Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It was the worst of days...

Then the news came down...

The Union had refused several offers from the company. The company would not be allowing them (and the rest of the "bargaining unit") to work until an agreement was reached. At first we were nervous but thought it couldn't go on too long, right? I mean, these guys needed a paycheck too, right? They couldn't live on their "principle" of what they were owed. (In case you haven't yet figured it out, I'm not a huge fan of the union.)
These men have families. Christmas was coming (it was October 11, 2014 when the lockout began). Bellies would get empty, bills would come due. What the company was offering was not unreasonable in today's market. At all. These guys had just been living in their protected little world for so many years (getting away with sleeping on the job and almost anything else because...union).
We would get little tidbits of information that would give us hope but it was all rumor and speculation. The company (understandably) could not talk to my husband at this point. Thankfully we had opportunities to earn money, some grocery store gift cards were given to us at church and we kept scraping by.
Eventually, we began to see this may not end the way we thought it would. My hubby started looking in earnest for another job (thinking if, by chance, his job became available again he would have the choice of which one to keep) but we believe that when perspective employers would see the name of the company he was employed by on his resume they would draw back. It was frustrating to say the least.
It is so hard to go through something like this where you see no point to it. No real reason. It's hard to lead your children in bedtime prayers every night for "daddy to get his job back" and have them eventually say "why do we keep praying for that? it's not going to happen." So hard.
And other people try to understand. They really do. They try to say the "right" thing. The thing is, there is no "right" thing. There is no magic words to make someone feel better.
I know some of the "wrong" things:
 :: it could be worse (you know, some people don't have a home or a family or food or they have cancer)
 :: just pray harder. if you name it you can claim it.
 :: God answers prayers of the righteous.
 :: I know just how you feel. 
 :: [fill in the blank] isn't that important.

Yes, I know it could be worse. It makes me feel awful enough to be complaining when I know there are people who are homeless or have horrible illness. And the second two? Just don't ever say those to a Christian struggling through something. Seriously. What they hear is "God doesn't favor me" "Why are my prayers not good enough?"  No, you don't know how we feel. We feel like we've been left flapping in the wind. We feel desperate to make ends meet. We feel at a loss of what to do next and where to go. And yes, vacations with your family and occasionally buying a fun thing or going somewhere fun are important. No, they're not essential but they are important. And watching your kids grow up without those things is HARD. I have 2 kids that are nearing adulthood. I did not want their last memories of our home life to be so poor that we had to weigh out if we needed toilet paper bad enough to spend on it. A little fun is a much better end note.

I lost friends during this time. Or maybe I just wasn't willing to put up with what I normally would. I love "being there" for my friends. I love when someone trusts me to listen to what is going on in her life. But when the same person is only willing to talk about her problems-even when you are in the midst of a crisis...you just realize how one sided it is. And because you are so "empty" and have little patience, you just don't put up with it anymore.

But you learn what is valuable. (Don't get me wrong, I don't want any more lessons for a while!)
You learn who cares-and who doesn't. You learn to depend on God-not just in word but in your every day life. (Give us THIS day our daily bread...)

One friend in particular was priceless. This friend had not been my friend for long and I often thought "how can she stand me? this is all she knows of me! and it's not pleasant!" She is much younger than me but taught me some valuable lessons in friendship. She did not try to tell me how to feel or how much worse it could be. She would just agree that it sucked. Even if I tried to say, "I know, I shouldn't complain....yada yada yada" She would say, "no, this sucks". Then, if I was wallowing too much she would give me a practical "assignment". One day she told me to go to the local nature trail area and just sit. I didn't have to pray (she knew that wasn't possible for me right then and didn't judge me for it). I didn't have to do anything. Just sit. In the sunshine. And ya know, it helped!? There were little things like that occasionally that were just important to my survival and staying somewhat sane for my family. She prayed for me, but didn't preach at me. She didn't expect much from me. And when I came to a place where I was ready to pray and reach out to God again, she rejoiced with me. And encouraged me. (Don't get me wrong, we had silliness and jokes and fun too!)

