Thursday, July 28, 2011

School Supplies and What Not

I've been in my daughter's room for most of this afternoon. Cleaning. {Deep breath in... and out with the bad...} My children are disgusting, and though I totally understand that it's mainly my fault for not requiring more of them around the house, I am still bitter about it. Shouldn't each human being breathe their first breath with a general appreciation for cleanliness? I am not seeking perfection here, but throwing things in the trash can and not hoarding random objects would be a great start.

Anywho...

The clean-up comes after a beloved morning shopping trip for school supplies. Trust me, the cleaning becomes the icing on the cake when you've been to Walmart, McDonald's, JC Penny, and TJ Maxx with both your children. Funny how everything I purchased (minus the can of shave gel I bought myself) is all for them, and they still aren't satisfied. I want this notebook... I need a new back pack... I want a jacket even though I won't need it for three more months... you are not spending enough money on me, me, ME!!!!!

All together, I think we made out okay. Got everything on our lists except for two things and came in under $80. Not too bad for two kids. Mind you, I'll have two more lists of things to buy once we meet the teacher, but we are ready to start. And I am ready for my first full day of peace and quiet since the last day of school back in May..... just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ephesians: My Life Book

Some folks talk about their life verse, or a specific scripture that they personally identify with that facilitates change in their life. I am going out on a major limb and proclaiming the entire book of Ephesians as my life book. Why stop at the verse, you know?

Since the dream I talked about a few weeks ago, Ephesians is really all I want to read. If I sit down to anything else, I find myself distracted, which is not all together unusual, so maybe I should say more distracted than normal.

I've read the book many times before. It's short ~ only 6 chapters. Back before I flunked out of the scripture memory thing over on Beth Moore's blog, I picked a verse from the book as my second scripture to put to memory. If memory serves me correct, I picked it because my first verse (what I had considered my life verse until a couple of days ago) is referenced in chapter five of Ephesians. I think I am beginning to confuse myself, so I'll just say that I love the whole book, and it really tells me everything I ever needed to know all compiled into six easy to read chapters.

You name it, Paul discusses it. Family life. Unity with friends and fellow Christians. The Holy Spirit. Grace. How husbands and wives should treat one another. How to arm yourself for battle with the evils of the world.

Ironically, one of my most stand out memories of when my father was a preacher was a series he did on the Armor of God. I think he made props of some of the different things, and if he did, I am pretty sure I helped him. I don't remember a whole lot of what he had to say, I just remember it being a series of several Sunday night (I think!) sermons. Funny how certain things stand out in your mind for life. Even more strange how one of the verses from that series found itself written on a flip chart in my dream 25 years later.

I could pick a multitude of scriptures to put to memory from that one little book. Here's a doozy...

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (4:2)

If I started work on that one, I'd be perfect at it round or about the day after I die. That's the kind of challenges Ephesians is filled with. Hit straight to the heart, this is how you should be not the rules you should follow, kind of good stuff. And it's mine. Well, it's all of ours, but you know what I mean. So, if you haven't read the book of Ephesians, well you should. And when you do, let me know if it speaks to you much the same.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Morning Routine

Wake up. Plug in iron. Select a pair of wrinkled pants. Turn on TV ~ NBC, Today Show. Pour water into the tiny hole at top of iron. Some mornings, I miss, depending on how sleepy I am, and then have to clean up the water that has spilled. Mull over my crazy dream from the night (inevitably there's one to rehash) as I press over Scott's pants for the day ahead. Place pants on the back of the sofa, pour coffee, sit in my chair, open laptop.

That's pretty much what I do every morning. Most people, my husband included, think I am crazy for ironing in the morning. But, it's just what I do. Over the years, it's become a morning ritual to me... a chance to slowly come partially back to life from my deep sleep. I don't have to talk or move around much, just press over a few wrinkles. But it's how I first fill my mind that I am not so happy with. Facebook. Email. Blogger. Etsy. Some for obvious reasons, but others just for the let me see what's going on today reasons.

