Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Self Help...HA!

I saw an episode of Intervention yesterday. It's a show on the A&E channel that documents an addict and their family/loved ones right up to and including an intervention, where they all confront this individual and beg them to get cleaned up. I was curious about it and tivo'd it from earlier in the week because the info thing said it was an alcoholic PTA mom. It's really a terrible thing to watch, the train wreck of a hurting someone's life. But "PTA mom" snagged me, and I wondered how does it happen, that someone falls apart like that?

Having watched the episode, I don't think I can answer that question, but I think self-absorption can be a piece of it. I've written much about how being a follower of Christ requires the surrender of self. I've thought about how easy it is to say I'll surrender it, and then keep picking it back up and sludging around with it. I've mentioned how it would be easier if the self was a tangible thing, so we could physically, consciously know when we're taking that burden on again--that burden that Jesus offers to take for us. You could see on the show how this woman hated what she was doing, when she could see it, hated who she had become--her self--but the only way for her to get out from under that burden was to drink herself into a stupor, into sleep.

And this little thing happened to me this week that caused me pain, and I think maybe I got a glimpse of how it can happen. (My pain was nothing compared the wound this gal had, please don't think for a minute that I think I've got it all figured out, or that I even understand her situation. All I know is what the producers and editors of the A&E show want me to know, for starters.) But here's what happened to me: Several weeks ago, a friend said something to me that hurt my feelings. I didn't say anything at the time, because it wasn't intended to hurt, and it was also kind of a stupid thing to say. It was said off the cuff, and I thought I had chalked it up to this friend just saying something stupid.

Then, the other night, someone else said the exact same thing to me. OK, ouch! And then I remembered that my friend had said it, too. So I took that comment out from wherever I had been keeping it, pulled it out of the closet and tried it on for size. I held it up, looked at it, thought about how it feels, and considered owning this stupid remark. I thought about wearing it to my own little pity party. I ruminated on this for a couple of days. Yuck. I was getting all into my self. I was thinking about carrying it around, and wearing something ugly to boot. And I could even say I was entitled to do so, because these hurtful things came at me, I wasn't looking for them. Ack.

I've got to keep my eyes on Jesus, who He was, what He did, and what the Word says about who I am. I gotta' keep following right behind HIm, because it's just that easy to get distracted by my self. What does the word say about who I am? Look at this:

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:12-17 NLT)

All this self stuff is part of that sinful nature. It seems all meek and hurt, but in me I see that it really is pride. Making my self the priority. Holding on to that junk is getting in the way of the affirmation of being God's child.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Inevitable Question

Lily, our youngest, is in first grade this year. All three kids are in school all day, although, because of staggered schedules to accommodate busing, the actual time that there are no children in the house is from 8:20-2:30. This is a rather short day. Nevertheless, it is inevitable for a stay-at-home mom to ask the question, "should I find a job?" at this point. After all, my presence doesn't seem to be as necessary, while everyone is off doing their things. Except when someone is ill, or forgets something at home....I am always "on call," but the job of being home has changed.

So we have asked that inevitable question. A few times. And I wonder if I shouldn't be contributing more financially. But I've done some work with the numbers.... Let's say I got a job working 20 hours a week, at $10 an hour. Maybe I wouldn't work that many hours, maybe I wouldn't make that much money. But for arguments sake, let's just say I could find something that would work out to bringing home about $560 a month. (I'm figuring taxes would eat up $3 of every $10....) Bear with me, I'm not a mathy gal. What would it cost us to have me work part-time?

