was sitting it.

No answer.

I tried his brother who now should be getting up for his hour later class.  No answer.  I called my husband who left super early for his workout in the parking lot of his workplace.  No answer.  I tried them all again.  I was at 24% phone battery when I began all these calls because, of course, last night in my pain I listened to a podcast as I tried to sleep and never plugged in my phone.  Now my battery was at 21%.  I tried all three again.  Nothing.  Right before they pushed me out of the drive up, the clerk asked if I wanted the sandwich and hot cocoa that some driver had left without taking.  It was obviously one of those customers I no doubt deeply irritated.  I said, “Sure” and she cheerfully said, “Maybe this at least will make your day a little better.”  Now, while waiting I would have eaten the sandwich myself, only it had chorizo  on it and I am allergic to pork.  Oh well, I will give it to the tardy son, if he lives long enough to eat it.  Thinking about the sandwich reminded me of the croissants and the unfixed lunches.  I looked over and the bag with the croissants looked empty.  I picked it up, it was empty.  I looked back at my dog Miles in the back seat who was wagging his tail and smiling.   I wanted to cry but I just had to laugh.  When I laughed it made my shoulder hurt worse which made me want to cry again.

He still is thinking about how good it tasted.

I tried all three guys again.  No answer.  I tried “find my iPhone” so I could ping them all.  I was only able to log in to one of their phones and of course that one was offline.  Battery is now at 19%.  I called the school and told them younger son would be late.  At least someone answers their phone.  I tried everyone again.  No answer.  I read a few emails and an article.  Battery at 17%.   I tried both sons again.  No answer.  I looked when I first started calling for help.  I was five minutes shy of an hour passing.  At least I had coffee.  I tried my husband again, he answered!  He said he would be there soon.  He asked if both boys were gone.  I laughed, “No, they are not even up!”  We hung up.  I called him back to clarify where I was located in the parking lot.  He said he had reached our oldest son on his phone and told him to wake our younger son.  What?  His first call and he reached someone?  Are you kidding me?

He picked me up about 15 minutes later.  We drove the five minutes to home.  He fixed younger son a soft egg because he couldn’t eat the sandwich due to the recent removal of his wisdom teeth.  He took the cocoa and I told him to buy lunch on his account.  He said, “You should have known not to take my car.”  My husband said, “Yes, why didn’t you take the other car?”  Believe me I wondered the exact same thing.

 

 

 

Here are my observations from today’s adventure in suburbia:

  1.  Teach your children from the earliest age to wake to an alarm clock.  My last two are dead heads like their mom in the morning and do not wake up easily.  I am going out today to buy alarm clocks that cannot be thrown across the room (another story) and are not on their phones.  If they tamper with them, there will be no cars.  I think I am going out anyway;  maybe I will wait until tomorrow.
  2. There is no such thing as a “free” drink.  Today’s free drink cost me two expensive croissants for my pooch and an hour of my time.
  3. The Starbucks people are really nice in the morning.  Maybe coffee in the morning does make people nicer, which is how my coffee addiction got started.
  4. When you feel like crying, laugh first, it helps.
  5. Today’s problems are all “first world problems” and do not really matter in the “grand scheme of things” (mother quote).  Go be thankful for your life and brighten someone else’s day who is broken down in the “drive-up” of life.

What Will You Do With the Time That’s Left?

Part 3 of My Life Plan

I sometimes wake up thinking of this phrase, “What Will You Do With the Time That’s Left?”  A while back I had a dream.  I had a brain tumor.  The tumor was the worst possible kind, in the worst possible location.  I was given 24-48 hours to live.  I am hurriedly trying to tell my kids and Robert.  My friends come to visit, even our closest friends from Kansas are there, all while a tornado is headed straight for our house.

While this was just a bad dream, the dream was real for the mother of one my sons-in law.   His mother woke up one day with some chest pain.  Her husband decided they needed to seek medical attention.  It wasn’t her heart.  It was a broken collar bone.  It broke because she had a tumor wimg_4741hich was Stage 4 Cancer.

A little more than two years later she was gone.  The phrase had tangible meaning for her.  Her death at 59 brought a renewed reality to me of the fact I do not know the days that are left for me.  It also challenged me to be more intentional in several areas of my life so that while I am here, I am the healthiest I can be and the most engaged I can be.

Last week I mentioned that Robert and I had recently written our Life Plans after reading the book “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy.  The main part of the Life Plan involves identifying your Life Accounts.

