Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Going Gray...

My beloved husband has removed more than one "really blond" hair from my head this year (what a way to ruin a date atmosphere not to mention my mood). I don't know how I feel about this. Ok, I do know how I feel about this and I am obviously upset or I would not be blogging about it. I have always said that I would just go gray gracefully... but that was before it was actually here in front of me. I have always loved long gray hair on women but older women... not... you know cute little youthful me!!! What is a girl to do? For the record I have never dyed or colored my hair (not even for halloween) so it's kind of a big deal to me. Do any of my readers have input on what happens if you already have long hair (mine is at my waist right now) and it starts to go gray? Will I end up with like a gray "hat"? AAAAHHHH!!!! I am so too young for this!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Backpack Full of Ashes

I was part of something called the PPO this year. It stands for Perpetual Prayer Offering and each person (nearly 200 of us) commited to pray for the Beth Moore Conference and the women in our area going to it for one hour a week at the same time for 40 weeks. My hour was 2-3am on Wednesday mornings. We were each given shells to represent our hours and we gathered together the morning before the conference, at the Arena, to place them (over 7,000) in a glass jar and pray over every seat in the building. As I was praying for the women I stopped an prayed for myself. I specifically asked/begged that I "could just hear You (God) say my name and tell me Amy, this is what I want you to do". As prayers like that usually go I moved on and only remembered later... and you won't believe why.

I spent the next four days in Women's Ministry training seminars and then at the conference. During the training I began to realize that I knew what I was supposed to be doing... have known for a long time but having been hurt so many times I was scared to step up and try again. I talked to my pastor's wife minutes before the conference started and told her that I knew what my calling was and that I was willing... but scared. I could never have planned what happend next. Less than an hour into the conference Beth started talking about how everyone who has accepted Christ has been called with a calling. Here's where it gets weird... she stepped up to the edge of the stage and spoke right at the section I was sitting in and said "When you know what your calling is it is like God is saying AMY (she yelled that part) do what I am asking and have equiped you to do". In that moment I remembered my prayer and was blown away. The next day she only repeated three things from the day before... you guessed it, she stepped up to the edge and looked up at the section I was sitting in again (this time on the opposite side of the stadium) and said it again... all of it.

Ok, I get it (for some sweet women a 2X4 is a last resort but with me He just starts there and moves onto structural beams). I have accepted a position at church that although I am scared out of my mind to do... I know it is my calling. I have been carrying a backpack of ashes for a long time now. So much pain, heartache and hurt and I would love to see God turn it into something beautiful. Only He can do that and even then only if I will give it to Him. My heart is to see women connect. We usually do that best in our points of weakness and yet those are the very places we are rarely willing to share. I believe that everything I have been through, the good the bad and the ugly, will not be wasted. He doesn't waste our pain. The backback is off and I will try not to try and pick it back up.... now let's see what He does!

Thank you to all the amazing women in my life who have been praying for me and encouraging me through these last very difficult years. Our pastor said in his sermon this weekend that "God is able to use us many times in the very areas that we have been hurt the most". Many of you have been gently whispering that to me for a long time now and I love you for it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pride Cometh After the Fall?

I don't believe in happenstance or coincidence and so when my life takes a turn... I take a good look around and try to see what God is doing. I know that sometimes we never see the reasons behind some of what he does and then there are times like oh, let's say... in my life now... where it is embarrassingly clear. For those of you who don't know (which is sadly probably not many of you), I have a lovely pride problem and a vast array of vices... bad combo? Yes, I fear so.

I honestly had no idea how prideful I was until late last night when I received a very sweet and kind message from a friend. I admit to calling him "a well meaning Christian terrorist" when I first read his message. You see he had the audacity to say that I was way too concerned with how I look and that I basically needed a reality check about my situation. He of course said all this very politely and so me wanting to give him a swift kick was undignified. He is a guy, of course he doesn't notice much difference! Having only known me a short time, he has no idea how I was teased growing up about my looks or how I have had nightmares about breaking my teeth again ever since I did it the first time and especially since finally having them repaired! He doesn't know anything or he would never have said any of that! I mean it made it sound like I have a pride problem... uh oh.
See, here is where it gets ugly. Not my face (well ok that too...) but rather the truth. You see I know better than anyone that I have some things I like to run to when I am hurting, tired, angry, frustrated... and that much of the time, I reach for them long before my Bible. Funny, (well, it would be if you're not me) since my accident, I can't do any of them. I physically can't do any of them. I have been trying to make decisions about my purpose in life and what I will do with my kids, church and relationships and I think I was about to make some of the wrong ones. At the very least I was making them for the wrong reasons.
So, my life took a turn and where am I now? I am alive, so there is still more to do. I cannot talk so I will have to listen. I cannot turn to the things that I usually do to distract and protect myself so I will have to face things head on (although no more large rocks to the face please) and feel the emotions that come with them. I cannot sing, smile, entertain or otherwise "earn" affection. I will have to accept hospitality instead of give it. I will have to admit that pride didn't come after my fall and that even though there were no signs on that wooded trail... I missed one.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm So Vain

