Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Confessions Of The Superwoman Who Wanted To Be

It’s been a hard two weeks. When I blogged last Monday, I was feeling better. Then I got a cold and everything crashed for real. But I learned something.

I learned that I’m proud.

Sometimes I wonder what good I am—how I can possibly be of an encouragement to the world of Christianity around me when I have had everything so good. I know nothing of the hardship of being an abused child. I know nothing of grieving the loss of a close relative. I know nothing of being sexually abused. I don’t have any “dark” sins in my past. You name it, it hasn’t happened to me.

Well, maybe not quite, but you get the idea. This makes me feel rather insignificant sometimes—like I have nothing to share. I’ve sat in ladies’ meetings and felt totally lost as to know how to relate to what was being discussed. Or how to relate to the person sharing. Sometimes I’m like, “Wow, that’s big—I have no clue what to do with that.” Other times I’m like, “So…what’s the big deal?”

Though I’m frustrated at times by not being able to connect, there is a certain thankful feeling pride I have for how good I do have it. I don’t have those “issues to deal with,” I tell myself. I am “balanced”. I minimize my own journey. Really, I minimize my own sin. I don’t much like to go into the fact that my besetting sin happens to be hidden away in my mind where nobody knows about it. Teenaged fantasies that still haunt me today. That’s my journey and it’s yucky and embarrassing. Yet I tend to minimize it. Perhaps I wasn’t sinned against, but my mind isn’t clean, except by the blood of Jesus—and that’s really all any of us have to stand on. I am left with the realization that I’m proud of the fact that the sins I have to deal with are “insignificant.” Sick.

I want people to think I have it together. I despise feeling weak. I hate crying. Period. I don’t like to cry in private, much less in public. I desperately want to help my friends in need, but I do everything in my power to not be needy. Being needy leaves me feeling shame and guilt. I refuse to be in need, even when I am.

I’m pretty good at cramming. Cramming in the Bible study and prayer so that I can get the dishes done. Cramming in the kids so that I can get the laundry through. Wasting time, only to make the important people in my life pay for it. I will appear good. But this usually means donning an impossible fa├žade. An impossible reality for me, and perhaps for any mother at my stage of life.

Then everything crashes. In one week I’m hit with a bad cold. Then the “elusive time of the month” arrives as well. Elusive because I’m nursing a nine month old, which saps my strength, leaving me exhausted. Everything crashed last week and I was left with nothing but my pride.

On Tuesday, I talked to my old best friend on the phone—for over two hours. I wanted to talk to her because I was worried about her. But guess who talked and talked? Guess who spilled? I realized that I really wasn’t put together very well. She was asking, “Have you prayed about it?” “Have you taken your vitamins?” She asked me about my boredom. About feeling trapped in my home. She said lots of good things. Thank you, Melinda.

Later that day, I realized that I was in no condition to have a Bible study because I hadn’t been in the Word and in prayer like I should have been. I sat at the dining room table, staring at my Bible, trying to prepare. I was in no condition physically, emotionally, or spiritually, to teach. I cancelled. I was desperately needy, and I hated it. Suddenly all the stuff I’m usually happy with about myself was stripped away. What was left just looked like a whole lot of pride.

I’m still trying to figure out what this all means. I think it means – at least – that superwoman needs to die. I need to stop trying to be everything and just focus on the important things. I need to sleep more. Do you know how stupid that makes me feel to have to say that? I hate naps! Waste of time. I like to be able to get up early, but I just cannot right now. Weaning this huge baby doesn’t seem to be an option right now. So I need to take my vitamins religiously. It means that dishes sit while I spend time with the kids. It means that if all that gets done in a day is a few dishes and food and clean clothes…it’s okay. It means that I listen to audio Bible while I color with the kids.

This superwoman I want to be has no needs. I need to learn that it’s okay to have needs. I need to figure out how to live with where I am at in life right now—and how to take care of those needs. Those trapped feelings I get? It’s a pity party. Pride. But I realize that I have a need here and I have to figure out how to combat that in whatever way works best for me and my family. If I’m tuned in, I won’t let things get to the trapped stages.

In all of this, I have to learn to be content. I need to choose joy. I need to learn how to THRIVE. Otherwise, I’m going to look back at this stage of life and kick myself for wasting time wishing I was more than I could be. I’ll wish I hadn’t missed what was right before me at the time.

