The Life Not My Own

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Entitlement and the Housewife

We’ve all seen the old shows, portraying the typical housewife of the 50’s.  She dresses well, although she doesn’t have a lot of clothing.  She stays home and cooks and cleans, and is there when her kids come in from school.  When her husband returns from work, she has a warm meal and a big smile waiting.  Her children share bedrooms, and small ones at that.  She doesn’t worry about working or making ends meet, although she is frugal and doesn’t waste money.  Her family dresses well, but not in extravagance.  They own a car and a house.  If they’re lucky, they may own a little television.  She doesn’t have to worry about paying for internet, the biggest cable package, a cell phone bill, or a smartphone package because, quite frankly, these things don’t exist.  A new flat screen t.v. for every room, a smartphone, and a computer wouldn’t even come close to her list of “needs”.  Yet, for the typical wife of today, they do.

The typical wife of today has to worry about paying for internet (and preferably the fastest possible).  She see’s a cellphone, and even a smart phone as a necessity.  Ipods, laptop computers and wiis are all fairly necessary.  Their children must have the latest cell phone, video game, and mp3 player.  Each child must have their own room, and they need a big house in order to live.  In her spare time, she is constantly shopping for new items and clothes that are absolutely necessary!

How did we get to this place, where all these things are necessities?  The heart of the matter truly is that all of these things are not necessities, but because of the culture we have been raised in, we feel entitled to have them.  We all do this, in one way or another.  We all feel the pull to run out and buy the latest fashion, spend a fortune on the newest iphone, and get big huge t.v. for our family room.  We look around and think “she has one, so I should too!”

More and more women today are leaving their children with grandparents and babysitters and stepping out into the workforce because they have to to make ends meet.  Really, though, the extra income they bring in is used for such things as getting their hard dyed once a month, buying their husband a new laptop for Christmas, and going to the beach for a week each summer.  Their money is spent on things that the housewife of sixty years ago wouldn’t have dreamed of buying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we have to live without all modern conveniences or that smartphones and new clothes are evil.  What I am saying, however, is that we as women need to get rid of the notion that we simply have to work.  Yes, there are some families where the wife’s income is crucial to survival.  However, there are a lot of working moms out there that, quite frankly, don’t need to be. 

Think about it this way.  Mom A works outside of the home at a typical 9-5.  When she comes home from work she stresses and rushes to put food on the table and get homework done, the children ready for bed, and, if she’s lucky, a workout in.  She hardly sees her children, her food is less than nourishing, and she’s tired and stressed all the time.  Yes, her family lives in a nice four-bedroom home, she wears lots of nice clothing, they have the latest technology, and they vacation in Destin every summer.  Her children struggle because mom just doesn’t have time for them, her husband rarely gets alone time with her, and everyone as a whole feels entitled to such a life. 

Then there’s Mom B.  She quit her 9-5 to stay home with the kids.  To do so, she and her family had to move into a smaller house where the children share rooms (oh horror!).  They sold her nice suburban and bought an older minivan, got rid of cable t.v., and use the internet at work and the library.  Her children do without many of the latest video games and clothing.  They go camping at a beach every summer instead of staying in a nice hotel.  And yet, mom is happier and freer without the stress of juggling work and home.  She has time for her husband and her kids, and the meals she prepares are always made with love and time.  And her kids?  They love having their mom around more, and through their parents frugalness they have learned that life isn’t all about material possessions.  They love camping at the beach more than the frilly hotel.  But most of all?  They know without a doubt that they are more important to their mom and dad than possessions or wealth.

So which mom do you want to be?           

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Monday, August 29, 2011

One Thousand Gifts: Dreams of Tomorrow

This week has been long and full, but wonderful.  My parents came to visit over the weekend, which was awesome!  And then today I did my first substitute job.  I was in a 1st grade classroom and just loved it!  I'm learning to take what God has for me each day and do it for His glory. 

21. My parents coming to visit after almost a year (not from seeing them, but from them coming here).
22. Celebrating my man's 24th birthday.
23. Celebrating one year and 3 months of wedded bliss.
24. Setting goals with my very best friend.
25. Organic carrots that are cheaper than the regular ones.
26. Getting things for free.
27. Getting told I'm really pretty by a six-year-old.
28. Feeling in my a classroom again.
29. Finding out I'm going to be an aunt to two precious twin girls!
30. Feeling fully alive and happy!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

News on the Homefront

Today, I have two little tidbits that I wanted to share.

