Tag Archives: blessings

Vehicular Therapy

Something new to me is the peace that comes from the solitude found during a morning commute.

Before kids, I would wake at the last possible minute before dashing through my morning routine and flying out the door and down the road to work.

Four years as a SAHM meant no silence in the car, never a true chance to let my thoughts flow and truly listen to what my body and mind were telling me.

Sure, there were times when I could do some introspection, which lead to one of my best posts of all time.

Sure, I could listen to my audiobooks while the kids entertained themselves in the backseat.

Yes, there were chances to talk with other adults on the phone while I drove.

But to truly seek yourself every morning takes either discipline or forced solitude.  Like my morning commute.

Eight Weeks of Intensive Therapy

I have been at my “new” job for a little over two months.  Since we live in the middle of nowhere, I have a minimum of 35 minutes in the car each morning.

I’ve been training myself to select the day’s outfit and pack my lunch the night before plus set my alarm to give me plenty of time to bathe, dress, paint and coif, eat, and possibly care for a small child that woke too soon.  Most mornings, I am beyond blessed to get out the door without the kids waking and seeing me off.

Any parent who has walked away from a crying child with the guilt of “I’m putting my paycheck before you, little one” knows what it means to leave before they’re even awake.

I take my time because I’ve gifted myself that time.  I climb into my little four-door, four-cylinder car, pull out of the driveway, and get my mind into the zone.  No music or audio books.  No rush where I have anger or panic to focus on.  No one in the car to watch me as I silently run through a gamut of emotions because I’m mentally pulling apart the past few years of my life.

Or, some days, my whole life.

I spend roughly 30 minutes every morning picking through my experiences, thoughts, and emotions like I’m untangling a knot of metal chains that have rusted together.

I practice deep breathing and different levels of prayer and meditation.

I am working on picking myself back up, one mile at a time.

Underrated

One day, taking a long lunch away from my desk and picking up a dear friend from her nearby work, I confessed to her what I had been doing.  It was pouring rain and we had a slightly rushed lunch in a loud, packed Panera.  As we sat in her work’s parking lot, I told her that I had been working through some of my issues during my morning commutes.

She nodded emphatically.  She said she knew what I was talking about, knew how critical that alone time is for her in her busy life.  She agreed with me that vehicular therapy is underrated.

That is why I’m sharing it with you.  You need to know this.  You, who get up in the morning (or evening) to go to work, to spend time away from family and home and friends and an ever-growing to-do list; you, who find yourself wound up and bent out of shape before you make it to your lunch break; you, who wonders what more is there to life or if there’s something wrong with you or why can’t I find the perfect job, perfect car, perfect friend, perfect lover.

You, my dear reader, need to know what a blessing your commute time is.  This is your chance to truly be by yourself and look narrow and deep or wide and shallow at your life, your behaviors, your future.

Embrace your vehicular therapy time.

Personally

I’m working through a year’s worth of grief.  I’m working through a lifetime of pain cause by my mother and almost a decade of issues with my mother-in-law.  I’m working through the drama and bullshit that came about after a lying liar lied about me…and was believed.  I’m working through long-term goals and what my hang ups are.  I’m working through marital issues, mommy guilt, crises in faith, and so much more.

I recommend you do the same.

Because I feel more on the level now than I have in a very long time, even though to an outsider it may look like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Personally, I will tell everyone I encounter about the joys and blessings that come from 30 minutes of silent introspection at least 5 days a week.

Thoughtful Thursday: This Far on the Path

Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?
-1 Chronicles 17:16

This is a question I ask myself time and again.  It helps to not only keep my life in perspective when compared to others on this earth, but it also helps keep my vision and praise trained on God.

Who Am I?

Truly, I am a wife and mother of two.  That description alone makes me one of the most blessed people on earth.  That my husband is The BHE and my children are healthy and bright just sweetens the deal.

I am a home-owner, gainfully employed, intelligent and educated, and driven to excel.  What gifts those are!

My friends are many and easily contacted.  My family is spread wide with experiences to share.  My neighbors aren’t the friendliest but I do live in a relatively peaceful, non-violent town.  Thinking about all the places I could have been born, all the places I could have ended up, and all the scary things in the world my friends and family have seen, I am exceedingly blessed to live where I choose and in an area safe to raise my family.

