Let It Go…Again

Let It Go.

It’s not just an overplayed Disney song (my apologies if you’re singing it now), it should be a way of life.

I am guilty of obsessing over trying to fix things that I may not be able to fix. I spent my morning doing just that.

Ever since my husband’s employment status changed last year, our income took a hit. We were living comfortably until then. Not richly, but comfortably. Taking a vacation was not out of the equation. Paying for the unexpected car repair wasn’t a choice between eating steak or ground round. Fortunately he found work within two months, but at a significant pay cut. And we feel it.

I can easily fall into the trap of juggling numbers and stressing over bills, and trying to pay for the dentist bill, the cable bill, and our children’s college all at once. By the way, my oldest won’t start college for 4 more years, but that won’t stop me from pretending that Rush Week starts on Monday.

I could get two more jobs, reinvent myself, put the kids to work (not really), or I could keep on trucking. I mean, we aren’t poor by any measure. We get by just fine, it’s just that the budget is tight and we have to account for every penny. Mostly that’s because of my own fear. I’m the penny pincher. My husband is much more relaxed about our provisions than I am. But I think that’s the difference in our personalities.

That’s where Elsa’s song comes to mind. But before Elsa knew to sing about letting your fears go, Jesus knew it. In fact, he instructs us to do it. He wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet. So why does it take me so long to figure it out? Why do I let it go only to pick it right back up again?

I think it happens most often when I’m not walking beside Him. When I’m not seeking Him daily. When I don’t hear His voice in my ear, then I tend to fill it in with my own voice. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that my voice can NEVER replace God’s. But isn’t that exactly what I’m doing while I’m obsessing and stressing? I just need to trust, to listen, to let go and let God.

I need to work on that. What things in your life do you keep picking up that you really should let go?

I’ve Lost My Social Skills

 

It seems the older I get, the less social I am.

I think part of that is a natural progression of getting older. I’m in my late 40s and priorities are different than they were when I was younger. The days of “Mom Groups” are long gone, walking kids to school isn’t necessary, and moving across the country a few years ago definitely put a dent in my social calendar. By way of circumstance, I’m just not exposed to as many social situations as I used to be. The opportunities aren’t there.

We haven’t fully established ourselves at a church, which is entirely our fault. But I have to admit, I feel a bit like the weird girl in the corner when I go to a social event these days.

Other than “Did you finish your homework,” or “please put your laundry away,” and “get off the computer,” my vocabulary has become somewhat limited. Can anyone else relate?

My husband and I made an intentional effort to reach out to new people this weekend, which is always awkward because I’m the extrovert and he’s the introvert. It makes for an unusual social combination. We went to a class at church instead of attending the main church service. There were about 24 men and women in the class, and everyone was friendly and welcoming…and WORE NAME TAGS! I’m terrible with names. You can tell me your name, I’ll repeat it, say “nice to meet you” and your name is erased from my memory. But seeing it written on a nametag, that’s my saving grace!

So, we enjoyed the class which had a “Parenting” theme, and there was time for fellowship and small talk. But for my husband and I, there always comes a time when we just run out of things to say. We aren’t good at “inventing” conversation. In fact, we’re TERRIBLE at it! After class, we said our quick “goodbye’s” and headed out to pick up the kids from their Sunday school classes.

We completely missed our opportunity for further fellowship! We panicked at the thought of inventing conversation and got out of there as soon as it was over. We noticed after we were down the hall, that everyone else lingered behind and visited some more. We blew it.

But we aren’t giving up. We won’t be back next week, since the class isn’t meeting because of Easter, but we will be back after that. Fortunately, it is a year-round class, leaving us plenty of opportunity to sit tongue-tied lots more times.

We are determined to make new friends…at least I am. My husband is perfectly happy with a book, but I cannot live by book alone.

Oh, the best part of the class? Not a single person had their phone out! No one was texting!

Do you struggle making friends as you get older?

One Key to Surviving Working (and Staying) at Home

Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom working to raise your family, or an employee working remotely, or a freelancer making your own hours, spending that much time confined to your home can be draining, if not downright depressing.

