Sunday, August 31, 2008

Give me the stage for a day...

I love music. I absolutely love it. I am also a lyric junkie. In fact, my teenager recently downloaded an application for me to apply to be on "Don't forget the lyrics," because after watching me master the lyrics from show after show (where, I might add, I have won millions of dollars from my living room)...he thought I should try it live. Well, this Maid is a little camera shy...and won't be signing up for any tv shows, but I really do know I could rock the show and win big! Just ask my son!

So the point that I am getting at is this: I think I have been ministered to by the Lord more through music in my life than through sermons. Even when I read God's word, I often encounter scriptures that have become familiar tunes and the tune kind of takes over. I actually find myself able to memorize verses of scripture more easily when set to music. (Probably lots of you are like that...I think that is pretty common.)

At some point in my life I want to write lyrics. I want to be the author of the music that inspires others and that ultimately God uses to bless people. I have written a couple of songs...or should I say God has written them through me (since I know the way that kind of writing often flows is a gift)...but I haven't been given the actual "music" to them. (One song was inspired by a friend who took the spotlight in Hollywood, and kind of let the Lord take a backseat to the glamorous life...and the other was inspired by the backlash we experienced as a result of leading our nephew to the Lord. It was kind of an "angry" rock song...with a positive message. Which kind of sounds ridiculous...but it was all about how we'd rather face persecution from people we love, and lose their love, than to fail the Lord's commandment to share His love.)

But let me tell you, if I could have written this song, I would have. And if I could be Natalie Grant for a day, and belt this one out, I would sing it to anyone who would listen!

Over the past few weeks, this song has blessed me. It really sums up what I have gone through this year. A mixture of what I know, what I feel, how I've acted, how I've failed, and the victory that is mine because my savior has promised that though I WILL stumble (not IF), He won't let me fall. Praise God! And how awesome it is of God to let another person (through music) remind me that I am not alone in this struggle. (And neither are any of you!)

Read this sweet bloggers...and then turn up your speakers, click the link below, and ENJOY!

I have been a wayward child,
I have acted out,
I have questioned sovereignty,
and had my share of doubts,

And though sometimes,
my prayers feel like they're bouncing off the sky,
the hand that holds me won't let me go,
and is the reason why:

I will stumble,
I will fall down,
But I will not be moved.
I will make mistakes,
I will face heartache,
But I will not be moved.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
I will not be moved.

Bitterness has plagued my heart,
many times before,
My life has been like broken glass,
and I have kept the score
of all my shattered dreams,
and though it seemed,
that I was far too gone,
my brokenness helped me to see,
it's grace I'm standing on.

I will stumble,
I will fall down,
But I will not be moved.
I will make mistakes,
I will face heartache,
But I will not be moved.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand,
I will not be moved.

And the chaos in my life,
has been a badge I've worn,
and though I have been torn,
I will not be moved.

I will make mistakes,
I will face heartache,
But I will not be moved.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand,
I will not be moved.

"I Will Not Be Moved." By Natalie Grant

If you have a comment to share about the song, the lyrics, the video, the content, whatever, please do. It is so awesome to hear that I am not stumbling through this crazy time in my life alone. I would love to pray for you! :)

The Maid

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank you for being a friend....

You know who you are.

You are the one who calls all of the time. Even when I don't persist. You make sure that I am okay. Your timing is often perfect, but even when it is not...your friendship makes up for it.

You are the one who spent almost three hours on the phone with me. In that time I experienced laughter, tears, sarcasm, humor, commiseration, encouragement, Godly advice, wisdom, love, depth of feelings, nurturing of wounds, more sarcasm, joy, pain, flushing toilets, and well...just plain old good company.

This is the friend that when I say I need to go, hears the cues in my voice. The shaky voice that says, "I think I might cry, and I don't want to embarrass myself." This is the friend that pleads with me to not hang up, but to talk. I didn't even know that I wanted to talk about it. I didn't even know what "it" was. Apparently, I needed to talk. And she wanted to listen.

The good kind of listening. The kind that affirms, encourages, equips, and loves. The kind of listening that instead of saying..."Maybe you should....blah blah blah"....says this..."Your plate is full. You cannot accept that on your plate. You cannot take on one more thing, emotional, spiritual, physical. What you have to deal with is enough...and God will take the rest from you."

