The Whole Me

The end of 2015 was rough for me. Blessed beyond measure, but busy beyond belief.  I feel like I phoned in Christmas for my family, shopping Christmas eve and wrapping up amazon receipts for the gifts I didn’t have the time to order before hand.  At the end of January, a friend invited me to join his Body Mind and Spirit challenge for 2016, which seemed to go with my word for the year “purpose”.  The idea behind the challenge is to do one thing each day to improve in the 3 areas.

For my mind, I’ve decided to continue with my American Sign Language lessons.  I picked up some signs while working at the Army’s Broadview Village in Toronto during my university placement, and have continued to use them when I can, but I’d like to improve my vocabulary.  There is a strong chance that I’ve inherited a gene that will cause me to eventually lose my hearing, and each time I find myself turning up the TV to the point my teenager complains its too loud or asking the hubs to repeat himself, I feel the need to learn more sign language grow stronger and more urgent.

For my spirit, I’ve signed up to do the YouVersion Read your Bible in a year plan, with the hopes of implementing the SOAP study technique to each day’s reading.  S – Scripture – You start by copying out the scripture passage for the day, which helps with retention. O – Observations – What do you observe/hear in this particular passage? A – Application – How does this apply to me at the moment, and P – Prayer – I’ve been struggling with my prayer life, if I were to be honest in this completely public forum, and the hope is that as I spend time in prayer each day as I go through the Bible, as the Sunday school song goes “and (I)’ll grow, grow, grow…”

Now for Body…

During the start of the season, I prepared slow cooker meals to make sure the family was getting some kind of nutrition as we ran around from one end of town to the other.  The first week was great… after that… well… lets just say the lady at Wendy’s now knows us by name.

Eating all that junk (even healthy salads from junk fast food places), and my body is mad at me. I’m talking teenager who just had their phone taken away mad!

My emotions are all over the place.  Having hung up with my boss today after hearing news I wasn’t exactly thrilled about, I burst into tears. Last week I caught myself cackling like a witch at… well… I don’t even know what.  My poor family probably spends the first few moments in the morning wondering which version of me they will find.

Headaches, sore throats, loss of energy, stomach upset I will NOT scare you with the details of, and just general malaise, and I know I need a serious detox.

I’ve done a lot of research, and on January 8th, I will start the whole 30, a program that will help my body reset.  Eating nothing but healthy whole foods for 30 days, the hope is that not only will I say goodbye to chemicals I’ve eaten that I can’t even pronounce, but it will give me a chance to identify food sensitivities, reign in my emotions and gain back some much needed energy.

It won’t be easy, I’ve been told I can expect some serious side effects.  There will be days I will find it very hard to continue, so I’m looking to you, my family and friends to find an accountability partner or two, to help me stay on track.  To be my cheerleader when I make it through a day, to be my drill sergeant when I want to throw in the towel.

 

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#RaisetheRates

As some of you already know, I’ve signed up to do this years Raise the Rates challenge here in BC.  But you may be asking what exactly it is…

Over 175,000 people in BC rely on welfare, of which over 30,000 are children. Nearly 4% of the population of BC live on welfare, and it has been near this level since 2009, in the fallout from the 2008 recession. The majority of people, 65%, on welfare are people with disabilities.

Welfare payments have been frozen since April 2007, over 8 years. They were below poverty levels then and now are impossible to live on. A single person expected to work receives only $610 a month, while a person with disabilities receives $906 a month.

When you subtract the average expenses of a single person looking for work (bus tickets, telephone etc) you are left with LESS than 3 dollars a week for food.  $3!

So, in an effort to draw awareness to the much needed reform of the welfare system in BC, the Raise the Rates challenge was created, asking people across BC to live for 1 week with the food budget of a single person on welfare.  We’re not allowed to utilize food banks, or other charitable services, or use any items that were already in our pantry or fridge.

Being responsible for the food bank in our community, I see those who are struggling with this issue not just for a week, but for months on end.  I know my 7 days is nothing compared to their struggle, but if I can add my voice to those across BC or if I can, through this, learn how to better serve our clients, then I will have accomplished something.

