Saturday, September 27, 2008

I really can't believe I am doing this...

I just registered for a 5k race for next Sat. It is the "Race for the Cure" annual fund raising race for breast cancer. Why did I pick that race, you ask. Because it is the next race and if I don't do this now, I never will. I was shaking as I was typing in my info. I am so out of shape. I haven't been working out, or running or even walking long distances. But I desperately want to live the life I dream of. I don't want to come to the end of my life with a mountain of regrets and a puddle of accomplishments. Those who know me well, know I have an almost unreasonable fear of running. It is not fun in anyway, shape or form and my memories are filled with unpleasant associations with PE class. So for me, this truly is a personal Goliath.

And just to be clear on my goals here-
1. register (check)
2. show up
3. finish the race (and I do plan on walking most of it. If I want to run, I will.)

Afterward, I am going to come home & pass out in front of the computer and listen to conference.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crossroad Dreams part II

It's a Small World-
I have always dreamed of traveling. I love the countries that I have visited- the adventures, the people, the traditions, the languages, the food, the history, the beauty. I spent hours one day reading this LDS family's blog who have spent the last year traveling the world. Their experiences were incredible and each post fanned the flame in my heart to travel. It is amazing to me, but a family of six traveled 6 continents for an entire year on less than $15,000 each. What an experience! Every time I read about their family's adventures, my heart skips a beat. I have followed another friend who has spent the last year + living in Morocco (her hubby is military) and they just adopted twin baby girls while they were there.

My dream has always been to take a year and live somewhere. At times I have wanted to sell everything, buy a motor home and travel the US & Canada. Other times, I have wanted to tour the world like the Sixintheworld. Either way, I really want to serve other people whether that is volunteering in an orphanage in India, building a house in Africa, helping at a school in Bolivia, or reading to elderly in a nursing home in Nebraska. To me traveling has always equated living life to the fullest, of appreciating every drop of life, of living without regrets. I have always wanted that & wanted that kind of experience for my kids.

So, now I find that I may be able to make this dream happen. It will take this next year (or possibly two) to get my final teaching certificate, but I am already investigating opportunities to teach for a year in different countries. There are American Schools & military bases around the world. There are countries who are always looking for American teachers to teach English in their country for 6 months or a year. And I think that Ry is catching the vision. We have been watching the touristy shows on PBS the last few months and he has made more frequent comments about wanting to travel. :)

Who knows what will happen. Obviously, the farm dream and the travel dream are polar opposites. I wouldn't really want a farm without a husband & large family to share it with anyway. But now I find that the travel dream may be opening up for me. I would LOVE to teach at the American School in London for a year or the Liahona Academy in Mexico. I would love to travel to Africa, Japan, China, France, Germany, Holland, Chile, Brazil. I would even love to teach in a remote town in Canada or Alaska for a year. I don't know if I have the guts to follow through with it, but I looooovvvve to think about it...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blessings From Heaven

Yesterday was payday and I received my first check on a teacher's salary. After I made it to the bank and verified that it was there, I have been giddy; my heart floating with gratitude. We made it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Money will still be tight for a while as I catch up on bills & needs, but for the last few months, every day was a prayer that we could meet our needs, that I would find gas money, milk money, that people could wait until Sept. 19. And you know what? We made it!

My testimony has grown a 100 times more in a couple of areas over the last 7 months. One of those areas has been tithing. I remember having a conversation with my dad a few months after I came home from my mission. It was one of those conversations where you say something and as the words come out of your mouth, they sink into your own heart as well. At times, our family had struggled to pay our tithing and my dad mentioned that it was his experience that sometimes you pay tithing with the expectation that you will be blessed like so many have testified; that a check for the needed money will appear. In his experience, it had not happened. The money never came & then next month the hole was deeper. Suddenly, these words came out of my mouth and whether my dad heard them or not, I did. "But we don't pay tithing expecting a blessing. We pay it because the Lord asks us too." Suddenly I realized, it wasn't a bargain with the Lord. If He never blessed me with temporal means, I was still going to pay it. My faith couldn't be bought with a 10% check. Since that day, my testimony of why I pay tithing has been solid.

Fast forward a few years. Our Bishop in Oregon shared an experience with us about fast offering and we decided on an experiment. We doubled our fast offering the next month. I was amazed at the difference. Answers came and we were able to feel the Lord's guidance in our financial decisions. As we moved to Oklahoma and Tim set up his own practice, we continued with the "double our fast offering principle" when we were really low. Fast offering became our offering of faith. I was able to keep the bills paid, Ryan in multiple activities (that of course all cost money), build our food storage, etc. We were blessed. Looking back, I wish that we had applied the same principle to Tim's business - perhaps it would have fared better.