Most people have somewhere around nine of these accounts.  For instance mine are:  Health/Self Care, Career, Hobbies,  Self Development, Parental, Spiritual, Finance, Marital, Social/Relationships.  In each of these areas I haclockve identified my purpose and envisioned my future and then come up with specific steps/goals to achieve my vision.

Why would I want to have such a detailed plan at this stage of life?   I am less than two years from an empty nest when busy school schedules are out the window.  Well, that is precisely the reason.  Time is flying by and if I want to keep living like I want to be remembered,  I need to stay focused.  The world offers so many distractions and many of them are good, but I cannot experience all the good things. I want to experience and accomplish the best things.

So I am on a journey.  A journey that has me re-reading my plan, tweaking it as needed as I discover what is really important to me.  It is a flexible plan.  Life changes and as we age we often get amazing clarity.  As my own vision has maybe decreased my life vision is becoming 20/20.

As I close this three part series out I want to conclude with the lyrics from the Mark Shultz song, “Time That is Left?”

What will you do with the time that’s left?
Will you live it all with no regret?
Will they say that you loved till your final breath?
What will you do with the time that’s left?

Oh hallelujah, oh hallelujah
Hallelujah, amen

And what will you with the time that’s past?
Oh and all the pain that seems to last?
Can you give it to Jesus and not look back?
What will you do with the time that’s past?

Oh hallelujah, oh hallelujah
Hallelujah, amen

And what will He say when your time has come?
And He takes you into His arms of love
With tears in His eyes will He say, “Well done”?
What will you say when your time has come?

Oh hallelujah, oh hallelujah
Hallelujah, amen

(If you prefer to hear it click here.)

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So the question remains, what will you do with the time that is left?
Comment and let us know your life plans.

Why I Have Already Written My Eulogy

Living my legacy

Last week I discussed the importance of learning to say no as mothers (and fathers).  I promised I would tell you why I have already written my eulogy and here is the short answer:  I want to live like I want to be remembered.

At the end of July my sweet hubby and I were able to escape for a few days to a family member’s lake house to rest, read and to write our Life Plans.  We had read Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy‘s book “Living Forward:  A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want” back in the spring, following its release.  We had yet to set aside time though for the book’s big assignment, which was to write our Life Plan.  The Life Plan is really the answer to the three powerful questions that Hyatt and Harkavy pose:

  1.  How do I want to be remembered?

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    Our view while writing our Life Plan.

  2.  What matters most?
  3.  How can I get from here to where I want to be?

The Life Plan really charts your course for accomplishing question number three.  But why begin with writing your eulogy?

The authors liken it to planning a vacation.  The first thing you plan is the destination, once you have chosen, it determines everything else.  So it is with your life.

Where do you want to end up?  What do you want your friends and family to remember about you?

What do you want to have taught your children, and others, for that matter?  What is really important to you and will that be obvious to others at the end of your life?

Life is so busy, especially in our American culture.  It is easy to just go through the motions of life and wake up one day and realize all the years you lived without really living consciously.  This is an easy trap to fall into and frankly, it is a trap set by Satan.  He loves to lull us into thinking we have plenty of time to make a difference.  The truth is, we may not.  None of us know the days we have left.  None of us knows the days our loved ones have left.  That is just a fact of life.  As the Apostle James wrote,

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:14*

So what did I write in my eulogy?  I wrote about my closest relationships.  I wrote about what I cherished in those relationships.  I wrote about why I dreamed of having four children and how God blessed me with that dream.

I wrote about my salvation.

I wrote about the relationship with my nieces and nephews and then wrote about what I see that being for the remainder of my life now that they are grown.  I recalled my grandmother’s relationship with her nieces and nephews when imagining what this might look like in the future.

I wrote about causes I am passionate about but right now am not able to help with.  While I was writing in past tense, I was looking to the future of what I might accomplish if I am granted the days to do so.

I finished with some of my greatest enjoyments in life.

img_2632When we had finished the task of writing these eulogies, Robert and I shared them with one another.  We each read our own and we were barely able to finish.  It is very sobering to read your own eulogy.  To read about your life and what is has been and what you hope it will be.  It is an exercise I highly recommend everyone endeavor.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”     Psalm 90:12*

We all will leave a legacy, whether we like it or not, whether it is for good or for bad.  I know what kind of legacy I want to leave, do you?

