Sunday, July 29, 2012

Me? Control Freak? Nah...

A number of years ago, I bought the Power of a Praying Wife book and read it. I kept having to go back & re-read the first chapter or two because I just couldn't soak it all in. It struck deep down. You see, the first chapter or two are primarily about shutting my mouth & submitting to my husband. Heaven knows I need a reminder to shut up regularly, so this book ministered to me. (big grin!) For a long time, I did pretty good at the mouth-shutting part. But apparently it's time for me to read the book again because in the last year or so, I have found that Larry is commenting about me nagging and I try to look back & recognize what I was doing. Sometimes I see it. Other times I find myself trying to justify it "Well I had to say something! You were going to ____ and I knew it would cause ____." Honestly, if I just shut up & let him go ahead and do what he's trying to do, 9 times out of 10, I am either proven wrong or he recognizes his mistake and comes to me to apologize for it---without me ever having to part my lips.

God is good like that.

But today I had a seriously difficult time with this area of my life. I should preface all of this with this little bit of information. For the past 10 years or so, Savannah has gone to visit a couple of girlfriends (twin sisters) who live about 3 hours away. We have *always* met in the same place to drop off/pick her up. It's the halfway point for both of us to drive. I've been there so many times in the last decade that I could practically drive it in my sleep. I have a very specific route to follow, I know the exit # by heart. Larry has only made the drive with me a few times over the years, and he's even when he has, I've driven the route most of the times that he's come along so this is sort of one of those things that is "mine".

Secondary to that, I hate to be late anywhere I go. I'd much rather arrive early or "right on time" than to ever have to make someone wait for me. When I am scheduled to meet somewhere it bugs me if they don't plan their day well enough to arrive on time so as to not waste my time!

Back to the story of what happened today.

We were set to pick up Savannah at our usual location at 2:00. It's about 1 1/2 hours away. The plan was to leave from church (about 12-12:15) and swing through a fast food place on the way. I thought that getting food wouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes, so worst case scenario, we could reach our location by 2:00. However, at 12:57, we were only 2 miles from the church, sitting in a Burger King parking lot. That's when panic set in. Knowing that there was NO WAY we could make it by 2:00, I texted the dad who was driving Savannah and her friends to let him know we would be late. We got on the road and from the moment we pulled out of the parking lot, I found myself fighting to keep my mouth shut. Perhaps I would've done well to locate a roll of duct tape for my mouth...instead, I chose to stuff it with fries for the first few miles.

The interstate highway we needed to get to was north of the Burger King where we stopped. Larry left Burger King heading south. (Ladies, I can hear all of you. Trust me, I felt the same way!!) I tried to come up with a reason why he might be traveling in that direction, attempting to discern if he had forgotten that we needed to go pick up Savannah or if he had another path in mind to reach the highway. I really wanted to ask him, but felt like bringing it up would irritate him and make me look like a nag, so I kept trying to stay quiet and let him run the show. After driving a couple of minutes, it was eating me alive so I asked him quietly if he was going to take the toll road. He said yes. I went back into my mental conversation, trying to think of where that road leads.

Does it lead all the way out to the Interstate?
No, I don't think it does. It stops at another highway miles & miles from Interstate.
Maybe he plans to turn there & drive through some other roads that I'm not aware of to reach the Interstate.

Does he have any idea where he's going?
Is he just going to make us later than we are already going to be?
Doesn't he remember how to get there?
Grrrrrr! Stop driving, Larry! Just turn around & go the way I always go. I KNOW that route and can tell you where to turn and everything!

After turning on the toll road, I asked how long he thought it might take to get out to the Interstate. He just shrugged, clearly unconcerned about the time it would take to reach our destination. He even had the gall to turn on the radio & sing along to the music. (Can you believe the nerve of him?) I couldn't even concentrate on the music because I was chewing through my tongue & squeezing the handle off the door in an attempt to keep my mouth shut and let him do the driving.

You should know that my husband is the king of back roads, short cuts, little side roads that I've never seen or heard of. So I kept trying to tell myself that maybe he had a plan and we'd get there somewhere close to on time. But after driving for nearly 40 minutes, we were still passing things I recognized, things that I thought were a LONG way from the Interstate--we weren't making it to the interstate NEARLY quick enough. And after years of driving like a bat out of, well, you know... my husband has turned into a grandpa behind the wheel. As you can imagine, his strict notion of sticking to 5-10mph under the speed limit was driving me BANANAS as well. I even reached over & pressed the cruise control button, showing him how he could speed up & set the cruise to keep his speed up. After all, I'm sure he couldn't locate that button on his own, right? I was just trying to be helpful.

It struck me about that time that I needed to pray. I needed God to cover my mouth and set my mind at ease. We would surely arrive at the location. We would certainly pick up Savannah and bring her home as planned. If it meant getting there a little late, so be it.