I am so vain... I didn't know it but I totally am. For those of you who, as yet, are unaware I rolled a quad (four wheel recreational vehicle) while still on it and have sustained some pretty nasty injuries. I know that I am lucky (aka... I still am) but most of my wounds are to my face. I will have to have multiple procedures done over the next year in order to repair what I did to my mouth alone. I of course explained to the Dr. that this was cruel and unusual punishment as I use my smile more than 92% of the people that make up this great big world. It used to be 93% but I have made significant progress in my area alone... I mean just look at the statistics!!! 1% of the earth's population? That's HUGE!!! I of course made this statistic up but I think he got my general point and then he laughed which just PROVED it!!!

I will be wearing long sleeves and long pants as I currently look like a prison tattooed leopard (for those of you not cozy with anyone on the inside, they only use ink from Bic pens to tat each other... so it ends up that weird blue that bruises are). I have been given "bone" injections that will hopefully regrow enough bone for me to get implants put in as I am currently the poster child for the "All I Want For Christmas" song. I now humbly apologize for all the times I have said I was born in the wrong century ( I love the 1500's) because I clearly cannot emotionally handle not being able to smile prettily, talk with excellent diction and sing without a lisp. Thank you God for modern medicine because this little girl of yours has way, way, way more work to do on her ability to feel comfortable minus the cuteness factor.

Don't let me lead you to believe it's all pain and no gain. My lips are swollen to perfection! I have a pout that would shame Angelina Jolie (who am I kidding, she has no shame... but if she did) and all the swelling in the rest of my face has left me with no need for botox! Last but not least... I have had so much work done on my mouth that I have not been able to eat for two days and cannot have solid food for several more days so... totally getting thinner!!! See... told you... SO VAIN.

I don't think I have to explain why there is no picture attached to this post.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Raising Adults

I am raising adults... not children. This statement usually gets me a few raised eyebrows. I see so many people raising children these days and then they wonder why their offspring make such poor adults. I get my share of flack because I allow my kids to say and do things that some find questionable (these being the same people who generally find me questionable so...). I know that my children are real people not puppets. They have real desires, feelings, gifts and challenges. I am not nearly as concerned by what they do or how they do it as I am WHY.

I would much rather that they question someone (even an adult) right here, right now about something if they honestly feel that what the person did was wrong then to stay silent and be polite "good" little children. I love it that they regularly whisper to me "I don't want to know what would happen if we said or did that" after witnessing other people's behavior. Or even better the times they say "thank you for disciplining that out of me" when they see peers still whining, complaining or pouting... I am not kidding.... they have really said that MANY TIMES.

On the flip side, they can be severely punished for "good" behavior if I feel like they did it for the wrong reason. I don't allow placating people who are being poorly behaved. I will make all the allowances in the world for someone who is trying and none for the people who feel entitled to them.
My kids say that I have a 15 minute answer for every 10 second question. That is because although I will occasionally use the "because I said so" it is honestly rare. I want them to think. I want them to understand why. So I take the time to talk through my decisions with them and play out the "what happens in the long run" scenario so that they understand my heart. Even if they don't completely agree with me they don't question it the next time because they know why I am saying yes or no.

Anyone who knew me when knows that I do not tolerate teasing people in any fashion for things that make them different. I do however support teasing to the point of ridiculousness about the things that we all have in common. I love comedy and I think laughter is a defining beauty in our home but never at the expense of someone else. This was a hard lesson for me as I was teased and tormented when I was young and used words as weapons myself for a long time before God really taught me this.

If you read nothing else of this babbling on READ THIS...

I know that my children are not mine. I have been given an opportunity to raise and influence two daughters of Eve and two sons of Adam. They will take what I have taught them and use it to serve themselves or the Lord. I have no control over that. That is why I am far more concerned with their heart and the why than the behavior itself. I love it that they are all so different. I only hope their true love is the same.

Long Time Gone

I have been curiously absent from my blog world for a rather long time. I love to write and I am never short on opinions and so I was forced to ask myself why... why so long without blogging Miss Amy (because I actually do talk to myself in third person on a regular basis)? Fear. Yup, my answer was quick and sure.... fear.