The latest chapter from Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner talks about developing your quiet time. Anyone who stops in here often knows I love the Scriptures, and I do try to take time out to read them throughout the week. But I have never developed an appointed time or place to do so and make it a routine. My morning routine was already full. When my kids were of napping age, their nap time was my quiet time. I would turn the TV off and open my Bible. But as they have gotten older, those times are more haphazard now. I have developed an I'll get to it when I can approach to the Lord, and it's time for a change.

So, starting tomorrow, I am changing my morning routine. I will still iron first thing; I don't think I can ever change that! But instead of filling my mind with useless things like Facebook and Blogger, I will open the cover of my Bible instead.

I mean, it seems like a no-brainer. But I think I find myself more interested in so-and-so's pictures from the beach last weekend than in what God wants me to hear for the day. And I don't think I am alone in this predicament. It's easier to digest the goings-on of Facebook than the challenges and convictions the Scriptures may put upon my heart for the day. But I am feeling a tug on my heart that I need God to be the first one to put information into my brain... not Facebook, not Matt Lauer, or Gmail.

What about my friends out there? Do any of you have daily routines with God? I am interested... let me know what you do to ensure you get the charge from the Lord you need every day. Tips and advice are always welcome!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tooth Fairy

I shot up in bed around 1:30 this a.m. We forgot the tooth fairy.

I got out of bed, turned off the alarm, and made my way out to Scott's truck in search of the $5 bill he said he had. I looked in his wallet, in the console, and in that cubby thing in the door of his truck. No luck. Buddy, who was sleeping in the garage last night, just looked at me in complete confusion. He wanted to be by my side, but he was still in dreamland.

I hated to do it, but I had to wake Scott up to locate the cash. It's only Madalyn's second tooth, and we had just had a lengthy discussion in the car about the tooth fairy.

"Well, some people don't believe in the tooth fairy. They think your parents put the money under your pillow," says David, holding the pillow pet he just HAD to have at Old Time Pottery. Big ten year old, I tell ya.

"David, you should know Mama and Daddy never just give you money for no reason..."

"Yeah... Kyla says she don't believe in the tooth fairy." Madalyn chimes in. Sad, I think, that a kindergartner didn't believe in the tooth fairy. But pretty smart angle for the parents.

"Why would you get money for teeth anyway. That's weird." David is still trying to make sense of it all in his brain.

"I don't know, buddy. I always did, though." I try to keep a low profile about it all. I don't want to outright make up falsehoods, but I want my kids to enjoy the same mythical, magical parts of childhood that I did. It's a slippery slope.

But that's what keeps me going. Keeping the magic of childhood alive. Where Santa is real, some weirdo is paying kids for a collection of tiny teeth, and a giant bunny brings chocolate on Easter Sunday.

I'm just so glad I woke myself up and remembered. I don't think we could bounce back from forgetting. Tooth fairy would be dunnso in our house. And I also got a break from the weird dream I was having about my car behind stolen and being at the hospital with the perpetrator and his pregnant girlfriend whose blood sugar was above 700 and trust me the dream gets weirder and weirder by the second. I need to see a doctor about my dreams. It's getting really old. I have totally gone off topic here, but I am recovering from a two-week crazy dream marathon.

At least I remembered the tooth fairy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Strongholds...

Just behind our house lies a line of tall trees, mostly oaks, but there are one or two pines scattered within along with the stray dogwood here and there. As you can imagine, within those trees bustles a little woodland world of its own. Squirrels and birds makes their homes there. Bats do as well, and at night, they swoop down over the pool diving down to take a drink. In the fall, we sometimes catch sight of an owl. Only in the seven years since I have lived in this house have I become cognisant of the life in nature.

My favorite spot to watch TV, read, blog, or catch up on Facebook is my little chair. It faces the back door leading out onto our deck giving me the perfect visual of the trees outside. I watch the squirrels play, the mockingbirds fight, and the leaves rain down in the fall. Just a few minutes ago, I watched a red bird hopping from branch to branch. Not the usual motion for a bird. He'd hop up one, rest a minute, and repeat the motion. One branch at a time. I wondered about the little bird... is one of his wings hurt or is he otherwise wounded? Why would a bird who could take off from one point and fly to another with ease be hopping up a tree? Must be a reason behind it.

