The Life Not My Own

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When I Walk

Sometimes I get a little stressed when things aren’t all under my control.  God’s been teaching me a lot lately about finding my security and peace in Him and not in money or possessions.  But I’m definitely not all there yet…not even close.  And so, I find myself starting to stress and freak out from time to time.

Yesterday afternoon was one of those times.  I was trying desperately to not be such a control freak, but it was hard.  After lunch, I read my Bible and spent some quiet time, but I was still feeling antsy inside.  And the drowsiness of the afternoon was starting to overcome me.  And so, I did the only thing I knew how to: I put my walking shoes on, leashed up the dog, and we went for our walk.  God knew that was exactly what I needed.

Somehow when I walk, all the pressures and stresses of life seem to melt away.  As I enjoy the sun’s rays beating down on me and the beautiful wonders of God’s creation, I find myself restored and renewed.  The endorphins stir me on to finish the day out strong.  And I find myself reminded, once again, that God created exercise for a reason.  It’s healthy for your body and your mind and spirit. 

There are days when I just don’t feel like walking, or just don’t have the time.  But when I do it anyway, I never regret it.  Walking never fails to restore me.  I love being in God’s word…it’s so important.  But I find my walks are just as important.  When I walk I try to talk to God, and pour out my troubles at His feet, but the beauty of His creation quickly distracts me.  Instead, I start to let Him speak to my heart and refresh me.  Yes, walking is just as important as praying.  For when I walk, I listen.   


Monday, September 26, 2011

Prayer Request

If you could keep my sister and her babies in your prayers, I’d much appreciate it.  She went to the hospital Saturday with pre-term labor contractions.  Her twins are only 24 weeks along and they were very concerned.  They even had her on steroids to strengthen the babies’ lungs if they had to be born early.  Thankfully they were able to get the contractions to stop, but she’s still at the hospital under observation. 

It’s hard because she and her husband are way up in North Dakota, a long way from any of their families.  Just keep them and their twin girls in your prayers!




One Thousand Gifts: A New Week

It’s early Monday morning, and I’ve just sent my husband off to work, got the animals all situated for the day, and am now preparing for a new week.  It’s a cold morning…one of those mornings where you just want to stay under the covers for a little bit longer.  But the sun is out for the first time in a few days, the trees on the hillside behind us are starting to turn to autumn hues, and the day holds so much promise.  And so, instead of staying under the covers, I am drawn out by a hot cup of tea and quiet time with my Savior before a full day starts.

Oh, what a gift this life I live is!  I love living in the beautiful and history-filled Ozarks.  I love not actually living in a neighborhood.  I love looking out my back window and seeing horses, cows, and donkeys in the field behind us.  I love having a big yard to plan out and beautify.  I love having a home to call our own. 
And so begins another week.  Another week to learn and grow in.  Another week to enjoy and find joy and beauty in.  Another life to live to the fullest for my Lord.   

71. Pinterest.  Yes, this is my new fun thing to play with. 
72. A fridge that’s finally in my kitchen (even if it’s not in the fridge spot).  Thank you old house with crooked walls that make my fridge just barely not fit!
73. Plenty of drawers and cabinets to organize and fill.
74. Finding my sewing machine presser foot after it being missing since we moved.
75. Working in the nursery with Andy, and watching him read a book to a little girl and a little boy.
76. A day off and visiting a friend in Conway.
77. Buying two dresses and a new blouse for $24.  Yes, that makes me happy!
78. Ice cream on the square with friends on a beautiful day.
79. Hearing of engagements and new babies on the way.
80. Learning to be confident in the life God has given me.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Being a Bit Narcissistic

It's Saturday, and Andy is helping a friend of ours make a bed out of iron.  Yes, working at an ironworks has some perks.  So anyway, I'm sitting over at his office a tad bit bored and saw this over at The Momma Bird.  So, I'm going to be a bit narcissistic and do it myself.  Hey, you don't have to read it if you don't want to, right? :)

