Faith · Perspective

Faith

Faith: Part 2 – Fatigue, Faith and a Flaming Yam

Growth is hard.

In my previous installment “Fatigue,” I wrote about how much fatigue slowed me down this summer. It basically ground the month of August to a halt in terms of activity for me. During this time period, I was also struggling with my faith. Not actually doubting that there is a God – I see and feel so many actual points of proof for His existence – but rather feeling alone.

Yesterday, I taught children’s church. This takes place during our normal Sunday service for 30 minutes and is open to kids ages 2-up. In a completely disorganized fashion, I hadn’t planned anything as of 9:50am. Church starts at 10am. As I dashed into the bathroom to apply mascara, I saw my children’s rubber bath tub spout cover. It’s a whale. On the way out the door, I grabbed a flashlight, the whale spout cover (story props), and my Bible.

action animal beach diving
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You guessed it. I taught a lesson about Jonah and the whale. The story is found in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. Basically, Jonah knows what he should do. He’s been told what to do. He just doesn’t want to do it and heads the other way on a boat. God stirs up a huge tempest. Jonah admits he is disobeying God. The crew of the boat asks God for forgiveness for throwing Jonah over and then launches him off the side. The storm calms. The crew has a new-found faith in God. (He uses ALL things for His good.) Jonah is swallowed by a huge fish and survives IN THE DARKNESS and with PRAISE for three days and three nights before being deposited on the shore.

There’s a lot to take from this portion of the passage. This entry won’t touch a fraction of it.

Jonah and I have quite a bit in common here.

Growth is hard.

In August, I attended a women’s faith conference: “Boost! Bloom Where You Are Planted.” I donated an entrance fee essentially to cry the whole day. Tears streamed down my face during the fantastic speakers. Tears hit the floor during guided prayer. Tears salted my cheeks during the praise songs. It was a complete TURNING POINT.

I’d spent the summer keeping myself so busy that I was that ship headed in the opposite direction. I was blown about, cargo being thrown overboard to keep afloat, ignoring those peaceful words that I could only hear when I’d slow down: Be Still.

This seems to be a recurring message for me. I get all wound up with the happenings surrounding me and shirk my devotions, praises, and generally start disliking everything around me. My fuse gets short. Patience lacks. I want to be alone. My cup is empty.

brown close up cup empty
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here’s where the growth happened- light bulb moment: I’m not supposed to fill my cup. The Holy Spirit does that… unless I’m too busy holding my hand over the top of the cup.

I took my hand off the top of the cup. How? By being still. I am a volunteer by nature. I WANT to help. Saying “No” doesn’t come easy. Truthfully, it usually comes with a *sigh* and a couple of drafts of thoughtfully composed words before I can hit send on the email or text. There’s guilt in the those two little letters: N-O.

By stepping back from some activities, I can honestly say we’ve found joy, patience, and peace again at our house. I’m back to reading my devotions most mornings. The waters have started to calm.

Sometimes God isn’t asking you to do more, He is telling you to do less. He is asking you to re-focus like a good, loving, and caring Father does.

Back to Jonah – His story isn’t over after the boat ride and the fish. He made both good choices and bad after that. Although I’m hopeful I’ll only make good decisions, I’m human. Gloriously human. Thank goodness for grace and mercy!

Perspective

Fatigue, Faith, and a Flaming Yam- Pt 1

Goodness. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written. The title of this blog post sums up the month of August fairly well. I’m breaking this down into 3 parts simply because I need to get my kids up and dressed for church. #reallife

Fatigue has been a real bear this past month. A culmination of everything “make sure the kids have a fabulous summer” and then tack on a bacterial illness and two weeks of high dose antibiotics. Ugh. My body was DONE.

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My kids got my phone and caught me resting.

I NEVER put the blame for anything with my body on MS, but had to concede on this one. I couldn’t function or fight thru the fog to think straight. I had to change my thought process from blaming MS and those flipping lesions to accepting that this is a reason.

When I associate an image with the word Blame, it looks like a kid having a tantrum. I won’t allow this situation to lower me to that.  Honestly, in the depths of the fatigue I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. My kids, husband and work all still require attention. This body still has responsibilities.

After a solid heart to heart with my sister and a day at a women’s faith conference, I admitted that the elephant in the room is this autoimmune disease. Even though I refuse to use it as an excuse, an excuse is very different than a reason. Many factors led to my body being worn out. Multiple sclerosis is the reason for this level of fatigue.

