You know you’re almost 40 when…

472312421So in a few days I’ll be 38, which is so dangerously close to 40 that it has me worried a bit.  I keep hearing things like “40 is the new 20”, and lies like that.  I’m not opposed to getting older (I am already a Grandma you know, it would be nice if the age finally fit the stage of life I was in for once!), I really want to do it gracefully – which doesn’t mean I won’t dye my gray hair and use wrinkle cream – it just means that I won’t fight it every step and lie about my age.

Without further adieu, here’s my list…

 

You know you’re almost 40 when:

…you’ve already bought your first pair of reading glasses

…you can’t jump on a trampoline anymore (you know why)

…you look in the mirror and think “wow, I look just like my mom!”

…you realize your “figure” is never going to be what it was in high school again, and you come to terms with that

…you realize that you might wear Spanx for the rest of your life

…you have bags stacked on bags under your eyes, and you can tell you’re “starting to look older”

…the music you listened to in high school is on the classic rock station

…your Friday nights consist of ice cream and pajamas, and you look forward to it!

…your kids don’t understand the concept of a “house phone” and how it used to be “plugged into the wall”

…you get carded and you’re actually FLATTERED that they asked for your ID

…you look around and start to wonder what you’ve accomplished in your life, and what you want to accomplish in the next 40 years

…you start a Bucket List because you now realize that time goes quickly and we’re not guaranteed one more day

…you can honestly say you would never want to be 20 again…like ever (cringe)

…and maybe, just maybe, you start to feel like you might know a few things about life

 

What about you?  What could you add to this list?  I’d love to hear your comments, please leave them below!

 

Parenting with hope

139709807Hope: a feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust

Whether you’ve been a parent for 2 days or 2 decades – you know that it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.  From the second you know you’re expecting, you start to give things up in order for the baby to be healthy, happy and taken care of.  You make sacrifices and go without for yourself you need to, just so that they can have what they need.  You spend your every waking second thinking about them, caring for them, and worrying about them.

Unfortunately, this parenting thing doesn’t come with a very good set of instructions for all of the issues we run into, does it?  What if they get colic and just cry all the time? What if they throw a tantrum in the middle of Target?  What if the teacher says they have a learning disorder?

What if you find out your 16 year old daughter is pregnant?

This is our story.  This was the last few years of our lives.

The relationship that you have with your child is one of sacrificial love, but there are times that love can be tested.  Before our daughter got pregnant, there were years that were extremely hard and tested the boundaries of what we could take as young parents.  We didn’t live anywhere near any family and obviously none of our friends even had teenagers yet, so we had few places to retreat to.

But God is faithful.

During this time of the breaking down of our relationship with our daughter, God was faithful to build our marriage up to a place that was different and stronger than it ever had before. Let me just say, honestly, that if I would have lost the stability of my marriage at that time I’m not sure I would be here today.  For us, the first few months after finding out were like going through a grieving process.  For days we laid in bed and just cried, feeling like it was the end of the world almost.  We had no idea what we were going to do.  We had no idea how our family would ever heal after something so devastating and life altering.

In those first 2 weeks we had lots of “meetings”…we met with the boys parents (and I cried so hard in the parking lot that I didn’t even think I could go in and meet with them), we met with the elders of our church (who were very encouraging and helpful, where we cried some more), we met with the house parents of a home here for teenage mothers (which is where our daughter stayed for a few months, and we cried).  I think back on this time as a “setting in” of sorts.  It’s like your family is being picked up out of their lives and just dropped into something brand new and scary.  There’s a huge transitioning with confusion and chaos, but then you start to settle in a bit and realize that this is your “new” normal.

There are so many testimonies of how we made it through those first few months, too many for one blog, but the thing that God showed to us through this whole time was that He is faithful.  It’s during this storm that He gave us our family scripture:

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Jeremiah 29:11

Those first few months, I wanted to give up.  I was angry and I didn’t understand how God could allow this to happen, how He could stand back and watch our family get torn apart – both by the unexpected pregnancy and by our difficult relationship with our daughter.  I wanted to give up on hope, on thinking our family could ever be normal again.  I tried to squash out hope, to give up, but no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it,  that mustard seed of hope would not vanish.  He hung on to me when I was trying to let Him go.

