Sunday, November 10, 2019

On Moving and Moving On

Moving is EASY. I know that’s probably not a statement most people who have moved would agree with but bear with me. Moving is easy...compared to making where you’ve moved a real home. I’m not talking about a house. We are working on that but it’s mostly within our control. Furniture, your things put away and pictures on the walls. It’s a work in progress but it’s also a labor of love and just takes time. But we choose when and how. We aren’t dependent on anyone else.

A view of our backyard on Halloween morning when fall dresses up as winter
The hard part is finding your place in the new community while recognizing that your old “community” has moved on. You aren’t on their radar any longer. Out of sight, out of mind. While that hurts, I do understand.

Meanwhile, your new community doesn’t have an empty spot just waiting for you and your family to fill. The loneliness is sometimes overwhelming between two worlds. Maybe more so as a homeschooling family. If there’s not a homeschool group nearby that just happens to be a this wonderful fit, you’re floundering. Kids don’t have friends and mom doesn’t have support. Field trips are not on the calendar...

We have made a couple of friends, and for that I’m thankful.

Sometimes when life gets “flip turned upside down”, it feels like it will never be right again. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Old Walls

When we walked into our home we fell in love. Within minutes we knew, just knew, it was supposed to be our home. It’s over 100 years old. The original floor plan may not have included an indoor bathroom (I need to see if I can find out!). We knew it had imperfections. And we were fine with it!

But once you start painting. When all of the sellers “stuff” is out. When every little lump and bump and crooked corner is highlighted in its nakedness...I started to get a little sad or maybe frustrated. Every wall has a story of something someone else did over the last 100 years. These old plaster walls tell a story. A story of how the previous owners did or didn’t know what they were doing. 

This wall is where it is the most obvious. We repaired (with spackling) the worst of it but decided to leave it perfectly imperfect. It’s also still half painted. 

And it hit me. This is life. (I’ve spent hours and hours painting so I’ve had a LOT of time to think!)

The last five years have been probably the hardest in our marriage. No marriage is without conflict and a little strife but I always felt like we came as close as anyone to having a happy, fairly easy marriage. So, now we have some bumps. Some scars. From our own conflict as well as external factors. We are like those walls. We don’t look all smooth and straight like we might have 10 years ago (I don’t know if we did or not, but in my memory we were pretty stinking happy! I know memories sometimes delete the day to day trials and you tend to remember only the good) but I hope that we are stronger. I keep wanting us to be who we were 6-7 years ago. But I’m coming to realize we can’t. And imperfect is ok. (That’s really hard for a perfectionist to say!) I didn’t want bumps and lumps and proof that we didn’t know what we were doing to be part of our story. But here it is. And like this beautifully, imperfect house that we are making into our home, we need to care for it. We need some patching up and some paint. We need some extra time together. Time spent just on each other. Sometimes, with 3 kids still at home, that isn’t easy because they need us too! But it needs to be a priority. One thing we are doing is going away this weekend. Just the 2 of us. No kids, no paint, no brushes, no rollers. Just us. With the lumps. The cracks that have been mended. With the quirks and creaks. Hopefully we will discover new things about each other just like we are as we explore our home!

What do you do to keep your marriage alive and well? Or what do tounwish you had done? 

Now, back to painting. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

I Think I've Always Wanted a Home

From the time I was a little girl I loved books. All the books. And I loved for my mom or my grandma to read to me. In turn, because I had such a good memory of that, I loved to read to my kids. A favorite book for all 3 generations was 

So maybe it’s not weird that this book came to mind now that we are getting a home!

For over 2 years we've actually been "homeless". No, we weren't living in a cardboard box or under a bridge, but in a travel trailer. A nice one, but the state of Texas it's legally considered "homeless" if you live in a travel trailer! 😱

During those 2 years of living in purgatory everyone's dream, I stayed alive by dreaming of a home. 
I always wanted us to build a little home. Nothing big or ostentatious. Just enough. (I'm done with tiny living but I've never wanted a large house.) I drew floor plans on graph paper, I searched Pinterest ad nauseum, I saved paint samples. I searched websites for companies that build shells.

I even went and visited said companies!!! And took a picture in front of what I wanted for my future home!

When it came down to it though, the last few years have just been too stressful to take on the stress of building.  We are tired. We just needed a home. So we started looking. And every house we found had something wrong. Something that just made me sad because my dream was slipping away. Location. No front porch. No chickens. A master bedroom that was not on the first floor (we want to be able to live in our home forever if we choose). We put an offer on a house. We gave up location, I gave up the front porch. And it needed work. A LOT of work. When our offer was accepted, I was sad. And stressed. Thankfully, the realtor caught how I was feeling and we got out of the offer (the seller hadn't responded within the correct time anyways). I'm so thankful!

The next day we looked at the house that is as close to our dream home as can be considering we didn't design it ourselves. It's in the cutest little town. It has a front porch. We can even have chickens! We could not be more excited. We are in the process of moving in and painting now! Not all of that is fun, but it’s worth it! I *know* I always want a home!