I have very little ability to filter myself once I get started and so I must refrain at times to keep myself from saying more than I aught (yes, I just used aught in a sentence in 2010). I have found myself in one of those places in life where one must decide which direction they are going to go. There has been a shift in the ages and stages of my children, our location, our church family and in my family family. One might even say that the landscape of my life has changed. I know who I have been... now who will I be. I had the pleasure of having my niece Alex here for a long time this summer. She helped me really see the impact that I have as a mother. I know that my children are picking up all manner of questionable behavior from me but they are also learning that I value their relationship and commitment to Christ higher than any other aspect of their life. I am an evangelist. I cannot help it. My heart cries out for people who are lost and without hope. I have had some horrible experiences with churches and leadership and some have questioned well... everything about me and my faith. So then I tried to pull myself back and not be involved or put myself out there to keep out of trouble and limit strife... and I have suffered for it.

I wasn't made to stay out of trouble any more than I was made to stay silent. I love loving people... right where they are at... just as they are. Especially those that are harder to love. I have made my choice. I will step up and lead because I know God has equipped me for it. I will not be silent when I see others hurting and lost. I am pretty sure I will end up in trouble again at some point... and if the people I have been serving and caring for feel loved by me and by God through me then I will feel successful. I am tired of feeling empty at the world's version of success... I only really feel accomplished when I know God used me to reach someone's need and touch someone's heart.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bedroom Remodel

So the good news first... we're still married! Yeah!!! It only took us two months longer than the two weeks we planned on but it's done now and I am so happy with the finished product that I ALMOST don't remember the process... LOL. We bought this house with one bed and one bath and those are the two we just finished remodeling. As you can see we had a very nice classic 70's look going... but not quite in the retro back in fashion sort of way.

Now the bedroom wasn't so bad but at 9X10 is wasn't too big either. On top of that the wall didn't actually go all the way to the ceiling (they went under the beams so we had good ventilation... LOL)

The closet left a bit to be desired especially after the lovely accordion door broke... LOL.

Now the bathroom is clean, simple and so nice! We added a door into our room so that it doubles as a Master Bath as well as a main floor bathroom. We only extended it out a couple feet but with the slimmer cabinet it feels so much larger.

We installed a one piece shower/tub combination and it is so easy to keep clean... I love it!

So much better!

With all the windows it is so light and bright! I am looking for a nice writing desk to go under the sign between the windows. We have night tables now and I would like to have a comfy reading chair and rug in the corner by the plant... all in good time!

The view from our bed is amazing! We can see the same view we love from the deck right in our own bed every morning.

We had help from a few great friends along the way but we did most of the work ourselves. The thing I am the most proud of I think is the flooring. We had 3/4" plywood cut into 2X2' squares and stained them. Then we used a stencil to pre-drill the screw holes and used black screws so that it formed a geometrical design in the floor. We laid them alternating the grains and polyurethaned them until you can slide in your socks! The whole thing cost under $300 and it looks so beautiful!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One of these things didn't used to belong...

This is February which means that we get an annual visit from my beloved brother Darin and my niece Alex! She brought a new friend this year named Kristi who believe it or not is as nice as she is... didn't think there were any more out there to be honest! So we spent an afternoon at Best Buy checking out the new apple line... but something happened none of us could have anticipated! See if you can figure out which one of these things didn't used to belong...
Two girls sipping on Starbucks?... no, that's pretty normal in Best buy land.
Two teenagers and a 4 year old bonding over some online episodes of Sponge Bob Squarepants?... no, I think that happens a lot.

My mother falling for and purchasing the first computer she has like ever touched... What? What did you just say? My mother using a computer, let alone taking it home and getting herself an email account and asking me to teach her to use Facebook?! This definitely did not used to belong but I am so glad that's not the case anymore! I am so proud of my mom! Hey Miss Linda... I think she got tired of you knowing everything first! LOL! Here's to peer pressure!

Karen is now available at GrandmaKarenis@gmail.com !!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

NKOB County Style!

We have two new kids on the block! They came to live with us on Feb. 3ed (Jedi's birthday) but were actually born on Feb. 1st. They are Lamancha goats and so they have no ears.... but they are known for their high quality milk and that is why we go them. The kids are starting 4H this year and Raven and BJ will be showing their goats while Trinity shows her bunny.
Pictured above is Joy (BJ's goat) and below is Hope (Raven's goat). We have to bottle feed them three times a day and the kids have been great about doing it. In a couple weeks we can start them on hay and weening them off the bottles. In the fall we will take them to be kidded out "knocked up" and after the babies are a few days old they will be ready to be milked every day. Since Raven has a dairy allergy this will be an awesome provision for us as the milk and cheese will be usable for the whole family!
We built a simple pen for them by reusing some old barn doors from a building we had to tear down on the property awhile back.
Pictured above is Trinity's bunny Cadbury. Ready set... County Fair!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What is strength?