It’s not easy, and some days I still feel like I’m not sure how this is going to work out, but He’s faithful.  He brings us one step closer to Him every day.  There might have to be some breaking, but it’s better to be a broken and poured out vessel that can be used than a perfect looking vessel made to just sit on the shelf and be looked at.  If you’re going through something and you think that He isn’t there with you, just hold on by faith and know that His perfect plan is always being worked out, even in the middle of the storm.

As Christians, who should our friends be?

Reaching outLately I’ve had quite a few conversations with people where I’ve heard this phrase repeated, “we’re supposed to be “friends” with unbelievers, but not close friends…and if we are friends with them then our main purpose in that friendship should be to lead them to Jesus”. The first time I heard this it perked my “spiritual ears” a bit and really made me stop and think about whether I even agreed with them. Something in me just didn’t really resonate with something that was being said there. Even deeper than that, there was almost a sense of fear behind that statement, as if they were really worried that hanging out with them too much might have a negative impact on their own lives as well.

I will be the first one to admit that you always need to be careful who you are hanging around with, because those people do have an influence over your life, you tend to do what your good friends are doing. Also, if you are following God and trying to live your life a certain way, you are bound to take certain activities out of your lifestyle altogether, and if your friends are still doing those activities then it does make it hard to hang out with them.

I have to say, for myself, that I don’t agree with that statement about who our friends are to be as believers, everything in me cries out “no”! In my heart, I truly feel that we are called to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-14), and how can we possibly do that if we aren’t loving people and being their real friend? If we are closing ourselves off to “outsiders”, then we’ve lost our reason for being here on this earth. Jesus says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35 NIV) We can always say that our lifestyle should be showing Jesus to them, but Jesus always intended the gospel to be so much more interactive than that!

If we are constantly building up our walls against others and pointing out their flaws before we even show them how much we care, then how will they ever see the love that Jesus wants us to show them? Statistics say that within the first 2 years of a person becoming a believer in Jesus, they have completely separated themselves from their old friends and now only associate with believers. The reasons for this are very simple: 1) This is who they are around more often now, and 2) They are trying to move forward and cut out old habits, and in doing so cut out the friends who are still participating in those habits.

I get this, I really do! But sisters and brothers, there needs to be a time when we’re so confident in our faith that we’re no longer afraid of the world outside our homes and church doors. There has to be a day when we decide to “show up” to all that’s going on in the world (even if it’s not entirely “Christian” in nature) and meet some people that might shake up our comfort zones a little. My heart is breaking for a lost world that doesn’t even know it’s lost, and we – the people of Jesus – have forgotten how to interact with them. We have to get to a place where we can live out those commandments to love God and love each other (not just the easy ones).

Recently I had a conversation with my pastor, Joe Canal, about this, and this is what he had to say:

“It’s just very important that we respond to the Holy Spirit when He opens those doors for us. And I don’t think that we should love people just to get them ‘saved’. I think most people are smart enough to sense whether we sincerely care about them or just see them as a ‘project’. But I do think that the most valuable thing I bring to any relationship is my love for and knowledge of Jesus Christ and I should always be ready to share His love with others.”

What do you think about this topic? Do you find it hard to be friends with unbelievers if you’re a Christian? Please feel free to share in the comments below!

Remember, conversations are open, but only in a respectful manner.

 

Displaced…but loved

Photo courtesy of sweatpantsandcoffee.com

Photo courtesy of sweatpantsandcoffee.com

Displaced – “to cause something/someone to move on from its proper or usual place

Home – “a place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household”

…also…

“an institution for people needing professional care or supervision” (this one might apply to our family more – ha!)

As of today we have been “displaced” from our home for 3 days.  Our air conditioner has finally died, and due to the fact that we live in Texas and it’s almost July – this is a real problem.  Because there are 4 of us that stay in my house right now, it’s really hard to burden someone with 4 people at the same time. To make things easier my two younger kids are staying with their older sister for a few days (we go and see them at least once a day, they’re just across town) and my husband and I have been staying at friends homes.