It made me think about my spiritual life. My grandmother, my dad's mom, always tells me, "Little steps, Tamara." Little steps indeed. Most of us don't want to take little steps; we want to fly first, soar above the trees, forgetting the steps altogether. But I watched that little bird, clearly not working at his full capabilities, and I thought about the wounded steps I have taken on my spiritual journey thus far.

In the book I've been reading this summer, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, an entire chapter is devoted to strongholds. This is a term I've never quite understood. I don't recall ever hearing much about spiritual strongholds in my early years, and the use of the word is a bit confusing to me. I've often thought about a stronghold as being a place of safety as in war times. But in religious terms, we use the term to mean something the has a strong hold on us, that holds us back in our spiritual journey. Like the little bird that I saw hopping from branch to branch, there's something in our life keeping us from running at full spiritual capacity. Those looking at us watching our movement may not know what it is, but it's there all the same, working against our upward motion.

When I first started trying to identify my stronghold, I thought in terms of my actions. It must be that I drink. Or maybe my stronghold is not going to church regularly. Or it could be that I don't pray enough or that I curse too much. But the more I thought about the true spiritual definition of stronghold, I realized that it was nothing tangible, no one action I do or don't do, no conscious choice. If it were conscious, it wouldn't be a pitfall or stronghold. The tangibles are given another name, and I believe we call them sins.

My stronghold would have to be something that I couldn't touch, something specific to me and my life's experience. I immediately knew what it was. Guilt. And not guilt of any one particular thing, just guilt in general. I shouldn't have done that, said that, thought that. I'm not worthy. I am not loved because of this or that or the other. My sins are too big, too ugly, too much. And throughout that {crazy} thought process permeates this one huge problem ~ the focus on me and my actions. How selfish. How ridiculous to limit the capability of God to look past my humanness. He created me; He knew before I was born that I would make poor choices. It's up to me to step into His grace and forgiveness (which happen to be the antithesis of my stronghold) and subtract myself from the equation.

I think the story of the Israelites first brought me to that realization. I've grown so attached to the Old Testament, and though my memory is not the best and I can't recount when they went here or left from there or all the plagues and battles and stages of captivity, within the history of the Israelites lies this beautiful story of undeserved love. They were simply God's chosen people. Makes not a lick of sense to me because they had a tendency to disobey and make poor choices. Yet God never left them or took His Covenant from them. He drew them back in, He protected them in times of famine, drought or captivity, and He sent special people and messages directly to them.

When I think about God's chosen people, the Israelites, I can't help but think about me. I have a tendency to mess up and disobey. I stray off the path from time to time. There have been times of famine and captivity in my life as well (spiritually speaking). But God has always been faithful to me, and He has sent divine words to me through His Scriptures to affirm in my heart that I am His. It makes zero sense to me, but I know it to be true. I am God's, and He is mine, and there's nothing that I've done ~ no poor decision, no gallivant way off the path ~ that can separate us.

Guilt is about me. What I've done. What I should be doing that I am not. Where I have failed. What I could have done better. Grace is simply about the Father and His Son. When I eliminate the selfish nature of my thoughts along with its earthly limits, it becomes about what God has done for me despite the things about which I carry guilt.

I can't say that this will make a whole lot of sense to anyone reading it. But it's a thought process that has taken me YEARS to understand, so I simply wanted to document it. Just like that little red bird, I'm still hopping up, one branch at a time.

Little steps, Tamara.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Well Check Up

David just turned ten. He hasn't had a well check up since he turned eight. Oops.

Today was the appointed day. I had boo-koodles of things to talk to the pediatrician about, the same one I chose when we moved here a little over seven years ago. The first time we saw her, David had just turned three. He had no fear then of ordinary things. Only things that made loud noises terrified him back then. The "cuttin' the grass thing" (better known as the lawnmower) brought him to tears every time it was cranked. The weed-eater and blower did likewise. And he had this strange fascination with vacuum cleaners. He was drawn to them ~ had to find them in any store we were in and look at them all ~ but the fear was apparent when you actually turned one on. My mom bought him his very own toy shop-vac for Christmas our last year in Montgomery, and it took him a good two days before he would even touch it. Bless him.

