Monday, June 24, 2013

Because we didn't have a floor...

... we had dinner at our neighbor's house. They didn't have any furniture because they are moving to another country and the last set of movers took the last bit of everything away today. If my floor had been finished, I wouldn't have invited myself to their house to share my Costco-purchased dinner. And while I am struggling to rejoice in my unfinished floor, I quickly recognized the blessing of the delay. Our kids played and all the adults visited for one of the last times for three years or more. It was God's grace to be floorless. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Disappointed contentment...

You may think that my title is an oxymoron, and it is. But then again, really it isn't. One is an emotion and one is a choice. One begins the drag down into despair and the other reminds me to change my perspective to the things that are above. 

Our house has been chaotic for two weeks. It was supposed to end yesterday. And when it didn't, I kind of expected it. And when the work got started today well into the afternoon, I wondered but remained hopeful. And now, the house is quiet and the concrete floors still greet me, and I began to feel the pull of disappointment. I really wanted to start putting my house back together today. I really wanted to be done coordinating renovations and spend my time focusing on my kids and playing with them. I really want to not have people I don't know overhearing every single conversation I have with each of my children. 

But, then I reminded myself that the main reason that the work is behind schedule is because the man doing the work has such an exacting eye that he won't move on until the work is perfect (this is a total answer to prayer since he is correcting poorly done work from 7 years ago). And an hour of nearly every day has been cleaning up after himself which has greatly reduced the mess that I am just now beginning to reckon with. Through eyes clouded with disappointment over missed deadlines, I can choose thankfulness that the Lord provided us family men to work on our projects, that they have been kind and patient as my inquiring children follow them around, that even in moments of distress or discomfort they have not uttered one foul word (at least none I have heard). 

And most of all, when I sense a disappointment coming on, I can remind myself that the Lord graciously allows me to plan my ways, but He alone directs my steps. Each day of this renovation has proven to be quite perfectly sanctifying, it hasn't been easy or fun, but it has shown me my wretched heart and drawn me to my knees, causing me to be thankful for the finished work of Christ. 

A few more things to clean, preparing for Operation Restoration tomorrow, and then to bed for me. I am thankful for God's gifts, that come in all shapes and sizes and situations, and I am rejoicing this evening in the blessing of contentment. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel...

Tomorrow or Monday the flooring projects downstairs should be done and I should get half of my house back. I am very much looking forward to moving back in. Living almost entirely in a hallway and the dining room for two weeks has been difficult. Tuesday will be carpet day for the upstairs, then I will spend the rest of the week putting the whole house back together.

While I am really looking forward to finishing our project off with new kitchen cabinets and countertops, I think we will take a week off and just get used to our house again before relocating the entire contents of the kitchen for more construction.

What have I learned during this process?!?!?! I have learned that I do not do well in constant upheaval, and that I say things I regret when I am overwhelmed. I have learned that when I humble myself and ask forgiveness of the recipients of my verbal explosions, I am humbled further by their quickness to forgive and reconcile. I have learned that I really, really, really like to have my coffee before I realize I need my coffee. My kids agree that I am a nicer mommy with coffee than I am when I am without coffee. I have been encouraged that all the purging I did in the spring months made this renovation possible. I am also convinced that there is more that could go.

Here are some "where we are at right now" photos... Can't wait for the "all done" photos! :)

Our new tile pattern... front entry, back door, kitchen and bathrooms... LOVE IT!!!

The pool is dug, framed, plumbed and waiting for gunite... MONDAY!

My living room a couple of days ago... today it also houses my refrigerator, oven, washer and dryer... 
Oh! Something else we have learned... we are not DIYers. At least not for construction projects that disrupt the functionality of our home. We have struggled to survive living here while someone else did all the hard work, much less doing the work ourselves. And, I don't think I have ever looked more forward to cleaning my house than I do right now...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A little craziness...

When we moved into our home almost seven years ago, we pulled up all the flooring and had laminate and tile floors installed. Some of our people were dealing will allergies and we were trying to eliminate all the places that allergens could hide. We have learned a lot raising six active children on entirely hard floors. Some things have made us thankful for the hard floors (potty training and stomach viruses), others have made us long for carpet (lack of sound barrier and soft places to sit on the floor).