My fellow wordpress blogger over at “For the Love of Myself Blog” wrote a post the other day that inspired me to add my two cents to this dilemma. Be sure to check out her insightful blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

Most posts will tell you that you NEED to get out and be with people and I COMPLETELY AGREE because I’m an extrovert. I need people to help me regenerate.

Winters can be long, depending what part of the world you’re in. When it snows here, I can go days without seeing anyone but my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but they aren’t enough to feed my extroverted soul.

I think the key to making your “stay-at-home,” “work-at-home,” “work remotely” job work for you can be summed up with one phrase: HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO.

Without something to break up your week, you will feel like you’re living a real life Groundhog Day, over and over.

When I was a stay-at-home-mom with babies, having something to look forward to meant having play groups, or Mommy and Me classes. Once the kids went to kindergarten, it meant coffee with friends. I was lucky to have a small group of friends in the neighborhood that could also take time out of their morning for a coffee break.

When I went back to work, part time, from home, it meant having a “scheduled activity” every week. That’s the key for me. It HAS to be scheduled, or I will find too many other things to fill the space: laundry, doctor’s appointments, cleaning, and more laundry.

However, there will be times when no one is available; your schedules won’t quite jive. But ALWAYS have a back-up plan in place. If you’re CRAFTY, start on the project that keeps getting shoved to the side. If you’re a READER, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to get to, and read it OUTSIDE. Schedule time at the GYM, or take a YOGA CLASS if that’s your thing. If you still have babies at home, put them in the stroller and take them with you for a WALK around the block.

TAKE A CLASS at the local college, or a go to a Bible study. Check out what’s happening at your LOCAL LIBRARY – mine always has groups getting together. VOLUNTEER for your favorite cause – a lot of local charities don’t ask for much of a time commitment, but they need all the volunteers they can get. Plus, if you’re a SAHM that plans on going back to the corporate world some day, you can list your volunteer experience on your resume.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Working at home (whether SAHM or remotely) is hard. Nobody tells you that part. I’ve had many dark days where it felt like the walls are closing in, and I haven’t always made the choice to break out of the funk. But you will be much happier if you have something to look forward to that breaks up the monotony.

If you’re a SAHM or work from home, what things do you do to stay sane? Feel free to add any suggestions.

I Should Be at Church

It’s a Sunday morning, and I should have gotten everyone up on time (and against their protests) and gone to church. But I didn’t. I chose sleep for the second week in a row, in a long string of sporadic attendance, over worship.

When we lived in California, we never missed a Sunday unless someone was sick. We went to a church of about 350 members. I ran a women’s group on Mondays, my husband helped with Youth Sunday school (both High School and Elementary) and at one point was an Elder. My kids were involved in AWANA and I published the church’s newsletter, not to mention the countless times we volunteered for church events. I don’t tell you all of this to brag, I tell you all of this to show the difference between then and now. To show you I’m not just complaining, that I know things should be better, and that I know they CAN be better.

Fast forward 4 years, and we’re living on the opposite coast, and we should be well established with a new church family. But we’re not, and I know I’m not alone. At least, I don’t think I am.

We’ve been to something like five churches trying to find our fit, our new church family. The churches have varied in size from nearly nonexistent to mega-church all in attempt to find the fit…not God, but the fit. God has been in every one of the churches we’ve been to. But the difference is the people, and not God.

I mean no disrespect to the Church. I love the Church. I believe in the Church. I’m just a little frustrated. The churches we’ve encountered are just different than what we are used to, or it could be a symptom of the times. They are much more corporate, especially the mega churches, which my area seems to have a lot of. I don’t think they mean to be, and I know it’s probably a symptom of trying to serve so many different people. But classes and groups meet generally in 6 week spurts or from September to May, so you never really get a chance to share in one another’s lives. I WANT MORE. I WANT the dirty, nitty-gritty that our lives hold. I WANT to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Christian brother or sister and go through their trials and celebrate their victories. And an hour on Sunday or a few hours during a class won’t get me the intimacy of those friendships that I miss.

