Monday, November 30, 2009

Content, more or less.

For as many years as I can remember, December always seemed to rush in and rush out.

There is always so much to do. So many things to make, buy, shop for, return, and lots of opportunities to gather together with friends and family.

This year, I have purposed not to spend my month trying to catch up on the things I need to do. This year, I have decided to shop early and less. To spend wisely, and less. To eat yummy things, and less. (Yes I will...just watch.)

I want less this year altogether.

Less stress,
less waste,
less junk,
less conflict,
less stuff,
less distraction,
less disappointment,
less rejection,
less mess,
less illness,
less clean up,
and most of all...
less chaos.

Which brings me to what I really want more of. Yep...I want more too.

More joy,
more sleep,
more planning,
more spontaneity, (I know...I am an enigma.)
more health,
more peace,
more order,
more sparkly lights,
more candles,
more focus,
more contentment,
and most of all
more Jesus.

I believe it can be done. I believe that even though I have already purchased gifts and wrapped them, and plan to only purchase a few more...we will have less this year. My kids will enjoy clothes and a few small things. And lots of family time and fellowship and they will get to give.

We will give treats, treasures, time, love, service, and ourselves. We will spend time doing the things we love with the people we love and we won't feel guilty about it.

We will probably say no to a few things. We will hopefully say yes to a lot more things.

We will purpose to show gratitude each day.

I believe that if we do anything this month, and we don't do it with love, it won't matter.
(I know that is from 1 Corinthians 13, but it still rings true.)

So, we will show love.

And if that is all we do, that one little thing, that one thing that we can only do with Christ who dwells in us, then we will be content with that.

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." (Phil 4:11-12)

So I think I will be content with a little less and a little more. And I will do it with love, because....
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13)

Happy December Blog Friends! May this season be blessed for you all and may you be content in any and every circumstance.

The Maid, more or less.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Safety first...or second, or at least third.

Hello bloggers, stalkers, lurkers, friends, Romans, countrymen...

I have a question. A few actually. And, well, here is my dilemma. I don't even know if anyone is actually reading this.

1) Is there anyone out there anymore?

2) Should I close up shop and just grab a pen and start a diary?

3) How do I go from BLOG! (As my friend would say...I don't want to be a blahg anymore.) I can't post often, but when I do, I want people to WANT to read it. ;)

4) Is it safe to post photos? Even if I disguise the real names and it safe?

So there....I want to come out of hiding. (Well, at least with photos of my kids.)

I know so many bloggers who have proudly displayed photos of the kids and family stuff..and well, I want to join in and show off my precious peeps.

Oh, and the occasional funny picture, well, I have some doozies.

So...let me know what y'all think. Be honest.

:) The Maid

PS - If you are a sicko and want to see pictures for all the wrong reasons...go google something terminal and come down with it. I don't want you here. Just sayin.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dreaming bigger...

As a child, I remember dreaming this time of year. Dreaming big. Not just lower case big, but upper case B - I - G! I remember making my full page and a half list of all of the things that I wanted for not only Christmas, but my birthday too. (I was "blessed" to have a December birthday.) While I often missed out on getting to celebrate my birthday with my classmates, I had a great mom who insisted that my birthday would be a separate and grand celebration. None of this birthday gift wrapped in Christmas paper business....but a full blown goodie fest of an entirely different style. It was always something special. She even made me cakes. Not any cake, but clown cakes, train cakes, a 3-D Smurf cake complete with blue icing...and more.
Good times.

She made it fun. She took on a dozen kids...piled in a car (long before the mini van and seat belt laws) and escorted us to "Pasquale's Pizza"...the best pizza ever. And, pizza places back then. They rocked. None of this tokens and games business...nope. It was more like the "dimes in juke boxes" kind of rocked. And that was cool. And we had fun. Laughing, dancing, scarfing pizza, drinking (soda people, I was 9 for goodness sake), and present-opening fun. Good, old fashioned, 1980 style fun.