The A to Z of Me

A. Age: 21
B. Bed size: Queen.  Why would we want anything bigger?

C. Chore that you hate: Doing the dishes.  I always have to have music or a t.v. show on or I just get bored.
D. Dogs: My sweet little stinker of a beagle, Sam.  She'd love you no matter what you did to her.
E. Essential start to your day: A hot cup of tea and quiet time.  
F. Favorite color: Yellow.  You know, like sunflowers?  It's so cheery!
G. Gold or Silver: G0ld.  Except my wedding ring is silver because I thought it looked better that way.
H. Height: 5'9"
I. Instruments you play: Piano and violin.  Wish I played them more nowadays though!
J. Job title: A little of everything.  Substitute teacher, administrative assistant, writer, and homemaker.  
Yes, I love my life!
K. Kids: None yet, but someday we'd like a bunch!
L. Live: North Central Arkansas in a teeny, tiny town.
M. Mother’s name: Diane
N. Nicknames: Caitylinylou (thanks to a boy in elementary school, don't know why that has stuck so long), 
Cate (but only by my sisters), Flook (thanks to my terribly odd maiden name...thankfully I don't hear that 
one too much anymore), and a bunch of little names by my hubby.
O. Overnight hospital stays: Not since croup at age 3.  Thankfully!
P. Pet peeves: Okay, so I have a few weird "musts".  Like I have a certain way to pull the quilt back when
I get into bed.  Hey, at least I keep it from falling on the floor!
Q. Quote from a movie: This is a hard one!  I'm just going to have to go with a quote from a movie I saw 
recently, Captain America. "But a weak man knows the value of strength. And knows compassion."
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: Three younger sisters...and a whole lot of brothers and sisters-in-law.
T. Time you wake up: Depends on the day and what I'm doing.  Weekdays, I usually get up about 6 

or 6:30.  Weekends we sleep in a bit.  
U. Underwear: Is this a question?
V. Vegetable you hate: I'm not really sure if there's any I hate...I like most vegetables if they're made right!
W. What makes you run late: Hardly anything.  If I'm really disorganized that can throw me off though.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Teeth many times, and my wrist once.
Y. Yummy food that you make: I hope all my food is yummy...but sometimes it falls short.  I really love 
to make chocolate chip cookies, though. :)
Z. Zoo animal: Monkeys!  They just make my day.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Making ‘Cents’ of It: Your Best Friend

If you want to save money in your budget, then you should meet your new best friend: the slow cooker.  You may think that you don’t have the money for one or the place to store it, but if you somehow missed out on getting a crock pot as a wedding present, then you need to rush out and get one.  Seriously.  This little beauty will save you so much time and money that the upfront investment is more than worth it.

The first reason I love my slow cooker is that it can turn the toughest, cheapest piece of meat into tender mush.  Meat prices are typically depended on the tenderness of the cut.  The more tender the cut, the more expensive it is per pound.  Nobody wants to eat a tough piece of meat, so spending the extra money may seem worth it.  But meat’s expensive.  It adds up quickly.  If you want to save a huge chunk of your grocery budget, buy the cheapest piece of meat that’s on sale, and stick it in your crock pot.  At the end of the day you’ll have enough good meat to use for several meals.  Extra slow cooked meat is great for tacos, sandwiches, and almost anything that calls for cooked meat.  You’ll save a bundle!

Second, my crock pot keeps my eating out costs down.  If you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day, with no energy to cook, then you’re probably tempted to get pizza or eat out pretty often.  But what if you come home and there’s a nice warm meal all ready to eat just sitting in your slow cooker?  When I put the effort in at the beginning of the day to throw something in the crockpot, then I'm always rewarded by a good meal without much cost.  The best part is most crockpot meals can be made quickly, or even ahead. 

The other day I found a nice chuck roast on sale at the grocery store.  I cut up whatever vegetables I had…potatoes, carrots, celery, even squash…whatever I had on hand.  I threw the vegetables in the bottom and then laid the roast right on top of them.  Then I combined beef stock (or water with beef bouillon), thyme, salt and pepper and poured it over the roast.  Then I set the crockpot to low until the beef was warm and tender.  It took about 8 hours for the roast to be done, and when I got home I had a nice delicious meal waiting for me.