I am organized and thrifty, I am physically and mentally strong and healthy, I am clean and friendly.  Who I am is in itself a phenomenal gift.

O Lord God

It is to Him that I give thanks and praise.  God provided all of this, from my first breath to every one after that, from the roof over my head to the thoughts in it, from the food in my belly and the clothes on my back.  This is God’s work.  How truly AWE-some is that!

The Almighty has created so much that it cannot even be fathomed, and even more unfathomable to me is that He chose to bless me with so much, both here on earth and the gifts He promises in the afterlife.

The Lord is my shepherd and I do not want, and for that I must never forget to thank Him.  Even during the difficult times, I have always had shelter and sustenance, people to rely on, and my own mind to depend on to think my way through.  These are all things which God granted me, without my even asking, without expecting praise in return.

Too often, the simple things in life are taken for granted and that leads to even the more complex things being taken for granted.  How often has it chafed you in your life to be taken for granted by someone?  Now imagine if you were brought out of poverty and destitution, starvation and uncleanliness, from a place of no potable water and surrounded by violence and fear…and you were brought into my life, where my family has more vehicles than drivers, more houses than we know what to do with, potable water at the lift of a lever, lights and fans and the Internet at the flip of a switch, constantly accessible food in the refrigerator and pantry.

O Lord God, I should drop to my knees now to thank You profusely.

And What Is My Family

To me, my husband and children are very special people, my everything.  We love one another and care for each other.  But what is my family to our town, our society, the world?  And what are we to God the Almighty?

My family is my everything.  Even broadening the description to cover all relatives, in-laws, friends, and co-workers, my connections to those around me mean more to me than any possession.  If my house were to burn down tonight, I would wake the BHE to help grab our children and cat plus the photos of me with my grandparents and him with his dad before running out the door.  If I managed to have my phone on me, I would call my dad, our friends, someone we know to come help us and provide shelter for the night.  I know how blessed I am to have such a vast network of people to call my family.

What are we to God, though?  We are all His children, His flock, even those who don’t know or have chosen not to follow the footsteps of His Son.  It is singularly amazing that of all the creatures on the planet, God chose us to be special and rule the beasts and tame the waters and receive more of His blessings each day.

This Far

On this, I go back to the first point of who I am.  I am not just intelligent but have an education and the means to further my knowledge, like access to libraries and the financial steadiness to have regular Internet access in my home.  I am not just healthy but have the opportunities to visit doctors and grocery stores where I can purchase the best foods for my body and mind.  I am not just sheltered in my home but actually have three freaking houses on nice properties that are full of comfortable, clean, and sturdy furnishings and can have the temperatures regulated at the press of a button.

THIS IS HOW FAR I have climbed with my two hands and the grace of God.  THIS IS HOW FAR the Lord has brought me.  THIS IS HOW FAR my family has come from humble beginnings and days of fear and uncertainty.  THIS IS HOW FAR God has brought us with promises of much more to come.

For that, I will give thanks and praise.  For that, I will focus on this verse when I become enmeshed in the anxieties that come with weakness and an unclear view of the future.  For that, I will try to keep in perspective that I am so unbelievably blessed.

A recent gem from my Devotional app.


When I lose sight of the path, I will seek His Word to remind me how far we have come.  Gratitude and perspective, folks.

What helps you see the beauty of how far you’ve come on your path?

Momentum Monday: Last Week of SAHMing

This week, I plan to complete the typing and inputting of our steps and goals into the spreadsheets I’ve created to keep us on target.  The path is laid out in front of us, complete with deadlines, and I need to start putting together the dollar figures to find a doable budget.

This week, I plan to take a day to shop online and around town for capsule wardrobe* pieces to bring my wear-to-work options up to par.  There’s no way I can continue wearing my yoga-pants-and-cardigan uniform, complete with messy bun of unwashed hair, as I reenter the work force.  Speaking of the hair, I could really use some guidance on what cut and style will work best for my hair type (uber thick and ridiculously frizzy with lots of short hairs from the new growth associated with childbearing), face shape (I honestly don’t know, and that’s after taking beauty magazine quizzes), and lifestyle (fast and easy—don’t take it out of context).  Help!