Like I said, David didn't fear the ordinary things that cause anxiety in a child. He loved the doctor's office. Thought it was an interesting place. If they pricked his finger, he watched the blood fill the tiny tube and turn clear to deep red. Shots were no sweat. At the age of two, the nurse flushed his ears out in the little room, and she was amazed that he never cried or squirmed. Not so much the case today.

One would have thought David was going in for amputation today instead of a check up. He fretted and toiled all the way there about one burning question: "Are they gonna prick my finger?" Now, I don't know a person that enjoys having their finger pricked, but it's not the most dreaded thing on my visit the doctor list. If he only knew about the stirrups he'd be grateful for the pinch of a fingertip. I watched David in full-on panic mode, and I tried to tell him that in the grand scheme of his day (hours-long of a day) that the few seconds of pain he'd feel from the prick was so minuscule. That he shouldn't allow himself to be that wound up about something so very minute. David wasn't buying it. Not at all.

When we made it into the tiny room to wait, the nurse had instructed David to remove all his clothing except his underoos and put on the paper gown. David did as told, griping and fretting simultaneously. When he sat on the examining table to wait on immanent doom, I noticed there were tears collecting underneath his eyes.

"David, what's wrong? Why are you crying?" I pulled a tissue from the box and blotted his hazel eyes.

"I don't wanna get my finger pricked..." (There are no words for the tone he uses in these type instances. It's beyond a whine... he's had ten years of practice, you know.)

Little sister couldn't help but chime in. "Are you a big ole' sissy, David? Hahaha... you're a sissy."

"STOP IT!!!"

Yeah... that went on for a while. I told David we'd ask the doctor if it was necessary this visit as soon as she walked in so that he could get it over with first thing. I sat and watched him fidget and fret and obsess in his mind, and I couldn't help but think about the many visits before that he had put on the paper gown. The first time, it nearly came down to his ankles. Now it's up to his knees. He's past 70 pounds now, and over 50 inches tall. He's no baby, but he's not a man either. He's sort of trapped in this middle world trying to find his little way out. He's getting bigger, but he still has these little fears that are ridiculous.

The time came for the finger prick. It was dramatic. There was snot involved. He would DIE if he knew I was putting this out there for the entire world to see. But he lived through it, as his wise ole' mama told him he would.

It's weird to think that the same little boy that was scared of that "cuttin' the grass thing" cuts the grass now. How does that happen so quickly? I'm a little glad he's afraid of the finger prick... makes him seem a little smaller to me than he really is. And I got to hold his hand for a minute, too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dreams

I think I have shared with y'all before that I have these incredibly vivid dreams. Not sure why, but I do. Are certain people more prone to dreaming? Or are some just more likely to remember them? I don't know, but I have always been fascinated by my dreams, and I believe that they want to communicate something to me. Is it my subconscious teaching me... is it my soul speaking to the rational brain... not quite sure, but they are there for a reason.

My first memory of vivid dreaming was around the age of six. The setting was a 7/11 gas station in Montgomery, Alabama on the Atlanta Highway where we visited regularly. In my dream, I walked away from our family car for some reason. There was a Pepsi delivery truck in the parking lot parked facing the highway, not unusual from how they park when they are unloading a shipment. I walked past and the driver grabbed me. I could see his face, every detail of it, in my mind's eye. And it stuck with me for days. I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to let my mom out of my sight for fear of being kidnapped. The dream was so vivid that it had become real to me.

I still dream like that. When I am asleep, I am living in this alternate world that seems so real. About a week and a half ago, shortly after we left for our trip, I had a strange dream in the wee hours after I woke up and went back to sleep. I dreamed of some classroom or lecture scenario. I sat in a desk with a notebook taking notes down. The lecturer was a man at some times and then would change into a woman. They taught from one of those old school, over-sized spiral bound flip charts with key points written on them in bold marker. I don't remember any of the subject matter or key points except for one. The male teacher said we were about to talk about Ephesians 6:13, and it was written in black marker as he flipped to the next page of the chart. And then I woke up.

