Friday, October 7, 2011

Oprah ain't got nothin' on the girls in the desert....

I am sick. I am coughing and coughing...hacking...and just all out sounding like a Ferris Bueller sound effect. (Remember that? Oh, how I wish we could go back to COOL movies like that...and of course, turn back some wrinkles. I bet Ferris does too... Matthew Broderick has not aged well!)

So, back to my self pity. Not feeling good...pretty sure that at any moment I could cough up my spleen, or maybe just a lung. I have to tell you, I have pretty much been feeling like I am ready for the green needle. You know, the one you promise your dog when it has peed on your brand new sofa for the LAST time? Yep. Put. Me. Out. Of. My. Misery. And when mom is sick....the family does not stop. In fact, I kid you not when I say that today...while I was pretty much ready to turn purple from 2 year old son lovingly said..."Mom, will you stop making that noise? I am trying to color." Sigh.

I actually was not even sure about my reasons for living. Faith, family, future, blah blah blah.

BUT...then I remembered...(Oprah light bulb moment!)...that just this last weekend...right before my hacking and coughing banished me to my couch for 5 days...I went to a party.

Not just any party. The second annual "Favorite Things" my sweet friend Jovina's house. Jovina is one of those super classy ladies that would never talk about coughing up her spleen on a blog. She has a tidy, beautifully decorated, and perfectly appointed home with a family to match. In fact, her heart is so big, she even does all kinds of fun party-ish, neighborly things throughout the year. I am pretty sure she knows every teacher at the elementary school, in fact, most of them were at the Favorite Things party. (Which is a huge bummer for someone like me who has 8 children, and is bound to have irritated or someday will irritate each of those teachers at some point in the elementary school lifespan of my family!)

Jovina is one of those "I don't know how she does it" kind of girls. She is creative, organized, a little obsessive (she admits that)...and paid off for us invitees big time. Jovina packed the house this year with a bigger than last year "Favorite Things party."

This is a great party, where we bring 2 favorite things...share them with the audience to give us all some great gift giving ideas...and we give one away. (And let me tell you, no pressure there...while everyone was busy sharing all of these great ideas...mine sucked. Completely el sucko.) Just when I am pretty much feeling insecure and wanting to take my cough and my newly shorn head of hair and leave with my dumb idea...IT HAPPENED!

OPRAH herself....okay, not OPRAH...but my fabulous blog friend, April....and the hostess Jovina...shared one of Jovina's favorite things.

You see, the reason I decided to not kick the bucket I have this brand new toy! Woo Hoo!!

It is a Purple Cow...Hot & Cold Laminator!

I am pretty sure that April channeled Oprah as she hollered out..."You get a Laminator....You get a Laminator....EVERYBODY gets a LAMINATOR!!!" (Or maybe it was Dane Cook? Ever hear the "humpback whale?" skit? At any was HILARIOUS! And so much fun. And by the way...April is so much hotter than Oprah. And her new cute glasses are divine. April...if you fall off the cruise ship...will you will them to me?)

The wonderful Jovina called this fabulous company and told them how much she would LOVE to showcase this item...and would LOVE to give it to each gal at her party. They not only sent her one for each of us....but they threw in some other great door prizes as well! You want proof? Check. Us. Out! :)

I am hiding behind my beautiful friend Catherine on the far right (she has on the pink shirt)...I am in black ( signature color)...and completely okay with the fact that I am not at all visible.

I was, afterall, still dreading sharing my el-sucko idea...and well...a wee bit excited about a FREE new TOY!

I might just start labeling and lamenating everything in my home. I love the idea of having scriptures laminated and posted all over the house.

Who the heck am I kidding...I will more than likely use this for parties. Candy Buffet labels, Ice Cream Sundae Bar labels, Gift tags, Bookmarks, signs telling my kids not to pee on the toilet seat.

You know. The important stuff.

So that, my friend is why I won't be kickin' it just yet. (After all, you can live without a spleen right? And now, if I hack it up...I can just laminate it!)

Thank you so much Jovina...and THANK YOU so the Purple Cow! You made my day!

The most grateful, still sick, shorter-haired maid!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All other ground is sinking sand...

Try not to kill over from blog shock.

I am actually posting.

The last couple of years have been a roller coaster ride. And not the ones at Disneyland...but more like Six Flags. You know, the kind where you start out the ride with clean underwear...and it is anyone's guess at the end if you are still fit to get in an accident. (Remember what mom taught you?)

As a broker in the commercial real estate community, in the hardest hit commercial sector in the nation, my husband has weathered the worst storm of his career. It has been nearly 3 years since he has sold a property. THREE years. I don't know about you folks, but in these here parts, we weren't taught to save for a rainy day like that. Holy cow!

What I have learned, however, is that God is faithful. Period.

I believe in God. There is absolutely no way that I can logically believe that we have survived by coincidence. Ten people in one house, one income...reduced to about 20% of it's normal size. All I can say is God has blessed us and protected us. Kept us (so far) in our home, when many of our friends have faced foreclosures, short sales, and multiple moves. People who have had much steadier income than we.