Tonight I took my $21 and went grocery shopping. The only things I knew were non negotiables for me were eggs and peanut butter.  I figured if I had those protein items, I would be ok.

When we got to No Frills, the cheapest place to buy groceries up here, I started in the aisles. 1 Kiwi, 1 cucumber and I small pack of luncheon meat and I had already forgotten how much my total was. I doubled back to see how much everything I had picked up cost, and I started to second guess myself.  What if it was more then $21 and I had to put items back? Were people wondering why I was weighing just one orange in the produce scale?

Bread, a sale on yogurt, a can of zoodles, 4 Mr. Noodles and I could see my numbers rounding up in my head.  A carton of eggs, margarine, a can of corn, a can of chicken noodle soup, and I was keenly aware that the light basket and heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach meant that I was almost done my shopping. I headed to the peanut butter and couldn’t believe what I was seeing!  the smallest cheapest jar of peanut butter was almost $4!  My husband looked over the shelves and commented on the price of Nutella, something we usually don’t give a second thought to buying.

I decided to check out with the items I had and try next door at the Dollar Tree for peanut butter. When we got there, they were out of peanut butter.  My plan for PB sandwiches to sustain me though lunch times was out the window.  I picked up a pack of Kraft Dinner, one of those rice sidekicks and a jar of jam, and I’m left with $1.05 in case of emergency.

I’d already thought more about food then I had in a very long time.  And on the way home, we stopped to pick up dinner.  One Bento Box, Spring Rolls and a soda  cost me $23.00. More then my entire budget for an entire week.  It was a very hard meal… and lesson to swallow.

Over the next week and a bit (The challenge starts Nov 3rd), I’ll be blogging about my experience.  Follow along as I and others across this province fight to bring attention to a broken system doing more to continue the cycle of poverty then break it.

My meals for 7 days.

My meals for 7 days.

Root them out…

“Root them out, get them gone. All the little bunnies in the fields of corn. Envy, Jealousy, Malice, Pride, they must never in my heart abide”.

Once upon a time, I was pretty, smart, funny and had the world at my doorstep… and I loved every minute of it.

A former boss once took the liberty of introducing me to a crowd of colleagues as one of the smartest people he had ever met.  Another called me a Tasmanian Devil, that every task they gave me attacked and got results faster then they ever expected.  I am certain to this day that if between my boss in Toronto and I, we could solve world wars if given the chance.  We were THAT good.

At my prime (if you can call 22 prime) I was the youngest person running a shelter for my organization across Canada. I was good.  I was the type of person you wanted on your side in a crisis because I thrived on them. Writing policies and proceedures, doing emergency disaster planning, standing between a pimp and his girl, facing down people threatening the safety of those in my charge… I loved it all!

Working in the same field as my parents meant I got a lot of “Oh, you’re Ivan/Bernice’s daughter”, but I will never forget the day my mom came home from a meeting and someone had said to her “Oh… you’re Sharon’s mom”.  For me,that meant I had made it!

Somewhere along the way, that woman I was so proud of being got lost. Now I’m “the Captain’s wife” or “Hayden/Evan/Rhys’s mom” or lately “the new_____ ” (Person i’ve replaced).  I LOVE being each of those things (well, at least the first 2).  Lately I’ve felt… insignificant. invisible, inconsequential. I would be lying if I didn’t say I missed being important.  My name has come off the memo’s & letters.  No one says “Check with Sharon” or “Sharon will handle this one”. I’m not… important.

Yikes.  Even typing it sounds awful. But its how I feel,and I feel like its suffocating me.  Since coming back to Canada, I’ve been struggling with losing who I was, or maybe who others thought I was.  My pride has taken a hit. I’m no longer the person everyone wants in a crisis.  I’m no longer the person people think to ask about stuff, or if they do ask I’m not the person they choose to listen to.  I know my stuff.  I know what I’m talking about, I’ve seen and done things working with the marginalized in Toronto that most people wouldn’t have the first clue how to deal with.