I thought about it as I went about my morning duties. I wasn't even sure how many chapters Ephesians had. So as soon as I had a minute to myself, I sat down to look it up.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

When I read it, I got the chills. I felt like it was some sort of message. Would I be so bold as to believe the Holy Spirit that I know lives inside of me was delivering a message, a passage directly to me, through a dream? I don't know... I don't know how any of you feel about this, but I can't make any sense of it any other way. Because of the dream, I feel compelled to spend some time with Ephesians, especially that final section that talks about the armor of God. Get to know it. Prepare myself. I am getting the chills all over again.

I guess that's the part of life that remains uncertain throughout. The next day. What lies ahead is a mystery. But to feel like there is a day of evil ahead is a little scary. But I guess evil could be any number of things. I am going to stop focusing on the evil part and draw my attention to the armor part. I think that's the message that needed to shine through.

What do you think? Do you believe that God talks to us through dreams sometimes? Do you think it's a time that the Holy Spirit uses to plant things in our minds? If you feel comfortable, share your thoughts with me! I'd love to hear what you think...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beach Trip ~ in bullet points

It's summer. My brain is not operating at maximum speed, and I haven't had a third of the carbs today that I normally have. So we're going with bullet points for the key parts of the trip. Bear with me.

~ On Wednesday, our first day in Orange Beach, Madalyn and I stayed behind to walk the beach while Scott drove David and a couple of others to the opening ceremonies. Madalyn is obsessed with shells, and she kept picking up little pieces along the way. I finally spotted a whole one, small but still intact, and I picked it up to wash it off in the water. The underside of the shell was full of sludgy thick oil. Very sad. They've cleaned it up and got it back to pretty, but it's still there. And it made me a little sad.

~ We thought we lost one of the boys. Seriously. Couldn't locate him for a solid seven or eight minutes. I don't know if you've ever been through that experience, but I can say that I have never known fear like that before. And it wasn't even my own flesh and blood. One of the dads found him a ways down the beach looking for the boogie board. A total stranger ran a good distance to find me and the boy's mom back up at the condo to let us know he had been found. The three of us took the most ginormous breath of relief, the mom cried, and the stranger offered us prescription drugs. I can't make this stuff up, y'all, even if I tried. A perfect stranger tells us he has whatever we need. Thank you for the good deed, no thanks on the illegal drug purchase on the beach however. Good day.

~ Scott hit me in the ear with a Frisbee. Not on purpose (I don't think...). It was quite a blustery day on Monday, cloudy and sprinkling at times, but we decided that we weren't going to let a little wind and grey get the better of our last day on the beach. Scott was playing Frisbee with some of the dads and boys, and I was in conversation with the moms. Next thing I knew, I took a Frisbee to the ear. I don't know if anyone reading this has ever taken a Frisbee to the ear, but it's not enjoyable. It was one of those moments where everyone froze, and I could tell that those that had seen it wanted so desperately to laugh but knew they better wait for my reaction. It wasn't laughter. I tried so hard not to cry, but it hurt so bad, and my ear immediately felt like it had swollen and was bleeding a little. Scott felt like an ass. It was a total freak accident, and I think the wind aided in its perfect placement to my ear as well as me not being able to hear Scott's warnings. Oh well. It's another bullet point to share.

~ We had the best hamburger ever. I don't know why it was the best I had ever had, but it was. We pattied them up with no seasoning at all. Scott sprinkled a little salt and pepper over them as he grilled them. One bite, and I was in love. With the burger. We love some seasoning around here. The more the merrier. But there's something to be said about some good ole' ground beef with salt and pepper that I had forgotten about. Back to basics, I think, says it all.

