A Shout-Out to my Friends

face time

It has been a crazy couple of weeks at my house. My husband started a new full-time job, after being self-employed from home for two years. Our water heater was on the fritz so he had to spend his first free weekend working on that. This led to a plumbing problem, which led to a basement flood, which led to a massive clean-up for me when the weekend was over. I have wanted to get some exercise and get things cleaned up. I got a lot of both.

When things go wrong in your life, big or small, you learn who your friends are. Friends make up the silver lining of any dark cloud. I had friends who were very caring and helpful. I even learned the benefit of sharing my problems. In this case, whining to a friend on the phone allowed her to offer her three dehumidifiers that were so helpful in drying out our basement. Who knew she was the owner of three dehumidifiers? She did, and I’m glad I shared our problem so we could receive her help.

I miss my friends. I have really buckled down over the holidays and after, getting all the shopping done, getting back to school here, and staying in because the weather is so grim. I have a great group of ladies that I can count on. I don’t talk to any one person everyday, but I know I could if I needed to. I used to think I needed that one best friend to do anything and everything with, but I have learned that no one person can be all that for you and you can’t be that for them. When it comes to friends, it takes a village.

If my friends were a village, it would be the best village ever. My friend with the secret stash of dehumidifiers is so upbeat and smiling and sweet. This is in great contrast to my sensible, cynical self. Her presence is a reminder to act as open and friendly as I feel on the inside, like she does.

I have, not one, but two friends who will let me know if the people on Fox news say it is time to climb out of this handbasket of a world that is headed to Hell. They are on top of what is going on which allows me to keep my head happily in the sand most of the time. These two ladies also are packing. As in carry and conceal. So, you know, they’ve got my back, and yours too if you want.

I have a friend that I have been close to since the 9th grade. She was in my wedding and I was in hers. I still go and see her and relax in her beautiful home. We pick up where we left off, even though it takes some time to figure out where that was. She never feels the need to mentor me or for me to mentor her. We are equals that go way back and it is a great way to relate to each other. With her I have history and a million stories that I treasure.

My church friends have a special place in the village. Then there are my friends who like to watch the shows I watch or listen to the music I love. There are friends who can and will edit my writing for me. (Is “shout out” one word or two and is it hyphenated?) I even have a friend who has more kids than I do, a truly super mom. I have a friend I met on Facebook.

exactly

We did not meet in person until almost three years later but it was as if we had always known each other. My sisters are my friends. My oldest girls are adults now and they are my friends as well. My mom is a one of my friends, the one I have had the longest. My husband is my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All this rambling about my friends is meant to celebrate them at a time when I realize I need to make an effort to stay close to them and to be a good friend in return. As far as how it pertains to raising children, it is very important for moms to have friends and maintain those relationships. Did you know that the same great hormone released during breastfeeding, eating, or lovemaking, is also released during a good long talk? Women are wired to be together and be at ease with each other. Friendships are not a luxury for your rare girls-night-out events. We should have healthy, ongoing relationships with other women for our good and for theirs. I”m reluctant to say that something is good for your kids just because it is good for you as a mom, but this is true about good friendships.

In a Biblical village, the women would gather at regular intervals to gather water or do chores together. We don’t get enough chances to see each other these days, so we have to do what we can to see our friends. Even if Facebook is the closest thing we have these days to the village square, it is a great way to let a friend know you care and are thinking about her. It is also a great way to make a plan to see each other in person. So, check in with your village of friends. If you have three friends or thirty, they will be glad to hear from you.

Thank you to all the friends who helped or offered to help during our mini-crisis. It’s so good to know you are so willing to lend a hand. We love you all.

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selfishlazymom.com is already taken

The cold that has been going around my house is trying its best to take me down. This strain is particularly bad and we are not handling it well. This is why I have not posted this week and will not share a new post today.

I did have an old post come up while talking to friends this past week. I told them how God managed to use even my laziness and selfishness to help me learn how to parent. When that was the bulk of what I had, He made the most of it. What a great example of grace for me and my kids. Here is the post I wrote about how that went for me.

Why We Homeschool

It pretty much looks like this.       All the time.

Getting back to school is an issue for nearly everyone after the holidays. For us, it means buckling down to school here at home. We have been homeschooling for 16 years now and there are 10 more years until our youngest is done. It is a huge commitment that I question from time to time. But, if I ever think about giving it up, these are the reasons I keep going.