This week, I plan to finish everything to do with my father-in-law’s estate.  Well, everything possible, like filing his income taxes and setting aside money for his property taxes.

This week, I plan to wrap up everything to do with my volunteer position as treasurer for the non-profit that will be holding its annual meeting this weekend.  I also need to prep my house for out-of-town guests.  These two things alone will take up a bulk of my time.

This week, I will start setting my alarm AND ACTUALLY GETTING UP to prepare my mind and body for the return to work.  I also hope to guide the BHE through routines with the kids, to show him how I do it, to explain the kids’ needs and wants in more detail, to remind him I have faith in the job he’ll do with them, and to promise him I will try my best to reign in my control freak.  I have already drawn up a list of what aspects of our household running I plan on keeping, sharing, and giving over to him; I figure we need to communicate these things or we’ll end up resentful and living in a filthy house with no food.

This week, I plan to secure care for my children for two days a week to enable my husband to be more than a SAHD but also our very own contractor, the guy who will fix things and plan things and buy things and get things done.  There’s just so much and he can’t do everything in the time we need it done if he’s busy with our children.

This week, I plan to stay calm, trust in the Lord, be thankful for every blessing and road block, and accept with grace and gratitude all that comes to us and at us.

*Capsule Wardrobe sources:  Efficient Momma, Unfancy, Be More With Less

Murphy Momentum: Plans and Thoughts

So much change in so little time…

We are still reeling from the changes of the past year.  Our path has been altered so much, yet we are still able to see how we must and can move forward.

After the deaths of three of the most beloved people in our lives, we became inundated with grief…and their stuff.  We accepted furniture and dishes, we inherited a house and property, we have had to reimagine our dreams and redesign our goals, and we now feel confident about this new path we’ve been set upon.

Forward Thinking

All our hopes and dreams seem within grasp now.  It will not be easy.  The steps we see laid out in front of us, the process we’ve created to handle what comes our way, the plans we have developed to see us from this point to the fruition point are all thoughtfully sought and spiritually guided as we rely on our Maker once again.

We have been through hard times, and we have always been surrounded by bountiful blessings.  Now that we recognize them, we see where we have been blessed, we know how to be thankful and less fearful of the future.

Where We are Now

Yesterday morning was greeted with a lot of excitement and a little trepidation as I phoned my new boss to inform her that I would accept her offer of a position.  I will be the Communications Specialist for the local diocesan office.  My “vast skill set” and “impressive education” have landed me my dream job!

We worked hard to get to this point, but this is merely one step.  Much work will still need to be done.

The BHE will be stepping up around the home as he steps out of the traditional role of breadwinner.  Shortly after I got off the phone, he called his boss to deliver his two-weeks’ notice.  The BHE is now a SAHD!

That’s right, folks:  my bearded, hardworking, dedicated, driven, intelligent husband will be caring for our children day in and day out.

But what about the projects?!  We have so many projects between the three properties we now own that, yes, the BHE is going to need some help.

We discussed at length how we must set aside our control-freak natures and accept the assistance of others.  We must tamp down our pride and stubbornness to get ahead by asking our friends, family, and neighbors for help.

Assistance and Accountability

I’ve been working diligently on 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year plans to show us each step of the way to our goals.  I have been plugging projects into a spreadsheet and constantly jotting down ideas that I toss at the BHE and he tosses back at me.  I am researching ballpark figures for what we want to do, where, and when.  We even had a realtor come out to give us some advice.  Yes, folks, we are moving forward like a steam engine, chugging along but aware we need to slow well before the curves.

The first thing I believe we will ask for is help with the children.  When I enter this 8-5 M-F office job, the BHE is going to need someone to rely on a few days a week to care for our babes.  He can’t get work done with two toddlers!  We figured with the Angel starting PreK in the Fall on MWF, it would be best if he was SAHD those days but a friend or neighbor watched the kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Evenings and weekends will see me back in my Mommy role when he can get even more work done.

What is that work, you ask.  Well, that’s where the Accountability comes it.

As much as we would like physical help, like people to paint or build or mow or roof or watch the kids or whatever, we also need to be reminded where we are on our path.  It is all well and good if I print up a pretty checklist or create a spreadsheet that we look at from time-to-time, but we need to be reminded to check things off and follow the steps we have laid out.

