Archives for February 2015

What Moving Is Teaching Me {I Bet You Know About This!}

It’s been a mere ten days since we decided to move.  Or, since God decided to move us.  And in that time, I’ve learned quite a bit.  Or, perhaps, I have been reminded of what I already knew.

Moving teaching me

One:

Good, good people live in this world.  I have some friends who could have very easily said, “Really, Sarah?  We just moved you a year ago. Remember our tireless hours of painting and cleaning and loading and carrying? We don’t exactly want to repeat that again so soon.  For Heaven’s sake.  Settle down.”

Instead?  They said, “Let us know the dates and details.  Can I come help you pack? I’ll collect boxes.”  And they have dropped off boxes and saved boxes and offered to run my kiddos.  One even offered to come from Columbus to help!  Selfless people who serve others well – they exist – and I am honored to call them friends.

Two:

My mood equals everyone’s mood (in this house).  Yesterday I got frustrated with changing activity schedules.  One minute I am committed to 4:00 then the next minute it’s 3:00. Hannah needs to be somewhere at 1:00 – oh, nevermind.  That’s not happening. Oh, yes, it’s happening, but Hannah is not going now.  CRAZY!

Guess what?  My rising frustration equaled rising frustration in everyone.  Owen went into “good boy servant” mode, trying to make everyone happy while a bewildered Hannah looked on like….how in the world can I fix this, Mom?  I don’t control all these people.  And she’s right. She doesn’t.  Just like she doesn’t control the weather or the packing pace or the myriad interruptions in our day.

So, if I want a happy, smooth move?  I have to make it so.  My kids (and your kids) get their cues and moods from me and you.  If you feel overwhelmed, so do they.  If you’re ok?  So are they.  Trust me on this. Even if the stress is simmering below the surface, THEY KNOW!  It’s so weird.

Three:

God provides. The boxes through two friends. (Thanks, Jenny and Kristen!)

The manpower through friends – and offers galore.

Snow days for packing.

A word about these snow days.  I was gone last weekend from Friday after school until Sunday at 11:00 pm because Hannah had a dance competition out of town.  Mix this with midterm grades being due on Monday and a new lesson plan rubric.  Yes, feeling a wee bit overwhelmed – to say the very least.  Then, boom.  Four snow days.  We’ve laughed and purged and packed (and stressed – more on that later).  Speaking of purging…

Four:

We have way too much stuff.  Seriously.

I just moved a year ago.  At that time, I gave away and sold so much stuff.  Then, this fall, I had a yard sale – sold more and hauled the rest to a thrift store.  AND STILL…

I am amazed at the stuff pouring from my kids’ rooms (all the rooms)!  (They’ve used their snow days very productively;) Our “give away” boxes are growing faster than our “take to new house” boxes.  Admittedly, some of it is hard to let go of.  Owen still looks wistfully at his tub of webkins – collected for a long time back in the day.  But, really? We don’t need or use or love stuffed animals…so buh bye!  Speaking of needing or loving…

Five:

We are only keeping what we need /use or love.  And this is HARD.  It might not seem like a big deal, but when I look at something before it goes into the box, I think long and hard…Do I love this?  Love to look at it?  Love to have it in my home?  Or, do I use this regularly?  As in, have I held this item in the past six months?  If it’s a no…then it goes.  I am not always completely honest with myself. I’ve noticed myself holding on to some wacky things.  Baby steps!  (FYI:  I got this “filter” for purging from Tsh Oxenreider’s book Notes from a Blue Bike.)

Six:

You just have to live in the mess (deep breaths, deep breaths). And my house is a mess  (understatement!)  Today my friend said to me, “Sarah, you are going to to have let some of this go sometimes.  I know it’s a season of moving, but life still goes on.”  Amen.  I want to pack now, clean now, and be done now. That doesn’t really work for a single momma.  My kids still have activities.  We still need to eat.  When the snow subsides, we have school.  So some days…I am going to have to shove the boxes aside and sit down for a family viewing of American Idol or a conversation about ISIS.  Momma first, mover later.

Seven:

You can make time for anything (that matters). I am moving during Lent.  God is funny, huh? He has me moving during the time when I push the pause button – the time when I slow down and give up in order to make more space for intentional prayer.  For growing in Him.  I love this season of Lent. Soooo….when shall I make time in a schedule that was just  bumped to crazy busy?  God’s told me not to give up, but give in, and He will show me.  I am trusting.

So, that’s what I am learning so far, but I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended for all those under wind chill watch:).  And I share with you because no matter what is happening in your life right now…

Good, good people live in this world.  Find a few.  Make friends.  Have hope!

My mood/your mood sets the tone for your family. Overwhelmed or joyful – you get to choose.