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Blessings Come in Different Places

Due to some rough life stuff,  I’ve been in kind of a spiritual desert 🌵 lately. Things have just been dry and HARD. Not fit for growing much. Or maybe it has been all for growth and I just didn’t do very well. But I digress.

We left the desert (literal) for a new job. A job that never came through. So, after two months of being in a climate that should have been ripe for much growth, we are back.

And if you just look around you see a lot of dry, brown, dirt, a few sad cactuses, dirt....and sometimes a dust storm comes along to make it really make it pretty. (Ok, I'm exaggerating but you get the point)

(The best picture I had of the ugly landscape around here-even though this picture shows some of my biggest, most obvious blessings 😉)Blessings

And then there are the sunsets. Oh. My. GOODNESS. So, tonight, it hit me. God blesses different places and lives in different ways.

Maybe I was looking down at the ground for my blessings. Maybe I was looking for trees and grass when my blessings, my sign of His goodness are in the sky.

I’m not as well traveled as some people for sure. But I’m not untraveled either. And West Texas has some of the most glorious, beautiful sunsets of any I’ve seen.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

G’bye 2018


So, normally I’m not a “wishing time away” kind of girl. (And clearly I’m borrowing time back if I call myself a “girl”).

But 2018 can just suck it. I’ll show it the door-and I don’t care if it hits it on the way out. 2018 has been a rough year for this family. 
The pendulum has swung from highs to lows. Hubby working so many hours that our family life suffered tremendously (cancelled plans when he was required to work on a weekend he was supposed to have off) for most of the year, followed by 2 months (so far) of unplanned, unpaid “vacation”. 
The only way we could get through the working-so-many-hours-you want-to-die part was reassuring ourselves that we were saving for a house! (Yay! Getting out of the camper!!). But when the next job doesn’t start when you were told it would, and things keep going wrong....the dreams of that house get flushed down the toilet quickly. And it’s ever so hard to pull yourself up out of the pit of hopelessness.  
I’ve always loved New Year’s. I stink at resolutions and I’m not a partier so I’m not really sure why. There’s just something about the fresh calendar and even the fresh bill folder. Empty file folders and a new number to write with the date. (Kinda like the first day of school and new books and supplies-if you’re not a nerd I may not be speaking your language.)

2019 needs to see some surrender I think. I need to surrender to whatever it is that God has for us. His plan certainly doesn’t look anything like mine. And fighting it doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. I’m just tired. It’s kind of like dog paddling. You look really busy and you’re breathing really hard but you’re just going almost nowhere. 

I’m not saying I’ve “arrived”. And that there won’t be some kicking and screaming worthy of a spoiled, rotten three year old. But I’m going to work on this thing. Not as a resolution. We all know those usually hit the toilet around mid-January. 

“God has not promised us skies always blue, flower strewn pathways all our lives through...”

I get it. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Rough Road Ahead

Image result for rough road ahead signWhen you're driving down the highway you get a warning. "Hey, you! Slow down a little and get ready! It's fixin' to get rough!" (This is how the road signs in Texas talk y'all.) Or, "Don't drift out of your lane because there will be a scary drop that feels like you're losing control."

How I wish life was a little bit more like driving. "Things are about to get rough. Brace yourself or exit now." Unfortunately, there is often NO WARNING.

Now, I know that my life isn't the worst. There are so many that have it worse. I get that. I really do. But it's not the easiest either.
Image result for uneven lanes sign
About 5 years ago we had some major shakeups. My husband quit his job of almost 9 years to go work at a better job. One with benefits (finally) and opportunities for overtime (a chance to pay off debt). Only that's not how it worked out. This is where the signs would have been beneficial.

Right there.

"Curves ahead" "Rough Road" "Sharp Curve Ahead"

You know, just basic warnings. And every time we think we are recovering and overcoming, a whole new "rough" comes along and throws us into uneven lanes.  As Christians, we know that we are not in this alone. We know that God has a plan. And we try, we really do, to keep that in mind and hang on. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard the verse said to me "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 KJV) we wouldn't need to work anymore. But it doesn't make it easier. We also understand that that "good" doesn't always happen here on earth. We know that our lives aren't charmed-shoot, sometimes they're barely bearable. And I don't even pretend to understand why some people seem to float along in the "happily ever after" part of the fairy tale while the rest of us feel like Cinderella looked after the step-sisters ripped all of of her finery off.

Image result for cinderella in rags

So, here we sit. Spending our house money while we wait for the job to start that was already supposed to be in full swing. Discouraging for sure.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It Is Well...


Prologue: This blog post has been sitting-half finished- as a draft for MONTHS. Partly because, as we travel to different areas, my internet connection isn't good enough to do much on the computer, I'm busy, I constantly drive long distances....but I think if I'm honest it's partly because it's just so dang hard. Most of the time I choose not to think about the fact that my grandma isn't sitting in the chair near my grandpa's chair anymore...