I would sit among the unopened presents and my mind would go crazy. In my wide-eyed little girl brain, I was already baking in my Easy-Bake oven, playing with my Fashion Dolls Fashion Plates, and dreaming up the most artistic Lite-Brite scenes you could imagine. I knew in one or two of those boxes there would be clothing. But that was okay too. Courderoy jumpsuits, knee-high socks with sandals, and velvet dresses. I would wear each and every ensemble with pride. Hair parted proudly down the middle and pulled up on the side with plastic barrettes or maybe even piled in a half pony on top. Yep, with pom poms or bobble hair bands. (I still can't figure those things out.) I was loving life. In fact, I would write all of my great birthday moments in my diary with the little lock and key that never really worked. ;)

There might even be a gift or two with cash in it. Yep...remember cash? The perfect fit. The perfect color every time. None of these plastic cop cards. These, "I don't know you well enough to know what you like" kind of gifts. (Hey, don't send me hate mail. I am a 37 year old who loves a gift card, but gift cards for kids has become the cop-out gift. It was always so much fun to open a game, a toy, or even an ugly, but thoughtful outfit...beautifully wrapped. There is something anticlimatic about being handed an envelope with a rectangular shaped piece of plastic in it when you are 9.)

Those were good times.

At about 10 or 12, those times came to a halt. I'm not saying that I never had a good party or a great gift after the age of 12, but the dreaming seemed to stop somewhere in the early double digits and I don't know why.

Maybe it was maturity. Knowing that Santa didn't exist, and your parents had limits.

Maybe it was disappointment. Knowing that dreaming the big dreams didn't always pay off. (Like the time you got the educational toy instead of the Barbie Van.)

Maybe it was the "surprise ruiner." Knowing what you were getting before you got it was always a buzzkill. (Thanks cousin Suzanne.)

Maybe it was all three.

But something has resurrected the dreaming. Several somethings. They are 17, 13, 11, 9, 7, 6, 3, and 1. In fact, the dreaming began anew in November of 1992. My eyes were opened to the world of dreaming again.

They are not only the dreamers around here, they ARE my dreams. Seeing them happy, watching them delight in a good and perfect gift. Knowing that I get to help make their "wish list" become reality. Their joy is my business. Making even the difficult ones come true, exceeding their expectations, going one better than their dreams...that is my biggest dream. In fact, if I receive nothing tangible...this is good enough.

This year, I can't give my children their dreams. I can give them only needs. Maybe a single want. Nothing big. No big dreams. This year, I can't go it one better. I can't deliver Ipods, cell phones, designer clothing, electronics, bikes, play kitchens with fake food....I just can't. I have asked the Lord to give me what I need to bless the socks off of my kids, and it is just not in the cards this year. How can I get excited about giving my family a mediocre Christmas? They only get to be little, to be "dreamers" for a short while. Why, God, won't you give my husband work so that we can pay ALL of our bills, take vacations, buy the braces, and of course "Do Christmas" ? Still, no answer.

And then it hit me, if I, being evil, know how to give good gifts to my children, how much more does the father in heaven long to give good gifts to me?

It is written in Matthew 7:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

All I am required to do is trust Him.

I would certainly ask my children to trust me. To trust me to know what they want, what they need, and to go one better.

And yet I have such a hard time trusting Him. Trusting Him to give me what I need, what I want, and to "exceedingly, abundantly" give me more than I could ask or imagine. How could a loving God not provide for us to pay our bills and give our children their childhood dreams?

And then I realized He already has. While we are financially bankrupt, for now, we still have a roof over our heads. We have no shortage of food on the table. We have clothing out the wazoo. (Although my wazoo is busting out of most of my clothing, I am covered.) And as far as giving my children their childhood dreams goes...they have the ability to dream. They can indulge in fantasy long enough to make some amazing wish lists.

And my delight is not to be in filling each and every request, but in just listening to them dream and dreaming with them. Sharing in their excitement at the prospect of Christmas and what new things it will bring. They will live the dream in going to special church services, worshipping Jesus, having cookie night with Granny, going to Jesus' birthday party with Grandma and Grandpa, and bringing gifts to the Angel tree kids...and many more special festivities.

Yep, as I have been listening to my kids make their lists or shout out their top 3 "wants" for the chaos that is Christmas morning, I realize that the dream is alive and well. And that my mind has once again begun dreaming the big dreams.

They are just different now. Very different.

I want...

Peace in my home.
Love in my heart.
The freedom to worship Jesus whenever and wherever I choose.
Family gathered around at every opportunity.
To reach out to people who are alone.
Warm memories and maybe some snuggles with a partially toothless three year old and a chubby one year old.
A cup of cocoa or apple cider because it means slowing down and doing things different...and that it is winter.
The health to enjoy the season.
To greet each day with a genuine smile of gratitude.