I find myself jealous of those who get to do, while I have to watch.  In the back of my head, I hear this little voice “That’s not fair!” , “You could do that better”. or “Ok, let them do it their way, lets see how THAT turns out”  I want my thoughts to be heard. I want my opinions to be validated. I want I want I want.

I was talking to my sister from another mister yesterday, and while we were sharing our latest struggles in ministry, I found myself asking her the question I hate to be asked; “Is there a lesson in what you’re going through?”  We talked a little longer, and then as I tried to clear my mind last night to go to bed, I heard it over and over in my head.  What can God possibly be trying to teach me by changing me from that sought after powerhouse to the person finishing other peoples paperwork?  Yeah… Light  bulb….

“Root them out, get them gone. All the little bunnies in the fields of corn. Envy, Jealousy , Malice Pride, they must never in my heart abide”.

Top 10 things I can literally tell you about this move

Lit·er·al·ly
ˈlidərəlē,ˈlitrəlē/
adverb ~ in a literal manner or sense; exactly. Example: “the driver took it literally when asked to go straight across the traffic circle”

1. Our house is literally empty of all our personal belongings, minus a few necessities to get us through these last few days.

2. Because said possessions are in FSJ, I am literally doing laundry every night.

3. I literally considered unpacking my clothes box just so I wouldn’t have to do said laundry every night.

4. I literally considered buying all new blinds for the quarters after taking the first one down to clean

5. Hubs and I have literally been on our feet all day cleaning the house so that its presentable with the cleaning lady comes tomorrow.

6. I literally have not felt more at peace about a move. (Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to miss Salmon Arm or the people, it’s just one of those rare moments when trusting God’s plan comes easy)

7. Salmon Arm has literally been the prettiest place I have ever lived.

8. Trusting God’s hand in our stay here has literally been a day to day thing for me at times.

9. Seeing God’s plan for us while we’re here has literally been as easy as waking up and seeing our goals for the week.

10. I will literally make child #3 write out the dictionary as his summer homework if I hear “Moving is literally stupid” one more time…

Why my kiddo wont be going to Farewell Sunday

I distinctly remember an argument I had with my mother one Sunday afternoon (the first in what would be MANY many arguments to come).  I was somewhere between the age of 7-12, based on where we were living, and we were getting ready to go to Sunday School  on a Sunday afternoon.  I don’t remember what happened before the argument, I don’t even remember how it was resolved in the end.  The argument was about socks.  Specifically the long athletic socks I wanted to wear with my dress.  I remember her telling me I was not going to Sunday School wearing them (and depending on where I was in that age range, to me that was either a punishment because I couldn’t see my friends, or a relief that I could stay home for a Sunday afternoon).  Looking back at it, I can say without a doubt it was a silly argument, but it stands out to me.

Now we’ve both relaxed as we’ve grown older.  My mom will wear slacks to church (gasp), I’ve been known to wear “civvies” to church while on vacation.  But there was a time, neither of us would have dreamed of doing either of those.

Growing up as an officers kid, and I’m sure there are a lot of us out there that can relate to this, I heard “Behave!” or “People are watching” probably a million times.  (Maybe that’s why George Orwell’s 1984 was such a great read for me in school) There was this pressure that our behavior reflects on our parents ability to pastor a church.  As an officers kid, I resented it.  I hated the feeling that I couldn’t be me… even though I had no idea who I was at that time.

When we returned to a life of ministry, I vowed I wouldn’t do that to our kids.  That they could be themselves and we’d all love, accept and embrace the way they wanted to worship.  Which was great until our oldest showed up at church one Sunday with his pants hanging down over his butt and his underwear on display for all to see;  until our middle kiddo sat up in the front row drawing pictures of people being killed during the message for all to see, or until our youngest decided that prayer time is the best time to start a yoga-like stretching routine complete with noises.