Why do I forget that? Why do I forget that when I feel I have nothing left to give...that I am doing all I can, doing more than I can, that God is waiting for me to ask for help. Not only to ask for help, but to say..."Lord, I'm not going to accept that on my plate...You didn't put it please take it off."

You know, he does it.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

Why do I forget that?

I think it is because I fall into comparing myself with others. Or maybe I don't want to let anyone down. In the end, I am letting down the most important people of all by weakening myself and my mind with the lies of the enemy. The enemy that is saying, "You are not good enough. You are not doing enough. You are not doing a good enough job." Ouch. All of those things bombard me daily.

God has not commanded that I master all things, only that I take all things to my Master. He wants to be the one to order my steps. He wants to be the one to give me my value. He wants to complete me, as I seek Him.

Thank you dear friend for reminding me that just because something is said, doesn't make it true. Thank you for reminding me to take my thoughts captive. Thank you for reminding me to weed out the crap, turn it over to the Lord, and carry on. Thank you for reminding me that my God wants to not only lighten my load, but carry it for me.

I love you.

The Maid

Monday, August 18, 2008

Church would be great, if it weren't for the people.

This is going to be short...and sweet.

Sweet for me. To get it off of my chest.

If it is not so sweet for you, well move on. I mean this blog is my place to dump, so I encourage you to all sift as you read. Or leave. (In love of course.) :)

My pastor is awesome. He often says things that just resonate deeply.

He wasn't there tonight, but the one who filled in was just as great.

The message tonight was an encouragement...that when we want someone to disappear because they are bugging us...they don't fit our little mold for a perfect life or they are a nuissance in some way, we often just want to ignore them. He suggested that those are the times and the people that are screaming out for help the most. The people that need Jesus and for us to show the love of Christ the most. Awesome. True.

We do need to overlook the transgressions of others in love. Period.

But what about when those people are already Christians? Do we apply the same standards? I say absolutely. The people that we do "church" with every week, that are friends or acquaintances of ours are capable of hurting us. Often. Our pastor often jokes that he as a shepherd has experienced the painful bites from his very own sheep.

And so have I. Sheep bites. From fellow sheep. Sheep who sit under the same tutelage of the pastor/shepherd. Sometimes the bites are playful bites. You know they aren't intended to harm, but they do. (Example: "Hey, you guys just gonna keep having kids until you get your own Discovery Channel tv show?" or "Are you working on getting your own zip code?")

Yeah. Funny. Ha. Ha.

Sometimes the bites are deep. They leave marks. They leave deep wounds.
(Remember the friend post?)

But the conclusion that I have come to is something I have known for a while, but just seem to keep getting lab lessons in, is this: When you live in a fallen, sin-filled world, there is no safe place. Not even your church. There are not safe people. Sometimes you cannot even go to church and worship peacefully. The sheep are there...ready to bite.

So what has our pastor said that has left a lasting impression? Well, my husband and I have often thought about leaving our church. Starting fresh somewhere else. Joining a fellowship where we can go to church and be a little more anonymous. We can get in and worship and get out. Without the dumb comments. Without the painful memories. Without the flock that has left it's mark on us. What our pastor has said is this: "Church would be great, if it weren't for all of the imperfect people there." Oh and this..."If you find a perfect church, by all means, don't join will just mess it up."

So that is where I am at right now. I love our just feels like some of the people there take the joy out of it. Why does it have to be that way? Why can't people just accept you as you are...and love you...for 90 freaking minutes each week. I am not even asking them to socialize outside of church...just smile and nod, an occasional hug, and...MOVE ON.

Why do people feel like they have to point out your flaws?

Do they not know that we have a degree in that? Yessir. I know which areas I really struggle...I don't need you to point it out. I am learning about grace and forgiveness and overlooking sin...and that kindness leads to repentance...why aren't you learning that? (You biters know who you are. Not saying that any of my blog readers are biters...just throwing that out there.)

Yep. Church would be great, if it weren't for all of the people there.

PS - Don't ask what caused this post...I won't say. I am working on overlooking transgressions...duh. See how spiritual I am? (Tongue firmly planted in cheek.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Seven days makes one weak.

We have all seen that saying before.

Usually plastered on a church marquee. Inviting you to come in and be refreshed. Okay, so maybe it said something like this:

"Seven days without God makes one weak."