First, as some of you know, my sister found out recently that we're expecting twins.  I come from a family of all girls...four of them, to be exact.  So, we've all been anxiously awaiting the news of whether our little nieces/nephews/grandkids are boys or girls and...

they're both girls!!!  So, it looks like it's still going to be all girls.  At least for now. :)

Second, we found out yesterday that our sweet little kitten, Al, is actually an Ally.  As in, "he" is actually a girl.  So, I guess girls must be the thing!

Five Minute Fridays: Older

Once again, I'm linking up to Five Minute Fridays over at The Gypsy Mama.  Today's topic? Older.

When I was little, I always wanted to be older.  I thought that if I could just reach a certain age, then life would be a breeze.  I now know that's far from true.

Getting married young (I was 20), I felt like I was almost flung into the big world of adult life.  Suddenly a lot of responsibilities were laid on my shoulders, and while I had thought I was adult, I suddenly felt very young and inexperienced.

Marriage changes you like nothing else can.  It matured me in so many ways, and it still is.  I still struggle with feeling like people see me as "young".  Yet, I'm stepping into my skin.  I am beginning to realize that I don't have to be older to be a confident woman.  When I feel and act older, then people treat me as older.  They see me as older.  And, while that may not be a good thing to everybody, at my stage in life it is.  I need that confidence that comes with being old enough to be a take care of myself and others.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I've Learned Since Getting Married

1.) I was not the one to splash water on the mirrors when I lived with my parents.  I rarely ever have to clean Andy's and my bathroom mirrors!

2.) Never, ever try to use buttermilk to make sausage gravy.  Even if you are out of regular milk.

3.) Never add sugar to try to make said gravy better.

4.) It is possible to put an even number of socks in the wash and come out with an uneven number.  It happens even when it's just my socks!

5.) Don't try to fool your husband by replacing pork sausage with turkey sausage.  He will always know.

6.) It takes a long time for your husband to be honest with you.  You know that sweater that you love?  A year into marriage you just might find out that he thinks it looks like a granny sweater.

7.) Nice homeschooled boys don't really want to marry girls that dress like grandmas.

8.) Pulling the quilt of the bed the "wrong" way really bothers me.

9.) "Top Gear" is a really interesting show.

10.) The best part of disagreements is the making up. :) (Thank you Bill Cosby, for enlightening us on that issue!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making 'Cents' of It: Recyclebank

There are many great reward opportunities on the internet, such as Swagbucks or Inbox Dollars.  One I've found to be very rewarding is Recylebank.  Recylebank is all about learning how to live green and it offers some excellent opportunities for earning rewards.  By viewing videos or playing games, you can quickly earn points and then redeem them for gift cards, coupons, magazine subscriptions, or other items.

So far, I redeemed a few points for a coupon for $2 off on 2 Earthbound farms organic produce and a free one year magazine subscription.  Yesterday I went to Walmart and was pleased to find that the 1 lb bags of Earthbound farms organic carrots are only 88 cents right now.  So I got two bags, used the coupon, and not only got them for free but earned 24 cents!  Yippee!

It's free and easy to sign up, so check it out here.


For the Man I Love

Today my sweet husband turns 24.  I am so thankful for his twenty-four years, even though I've only been privileged to be a part of them for just over three.

I'm thankful for his parents who faithfully raised him and his five siblings up in the Lord.

I'm thankful for his dad who was such a good example of godly manhood.

I'm thankful for his mom who put up with three crazy little boys.

I'm thankful for his grandparents, who instilled so much in his life (and wholeheartedly welcomed me into the family as well).

I'm thankful for his siblings, all of whom still play a huge part in our life and family.

I'm thankful that Andy was homeschooled, and has the same vision for our own children.

I'm thankful that Andy got the opportunity to live in so many places, opening his eyes up to the world.

I'm thankful that he loves carpentry and home building...things that have been a huge blessing in the last couple of months.

I'm thankful that he worked hard as a teenager to pay for things, like trucks and insurance.

I'm thankful that he had the experience of owning his own cabinet shop.

I'm thankful that he learned about graphic design as well.