God provides.  In mysterious ways.  And rarely in our timing or our way, but trust Him.  He’s got you. He’s got this.

You might have way too much stuff, and it might be interfering in ways you can’t imagine.  All the time you spend shuffling and organizing and cleaning could be spent with your family or pursuing a dream.  Declutter your space, and you might be surprised how much it declutters your heart. Keep the stuff you use and love.  The rest?  It’s just noise.  Buh, bye!

Sometimes you just have to live in the mess – literally and figuratively.  But, life doesn’t have to stop or suck just because there’s mess in your sink or in your heart.  You can still laugh and share and love.

Make time for what’s important – to you and to those you love.  Lent is important to me because remembering my Savior’s road to the cross and his sacrifice for me is essential to my being. He is THE reason that I exist.  The reason I can live and love.  So somehow He will help me slow down as life speeds up.

What has God taught you lately as you go about life?  I’d love to hear how He’s at work.

50 Shades of Grey {Is Not Gray}

Tomorrow’s the day.

The movie thousands have been waiting for:  50 Shades of Grey.

I can’t log on to Facebook without seeing “I can’t wait to see this movie!” My almost 15-year-old daughter told me yesterday that many of her friends (aged 14-16) are planning to see this movie with friends or boyfriends on Valentine’s Day.

Huh?

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Ladies, please help me to understand why you would want your teen girl to watch this movie.  Please tell me why you want to see this movie.  Before you bristle and leave this post…will you please stop and think with me a moment?

I originally posted most of the following on June 26, 2012, after reading the book.  Two and a half years later, I feel the same way – perhaps even more so because my daughter is dating.  Because she’s no longer a carefree 12-year-old, but a teen girl facing the challenges teen girls face. And, I am no longer married.  I am single woman who must guard her children and her heart as she navigates singleness again.

My friends and I  like to talk about gray areas, black areas, and white areas.  We like to say “that’s a black and white issue” or “that’s a gray area.”

When it comes to 50 Shades of Grey,  there is no shortage of discussion on the black, white, and gray of it.  Many authors, bloggers, and interviewers are chiming in – for good reason.

This book is a New York Times Bestseller and about to become a blockbuster movie. But, this is not a gray area – it’s very black and white.

I read book one.  Ok, “read” might be an overstatement.  I read the first five chapters then began swiping my iPhone screen in search of a plot (or anything redeeming).  I did at least scan every single page.  As a writing teacher, I could share about its lack of literary merit all day long, but the poor writing and lack of plot aren’t harmful to my soul.

The language and imagery are harmful.  The images flashing across the screen would be too.

50 Shades of Grey is referred to as “mommy porn” for a reason.  The book’s description and movie’s portrayal of sex and relationship are  not at all what God intended.  What God created to be beautiful, this book makes very ugly.

I regret reading it.  But, regret can’t wipe away those words from my eyes or those images from my brain.

Ugh!

Before you purchase this book or a movie ticket, I hope you pray.  I hope you search your heart and ask…Why do I want to see this? Is this good and right for me?

For me, it boils down to Proverbs 4: 20-27:  My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left;keep your foot from evil.

I want to guard my heart, giving careful thought to my path, keeping my foot from evil.  I am so easily swayed in some areas that I must look straight ahead with my gazed fixed directly on Him and the cross if I am to avoid drifting.

So, I hope you’ll guard your heart from this book and movie – and others like it. It’s best to dwell on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy… Philippians 4:8…although I know it’s hard and only possible with strength from Him.

Let me clarify one thing:  I am FOR you.  I don’t desire to make a point.  I’d like to make a difference.

I am not “holier than thou.”  Heavens.  I have logs in my eye that need removed before I can ever speak on many issues.  My heart is simply to share as one who has read the book and knows the content.  To tell those who have not read this book and want to see the movie:  Please do your homework before going.  To tell those who have read the book and feel guilty (like me) – or go to see the movie and feel guilty:  There’s grace and forgiveness.

And, please, don’t take my word for it.  Pray.  Read the stuff all over the internet.

Honestly, I simply could not – in good conscience – let tomorrow’s release day pass without speaking up.  It hurts my heart to think of all the young gals who will see it and think that is how a man should treat her.  It hurts my heart to think of all the young men who will see it and think that is how they should treat a gal.

(And, please don’t say…it’s just entertainment; no one really patterns behavior after a movie.  Yes, they do – sadly.)

I want better for my daughter.  I want better for this next generation.  I want better for you.  I want better for me.

If you have an opinion about 50 Shades of Grey, would you share it in the comments?  I think conversing – even if online – about this topic in a respectful, open manner can help us and our daughters.

We’re Moving {I Know: Crazy!}

We’re moving.  Again.