But even as I prayed that, I kept having these fantasy images in my head where I threw Larry out of the driver's seat, took over and drove us back the route I wanted to go--the roads that are familiar to me. It felt good to smile and roll down the window, wind whipping through my hair, as I took control of the situation and saved the day, arriving on time to the destination. {Yeah, I fantasies are a little goofy.} And it was as I was imagining this scene that God whispered to me.

Let go, daughter. Even if you did talk him into going back to the road you want to take, you'd still be late. Let go. Submit to him the way you are called to submit to me.

Umm, ouch.

It struck me as I wrestled with my fleshly desire to take over and get our van on the "right" roads, that I often wrestle with fleshly desires to take control of so many other parts of my world. I don't need to take over the driver's seat. I don't even need to open my mouth. He's got this.

Submission, my me.

As we got farther and farther down a bunch of little dirt roads, as we turned onto the 13th or 14th county road that I didn't recognize, I still felt nervous. I didn't want the people bringing Savannah to be sitting and waiting. I didn't want them checking their watches and tapping their feet and wishing that they'd never let Savannah come stay with them at all since we were so rude in getting there to pick her up on time. They had plans to get to a ball game tonight. Would our arrival time make them late? I had it in my head that I could apologize in some big dramatic way & point to my husband, sure to indicate that it was HIS idea to take this crazy route that made us so late.

Shut your mouth, beloved. Don't point fingers. Quit worrying. Relax and submit to your husband's leadership.

But, but, but....I don't wanna. I want to take control of this.

And then it happened. We finally reached the Interstate highway we needed to be on. We were entering the roadway at an unusual point that I didn't recognize. Knowing the exit number we needed to reach, I checked the mile marker as we entered the highway. To my surprise, we were only 14 miles from the destination. I checked the dash board clock. It was 1:47pm.

Talk about a punch in the gut. All of my fears, all of my desires to take the wheel, all of my fretting over being late and frustrating our friends, all of that was for nothing. We would make it on time after all.

Be quiet, my daughter. Relax. Trust your husband. Trust me.

We pulled into the parking spot at 2:05. We went inside and used their restrooms and came back outside to sit at a shady table until we spotted our friends. They walked up just moments after we sat down, having just arrived themselves. It turns out they were running late as well.

Funny how God works out those little details.

I learned a lesson in submission today. Again.

Submission both to my husband's leadership and to God's: I was reminded of all the many, many situations I am trying my best to fix my way. I was reminded to let go and allow God to control things. I was reminded that I need to take my hands off the wheel and let God drive. Even if I disagree with the route life takes...even if I don't recognize what's going on or why...I am not in control.

And that's okay. I will reach the right destination at the time God has appointed for me to reach it. And I will be RIGHT ON TIME.

(Note: If you should feel the need to argue submission in marriage with me, feel free to privately email I will not post comments that are rude or argumentative on this blog post. Biblical submission is not at all what most people think. I am no doormat!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 9

I have been looking at the blog, thinking about how I need to write the Week 9 of summer post since Thursday night. I decided to put it off on Thursday because I had an interview Friday morning and I figured I'd just wait til that was over & write to tell you about it. And then Friday night rolled around and I forgot to post anything (you know, after I had the page pulled up for over an hour while I read all the blogs I follow). So here it is, 12:01am Saturday night (technically Sunday morning, I guess!) and I'm just now sitting down to write this. So here goes.....

Over the course of the month of July, it's become clear to us that the dollar figure on Larry's paychecks from his new job don't line up with what we had expected the figure to be. So I've been looking for a new job. I enjoy the one I have and will gladly return there if nothing else works out, but I have been on the hunt to see if I could find something else that will pay the bills instead.

I contacted our school district's personnel director (who happens to also be a good friend) and found out that there is 1 opening at the 6th grade campus I would enjoy. I applied and interviewed for the job on Friday. Now it's just a matter of waiting. If it does work out, it would mean doubling my current salary, so that would be ideal! I'd really like to get it, but I have no idea who all I was up against or what sort of experience any of the other applicants might have, so I'm just leaving it up to God.

In other news from our house...

Savannah has spent just over a week with her girlfriends. She visits them every summer. You may remember me mentioning them before. It is a set of twins who were Savannah's best friends in Kindergarten & 1st grade. They moved away the summer after 1st grade and shockingly, the 3 of them have remained incredibly close ever since. They are such sweet girls and it's been fun to watch them grow and to see their relationship change shapes, but remain so tight after so many years of living 3 hours away from each other! We are looking forward to making a drive to our half-way point tomorrow to bring our girl home. I sure do miss her when she's gone.

Yesterday, Samuel & Sarah attended our church youth group's day trip to a nearby large city. They ate lunch, played a game of Whirlyball (who knew there was such a thing?), went to a mall and then attended a minor league baseball game. They got home about 1:00am. They had a blast!