I'm thankful that he chose me.

I'm thankful for the opportunities he's had at Stone County Ironworks.

I'm thankful that he works hard to provide for us...and provide for us well.

I'm thankful that he, first and foremost, desires to serve God with all that he has and in all that he does.

I'm thankful that he has such a heart for college ministries.

I'm thankful that I'm married to a man who will be such a great daddy someday.

I'm thankful for the life we have together.

I'm thankful for every minute that I get to spend with my soulmate, lover, knight in shining armor, protector, companion, fellow worker, and best friend.

I'm thankful for my Andy.  Each day with him only gets better.

"When you are in love you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." ~Dr. Seuss

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Monday, August 22, 2011

One Thousand Gifts: Lingering Summer

This past week has been long but sweet, as we've been experiencing the last tastes of summer. The temperatures go up-and-down, school buses are passing, and each day is even more unpredictable then it has been. Yet, each day holds something new and exciting. I still get to savor the warm sun on my skin, some late-blooming flowers, and a still growing garden.  Summer is nearing its end, but it's not gone quite yet. :)

11. An early morning walk in peace and solitude.
12. An unexpected writing opportunity for a little extra cash.
13. The last few softball games on warm, muggy evenings.
14. Seeing a friend walk around at said games after breaking his back a mere few weeks ago.
15. Taking Friday off the work on the house and yard together. 
16. Having friends over for one last summer grill time and a birthday celebration for my man.
17. Celebrating two years of life for a little friend.
18. Sunday afternoon naps snuggled on the couch.
19. Making a sweet baby smile.
20. Getting to be a part of a church whose senior pastor (and the others as well!) is wholeheartedly following the Lord.  

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

What I'm Wanting to Read...

I've really been wanting to see the new movie that's out The Help, since I've heard some good things about it. I tried to find the book that it's based on at the library but, alas, someone already has it out.

Have you read it/seen the movie? What do you think?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Overwhelming Sadness

I was raised in Arizona, a land teeming with sunlight and wide open spaces.  It would rain or snow, and then the sun would come out as piercing as ever.  The sky was always the brightest blue you’ve ever seen.  It never was grey.

Here in Arkansas, the winter is a dreary time.  The sky is always filled with clouds, mostly without snow or rain.  The trees are bare, everything is brown, and the sun rarely makes an appearance. 

And it’s cold.  Not as cold as it was in Flagstaff, but somehow it feels colder.  The cold here is wet.  It seeps to your very bones. 

This year, January was grey outside.  And it was grey within me.

All last fall I had student taught in a wonderful second grade classroom.  I was tired and drained, but I loved the kids.  I loved the teachers.  I loved teaching.

The plan was to graduate, get a job subbing, and then, Lord willing, an actual teaching job.  When I finished in December, my husband asked me if I would consider working at the ironworks.  They had recently had some people leave, and really needed help for a time.

Maybe this is my calling, I thought.  After all…won’t I be helping my husband?

All throughout January I worked in a small cave of an office, with hardly any light.  The little light that came in was the grey January light.  When at home, I would sit and stare out the window…aching for spring. 

I found myself wishing, praying that I would get pregnant.  Then I wouldn’t have to work at all!  I’d get to stay at home and do all of the things I loved to do…baking, sewing, homemaking.  Then I would be happy.

I am so thankful that the Lord didn’t grant that prayer then.  A child is not the way out of a pit.  My solution would have only made things worth. 

What I was failing to see was that my unhappiness was not related to my circumstances.  I had done all the homemaking things I loved while student teaching.  What I lacked now was the energy and the motivation. 

My husband was so good to me, and life was wonderfully blessed.  But despite it all I was sad and down.  I felt like my life lacked meaning.  I was lost and bitter and unhappy. I was depressed.

I was ashamed to admit it even to myself, but once I did I was able to take steps to beat it.  I began to make getting out in the sun purposeful and started taking Vitamin D.  I exercised and tried to eat better.  I started working less at the ironworks and staying home more.  I started blogging.  I planned our garden and planted seeds.  I started being purposeful in delighting in my husband and the Lord’s many blessings.  Most of all, I asked Him to come in and renew my heart…to cleanse me and make me new. I asked Him to give me joy again.

And He did.  The spring came and life returned…both to the trees and within me. 