The one thread I’ve found running through ALL of the churches, no matter what size, is the feeling of ISOLATION. It doesn’t matter how long we attend a church, we just never seem to connect. And we’ve tried. At the large churches, we never see the same people twice. From the time we walk in the doors and are greeted with a “hello” and a smile to the time we leave with a “goodbye, have a nice day,” sometimes those are the only words that will be spoken to us. Fortunately, my kids have managed to make friends in Sunday school, but those friendships seem to end as we leave the church doors. They seem to be reserved for “while in church only.” No one seems to linger after church is over. Most people race for the parking lot to get on with their Sunday.

As Christians we’re called to be part of the “Body of Christ” but that body has to RELY on one another and LEAN on one another to function. And it seems like a bunch of body parts not communicating, but rather working separately from one another.

I know there are other people within the church walls feeling the same as me. I know it’s up to us to get involved and reach out. But the times that I’ve tried, I’m either too late because a class has already started, or a group is already established. Not to mention that, for me, not being able to drive makes it really hard (if not impossible) to get there sometimes. And the church is just too big to make a friend that would be willing to give a girl a ride now and then.

So if you’re in a large church this Sunday or next, do me a favor and turn around and greet the person seated behind you. It may make the difference in them ever coming back again. And if you’re brave enough, go one step further and invite them to an upcoming church function, AND OFFER TO MEET THEM THERE so they won’t feel so alone. I promise you that you’re effort won’t be wasted. They may think you’re weird, but it’s a chance you should take. You may even make a friend for life.

Have you had similar experiences with church? How did you get past it?

The Neighborhood Rules – Practicing for Life

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When we first moved in to our neighborhood 4 years ago, there were only 4 kids: 2 of mine, and the neighbor’s 2. But since the last year, the neighborhood is now booming with kids! On my short street alone we have 13 kids! Finally we have a good old suburban neighborhood, which is exactly what we were hoping for when we moved here.

Right now, my son is out playing with the other kids in the neighborhood (ages ranging from 6 to 15). He’s eleven, and we’re in a small townhome area, so I feel pretty secure about him running around. I can hear them from my open window and see them run past every now and then.

I spent the first few years that we were here outside with him while he played with friends. Mostly I was the “Car Watcher:” I was the one yelling “CAR!” every time someone drove into our neighborhood, training my kids and the others to get out of the road and be aware of their surroundings. Now I hear them doing the same thing and teaching the younger ones to get out of the road.

We laid out a very specific set of rules for playing in the neighborhood:

  1. Stay off of people’s property
  2. Don’t play around cars (moving or parked)
  3. Leave the area the same, if not better, than it was when you got there
  4. Don’t go in anyone’s house without telling me first
  5. Watch out for the younger kids in the group
  6. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do in your own yard
  7. Someone is probably watching what you’re doing – be good
  8. Don’t chase the ball into the street
  9. Be courteous of neighbors and cars
  10. If you break something (God forbid) be accountable for your behavior

I realized that these rules can be applied to life as well. Playing outside prepares them for life, but it’s done without sitting them down and lecturing them. Once they have a good set of ground rules, it’s the best way for them to learn their limits.

These are skills that they will never learn sitting in front of a computer screen. These are childhood survival skills: get out of the road when a car comes, don’t shoot the neighbor’s car with a Nerf dart, throwing rocks will damage property and people (so will dirt clods, pine cones, and sticks), climbing trees is both exercise and fun, dirt won’t hurt, made-up games are often more fun than organized sports, and getting up when you fall will make you stronger.

Being outside, and playing with friends is probably the best “interactive” experience a kid can have. The best part is that not a single kid is running around with their phone in their hand. Not even the older sibling that shows up on occasion to toss the football around with them.

I’ve witness acts of kindness the older ones have shown to the younger kids: tying shoes, holding hands so that they can stay with the group, teaming up with an older kid when playing hide-and-seek, and making sure everyone is accounted for when a car comes by.

Here’s hoping everyone gets out to play in the sun!