I don’t understand everything my friends have had to deal with in their pasts—or are dealing with now. However, I do understand that I have my own set of weird problems. My own set of needs. My own set of guilt and pride and sin that I have to take to Jesus—daily. Because I do want to do this walking with Jesus thing right. I want to be victorious.

The truth is, I need this stage of life. This tired, hormonal, busy, boring stage of life. Because, right now, it’s important for me to be face to face with the fact that what I can do is not important in the light of eternity. This isn’t about me. It’s about Jesus. What He can do in a day, in a year, in a life, in a child, in me, in whatever we allow Him to work in. So I have to rest. Be okay with feeling and even acting tired. And choose joy, which, ultimately, is choosing Jesus.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Listening Well, Proverbs, and Verse Books.

Last night I was fuming in my kitchen—all by myself because I’d scared my man away when I  yelled and glared viciously snapped at him for turning down my music. I don’t blame him, I was a bear. I was stewing, wondering if I was the only good little Mennonite woman who sometimes feels like she’s just supposed to be fulfilled by doing dishes, raising kids, and washing laundry, mopping floors, and all of those things over and over and over and over. I tried to think about long term results and other stages of life that we’re working towards. It was NOT working. I was mentally blogging many eloquent words—strong and fierce words—about how we’re just expected, as women, to enjoy this sort of thing. I thought about confessing that there are times my home feels much more like a prison to me than a home. Lucky for all of you, three things happened since then that changed my attitude. (Yup, I am a fickle woman.) Oh, and I have made up with my man. He forgave me, as he always does.

Thing one that happened: I went into my air conditioned bedroom. I’m still dealing with the sticky heat totally derailing me and I don’t even realize what’s going on until I get out of it. It’s totally irrational sometimes. I just need to do a better job of realizing what’s actually going on. I’m warm. It will cool down one day (maybe) and until that day, I need to find ways to cope and be happy. And on those cool days, I need to tackle the big projects. In the long run, I don’t know what to do with this heat thing being such a big deal—but it I have to tackle it more gracefully than I have this summer.

Thing two: I just read my Mom’s latest blog post. (I hope you don’t tire of me linking to my mom’s bog, but I am still learning from her and strongly suspect this will never change.) I especially noticed how she said her and Dad have been listening to other people’s stories. I need to listen better. What do the other moms do when life feels like a pointless cycle? I need to stop spewing, even if it is just in mental blog posts, about how I feel trapped and life feels pointless. I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of Moms, who, like me have other dreams and hopes, totally out side of raising children and keeping clean houses. How do they handle these things? When is the time to lay aside other dreams, and when is the time to pursue them, even with the kiddos underfoot? I need to read more, listen closer, and make a point of shutting my mouth and listening when I’m with my friends, to hear what they do and handle life. I need to ask and listen. How do others maintain a eternal perspective reality, while maintaining a day to day reality?

The third thing I did? I just drank my coffee for the morning. A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to articulate cravings, outside of those associated with pregnancy, very well. Since returning from Thailand last fall, I have come to really appreciate my AeroPress coffee. Every day. I like it sweet, iced, and with plenty of milk. It is my happy thing. I’ve also come to understand why there are Moms who hide chocolate stashes where the children can’t find them. I periodically get strong urges for chocolate. What’s with that anyway?

So, I feel better now. My house is still needing the floors cleaned up and I have laundry to do. But what I really wanted to do was write. I’m beginning to think that I need to make writing a priority. Something in my brain feels better when I write. It keeps things tidy up there, I guess. So I will. Maybe it will help me feel purpose in life in those times when I feel like everything else is pointless cycle.

Right now I’m reading the book of Proverbs and the book of Matthew with Pii Yai, the lady I’m doing Bible Studies with. I found out something very interesting to me. While I enjoy Matthew, she enjoys Proverbs. While I struggle to understand whether or not Proverbs is true all the time, she is able to discern the difference between a principle and a promise. I think it’s a blessing that comes with being Asian. Who hasn’t heard a Chinese or Japanese, or yes, Thai proverb? While I feel yanked around, because the subject matter jumps from verse to verse, that doesn’t faze her so much. We got together last week and she had no questions about Proverbs, while I did. Her questions were in Matthew. I’m asking questions about why, if the Proverbs are true, there are Christians who suffer for their righteousness, rather than be rewarded. She’s wondering why Jesus spoke in parables. Unfortunately, we only got so far as discussing her questions. I’d still like to talk about mine with her some day. Until then, I have to ask Dru my questions, the same ones, every other day for a week, until I get it. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons God gave me the man he did is because he knew I’d need someone who didn’t mind saying something several times in several different ways until I finally get it.