1. It is God’s plan for our family. Notice I say our family. I would never say it is God’s plan for families in general. I would love to think everyone would be as happy as I am homeschooling. I would love to believe everyone has the support I have from my husband and extended family. I know not everyone is even free to be at home. Happiness and support are certainly not requirements before you homeschool but a clear direction from God is. All obstacles can be overcome except that one.

2. We run our lives. We, meaning God, my husband, and me. This for me is where it’s at. Would you love to be able to do what you want, when you need to? Ya know, things like sleep, eat, play, go to Grandma’s, take a day off, stay home with a sick child, or even stay home when you are sick yourself? Those things should not be a description of a cushy, unattainable life. That should be life! Certainly you give up things to have all that. Staying at home means giving up money.This means you won’t have some things like maybe new clothes, a great car or two, vacations and numerous other things. For us it means we give up things even more common than those. The sacrifice would be different from family to family, but for me, these are things I gladly give up to have a peaceful and relaxed day-to-day life and the freedom to run it as we see fit.

probably a homeschooled kid

When you have kids in public school, the school schedule decides when you eat, play, sleep, go on trips, or even what happens when you or your kids are sick. I may be a control freak, but I don’t even want to wait in a line to pick up my own kids at a time set forth by someone else. I am the William Wallace of schooling – FREEEEEDOMMMM!!!

3. Homeschooling helps avoid peer dependency. Before my first child was school-aged, I was given a book called Home Grown Kids by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. That is where I learned about peer dependency. The main goal in raising children is to turn them into adults. In a life filled with public school, their exposure to adults and how they live everyday life is very limited. Children in public school are more apt to look to other children for how to behave. Rather than aspiring to be like mom or dad, they could spend their year aspiring to be like some other 5-year-old, one you do not even get to choose. In middle school, the girl or boy every one looks up to is invariably the one you would not want them to emulate. These problems can be countered without homeschooling your kids, of course. We just felt so strongly about the concept that we decided to tailor our lives to bring up children that look to us and other adults for the guidance to grow up.

4. Time. Educating at home is so much more time efficient. Public schools are notorious

another scene from our house

for the amount of homework they give. In the same two hours or four hours spent doing homework, your child could be completely educated at home, and then be free to live life and have some down time. I actually think some children go to school all day and then are truly educated at home by the parents that help them do homework. I know that the load of homework older kids have keeps them from getting a part-time job or participating in sports or activities. Jobs and activities are important learning experiences that can get left out due to homework and time constraints.

I probably should not have numbered these reasons because our reasons are too many to count. There are also numerous reasons that are not good reasons to homeschool.

1. It won’t protect them from evil. Sin does not live at public school. It lives in the heart of every human, even your precious child. It may be easier to battle the dark side at home but don’t fool yourself. Much of the heart problems of public school are still within your home because people live there. Your home can be a place where grace is given freely however. Teaching them about grace can help prevent the legalism and judgement that can come from separating yourself from others. It is important not to let your kids feel they are better than anyone else, regardless of their schooling.

2. You can’t control their lives. You could try, but with disastrous results. I have six children and each one is completely different. They are born with an agenda, but it can’t be your agenda. Keeping them home will not help you fulfill your plan for their life. God has a plan for them and your job is to get them ready.

3. Geniuses are not guaranteed. The goal of homeschooling should not be academics. You are raising a person, not a brain. It would be wrong to push your child to academic excellence for all the wrong reasons. College is important and learning is important but we miss something important if we don’t take advantage of the chance to make sure our children are well-rounded people, not just good students. Their testimonies are far more important than their transcripts. Their character comes before their college applications. Homeschooling is the place where you can make the most of these priorities or fall victim to the pull of academics.

always forgetting something

These thoughts only scratch the surface of the important topic of your child’s education. I feel like a lot of the concerns people have, like socialization for instance, have been addressed fully elsewhere. I wanted to share the reasons why we homeschool and why it works for us. I would love to hear from readers from different perspectives on this issue and how your choice works for you. Please share your questions or thoughts in the comments below. Please keep in mind how everyone’s situation is different. We can all learn from others when we are raising His child.

My 2011 Year in Review

bye 2011. nice knowing ya

I feel compelled to do a year in review. I don’t journal and I don’t remember things when I try to. Only when something triggers a memory do I smile or cry over it. These facts are not very promising for a good review. Only a few key things come to mind.

