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Saturday, March 17, 2012

A work of heart

Have nicely stocked up my inspirational read library as of lately.....have so many good books to read that I hope will both teach me/inspire me more.  I need to learn more.  I need to change sooooooo  much about me.  I am in a work in progress.  Before Ansen's pregnancy, I "knew" that I was a great Christian and that I had very few flaws.  HAAAAAA!  Along with the other 179 life lessons Ansen's pregnancy taught me, number 180 is that I am as flawed and sinful as every other person in this world.  That was a hard lesson to take was like a ton of bricks hitting me all at once.  For 30 years, I had lived thinking that I was a "good girl".  And I may seem like a good girl, but my daily sins are as real as anyone else's.  I am grateful God hasn't given up on me and that he gives me the chance to start fresh daily/hourly/even minutely.  Will I use up all my "get out of jail" cards one day? Sometimes I have a hard time understanding the gift of God's grace, only in that many times I don't feel like I deserve a 2nd or 3rd or 457th chance to start over.  How can God not get frustruated with how I fail Him daily??  When I push His teachings to the back of my mind for a moment so I can do what I want to do in that instant.  Again and again.  Daily. 

For Lent, I decided I wouldn't shop at all those 40 days.  The night before Lent, I bought and bought and bought to prepare myself for my spending halt.  And yet I have failed almost every single day after that.  We live in a consumerist world.  And those lessons have been so ingrained in me that I have had a really hard time with this.  I joked with a friend that my Lenten promise has seemingly turned into 'I will make a purchase daily' instead.  I have bought yet more inspirational books.  I have bought clothes.  I have bought knitting needles and yarn.  I have bought knitting patterns.  I have bought Journibles (which I think will be an amazing way to learn the Bible-starting with Psalms).  But still, every one of those purchases feels like I slapped God in the face in regards to my promise.  I made a promise, why can I convince myself in my moments of weakness that each of these small purchases is okay bc its something I want and need and deserve.  I feel soooo incredibly guilty.  If I was God, I would just want to wring my hands of myself and move on to someone who has a bit more self-control and promise.  Yet he gives me yet another chance.  A new day to try again. 

I find grace so confusing bc its hard to understand with the human perspective we have.  People hurt us over and over again in life, and we WANT to wring our hands of them forever.  I think the closest thing in regards to God's grace in this world is parenting some of my strong willed children.  They deny my authority in their lives repeatedly, they do the opposite of what I ask regularly, they break the rules as often as they feel like it.  Daily, I have to take my frustruations with their behavior and actions and process it...and then move on.  Because I love them and no matter how many times they may fail me, I still have high hopes for their future.  That one day I might get a group of good natured, God pleasing, respectful adults out of this brood.  Some days though, I am overwhelmed....some days this parenting thing seems too hard.  I want to give up....but I can't.  Because they are my children.  I helped create them and I love them.  They are my responsibility...I am not to give up on them, no matter how hard and hopeless some days may seem.  And I am God's child.  And He loves me.  He loves me despite my deeply sinful nature and my love to spend.  He loves the sinner, just not the sins.  And he has high hopes and amazing plans for me, if only I trust and follow Him. 

I am so grateful for God's grace.  I don't feel worthy at all, but I am grateful.    And I hope to get some major reading, growing and learning done in the next months/years/pretty much every day left of this life here.  I am a work in progress...and I am in NO WAY near completion.  Some days I think of myself at just the beginning of a long, arduous, beautiful  metamorphisis that will take place.  I have so much to learn can be daunting to consider.  Just like the desperate feeling I had when I had only 1 child and I knew there were meant to be quite a few many more to follow to complete our family (not just the typical 1 or 2 more)...such is the feeling in regards to what I have left to learn in this world.  In the great classroom of life, I am maybe in 2nd grade here.  Sometimes feels more like 1st grade though.   Boy do I have a long way to go.  I am eager and ready to learn heart and soul yearn for this.  One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. 

Thankfully God doesn't expect me to wake up and be perfect one day.  But he does expect me to start each day wanting to learn more, try more and do more.  He expects that I will try my hardest to fight against false idols and sins (both small and large) every minute of every day.  I may fail at times (which is very frustruating to me....WHY when I know right from wrong-why can't I follow through the right way each and every time), but I won't give up.  I can't give up.  Just as He extends His love and grace upon me, I will always innately strive to make my Father proud.  I will continue to work at this.  Every minute of every day I have left on Earth.  One day, this work in progress will be whole and complete.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An update....I guess???

I have been looking at my blog for months, thinking of something to update.  Truthfully, I don't know what to update though.  I would love to post "my life has been a dream since we have gone through all our challengs with Ansen....we passed our test and won ourselves a life of continued ease".  Now wouldn't that be lovely.  Truthfully, I thought that after what I have gone through with Ansen, that nothing would ever compare.  Well the truth is, the answer to that is yes and no.  Yes, once you realize that what truly matters most is family, nothing else "really" matters.  But no in the fact that sometimes it feels like life is still beating you down in all directions....and its not always easy to see the beauty in some circumstances (possible, just not always easy).  I have gotten distracted a lot in my mission to love, enjoy and be thankful for all matters of life.....distracted by life. 