Even with my failure feelings of last week, I think there is one thing I’ve done right with my kids. Especially with Jube. It was the creation of his verse book. It’s a scrapbook of the Bible memory we’ve done over the years. I was browsing through it this morning and realized that the verses that mean the most to him are the ones I dug out of my Bible, Proverbs no less, in desperation, trying to get him to understand something important. Proverbs 29:1 came out when I couldn’t get him to understand that there are certain kinds of play that just aren’t physically safe! “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” I debated about memorizing this one. It’s pretty harsh, but I was scared for him. He was three or four at the time and would scare the bejabbers out of me and the neighbors with his antics in the yard while I wasn’t watching at the time. We had this old rusty fence and gate that he’d crawl all over if I let him. The gate was pretty high and there were these long prongy rusty points on it. I lived in fear of him cutting himself open or impaling himself on them.However, he simply would not obey and stay down and way—until we got out the verse book and pasted a new verse in.

 verse book1

Proverbs 12:10 went in when we were dog sitting for friends. “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”  I always want to be careful with my use of the Bible when I train my children. I want the Bible to be the book they chose to live by as they grow up, not the big scary book Mom digs out when they’re bad. However, I’m thankful for the Word of God, and will continue to use it. That’s what it’s there for. See Second Timothy 3:16.

verse book

Havilah has a verse book too, but it is smaller with fewer verses. She’s been slower to memorize and even now she struggles to speak clearly. I’ve just now began to use her book more. Yes, the verse books have seasons, too. We’ll dig them out for a while, then then they get set aside for a while. But every time we dig them out again, I’m so thankful for them.

Now, I shall go get some laundry going and tackle my day. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Broccoli and sweets—more thoughtfully.

After my rant the other day, I considered pulling it down. I was afraid I’d hurt feelings of friends who are more health conscious than I. That was not my intention at all. It was more a rant about the reality I live in. My mom and my man said to leave it up. However, I have decided to follow that post up with something a little more thoughtful.
There is a part of me that could embrace a cleaner life style. Making my own soaps is an intriguing idea. Were I in a position to do so, I would. Rachel blogs about her experience with this here. Sounds fun to me, and I love home made soap! I would dearly love to grow all my own meat and veggies. Right now I live in a foreign country with not a stitch of a yard about my home—so growing my own food is not an option.
I have my little health hang ups too. I’m suspicious of stevia. Why is a green plant processed in such a way that it becomes a white powder a healthier option? Perhaps my very asking this question shows my ignorance, but a simple search on Google confirms that there are some concerns to be considered when using stevia. I’m also suspicious of Monsanto. They seem to me like a huge corporation who makes a lot money making food and food products--with little regard for public health. It's a recipe for disaster.  Neither do I like the air being polluted by chemicals, or smoke like we have here during part of the year when there is burning going on in the mountains.
Perhaps more controversial would be our decision to vaccinate our children. Dru grew up in a non-vaccinating home. I grew up in a home where vaccinations happened—my Mom remains a huge believer in them. So when Jube came along Dru got on the computer and did his research. We decided that they were important. Now he works for an organization that does a lot of work for the World Health Organization. He is even more firm in opinion that this is best. However, just the other night he told me that as firmly as he believes in them, he does not believe that the decision to vaccinate our children or not, should be in the hands of the government. This should remain the parent’s decision. 
There is a huge world of perspectives and ideas out there about what is good and healthy. And honestly, I think we all need each other. I don't like when health becomes a battlefield. Although our bodily health is important, I think that our relationship with our brothers and sisters, and our relationship as Christians to those around us who are not, is way more important. While I don’t use stevia, I think that those who have totally cut sugar from their lives have something good to share with the rest of us, reminding us to sweeten with care. I am not a Trim Healthy Mama, but I think that the authors of that book have a lot of good to share and the diet they offer is so much better than the standard American diet. I’m skeptical of Plexus, but I don’t deny that it seems to be very beneficial for some people. For you of my friends who use and distribute Plexus products, I am by no means critical of you. I even don’t mind seeing your goings on from time to time on Facebook, as long as I see the other parts of your life as well.
If I were to buy into whole new health life style, I would put the health of other areas of my life in jeopardy. It would be stressful in the budgeting department. It would take a lot of research and discussion with my man and, well, a LOT of effort that we need to be putting on other things right now. For me to do it “right”, my life would have to revolve around that, at least until the learning curve is over. That is not what God is calling me to revolve my life around right now.
Jesus said, “isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?”in Matthew 6. We rich Americans forget that from time to time. We demand the biggest and best and even the healthiest, thinking that somehow we’re entitled to that. However, there are some who would be thankful for just our table scraps, sugar and all. Some of us have it with in our power to live healthier than the rest of society. If you chose to go this route, or even, feel as though this is where God is leading your family, I beg you, do it with humility. Let’s not make a religion out of what we eat. Let’s eat what is available to us, be we poor or rich or somewhere in between, with humble thanksgiving that we have what we do.
As for my dislike for broccoli, yes, I have quit buying it for the time being. Broccoli rotting in the fridge does not do any of us any good. However, I did realize lately that I need to place more importance on the vegetables in our diet. I have never liked vegetables. I love meat and dairy. But I think vegetables are important and am therefore doing some experimenting with them. I finally figured out how to successfully roast vegetables that aren’t so shabby to eat. I want to do some playing around with salad options. And just maybe, I can figure out something that will suit us well as a broccoli replacement—although I can’t throw it out completely—Dru likes it. (It’s fine, we agree on the important issues in life.) I would love your input on simple veggie recipe options!