Gas: $8 a week=$32 a month
(assuming I work somewhere that is 5 miles from home, I work 4 days of the week, and gas is a little less than $4 a gallon, 20 miles/gallon)
Lunches Out: $7.25 a week=$30 a month
(assuming I only purchase a lunch for myself once a week, which I think is very conservative. I would try to bring a lunch more often than not, but if I was working, there would be more social opportunities, and days I just don't have anything to pack for myself)
Starbucks: $8 a week=$32 a month
(again, this is very conservative to think I would only treat myself to a cappucino twice a week. After all, I would be contributing more to the family financially, and would feel justified in a goody every so often. And here's the deal, when I'm out, I am more likely to indulge. I find that walking out the door and getting into the car costs money. It just flies right out of my hands! If I was working, I'd be out every day.)
Groceries: $50 savings every other week=$100 a month
(huh? Well, you see, currently, I go to a grocery store that is 25 minutes away every two weeks because the prices are crazy low. It's a big trip, taking most of the day to plan what to get, go there, get it, bring it home, put it away....We have studied our receipts and figure that we save at least $50 everytime I shop there rather than the local big name store. I use coupons and plan meals which also saves us oodles. If I was working, this just wouldn't happen. It might sometimes, but let's be realistic. This would no longer be a priority, besides, I'd be making a little extra money, so we could afford to get gouged on occasion.)
Dinners Out: $30 every other week=$60 a month
(assuming we just went out for dinner, feeding 5 for $30, so nothing too fancy, just eating out, or carrying in because a meal wasn't planned for a particular night. I think this would happen at least two times in a month, maybe more, because we/I would justify it by thinking, "I'm making a little money..." blah, blah, blah....)

So far, it would cost $254 to bring home $560. It's not sounding as good. And I haven't considered clothes that I would need to buy, or maybe the cleaning service I might hire to come in and help--to treat myself--or any wear and tear on the car. I haven't even gotten to what would happen in the summer. Would we pay for extra park district programs and things like that to occupy the kids? And what else am I not thinking of?

I think the job I have here is still important, even though I'm alone much more than I used to be. In order for me to take the leap into the working world, it would have to be something that really fills me up, and fits into the whole family's schedule. I haven't found that yet. So, the answer to the inevitable question for me right now, is, "No."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple....

IN our almost 17 years of marriage, Scott and I have lived in only two places, our first apartment for 18 months, and our first and only house that we live in now. In that same time, we've been members of four different churches. The number itself startles me....In my mind, we are not church-hoppers. But that seems like a lot of churches in a relatively short period of time.

At the beginning, we went to the church that Scott and his parents went to, a 400ish member church, with 200ish people attending each week. We started serving by teaching a 5th grade Sunday School class, helped with the high school youth group, served on boards, then taught the high school Sunday School class, and even taugh one series for adult Sunday School. We were there for seven years. After we had Luke, and Lars was getting to be pre-school age, we felt we needed to find a church in our community where we live. So, we made our first switch, moving to a church 5 minutes from home with great teaching that was part of a similar denomination.

Shortly after that, the denomination that Scott grew up in (the Evangelical Covenant Church) started a church plant in our town. We met with the folks in the core group, prayed long and hard, and felt called to be a part of that fledgling group. So, we made another switch.

The core group of that church plant never really grew big enough to sustain itself. After more than a year or so, we all had to let go of the dream that we felt sure God had given us. The outcome we had all pictured in taking that step of obedience wasn't what God had planned. Looking back, I can see without question that He was at work there and that we experienced tremendous growth. At the time, we were full of questions, and he gently guided each of us to different churches as we all had to make a switch.

Which led us to where we are now. Our fourth church. Our church is a "mega", "multi-site", "big box", whatever label you want to give It's not where we expected to be. It's wonderful in many ways. It's different from what we're used to in many ways.

And I wonder today, after reading a few blogs about church and getting all thinky about it, what is church really all about? I can get all heady and theological (are we emerging, missional, the value of the liturgy and so on...), or mushy and emotional (do we like it here, how does this or that make me feel....). What does it really boil down to? What did God have in mind for the church?

I'll tell you what I think, or at least the beginning of what I think. Jesus said to "go into the world and make disciples." I think the church is a place where we gather with others, all the different parts of the body, to get equipped to go out there and make disciples. It's a place where we get opportunities to make disciples right there in that building, and where we get encouragement to go out and do it. I'm not sure if God cares about the other stuff--the labels, the sizes, the comfort. I'd like to hear what you think, too.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Plumb, Plumb, Plumb, Plumb....

Happy Friday to you.

Check out my weekly post on our church's women's ministry blog.

Thank you very much.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One Size Does Not Fit All

The kids have an early release day today. This might make us feel the challenge of keeping the tv off (see yesterday's post), but I think we're up to it. We actually have to go buy Lily some new soccer cleats. They fit her for her first practice, but one week later at her next practice, they were too small. Amazing! In one week! I didn't get around to replacing them before her game on Saturday, and her piggies were very sad little piggies indeed. She has practice again tonight, so we'll take care of the problem this afternoon.