Sometimes we feel down, depressed, or discouraged.  It can be a horrible, shameful, and lonely time.  You feel like you have no right to be down or depressed, and yet you are. 

Just know, you’re not alone. 

The spring will come.  Life will return.  For there is a Balm in Gilead.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

So, I’ve been meaning to do the whole thousand little gifts challenge for a long time, and I thought that today was a great day to start.  So often, I get caught up in all the big things in life, and miss out on the little blessings that He has given me.  I’d love for you to take this journey with me…let me know if you’re doing your own version of one thousand gifts!
1.) A Savior who loves me and died for me…who is my Life, my All-in-All.
2.) A man who would do anything for me and who cherishes me is so many ways.
3.) A wonderful extended family that loves and supports us.
4.) A new home to make together and watch our dreams grow in together.
5.) A dog and cat who daily make me feel loved and important…who bring laughter into my life.
6.) Getting to live in a rural place and learning to not take for granted little things like Starbucks.
7.) Having a plan and a purpose beyond what I could dream.
8.) Some of the best friends and “kindred spirits” I’ve ever known.
9.) A church that I can grow in and serve in…and get excited about being in.
10.) The hope of tomorrow.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Helpmeet First

Can I be honest and candid with you?  I’ve been trying to write this blog entry for months and months, but I’ve come to realize that I can’t without truly sharing my heart with you. 

The issue of “family planning” can be very controversial, and that’s why I’ve been so reluctant to be completely open about where Andy and I stand.  As many of you know, we’ve been married over a year now.  So, you must come to the conclusion that either, a) we don’t want children yet and have been purposefully trying not to, or, b) we’ve been trying to have children, but haven’t been able to.  The truth is that we have been trying not to have children yet, in order to better prepare for them.

Now, I’m not against having children right after you’re married.  I myself was born only 11 months after my parents got married.  However, when Andy and I got married, we felt that we really were not ready to have children right off the bat.  For one, I was student teaching in the fall and Andy was taking classes at the community college.  Secondly, while Andy has a good steady job, we didn’t feel quite ready yet to take on the financial stress of a baby.  Only after we’ve been married this long have I come to realize that there’s another very good reason for not rushing into having children. 

Everywhere I look, I see mothers whose lives revolve around their children.  They are their number one priorities.  But you know what I also see?  Husbands who are suffering from neglect and being pushed aside by the children.

Ladies, your number one ministry in life is not your children.  I know that may be a real shock to your system, but it’s true.  When you said “I do”, your number one priority and ministry should have become your husband.  You are his helpmeet, his right-hand woman, his necessary piece.  All to often, however, I see women flipping that priority the wrong way.

When you are seeking what the Lord’s will for your life is, it should center around this idea of being your husband’s helpmeet.  Helpmeets come in all shapes and forms, depending on what the Lord has in store for a wife and her husband.  One woman may be the best helpmeet to her husband by working outside of the home in order to support him through school, or help the family save up enough to buy a house or have a baby.  Another woman may be the best helpmeet to her man by working in his business with him.  Still another may be the best by staying home and taking care of the house, working from home and at home.  The word helpmeet does not necessarily include children.

Now, before you think I’m advocating not having children, then think again.  Andy and I want a gaggle of children running around this house before too long.  And I admit that there are days that I see a baby and just ache to have one of my own.  But still, I wait.  Why?  Because my husband doesn’t feel properly prepared yet.  He wanted to have a home of our own first, and now we do, but now we’ve got to fix up this home.  We really couldn’t be doing the remodeling we are doing with a baby around.  And I’m on board with that.

Furthermore, in our 14 months of marriage, I’ve come to realize how essential a good, healthy marriage is before you have children.  If I had gotten pregnant right away, Andy and I would have missed some of the sweetest times of growth together.  We’d have a 6 month old right now, and even before the baby came would be morning sickness and expensive doctor’s bills among other things.  Babies are a blessing, but they’re hard work!  If you don’t have a solid foundation to your marriage, then having a baby will only make things worse.  I am so thankful for the times that Andy and I have had together, as just the two of us.  We’ve been able to travel and do things that we’d never have been able to do with a baby in a stroller.  And we’ve also been able to save up some money for when a baby does come.  Had we gotten pregnant during the time since we got married, we would have accepted it as the Lord’s will and joyfully welcomed a baby, but we haven’t, and I know that that has been the Lord’s will as well.