To be continued....

The Best of Days

For our whole married life we have managed financially. Not thrived. Never extra, just enough (most of the time). Granted, we are not risk takers. We stay well within the box of ordinary financial decisions. Sometimes that limits you. And that's ok.
My hubby had a good job. For about 9 years, he went to work every day and came home every night. For the first time in our life, rain didn't mean a catastrophe to the budget, he was allowed to be sick without me silently panicking and then feeling horribly guilty, we took a couple of great vacations-without having to save for the vacation AND the pay he would lose. Get it? It was a good job. We didn't have health insurance, raises weren't plentiful and often the ends BARELY met. But in today's world, it was a good, stable job.
Then he really wanted to apply at a plant nearby. I was nervous. It was change. But a substantial raise. And overtime. We would finally be able to pull out of our "hole" a bit (debt is a sinkhole)
and maybe even get ahead. Health insurance. We are getting older and realize that eventually our bodies will need more tune-ups. But I was nervous. This plant has, in the past, had substantial layoffs. What if....
But we decided to just start the process to see what would happen. Praying for God to open doors if it was in His will for this change to happen. And each (difficult) step brought us closer to the inevitable. There were tests. Interviews. A physical. And he made it. The stress I could feel in him was difficult. I kept thinking, "once he gets the job..." but the stress only got worse. My husband is NOT an optimist. ;) Not even a little bit. So, he was sure that he would lose his new job within the 90 day probation period. I didn't think he would. There were, however, rumblings of the Union refusing to sign a new contract (while we were not union, it affected us as he was part of the same "bargaining unit"-in other words, their victories were to our benefit but their stupidity and failures were to out detriment). I wasn't worried about my husband's ability to perform his job. I was however worried about the Union's ability to play well with others.
In the meantime, I began to enjoy the financial benefits. I could get gas whether it was payday or not. I could run to the store to buy milk when we needed it-not wait for payday. I knew I could call the dr if we didn't feel well....it was nice.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


In part of our new, crazy "normal" we went to a new church this morning. Because we don't always "live" at home now, I knew it was necessary. We are spending too many Sundays out of church. Not okay for us.
The preacher spoke on "Gratitude". Specifically, an incident in Luke where Jesus healed 10 lepers. What a horrifying disease. The most dreaded of the day. All of the men showed the good attributes of faith and obedience but only 1 showed gratitude. As they all ran off (in obedience) to the priest, they began to see the effects of Jesus's miracle on their bodies. The healing! ONE man, the Samaritan, ran back to thank Jesus. Not quietly, not with a high five, but loudly! He knew where his healing had come from. He proclaimed LOUDLY and fell on his face!
I've been meaning to tell our story. To proclaim my gratitude. To tell of the growth and healing we have experienced through some pretty hard things. And instead, I fear I got busy. Sure, I thanked God. And especially when I run, I just praise my God. But that's quietly. I should be proclaiming it. Sharing. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Have a Dream!

For real y'all. I have a dream. It involves this:

And lots of this:

(^^^^ that ^^^^ represents elbow grease aka work!)

I want to live in a skoolie. Do you know what that is? It's a home. Made out of a school bus. Cheaper than an RV and sturdier and CUSTOMIZED. There would be some things to figure out-I mean I have 4 kids. I get that this is a little crazy. I've done the sensible thing pretty much my whole life.
There are so many places I want to see.
I have wanderlust.
I have a desire to have my family all together more often.
I want a simple life. 
I also have a limited budget. (Very limited)
And ideas that go beyond an RV. RVs are awesome (we like to go look at them just for fun sometimes-makes a good free date!) but they are all so similar. And brown (inside). And so much money!!!!
 The good news is, my husband is completely on board if we figure out the logistics of earning a living and silly stuff like that ;).
The bad news is that at least 2 of my children who shall be unnamed (cough cough girls cough cough) are not a fan of my dream. They think I'm nuts. My 16 year old might just revolt if I shove her into a bus with her *gasp* family for a long period of time-let alone to live. In my mind though, it would be the coolest thing to have on your list of "things I've done"! She doesn't agree. I mean, they would have these awesome bunks with curtains for privacy. And little cubbies for books. I mean, it'll be AWESOME.
I don't know what the problem is?