When I complete my projects list, when I finish those long-term plan sheets, I will post them here for you to see where we are and where we are going.  I keep thinking something cheesy like Friday Facts to share what we’ve completed and learned then Momentum Monday to explain where we hope to go next.

For instance, this week, I’ve built up our inventory on the eBay site and accepted a new job; next week, I will complete my father-in-law’s taxes so we can be (almost) all caught up on the clean-up of his estate and take a day to myself to prepare my body and wardrobe for the return to the workforce.  This week, the BHE made serious progress on finishing the final bedroom upstairs at the big house and made some dough taking a truckload of cans to the recycling center; next week, he will complete that bedroom and order the replacement windows for the little house.

See?  I’ve told you what we are doing.  Now I feel like I’ll be letting you down if we don’t do it.  That’s how this accountability thing works on my end.  On your end, you get to share in our triumphs and pick us up when we falter.  Thank you, dear reader, for agreeing to be part of our village.

That’s What Friends are For

I look forward to not only getting stuff done but getting connected to my village as we complete projects, move forward, and stay on our thoughtfully sought path towards our dream goals.  In return, I will learn more about you so I can find opportunities to assist you where you need it.  Networking is a powerful tool.  Apply it correctly and we all see our goals come to fruition.

Where are you on your path?  Do you need some help getting up and moving forward?  Do you know how you can help others in your village to do so?

Bless Someone Else

One step I took earlier on in this process of decluttering and unstuffing was researching the best places nearby to take my excess.  I didn’t want to throw perfectly good, usable items into the trash.  I wanted to make an impact.

I wanted our excess to become someone else’s blessings. 

I asked in a Facebook post what others thought about places that receive donations.  I located a local church that has a thrift shop, I contacted the YWCA in a nearby city, I dug around for information on women’s shelters, I looked up the ways places like Goodwill and The Salvation Army actually help people, and I contacted friends and family who I thought could benefit from some of our Stuff.

Although it would have been much, much easier to just load everything up and drop it off at the Trinity Mission, I felt compelled to take the extra step to know in my heart I made a good effort in finding the best way to help others.

Where is it needed?

I encourage you to do the same when you begin unstuffing your life.  Find out who needs help and how you can help them.  Look into the local charities around where you live.  Personally, we live in a small community in a county with a small population where the majority of people have very low incomes.  So I’d like to help my neighbors, as it were, not just savvy shoppers in the city.

It wasn’t about my Stuff finally having meaning; it is about meaning to help with all the Stuff.

I took all the unopened frilly bath products to the YWCA.  I donated our extra sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and other linens to the homeless shelter.  I dropped off lots of kitchenware like silverware sets, glasses, crockery, etc. at the Salvation Army.  I gave bags and bags of women’s professional attire to a women’s shelter that gives what it doesn’t use to a women’s prison.  Now I just need to figure out where to take all these paperback books*…

Let us not forget about SELLING our Stuff! 

My goodness, you don’t have to look at it all as a complete loss.  I mean, the Things you donate should leave you with a sense of peace and that you’ve done something good and generous.  Let’s not discount the intrinsic value of this!

But we can be practical and say that some of your Stuff could be sold.  Have a yard sale if you want.  Personally, that is a no-go for us.  I see that as a lot of work for little return; the BHE sees that as an open invite to people we don’t necessarily want coming onto our property to look at what we have, can afford, and may possibly have better versions of in the house.  Yes, I think he’s a bit paranoid and overly protective, but yes, I can see his point.  Me?  I think it is much easier to snap some pictures with my smartphone and upload them to Facebook yard sale groups I’ve joined.

And don’t forget Craigslist and Freecycle!

Let me give you a pointer, though.

When it comes to those yard sale groups and Craigslist, price your Stuff low.  Not just reasonably (so many people on Craigslist are unbelievably unreasonable with their prices) but I mean loooow.

I sold two dresser sets for $30.  TWO!  I think I posted them both for $20 but since the first buyer to contact me wanted both sets and was coming that day to pick them up, I was ok with $30.  The FIVE PIECES of furniture that I wanted gone were gone and done so quite quickly.  And I made 30 bucks.  It opened up the space in our room for the bedroom suite we acquired when my grandfather passed.