Over the years, I have always written my tithing check first, but I am ashamed to say, I haven't always paid it first. Many times it sat in my church bag while I spent my week spending money. Suddenly, I would realize that my checkbook showed us in the negative but, as I would rationalize to Tim, "We really aren't because the tithing check hasn't cleared." When my world fell apart a few months ago, I decided that I really was going to pay the Lord first. When I deposited my check(s) I withdrew the cash for tithing (& fast offering if applicable) at the same time. The money still sat in my church bag all week, but it felt paid. I knew the Lord's money was safe from bouncing.

A great peace has settled about me - I have felt honest with the Lord. My faith has been buoyed up and I have not panicked about finances when there have been many times & reasons where panic would have been appropriate. That peace has been the greatest blessing over the last few months. And he has blessed me to overflowing the last few months. I have had countless blessings that have met my needs and wants over the last few months. Some of them absolute miracles that can not be explained. Each one has been a layer to the foundation of my testimony. As I take my turn in the Refiner's fire, I feel so blessed, so grateful. We made it!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Falling Alseep but I Can't Sleep

It is 2:42 a.m. and while I keep drifting off for a second or two, I can't sleep. Too many thoughts & noises. I hate it when Ry is gone. The solitude is deafening.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crossroad Dreams - part 1

I have so many ideas about my life - dreams in vivid color & detail yet they all go in completely different directions. I would truly be happy with any of them - I am equally passionate about all of them and I feel that any of them could come to pass. But the question now - which should I pursue? So, I decided that I would take a few posts to write them out so that each would come to life, if only on this blog.

Country Farm-
My dream house is not very large because I am lazy and do not want to clean it. More than anything I want it to be as self-sufficient as possible. I am so sick of being a slave to electricity bills/outages.

I would like a modified A-frame with passive solar framing so that it will cool the house in the summer & warm it in the winter and passive solar houses don't look like an A-frame in the mountains. I would like to have radiant floor heating in a stained concrete floor - it is cheaper & if I don't like it, I can always put a hardwood floor over it. I want the ends of the house to be made from strawbales & rock as it is much cheaper & has an outstanding insulation factor.

I would like it to have a rainwater cistern that collects all the rainwater that is then used to flush the toilets or water my lawn & garden. I would like a windmill in the backyard that powers my house & sells electricity to the city! How cool would it be to finally get a check from the power company!!!!

I would also like a little cubby with a drain at the bottom built into the wall next to every toilet - it would be the plunger cubby. You need a plunger close by when there is an emergency, but where in the world are you suppose to put the nasty thing? Drives me crazy. Mine is currently sitting in an old dishpan under my bathroom sink. It has the whole space to itself because, what else do I store next to it? Anyway, in my dream home it has its own space in the world.

I would have tons of built-in's. Bookcases would line the hallways and because I hate the wasted space in A-frames, I would build bookcases, shelves, closets & dressers into the lower portions of the exterior walls. That way it doesn't feel so much like an A-frame too.

I would like a sky light in my room so that I could sleep under the stars every night. The night sky is amazing in the country & I miss it so much. I would love to watch the stars every night. If it turns out to not be practical to have a sky light, I would like a balcony off my bedroom so I could drag a mattress out on a spring or fall (or winter or summer!) night and watch them all pass by. I would also like a deck or a patio with a pergola where I could grow vines. And a campfire pit where we can roast marshmellows & s'mores over hot coals & read Patrick McMannis books and laugh until we cry.

I would have a wood stove in the living room with a wood cookstove on the kitchen side of the chimney and a brick bread oven. I would never have to worry about another power outage again! The kitchen stove would be mostly decorative (I would use a regular gas stove most of the time), but it would be so reassuring to have one when the power goes out. (And yes, I have used one for days at a time before, so I know full well the work involved)

I would also have a sewing/craft or office area at the top of the stairs. The top of the stairs is a cool place - it is one of the crossroads of a house. You can hear upstairs & downstairs & everyone passes you. I want my passions to keep me in my families path, not tucked away in a room elsewhere. I would have lights in every closet that come on when the door opens and possibly a universal vacuum (I haven't decided on that yet.)

I would have a large herb & flower garden outside my kitchen because I love flowers & herbs are a joy. I would have a large veggie garden where I could relax in the early morning weeding & then find joy sharing the harvest a few months later. I would grow green beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, spinach, broccoli & asparagus (other things too, but I love these!) I would also build a small greehouse so that I could have fresh salad whenever I want. I would have fruit trees on one side - especially the Sappington Apple tree that my grandpa Sappington developed. I would have a huge Elderberry tree as there is nothing so good in this world as homemade Elderberry syrup on pancakes.