DSCF2051 (2)

Experiment with ingredients and flavors.  Almost anything can be made in a crock pot. 

Don’t have a slow cooker?  Buy one today…it will be well worth it.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Somewhere You Feel Free

On day’s like today, I’m reminded why I love my life.  I’m reminded how much I love living where I live.  And I’m reminded how blessed I am.

I had a day off from work, so I drove down to Conway to meet a friend.  We ate lunch at a trendy brick-fired pizza place, and shared a delicious garden pizza, complete with artichokes, tomatoes, and feta cheese.  Then we had some of their delectably rich gelato. 

Then we went to one of the most amazing consignment shops I’ve ever been to (thanks to another dear friend for telling me about it!).  We shopped.  And shopped, and shopped, and shopped.  It was so fun to have someone to shop with who has such similar tastes.  It was also fun to shop somewhere with high quality clothes (Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein) for prices I can afford.  I ended up getting two dresses and a blouse, all for $24.  Yes, $24! 

Next we went over to the consignment furniture store next door where I found the best find: an older glass globe on a wooden stand for $40!  I knew Andy had always wanted one, so I got it. 

We ended the visit with delicious Morning Matte tea made by my sweet friend.  What a perfect drink for a rainy day!  It was such a sweet time of fellowship and getting to know each other better.  I’m so blessed to have her in my life!

Finally, I drove home amidst a misty late afternoon.  I enjoyed the slow, windy drive through the mountains.  The green grass overflowed into the road, and the beautiful trees hung down, just a hint of gold already resting on their leaves.  The clouds rose and fell, and wisps of fog hovered in the valleys.  I passed three deer on the side of the road, enjoying the green brought out on the rain.  In a field two calves played, bucking at each other and running.  Around a bend an old wooden barn lay nestled in a clearing.  On each turn I felt the car hug the road, turning perfectly to match it.  All the while I wished I was able to capture the sights I saw in pictures, so I could share them with those I loved.  But all I was left with were pictures in my head, memories of beautiful sights. 

Just before coming into town I hit a patch of fog, but as I came down the hill into town the fog broke and there below me lay my town, my home, lying peacefully in the little valley.  I sighed in contentedness.  And I thought of the one who waited for me. 

And then I pulled into our driveway. Through the windows the lights were inviting and welcoming.  And inside I found my sweet man, the one thing I had missed all day.  He had a surprise waiting for me…a beautiful, warm fire in the fireplace in our bedroom.  He had climbed way up in the dark attic to get it  hooked up for me!

We ate our comfort food dinner: meatballs I had left in the crock pot all day and mashed potatoes.  Perfect for a chilly evening, when Fall was first beginning to show herself.  Perfect for the last day of summer. 

And as I sat reflecting on the day, I thought about how blessed I was to have such a carefree life.  A life free from too much stress or worries.  A life where I can take the time to drive slowly and drink in the beauty God has placed there. 

What a gift that is.

"You belong among the wildflowers,
You belong somewhere close to me,
Far away from your trouble and worry,
You belong somwhere you feel free."
~Tom Petty, "Wildflowers"