Time for me to crawl into bed & get my snooze going. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 8

We have 1 more full week of July left (plus a couple of days) and then it's August.

I wrote an article last night for the newspaper where I have a column that went something like this:

As I write this (July 20), I am stunned to realize that there are only twenty eight days left until I have to report in for inservice time with (name of our local school district where I work--removed from this blog site for safety). Can summer really be just about over already? I've only got 28 more days to make this summer count! Here's the plan.

First, I'm going to pile the kids into the mini van and high tail it to the snowcone stand on ____ Rd. We haven't had nearly enough snowcones this summer. But, wait! None of my kids are fans of snowcones. Okay, scratch that. I'll just have one by myself.

Second, I'm going to set out the sprinkler or the Slip and Slide and break out the camera to get pictures of the kids acting silly and playing in the water. Nevermind, I forgot they are too old for that. None of them enjoyed it last summer when I made them do it then. I guess I can put a big check mark by at least one of my summer goals.

Third, I'm going to take the kids to swim at a friend's pool. We've only been swimming once this summer as a family. Fortunately, the kids have been swimming at camp, on trips and with friends. We are pet sitting this week and the owners are letting us use their pool. Hooray!

Fourth, I'm going to let them sleep late each day and take an afternoon nap myself. Hang on, I've been doing that all summer anyway.

Fifth, I'm going to grab a book off the bookshelf and stay up until 2:00 in the morning reading. Oh yeah, I've been doing that, too. (I suppose that explains the afternoon sleepiness.)

Sixth, I'm going to make sure that each of the kids has at least one fun, exciting experience before the summer ends. Of course, I guess a trip with grandparents to Colorado, two week long camps, an out of town visit with friends and a night of cousin camp at Grandma's house would qualify for that...and those things have already happened!

Seventh, every weekend when I grocery shop, I am going to buy a People magazine and read it cover to cover in a hot tub full of bubbles. Then again, I do that year-round. I suppose that's not just a summer 'thing'.

You know, it looks like I've done all the summer things I wanted to do anyway. I guess I am better at planning our summers than I realized. I suppose it's time to head back to work and school. 28 more days? I can do that!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Go take a peek at one of my favorite blogs by Suzanne Steece. She regularly blogs about her sweet quadruplets that are now nearly 5 yr old. I stumbled onto her blog (although I can't remember how) back when her babies were only about 2, so it's been fun to "watch" them grow these last few years.

She's hosting a LEGO gift card give away! Take a peek at this post to see how to enter:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 7

First of all, give me a moment to shriek and kick my feet and stomp and whine over the fact that I just typed "Week 7" into the title line above.

Ok, now that I got that out of my system...

This past week has been very long, but very good. The kids and I spent the week working with our church's youth group on an in-town mission trip. In our area, the city offers free day care and lunches in some of the inner city parks. Kids come from all around town and are dropped off for the day. Day cares also come and bring their kids to join in the fun. And of course there are always neighborhood kids who walk over to play. It's a crazy busy park full of kids most days with only a handful of workers who are paid to be there to supervise all the kids.

Local to us, there is a chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship, an organization entirely devoted to reaching kids for Christ. This page tells a little about the organization & what they do.

One of the things CEF does is called a "5 day club". It's basically a Vacation Bible School sort of program. They put on these 'clubs' in parks, community centers, the backyards of families who offer to host them...basically anywhere they can find to do one. And for the past couple of summers, our youth group has worked with CEF to put on a club at one of the city parks where all the kids come for the summer.

Each day, our family ministries pastor and all the kids arrived at 9:30 to set up sound equipment & get out supplies and pray for the day ahead. At 10:30, the club began. Kids swarmed the club area to learn songs, listen to Bible stories, learn a memory verse and hear a story about a missionary named John Paton. Afterward, our group stayed to eat lunch with all the kids and played on the playground with them. Lots of pushing swings, carrying kids around on piggyback, climbing up & down ladders to the slides, playing tag, kicking a ball back & forth. Ya know, in 110% humidity and 90+ degree weather. (It was actually a little cooler this morning!)

It was a great week! Lots of little children heard the gospel presented this week and were loved on by our sweet youth group. I'm proud of the hours they spent preparing, teaching and serving selflessly.

Early on, I told the youth pastor I would be joining the kids on my days off this week. It was such a neat honor to be there and see how it went. I sweated alongside all the kids, sang lots of funny songs with silly hand motions and really enjoyed myself! Youth ministry is certainly not my calling, but it was fun to experience it for the week.

Here are a few pictures of the week.

Sarah (right) helping at the art table

Samuel praying with some boys

One of our little park friends & her suncatchers.

Heavy-duty swing pushing action!