With My Soul
This summer my grandma was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that had metastasized. No treatment. Just make her as comfortable as possible.

I was extremely close to my grandma. She was like a second mom to me. My mom is great, I just got the best of both! She came to help me with 3 of my 4 newborn babies. I'm very grateful for all the time I had with her as I know most people don't have their grandma at age 41. But man I miss her! I haven't lived close to my grandparents for a long while but we were always close where it mattered. In our hearts.

In so many instances, grandparents have so much to give. When they were the parents, when their own children were young, they had all the stresses of that life. Earning enough money to keep things going, working full time (I know my grandpa worked 2 and 3 jobs at times!), keeping the house clean, making the kids mind their manners. Being a parent is stressful. It's the best and hardest job in the world I believe. If you're doing it well.

When grandkids come along you have one job really. To love them. It's not your responsibility to make sure they eat their broccoli. You get to give them ice cream. You don't have to make the hard decisions and discipline nearly like you do as a parent (sure, grandparents should come alongside parents and support them in their responsibilities, but it's just that. Support. Not your full-time responsibility.)

Anywho, my grandparents embraced this role. I'm quite sure the grandma I remember is not the same as the mom my mom remembers. Does that make sense? My mom was the baby of 3 kids. All born within about 5 years. Three kids in five years. My mom likely remembers an exhausted mom. One who didn't have much time to be silly or just sit and talk. While we didn't do that often, it did sometimes happen.

I remember taking a walk with her one time and she taught me how to "skip a stick" (you make it skip as you kind of push it along).

I remember her driving me to church once. My grandpa always drove. Always. She had a license but she didn't drive. And she drove in the grass. I apparently reported this to my grandpa. We laughed about it til...the end.

I remember that she knew when I asked for crushed ice, I likely had strep throat.

I remember that my friends and I would build tents out of her chairs and sheets in the living room on Saturday. Her one day to clean (she worked full time)

I remember that when we went out to eat, I would sit reeeeal close to her when her salad came and say "we share, right Grandma?" Funny, I don't ever remember her asking for my food?

I remember when we moved a thousand miles away when I was 13, it was the hardest thing ever. I'd spent every weekend with my grandparents since I was an infant. (That is, during the times we didn't live with them-which we did for many of the years.)

I remember her standing at the kitchen counter always cutting a piece of fruit and offering it to me.

I remember that if I hated what was for dinner, she would make me macaroni and cheese.

I remember when I had my first baby, she came the day before. When we came home from the hospital and the baby wouldn't stop crying (I think she was broke!?) my grandma and grandpa sent me and my exhausted husband to bed. I was protesting that I would need to feed the baby. She won. Best sleep I had for another year.

I remember when the screaming baby was screaming (get the theme here?) and she was trying to help me and give guidance without bossing me around, she said "She's your baby, Cara." (I had asked if I could give her mylicon to try to make her stop crying.)

I remember when she pulled out of our driveway when Lindsay (my first) was a week old. I was terrified and emotional and...terrified!

(for the record, my mom would have loved to have been there for the baby's birth but my brothers were in school and, see? She was the mom! She had to do what HAD to be done.)

This past summer was the hardest thing ever. Harder than when we moved away. Harder than when she would visit and then have to leave. Harder than when they pulled out of my driveway and left me with this baby that I didn't know if I could take care of all by myself (Harold had to work).

Because this time, she needed me. This time it was me taking care of her. This time it was me saying goodbye to my grandma. My grandma. Ovarian cancer (any cancer) sucks. It made her waste away right in front of our eyes. It tried to take away her dignity. It didn't win, but it sure gave a heck of a fight. Watching her lay there in the hospital bed at home, with oxygen constantly motoring into her frail body (where did that frail come from? She was never frail before?). Watching her heart beat like mad through her do you reconcile that? I was blessed to be able to spend several days helping to care for her right at the end. I've beat myself up many times and wished I could go back to redo my leaving. I left a few days before she passed away. We didn't know how long it would be. Hospice seemed to think it would take longer. I couldn't stay forever. But I wish I'd have stayed a little longer.

It's been 7 months since the horrible day my cousin's wife texted me to let me know exactly when she passed into the arms of Jesus. In that time, I have never once grieved for my grandma. She's fine. It's us. My grandpa in particular. The thought of him sitting there alone. It was months before I could talk to him without crying-and trying to hide it so as not to make him feel worse. In those 7 months there has been a Thanksgiving, her birthday, Christmas, and their 68th anniversary. And we are coming up on a wedding. I know I'm blessed to have had so much time, but...

On a happy note, my grandpa, while going through a stack of papers looking for an address or something, found a little jotted note "It will all be worth it when we see Jesus". I think that's the legacy I'd most like to remember her by. Faith. Life wasn't always easy for her and I'm sure I didn't know the HALF of it. She never complained! Seriously, I wonder how long she had been in serious pain before anyone knew? Marriage wasn't always easy. Whose is? Motherhood? That's some hard stuff. But, she kept her faith and finished her race. Love you grandma!

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