I was teased pretty mercilessly as a child. It didn't take very long to figure out that if people didn't get an emotional response from you that they didn't tend to pick on you as much. I learned not to cry, not to show emotion of any kind in large quantities and this not only gave me the power of control but denied them the power of controlling me. This is a quality that I began to look at as a strength. I have worked to teach my children this same "quality". I reward them for times when they stuff their emotions and don't allow others see their pain and banish them to their room if they are crying until they can pull it together. It has come to my attention that this is actually not strength. It is a lonely road that leads to a broken person.

My youngest daughter is the happiest, sweetest little ray of sunshine on the planet and because of that I have never respected her. As I fervently tried to teach her to be as unfeeling as I am she has repeatedly looked me in the eye and told me she loves me and continued on in her loving way to reach out and connect with anyone and everyone without hesitation. I was wrong. Not showing my feelings didn't actually stop me from feeling them. The pain was not decreased by denying it... only deepened by my suffering alone. I pray it is not too late. I want to turn it around. She has been so strong to stand up in the face of all my opposition (bullying... if I'm being honest) and continue to care. True strength is being willing to be vulnerable. The ability to walk away unchanged, uncaring with only your control to keep you warm at night is weakness. I will have to learn strength from my little girl. I am confident it is not the only thing she can teach me... just the beginning.


Oh, ya'll are in for a deep one today... one year ago, I was in the darkest depression of my life. I honestly felt that God had let me go. Having grown up in a Christian home and with a relationship with God very early I have never really been able to understand the haunting questions that non believers struggle with... until this. Looking back at the road I have traveled this last year I can honestly say I am so grateful for every minute. Yup, you read that right. I am so thankful that God let me go through a season where as much as I adore my husband and love my children, the fact that I could no longer feel God in my life left me hopeless. I could only see my flaws. Nothing seemed to have purpose. What was I here for? What is the point of all this? Is this really all there is? I considered ending my life. It seemed to me that I was only bringing people down. My children needed a better mother. Ben deserved a better wife.

God didn't let me go. He allowed me to go through this to realize that I had it all backwards. I saw Him as the icing on the cake of life. Something to sweeten the wonderful life I was busy living with family and friends. The truth is that without Him nothing else was sweet, it was exhausting. If this was all there is... they weren't enough to make me want to do it. He is what makes my life sweet. He is my hope. Without Jesus... my life was empty, unfulfilled and without hope. Without hope... I never would have known what that simple, complicated phrase meant if he had not allowed me to really feel it. I needed to know what it felt like to not feel Him there with me to know how much of a difference He makes in my life every day. It makes me want to scream from the mountain tops to all my friends that don't know what hope, true hope feels like! It doesn't have to be this way! There is so much more! He is not a joy stealer... He is a joy giver!

This experience as revived my faith. I still struggle. There are still good days and very hard days. The laundry still piles up. The toilet still needs scrubbing. Some friends stay and some leave. At the end of the day I am still emotionally and physically exhausted but I know what I am here for. I know this is not all there is. I have hope. Sweet, precious, priceless hope for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This ones for the girls...

For those of you who have known me awhile now... you are probably aware that for most of my life I detested women. At one point I actually taught workshops on how to become a recovering women hater... "How to Make the Transition from Competition to Companionship" It has been awhile since I really took stock of my chick friends and thought about where they fit in my life now and how that could change in the future. I have grouped them together to help me sort. I have to sort them by position to me as I have friends from all walks of life, personality, economic level, style and profession. It never ceases to amaze me what God was able to do in my life and my heart where women are concerned.

We'll start with my peeps. These are the chicks that wave when they see me, laugh at my jokes, remember to invite me to girly events and generally don't pretend not to see me when we meet in public. Thank you for your contribution to my existence and I sincerely hope to see some of you break out into a higher level group over the next year!

Now we move on to my circle. You are the women that I chit chat with, table talk at Bible study with and generally hope to have over or meet for lunch so you can laugh at my jokes and answer my "dare I trust them" questions. This circle sometimes feels like a merry go round to me as the players seem to rotate and I know they are interviewing me as well... and many times I don't make the cut. Thank you for being honest or at least honest enough to reveal your fakeness so we can both move on (depending...) and if you and I don't continue to hang, it's probably my fault not yours (or at least that is what you should tell yourself so you don't get a complex).