~ There's got to be more. Got to be. But that's all the time I have. My house is trashed, I have laundry to do, and I have got to exercise today. Blah. But if I want to fit back into my jeans in the fall, it's time to get busy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hot, hotter, hottest

Hot. That's what the beach was. But the thing about the beach that happens to be beyond fantastic is that God provided a big and beautiful ocean full of water to immerse ourselves in when we got hot. This year's world series was in Orange Beach again, and play began on Thursday morning with a double header. We were done for the rest of the day and spent it on the beach. The weather may have been hot, but it was equally as gorgeous. Saturday we lucked out with plenty of time on the beach as well. Hot is hot; I can deal with hot when I'm at the beach.

The ball park was hotter than the beach. In fact, I am officially deeming it the hottest ball park I've ever been in my entire life. I can deal with a hot ball park when we're winning, but it's tougher to take the heat when you lose two games that should have been won with no problem. But that's seemed to be an issue this season. The pitcher may be on, but defense can't catch the flu. Maybe defense is on fire but the bats are dead. We've even had some games this season where all three parts are flat. The way the series was set up left no room for a bad game from anyone. You needed to play your best ball out of the gate or you'd have no chance at first place. We seeded in the silver bracket, something that we're just not accustomed to, and played that bracket on through taking first place there. First place in the silver bracket equals ninth place in the entire tourney, a far cry from where we've finished the two years prior. It is what it is. And it's done. So there you go.

Today, we arrived home, tons of dirty laundry and sand filled towels in tow, to the hottest temperature I have ever experienced indoors. 92. We normally keep ours set on 72 or 73, so you can imagine how we felt. Not quite the welcome home we wanted, but I guess you just have to learn to run with it. Not a whole lot you can do except call someone. The man has run to get a part, and I sure do hope to be somewhat cooler tonight when I lay my head down on my own bed for a good night's sleep.

I don't want to go to hell, either. This is what this experience is reiterating for me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

600th post

Seriously? 600 posts?

Do y'all remember that little show Seinfield? What was it termed... the show about nothing? Well, that's precisely what I have considered my blog ~ the obscure little blog about nothing in particular. I write about my kids, how they're driving me to the edge of insanity. I write about baseball, the ten pounds I'd like to lose, my favorite scripture in the Bible. I mean, the list of topics are so random and inconsistent that I gave up tagging them (a little feature offered by blogger in which you can categorize your posts) a looooonnnnnggg time ago.

So, I thought for my 600th post, I would share something that makes me giggle out loud to myself. Maybe you'll find it funny, too. Maybe not.

So on the dashboard of Blogger (for those of you that don't blog, it's like a homepage) there's a little tab for stats. I only found this about six months ago, and I quickly became neurotic about it. It tells you how many hits you've had in a day, how many people have read specific posts, and where your internet traffic comes from. It doesn't narrow it down to locations, but more or less whether they access you from another website, from another blog, or from a Google search.

The stats page gives me the searches that have been preformed that rendered my blog as a response. These are always fascinating to read, and some are crazy. Below is a list of those that appear right now...

lighthearted mama
i would like tidbits of information
2 dead headless squirrels on my property
meaning of dead headless squirrel
peanut butter jelly spicy doritos

I love the fact that someone Googled lighthearted mama and Crazy Mama popped up. That's beyond fantastic. I also quite enjoy that my blog appears under a search that someone does for tidbits of information. I think what amuses me the most about the tidbits search is that someone actually typed that into the Google box as though they want little segments of random information served to them in buffet style.

The two headless squirrel searches do bother me a bit... I don't like being linked to such horrific acts, but it's the price I pay for having a dog named Buddy Love. And I am really hoping that the two related squirrel searches were performed by the same person and there's not really some cult running around killing squirrels, decapitating them, and framing dogs for the act.

But I think my all time favorite search that pulls up my blog involves Doritos. Because nothing says Crazy Mama like a bag of Doritos. Any flavor, well, maybe except Cool Ranch. I much prefer the original or any of the spicy flavors. And then to add in the staple of my diet ~ peanut butter and jelly ~ just makes it all complete.

So, have you officially arrived when your blog pops up in a Google search? Probably not. But it's entertaining to see what other people are Googling. I am just hoping there's not an app out there that shows people what I Google...