We used to have a pair of size 13 cleats in the closet, but they lived through four soccer seasons and two boys, and I guess that's all they had in them. They fought a good fight before they died.

Another parenting/faith tie-in: Wouldn't it be great to see growth in my faith like the growth in Lily's feet? I want to be able to look backwards, and see that some self-absorbed or not God-centered part of me doesn't fit as well as it did the week before.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The TV Gets a Rest

It's "TV Turn-Off week" at school, and we couldn't ask for a better week for it, weather-wise. It's only Wednesday, and I don't want to speak (write) too soon, but I think it's going pretty well. When I reminded Lars on Monday, there were actual tears welling up in his eyes. Silly. He got over it fast.

We went to the bookstore that afternoon, (he needs to read a science fiction or fantasy book for his next book report in Language Arts...a dream come true for him) and we bought two books he's just been dying to read, plus he's reading through a manuscript of a Young Adult novel from Sherri in my writer's group. He actually loves to read, if he doesn't get sucked into the vortex of the screens in the house. This year, Lars gets home from school an hour and a half before his younger siblings. I have really enjoyed getting this one-on-one time with him. It's been a long time since it was just the two of us!

Anyway, we've been sitting in the sun in the backyard and reading side-by-side. No TV, or PS2, or Wii. Very nice. He has been troubled about the bad rap TV has been getting, though. Ever the advocate for the under-dog, Lars feels compelled to stick up for his friend the idiot box. It's funny, he's looking at the little paper that came home and trying to be all legalistic about it. "Well, Mom, we're watching a movie in science, so I'm already breaking the rules..." I of course explained that the idea is to choose not to watch TV when you are in a situation where you have control. To get into a habit of thinking differently about your time and not just automatically turning the thing on. And his little grin tells me he knows this, he's just being a contrarian. Or a 6th grade boy.

And as often happens, I see some faith lessons in the parental words coming out of my mouth. Why do we act like being a real, 7-days-a-week follower of Christ is gong to be so costly? There is a price to be paid, but what it costs actually turns out to be not all that valuable in the first place. Why do the tears well up and why do we turn it into some legalistic exercise that we're doomed to fail before we start? Let's just work on habits, be moldable, make good choices one at a time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm going to see my friend Suzanne read her sweet picture book, "The Animals are Sleeping" at our local bookstore this morning. Suzanne has written more than 40 non-fiction children's books, but this one is special because it's a picture book! They're so hard to get published. Suzanne writes beautifully. We're in a writer's group together, and it's a thrill to see her accomplishing so much!

Friday, April 18, 2008

You're Only One Click Away....

from my Friday post on the Plumb blog...for Women of our church--and YOU!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I was talking to my friend Ellen today, and I told her I would post a link to this other blog I was reading yesterday. I'm not even sure how I found it. But this guy, Nathan, is talking about how he and his wife are in the midst of a consumption fast. I'm not sure how long they're going to fast, but I think it's a great idea. I wonder if we could do it?

I've posted before myself about the way we spend so much time, energy, and money on stuff. A consumption fast--as Nathan describes it, spending money only on bills and groceries--would bring a keen awareness of just how hard we've been bitten by the consumerism bug. I love the way this fast has grown his faith, and brought him closer to God. Just like a fast is meant to do, I know, but still, it's inspiring to read how that's been happening in his life.

As I was thinking about whether or not we should try something like this, I made a mental list of a few things I would need to get first....I need something to wear for an upcoming party. And, I'd kind of like to have some new shoes for spring/summer.....Wha?! Pitiful. As if my closet isn't full of stuff!

Maybe we/I need to do this. A great teaching opportunity for the kids, and obviously me, who has some learnin' to do. How does the idea hit you?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

I hate to admit it, but I've been sucked into American Idol. I've never watched the show before this year. The kids wanted us to watch it as a family, so that's how it got started. They aren't as into it anymore, but I am hooked. I can't help watching and wondering about the stories of these individuals who are putting themselves out there.

Inevitably, I ask, are any of them Chrisitians? I'm trying to figure it out by their 30-second sound bytes....Then I was really wondering that when they ended American Idol Gives Back with "Shout to the Lord," and then opened the regular show next night with "Shout to the Lord" again...singing about My Jesus, My Savior.....

So, look what I found.....Fun! Jason Castro before American Idol....