Our skoolie:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

To Love, Honor and Cherish (and have fun!)

Today I'm writing about something I care about. A. Lot.

It's something I've been doing more than half of my life.

I'm talking about marriage. Y'all. I got married when I was just a baby. I was 18 and had no clue what the world had in store for me. I didn't know what "for better or for worse" meant. Or "in sickness and in health". Not even sure I knew what "to love, honor and cherish" meant. I was 18. I had just barely graduated. I didn't even know who I was.

I knew I wanted to be my husband's wife. I knew I meant it forever. I knew I was marrying someone who had been my friend before he was my boyfriend. I knew he was kind and stable and I could count on him. Those were super important to me. I knew we had the same views of marriage and family-overall, of course there are always differences.

The years have not always been easy. Far from it. From growing pains (more mine than his) to bad external influences. From infertility to miscarriage to surviving sleep-deprived years as parents of young children (I'm not very nice when I don't sleep). From job troubles to separation due to jobs. (We've spent years in separate states due to jobs.) We've never had a lot of money (but God has always provided the necessities). It ain't no fairy tale. And it's not a romance novel. But it's our romance. And it's real. I love him and he loves me. And when we remember to show this to each other, it's all good.

Love isn't a feeling. Love is a choice. Love is something you do. It's a verb. Some days I don't feel it. At all. Some days I "feel like" I want to bite him. But I choose to love him. Not perfectly. I mess up. I say things I don't want to say-or more like don't say the things I should. I don't make him feel like he's the most important human to me. I get distracted by life-usually the things that distract me aren't "bad" but they keep me from being the wife I want to be. The wife my husband deserves.

All that said, I have this heartbreak inside of me. I know, that sounds really dramatic. But my heart breaks when I hear of marriages in trouble. I feel like bursting out in song "Doesn't anybody ever stay together anymore?" ("What's Forever For?"-several different singers) I love my friends and I want them to be happy like I am. Marriage can be...FUN. Did y'all know that? I don't have all of the answers, and I don't pretend to-most of the time ;). But, 22 years later, I think I have a few pieces of advice.  (***Disclaimer: I realize that some marriages were entered into and the other person hid his or her real self. They didn't disclose addictions or moral differences. I'm really not talking to those people. I'm not qualified for that.)

1. Marry someone you are friends with. Not kidding. My husband and I were friends before we ever dated. For several years. And it's carried us through some rough times. Passion comes and goes through the years-especially during those childbearing years or if someone is sick. If you're married to someone that you have both friendship and passion (attraction) with, you're never unsure of how to "be" together.

2. Have fun. You can make almost anything fun. Or you can make it miserable. My husband and I can have fun at the grocery store. That's not an inherently fun thing to do. But when we do it together we can laugh and be silly. Who cares what someone thinks if we're being silly? Maybe it will make them smile too. :) You should have so many private jokes that no one else knows. Memories of silliness. (literally just shared one with my husband as I was typing this!)

3. Touch plenty. This isn't even about "that". Touch hands. Remember when you were dating and you let your hand hang in case he wanted to hold it? (Ok, don't laugh. Remember, I've been married since I was a KID!) Or laying your hand so nonchalantly on the seat of the car in between you? Just in case!? Don't forget that feeling. That desire just to touch his (her) hand. When you think of touching him, just do it. Don't overthink it. And for heaven's sake, go to bed together! If your schedule allows it at all! I could stay up way later than my husband-I don't have to get up as early. But I'd miss out on touching him with my feet while we watch tv-and he'd miss out on them freezing him to death in the winter! And if or when he touches you, respond with a smile! Encourage him!