Monday, September 19, 2011

One Thousand Gifts: Indian Summer

This week a cool wind rolled in, and with it came a hint of Fall.  Cozy sweaters, hot cups of tea, and snuggly blankets became practically a necessity.  One of the poplar trees in our yard started losing it’s leaves early, mostly because of the dry weather, but I’m not complaining about the yellow leaves, though…they are a beautiful whisper of Fall. 
DSCF2016 (3)
A single golden leaf brings so much beauty!
DSCF2018 (3)
The animals have been enjoying the weather too.  Sam loves the respite from the muggy summer days, and is becoming much more active again. :)
DSCF2049 (2)
She’s such a sweet little buddy.
DSCF2039 (2)
The girl cat (who we once thought was a boy) has now acquired a new name: Elsa, after the lion in one of my favorite movies, Born Free.  Andy persists in calling the poor cat “Al” though…I guess it’s hard to change a name. :)
DSCF2029 (2)
Elsa is curious to explore everything around our yard…especially with the new cool weather.
DSCF2031 (2)
She even has dubbed the wire dog kennel her own personal “jungle gym”.
DSCF2038 (2)
I’m so enjoying this “Indian Summer”, and all of the beautiful things that come with it.  Sometimes the most joy can be found only in the tiniest of things: a simple leaf, sweet little buddies, and a warm cup of tea.
61. Getting to pull out comfy sweaters.
62. Golden leaves already starting to fill my yard.
63. Walking the dog in the middle of the day without dying of heatstroke.
64. A scheduled “kitchen finished” date…Friday! (Turkey in the freezer, get ready!)
65. A fun date night with Andy, and finally getting to see The Help.
66. A man who appreciates me for me, and wants to help me reach my dreams.
67. A man who sees and thinks beyond what most people see or think.
68. Picking out adorable things for my soon-to-be-arriving nieces (yes, they shall be spoiled :) ).
69. Snuggling under the covers as the long awaited ran pours on our tin roof.
70. Dreaming of the future while enjoying and cherishing today.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Review: One Call Away

I was excited to read One Call Away by Brenda Warner for two main reasons.  The first is that Brenda’s husband, Kurt, was the driving force behind the Arizona Cardinal’s making it into the Superbowl.  Being from Arizona, I was one of the many Arizonans that suddenly became a Cardinal’s fan.  The second is that Brenda’s parents had been killed in a tornado in Mountain View, AR—where I now live.  Somehow, I felt that connected us in some way.

I had mixed emotions while reading One Call Away.  On the one hand, I felt a bit surprised by her early life, when her faith in Jesus and her actions didn’t really seem to match up.  On the other hand, it was refreshing to read the memoir of someone who wasn’t always perfect.  She made mistakes, and justified her actions at the time, but don’t we all do that in some way?  And then, the mistakes she made are not portrayed positively.  They realized their mistakes and worked to correct them.

That said, the thing I liked most about One Call Away was that it was real.  This is no perfect woman or warrior of the faith.  Instead, she is someone just like you and me.  Read it, but don’t take it as a “how-to-live-your-life” book.  Instead, take it for the authentic and encouraging story that it is.  Be encouraged by the reminder that God is always there, even in unspeakable pain and hardship…even in normal, everyday lives.

I received this book through Booksneeze.  Check it out!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Apron Touched by Floured Hands

DSCF2016 (2)
Last Christmas my mother gave me an apron she had made.  It was feminine, frilly, and embodied the carefree days of summer.  Bright greens and pinks, with cherries, watermelons, and lemons, it was just what I needed for my drab kitchen…especially in the grey days of winter.  It embodies everything I love about the kitchen—a feminine woman making good food for her family and delighting in her God-given place. 

When I was little, my mom had a drawer full of aprons.  When helping her bake cookies or other treats, we got to select one out of there.  But there was one that was always Mom’s.  It was a white, lacy piece that was long—perfect for my tall mother.  She always wore it while she cooked and baked, whipping up something delightful for us to eat. 

Many are the hours my mom has spent in her kitchen.  Us girls rarely ever helped with meals, simply because my mom was so good at it.  When she was bending over her stove, wearing that white apron, she was in her glory.  We would watch her with wide, wondering eyes, hoping to someday be the cook in our kitchen like she was in hers.

And as she worked, she’d tell us stories about the women who came before.  She’d talk about what my grandma used to make, and my great-grandma’s famous “Polish Balls”.  She’d tell us about the persimmon tree in my great-grandma’s backyard, and all of the persimmon recipes she subsequently collected.  Every fall she’d get out her grandma’s apple pie recipe, the crust of which always won the prize.  At Thanksgiving she’d make a huge feast, probably with the same dishes my grandma used to make.  At Christmastime we’d make the “Polish Balls”, and send a batch off to everyone who loved my great-grandma’s delicacies.  And always she was wearing that apron. 