I Miss Talking

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Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy blogging and exchanging ideas and stories with people from around the world, but I miss the ONE ON ONE CONVERSATION. How much better would it be to share the same stories over a cup of coffee? #coffeefixeseverything

I miss talking on the phone. I know texting is convenient, but face it, if we’re texting someone it’s probably because we don’t want to “talk” to them. We just want to say what WE want and move on with our lives without all that “messy” conversation.

I also miss hearing my children talk. I know they’re getting older, and the age difference (11 and 14) makes them less interested in each other, but I used to love waking up to hearing them quietly playing together in their rooms. Now they can go whole days without talking except to say “It’s my turn on the computer!”

They really don’t even fight. I guess I should be grateful for that, but aside from fighting over the computer, they have nothing to fight about because they don’t engage with one another. I suppose part of it is the age difference. I know the younger misses playing with the older more than the other way around, and would change it in a second if he had the power, even at the expense of missing computer time.

Our weekend mornings are spent in silence. Sometimes even the weekend days are spent in silence too, each on their own electronic device. I used to try to fight it, to try to get everyone to do things on the weekends. But I got tired of the fight, so the last few weeks I’ve given up and joined the electronic club. And you know what? I don’t think anyone even noticed. They probably are grateful that Mom finally stopped bothering their personal time.

I guess it’s just a part of growing up. Kids speak less and less to their parents the older they get, unless they have to. Maybe it’s me that has to give in and change, and get more creative.

Now to figure out how.

Think I’ll go call my mom even though I’d rather text her.

*A side note: when I looked up images to use for this post I used the key word “conversation” and was hard-pressed to find any images WITHOUT a computer or smart phone in them. Ahhh, the irony.

Is Social Media Uniting or Dividing Us?

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In 2008, there were 145 million Facebook users. In 2017, there are more than 1.79 BILLION users as of January 2017. That’s a lot of people…and a lot of opinions.

In 2008, people still had active MySpace accounts, Twitter had only been active for 2 years, and “meme’s” and propaganda was circulated through email.

I’ll admit, I was late to the game. I opened my Facebook account in 2008, I think. I remember being reluctant to do so, because I didn’t know how much of my life I wanted exposed to the public. Kind of ironic, eh?

But back in 2008, Facebook was a much friendlier place to be than it is now. I can’t speak for Twitter or MySpace, since I don’t have accounts, but I assume that they started out more friendly as well.

It was fun to connect with old friends. There were countless stories of families being reunited after having lost touch. We got to see pictures and video and share in one another’s life events. And it united us on a global level that the every day person had never been able to achieve before.

And then something changed.

Instead of being a forum to share what we have IN COMMON, and what we could CELEBRATE, it started to meld into how we are different. Instead of sharing EACH OTHER’S lives, we started posting pictures of ourselves in the form of “selfie’s.” We got more opinionated and more self-righteous and more self-centered.

And instead of “liking” things, we got indignant about people’s opinions, and felt the need to correct and admonish whenever we got the chance. We hid behind our screens and started commenting and saying things that we would never say to one another in person.

Instead of uniting, we’re driving a wedge between ourselves. Instead of building bridges we’re smashing them with a wrecking ball. Instead of celebrating in each other’s lives and telling one another “good job” or “congratulations” we’re uttering words that (hopefully) we’d never say in person.

NO OUTSIDE FORCE DID ALL THAT…WE DID THAT. And it’s got to STOP!

Social media will continue to divide us until we remember our manners. We can have discussions without being completely rude to one another. We used to do it all the time. We can disagree and still show love to one another. OR WE CAN NOT LEAVE A COMMENT AND MOVE ON. We can eat a meal without posting a picture of it on Facebook. We can celebrate our beauty without taking a billion selfie’s seeking approval. We can use social media for what it was intended – TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER. But we have to get out of our own way to do it.

I love the human race. I don’t like conflict, and I want to change it when I can. This is something I can do.

You can do it. I can do it. We all can do it. But it has to start somewhere. Let it start with you and me.