I’m happy to say that a week later, I’m starting to feel like myself again. I’ve hit the stationary bike twice, elliptical once, and ran my outdoor route twice. All modes of transportation are much slower than when I’m at my top. Exercise sharpens my mind and improves my mood.

I’m listening to my body.

Part 2: Faith

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

To do or not to do?

I called my mom for reassurance. I’m a 35 year old woman who needed to hear my mom say “I think that’s a good idea for your family.”

The conversation has been mulling around in my brain for days. Do we or don’t we enroll in fall dance classes? Maybe we should try tumbling instead? Do we or don’t we encourage our son to sign up for fall flag football?

Leaning hard to the “No.” side of things, this was definitely a conversation that needed my spouse’s input. Although I am the chief get-kids-to-their-destination driver, everything we sign up for impacts all of us. Dinner schedules, my level of stress, when I need to leave work, can I work late?… All the pieces revolve around what we are committed to..

The pressure to sign up for extra kid’s activities is immense. It’s a weight I never giphy8anticipated carrying. The cost isn’t great either. Art classes, sports, dance, tumbling, volunteer opportunities, library activities…

Is my child going to be left out if she/he doesn’t sign up? Will they be athletically or academically behind?

Honestly… the answer is no.

No- all the way – no. Last time I checked, my 8 year old wasn’t trying out to be on the farm team (aka the minor leagues) for major league baseball. My daughter isn’t going to be in the Rockettes at age 6. Nor will taking the fall semester off from extra classes stunt their abilities.

Drawing this line in the sand will hopefully allow my family and friends time to be together. Let’s grill out on the patio for dinner! How about a nice bike ride on a Tuesday night after school? Invite a friend over to play for a couple of hours? Sure. I don’t need to schedule around this class or that class.

This basically sounds like utopia after the frenzied summer we’ve had. Although I swore we weren’t going to be THAT overscheduled family, we absolutely were. To say no… it’s a bold choice in our current culture. Being busy, scheduled, and enrolled in everything imaginable to enrich ourselves has left us all drained.

Our conversation about this was short and sweet. My husband agreed completely. Now, to finish convincing myself that I’m not blighting my children’s interests and aspirations I called my mother. She listened without judgement as I presented my case for NOT being involved and replied “I think that’s a good idea for your family.”

Isn’t it sad that the pressure to please others is so great that I needed to hear my mother reassure me that I was making the correct choice for MY family? Thank goodness for amazing beautiful souls like hers.

Don’t we all want to have the freedom in our schedule to do things like this?

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After a fall semester off from the extras, it’s possible that we will be ready and eager to do winter activities like basketball or dance. Perhaps we’ll discover that we enjoy less time running around. Either way, we’ll roll with it when it comes.

Family · Perspective

Work.

For anyone new to this blog, a little background information. My husband and I own a small business with a couple of employees in rural America. We work together full-time in the office. Our job descriptions are complementary but separate. Technically, it’s his signature on the “President” line.

Today he walked over to my desk and picked up an invoice from one of our distributors that I had a question about. He starts in on “from now on…” about this invoice.

What he’s forgetting is that approximately a month ago, I asked him this exact question about the timing of this invoice. I was annoyed….

Because I like to keep things light and as positive as I can, here is how the rest of that conversation went in .gif fashion.

Me:
giphy1Him:
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Me:
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Him:
giphy3Me:giphy4Him: giphy6

People often wonder how we can work together full-time, live together, love each other, and still LIKE each other the majority of the time. It’s work. Marriage is work. Work is work. Respect and trust is work.

Both of us have had to eat our humble pie and accept that we are wrong sometimes. It happens.

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Eat the pie. Move on. Live life.

Happy Monday!

Creativity · Family · Fitness · Perspective

Begins with “S”

Six Miles – That’s how many glorious, relaxing miles I got in last night while my kids were at Vacation Bible School. How many times is it 6miles_LIonly 63 degrees for a July evening run in the Midwest – USA?! I’m officially one minute per mile slower than when I was getting consistent runs done.

Six miles of feeling my feet hit the road while listening to the music on my iPod. Freeing. Sanity breathing. Mind clearing. I’ve registered for a 10K in September. After last night’s run, my confidence at running it comfortably has increased. I doubt it will be a 10K PR, but I suspect I can cut time if I get in a uniform schedule.

SullivanSullivan – Our new, very large cat (Maine Coon) has decided his favorite place to lay is in a bathroom sink. I guess that’s fine…. “You do you, Sully.” Today is the 5th day since we adopted him. After having an affable feline friend for over a decade until his passing in December, the enjoyment of my husband and kids to this new guy is evident. Honestly, I’m still warming up to having an indoor pet again.

