Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Marriage Is Hard

For most women, we started planning our weddings when we were still little girls. And of course, we all thought we would live "Happily Ever After." When you are a little girl you don't have a clue the amount of work it takes to make a marriage work. You just 'know' that you are a Princess and one day you will meet a boy who doesn't have cooties who will be your Prince Charming, and he will be riding a white horse and you'll live in a castle and your life will be like a fairy tale. grow up, still believe in "Happily Ever After", but with a little more perspective that comes with maturity. After a few years of marriage you begin to realize how much work marriage truly is.

I'm not trying to say I have any regrets. I LOVE my husband, and I am glad every day that I am married to him. But it's hard to let go of all those things you thought you would have. All those plans you made in your head that kept slowly changing as you moved from child to teen to womanhood.

I am 37 years old. At this age I always thought I would have my own home, kids, pets. But how it's turned out, I live in a rented condo with my MIL out of necessity. Every single day of my married life has been lived under the same roof as my MIL. What was supposed to be a temporary situation has never changed and it's not looking like it's gonna change any time soon after a year of unemployment for my husband. Our situation just gets worse. I have 1 child, God just didn't have more in His plans for me. That took 6 years to come to terms with, but I have. I understand that if I had young children to care for, I wouldn't be able to serve as effectively as I do at church. It would be difficult or impossible for me to take a huge group of kids to christian camp each summer if I had a little one I would be leaving behind. And husband is allergic to cats and my MIL is allergic to everything else including real Christmas trees.

I don't come home to my own home. I come home to a rented home filled with things that are mostly not mine, not my style, and doesn't feel like "home" and a MIL who is always here. Pretty much all of my wedding gifts, china, pots & pans, etc. remain packed or in a storage unit. I wanted to wait to use them until we had our own place and I could unpack that china and plan my own dinner parties and come home to my own home where I am the only one to greet my husband at the door. But life doesn't always go as we hope.

I struggle with this daily. I know God has blessed me abundantly in SO many ways. I have a roof over my head, a job, a daughter who is a college student and works and has a relationship with the Lord, a husband who loves me, ministries that I love being part of. These are wonderful things. But I struggle with thinking, "There must be more than this." I have days I just want to run away.

Marriage is hard. But I took my vows seriously. "For better or worse" "Till death parts us". Divorce is not in my vocabulary at all! This is a season where God is stretching and growing me, and that is usually uncomfortable. But I know God is with me, and He is at work in all this, and His timing is perfect, mine not so much. So I need to learn patience, and remember that He is in the drivers seat, not me and trust that his plans are for good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Gift of Art

I haven't written in a week. I have had a nasty sinus & ear infection and been on antibiotics and have not been a happy camper. But I returned to work and I feel like I am on the tail end now. Thank goodness.

I was thinking today about what a blessing it has been to have been brought up in a home where "art" is appreciated and encouraged.

My Mother was a very successful seamstress for many years before becoming a wedding coordinator. She started out making childrens clothing and then moved into making custom wedding gowns and headpieces, bridesmaid gowns, etc. Her Mother was also a seamstress and made custom plus size clothing and childrens clothing. My Mom also did various crafts and as a kid I would sometimes help make things with her to sell at craft faires.

My Father is a professional photographer & he managed a camera store in Corona Del Mar & later Irvine. He also taught photography for many years at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. He has photographed car shows, horseback rides and air shows as well. He has captured millions of moments through his lens.

My parents have always encouraged & enabled me to express myself through art. My Mom, by teaching me so many handcrafts growing up. Handmade victorian lace ornaments, padded photo albums, aprons, etc. My Dad, by buying me various cameras throughout my lifetime, and not fussing at developing roll after roll of film for me. For gifting me with my trusty Nikon N65 and teaching me to properly hold the camera and support the lens, depth of field, aperture settings, etc. Now the love of photography has been passed on to my daughter, and also my husband. My Dad employed my husband at his camera store and brought him along on horseback rides to teach him more about photography. Now we are all jealous of my parents cameras!

I work full time in a pretty high stress position for the federal government. So art is such a stress reliever for me. I bake, journal, scrapbook, sew, draw, take pictures, make slide shows, etc. Art is my outlet and it brings me so much joy.