Today, as I type, someone is meeting the BHE to purchase a stand mixer that I received as a gift, used twice, and have kept on a shelf for a couple years.  It was new at about $40.  I saw another like it on Craigslist for $30.  Are you kidding me?!  Go low, people, if you actually want to sell the Stuff.  I don’t care about the money so much as getting rid of the excess.  Five dollars!  Yes, five bucks for the mixer.  Get it out of my house!

Now I’ve got $5 I didn’t have yesterday AND that unused Thing taking up space is GONE.  Woot!

Thoughtfully seek out that which you don’t need or use.

We are trying to get ourselves back on the path to a better diet.  Our dietary lifestyle has derailed a bit since the arrival of our second child.  Convenience foods are more than that when you’ve got a toddler and a breastfeeder in the house (both the baby and the mommy need more).  Sadly, convenience foods are rarely good for you.  I’m not saying those pretzel sticks are unhealthy to the point they’ll kill me, but they are a processed wheat product and they are not organic.

We needed to dig through our pantry and the extra storage (the coat closet has boxes on the floor where I put the dry goods I buy in bulk… out of sight, out of mind means the chips last longer!) to pull out the things we really shouldn’t be eating.  We are blessed in that we can be particular about the foods we consume.  We are fortunate to have the options of buying organic or eating fresh vegetables rather than state-approved cereal.

There is a food pantry in the nearby city that happily and gratefully accepted the grocery sacks of dry goods that, if I were adhering to the dietary lifestyle we have determined to be the healthiest for our family, I shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

Where can you take your excess Stuff?

What is worth the time and effort to try to sell?

Who truly needs what you only want or even don’t want?

How can you help with the Things you’ve already bought?

And consider those donations not just for tax write-offs but also for that tithe the Holy Bible talks about.  And consider that the tithe is only ten percent, where a true Christian would give much more than that.

 

*Yes, your local library wants your books.  If you have really nice copies of popular books, maybe they can replace their well-read ones on the shelf.  Maybe they can turn around and sell your books for 25 or 50 cents and use the proceeds to buy back-to-school materials for local kids or a new resume creation station for the unemployed.  Seriously, libraries love your books.  But they also have a lot of other people that do the same thing.  And the extras, the books that don’t go on their shelves, the ones that don’t sell in the monthly used book sale?  Those go to a recycling center (if we’re lucky) or the dump (at least paper is biodegradable).  I guess I’m hoping to find, like, a prison that needs to stock its library with paperback mysteries published 10 years ago.

Taking Steps down the Thoughtfully Sought Path of the Grounded Giver and his Sarcastic Wife

It is easier for me to see what I need to change about myself than it is for me to start the process. Thank God for the BHE.

The Spark

I came across this quote on Facebook* a few weeks ago:

“You’ll end up really disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.”

Since reposting it on my personal page, I’ve thought about it a lot. My take on the meaning is a polar opposite to how the BHE read it. Positive, generous people see this as an affirmation to the good they do while negative individuals with miserly tendencies see this as a warning.

It is an affirmation to the BHE; it’s a warning to me. Yet another reason why he’s the Best Husband Ever… And I need him to balance me.

Balance

I know I’m negative most of the time. I know I focus on the bad and dwell in my own head until I can become mired in unhealthy thoughts. I know I’m not as generous with my love, talents, and material things as I should be, could be. Luckily (for me, my friends, and the rest of the world), the BHE is here to balance me out.

I guess you could say I balance him as well, seeing as how devastated he could be without my miserly ways. But I digress…

Someone like him sees this saying and interprets it thus:

Don’t be disappointed when you find yourself the constant giver. You are not a taker. You have been blessed with a big heart, sharp mind, and enough material possessions/money to help those around you. Don’t be concerned if others don’t reciprocate; maybe they can’t. Even if they could give back in the literal sense, maybe they aren’t as kind and generous, thoughtful and thankful as you are. You shouldn’t be upset by this but rather happy you have been able to help these people in the ways only you can. You have a big heart and you are a giver.

Someone like me, however, sees this:

You’re going to get screwed if you give too much because too many people are ungrateful takers.

Yep. That’s it, balancing each other out.