Now nothing about what they did was wrong (as much as I hate the saggy pants, its not a jail-able offence), but it turned me into this other being. Concerned about what people would say about us and our brood, and there was born the Sunday nagging parent.  Sit up straight. Pull up your pants. Be quiet. Pull up your pants. Spit out your gum. Pull up your pants. Change your shirt. For the love of all that’s Holy, pull up your pants!!

Where in the Bible, does it say you can’t wear a Bart Simpson t-shirt to church?  or thou shall not stretch more then 2.5 seconds during a worship service?

Stay just the way you are Kiddo, even the parts that drive me nuts.

Stay just the way you are Kiddo, even the parts that drive me nuts.

Last night I had an epiphany.  Our youngest called and asked if he could have a sleep over with his friend.  My automatic answer, as it is every Saturday night when he asks, is “Not tonight, we have church in the morning.” Usually I get a huff and a puff and then a “Fine!” or his dad gets a huff, and extra puff and a “Whatever!” but last night he said “But mom, its the last chance I’ll have to sleep over ever!”  I stuck to my guns – knowing that it was farewell Sunday,told him what time to be home, and hung up the phone.

As soon as I hung up the phone, my heart broke.  Here is a kid who didn’t ask for all eyes to be on him.  He didn’t ask to get shuffled from one city to the next.  He had no say in leaving all his friends, and half his family behind to travel the world with us.  He didn’t ask to stay at home eating cold fast food while his dad and I had a meeting.  He didn’t ask to miss the championship soccer game last year so we could go to Toronto for work.  All the times I remembered being sad about moving.  All the times I resented the church for making me miss something I wanted to do because of an obligation my parents had with the church.  It all flooded back to me.

He had asked for so little, and here we were asking so much.  Asking this 13 year old kiddo to put his faith and trust in a God he’s still exploring, to trust that God has a bigger plan for him… even for me at 35, it’s hard to do sometimes.

I went to Sheldon and said “I want to do something. I’m not sure you’ll agree, but I want to do it anyways.” I explained what Kiddo had asked, and he said “But its Farewell Sunday”.  We talked a little more, and Sheldon left the decision with me.

So we are a family of 2 this morning.  Kiddo is probably just falling to sleep after a night of laughing and video games, and my heart is light knowing he’s had these precious moments with his friends.

Memory.

I don’t remember the last conversation I had with my dad.

I remember lots about my last visit with him.  He had come to see us in Nashville.  We showed him the sites, He took in 2 concerts, met up with new and old friends. I remember hugging him goodbye in my kitchen. I remember what he was wearing. I remember telling him I love him which, had I known he would be gone 2 weeks later, I would have said louder, stronger, harder.  But I don’t remember the last conversation I had with him.

dad

What I do remember are our growing pains.  Becoming a teenager, determined to find my own path.  Arguments, smart Butted responses to questions I felt it beneath my 16 year old self to answer any other way.  There weren’t a lot of arguments, most of those were saved for my mother that, now that I’ve grown up I realize probably stemmed from the fact that I was so much like her.

But my dad.  Did I tell him enough of the good to outweigh the bad? Did he forget the bad as soon as it was finished like all the good parenting books say you should?

In my *ahem* rebellious years, telling the truth, following the rules… those weren’t high on my list of priorities.  (To tell the truth, I’m still known to get antsy when someone says I “HAVE” to do something a certain way). I could hold a grudge, I could tear you down with a few stabs of a sharp tongue. I like to tell people I grew out of that stage.  That I turned over a new leaf when I grew up.  But in all honesty, I carried a little too much baggage with me into adulthood.

But then I had my last conversation with my dad.  I didn’t know it was my last or I would have talked longer, said more, recorded it for posterity. Something, Anything so that I could hold on to that moment.  But I didn’t know it would be our last.  And that scared me.

None of us know when we will have the last conversation with someone.  What if a harsh word to my husband, or my boys is the last thing we have to remember? What if I’m too stubborn to say I’m sorry after an argument, or the last one to forgive a wrong?

I didn’t grow into a new person, mature and willing to hash out any beef that might be laying around.  I got scared by the legacy I would leave behind.