Communication 101

I've been struggling with what to write these last few days. I'm not exactly dry, without any ideas...I think there's too much, and too many things I can't write about here. My head and heart are swimming.

So, here's a thought I'll share, about something Scott and I are learning right now. I haven't written about it yet, because it seems so simple, and really kind of lame to admit that for some reason, it's new to us. But here is the big lesson: We cannot rely on others to do our communicating for us. We have to do it ourselves. Not a huge revelation, is it?

We have realized, over the last few holidays and in the planning of traveling to Georgia in June for the big wedding (yippee!), that we have been lax in how we communicate with family. For example, since we talk to Scott's mom often, (and so do his siblings) we have kind of counted on her to get our messages to the others. This is not a good idea, for many reasons that I'm sure you can figure out. Details get confused, motivations are misinterpreted, messages don't get delivered.....It's not like we've ever said to his mom, "will you tell so-and-so such-and-such?" It's more of a lazy assumption that she will.

We've gotten into the same pattern of communication with groups of friends, too. We just figure if we tell one couple our hopes about getting together, for example, or whatever, we figure the rest of the bunch will hear. This is not effective communication! It's especially surprising when you consider how many mediums there are for connecting with other people today. There's the land line phone, the cell phone, email, facebook, myspace, blogging for heaven's sake! And if I say I value relationships with people so much, what does my communication with them show? Actions speak louder than words, they say.

So, you would think this would be obvious, but it's somehow just dawning on us, and lately our mantra around here is, "we have to talk to each other, not through others."

Monday, April 14, 2008

I went to a memorial service today for a young man.
You know, nothing like watching parents say goodbye to their son, and siblings say goodbye to their brother to make you take stock. What are the things that are important? Where is my time invested? Do they match up?

Relationships are valuable to me. That's it for me. That's where I want to spend my time; it's other people and my Savior I want to invest in. I don't think I'll ever look back and wish I spent more time working on my house, my clothes, my hair, my body, my car, my yard.

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's a Plumb Day

Hey look! I found some color in my yard! Keep on coming, Spring, keep on coming.

I finally posted today on the women's ministry blog...Too many things on my mind today, I just couldn't figure out what to share. Go read it!
Hope you have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Judge Not....Not Judge Julie

A funny thing about the picture I posted on Tuesday: When Luke saw it, he was surprised to see Lily's hand on his bag. "I didn't know she was holding me like that," he said with a grin. I think it made him feel good to see it. What things go on behind our backs that we never know about?

I kind of think that Luke kind of thinks that Lily likes Lars better than she likes him. And I think he's wrong, but it'll have to be something he figures out on his own. Nothing I say would really be able to convince him. We haven't actually talked about it; that's the kind of conversation that would just make him squirm. I'm so glad he got to see the picture and that he noticed what he didn't see or feel that morning. She loves him, and she cherishes being with him, she leans on him.

It's only natural for Lily to have a different kind of relationship with her two brothers, because they all have different personalities and respond to competition differently, because Luke and Lily have spent more time together than Lily and Lars, because of their age differences, and on and on. But we all do this, we make judgements about how others feel about us, or what they think about us.

I have a tendency to take it even farther and think I can figure out other people's motives. That's dangerous territory. Because if I don't have it quite right, I might start operating in my own little universe founded on incorrect assumptions. For one of our small group studies at church, we took an assessment of our skills and interests. My number one "skill/interest" was "figuring people out." I'm starting to think this is a great big red flag from God to me. The Bible is pretty clear about who is supposed to be doing the judging....I haven't found a verse yet that says, "Thou shalt Let Julie be the judge of that, she's good at figuring people out."

People's hearts are not where we can see them, we can't know what's going on in there. Sheeesh, sometimes we don't even know what's going on in our own hearts. And, it happens sometimes, that people hold onto us when we aren't looking, people love us in ways that we don't always see.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

There they go, my babes walking down to the bus stop. This year, Lars goes alone really early, then Luke and Lily go together later in the morning. Next year, they'll all go separately. (different buildings for grades 1-3, 4&5, 6-8) They do this every morning, they leave me and go out into the world for part of the day.