The biggest event of our year was the engagement of my oldest daughter. I knew she was getting engaged that day but she didn’t. I was at a homeschool conference, waiting all day for the call that finally came. “Mom! I’m engaged!” I stood on the curb of the conference center and cried with my girl, the one who grew up while I was growing up. We were both happy and you can’t ask for more than that.

I turned 40 in 2011 and I think what they say is true. Forty is fabulous, except for the weight gain, hormonal shifts, eye-sight struggles, and well, nevermind. During this year, the most hilarious good news/bad news situation has presented itself. My dark chin-hair that I have to stay after has turned gray. I’m just not sure how to feel about that.

Another big event of my year was a performance of Messiah that I got to be in. It was such a highlight of my years of singing. It was also a huge growth experience that let me see what I could do if I practice and practice and pray and cry a little and beg for mercy and practice some more. And then pray again.

That positive experience sprang from all I learned in a small group I participated in this past spring. The study we did in that group significantly changed me. The book we used is called Changes that Heal. I will blog about it more later because I am going through it again. I will forever see this time as pivotal in my spiritual growth. The changes I went through as a result have netted me new friends, new perspective, even a new me. Now that I have hyped the book beyond belief, I will move on.

My husband and I had a great anniversary trip to Asheville NC this past summer. This anniversary trip stands out because we got to meet up with the couple who has become or great friends. You know who you are and we will never forget watching the evening primroses open so beautifully and standing for hours talking to you both.

The most recent big news is my husband’s new job. He got a great job as an electronics technician for a local company. After two years of running his own business to keep us afloat, God has gifted us with a much less stressful job with good hours and great benefits. The new year will be very new for us with stability and paychecks and everything!

Of course there were bad things in this past year. They seem fuzzy now. I vaguely remember some fights, some failures, some fatigue and some frustration. Surely there was all of that, but the God that loves us has smoothed so much of that over. What was meant for evil has turned out for our good and what was not smoothed over is still covered in the ever-present hope of His redemptive plan.

Now we look forward to a new year, a new job, and a new marriage! Fresh starts are everywhere and I am ready to see what’s next. What was the highlight of your year? Take a few minutes to reflect and share it too! Happy New Year!

To Those Who Never Left Home

he never did use that suitcase

I only live one block away from where I grew up. I have never lived in anywhere else and I’ve never had the desire to move away from this small town. One great advantage of this is always being home for the holidays. I’m so glad that seeing my extended family never means having to do a long, traffic-filled road trip. With that back story, you will understand why I love the story I’m sharing with you today. So, for all the ones working hard to get home and for the ones working hard to make home the inviting place it is, here’s to you!

What the Fire Gave Us Part 2

Today I will take on Part 2 of What the Fire Gave Us. If you missed part 1, you can click here to read what you missed.

the light of day

It took a few days after the fire to finally get an insurance adjuster out to our house. The ice storm had overwhelmed the system. Everything was a mystery until they could see it and tell us what to do. Only nine months before the fire, our agent came to the house to update our information. He told us that because we now had eight people living there, double what we had moved in with, we should double our coverage. My husband agreed and that decision made all the difference. Our previous coverage would not have been enough.  I was so relieved to finally walk with our adjuster through the house and hear him talk about how they were going to take care of things. He told me to find a place to rent and they would take care of that too. A crash course in insurance is not fun but it was comforting to see it kick in. The relief I felt after that meeting was a lot like joy.

But before our insurance company could get to us,  the love of our friends came pouring in. Money, gift cards, and a crib for our youngest to sleep in. Oh and the food! Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten came for us during this time. The employees of a trucking company that learned of our situation, gathered a truck load of clothes, toys, furniture and appliances for us. All these donations meant that the insurance money would go that much further. One friend set up a call for me with a couple who had a fire few years earlier. Their advice was invaluable.  I wrote page after page of names and donations for thank you cards. It was staggering to see it all written in one place. The love we experienced was more comforting that I could ever explain.

Only one week later and just in time for Christmas, we found the place that would be our home for the next eleven months. It was a beautiful rental that had just been restored. It had a great yard and the perfect driveway for bikes and scooters. The neighbors had farm animals that we got to enjoy with out the work of caring for them. The memories my kids have of that house are some of the best from their childhoods. God placed us where we could be happy, even amid terrible circumstances.