Our youngest boy is about to turn 13.For those of you without teenagers, he’s about to enter a special time in his life where he knows EVERYTHING, where parents know NOTHING and if it doesn’t involve him directly it’s clearly a waste of time learning about.  Everything is drama.  Everything. He will tell us a million times we’re wrong, and we’ll tell him to stop exaggerating. (lol… see what I did there?)

He doesn’t remember the simple chore I asked him to do 3 minutes ago, but can recite every time I’ve messed up as a parent to the nth Power of Pii.The other day, he walked into the kitchen as I was making dinner, and his dad was outside BBQing and said “Lets go play soccer!” Well… we were a little busy at the moment so we said “Not right now, buddy” to which came the prepubescent whine of “You NEVER do anything with me” and the obligatory stomping down the stairs.  What if that was the last thought he had about us.  What if that was the memory he was left with?

I am no longer content to “Sleep on it” or to see if cooler heads prevail in the AM. When it comes to words, they are too quickly forgotten.  I need to make them matter before they are forgotten

In Spite of Me

For months I had been dreading this work retreat.  While most look forward to them, they send me into a anxious whirl wind that has been known to make me physically sick. Plan them?  No problem! I love planning them.  In fact the year we moved from Nashville to Memphis, in the midst of a move I planned one for a couple 100 people while packing up an office, a home, and planning a cross country trip.  But put me in a group of people who I don’t really know, where I’ll have no idea what is expected of me?!

For weeks I tried to think of ways out of it.  What if the Boy gets sick?  Or the Hubs?  What if I get sick?  The day I broke my thumb, I only agreed to go to the hospital because I knew my friend was in Emergency with the stomach flu, and I thought maybe I could get a minute to see her, and maybe in that minute I’d catch it too.

There was a pretty bad storm here a week ago.  Worst snow fall in 30 years.  What if the roads were closed? What if there was an avalanche and we had to turn around and go back?

There is NO way I can go! There is NO ONE who can watch Child the III for that long! Our families are thousands of miles away, and he’s never stayed with anyone else that long. How can I leave him for 4 days?

There is NO way I can go! I have WAY too much on my plate right now.  Piles of things on my desk that need to get finished.  A To-Do list that seems to be multiplying by the hour. How can I take 4 days off?

I know its not normal.  I know its unreasonable. I know its a little out there. I know that I was letting my anxiety rule my life. I know that my brain works differently then everyone else’s, but thankfully God works in spite of me.

There were piles of work on my desk waiting to get done. But they weren’t there because I didn’t have the time. They were there because I was running on empty. My heart wasn’t in it.  Christmas was hard work, Christmas away from family was hard work. Christmas with not enough hours in the day was hard work.  It was the middle of January and I had yet to take a full day off. Whatever I thought I was trying to accomplish, I wasn’t helping anyone. I was burnt out. I was tired. I was cranky. I was seeing everything that was wrong with the world, and overwhelmed at my small part in trying to fix it.

We made the trip safe and sound, the Hubs gripping my hand tighter the closer we got to the hotel. The Hubs was a champ. “Don’t worry, there wont be anything your uncomfortable with. There are over 100 people here. It’s ok, you’ll be fine.”

Our first session, I scope out the exits. I pick a seat where escape is easy. We get to the first prayer and one of the leaders gets up to pray and says I know that there are those of you here who are drained. I know you’re feeling worn. I know I am feeling that way. Use this time as a shelter from the storm.

BINGO

My anxiety doesn’t magically disappear, but there is something about hearing someone else say they are feeling as low as you are that makes it seem ok. And when that person is someone you look up to, be it professionally, spiritually or whatever else, suddenly its not so shameful to feel the way your feeling. Often people feel like saying they are worn out is admitting a weakness. But I think it’s admitting human-ness. We aren’t meant to carry these burdens alone.

The next 3 days I spoke to people who were struggling, people who were feeling alone, feeling less then capable and  the funny part was they were telling my story. The struggles I had that I was almost ashamed to admit were the same struggles these people were having.