I would have a root cellar to keep all the good stuff we grew & if we lived here in tornado alley, it would be a storm cellar as well. I would have a clothesline in the backyard. I would have chickens, rabbits, bees, & maybe a goat (Dad, can you believe I said that!) or a cow, as well as a couple of barn cats & a dog or two. I would have an outdoor kitchen where I could can food & not heat up the house.

I would not have tv but I would have a built-in projector screen in the ceiling above the fireplace so that we could watch movies. I want it above the fireplace so that I don't have to decide where the furniture should be pointing. :) Or maybe a flat screen - maybe by that time they will have developed a way to have the screen be one of those digital picture frames when the t.v./movie is not on. Maybe they already have!

I would not have a dishwasher. Shocking huh? I washed dishes by hand most of my life and I love the camaraderie & discussions you have when someone washes & another dries. The job is done when you leave the kitchen - there is no coming back later to unload or half done dishes in the sink because the dishwasher was too full.

My kids (this is my dream so I would have ton of them) would share bedrooms. I have a good friend who has 5 boys in one bedroom. Space is obviously at a premium, but she has a rocking chair in their room where she sits and reads to them every night. I love that! I remember sharing a room with my 3 sisters - there are a lot of close bonds that develop when you share a small space. Plus, it encourages de-cluttering & organization - love that!

So, that is dream number one. I know that it is crazy, but aren't all dreams? If nothing else, it gets to breathe a for minute on this page.

Conversation with Ry

Ry - "Do maids get paid a lot of money?"
Me - "No"
Ry - "Then why do they do it?
Me - "Because they need a job."
Ry - "But that's what McDonald's is for!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Divorce 101

I have learned quite a bit lately. Things I never would have thought of and I started a Divorce 101 list. These are things that people have done for me or I have done for myself that have helped get through this time. A few are things that I wish had been done. (They are not in any particular order)

A good uplifting book(s)- one friend sent me "21 Days Closer to Christ" and another shared a beautiful book about motherhood. Both lifted me and helped me to lean on Christ. They helped me find some peace and perspective.

Running Shoes - I started taking long walks and eventually bought myself some running shoes. It is very freeing to feel like I am running away from my problems.

Journal - I have always kept a journal although never regularly. For the first time in my life, my journal has become therapy. It has been so helpful to pour out my heart, to write out the pain, the fear, the disappointment and eventual end with some perspective and peace.

Music - I made a mix cd when I was in Washington which was really wonderful. Many of the songs are ones that Tim would not have liked so I haven't listened to them much over the years. I feel like I am reclaiming my independence, my personality, by listening to songs I love.

Body Pillow - I have had a very hard time sleeping. Lots of strange, distorted dreams where I wake not sure what is real and what I dreamed. It has been hard getting used to a huge empty bed.

Netflix & Books on Tape - My hardest time is when I drop Ry off for visitation. My life is so quiet, so unrecognizable in those moments. Books on tape & a movie to come home too have helped get my mind focused on something and not wallow in despair.

Missionary dinner invitations - My heart hurt when I realized that we could not feed the missionaries in our home any longer. I have been so grateful for the invitations to dinner when others are feeding the Elders. My son needs to see these missionaries, to see the example of missionary work, to feel the missionary spirit. All these years I have feed the missionaries and never once did I think to invite other single parent families.

Jewelry Box - Tim bought my jewelry box our first year of marriage. For some reason, it brought a lot of pain. I would remember how things used to be and how a jewelry box holds so many of my treasures - jewelry from my mom, Ryan's baby teeth, old temple recommends, etc. I wasn't planning on doing much about it, but while I was in Washington, I found a beautiful dark cherry wood jewelry box with an inlaid top for $3.oo in the clearance bin. I brought it home and have love having a fresh place to hold my treasures.

A God Box - there are so many things that I now have no control over. There are so many things that I have to turn over to the Lord because I can not do them. A month or so ago I bought a God Box. It is a beautiful cardboard box that says "Hope, Love & Trust" on the top. When things start to overwhelm me or when I am dealing with things beyond my control, I write them down and store them in the box. It is my way of putting them in God's hands.

Missing Tim

I used to be frustrated with Tim because he would play games on his cell phone with Ryan during Sacrament meeting. Yesterday, I missed him so much. I could tangibly feel his presence missing during Sacrament and I would have given a lot to have him there playing games with Ryan. I wonder if I will always miss him. Will I ever be able to emotionally move on? Will this be an eternal heartache?

Tim is currently in the hospital with a massive infection in his left leg. He was admitted Thursday. It has been a very strange feeling - I feel like I should be there. I have worried about him physically. I have worried about him emotionally. I have worried about him financially. I have thought about the future. Just a lot to think about...

Step by Step

Day 20 Stumbles - Temptations - For a while I've wondered about personal temptations. It has felt like Satan wasn't really worri...