Have you written your eulogy?  Share with us what you would want others to say about you.

Next week, “What Will You Do With the Time That is Left?”

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tired Mamas

How to know when to say no

Hi!  This is “Senior Mom”.  Project Grad co-chair resigned and they need help with the Christmas open house.  I am helping to organize.  We are in desperate need of homes for the tour.  Would you be willing to put your house on the Christmas tour?  Thanks, “Senior Mom”

It’s that time of year for those of us with school aged children.  This is the text I received two weeks ago from a mom of one of my son’s friend.  It was so tempting to say, “Sure”.  For the past six years, my husband and I have made a date out of the Christmas home tour featuring homes in our neighborhood and surrounding ones all benefitting the Project Grad senior night party, giving our high school’s seniors a safe place to celebrate graduation together.   Several times I have said that we would host one year, but probably not until our baby’s senior year.  This year I just had to say no for many reasons, the least of these being the upstairs carpet is a mess.  No, I mean really a mess.  Not only is it stained from the previous owners (yes seven years and it hasn’t been replaced) but it has a big cut in the hallway effectively making it two pieces where my hubby had to pull it all up to re-wire our kitchen below to insert my double ovens when the single oven died unexpectedly two years ago. I have worked to overcome my idea of a “perfect house” before people come over.  It still bugs me, but I try really hard to not let it stop me, but we could not have people tripping all over the upstairs!   It is on the list to replace but other household improvements keep relegating it to the bottom of the list.  You know things like refrigerator and hot water heaters failing.  Priorities, right?

54ff15ded377f-ghk-scheduling-secrets-02-s2-2This is exactly my point.  Priorities are important.  Priorities are important to the mother that gets frequent requests to do and attend and participate in many “good” projects and events.  The carpet wasn’t my only issue for saying no to the tour request.  Hosting an open house in December this year was simply not good for me or our family this year.  Thankfully, I have become much better in being slow to say, “yes”.  Today, I want to share a few thoughts on why you do not want to be a “do it all” mom.

“All the Pretty Things”

Choosing to let fire refine you, rather than consume you

I recently finished Edie Wadsworth’s new book “All the Pretty Things” as a part of her launch team.  While I had hoped to be feeding you snippets along the way via social media to entice you to be ready to order this book, it turns out that Amazon released it early and now you don’t have to wait to order your copy.  Wait!  Read on my friends so you will know why you need to order this

I have followed Edie’s blog Life{in}Grace off and on for years, first finding her through a Pinterest picture, I think.  She has an eye for design that is fascinating to me, even if it isn’t my own personal style.  She has amazing soup recipes and a desire to promote homemaking following a career as a physician.  I have to admit that I have not read all of her posts through the years, and while I knew there had a been house fire, I never knew how much fire was a part of her entire life.

 “That afternoon fell into a dark Appalachian night–the kind of night that carried with it a strange sort of loneliness that mountain people knew all too well.  Alone with the night.  Alone with the poverty. Alone with a low-grade hunger that was impossible to fill.”                                                                                              –Edie Wadsworth

Edie has been in the fire and emerged from it, smoky but with a smoke that isn’t awful like burning weeds but rather a pleasant one like what I smell when my husband is smoking a brisket.  She has the “aroma of Christ” from her battles with living in the fire, choosing her own “fires” and walking away from others.  Her smoky smell leaves me with a hunger not unlike the brisket smoke, only this hunger is to be more like my Savior.  A hunger to be more compassionate and understanding and to continue to look for ways to care for the innocent children in this world who have broken families, and these days, who doesn’t have some form of broken family?

Edie’s book begins when she is just a youngster growing up in Appalachia in Eastern Tenneessee.  It ends with her current station in life.  The story takes on a journey of heartache, neglect, love, family, abuse, redemption, perfection, failure, and grace.  It gives us a view of an extended, dysfunctional family from the eyes of a young girl whose heart cannot do anything more but love them despite their failings.  It also gives us a view into the heart and mind of a child victim and what both motivates and sabotages them throughout their life.

13895169_10206993784222328_7146079867776200123_nHaving just finished three years being “mom” to two teenage boys who have similar stories, (only theirs involves water not fire), my prayer was for forgiveness for when I didn’t understand and failed to give them the appropriate response or help to meet their deep needs.  I don’t think being given the opportunity to be on the launch team was accidental.