After living pretty hard on our floors, we had banged up the tile pretty bad. We also discovered there was something wrong with the installation and it became obvious that the tile floors needed to be replaced. We tried removing the flooring ourselves. If you came to our house in the last few months, you have witnessed our efforts. We proved to ourselves that we are not DIYers, but at least we tried.

Following our DIY experiment, we had many discussions about how we live in our house; things we love and hate about our current flooring situation, dreams and "I wonders" were discussed and bids taken on the work. We came up with a plan, it sounded simple enough...

Elliott and I took a date and went shopping to select the tile to go back into the kitchen, utility and bathrooms. We decided to relocate the laminate flooring from the upstairs game room and the two kids bedrooms to the downstairs hallway and living room. We still need to go select carpet (with a nice noise-reducing pad) to go into the upstairs "kid areas". Flooring will remain the same in the upstairs craft room, downstairs office, dining room and master bedroom.

Many weeks and months of planning, and the work started this week. Tuesday, to be exact. We have had to be creative; spending our days quarantined to small areas of the house, cooking in the upstairs bathroom, sneaking out from underneath plastic sheeting which is shielding us from the dust explosion on the main floor so that we can take the dogs to potty, cleaning up after the dogs upstairs when you forgot to keep an eye on how long it has been since the last time you took them potty, breaking all the rules about eating meals sitting properly at the table and never upstairs, or on the couch, not to mention watching a jaw dropping three movies in one day.

My entire downstairs has been moved into the dining room and office. The contents of the upstairs shelved and all toys have been moved into the upstairs craft room. It looks like we just moved in and threw everything in a handful of rooms to parse back out. The flooring project should be done by the 22nd, then I have to put everything back. It isn't turning out to be as simple as I first thought...

And just for fun, we also should start having the pool dug out this week, and in preparation for that were moving some plants and broke a couple of sprinkler heads. Thankfully, my sprinkler guy was able to come out and fix everything, as well as prep things for keeping the sprinkler system from being destroyed by the pool installation. My yard in colored in various shades of spray paint and the excitement over the pool getting underway is mounting. However, it has also rained a little everyday, which is causing my pool guy to be a little reluctant to begin the digging... hopefully they will start soon, we are all ready to swim! :)

So, if you talk to me on the phone and I seem a little frazzled, or I send you an email and don't make much sense, you know why... I am totally scatterbrained with trying to schedule different parts of this juggling act. I can't wait for the results. I also cant wait to uncover my coffee maker again...

My First Homeschool Conference

On Sunday night, May 26th, our family packed up the car and began our 14.5 hour journey to Omaha Nebraska.  This is our 2013 summer vacation.  We spent the first few days visiting friends that we met at our church but had since moved on due to military assignments, and then the last 3 days we attended the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool conference.  We had attended smaller regional homeschool conferences in the past, but this was our first really big conference.  Let me tell you, it was AWESOME.  Even if you don't homeschool, it was just an awesome time of teaching and encouraging families in God's word!

One of the themes that I heard over and over in different sessions was that we (Christian families) should blog.  With the continued daily growth of the Internet, and the fact that many individuals sole source of information is online, blogging helps those who might be seeking the truth of God but not know where to find it (in His holy word).  There seemed to be great focus at this event on family discipleship, marriage, discernment in entertainment and homeschooling in the 21st century.

So, here we go, my first blog.

One of the sessions that I attended was presented by author Lou Priolo.  The session was titled "I wish she came with an owner's manual".  This is a chapter out of his book The Complete Husband.  I will share some of the highlights from this session (which of course caused me to purchase the book that I am now reading).

I loved this statement:  "Your wife does come with an owner's manual.  The reason you've never seen it is because it's tucked away in her heart."  You have to be a great interviewer to get that information out of her. 1 Pet 3:7 is not a suggestion but a command from God!

Here is another nugget:  "Have you ever seriously considered, that were it not for the Bible, you wouldn't be able to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ?  If it weren't for God's written revelation of Himself to man, you simply wouldn't be able to know enough to become a Christian.  How about you?  To what extend do you reveal yourself to your wife?  Are you ashamed and afraid to do so?  Do selfishness, pride, laziness or ignorance keep you from disclosing that information to your wife?  To what extend does your wife reveal herself to you?  Is she ashamed or afraid to do so?  What would you say prevents her from disclosing that information to you?"