Here's where it gets serious... the shell. You are the women that not only like me you protect me. We have completed our interviews and received a stamp of approval from each other to give each other encouragement, advice and you are allowed to laugh at my jokes or occasionally make some about you for my entertainment. You are like the candy coating of my life making it sweet and simultaneously keeping me from melting (which if you have reached this level with me you know that I don't like mushy stuff especially in public and so this is a very important position).
If you are part of my core... you know it. You know it because I have alerted you to the responsibilities that come with it (and the possible consequences of you ever betraying me). You know and understand what I am really made of and why everybody else doesn't. You are no longer required to laugh at my jokes (although you do anyway because you find me hilarious) and you have taken vows to be honest, faithful and the biggie LOYAL. You have a strong belief in truth, justice, and karaoke as well as a healthy fear of me being "really honest with you". To these I give my opinion, my trust, genuine affection (which we don't talk about) and loyalty (and honey, you can't buy that!) I don't need to say anymore to you because I tell you all the time how much you mean to me.

As for the men in my life... don't you feel better just reading this? Due to an accident of gender you just naturally fall into my life under the "innocent until proven guilty" clause! Some guys have all the luck! LOL

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's my blog...

I am in a funk so that, "you never know what you're gonna get" thing, you all say you like about me is about to be put to the test. So I was recently the lucky recipient of yet another lecture about behavior. This one was short, to the point and not directed solely at me but did contain one of my least favorite phrases. "We must be above reproach in every aspect of our lives"... So, here comes the Amy rant...

All I hear when this phrase comes out is "we must be unapproachable". I know that is so not what the speaker meant in his heart and yet... as always, I wonder what that looks like to people. I am not above reproach in like ANY part of my life. I screw up almost constantly. I am like some long running joke that never looses the comedic timing! I have made a lifestyle of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong place to the wrong people. The more pristine someones life looks on the outside the more I swear I can smell melting plastic when they stand in direct sunlight! There is nothing appealing to me about people who act like they have it all together. I just want to say "oh, you have it all together... you're above reproach... you are the continuous picture of holiness... well hurry up and die already because you're done... DING! timer went off.... you're perfect!" (which I realize sounds very uncharitable). Now for my even tempered response...

I understand we are to strive to live out our faith. It just seems to me that the more genuine someone is about their faults and shortcomings the more I feel like I can talk to them. The more open they are about their struggles, the more I realize I am not alone in mine. The problem with attempting to live above reproach is that it can't be done. There will always be someone who sees you, hears you, or is told something about you that they disagree with. The only one who will be surprised by this reproachability is you! I honestly think that this is a severe accident of misinterpretation (wow... I am so thankful for spellcheck right now) of the Bible. I believe it hurts people... I know it has hurt me. Now, finally for my bottom line...

Above Reproach = Unapproachable = Bigger canyon between you and those you are trying to reach! Don't like my math?.... It's my blog! I can say it if I want to... you can have your turn too... just look down and click on the word comment baby!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

That man I married...

This is Ben just months before we were married
(and yes, that is a PONYTAIL waving in the wind... LOL)

I know everyone says that you should never marry someone hoping they will change... and yet, from the moment you say "I do", that is all you do... change. I married Ben while still a senior in high school (great story... I should blog it sometime I know) and we could not have been more different if we tried. We are still completely opposite in so many ways and yet, we are completely different people than we were then.

As weird as he was then... I think I would have fallen over if you had been able to show him to me 15 years down life's road. I married a man who regularly wore bowling shoes (that he not so accidently wore home from Kenmore lanes one night) with baggy purple jeans and I now see him leave for work in a Calvin Kline wool gentleman's jacket and a black stetson. In between there have been aprons, business casual and dress shirts with ties. I remember hearing him mumble the Lord's prayer by rote at his parents table before Christmas and Easter dinner and now I listen at the door at night sometimes just to hear him pray with his son that God would lead them each to be mighty men of God, asking for opportunities to spread the gospel! I don't even think I would want to be married to the man he was then now (although I would still date him... LOL)

He's not the only one who has changed either. I have done my share of changing too (which is why I now own a wardrobe that spans 10 sizes). I used to be loud, obnoxious and one never knew what might come out of my mouth next... oh wait... ok, so somethings never change! I am very thankful that God has grown us together. We've had our ups and downs to be sure but what fun would the roller coaster of life be without them? I am just happy to be sitting next to my best friend for the ride. Here's to almost 15 years!