The sessions got easier to go to. The songs became easier to sing. The scriptures became easier to read. Because I got out of my own way. Because I got out of God’s way, and let what He knew I needed to hear soak in. In case I needed any more proof that this week away was meant for me to listen, the second day there, the praise band sung what has probably been my anthem since the day Tenth Avenue North released their Album The Struggle in 2012.

We’re home now, and while the struggle is still there, the hard decisions still need to be made, my tank is full. I feel renewed, revived, and at peace.

Christmas Confessions

I LOVE Christmas! The snow, the twinkling lights, the smell of pine trees (Although I could do without the pesky tree needles sticking in my socks!).  There is a sense of peace, of community that comes during Christmas as we all celebrate together. Wrapping paper, bows, homemade cookies. Love Love Love.

I love this!! The dog... did not

I love this!! The dog… did not

Except last year.  Last year, Christmas happened and I didn’t really realize it was here before it was gone.  It was our first Christmas back in Canada, and my first experience on the other side of the red kettle.  I’d done shifts at a kettle, I’d helped count money from kettles occasionally, but I’d never truly been on the other side.  Organizing, Planning, Filling shifts.

Being fresh to the city, to the division and to the territory, I was determined to put my best foot forward and then some.  You could say I felt like I had something to prove.  I jumped in head first and we raised almost 45% above our goal, which is fantastic, and couldn’t have been done without the generous people of our community, it changed my Christmas.

I didn’t have time to bake, or shop, or visit, or even sleep some days.  There was no going to the movies with the family, or even sleeping in.  It wasn’t until New Years that I realized we hadn’t even built a snow man.

This Christmas has been different.  Not perfect, but different.  I know not everyone reading this is out planning a season of fundraising, but we can all relate to feeling overwhelmed.  Here’s what we did to make it easier.

Get Help – When we planned our budget last year, we made the space to hire someone who’s specific job it was to handle kettles.  Maybe you have a week of Christmas parties to plan for, or open houses.  Get help.  Most of us are people who like to be able to do everything ourselves, but in the long run, it will save your sanity.  Our Kettle Coordinator filled over 700 kettle shifts this season, and was able to handle the task much better then I, who also had to plan Sunday School lessons, run a homeless shelter, plan Christmas toy giving etc. etc.

Even Kong, our local Hockey Mascot got in on the action of ringing bells

Even Kong, our local Hockey Mascot got in on the action of ringing bells

Find something fun to do – I have a friend who (along with many of his friends) have this tradition of wearing a different hat every day of Kettles.  Its always fun to log into Facebook to see what today’s hat is.  And this year he’s added a scripture verse that goes with the hat.  LOVE it!  His wife decided to start her own kettle tradition, and has tried a new recipe every night of kettles.  For a foodie like me, this is especially great to follow.  I tried to start my own tradition.  Baking one new cookie recipe every night of kettles.  It was awesome right up until day 4, when I a) used a can of condensed milk that had, unbeknownst to me, expired 4 years previous and b) we had eaten all the cookies  from day 1-3.  It can be anything!  Elf on the shelf, 25 days of Christmas movies. As long as its something that brings you joy. Next year I plan to do some freezer cooking in September and then use my Slow Cooker for every day of Kettles.

 

Yum!

Yum!

2 Birds, One Stone  – If there is something you are really wanting to do, see how you can wrap that into something else that you’re not really looking forward to, or that will help cross something else off your list.  We LOVE going to the movies.  In fact, while vacationing in Scotland, we went to 4 movies in 3 nights, and one of the movies we saw twice while there. I am a movie buff, and I am dragging my family into fandom. But who has time to go to the movies when all I can think is Kettles Kettles Kettles.  So, I talked to the locally owned theatre, and they agreed to help us host a fundraiser.  We picked a Christmas movie that everyone loves ( In this case, knowing we wanted families to come, we went with Arthur Christmas), and are offering tickets to the community for a steal!  So we get to watch a Christmas movie that we may not have had time for otherwise, AND we raise money for the Christmas Kettles.

arthur christmas

Last but not least, Know Your Limits and don’t be afraid to stick to them.  Last Christmas found me in tears because a well meaning family had invited us to Christmas Dinner at their house, and The Hubs, who loves to please said “Yeah, I don’t see why not”.  All I wanted was a night home with my family to just be together.  Figure out what your non negotiable areas are, and where you can be a bit more flexible.

