Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming!

So, the last few months have been, quite frankly, unbeliable. Every week, just about, something else comes up or is added to the crazy stressfulness.

It all started in August with a frustrating conflict with a group of individuals which is continuing to carry on. Don't know the resolution of that 250 + will be sure to come.

Then, of course, was also the Myrte stuff.

Now, these first two stressfulls have been on-going. One thing after another after another...dragging their feet, refusing to go away...slowly sapping energy, joy, time, etc. The following three are relatively minor things in comparison, but woven into the craziness of the initial two - I'm exhausted! And, the last three have all taken place over about four weeks.

First, Chris started coming up with these random spots on his legs and hands. After doing some research, we thought it was fleas...I had a few minor bites...looked like the pictures we were we takeled it. Now, please understand, we have two dogs, and they run around outside. Normally they get bathed every other week and get flea-stuff once a month. However, with the disaster my regular routines have been in for the last few months...that hadn't been happening. Anyhoo, three days later, two very clean and defleed dogs and a thoroughly vacuumed and boraxed house (Borax is amazing at killing fleas, btw)...we hoped the problem was done.

Well, the spots turned into rashes and a few days after all that, we realized he had poison ivy. Now, that's bad enough, but he got the poison ivy from some plants that had snuck into our backyard...and so we also need to deal with that mess! And all that time deep cleaning...*sigh*

Just as he was starting to look human again (it was so gross!), I inadvertantly poisoned us with fish, and we both have had food poisoning for several days. My stomach is still a little upset from that.

Then, to top it all off...last night occured. We have been smelling this odd smell for a few weeks, but hadn't been able to track it down. And then the dishwasher decided to leak...and Chris noticed that when he stepped on a floor board a few feet away (we have laminate flooring in our dining room, kitchen, and living room), water would gush from underneath.

So, having an amazing fix-it-all brother, we called him up, he came over, pulled out dishwasher out, and - to my horror - the smell became highly apparent, my asthma immediately started kicking in (I'm highly allergic to mold), and the extent of our problem started becoming apparent.

Fortunately, we don't have to replace the dishwasher...just a few pieces need to be fixed and it should be okay. However, by the time we were done last night, most of my kitchen and half of my dining room laminate flooring was pulled up. We have to clean it - bleach it - and then replace all the laminate again. About half of the flooring was ruined, the other half will - hopefully - be salvagable.

And so I say...ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!!

Where my dishwasher used to be.

Chris screaming in horror (and at the stench!).

My hero! My brother. :)

See the pretty flooring at the far left corner.
Yeah, that used to be my whole floor!

What is left of my dining room.
Calista and Mara were very concerned by all
the crazyiness.

The garbage pile of laminate and my troublemaker
of a dishwasher.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Poisoned Us!

It was accidental, and I'm still not exactly sure what happened, but both my dear husband and myself have been in high amounts of discomfort over the last three days. I came home from work Friday night and cooked fish (with side dishes). About two hours later, we were both commenting that our stomachs hurt. And since then, while we feel fine otherwise, we have had severe stomach issues. And so I am led to the conclusion that we have food poisoning, and it's all my fault! Yes, my dearest keeps telling me to not blame myself, but really, it's hard not to. I feel very guilty :(

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Children Thoughts

So even before I got married, the question of "when are you going to have children" is one that has been in the air. Even my roommate in college bought me a card when I was first engaged saying "Well, now we don't have to ask when you're going to get engaged. So, when are you going to have a baby?"

Granted, it's a natural question. The general pattern of life is that one does get married and then goes and has children. However, why does everyone think they have the right to ask?

Now, I'm referring here to people who are essentially complete strangers to me or even acquaintances from work etc - but not people who I count as good friends or family. When they start questioning Chris or I when we are going to have kids, why don't we have kids, etc, it's a little irritating! Stop and think about that for a moment. In my small world, I know of at least three women who desperately want to have children and who physically cannot get pregnant. Having that question asked can completely devestate those women and, quite frankly, explaining all that to someone who really has no business asking, is not something that those women should be subject to. Now, fortunately, as far as I know, I should be able to have children just fine. However, these strangers who don't know me or my situation have no idea the reasons why we don't have kids yet - how do they know they aren't causing cruelty in their question? How do they know I'm not just holding my head up because I have to while inside I'm dying to have children?