Why is it that we’re so connected to our home?  That we get so wrapped up in how it looks and what it portrays about us?  Psychologists say that in our western culture, our very identity is wrapped up in our houses, and if that’s taken away from us it leaves a void.  Don’t you agree that YOUR home says a lot about you?  If you walk into a friends house for the first time, can’t you tell a lot about them by how they decorate and what it looks like?  Our home is more than a place we have the right to live in, it’s a place that houses our families and provides safety and comfort.  A place where we belong.  Take that away and let me tell you, it feels like your world is off kilter and you’re pretty uncomfortable.

As you’ve heard me talk about in the past here, we live far from family and have been blessed with friends where we live that are very much family to us!  Because of the generosity of those friends, we have had a place to stay for the last few days; one home was with a couple that just had their first baby 6 months ago (playing with a baby for 2 days – yes please!), and now we are staying with friends that have a separate garage apartment (so that our schedule during the week doesn’t get in anybody’s way).

With all the back and forth craziness with the air conditioning company and the constant running from one place to another, and running here and there for things we keep forgetting…we have been less than easy guests I’m sure, and our hosts have been nothing but kind and generous.

Here’s a few tips that I would give on how to be a good hostess to overnight guests and help them feel more at home (like our awesome friends did):

1.  Share your toothpaste, etc. with them – displaced people often forget that they will need to brush their teeth in the future and leave their home unprepared (I forgot ALL hair products and went to work today looking like a cave man – sorry coworkers!)

2.  Offer extra blankets – especially after you let them know that you keep the house at a chilly 68 degrees at night (thanks for the blankets Todd!)

3.  Remember to let them know what the house rules are – the last thing you would want was a guest coming into your house first thing in the morning and finding you doing your naked yoga…these are important details to convey

Right now I am sitting on the bed in a quiet room, listening to birds chirping outside my window, maybe displacement does have its advantages after all…

Do you have any funny stories from times you’ve been a guest at someone’s home?  I’d love to hear it!  Leave your comments below!

My love and me…and unlikely couple

photoChances are that if you know me, then you know this guy.  He’s pretty much the sunshine in my world and the man that has made me trust men again.  But, even if you know us, you might not know how we met and what we’ve been through this last 16 years that makes our relationship that much more special.

About 16 years ago I was going through a divorce (a bad one…is there any other kind?) and was a single Mom of 2 little girls.  I had just started a new job, at the Little America truck stop outside of town in Wyoming (if this could sound any more hillbilly then I don’t know how), and I was being shown around the whole place by a friend of mine.  We went to take off in the van (this facility is very big) and a young guy stepped out in front of the van attempting to be funny, but when he saw me he just froze for a minute.  He stared at me and smiled.  Later he told me that he went straight to his friends and said “that girl is going to be my wife one day”.

From that time forward, we actually became good friends.  We would talk for hours about our families, friends and our history.  He was such a nice guy, something I wasn’t really used to at that time in my life, I didn’t know they still existed.

Flash forward about a year and we moved in together, we were both young and he was still in high school!  Again, I’m not condoning it, I’m just telling the story of how we became “us”.  If my daughter was to try this with somebody I’m pretty sure a shotgun and a jail sentence would soon follow! But we were in love (you know how that feeling of love can be when you’re so young), and we wanted to be together forever.

Eventually we moved to Texas and got married, only to struggle every step of the way, financially and in our marriage.  There were so many times that we came to the end of ourselves and nearly gave up, one person packing their bags ready to walk out the door.  But every time, “something” would bring us back together and we would try again, giving it our best efforts.  We found a good church that we could call family and from there God entered our marriage and we thought “now our marriage will get better and our life will get easier”.  For anyone who has ever thought that, I’m sure you now know how completely untrue that statement is!