4. Put your spouse first. Yes, first. Before the kids. It's HARD.  They're louder. They're needier. They're louder. Obviously, I'm not suggesting you don't care for the needs of small children and babies. That's a season. That's temporary. Definitely take care of the screaming baby or the hungry toddler. Or the sick child. I'm talking about as a way of life. My husband and I sit next to each other as often as possible and we rarely let a child sit in between us. And before your friends. And before your family. (unless someone has an illness or something-again, that's temporary. If you normally put your spouse first they shouldn't be hurt if there's a period of time where you have to take care of someone else)

5. Be honest but not brutally so. For real. You should be honest but what is your motive? If your motive is to free yourself from something but it will bring pain to the other person, does it really need to be said? There are 3 things that can never be recovered in life: the word after it is spoken, the moment after it's missed and the time once it's gone. Once you say something it can never be taken back. That's it. You can say you're sorry. You can say you never meant it. You can do all kinds of penance.
If you throw a plate on the ground and it shatters, it doesn't matter how many times you tell it you're sorry. It's still broken. And even if you glue it. It's never the same. Be careful.
Unburdening yourself from something is NEVER a good reason to hurt someone else. Especially the person you're supposed to love, honor and cherish.
Be honest. But as my father-in-law tells my mother-in-law all the time "you don't have to tell all you know" (I laugh every time he tells her this).

Monday, April 25, 2016

We're All a Little Bit "Two"

So, let's just get this straight. I LOVE two-year olds. Two year olds are so cute. They are little people who are developing their little personalities. And their attitudes. Attitudes.

 Image result for toddler free images tantrum      

If you've ever parented a toddler, you've seen these faces. Especially if you've been the blessed recipient of a strong willed toddler!

But let's be real. Don't you sometimes just want to make these same faces? And yell "Give me!" or "Mine!" or "Look at me!!!!" Or..."NOOOOOOO!!!!"

I know I do. I've come to the realization that we are all a little bit two. We've just learned to hide the "two". We just know it's not socially acceptable.

Sometimes you'll see the older people in your life revert to some of these behaviors. They might not look the same as the pictures above but the sentiment is there. And it may not be as cute. But let's get real. That's not the worst aspect of getting old-being able to be "a little bit two" again. Oh, and naps.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I had the chance to take my kids camping with a fun group of people this spring break! We ended up only staying one night but the day and a half we had there were worth the work and the trip!

                           We did it! We hiked to the top of "Old Baldy" at Garner State Park.
                             Nathan is a trooper! He hiked right along with the rest of the group!
 The whole group-we did this neat thing, we asked some other hikers to take our picture as a group. No selfie stick needed! (I'm not a fan of selfies or selfie sticks)
                            Look at this girlie! At the top and energy to climb the tree too!
 The other kiddos went back a different route that was shorter, but Nathan and I wanted to see the cave! I didn't end up going in, but he did! (There were more people than I wanted to be in a cave with LOL)
 Nathan and Haley playing in the river. They are cuh-razy! The river is called the Frio River. It's always cold, but it's doable when it's 95 outside...notsomuch when it's 80 in March! Brrrr!
Nathan is getting brave! As the baby of the family, and maybe just his own personality, he's always been more timid-you know, "I'm not dipping my toes in that water without my life jacket." We didn't have a life jacket this time as I REALLY didn't think those crazy kids would get in that cold water.
 My pretty girl and me on our hike! When you look up to where we were from down below. *gasp* It is seriously straight up. Or down.

This kid! Seriously. That tree is not short. And I don't know if it will work as a video (but I'm no longer letting technical difficulties stop me from blogging!!!!) but he was doing some pretty fancy tricks off of that rope!!!! At one point I couldn't find him *gasp* (he is almost 14 and he was with a buddy but still...water, kid missing...ugh!!!) and when I finally found him...he was climbing that tree to jump off. Ummm. I might have been less scared when I couldn't find him! All's well that ends well though!
We saw some pretty amazing lightening on the way home (I miss that from growing up in Missouri!) and we got some video but I haven't figured out how to change that to screen shots.