Does the world know how precious they are? How lucky it is that I share them with it? I love watching them make that walk each morning. It's bitter sweet. But I feel like it's helping us all grow up a little bit each day, and I love seeing who they are becoming. I'm feeling the urgency to take advantage of the time they are here with me. Maybe I'm starting to learn a little bit about the letting go part of being a mom. It's not time yet to really let them go, but we're starting to ease into it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I Wanna Be Like Caleb

It feels like Spring might really be here! After a couple of warm days, I think we may be able to put our loooong winter behind us. I went out to clean up some of the icky brown leaves that are stuck in every corner and crevice of our yard, and look at what I found!
Those bulbs that I stuck in the ground way back when are coming up! They didn't get down about the snow and cold temperatures, they just did their thing under there. What a lift the daffodils and tulips give me. There isn't even any color yet, just the green shoots popping up is enough to make me happy.

In my reading of the book of Joshua, I'm amazed at the story of Caleb. Remember him? In Joshua 14, Caleb goes to Joshua and requests the land promised to him 45 years earlier. A 45 year-old promise. And I thought our winter was long. Reading about this made me look back at Caleb's story in the book of Numbers (chapters 13 & 14).

When Moses sent twelve spies in to check out the scene in Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb saw it through eyes of faith. They saw that the land was fabulous, and that because God said so, it would be theirs. They said to the Israelites, "It rocks! With God's help, let's go!" But the other ten went on and on about how big the people were, and how it looked impossible to take the land. And the Israelites bought into the fear. God punished all the Israelites by making them wander in the desert for 40 more years, one year for each day that the spies scouted the Promised Land.

I had always known that they spent 40 more years in the desert, but I realized for the first time with this reading that God told them exactly how long it would be. They didn't wander aimlessly wondering if they'd ever find it again. It really was like being grounded. None of the adult Israelites (it says 20 years or older) got to enter the Promised Land--with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. The LORD says "But my servant Caleb is different from the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land." (Numbers 14:24)

It apparently took 5 more years to take over all that land. So finally, after 45 years, Caleb got his land, and a blessing from Joshua. What a faithful, patient man Caleb must have been. He even had to do more fighting to get his portion of land, and still, at 85 years old, Caleb knows God will give him the strength he needs. Caleb says to Joshua, "I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then....You will remember that as scouts we found the Anakites living there in great, walled cities. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said." (Joshua 14:11&12)

Wow! I want to have that kid of faith. It reminds me a bit of the tulips, the way they just keep doing their thing under the soil and snow and winter yuck. They aren't discouraged by the old leaves covering them up, they just push right on through. Before you get on my case, I know that tulips don't have faith. But they know what they are created to do and they do it. Caleb knew what God promised him, knew what he was created to do and did it. And he did fight at 85, and did drive all those people out. I want to learn from his story.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Plumb Women Blog

I just posted my weekly contribution to our church's women's ministries blog. Go check it out! I'll be posting there every Friday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

And So it Begins...

We've flipped the page of the calendar, and I did so a little reluctantly, because I knew what it would hold. The beginning of soccer season. We all love soccer season (except maybe Lars....). It's fun to have the whole family trek out to the games. I love these things that we all do together. (and Lars does, too, even though soccer itself is not his passion.) But it also means that there's two practices each week for Scott, and one each for Luke and Lily. This means dinner has to be figured out in the morning on those days, or else it's a mad dash--usually not as healthy, almost always more expensive--to get everyone fed.

We eat dinner together just about every night. But Spring (soccer) can throw a wrench in that, unless I am organized. Scott and I were talking the other night about how much goes on at the dinner table that we love and don't want to miss out on. The things that come out of the mouths of our babes just make us smile, and we love their quirks, and who they are. There are many, many glances between Scott and I, laughter supressed, just enjoying this family, amazed at who our kids are growing up to be. We find we like them! We really do!

I look at the calendar and how it's already filling up, and I ask myself some of those "intentional" questions. Do we want to be doing all these things? Are each of us in the family using our time the way we ought? And I actually think it's ok, so far. (It's only the 3rd, for pete's sake!) But I do need to be on top of the meal-planning, otherwise, we all miss out on the family dinners, and I think those hold us all together. They hold me together, anyway. So I've pulled the crock pot out this morning....

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tough Question

Today was the final session of the 6-week Bible study series I participated in at church. For the homework last week, the author (Angela Thomas) really emphasized the importance of this work making an impact on the way you live. She wrote about how it's all good to attend Bible studies, and learn the words and do the assignments. But if it doesn't show up in your life, if you still act the same towards others, it's not really doing anything for you.