I am praying that I will take this information that I learned and continue to learn as we listen to the recordings and read the books that we purchased, and apply it to myself first and then to my wife and family.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Funny little conversations...

Tonight as Micah was finishing his shower, the following conversation ensued...

Micah: When will Mocha's puppies get bigger?
Me: Every day they get bigger and bigger. 
Micah: When will I get bigger?
Me: Every day you get bigger and bigger. 
Micah: When will Daddy get bigger?
Me: Daddy won't grow anymore, he is as big as he is going to get. 
Micah: When will you get bigger, Mommy?
Me: I am actually trying to shrink.
Micah: Why are you trying to shrink?
Me: I grew too big! 

He laughed and left to go get dressed. He is growing up too fast. They all are. And I keep reminding myself... Each moment is joy-filled, I just have to slow down and be there for them. 

Regarding the shrinking... I have lost nearly 30 pounds since February by loosely following the plan outlined in the book Trim Healthy Mama. I have around 35 more to go, but I am loving that I can live my real life, and while I definitely think through my meals, my diet does not fail because I have a dessert once a week or so. I say I am only loosely following the plan because I haven't used any of the alternative sweeteners, I just cut out sugar and have a real treat rarely. I haven't bought any of the other alternative things, I am just balancing meals using whole foods and I feel almost guilty for how easy it has been, and I am never hungry! 

Now I am looking to start working out at home. I think I will add an official work-out time with the kids too. So we can all get fit together! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Breaking bad habits...

I don't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way, my daily quiet times with the Lord disappeared. It has grieved me and I have tried to be creative - doing them during the day (but I don't concentrate well in the hubbub of the day), or sneaking into the bathroom (but someone always finds me), even having them at night (but my brain is too foggy). I keep coming back to needing to wake up before the kids, and early enough to get ready for the day (this is way harder than it sounds for a night owl type momma like me).

I have also discerned a bad habit that has become a stumbling block to the efficiency of my morning routine. First thing in the morning (before even rolling out of bed), I grab my phone and check my mail. I usually intend to get my Bible and read, but before I know it, I get carried away with responding to emails and checking blogs. I have tried telling myself "no phone before Bible" but I end up mechanically reading my Bible just to get to where I can not feel guilty about checking my email. 

So, knowing the power of God's Word to convict, I am taking a different path. No rules for myself, but instead, giving myself a visual. I am laying my Bible on top of my phone. I won't be able to look at my phone without having to move my Bible. I will let you know how it goes...

What do you do to help you prioritize God's Word amidst daily distractions?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Calendar gauntlet...

This weekend, at the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Conference, I was encouraged, refreshed and challenged. The speakers were engaging and real, not just cheerleading, but being willing to live transparently and challenging us to be about the Kingdom business of discipling our children, not just schooling them.

One thing I am pondering right now is white space on the calendar. I have always tried to keep our family calendar uncluttered, which routinely means we choose to say "no" to a variety of different activities that would pull us in every which direction. Heidi St. John, "The Busy Mom", shared from her book, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight, in a session about time management, that you should make "white space" on your family calendar. She defined white space as being two consecutive days with nothing outside the house each week. She emphasized that the two days much touch on the calendar, not be intermingled with five crazy busy days, but together, with nothing!

And at the same time I was trying to pat myself on the back, I also took a look at my calendar... I didn't realize how many "once a week" items I had allowed to creep into our schedule... I am glad for summer, a different pace and a great time to implement this new idea... the idea of restful, at home, non-committed days is quite exciting.

Of course, besides white space, Heidi also talked about priorities... this is a topic that has been rolling around in my mind for quite some time... I so desire to get back to doing the things we once did well... I am going to try getting up early again... working out a little, having daily quite time... sadly things that have slipped too far away...

I am encouraged. I am looking forward to making slow, steady change. My whole desire is to show my children Jesus, not just in our time around God's Word, but also in how we live with one another, not rushed about and short tempered because of our unyielding schedule. And we want to be home, to be with our children, and also our neighbors.

How do you decide what to do? When to do it? What to say "Yes" to and what needs to wait? I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A few last things...

Church with our friends this morning, and lunch... 

Got home and cleaned up the loft and lined the hallway with all our bags... 

A quick outing to the Durham Museum with friends, then a nap for me, packing the car, dinner, and hitting the road on our way back to Texas...