I still must admit though, I am of the opinion that a little sugar sweetens the life of anyone. My children will have their cookie or two a day, metaphorically speaking. If they turn out to be as good looking, sweet, with an amazing servant heart like my youngest brother Brad, I will be ever so proud. Who is, after all, made 95% of cookies and milk. A little bit of sugar brings a smile to the hearts and faces of children the world around. I’m all for smiles.
And here are some cookies for you here and here, straight from my own mother’s gluten free kitchen.
(Now for those veggie recipes?)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sweets, and a clean house, and (a little bit about broccoli.)

There is a sacrilegious little thought it me that goes something like this, “So, sweets aren’t good for the body, but they bless the soul—and it’s the soul that’s eternal after all, right?” So, it goes a little overboard, perhaps, but it’s something I wrestle with. When I was a kid we had a cookie jar that said, “Happy the children, wherever they are, who live in a house with a full cookie jar.” And our cookie jar was filled once a week or near abouts there. My youngest brother is made of 95% cookies and milk, last time I checked.  My mom taught me that you never over beat cookies once the eggs are in and butter is always best. Always. Dru’s family ran a bakery for ten years. In fact, I learned some of my baking skills from Dru.  So in my house, I like to have something baked and sweet around. I’ve guilted around about this some. I’m not always quite sure what to do when I hear other moms meticulously rationing cookies and candy, and I am not ever sure what to do with statements like, “My kids don’t get sweets much.” My initial reaction is not, “My, what a good mom!” It is more like, “Those poor kids!” And then I ponder these things in my head for a couple days.

I’m no health nut, and I’m the first to admit it. However, I don’t think we’re bad eaters either. Frankly, eating 100% healthy 100% of the time is more expensive than I feel l could pay for with a good conscience. Plexus blows my mind on some levels, although I’m not about to say it isn’t helpful for some people. I think that people eat too many carbs as a general rule—me included. I’m always a little aghast when I go to a Mennonite pot luck and the hot dishes are loaded with pasta and all other manner of carbs—just because they’re cheap. Actually that really bothers me.Which is silly I suppose because even I like me a pasta hot dish from time to time. So there is a balance, somewhere.

I also kind of think that when God told the children of Israel that He would take them to a land flowing with milk and honey, it was indicating that milk and honey would be a good thing. So I buy the idea that honey is a healthier sweet than cane sugar. I will not buy it if you try to tell me that all sweet is bad. Period.