Another common argument that has been presented to us is that having children is pleasing to God and something we should be doing, etc. And yet, I have to question those people who bring this up by asking about the (yes, even Christian families) families who have children, ship them off to daycare within weeks of their being born so they can go back to work and live out their oh so important working, adult lives, allowing their children to be brought up by virtual strangers for the major hours of the day and - even more importantly - those children's major developmental years. And, yes, I completely understand that in many cases they have no option about this - but there are also many cases where they do have options and they simply don't feel it is [a] important enough that they be home with their children and make them be their priority or [b] they like their job and career to much, are afraid they would simply be bored at home, and really don't see the importance of their being around. And, yes, I have had some of these actual conversations with women! Is it right to bring a child into the world and then to abandon it to strangers in daycare? Is it pleasing to God?

Anyhoo...these ideas are ones that quite commonly Chris and/or I face. And thoughts of children are ones that have been dancing around my brain quite a bit more of late. Some of it is the realization that come December I will have been married six years, and the social norm part of my brain is saying, it's about time to have kids. Some of it is that my sister-in-law recently married a widower with two children, so of course, in a previously childless arm of a family, that idea has been pushed to the forefront. Some of it is that my friends all around me are beginning to have children and it feels kind of like "the thing to do!" And some of it is the fact that I really do adore babies and love playing with kids, building relationships with them, and just the general idea of their existance!

And don't get me wrong. I want to have children some day. I know that for sure. However, I keep running into the question of do I want to have children soon? In the next few years, are we looking at changing the current course of our life?

Some days I look at that question and say "yes, I think I do." And yet, more often, I look at that question and say, "I'm not sure." And while some people have told me that you never are 100% sure of wanting to start the children process, you just get used to it, I somewhat dislike that attitude. I know women who unconditionally have wanted a baby, even in their sometimes moments of saying, "I don't know if I'm ready for this" they still have had that urge, that drive to bring a child into the world, to hold a baby, to create someone beautiful. I don't like being half-hearted about things, and quite frankly, I don't want to go into this time questioning whether or not I want this.l

I wonder sometimes if my moments of "sure I want a baby sometime soon" are not simply the results of the subconscious social pressures we feel all around us so often. Those pressures that say, you're nearly 27, you've been married a good number of years, you're young, you're capable, you need to start having children. The same social pressures or expectations that cause people to ask personal questions like, "So when are you having kids?"

Far too often, I look at the life I have right now and say, "No, I'm not ready for that step." I feel like I'm still growing up, that there are things that need to be resolved, developed, whatever you want to call it, before I'm really ready to devote my life to a child. There are days when I wake up and, quite frankly, the thought of not being able to curl up for hours on the couch and ignore the rest of the world while burying myself in the adventures of this fictional character or another, distresses me! And yet, there are other days, when I think of doing different things with a child - going to the apple farm to pick apples, playing in the parks with children, holding a child, loving them, teaching them - sounds like the most delightful experience imaginable.

I desperately want to be a stay-at-home mom; that is a huge priority for me. And quite frankly, if I were to have a child right now, I don't know how we would make it work. I can't bear the thought of leaving my child in the arms of a stranger so that I can go work eight hours a day. I can't bear the thought of having a child who doesn't go through that stage of "I adore my Mummy because she's the most important being in my life" because Mummy has never been there for that child! I've seen those children, and it breaks my heart.

And, there's another part of me that recognizes the limitations (worth it - but still limitations) that come with children. I still have yens to see so many places, to travel, to experience new cultures and people and ideas. And having children does limit some of those options. Oh, yes, we could move overseas and/or still travel somewhat, but not like you can when there are only two to pay for and not three or four or five. And I've seen quite a few older people in the last few years who have hit retirement age, are finally free to do what they want to do - and yet for so many of them, going to Branson is a huge event and the thought of walking the streets of Paris, seeing the Pyramids of Egypt, touching the Great Wall of China, is very tiring and not something they have a great desire to do!

So, to answer the question that apparently everyone seems to interested in asking lately: When are we going to have children? I have to say, "I don't know!" Possibly in the next few years. Possibly not for several years after that! I guess we'll have to see where the argument flows. In the meantime, I will continue to test the question out from time to time (not trying to bias my answer because of the impertinent inquiries of virtual strangers!). And I will enjoy the life that has been given to me now, at this time, as it is.