One time I tried it on, just for fun.  But, somehow, it just didn’t seem to fit.  It wasn’t mine, it was Mom’s.  It reminded me that my grandma and my great-grandma probably had their own aprons that were distinctly theirs. 

And here I am, a married woman, with a kitchen of my own.  And an apron of my own.

What will this apron become to the children I will bear?  I pray it becomes a symbol of “mama”, just like the white apron was a symbol of my mom.  A symbol whose floured sides and worn straps are full of love and care.  Full of the stories of the women before.  Full of good food, a pretty woman, and family.

This post was written as part of Apron Week over at The Little Pink House.  Head over there to check it out! 

Apron Week at the Little Pink House

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Identity Question

As I’ve said before, my background has defined a lot of my beliefs and opinions.  But, I also have some very wise women pouring into my life, not the least of which is my mom.  After reading my blog post last week, she brought up the very important point that women today find their identity in what they do instead of who they are

Think about it.  When people ask you to tell them about yourself, what’s typically the first thing you say?  “Hi, I’m _______, and I’m a 1st grader teacher.”  So, our job defines us to the utmost.  But is that really the most important part about us?  Yes, it’s what we do to put food on the table, and it may even be something we love to do, but at the end of the day, it’s still a job. 

Many jobs have eternal significance.  An obvious one is pastors.  But other workers, such as teachers or musicians also have a huge influence on the eternal.  But shouldn’t we all, in some way, no matter what we do?  Should our job merely be a job to us, or should it be the means by which we meet people, spread the gospel, and minister to others?  Isn’t the gospel of Christ far more important than anything we could ever do in our jobs?

So, why do we let our jobs define us?  Have you ever met someone who said, “Hi, I’m ______, and I’m a follower of Jesus Christ”?  Probably not.  But shouldn’t that be what defines us the most?

Interestingly, we find our worth in our identity.  Because we hold a job, and perhaps work hard, we feel that we are worth something—that we matter.  I think that a lot of homemakers and stay-at-home moms are afraid to tell others what they do (the hardest, most important job of all!) because they feel that, because they have no job outside of the home, then they have no identity, and, therefore, no worth. 

Furthermore, I think there are a lot of women that feel they could never quit work and stay home with the kids because, somehow, they would lose their identity.  How does changing or quitting jobs in any way change who we are as a person and who we are in Christ?

I feel the pull often.  Right now I kind of float between a million different odd jobs, but no one career.  I get the looks and the pity, because I have no teaching job.  I even feel myself sometimes that my life must be meaningless because I have no full-time, important job.  I can’t tell people, “Hi, I’m Caitlin, and I’m a teacher” because I’m not!

But why should I be ashamed of that?  Truth be told, if I defined myself by what I do I would say, “Hi, I’m Caitlin, and I’m a homemaker, administrative assistant, substitute teacher, blogger, writer, and mystery shopper.”  I work hard everyday.  I don’t bring in a lot of money, but I don’t really need to.  My husband makes a good salary, we own a home, and we are fairly frugal.  I have enough flexibility in my schedule to take my dog for a walk in the afternoon, eat lunch with my husband, work on the house during the week, and have free time to help if someone needs me.  I love what I do each and every day. 

But still, I feel the pull.

Don’t we all feel the pull?  Don’t our days center around our “job”, our “identity”? 

Slowly, steadfastly, He is teaching me that my identity isn’t found in what I do in the big picture.  Instead, it’s found in who I am in Him, and what He calls me to do each day. 

Who am I really?  I’m Caitlin.  I’m passionately in love with my Savior.  I’m a helpmeet to my very best friend.  I’m a daughter of the Most High King.  He created me with a quiet soul and a passionate heart.  He loves me and made me beautiful.  He sent His only son to die for me.  He calls me His child.  He has a huge plan and purpose for my life, and He will lead me through it step-by-step. 

Who am I?  I am His.  My identity is not found in what I do, but who I am in Him. 

This life is not my own, but His.         