I finished the book this weekend.  The same weekend as the younger “son” left for college.  He had left our home earlier this summer due to his choices, and while we have no longer been helping with his daily care, we still have had an active part in his transition to independence.  This weekend his “village” of church family who have helped him for years moved him away to another city where he will try and be the first in his immediate family to finish college.  While we have be more than frustrated this past year by his repeated “forgetting” and failures to achieve benchmarks, I read Edie’s book and realize that many of his issues have to be tied to the “demons” in his mind.  All the negativity, all the heartaches, all the abuse, all the hungry nights, all the water trying to drown out his dreams.

What I also was reminded is, that no matter how great your childhood was, as children of God, we all do things we know God does not like, and then we do them again, and then we do them again.  We are human.  HE is perfect.  13920422_10206993787022398_8072257265791258696_oWe don’t have to be, we just need to keep reaching out to him, seeking him, striving to help the children he has placed in our paths, no matter their age.  Read the book, then read your favorite passages of redemption, grace and hope (if you don’t have any Edie does) and then praise your Father through prayer and afterwards through your life.

“May the Friend of sinners, the Father to the Fatherless, the Fourth Man in the fire, and the Finder of lost sons and daughters be our constant joy and peace.  He who became one of us to experience the depth of our struggle is right there in the dirty midst of it all–making all things new and raising what’s dead to new life.”                           –Edie Wadsworth

It is raining here, again.  I think I will go make some soup.  If you read the book, let us all know what you thought of it.

Yikes! It’s Back to School Time

Some of our favorite school things

Today I realized school is on the horizon.  Not because of the usual signs.  One son is working all day and the other one comes and goes to work and various other activities  so the “end of summer” sibling fighting is, thankfully, not happening.  What did make me wake up to reality, was the fact the boys could get their parking permits for school today.  I know many of you are a long way off from high school, but these are the kind of details that come up when you get to this level.  At our school it involves a couple of forms, copies of their licenses and insurance, and of course, cash.  Oh, and their preference for where to park, west lot or parking garage.  Yes, I said parking garage.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I am pretty sure we might be the only public high school with a parking garage.  Anyway, that was our school task for today.

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After all these years of school children, our “back to school” shopping sprees are slowing down.  Now I usually purchase some of our favorite supplies ahead of time, and then (unfortunately) go with the mob to the local office supply store on the first night of school picking up all the things the teachers requested on their syllabi.  When you are in high school, you don’t get those nice little lists in advance.   After 23 consecutive years of sending children to school, 14 of those with high schoolers, I am getting fairly good at knowing what to have on hand.  On Friday I had to pick up a baby shower gift and since it was “tax free” weekend for school supplies, I stocked up on a few things.  I realized that with four, and sometimes six kids, we have had a bundle of back to school experiences.  Today I am listing some of our favorite supplies and systems.  It isn’t earth shattering or anything, just our favorites.

Fishing and Watermelon

A short little summertime story

Well, you gotta love the carefree days of summer where the schedule seems to go out the window.  As a mother though, I have always enjoyed the change in routine that the summer provides and then, of course, sometime in August, I begin craving a set schedule and a return to routine.  I have always been opposed to year round schooling because I love this change so much.

I said all that to explain why I didn’t post last week again and why I am still not quite back to my Monday postings, try as I might. I did write this last week while I was able to spend a couple of days at the lake with my husband, but since I didn’t have much internet time, I didn’t post it.  I did a bunch of other writing too, but more on that in a future post. (Check out LivingFowardBook.com if you want a hint)  For today, during these hot, “dog days” of summer, just get a glass of iced tea or better yet, some watermelon and enjoy this little flashback of mine.  Happy reading.

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When I was a young girl, maybe about five or six, I was visiting my cousins in Central Oklahoma, as was usual for us in the summer.  My grandparents lived just “down the pasture” from my cousins’ two story farm house on the hill.

It was hot July day and that morning my uncle pronounced that we were going to go fishing later.  We spent the early morning walking through the pasture collecting grasshoppers for bait.  This was a hot, sticky and yucky job, but we did it none the less.  I wasn’t as skilled at catching as my cousins Larry and Shari were.  Larry kept warning about the “tobacco juice” which the grasshoppers ejected as we caught them.  It seems as we walked across that pasture that it was like an ocean where the tide of grasshoppers kept going farther and farther out to sea just beyond my reaching little fingers.