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I knew those words would become reality again – someday.  But just not this day.

I’ve lived in EIGHT houses,  including my current duplex.  And the thought of moving – again – makes me want to cry.

Ok, I cried. And cried some more.

I cried for my kiddos who won’t look back at their childhood and say, “I loved the house I grew up in.”  I’ll mention a house now (the Sherwood house, the Victoria house), and they look at me with confusion.  It’s too much to keep track of.

I cried for all the places I’ve settled – only to detest because of certain events.

But, I’ve never settled in at this current house.  It doesn’t feel like home.  It might seem simple, but I hate that Owen can’t go and out play. Yeah, we might be spoiled -and I don’t ask for much – but this place has never felt like our home.

Maybe it’s the vibes I moved in with.  Maybe it’s the healing and tears that took place there as the first place we’ve lived after divorce.  I am unsure, but I’ve known:  when the year lease is up, I need to start looking. No timetable.  Just looking.

A few weeks ago I noticed a “for rent” sign on a house. I called. Too much. Then, I saw another – too much work.  My dreams were big and my budget small.  And I do not want to buy a home because I can’t keep it up.  I like having a landlord.

Then, on Saturday, my friend picked up a Bulletin Board – it’s a local listing of all things for rent or sale in my area.  You want a new tractor, free kitten, or antique stove? House? Car?  This little paper is for you.

We took advantage of the sunny day, driving to and fro, looking at the houses in the rental section.  Ugh. Discouraging.

And then…we pulled up to one – that I loved.  It was the little white backporch that made my heart swoon.  We called.

Yes, you can come look, but we have other people already – bummer. How could that be?  I just knew: this is my house!

The owner said she planned to meet each prospective tenant and decide who she wanted.  Alrighty then.  I dressed up and drove to the appointment at 3:30 on Sunday.

I loved the house.  I loved the owners.  It all made me smile.

A huge family room for us to play in.  A creek and some woods.  A flat driveway for Owen’s hoop and a safe neighborhood for biking.  A large kitchen since I’ve become quite the cook (no, really, I am giving it whirl!).

I left with a good feeling and the promise of a decision sometime during the week.

That night and all the next day- I found myself literally praying without ceasing. Lord, it’s really up to you.  Sure, I want to move there.  But, if this isn’t it – I know you have better.  On the same day, I read about Esther’s “patient obedience” and surrendered my plans to Him.  Not just  an “oh, I surrender” but a “I truly want what you want, Lord.”

If there’s one thing I know: He holds me and the future.

His plan is always better than mine.  And he does want good for me – His definition of good.  So, I trust Him.

The landlords called.  Those chose us!  They needed to meet immediately to get the deposit and sign the lease, or they’d offer it to another family.

Woah. Huh? I called my sister.  I called my mom. I weighed options and prayed prayers and cried more tears.

I had to give a month’s notice on my lease. Oh, except the date was February 9 and my lease ends March 9.  Yep, I had one month if I cancelled my lease that moment.  Crazy!

But what about extra moving expenses?  My tax money went  in my account soon thereafter.

But what about packing and moving?  I have no idea, but I have had four people offer to help in the past 24 hours.  And when I messaged my friend in Columbus and my friend in Cambodia and told them the news, their response?  ANSWERED PRAYER – both had been praying for this on my behalf without me even knowing!

See?

God will work it out. (However He sees fit, which is most likely not how I would do it:)

Because he’s been at work in my life over the past four weeks in ways I never imagined.

I know I’ve been a bit silent here.  When you are a single mom with two busy kiddos, writing isn’t high on the priority list.  But, I want you to know that I’ve missed you a bunch.  God answered prayers for Owen in a mighty way; I am going to She Speaks (a gift from a sweet mentor and friend); I am learning how to truly surrender…there has been so much!

And I think He’s been watching and waiting for my surrender – for such a time as this.

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

As I’ve read about Esther over the past week or so, I am learning that God has this thing called my life. Yes, you’d think I already knew that, huh?  But, sometimes we need to see Him and allow Him to remind us that He’s in this with us.  Just as Esther could have never dreamed of the life God orchestrated for her, I can not grasp this life he’s given me – good and bad.  This life that he continues to mold and mend for His glory alone.

Are you gazing on the life you’re living and thinking…this is not how I would have planned it?  I never asked for this.  I wanted this and He gave me that. Are there days you want to kick and scream at God in frustration?  Or days you want to run into His arms with thankfulness?

It’s a tough life. But, sister, please know:  He is there.  He loves you. He will never leave you.  And He knows where you are and what is at stake – for such a time as this.

Will you pray for us as we gather boxes and move over the next three weeks? It’s going to be a bit stressful, but I know:  He’s got this.