Labels: ,

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Thousand Gifts: Spontaneity

Spontaneity.  That pretty much sums up my week in a nutshell.  For those of you who know me, I am not at all spontaneous.  But being married to Andy has changed that somewhat.  He pushes me out of my comfort zone a lot…which is really good for me!  And when I say spontaneous, I’m talking about, “Hey, it’s 10 p.m., but let’s pack up and go to North Carolina in the morning for a few days.”  And we did.
This week wasn’t quite that extreme, but we still did a few spur of the moment things.  Monday we ended up driving down to hike Pinnacle Mountain with some friends.  Who did we run into coming down but some friends from our church!  And then we drove back up the mountain, and Andy played cards with some guys while the girls went to the baby pageant at the fair.  (That was an interesting experience for someone who’s never been to one!)
We look somewhat dumb in this picture, but it was the only one I had. lol!
Beautiful view though!
Then, on Friday, we decided to go camping for a night down at Greers Ferry Lake.  We biked a little, had fun camping out, and then listened to rednecks come in on the boat ramp at 1 am.  Yeah, not very much sleep on our part. :)
Overall, the week was great.  Beautiful weather, no humidity, a great life…what more could I ask for?
51. Spontaneous hiking trips with good friends.
52. Being blessed by having some amazing young women in my life.
53. Almost being done with our kitchen remodel.
54. A new paint to cover the ugly grey-brown on the living room walls.
55. A spontaneous camping trip.
56. A refreshing afternoon walk on a clear, sunny day…perfect when everything seemed to be going wrong that day.
57. A fish fry in the park with good friends.
58. Baptisms at the creek.
59. A delicious supper cooked on the spur-of-the-moment.  Always good!
60. Dreaming about tomorrow with my very best friend.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Making ‘Cents’ of It: Nickels and Dimes

You buy a few items at the store.  With tax, the total comes to $9.99.  You only have a ten dollar bill, so you get one penny back.  As you stare at the pitiful little penny in your hand you wonder, Why even give me this measly little thing?

When managing our money and trying to save it, it’s easy to loose sight of the ultimate goal in favor of “big” changes.  What, after all, are a few nickels and dimes and pennies but pocket change?  Yet it is these little pieces that add up to complete the big picture.  A few nickels and dimes, and even a measly penny, do count…if you add them together!

My husband comes home every evening and empties his pockets out onto the dresser.  Usually, there are a few quarters or nickels lying around.  I used to complain about them, but now I relish them.  You see, when my husband leaves change lying around nowadays, I scoop it up and put it into our “change box”.  There, all the misplaced little coins unite.  Sometimes the box gets looted for quarters to pay for car washes, but usually it sits there undisturbed, gradually growing heavier. 

Then comes the end of the month, when I carry every last cent down to the bank, where they cash it in for me.  Then, we use the money for something fun and special…an end of the month treat.  And that treat is usually more than two dollar ice cream cones.  Currently, our box is holding right around $25!  With $25 a month you could have a date night.  Or how about saving it for your next vacation?  Twelve months of $25 makes $300, after all.

Last week I carried a bag of change that my dear husband had been lugging around forever to the bank.  It all fit into a sandwich-sized ziploc bag, but it amounted to over $50! 

So, before you write off all that change you have lying around, consider keeping it in one place and saving it.  After all, it only takes ten little dimes to make a dollar.  And a dollar goes a long way.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Living in the Boondocks Has Taught Me About Entitlement

I just wanted to say a few things in response to my article last week about entitlement and stay-at-home moms.  I got a few comments about making assumptions and pre-judging.  Let me be clear, I wasn’t intending to condemn anybody or point fingers.  I just wanted to put out some food for thoughts.  Yes, I believe what I write, but you may not agree with me in every area.  That’s okay!  I believe that thinking through and discussing what we believe is an incredibly important part of being firm in our beliefs.

That said, my sister-in-law brought up a good point on Facebook (you can only see her great insight if you’re friends with me on there, unfortunately).  She brought up the point that it seems that materialism and the feeling of entitlement is rampant across the board, not just involving moms.  I feel this too.  In fact, I see it in my own life.  Smartphones, blu-ray players, high speed internet, new clothes…all these things entice me as “necessities”.  Don’t we all feel their pull in some ways? I just wanted to bring up how this plays into our everyday lives…and many moms’ decision of whether to stay-at-home or not.