The study is on Jesus' sermon on the mount, which He ends by saying, "Everyone who hears these words and puts them into practice (emphasis mine) is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matthew 7:24 7 25 NIV) Angela Thomas writes, "We assume that attending and hearing is practicing, but it's not. None of this really matters if your life is not being transformed by the truths you've learned."

So, here's the real kicker from the homework. She told us to ask a family member what he or she sees God doing in our lives. Do they see God transforming us? Softening our hearts? Oooh. Made me take a deep breath. The rubber hitting the road.

What would the people around you have to say about what they see God doing in your life?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mahwiage.....(from the Princess Bride)

Much of yesterday was spent reading other blogs. It rained non-stop from at least 5am until a little after 1:00 in the afternoon, and I spent the morning in my jammies catching up on all the blogs I didn't look at over Spring Break. Very indulgent. It was nice. I can't tell you how much I want to complain about the weather. But that's not fun to read, so I'll refrain. My sister-in-law Kris always laughs at the way I want credit for the things I didn't say. I'm looking for credit here, for not complaining about the weather! Because I totally, justifiably, could!! But I won't.

I read a few postings yesterday about being a wife and mother, what it means, how we do it and don't do it. And, on Sunday, we picked up Lily's flower girl dress for our niece's wedding in June. (kinda' cute, don't you think?) ....So, marriage has been on my mind.

We can really miss the beauty of marriage sometimes. It's so easy to just get through the days. To have that mentality of doing what it takes to survive, without stopping and focusing on doing the work necessary to thrive. It's another one of those things where we've got to pay attention to what we're doing and make sure we know why we're doing it.

This photo is from our wedding album. We're running to jump into the limo as people throw bird seed at us. It's a great picture of what can happen in the marriage journey. We were so young, ready to take it on. And life comes at us. Things are hitting us, and we put our heads down, hold on to each other, and run through it.

Are we living in this house, driving these cars, eating meals the way we do, spending money, putting the kids in school, playing their different sports, involved in their different activities, etc., etc., because that's just the way it's done? Or is this the way we want to do family? marriage? It's like life can just roll right over you, and you don't realize that it's happening, or that you can say STOP!

I've been given a gift this year. In a moment of intentional-ness, we made a difficult decision to switch schools for our kids this past summer. They (I say they, but it really was we. Their school was a whole-family adventure) went to a public charter school. We initially decided that we Lars needed to switch from the small charter school to the huge regular public middle school. Once that decision was made, we eventually decided it would be best for all the kids to make one switch for all. We bit the bullet and pulled them out of the safe, small, familiar, charming community of the charter school. Right about now, you may be wondering what the school business has to do with our marriage.....I'm getting to it. This is how I tell stories, sorry. This is why I don't write fiction.

Because the charter school is small, there's lots of needs, and because I'm a stay-at-home mom, I had time available to help meet some of those needs. I felt obligated to help. Because I was available, and capable.....I was at the school every day, just about, for one thing or another. I thought I was doing things that were good for the school, therefore good for my kids, therefore a good use of my time. Maybe, maybe not. I was overwhelmed, busy, tired, running around like a crazy woman at times, missing opportunities to truly engage with Scott. I learned so much through it about myself, though. I don't regret last year, but I'm so glad this year is different.

With all the talking, thinking, praying about the kids making a smooth adjustment to a new school, I really underestimated the impact that switching schools would have on me. The huge school doesn't need me. I can jump in anytime I want, but there isn't the same kind of desperation. For the first time in years, I am a stay-at-home mom, who actually stays home.

I didn't mean to say STOP, I didn't even see it coming. I kind of backed my way into it. You know in Evan Almighty, how 'God' says to the wife that when you pray and ask for patience, He's going to give you opportunities to be patient? Kind of like that, I had been praying for direction. I thought that He would give me a "thing," something to do that I would know with clarity was from Him. Maybe a job or writing assignment, or volunteer opportunity that was a perfect fit. He didn't. He gave me no things. Instead, He gave me back my home, husband, and family...only. God gave me the gift of clearing my plate. And here is where is connects to our marriage. We don't have to run through our whole lives with our heads down as things come pelting us. We can slow it down. (or we can pray and ask for help with slowing it down.) We can make sure we're being intentional. We can take the time to love each other, and to realize the beauty of it all.