School – Dare I say it? We are edging up on less than 20 days until it starts! After we returned from Colorado and knocked out a few days at the fair, everyone seems considerably happier about school starting. The kids look forward to consistent time with friends and living a normal schedule. I swore I wouldn’t mention it until August starts…. but we had school supplies on super sale at our local store – 20 pencils for $0.99 and notebooks for $0.19 each. It would have been silly to miss that discount when those items were on the list.

pencils in stainless steel bucket
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other “s” encounters this week included a snake, storms, and my son’s prize winning sunflower at the fair. Have a snazzy, superb week!

Family · Fitness · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Running Away from Monday

It’s been one of those Mondays where I put on my running clothes to run before the sun came up.

But I haven’t ran yet.

It began to thunder, followed by a downpour. Intermittent sharp cloud to ground lightning.

Then I had to get the kids to daycare and myself to work – still wearing my running clothes. Call it the definition of a “Casual Monday?” Perks to owning the business and staying behind a desk.

The weather cleared. I was going to use my lunch to run. But I didn’t get a lunch and ate at my desk because customers LOVE to call and show up at lunch.

Then another thunderstorm moved in.

And I’m still sitting here at the end of the work day wearing my running clothes. I’ve been wearing my “Flipbelt” stuffed with my fully charged iPod and ear buds all. day. long.

flipbelt

The kids go to VBS for two and a half hours tonight. I will be using that time to run, if not outdoors then at the gym.

I took five minutes to read about an extreme “reset diet and workout routine” that ended with fabulous results. The author of the article- who I might add was single and childless – talked about needing two hours every day at the gym.

I can’t get 30 minutes for a nice leisurely 5K.

A woman can only be functioning for so many hours of the day.

Bleh. Can I just run away from this Monday?

 

 

Family · Health · Perspective

Jelly Belly

Most days I eat a very healthy vegetable and protein based diet. But then there is a day like today where I eat jelly beans and deli ham… but mostly jelly beans.

We made a long weekend last Friday-Tuesday of my annual neurology appointment in Denver. I had the car loaded with suitcases Friday morning before work. My husband and I locked up the office at 5pm, threw the cold snack bag in the car, and headed west grabbing the kids from daycare on our way.

Other than my son either not packing or losing his entire stack of pants and shorts somewhere between home and Winter Park, our time in Colorado was very smooth. We stayed at a friend’s condo. Fishing, biking, hiking, a mine tour, a gorgeous mountain morning 5K run, and the historic Georgetown railroad filled our time. Tuesday morning, we cleaned the condo and started back to Denver. One child got motion sick coming down the pass and lost all his stomach contents into a “Brain Flakes” toy jar.

My neuro appointment went very well. MS is still stable! HALLELUJAH! Those words alone are worth the 30 minute extra wait, hitting rush hour traffic, a tire low on air on interstate, and not getting home and in bed until almost 12:45am.

Full work day on Wednesday.

Thursday was our local county fair’s first full day. My kids joined 4-H this past year. My son took a Geology box with 18 rocks, minerals, and fossils.Geo BoxMy daughter took a single stemmed zinnia flower.

Then we volunteered at the Kiddie Barnyard for two hours and ended up with a new housecat that the local veterinarian had up for free adoption. After we lost our 15 year old feline family member in December, I swore the only way we’d do it is if the potential pet met my very specific requirements.

Well… we walk in to volunteer for a couple of hours and there he is. Met every box on my checklist: 1) Male. 2) 4yrs old. 3) Litterbox/House trained. 4) Neutered. 5) Laid back.

He came with a sweet hand-written note from the person who surrendered him complete with how he likes to have his head rubbed and eating habits. He was obviously loved by his previous owner. My guess is the person either moved to a pet free rental or went to a nursing home.

Meet Sullivan – aka Sully. (This was when we first saw him, He has since been to the vet for a solid bath and his vaccinations.)

Sully

Following our pet adoption, the kids and I worked the 4-H food stand for 6.5 hours. I was the main cashier for $3000+ in food sales. That was more mental math than I’ve done in years. Doing it mentally was faster than trying to use the calculator. Needless to say, my brain was unable to function very deeply when I got home late last night.

So… here we are: A new housecat. Over a thousand miles for my neurology appointment. Projects entered in the local fair. Volunteer shifts done. Absolutely no motivation to be productive at work or at home. And one big bag of jelly beans.

Thank goodness it’s Friday!