Maybe it’s the way I was raised.  Both my mom and my mother-in-law worked when their oldest kids were babies.  And both realized how much they were missing and made the big decision to quit work and stay home with their kids.  I was raised that way, and I value the sacrifices that my mom and dad made.  Many of my friends’ moms stayed at home too.

But my view about stay-at-home moms and entitlement comes from much more than that...especially since moving to the boondocks.  I was raised in a western university town of about 60,000.  People there liked to call it a “small town”, but now that I actually live in a small town, I know better.  No town is small if it has three McDonalds. :)

Growing up, and eventually going to college there, things were easily accessible.  Going to the movies on Friday night, the mall on Saturday, and Starbucks on Sunday afternoon were all very doable things.  And that’s what everybody did.  In college, I attended an on-campus Christian group.  Every week, they would encourage us “poor college students” to just give a dollar to the offering.  And then we’d all retire to Starbucks, buy $4 lattes, and talk until 3 am while wearing our brand new boots and jeans.  It was just the way things were.  These things were necessities, right?

And then I got married and moved to a tiny little town in rural Arkansas.  At first, it was quite shocking to find that we had to drive a minimum of 45 minutes to a movie theatre, and hour to bowling, and 2 hours to any real shopping.  There was no Starbucks, no Kohls, or nice Italian pizzeria.  Cell phone service, television, and internet were all limited.  And you know what?  I learned to make do!  I learned that I don’t need a Chai latte every week (and neither does my body), that I don’t have to see every new movie that comes out in theatres, and I don’t even have to have high-speed internet in the home.  Living in an area where you don’t have access to everything, you start to appreciate things a lot more.  Getting to drive to Little Rock and go to Olive Garden becomes a very special treat.  And that Chai latte is so refreshing the couple of times I year I get one now (although, surprisingly, not as good as I remember).
And yet, I believe that the the percentage of working moms here where I live is much higher than it was in liberal-saturated Flagstaff.  In fact, I can probably count the number of stay-at-home moms I know here on my fingers and have some left over.  I’ve even heard some of the working mothers claim that the stay-at-home moms are “lazy” because they aren’t working.  And yet, while there are a lot of poor people in my area, many of the working moms I see really don’t have to work.  They live in nice houses, drive nice cars, go on nice vacations, wear nice clothes, and get their hair done once a month.  They spend money on nice manicures, tanning beds, and eating out several times a week.  And all I can think is, “Why are they working?”  Yes, if they quit working they’d probably have to give up a lot of those things, but I think they’d be a lot happier.  They’d probably get more sleep, be less stressed, and have more time for their families.  The fact is that all these things we feel entitled to today won’t make us happy.   

As modern Americans, do we feel entitled to things?  You better believe it.  But maybe our lives would be a whole lot happier if we let go of all these things we feel entitled to, and just started living.  It’s a challenge I want to strive for.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 5, 2011

1000 Gifts: When Plans Don’t Work Out

This week started out great, but pretty quickly all my to-do lists and plans went down the hill.  Thursday and Friday I was sick and got stuck all day watching The Waltons and I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (don’t ask…there’s definitely a limited amount of shows on during the day).  Thankfully, my sweet husband is an excellent caretaker.  I nearly went mad, though, and even had to miss my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner because I was still running a fever.  It’s during those times that I wonder if God’s trying to tell me something.  Maybe that I need to slow down and rest?

41. My grandparents celebrating an inspirational 58 years of marriage!
42. New opportunities and open doors.
43. Looking at baby stuff for my new nieces!
44. A husband who always takes good care of me when I’m sick.
45. A good book to read that came right when I needed it on Thursday.
46. Soft rain to water the ground.
47. A good laugh watching my dog and kitten playing together.
48. Working on the house together and finally getting to the countertops!
49. Letting go of plans and to-do lists when they don’t work out.
50. Looking forward to a Monday off to spend together and go on a date. :)

Labels: ,