I’ve felt much more relaxed this Christmas. I know I can’t do it all, and I’m… adjusted to it. 🙂

Be Still

All through the Bible we see examples of God speaking to His people.  Sometimes, its as simple and soft as a dove gliding back to the Ark after the great flood, or a cleverly veiled dream.  But every now and then God encountered a hard head, and needed to be a bit more dramatic to get his point across. A Burning Bush. A Great Fish. And sometimes, when he encounters a particularly stubborn person, a Furnace.

Last week I was telling you about how busy I was.  How I was a little overwhelmed and under organized. I wasn’t sure where I would get the time to tackle everything on my plate and still be the mom/daughter/wife/friend I want to be.

Wednesday evening, The Hubs and I came down to the church to meet the Our Kettle Coordinator to put the days money in the safe. We walked into the building and instantly smelled something burning.  We have a significantly older building, and every now and then strange things happen, like the air conditioner catches on fire during a Sunday Service, so we’ve developed a pretty calm, organized way of clearing the building while we check it out.

We head to the offices, where the bulk of the electrical equipment is kept, and are met with a puff of smoke as the door opens. But no flames.  Odd. We enlist the help of the girl guide leaders, who were setting up for their meeting, and between the 4 of us, we walk through the building, and although it smells like the first floor should be engulfed in flames, there are no signs of what could be burning.

Long story longer, we call the fire department, who comes and says “yes, we smell something burning, no we cannot tell you what it is”. Comforting. The next morning we discover that our furnace in the church had burnt out. So, for 2 days while we wait to get it repaired, we get what needs to be done in the office done, and then work from home.

A smart woman would remember that God is in every detail. A smart woman.  I on the other hand chose to focus on getting some things done that were… well… lets say.. in ruins around the house. I caught up on house work, I created a couple more projects I probably didn’t need to start, and then when the new furnace was installed, went back to work and jumped right into what was piling up on my desk.

Hindsight is always 20/20.  Maybe, had I stopped to listen, or just stopped, I would have heard God answering my prayer for more time, more peace, more stillness.

Saturday evening, I’m getting ready to put the dishwasher on, when a VERY large “BOOM” noise comes up from downstairs.  Now I am a mom of 3 boys, and the wife of a husband who has developed an interesting habit of passing out and smashing his head on the floor (ok… so it only happened twice, but trust me… twice is MORE then enough!) This boom could only mean one of two things.  Either Child III and his friend had just destroyed something in the basement, or something had exploded.  Hubs and I ran downstairs, and the boys were sitting on the couch playing computer wondering why we were rushing in at them yelling “What happened!?!?!?!”. We looked around, nothing seemed off, so we shrugged our shoulders and went back to what we were doing.

About 2 hours later, we’re getting ready to (once again) head down to the church and meet the Kettle Coordinator when… BOOM!!! That noise again, only this time it was accompanied by the smoke detectors going off.  The only thing we could figure it to be was… the furnace. So we called the 24 hour furnace guy who said “I’ll be there… sometime” and then packed up the kids (and dog) and headed out the door ,just in case.

When the furnace guy finally made his way out, we discovered that our igniter motor was seizing up.  That’s the technical words for what was happening.  For those of you like me who often ask “But what does that mean?”, the furnace would start to release the gas needed to light the furnace, but the igniter wasn’t working, so the gas would accumulate in our furnace room until the motor decided to turn over, and then it would ignite and the gas in the room would… boom.  Did I happen to mention that we were having the coldest snap we’ve had here in a year and a half?  We were at -22 (or -7.6 F for my southern friends).