Some people probably just don’t have sweet teeth, but at this house we do.  Havilah and I both have a chocolate dependency. As a three year old she came to me and said, “Mom, I need chocolate,” out of the blue more than once. This being the case, it won’t be uncommon to have something sweet in the house. Obviously, I do ration the cookies…a little. We do go through them pretty fast if I bake the whole batch up at once. Usually, I bake up part of the dough and then the other goes to the fridge. Moderation means that you should have a few sweets. If you have none than that’s just abstinence or asceticism--not moderation. (Insert self-righteous sniff and stamp of right foot here.)

(And if you happen to be one of those moms who is more careful about sweets, or if your family simply has a different culture when it comes to sugar and chocolate—that is totally fine. I mean no offense. I’m just battling this through in my mind. I also reserve the right to change my mind. My mother also taught me that “Every woman has the right to change her mind.”  Winking smile )

That being said, try this recipe.  But rather than using the suggested buttercream frosting recipe, heat a cup of cream then melt 9 oz. of chocolate chips into it. Add about half a cup of peanut butter to that. Let it cool just a tad then pour it over the still warm cake. Eat with moderation. I like this cake recipe cause it is easy and tastes pretty good for only using cocoa powder. One of  these days I’m going to find a recipe that calls for the melted chocolate to be dumped right into the batter. However, this will be a little more expensive to make and seeing that I don’t spend extravagant amounts to be healthy, neither will spend lots on chocolate—usually.  Okay, enough with that rant. Perhaps I shall be a wiser woman one day when all my children end up with rotten teeth.

When ever I go to bake though, I make sure my house is tidy and laundry all caught up. I’m especially careful about the bathrooms. HA! HA! Tricked you! Lately play has come before work. A lot. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are especially bad for this. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Dru is around for the afternoon. Dru wakes up around 4:30 am to lesson plan. By the time he gets home from teaching 8 – 12 year olds at one o’clock his brain is fried and he’s most likely battling a head ache. He might nap. I have a Bible Study on Tuesdays and he has the children that afternoon. So they play, and I come home to join them. On Saturdays we usually have a lot of family time. So while Dru is busy, too busy, we still get our family time because he gets sick of his computer and needs a diversion. So we chat and laugh hang out. With me trying to be better about school happening, some of the house work slides a little anyway. I find it very easy to sit across the table from Dru while he drums away on his computer, and chat with him. It is very hard to work when he’s in the house. He’s just a nice person to have around. So we catch our family time, in spite of a house that needs tidied and laundry that could be folded. But I decided that THAT is not something I will go on a guilt trip for. Twenty years from now, I can clean the house. But I might not get to hang out with my family like we can now. (I’ll pick up now then until then, but now you aren’t without warning before  you come.)

The truth is, Dru’s schedule is very sustainable as far as family life is concerned. But ministry outside of this is limited. We’re working on the solution to this. Somehow we need to cut back on his work hours, still get a visa and work permit, and make a little money. Not sure how this is going to work out at this point. Lots of unanswered questions. I swing from being used to not having answers to being really sick of limbo. Right now I’m not thinking about it, so when Dru comes to bounce an idea off of me I feel totally spaced and disconnected. This isn’t very helpful, I’m afraid.

It’s time to sign off for the night. I’m going to bed with a tidy house and it feels amazing for a change. However, I didn’t have to make supper—although I should have. Dru came home hangry, only rather than angry when he’s hungry, he gets depressed. He said he’d pick supper up but in then end we went and bought food at the market. So I got the house cleaning done for the next 20 years. Yay! Humph. If only.

One more quick rant? Why is it that I go from inspired and fired up about good house keeping one month to not caring an ounce the next? Same with cooking.(Speaking of cooking, I am finally mature enough to admit that I don’t like broccoli and have decided I’m going to stop pretending about it. I buy it because it’s healthy, but I don’t serve it because it’s yucky. So it sits in my fridge and rots. But I have to stop now because the blog post is unhealthy enough as it is.) And how come I can’t figure out how to keep a clean house and be a good mom at the same time? I struggle with incorporating them into the house cleaning chores as part the the work force with out jeopardizing my relationship with them. So they get left out and then I don’t focus on their needs and alas, I realize that somewhere along the line I tuned out and I have discipline issues on my hands. What’s with that? Jube did get inspired to clean the living room up fairly well though today, so maybe we’re getting somewhere. No, wait, he was inspired to watch Magic School Bus after the living room was tidy. Does that count?

Good night, or Good day, which ever applies.