We’ve now been married over 14 years, have 3 awesome children and have been through a tough few years…but here we are, loving each other more than ever before and working on our relationship every single day.  I’m very proud to say that I’m still married to the love of my life and plan on keeping it that way “until death do us part”. If you know Josh and I at all, you know that we are COMPLETELY opposite people –

– He likes metal music, I like…pretty much anything other than metal

– He likes watching movies and lazy days at home, I like getting out and going places

– He is an introvert (of sorts) and doesn’t like crowds, I love going places with lots of people

So how do we make it work? Here’s a few of our simple tips that work for us:

1.  We stopped comparing ourselves to other couples, we’re us and they are them – we’re never going to look the same (and how boring if we did)

2.  We strive to find activities that we both like to do and then we do it together! This is challenging because we have so few things in common, but we have a few now

3.  We try to keep a short record of accounts – meaning that if we’re upset with the other we try to take care of it quickly so it doesn’t build up over time and become a monster

4.  Find a couple that can be “mentors” to you – this was hard for us since we didn’t have family, but over the years we’ve had a few couples who have been there for us and allowed us to talk things through with them.  Having another couple in your corner is beyond helpful, it’s almost necessary!

5.  Remember that your marriage is a marathon, not a sprint.  Make decisions and base your actions in the long term.  Be patient, love is a feeling and might not always be there, but that doesn’t mean that your actions of love go away too! Love is a verb, take it into action.

Just because your love story isn’t a fairy tale or doesn’t look like someone else’s, doesn’t mean that your marriage is bad.  Look at why you loved him in the beginning, and work on letting go the of the things that maybe don’t matter as much – after all we’re all flawed. Try to do something every day to help your marriage and make your spouse feel like they’re special and loved.  Marriage is a lot of work, but every little effort that you put in will pay off in the long run!

Do you have any hints or tips on how you make your marriage better?  Please share below in the comments!

Huge victories!

schoolThis week my son went to spend the night at a friends house and has now been over there for 3 nights in a row.  He’s 12, and I’m sure this is very normal behavior for most preteens, but for him, this is the culmination of everything he has worked for over the last 5 or 6 years.  You see, he has Aspergers and spending the night away from home is one of his “fears” that grips him.  This week we’ve all been celebrating this HUGE victory for him, and holding on to the hope that some of his other struggles might be overcome as well!

The Mayo Clinic describes Asperger’s Syndrome as this:  “… is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.”

When my son, K, was 4, we realized that he was not like most other kids.  Looking back it was the little things that caught our attention; the instant anger/frustration that came from switching the schedule without warning, the absolute knock down fits when he knew there would be a punishment for something, and the way that he never wanted to be hugged or touched.  We honestly just though this was maybe his personality and didn’t think too much of it.  After all, he was so young.

As he got older, we noticed he wasn’t as social as some of the other kids his age, he had a really hard time relating to other boys in a “rough and tumble” sense.  Soon after that we started to see that he would flip light switches on and off a certain number of times (come to find out it was any number that was divisible by 3), and he would constantly open and close doors 3 times as well.  Again, the doctor reassured us that his OCD  really wasn’t bad enough that we needed to do anything major about it (she actually told us that making a big deal each time he did it would only cause him to think about it more often).  At this time he was already on an ADD medication that helped some of his other issues as well.

During all of this, his doctor was wonderful!  She’s not one to prescribe medicine quickly and is always open to answer questions and not jump to conclusions.  Because of her laid back attitude I think that we survived those years and came out of it with a better understanding of who God created K to be, instead of always questioning “why” or seeing his struggles as him being “broken”.

K is a bit better now at the social aspect of school (says his teachers who swear he’s at the center of the popularity circle – mind. blown.), but he struggles still at understanding friendships and how they work, and is still not much of a “touchy feely” kid (despite my rigorous efforts), but he is a lot of fun to be around!

He’s a pretty hilarious kid who thinks that he is destined to either be a rapping break dancer (the kid has some moves – he gets that from his Dad) or a Major League Video Gamer.  His Dad and I think that due to his awesome math/engineering mind (Aspergers kids usually are really good at one area of school over the rest, math is K’s area for sure) that he’s probably better off as an Engineer – maybe the first ever rapping/break dancing/engineer…leave it to him to create a whole new field of study!

Do you have any experience with someone with Aspergers?  Do you know of any adults that struggle with it?  If so, how do they handle life? (I’m always curious)

Leave your comments below!