When you have a house fire, you have to write down everything you lost. And when you got it. And how much you paid for it. And how much it will cost to replace it. I don’t know how people did this before the internet but thank God for it! We had a 6-inch stack of papers, with 17 items on each one, when we were finally through with that project. It was all-consuming work that lasted until February. Between doing this and shopping for every single thing people need to live, it was full-time. My husband was self-employed at the time and I have always stayed at home. Inventory is all we did, all day every day. I don’t know how people who have to go to work would get all this done. Hopefully, there is an app for this now.

Okay, that’s not all we did. We also fought hard to make sure no one messed up our house while they were restoring it. Three powers are at work in this process; the insurance company that wants to hold on to every penny possible, the restoration company who wants to hire the lowest bidder and make a great profit, and the family who wants to live in a house that is as good or better than it was. After the inventory, the daily job was making sure our house was okay and our choices were installed. We spent a lot of times at Lowe’s writing down tiny item numbers off sinks, appliances, switch plates, stain colors and so much more. The struggle between all the interested parties got so intense that I started kneeling down in my bathroom by the toilet to pray before meetings with the adjuster I had been so happy to see only months before.

I tell all that in an attempt to convey that all this was not fun. It was the hardest year of my life. At the same time, it was the best thing that ever happened to us. I would not want to complain, only to be honest about what the experience was like. God clearly used this time for our good. We had an old house that needed lots of improvements, not just cosmetic ones. Because of the fire, the house was brought up to code with new electrical, plumbing, heating system and insulation – all things we could not have afforded to upgrade. For the first time, I was able to pick colors and styles by what I liked! Within reason, I could choose new fixtures and details I had only considered by price before.

breaking in that new sectional

This was also true of our new belongings. After years of hand-me-down and cast off furniture, I got to go to a furniture store and pick what I liked! I found out I didn’t even know what I liked. My sister gave me great advice that I still use – “buy what you like and it will all go together.” I didn’t believe it, but it worked. Shopping was fun at first but for the first time in my life, I got tired of buying new things. I took off so many tags and stickers….all those things we bought one thing at a time over the span of years, I bought nearly all at once. We found out our bank was looking out for us too. Turns out you can’t suddenly start spending hundreds of dollars a day without the bank shutting down your card, even at Christmas time. Good to know.

The Red Cross, great people and so helpful, gave us $111 for each family member. That means we got a voucher for $888, with one odd condition. Only Kmart accepted the vouchers and we had to spend it all at one time on only clothes and shoes. Have you seen the old episodes of  sitcoms where you win the contest to keep all you can gather in one minute? That is about what it was like. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. That about sums up the whole year.

When we were finally able to move back home, we felt like strangers there. It was our house, but it wasn’t. Another blessing from the fire was getting to turn the garage into a 4th bedroom, something we had dreamed of for one day had happened. All the projects we had dreamed of doing were all done and we were stunned. I am still stunned when I think of God’s works and His ways through it all. I doubted Him and questioned Him and He still used me and my family to show off, to show how all things can work together for good. How it is all confusing but all true.

One of my favorite memories from right after the fire really sums up what I was feeling and how I feel about the fire now. When we were still at my mother’s house, I was trying to put my cranky, sleepy, 3-year-old boy down for a nap in a bed that wasn’t his and he didn’t like it. He was crying and saying, “I can’t like it, I can’t like it.” I can so clearly remember his sweaty little face and his curling hair as I started to rub his forehead and sing him his sleeping song. He was still saying, “I can’t like it” only he was losing his passion and relaxing. Suddenly the words changed to “I like it, I like it, I like it.” He could no longer deny that what I did for him was for the best, in spite of his initial protest. I wish I could say I surrendered that easily.

Now our family dates everything by asking, “was that before the fire or after?” For almost a year, I would go to look for things where I kept them before the fire or I would look for things I no longer owned. It was disorienting to be in the same house but with so many changes. Not only had the house changed, but we had too. We had been warned about the high rate of divorce after house fires, but we had become closer by the grace of God. Our children had to grow up fast that year and take on  a lot of responsibilities. Our family had the great privilege to feel the love of so many friends and even strangers. Even all our old pictures were miraculously unharmed by the fire. With everyone safe and our memories still tidy in their boxes, what more could we ask for? I am still stunned when I look around me and see all that the fire gave us.