We have learned to completely live on cash and have let go of all of the training we received that made us treasure our credit score. (Our credit report is more like a rap sheet. And the number, I don't want to know!) Cash. Good, old-fashioned cash. We don't incur credit card debt anymore, ever. We use a card for recurring transactions that have to be pulled automatically out of an account...but because we have no choice, we pay it off every month.

We have actually grown closer as a family in many ways. Our budget dictated for about a two-year period, that we get rid of kids' cell phones (only the oldest 2 had them anyway), we got rid of cable, we drove less to save gas, we stopped all sports (there weren't many), and discontinued dance classes and piano lessons. We cut our dining out down to a minimum...and when we did eat was usually without children and it was a treat to get 39 cent tacos. (Does this mean we lived perfectly within a budget? Heck no. We are still learning, but we learned really fast how to buy oodles of groceries with coupons, to savor every windfall...even a $50.00 perk from hubby's job...often meant we could put gas in the car when we didn't think we could!)

We sold unnecessary items at yard sales, on ebay, and Craig's List. We learned to live with one vehicle...a first for us. As long as we have been married, we have each always had something to drive. I have not only grown accustomed to it, but I have actually learned to like having one car. We do a lot more things in unison now. There is much less going in different directions...we are a team.

My husband's sacrifices have been many. He has worked 2 jobs and kept long hours for nearly 3 years. And anytime something surfaced, we have taken on extra earning opportunities. Cleaning out warehouses...(The Butler) baking for weddings...(The Maid)...and even had our kids selling candy bars to the neighborhood in order to be able to go to youth events with our church. Stuff for which we would have normally just whipped out our card..or tossed them some cash.

We have learned the art of saying no. Admitting to people that we could not afford things. We got creative when we had to. And at just the right time, God would provide our needs. Clothes for the kids (hand me downs...super great bargains at the store)...gas money, extra work, and so much more! We actually got to take a cruise this year as a late 15th anniversary celebration...and it was as if we were kings and queens. It was a treat...and God just the right time.

We have learned to live the lyrics of this great hymn...

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand."

I look at the fabric of our married life the last 16 years, and I realize that God has had a plan in all of it. He has been the solid Rock on which we stand. He has been "all my Hope and Stay" anchor. The Lord has truly made beauty from ashes.

In my absence from writing and posting in the blogging community, I have not been absent in reading. I have not been around near as much, but have been pointed in different directions from time to time and have read a few things. (I've missed you!)

A fellow blogging friend posted recently about a woman who suddenly about a month ago lost her husband. Her husband of 16 years. That resonated with me. This October will be 16 years for my husband and I. I believe the couple is about the same age as my husband and I. And the dad left behind children. I read her blog often, through my own tears. Becoming a widow, or my husband a widower, is one of my greatest fears.

I have been moved in reading her stories and have felt the pain in her writing. Her beautiful tributes to her husband and her candor have been completely thought-provoking for me.

I related a lot to her. I put myself in her shoes. I felt for her. I couldn't shake the feelings that were stirred up in me and I found this woman and her girls were on my mind often. I didn't understand why, until tonight.

In reading her most recent posts, I came to learn that there is one very important thing that we do not have in common...she does not believe in God.

She does not believe that there is a savior who died for her, paid the price for her sins, and waits for her in glory. I assume, from what she has written, that neither did her husband.

I suddenly found myself totally unable to relate to her. In that one choice, that depth and core of your very soul belief...we were again strangers.

And I found myself not just feeling for her because of her loss, but because she IS lost. We can all agree to disagree about absolute truth, the Bible being the inspired word of God, and have deep-rooted arguments about theology...but no one can explain to an unsaved person the feelings of absolute peace and trust in the divine plan of a savior.

God's word says that "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Nothing says it better, in my estimation. Nothing. Because this woman doesn't know Christ, what God's word says about her suffering, her circumstance, and God's plan for her life is foolishness to her. Not just foolishness, but she even used profanity to describe her feelings towards such a thought.

Does that mean that I understand why things happen, heavens no. But when I cannot trace God's hand, I have learned to trust His heart. There is safety in the promise of eternity, and perspective. There is purpose in it.

I hurt for this woman in a new way tonight. I won't call it pity, but really deep sadness. It is not by accident that God had me stumble upon her posts. It is not by accident that I would lie awake wondering why I couldn't shake her story. Jesus kept me returning to "know" her. Now I know why. I believe in the power of prayer, in the power of the other believer's testimony on her page encouraging her in faith, and I believe in divine appointment. I may never meet her, I may never see the fruit of fervant prayer on her behalf, but I know that God has given me the privilege of praying for her and He promises that His word will not return void.

How my prayer will be that she would surrender to Christ early and know His peace. That this crazy little blog community that put two strangers with opposite theology in instant contact, will provide relief and comfort in the power of the Cross...because without it...all other ground is sinking sand.

In Christ,
The Maid