Monday, March 14, 2016

There Is This Boy...He Stole My Heart

And he calls me mom. <3 p="">

Jared is almost 14. He is such a funny guy. And a hard worker-not always for me, but I *always* get told what an amazing worker he is by others! He's always loved to invent things. He draws very well but rarely shows anyone what he draws-we're working on self esteem.
He's good with little kids. (Again, lest I give you the impression he's faultless and therefore fall into the "fakebook" trap, he pesters his siblings to no end and they drive him crazy too). We have some friends that have a 3 year old and he will swing her and talk to her and listen. It's beyond sweet.
He's working towards his Eagle Rank in scouts (yes, at 13, he's ALMOST there--he has his Eagle project planned and the funds are ready! He has a few badge requirements to finish up on other required merit badges. We fully expect him to have his Eagle at 14!) despite the fact that many of the merit badges did not come easy for him...that picture above where he's giving a speech? That is beyond hard for him. We might have pushed him a little, but he got it done!
Do you see that puppy in the pictures? He supports that puppy. We don't pay for his upkeep. Jared does!
I'm so proud of this boy.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Baby!

Ok, so they're not babies anymore. But they were and they're still my babies! So I get to call them that.

So, I just have to say it. Isn't she beautiful? And she's beautiful on the inside too! (Don't get me wrong, we have our issues- I don't want to play into the fake "everything is awesome" way of living that social media encourages. We don't always get along. We had a disagreement today!)
We are coming up on 16 years with this girl. She's loves God, is funny, responsible, fun loving (that child will swing herself off of any zipline-see above pics-the longer and higher the better!), nerdy, and an amazing saver! She has more sense in her little pinky finger regarding boys than I had in my whole being at that age. Love my girl!
This year is so big for her and therefore for us! She is turning 16 and has worked hard to save for a car of her own. I feel 100% comfortable with her ability to drive and make good decisions. She has also been invited (by a boy!) to go to prom. Not the homeschool prom. The public high school one! *gasping emoji face* and we are letting her. With all the warnings (you know, if you have to leave your drink for one minute, don't drink it when you come back, get a new one; if you feel uncomfortable for ONE minute, CALL us. You will not be in trouble!) and the worry. We will worry. But we're letting go, one baby step at a time.
I think I'll do one "baby" at a time. Each one deserves his or her own post. <3 div="">

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tough Stuff and Teens

So, you see, as your kids grow up the issues get a little heavier.
When my teenagers were little I tried to remember not to freak out about everything. I tried to parent with this in mind, "will this matter in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 weeks? 5 months? 5 years?" If the answer was no to the weeks, months and years....it really wasn't a battle I needed to choose. In other words, if it wasn't a character issue or a moral issue or a spiritual issue...it just really wasn't an "issue".

When they become teenagers it seems as if everything really will matter! I mean, who cares if they eat a little extra junk food, that doesn't matter....the movies they watch, the music they listen to, the people they hang around, the websites they visit...those all matter. A LOT. Are they being responsible? It matters. Because in just a few short years, they will be responsible for their own life-ready or not. A good work ethic? Matters so much! They cannot hold a job and take care of themselves if they are not good workers. (And let's be honest, it's pretty great to get compliments on your child's work ethic. To have people hiring them to get a job or two done even at 13 or 14!)

What if the kids they are hanging around are a bad influence? Or make them feel like they have the weight of the choices the friends are making on their shoulders? Like, feeling responsible and drug down by other people's bad choices. That's super important. It matters now and could very well matter in 5 years. And beyond.

I don't know what I've done right or what I've done wrong in this whole parenting gig...I mean I could have been more loving and less rule-oriented. I could have given more hugs. I could have sat on the floor and played with them a little more. Prayed with and for them more often for sure. But darn it, I must have done something right.