And let me tell you...especially if it is the week before school starts.

Can I just admit how ready I am to send the squealing estrogen monkeys back to school...along with their brother? And who says you have to be 5 to go to kindergarten...I mean I have a perfectly capable 4 year and 8 month old daughter whose mother would really benefit from her being in school.

This past week has been a challenge. Eye rolling, fighting, screaming, tantrums, slacking off from chores, and making demands. And the kids have been worse.

Call it boredom, togetherness syndrome, the heat, whatever, but we are all ready for them to go back to school.

Which makes me wonder, why on earth did I ever want to homeschool all of them? At once. I blame the hormones. It takes nothing short of a miracle these days for me to make it through the day with a song in my heart and a mouthful of encouraging words. ("Good job honey, wow what nice handwriting (on the wall), could you turn up that program because I really love the Cheetah Girls?")


So I am truly looking forward to the new year. The smell of fresh crayons, new backpacks, and the air of will be such a great day. Until they leave.

I know, it sounds stupid, but I can't wait to plant their little butts on the school bus and blow a kiss, but the minute I walk back into the house...and it is a little quieter, and I am left with my daily responsibilities without a dose of "Why can't we have McDonald's?" it will be strangely sad.

I still enjoy the kids that will be home with me, but the chaos that makes me so crazy also makes me feel normal. I know where everyone is. I can hear them.

Put those people on a bus, and...well....I worry.

Will they make it home safely? Better yet, did they even get to their classroom today? (I mean who else out there worries that some pedophile could have them half way to Mexico before the school calls to say they never showed up?)

Will they make friends?

Will the kids with glasses get picked on?

Will they get enough to eat?

Is their teacher kind?

Or is she old and cranky and ready to retire?

(These are the things you often don't know until it is too late. Like last year...but that story is for another blog!)

Will the teacher let them go to the bathroom? (Oh, and boy is there a story there!)

And what about the bus ride home? Will they have a place to sit?

Did I mention that I don't like that I worry?

I really don't. I wish I had the laid back attitude that my husband has...which is usually that everything is and will be alright. Until it's not. Then you can worry.

Thanks honey. That helps.

So aside from the emotional drain that this past week and the impending week have been, let's talk about the financial drain.

With three of my seven going off to public school this week (1st, 3rd, and 5th grade) is the list of supplies that the school, uh hem, requested. (Translation...if you don't bring these things in, the teacher will be forced to eat cup o noodles all year because she had to buy your kid crayons.)'re gonna love this:

5th grader:

1 (2”) 3 ring binder
1 pencil case
Several red correcting pens
1 package of colored pencils/ water based markers/ crayons
4- 8 highlighters (pink, yellow, blue, green)
***Looked everywhere...only had packs with blue, yellow, pink and orange...sigh.
#2 pencils-regular (at least 36)
***One or two pencils can last me six months...what the heck?
Erasers (pencil top and pink)
Glue sticks (at least four)
3 boxes of family style tissues
**My kids don't need kleenex...they use their sleeves.
Dry erase markers (4-6)
Loose leaf writing paper-not colored ( at least four packages)
4 Spiral notebooks (One subject)
5 pocket folders for each subject (homework folders will be provided)
Ruler that has both metric and customary measurement
Disinfectant Wipes (at least three canisters)
***Excuse me? Three canisters from each child? Dude...aren't there janitors there? Are you sending my kids to clean the restrooms during recess?
Sheet protectors
Gallon Zip Lock Bags (1 box)
Copy Paper (1 ream)
*** need for the school to even provide the paper that they print out they syllabus on anymore...just ask each kid to bring in a REAM of paper. Geesh.
Old Sock
***First reasonable request on the list! Do I get brownie points for sending in old underwear too?

Third grader:

1 pencil box with a lid
Small pointed scissors
Pencil Sharpener with lid
Colored pencils (set of 12 or 24)
2 boxes of 24 count crayons (one for August and another for December)
***Could we ask for December supplies like in December? We have enough to deal with in August.
A clean sock or dry erase board eraser
1 composition notebook-any color

Items to be collected and shared:
(Translation...some parents won't cough it we all get to cover their slack. Sounds like communism doesn't it?)
2 packages of #2 pencils (please no mechanical)
1 package wide lined filler paper
1 package of pencil top erasers
4 dry erase markers
2 highlighters
4 glue sticks
1 box of Kleenex
1 bottle of hand sanitizer (opt)
1 container of Clorox or Lysol wipes(opt)
1 box of Ziploc baggies (opt)
***This teacher at least mentioned that some things were optional. Translation: If you don't send those things in, we will assume that you are also on the free lunch program.