Yep, Jesus...that is a big list...what do you say, maybe we can dream these dreams together?

The dreaming BIGGER Maid

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Facebook, Shmacebook.

Hi. I'm the Maid, and I'm a facebookaholic.

(*Hi Maid*)

I look around the room and it is eerily familiar.

There are people I know from all walks of life.

Even some people that were tagged from someone elses walk.

Oh, and then there is that girl in the corner, the one who always puts those dirty things on her wall. The one that I secretly judge and wanted to delete, but didn't. Because I was giving her "grace." (Christianese for "I wanted to see what else she would say or do so that I would have further gossip down the road.") Did I just say that? Geesh, I'm a mess. It's gonna take several meetings.

There were family members. Most of whom ignored me. All of whom bragged about their fun experiences in their real, every day lives. Experiences that I was never included in. Further proving that family is the ultimate "F" word.

Then there were the I'd better add so and so if I add so and so "friends." You know the ones. You added her because she was best friends with your other friend who is on her friend page. She friend requested you and you politely accepted. (Truth is you never really liked her, you aren't interested in her life, and if you really thought about her knowing the details of your life, you would hit delete NOW!)

Oh, and then...then there are the "groups" of friends..the ones where if you do add one, you take the whole group. And you truly don't know why. Because none of these people probably even know your kids names or your current marital status, but it's almost a morbid curiosity and an assinine set of "manners" that forces you to. (Maybe you see these people at promise to get together, and NEVER do. Maybe these are people you see once a month. You fake it, and then move on.)

The friend list would not be complete without the blasts from the past. The ones who haven't heard from you or you from them in 15 years...and the thought of them seeing a current picture makes you have nightmares and has you reconsidering gastric bypass surgery.

Then there are the lurkers. Kind of like blog world, but you know they are there because you "accepted" them. They sit and watch, never speak. And in passing utter some eery comment reminding you that they are reading EVERYTHING you say.

Surprise friends are on there too. The ones that you thought you wouldn't talk to or have anything in common with...and they become your chatter buddies. They talk to you at every IM opportunity. Until you learn to turn the chat off. (Face it, sometimes you want to put some food on the stove in your Cafe' and you don't want to chat.)

Yet another sign that you are a facebookaholic. You have set real world timers for fake food. You have harvested someone elses virtual crops. You have bejeweled, farkled, Maffia-ed, and cafe'-ed yourself until you can barely find time for your own farm.

The disappointments abound on facebook. Those people that you are friends with in real life that publicly shame you or hurt you, the ones that blatantly talk to everyone BUT you on your page, and the ones who even have ignored your private messages! Oh, and the facebook giver...the one who gives pieces of flair, flowers, cocktails and Starbucks to everyone BUT you, and makes it public enough so that you know about it.

Yep, you know you are a facebookaholic when it is the first thing you want to do in the morning and the last thing you do before bedtime. When you put too much thought and stock in what is going on in the pseudo-friend world. You know that when you really find yourself liking people more or less because of one sentence blurbs scattered on the internet, that you have some real soul searching to do.

It is a painful and rude awakening. You realize that the word "friend" has been used too loosely. When you are tracking the ins and outs of 200+ people that go completely about their lives without you. When you had hopes that your connections could increase in a meaningful way with 200+ people, and yet, here...a year have never sat in a "real" cafe with any of your cafe' friends!

Today, I am no longer a friend. As easy as a right click of the mouse, on a 6 letter word..."remove", did all of those friends disappear.

Today, I find myself suffering a pretty severe "friendship" hangover.

Facebook, shmacebook. How thou hast betrayed me.

(Not to mention made my house dirtier, wasted hours of my life, probably widened the girth of my computer chair-glued rear-end, and kept me away from the ONE who calls me friend.)

FaithBOOK, here I come.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance (for me that is facebook), and the sin (making it an idol) which so easily entangles us (makes us judge, hurt, criticize, deal falsely), and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

"So then, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another." Romans 14:19

Disclaimer: I am not condemning facebook itself. For me, as many things are, it became an encumbrance. It kept me from a more righteous calling. My family, my health, my Jesus.
This post is my experience with a real problem in my life and a real and loving God who disciplines me because I belong to Him. It is painful as all discipline is, but I continue to grow in grace of the knowledge of the Lord. (2 Peter 3:18) I am grateful that He cares enough about us all to show us even in the little things. Praise God!