The kids and I
Savannah, teaching the missionary story

Crowd of kids (plus our youth) on day 1

Me and my buddy (name withheld to protect him)

Sam, playing pokemon with some of the boys

Savannah and her little friend who fixed her hair

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A tale of 2 tables

A few months ago, I started looking at our kitchen table and pondering some things. We don't have a dining room, so the table has to fit within our small kitchen. The one we have had since we got married in 1994 is a perfectly lovely table, but since moving into this house in 2005, it has been pretty useless as a dining table. It has mostly been used as a place to pile clutter. It's too big for the kitchen, so it is just shoved up against the wall. That only leaves space for 4 chairs, and there are 5 of us, so right off the bat, it doesn't work for us. In the space allowed for the 4 chairs, 1 was so smashed up against the baker's rack that it did not leave enough room for someone to sit in it (you couldn't pull it out far enough for anyone to sit there). I ended up sticking our recycling box in that chair and everyone put things there until we could move them outside into our big recycling containers (a daily chore for one of the kids). It ended up that 99% of the time, the kids sat at the bar, I sat in 1 of the chairs at the table and Larry almost always ended up in the living room in his recliner. And 100% of the time I was frustrated with how messy the table looked. It was just another flat surface to collect piles of 'stuff'.

While ideally, I'd MUCH prefer that we have a dining room and a table that would be suitable for ALL of us to sit at TOGETHER for each meal, the reality is that in this house, that's not ever going to happen. It just doesn't work given the space & the furniture we have. So I decided to do something about what space and furniture we have!

Last month I put our table on Craigslist and advertised it on Facebook in a local swap shop group. I had several people come look, but no one immediately jumped to buy it. I knew the right buyer was out there, and eventually I found her last week!

After selling the too-big-for-our-kitchen table, I was on the hunt for a small 2-person space-saving table. If I could find something like that for the same amount of money I'd made off selling the other table, we'd be set. That way, at least 2 of us could use the table at each meal time plus it would FORCE me to put up all the clutter and not pile stuff on it. I'd much rather have a useful piece of furniture!!

I have been looking on Craigslist and searching some local consignment shops this week and did not find THE ONE. I felt like once I saw it I would know "that's it!", but just couldn't find anything that suited me. Someone mentioned that Target & Walmart have some furniture now, so I went hunting on their websites and was pleasantly surprised to find the perfect little table on the Walmart site!

It arrived today in a big ol' box from Fed Ex. It took us about 2 hours to put together, but it only took that long because one of the drawers was a little wonky & needed some special attention to make it work. (i.e. sandpaper, chisel, bar of soap to lubricate the drawer guide) Once we got it in, it works perfectly!

Take a look!

This is mid-way through the assembly process. Sarah is modeling the size of the table. (plus she likes to be in pictures!)

When the table is 'closed', it looks like this.

And then you can extend the swing-out leg & open the table top surface up and you have a great table for 2 people. (My mom loaned us the card table in the background until we could replace the table!)

This is the view from the other side, where I have 2 drawers (hooray! I only have 2 in my whole kitchen, so gaining 2 more is awesome!!) and you can see where the stools hang for storage when not in use. There is also a towel bar at the end.

The whole thing is on caster so I can move it around when needed. You can lock the casters if needed, too.

I love it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 6

Mercy me. SIX weeks. It really doesn't feel like we've been out of school that long, but I suppose it's true. The calendar doesn't lie.

On Saturday, we went to some relatives' houses & helped with their yardwork. I mowed and in doing so, inhaled about 500 lbs of sand. (Their ground is mostly sand.) I didn't think too much of it at the time, but by the time we headed home I was blowing my nose & blowing out MUD. As soon as we got home, I did a sinus wash and, I believe, cleared out everything (dust & allergens) that was in my head. But with each passing day since, it's become more clear that it definitely went to my lungs. I've been coughing & sound like a croaking frog when I talk. As long as I can keep my throat moist, it helps a lot. Ugh! Next time I'm wearing a mask for sure!!

On Saturday night after we got home from all the yardwork, we picked Samuel up at the church. The bus pulled into the parking lot about 5:45 and we met him with hugs. He had a GREAT time. It was fun to hear him talk about all his friends and the things he experienced.

Since then, it's been life as usual.

We discovered that Larry's pay raise with his new job wasn't quite as large as we had hoped for, so I am applying for a job in one of the school libraries this fall. I have no idea if I'll get it but we figured it can't hurt to try! In the meantime, we're looking for other ways to further cut our expenses, lower our bills & save money. Any tips we might have no already thought of?

The kids and I are looking forward to next week when we will serve with the rest of the youth group at an inner city park. We are putting on a "5 Day Club" which is more or less a VBS in the park. Should be fun! (and very hot!)

Hope you're having a great summer!