I encounter people all the time who see my scrapbooks, or something I have baked or handmade and say "I could never do that." YES!!! YES YOU CAN!!! I worry so much that homemaking skills and art are quickly becoming lost arts. Schools have limited funding and the arts are some of the first things to go. Home Ec isn't even an elective at most schools now. It's a shame. I am blessed to be able to teach a wonderful group of 3rd thru 6th grade girls each week at AWANA and I love to teach them crafts or bake with them.

Use your hands! Be industrious! A Proverbs 31 woman is what I aspire to be.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Delivering Valentines With AWANA Kids

My husband serves as the Commander for the AWANA program at our church and I serve as a Director for the Truth & Training girls. We have preschool through 6th grade kids in our program. Tonight is one of my favorite field trips we do each year. We spent a lot of effort making hand made valentine's cards for the residents of a local senior living facility that is within walking distance of our church.

We divide the kids up into small groups with the parents and chaperones and the kids go door to door inside the center delivering valentines. The residents are always so appreciative. We get the occasional cranky person, but most love to see the smiling faces of the kids.

It is far too evident that some of these residents rarely have any visitors. Unfortunately, many of the residents are very lonely and don't get visited by their own families. So when we come by sharing a smile, a hand drawn card and hugs, you can tell it makes their day. It's a small token, but it makes an impact in our community and for the Kingdom of God. The Bible tells us "For whatsoever you do for the least of these, ye do also for Me".

The kids love doing service projects. Over Christmas we collected over 120 boxes filled with food and gifts for local injured young marines down at Camp Pendleton. We were able to hand deliver the boxes and watch the men open them. We are going to go back down to Pendleton sometime over spring break to prepare a home cooked meal for the guys and spend some time fellowshipping with them.

Doing service for others is a wonderful thing to teach your children. It's not just a "Christian" thing. It's a great way to teach your children just how fortunate they are by helping others who need it. Have an attitude of gratitude.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Scaling Back

I cleaned my closet out on Saturday, and was able to take the day off yesterday to do some more cleaning. I threw a lot of stuff away that I just don't need or use. I don't think I will be moving any time soon (I can dream). But I don't want to have so much stuff that it will take me literally months to pack when the time does come.

I was married before to a not so nice man once. When our marriage ended, I had to leave in the middle of the night with a convoy or family & friends helping me take what I could, while my ex worked the graveyard shift. Needless to say, when you only have a few hours to pack & leave, I left a lot behind. So after that, I started to hold on to things. I felt more comforted being surrounded by "things".

But I am happily married now, and as a Christian and with maturity I have realized that "things" just don't matter as much anymore. Now of course there are some things with special meaning I will NEVER part with. The hand painted china plates my maternal Grandmother painted, the 2 lavendar teapots my Mother gave me, photo albums & scrapbooks, hand made items made by loving hands of family and friends. These are things to be cherished during my time here on earth and things that bring me joy to have around. But I just don't need so much other "stuff".

So this is going to be a long term project for me. Little by little as time allows, go through closets, drawers, the garage, and any storage areas and start to let go of things. And of course, less shopping so I don't replace that "stuff" with "new stuff".

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shopping In My Closet

I feel SO accomplished today. It has been really raining here for most of the day, so I have been indoors. My sewing machine decided not to cooperate with me after only making 2 headbands...ARGH! So I decided to come upstairs and tackle my closet.

How exciting! Clothes keep getting pushed farther to the left as I hang up my clean laundry. So I pulled everything out and re-evaluated what I really need. From one of the blogs I read, I realized when I donate clothing I am giving up valuable fabric! So I looked through everything and was so happy to discover things I had forgotten I had while they were stuck to the left side of the dark closet. I also decided it is time for me to part with things that for some reason or other I have kept for years, yet never wear. Why do women do that?

We have our skinny clothes, our "fat day" clothes and the clothes that fit us now. So I did away with the things I just don't wear. But instead of just carting it all to Goodwill, I kept some things to cut up and use for fabric. I have some beautiful wool, linen, embroidered bits, etc. Now I can make some throw pillows, bags, headbands, etc. Whatever I feel inspired to make. And it won't cost me near as much. How 'bout that? Being kind to the earth and my wallet at the same time by re-purposing. Of course...sewing anything is contingent on my cheap sewing machine behaving!

Friday, February 5, 2010

5 Things I am Thankful For Friday

Not necessarily in this order, but it's the order I put the pictures...