So, ladies, kiss that precious little one, but don’t forget to kiss your husband also.  Put him first.  I promise you that if you do, your children will be just fine.  Much more so than they would be with parents who have a strained relationship.  Be a mother, but be a helpmeet first.        

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making ‘Cents’ of It: All About Price Matching

Typically I do all of my shopping at our Walmart Supercenter.  The other two grocery stores in town simply do not carry enough, nor are their prices good enough, to justify shopping there much.  However, I still find great deals and sales in their weekly circulars.  I just don’t want to waste the time and gas money to drive all over town to get a few things.
Now, Walmart doesn’t double coupons, but they do do something even better…they price match.  That means that if you find something for a better price at another store, they will match that price for you.  For instance, Wilson’s Town & Country is one of the little groceries we have in town.  Their produce prices are often the best in town.  Yet, instead of driving there to get them, I just take their weekly ad into Walmart and ask them to match Wilson’s prices.
The best part is Walmart will price match almost anything, even if the ad is for a store that’s not in your town.  Usually I just price match my produce, but you can find toiletries and other items on sale at another store and get Walmart to match that price for you. 
So, here’s how a typical grocery trip would work:  I check out Wilson’s weekly ad and see what they have on sale.  Say that have green bell peppers for 59 cents a piece.  That’s a good price, so I make a note of it and bring the ad with me to Walmart.  Walmart’s green bell peppers are 99 cents each, but they will match Wilson’s price, so I just save 40 cents  a pepper.  Pretty good, if I must say so! 
Keep an eye on other store’s sales…you just might find an incredible deal.  The best part is you can get that deal without even entering their store!


Learning to Trust

This past week has been chock-full of craziness.  It began with a truck in the shop, meaning a bill of well over a grand, and ended with finding out that the back tires on my car are dangerously worn.  In between, we’ve had two friends in the hospital (one with a broken back, that I mentioned last week), one set of friends miscarried their little boy, I had a weird reaction to a bug bite and had to see the doctor, and things with the house haven’t worked out as planned.  Oh, and my sister came to visit.  I’m tempted to say that that’s the only positive part of last week, but that’s not true.  I got to go on a sweet and special date with my husband to the home improvement store and Olive Garden.
Most of all, this past week, my husband and I have been earnestly seeking God’s will for our life a certain decision.  Strangely enough, the craziness and stress of the past week have linked with this decision hand-and-hand.  Why?  Because God has been really working in our lives and on our hearts. 
I’m a planner.  I love to have organized lists and schedules, and having a large safety-net of money means the difference between peace and worry for me.  The last week obviously aligned with none of these desires and comfort zones for me.  But that’s the point.  God’s really been revealing to me that I’m not relying on Him and His strength…I’m relying on my own efforts and careful planning. 
Sometimes I wonder when I’ll quit stressing and worrying about my plans, and start letting go, knowing that God’s plan is so much better?!  This worry and control on my part is only a stumbling block between me and the Lord.  How sad is it that I let my worries and plans get in the way of my relationship and sheer and utter trust in the Savior of my soul?! 
Letting go is not an easy process.  But slowly, faithfully, He is chipping away at what I’ve made myself into, and forming me into what He wants me to be. 
Oh, the wondrous plans I know He has in store for meIf only I will let Him dream instead of me.  

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hard Things

What makes something hard, really and truly?  Today I was going to post about how “hard” an ordinary, seemingly mundane life can be.  Yesterday changed that. 

Yesterday we got word of two things.  First, our friends M & B, who were expecting their first child, found out that they lost their baby.  I cannot imagine that kind of pain.

And then last night, we found out that our good friend Adam "Tex” Merritt was in a terrible roll-over accident.  He is now in the hospital in Little Rock with his back broken in six places, and his spine fractured in two places.  The doctors said that normally people who experience that never walk again.  Miraculously, Tex still has feeling in his toes.

Please pray for M & B during their time of grief.  Also, please lift up Tex and his wife and little girl.  These are truly hard things.  What is my wonderfully blessed life in comparison?

“And we know that in all things He works together for the good of those who love and fear Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

To this do we cling.