A Month and a Year

Although it has been nearly a month since I last wrote on this blog'o'mine, it feels almost like a year. And then in other ways it feels only like a few days. Time is very awkward like that. It won't consistently feel a certain way at any given moment. There are those weeks where it feels interminable and makes you wonder if Friday will EVER come. And then you get to Friday and you're looking at the week going, what happened?! Where did my week go? I guess that's one of the reasons I'm such a big fan of lists and calendars and details - if I can look back and see what I've done, check off what I've accomplished, it assures me that I didn't just throw away a good week's worth of time on nothing. :)

In the Myrte update: Myrte has moved out (by her own choice and sadly not in a very courteous fashion). To be honest, I'm not quite sure what has happened or what is going on but since she moved out, it has been confirmed she has definitely gone back to at least a couple of the negative lifestyle choices she was making before she moved in, and there has also been a lot of concern from a lot of people as far as what else she may be doing or not doing. I won't go into details on here as it is her life and her business; although I will admit, since writing is a cathartic activity for me, I have written out a huge long blog for my own personal venting moment about all she has said, done, etc since the last time I wrote! Ah for catharsis! I won't post it, but it felt good to get out of my system!

The largest personal piece of news on that front is that she apparently has decided that I am Public Enemy Number One and she has kicked me out of her life! Still not quite sure how I got into that role with her, but oh well. I will continue to pray for her, and I hope that she doesn't turn away from the working of God in her life. God has given me such a burden for her, and I can see the great potential she has within her to be this amazing, influential human being, if she would only develop that. But, it is God's hands, and the only thing I can do is pray.

On a personal level, while I am a little hurt emotionally (although generally when I feel that hurt attacking me, I just have to remind myself about the issues/mental/emotional state of the one who did the hurting, and I get over it quickly), I have so much peace spiritually, it's been wonderful. I know that the Lord has led both Chris and myself and a myriad of other people in dealing with Myrte, and I have nothing to be ashamed of, sorry for, concerned about as far as my behavior, words, actions, and even - for the most part [hey, I'm human, I get vindictive sometimes!] - my thoughts go.

My dearest of husbands made the comment the other day that he wasn't quite sure if all of this had come about in our lives to teach us lessons or Myrte lessons. Either way, I have definitely learned quite a few things in this roller-coaster adventure.

One of the biggest lessons that has and is continually coming through to me (and I've been running into this lesson everywhere - chapel, church, personal devotions, random letters from people, conversations with other people, and of course that quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit) is that I have to let God control the situations in my life. Now, given my navigatory personality, I like to plan my steps, I like to have goals and methods for reaching those goals, and analysis of what I'm doing etc. The problem is, that I then limit the Lord's guiding to whatever fits into my predetermined methodology! Taking action from the prompting of the Holy Spirit and then not trying to control/predict/analysis, etc what happens after that is very difficult for me to do.

The hardest part for me has been finding the balance point. History teaches us that God uses the actions of man to fulfill His purpose. The question I have kept running into is how do I respond to other people/things/events and yet simultaneously let God have control of a situation.

I think my biggest sticking point is that I may pray and seek God's guidance on an action to take, but then following that action, rather than letting Him worry about what happens next, I parse and analyze it and project and try to plan and predetermine what my next response will be, and basically get myself in a bit of a tizzy because I have no way of knowing what's going to come next! And truthfully, other than my life, I have no control over any other person on the face of the planet. I have to let God deal with all that. Which, in some ways would seem to be a simple thing to do - I mean who really wants to have to deal with everybody else's problems in the world - but in others is frustrating for me! I guess it's that conflict-avoidance personality coming through again.

A friend of mine recently sent me a quote from Elizabeth Elliot that is the perfect summation of all of this.

For starters, Elliot is referring to the scriptures in John 15 about the Vine and the Branches (a set of scripture I've also been running into a lot lately!):

"1 - I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 - He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful...
4 - Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5- I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing...
9 - As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
10 - If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
11 - I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12 - My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

The quote from Elizabeth Elliot is as follows:
"To go on from one day to the next, leaving the unsettling things with God, being free and whole and serene because we are secure in our home—this is what “dwelling” in Christ and His love means. The people and the things about which we simply do not know what to do we can commit to His love as well, asking Him to find room for them."

In other words, I don't have to worry about it.

God is in control, and as long as I continue to try to dwell in His love, live within His prompting, seek His heart, what happens with other people does not matter. I do not have to seek the approval of the world. I do not have to fret over people who may or may not like me or who chose to judge my actions or priorities.

If I am dwelling in the Lord, then I can have peace and joy in the face of whatever the world may throw at me.

One Year Ago Today

On this day, one year ago, we completely changed our lives. We drove away from jobs and home and loved ones to a new adventure of the very m...