1) My husband & I don't owe taxes this year praise the Lord!

2) Snow in the mountains! We will hopefully be heading up to Big Bear sometime soon for some fun in the snow.

3) My husband. This year of unemployment has been very hard on us both, but I am grateful to have him in my life EVERY single day.

4) My parents, they are coming down from WA state in a couple weeks. YAY!!!

5) My daughter Allyson. She is the light of my life. Today, in my stress she reminded me to read Matthew 6:25-26 and give my stress and anxiety to God.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Toughest Critic...

Why are pretty much all women their own worst critic? Why do we do this to ourselves? I am 37 years old, not 17 years old. But I look at myself in the mirror and always seem to judge myself on what I looked like "back in the day." Yes, the weight has crept on over the years, and yes I need to do something about it. But I need to do something about it because I need to be healthy and take care of my heart and lungs and live a full and healthy life. Not lose weight to be a skinny bitch.

When I see myself naked, I am so quick to find every flaw in myself. I forget to notice that I have good skin, I have womanly curves, good feet, etc. I just see every dimple in my flesh and loathe myself for it. When my husband sees me naked, he smiles and stares, and I know he is not thinking a single negative thing. He loves my body, he loves my curves, he loves me.

I am so bad about negative self talk and it drives my husband nuts. When I say bad things about myself, he sometimes reminds me, "Hey, that's MY wife your talking about!" I need to remember that. I have to stop it.

So I was in the bathroom at work the other day and I found a pink post-it stuck to the bathroom door on the inside that said "Smile! You are beautiful just as you are!" It did make me smiile. Intrigued, I went back to my desk and went to the site. I hope you check the site out too. The owner of the site has the goal of 'Ending Fat Talk One Anonymous Post At A Time'.

Another site I love is This site is chock full of free printables and ideas on how to do kind things for others. The world definitely needs more kindness. There is far too much rudeness rampant these days.

Do yourself a favor today, be kind to yourself! Lighten up! Quit being your own toughest critic. And do something kind for a stranger, maybe they'll pass it on!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sewing For Tina

My friend Tina is due in early April with her first child, a girl. I am so glad I learned to sew. I bought the softest flannel in 6 bright cheery prints to make a quilt for the baby and ended up with leftover flannel. I made some reversible bibs and burp cloths with it, and another small tag blanket. Not the best camera wasn't handy so I used my phone's camera function. I will try to post better pics later when I finish the back of the quilt. So far just the top is done. I will also take some pics of the other things I made.

My daughter has a friend who is due in late March/early April as well and I am going to make her some things as well for her baby, also a girl. The close up print is what I will use. My daughter really likes that particular flannel.

My sewing skills are improving with each little project I do. I wish I had a better machine, but mine is okay for the level I am at. Down the line I definitely want to invest in a better machine. My Mom gave me her old serger and I need to pull it out and figure out how to use it. My friend Cate, who taught me to sew, may need to come to the rescue again and show me a thing or two about a serger.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Transitioning To Adulthood

These photos were taken at my daughter's Baccalaureate last June. She was chosen to sing at the event, a beautiful song entitled "Small Part of the World." I was so proud of her, still am. I can't believe how fast the time just flew right by. She is now a freshmen in college, studying to become an elementary school teacher. She attends school in the mornings and works at a private Christian school run by our church in the afternoons. One of the teachers is pregnant and going on maternity leave and my daughter has been asked to assist with the 1st grade class during her maternity leave. She is very excited to be able to help out in a classroom setting. We will see how she feels being in the classroom, and the chance she has to make sure this is the career path she wants to continue on. I am very excited for her.
Do you remember this age? Being so young and full of possibility? You know what? Why do we have to let that sense of excitement and possibility end as we start to age? I am only 37 years old with a daughter already making that transition into adulthood. My husband and I spent many years trying to conceive, and it just hasn't happened for us. But now we are looking towards the future with eyes full of hope and possibility. We are young, what are we going to do with all this time we have?
I took on guitar lessons and have also learned to sew. My husband is currently unemployed, which is a bit scary. But he wasn't happy in the job he was doing and so we are thinking this may be a blessing in disguise. Maybe now he will be lucky enough to find a job doing something he really wants to do and enjoys.

The possibilities are endless!