My beautiful daughter who is on the verge of turning 16 (wow! yeah, that proves that the days are long but the years are short!!) comes to me when things are heavy. She shares things with me that I imagine many (if not most) teenagers do not share with their old mamas. We have our differences, this child and I. But when it matters, she knows I'm here and that I am trustworthy. And that she can bounce ideas and concerns off of me.  We spent some time talking tonight and she has some concerns. I can't tell her exactly what to do about these concerns but we can talk it through and hash through ideas. I can sneak in a little, "remember when we talked about this or that? Do you see how this situation shows what I meant by that?" <----that a="" and="" anyone.="" appreciated="" appreciates="" as="" awesome="" be="" d="" discipline.="" discipline="" do.="" especially="" get="" have="" i="" if="" in="" is="" it.="" it="" moment.="" moment="" not="" nowhere.="" p="" parent="" rules.="" same="" sees="" she="" so="" sure="" t="" teenager.="" that="" the="" think="" told="" way="" we="" weird.="" why="" will="" with="" wouldn="" you="">
Keep talking with your kids and teens. With them. Not at them (I'm very guilty of this at times!). It will pay off. I've also told my kids more times than I can count "I'm not your friend, I'm your mom". At times I think they thought it was a mean thing to say. But I meant it. They can have 1000 friends (I mean, at least on facebook they can!) but I'm the only mom they have. Just one. I have a job to do. Sometimes it's a stinkin' hard job. But then I get to see the rewards.

The rewards are rich. So maybe I was the right amount of "rules oriented". The right amount of not being their playmate (I didn't want them to always be dependent on someone else-even me-for contentment or entertainment!). The right amount of discipline. Or else, God took my best, my good intentions and turned them into just what was needed.

P.S. There could be some gorgeous pics of my "little" girl if I had taken the time to put pics on my new computer! But I haven't. You'll just have to trust me.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wow! What a whirlwind of a year it's been. I can't believe I've been away from my little blog for so long. Since 2013! I love my little blog. It's my own little place. To write about my musings and silly things that happen in our life.
I've found that keeping up with 4 kids and homeschooling them and taking them to their activities has me so tapped out I have no "creativity" left at the end of the day! Add to that, my laptop was on the fritz for a year (sticking keys that you have to pound on to get to register what you type) and it locked up every time I worked on anything....it led to not being able to get anything done.
Finally got a new laptop! Yay! (It's a touchscreen HP, pretty basic, that I got on Amazon and I love it so far!)
Another huge happening we've had in life that has really thrown us for a loop is that my husband changed jobs. He'd been at his former job for almost 9 years and an opportunity came up for an excellent job with insurance for the family (finally!) and better pay and opportunities for overtime. No brainer, right? So, after much prayer and making it through the whole process to get hired at this company (seriously, you'd think he was trying to hire in with the CIA!) we felt like it was best to go forward and accept the new position. That was in August of 2014.
Here's the catch, the company was in negotiations with the local Union to get a new contract signed. Only the Union had no desire to sign anything. Unless they were given EVERY thing. But you can't have everything. I pretty much learned that in kindergarten.
And so there was a lock-out. (That's the opposite of a strike in that the company says the union can't come in and work until the issues are resolved). While my hubby is not a union member, he is in the same "bargaining unit" (meaning he benefits from their good negotiations and he takes the fall when negotiations break down). They cannot let the non-union members work if they aren't letting the union members work because it would be "discrimination" against the union members.
So, all this to say, this has been very hard on our family. Why would God give us this excellent job and then allow this to happen?
Why is rarely a productive question in these kinds of situations. (Only took me over a year to get that!)
Since the beginning of this year (2016) I am working on focusing on the blessings in my life. And there are a lot. God has provided so amazingly during this time. Our income has been less than half of what it "should" be. But we've lacked nothing. I mean, a few luxuries sure, but no needs have gone unmet. And every time I've been tempted to wonder if he should have kept his old job, he hears from a former coworker how slow things are there...he could very well have been downsized or had his hours cut.
So, busyness has reigned. And surviving.
To be continued....

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