First grader:

***Note this may not have been the longest list...but I was cracking up at the anal retentive nature of the list, as well as the gigantic expectations! Oh, and not printed here, but there was a disclaimer: This is a suggested supply list and there might be additional supplies requested by the teacher during the first week of school. Which also could be interpreted as...Supply list: Round One!

4 boxes of 24-count Crayola Crayons (to be used 1 box per quarter) ***Crayola brand was bold and other words...don't cheap out on us and send in the Schoolio Von Hoolio brand that you got for a penny at Office Max.
20 glue sticks (if you’d like to purchase more that would be great) ***Yes, I believe I would like to purchase more, because I really believe that my child will be using a full glue stick every week this year and I haven't spent enough money! Dipwad.
2 boxes of tissues (Sigh.)
1 inch, white 3-ring binder clear-view pocket on the outside of binder
1 box of number 2 WOOD pencils
2 pink large erasers (not pencil toppers)
1 box of Ziploc sandwich baggies and 1 box of gallon sized Ziploc baggies ***Again...please make sure that it is ZIPLOC (bold and underlined on her list!) brand...we don't want the cheap Wal-mart baggies that could actually save you a few dollars.
1 container of baby wipes (boys only)
1 container of Lysol disinfectant wipes (girls only) ***At least we shared the wipee burden between the genders here...thank the Lord for coed classes.
4 thin-line, dry erase markers & an old, clean sock (for wiping) (blue, red, green, or black-but not fluorescent)
1 pair Fiskars, child-sized scissors ***Again with the name brands...geesh.
2 wide-ruled single subject spiral notebooks
backpack to carry papers to and from school (NO WHEELS-please)
$5.00-$10.00 donation per student for SCRAPBOOK film development
***What? Oh yes, please let me assist you in making a small fortune to go scrapbooking in the name of "teaching." LOL

Let me issue one small disclaimer here: we love our kids' school. They do a great job with our kids and in including the parents with special programs and lots of fun field trips. (Second mortgage will come in handy to finance all of those field trips, etc...but it is great fun, nonetheless.)

If I didn't believe in what it is that they are doing for and with my kids, I would excercise another option in their education. (Hee Hee, I said excercise.) We are truly blessed. They have excelled and absolutely loved their time at their little school. (With the occasional disgust with cafeteria food, homework, and being disciplined...but that is what puts hair on your chest, right?)
So, I did it. I sent my kids off to school with my last $2000.00 neatly packed and invested in the contents of their backpacks. We took pictures, we prayed, and we called Countrywide to let them know that they won't be getting our mortgage payment this month.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Well, book the cruise!

I just wanted to share the good news with all of you.

In a series of emails over the last few weeks...seems like I may have already won $10,000,000.00.

I know. I can't believe it either.

Our dear friends over at Publisher's Clearing House have assured me that I don't need to buy anything to win, and that I could very well be the super-prize winner of $5000.00 a week for life.

So, if I suddenly begin posting photos of exotic locations, wearing big diamonds, dining alfresco with my husband, a nanny, and our brood of children...on seafood when it is not even a holiday, and can fill my whole tank with gas at once...know that I didn't fall into drug dealing or begin an illegal immigration ring. Ed McMahon simply came through.

And all of this news couldn't come at a better time, what with the terrible economy and housing market and all.

All I have to say now is "Glory Be."

Oh, and book the cruise.

I'm going shopping.

I mean I have already gotten at least 3 emails a week, and it said that someone with the initials B.S. was definitely going to win.

Oh...maybe I should read between the lines...this whole PCH thing IS the B.S.

Dang it. I would have looked so good with that Prada bag and those diamond encrusted sunglasses.

Guess it is back to reality...does anyone know how to get formerly soggy but now petrified cheerios out of the grout?

The Maid

PS - Thank you Jesus for our many blessings...I know you are faithful to provide...even if sometimes it is with a sense of humor! Amen.