Grateful, Not Hateful

I don’t want such a negative view of the people in our lives. I don’t want to be so hateful about the takers. Thinking on this quote and talking out the thoughts in my head, the BHE helped me realize that I ought to be grateful we have friends and that those friends know they can rely on us. We should be grateful for family and friends and the means to assist those we love, not hateful that so many ask without giving, take without thanks. It isn’t what giving is about.

See, Mr. Positive believes we have been blessed in order to be in the position to give. We haven’t been blessed by God with steady finances and nice homes and cars and the skills and talents that we have just to use to better ourselves. We have been given our work ethic, our income, our homes and vehicles and tools and talents and intelligence to help others, to bring them up, to provide and nourish.

God didn’t put us here to be insular and stingy and only think of ourselves; these blessings bestowed upon us are for the betterment of everyone we know, everyone we are lucky to receive love and friendship from.

God gave us these gifts so that we could give, too; He wants us to show were are grateful by sharing our blessings.

Be Generous

Should those we help reject our friendship, rescind their love, turn their backs out of guilt or envy, because they can’t or won’t take their turn at giving… Then so be it. We know we were kind, loving, and generous. We know we gave, physically and emotionally. What others choose to do after that is on them. We will stand with open arms.

However, we will not stand here dumb. We will recognize the givers and takers, those who can and cannot reciprocate, those who are thankful… And those who are hateful. We will protect ourselves. But we will continue to love and give (just maybe not so much to those who have already burned us).

How I Wish to Grow

I want to be there, where the BHE is. I want to be that complete in my head and heart, so that I can look upon giving as a strength and not a weakness. I don’t want low expectations of those around me. I want to love and give. I also want to be loved and thanked.

I think back on all we’ve done for all of those around us. The BHE has remarked to me before that not all relationships are equal. Sometimes you are the giver to someone who just takes and takes and takes. Sometimes it is even, and no one involved even recognizes that because it comes so naturally to just be there and give and take equally without effort or concerns of equality. Sometimes you are the taker: Without even realizing it, you may take and take from another with no thanks or paltry reciprocation.

My goodness, it is so much easier to see the first two and not that last one. So I challenge you, reader, to look as objectively as possible at the main relationships in your life and see not how much you give but how much you take.

Grateful…

I am grateful for my health and intelligence, and that of my daughter and husband. I am grateful for the roof over my head, the clothes on my back, the food in my belly, and the love in my heart. I’m grateful for my husband’s steady employment that provides for us in plenty so we can care for ourselves and our loved ones. I’m grateful for my friends and family, the givers and the takers and the times we reciprocate. I am grateful.

But Struggling with the Hateful

I take the negative deeper than the BHE does. He takes the burns, applies salve, and carries on, without it effecting his general well-being or behavior. I scrape at the burns to keep them raw and I encourage them to fester and I most certainly allow these negative thoughts and feelings to change my general behavior.

The BHE sees opportunities to work, to put his considerable knowledge and his fit body to use for the betterment of our home, our family, your home, and your family. He stands in the sunshine with an open mind as well as an open heart. The BHE hopes to help.

I am bitter. I stand in a shadow with my arms over my chest. I tap my foot as I ask sarcastically if you need more money, how about a car, some roofing materials, someone to do the roofing, someone to thaw the pipes you allowed to freeze, maybe we can give you a whole roof, or, hell, a whole dammed house. I count the days since he said he’d return those supplies, the weeks she has refused to talk to us, the months since they said they would pay us back. I seethe over the fact that someone didn’t say thank you, didn’t pay up, didn’t keep in contact out of regret for not repaying us or out of guilt for having never planned to, didn’t return what they borrowed …

I gotta stop.  The negative is taking root.  I want to rip out that weed and sow something positive and productive.  I want to plant beauty along our thoughtfully sought path.

Grounded

Yeah, I’m the negative one. The BHE is the positive one. He keeps me grounded, he keeps me balanced, he keeps me out of my head when my head and heart want to explode for the pain of feeling used and thrown aside, he keeps me real and from being spiteful, he keeps me balanced, he keeps me grounded. He is the Best Husband Ever.

We may have been so blessed because we are here to give and provide… But I am so blessed by the man God gave me to love. I hope to change and be more worthy of this generous soul and the love he gives me.