At this point even I, with the thickest of skulls and stubborn-est of streaks can see that God  wanted my attention.  And what do I hear when I finally stop and listen?

Be still.

But Lord, I have a full unit of school work to finish.  Be Still

Lord, my office is a mess, things are falling behind.  Be Still

I don’t know how I will catch up on all the house work that needs to be done.  Be Still

I can get a handle on this, I just need more time to organize and plan.  Be Still

My anxiety over not having it all under control.  My desire to look like I had a handle on everything, or to match up to those who did.  My disappointment at my organizational skills failing me… All of it so real.  All of it so distracting.

This time of year especially, when all my pastor friends are running around hardly finding time to stop, I find it difficult to be still.  There’s always something else to be done. Another kettle shift to fill, another nursing home to visit, another toy to be sorted, another hamper application to complete. But in there, before the business of the season overwhelms me, I need to find the time to Be Still.

Our month at a glance, which doesn't include Christmas Parties, Dr's appointments or any other personal commitments.

Our month at a glance, which doesn’t include Christmas Parties, Dr’s appointments or any other personal commitments.

 

Chaos

When I picked my new blog design, I created these 3 pretty tabs on the top because they were the three areas I usually blogged about.  My imperfect life, my imperfect marriage, and my imperfect attempts at ministry.  I LOVE all 3 areas of my life, and wouldn’t trade any of them, but being a dreamer trapped in a realists body, I know that they need work. Anyone who tells you that these are areas of THEIR life that they don’t meet to work on… well.. I wouldn’t call them a liar, but you may notice smoke billowing from their pant cuffs. (ha! Pants on fire… see what I did there?)

So what is a girl to do when these 3 imperfect parts of her imperfect life merge together and create a swirling vortex of imperfect-ness?

In the last 2 weeks, I think I’ve officially eaten more take out then I have in months.  Remembering to cook dinner has not been happening, mainly because I’m doing an extra 10-15 hours a week trying to stay organized at work.  As a result, my kitchen is littered with take home cups, dirty dishes, and what can only be described as SOMETHING once containing milk.  My laundry has piled up, the garage still has Halloween decorations in it, and I may or may not have given Child III his morning pills with a mason jar of water.

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Clearly, with my house falling apart at the seems, my office MUST be organized, with trays of papers sorted, phone messages neatly stacked to return.

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Or… maybe not.  Ok… so this is actually the Hubs office, but it only looks like this because I’ve been shuttling things from my office to his so that I can move in mine.  We’ve just undertaken a pretty big move here, relocating our existing food bank to a new location. We’ve also opened our Winter Emergency Shelter, we’re on set for our Toy Hampers for families in need to be set up in our old food bank space, and… there’s something else… oh yeah… it’s our biggest fundraising season, and we have 700+ volunteer shifts we’ retrying to fill. No biggy.

I’m in the process of completing my paper work for seminary, which is a lot of work and a LOT of introspection.  I’m also tackling… and LOVING an online Bible study. And Nov 13th Hubs and I started a 13 long week course to get ready to adopt a wee one (or two…) so there’s that.

I am overload and feeling it this week. My mind is in chaos mode, and everything is showing the wear from it. In fact, I just spent 10 mins standing in the doorway to the Hubs office, and said “I have so much I need to get done that I don’t know where to start, so standing here doing none of it is the best course of action I can think of right now.”. The hubs, love his heart, thrives on this kind of mess. I envy his carefree attitude about it, but I am a planner.  Post it note agenda writing, calendar highlighting planner.

So its time to plan.

First things first, if I’m not right with God, I won’t be right anywhere else.  I KNOW (capital K_N_O_W) that He sent this Bible study my way at the PERFECT time, when my imperfect faith would be starving, and this study would be like manna. So I need to carve out time to get right with this study, and to soak up what He wants me to take from it. But how do I do that without being distracted by the other things I need to get done?  The women in the Bible study suggest setting up a special place in the house you can go, where nothing will distract you.

That is what I will tackle today.