First Doug was unemployed (and became so in such an UNFAIR manner, its hard to not still feel bitter about it today).   And then when he did finally get a job again (in a horrible market with few options that made what we need to pay all our bills), it has turned out to be the most exhausting job ever.  We have come to realize that for us to afford this small house, situated on a busy road with .1 acre of land we stupidly bought at peak of market for way too much money, that we need Doug to work 70-80 hours a week, doing the hard physical labor he does (bc truck drivers that don't have to unload trucks on top of driving them make next to nothing).  He is gone 4 am to 5-6 pm (sometimes later) Monday-Friday, and he basically comes home, eats dinner, and falls asleep.  5 days a week he does this, and the weekends aren't long enough for him to fully "recover"...I rarely get to spend any time with him awake sans kids...even on the weekends, when kids are finally in bed, he falls asleep immediately.  How long do we keep this up? 

We have 28ish more years of this mortgage.  We bought this house 7 years ago, but since we have had to refinance three times-due to us being idiots I guess and signing up for just about every banking scam there was, including the infamous adjustable rate mortgage, varying high percentage rates in a 80/20 loan, etc...we have extended our mortgage.  We have paid almost 100,000 to date, and we have paid off only 1000-2000 on our actual morgage, while our house has depreciated 60,000.  The American Dream at its finest.   Do we keep working him to the bone for a house we actually hate; 1.  It has very little yard.  2.  It is on a busy street.  3.  It has an apartment behind us so that anyone can look into our yard...there is no privacy in the summer bc people are hanging out in their balcony, smoking and staring at us.  3.  It is falling apart slowly but surely-I have a massive list of things that we need repaired, including:  half the outlets in the house-half of the half didn't work when we moved in, the other half have been slowing blowing and they now include one of the upstairs lights, as well as the cellar/laundry room lights, as well as a new roof, and some kind of rebuild on the cellar stairs that has a hole that keeps getting bigger and bigger thanks to someone building them out of particle board??  Those are the biggest house issues right now, there are other smaller ones that we can just live with indefinately I guess. 

I try to will myself to grow where we have been planted, to accept this is where we are meant to be. But then why do I have this relentless, nagging feeling in my heart that we are supposed to get somewhere country, somewhere simple and cheap and somewhere with a lot of land.  I get these feelings we are supposed to be anywhere BUT here.  The feelings are relentless.  I am just sick of being stuck in the city....having 6 kids corralled into a tiny yard when we all desperately seek to be "free range".  Sitting on my porch, trying to relax as a continuous stream of cars and trucks zoom on by, kids at daycare next door are yelling as they play.  I try to enjoy the beauty of the day outside in our fenced in yard, only to hear every word of my neighbors conversation (including their fights), while one of the apartment smokers is watching my children and chickens running around the yard.  I feel my heart stifled....its hard to enjoy the beauty of nature at this house, and during the summer we find that we are just driving everywhere we can to espcape the city and be back in nature.  Is it too much to want to be able to walk out my door and appreciate nature right in my own backyward?    It is so hard, struggling with matters of the heart. 

I have tried to "accept" where we are at.  That we made mistakes and will now have to pay for them.  But as I have felt all my children on my heart, I feel this is my heart...a strong sense that we are not supposed to be HERE.  Its the kind of thing where you convince yourself to be "smart" about the situation with your brains ("smart" meaning we pay our obligations and just accept/live with all the financial mistakes we have made) and then that whisper on my heart reminds me of the life we could have/we should have.  We bought this house bc I liked the tub!!!  Did God lead me to like the tub here??  Why did I care about the most ridiculous things back then??  Why would I not look at the yard and think "this won't be conducive to my farming dreams (bc I had them even back then.)  Why did I believe that we could simply sell house in a few years for  a small profit and move on to our farm?  And as much as these thoughts of a more simple, outdoor based life torment me, they similarily torment Doug.  Sometimes I feel like we headed on the wrong path and God is trying to "right" us back where we were meant to.   But how do we do that?

We are at a crossroad right now.  Due to unemployment finance mess, we have one final opportunity that we could just stop and leave this house and try to go down the scary unknown path.  Would we find the land and simpleness we dream of?  Would we find someone willing to rent to our large family...willing to let us bring chickens and 2 cats?  Willing to let us be self sufficient on their land?  Or do we use our tax money and borrow yet more money from my Dad (owe him 20,000 from 2 of my 3 refinances), make this housing situation right, and just live here essence pay our debt for the mistakes we HAVE made (no matter how sorrowful we are for them now) and give up on our dreams.  I feel guilty about first option.  And the second option depresses me.  There is no easy answer in life. 

Life is a blessing though.  I know God has a reason for this crossroad, as He did for me when I was going back and forth about bringing that 6th little life (Ansen) into our family.  One day I will see this as a thing of beauty.   Right now, I am confused and sad.  And just living each day, not making any decisions and hoping to get a glimpse of any kind of flicker of light in regards to what direction we are MEANT to head.  I trust that God has a plan for us and I have peace in that, but I am human and I wonder/worry daily where  we will be lead.  Its not always easy to blindly trust.   But God hasn't led us astray long as we listen to HIM and not us.  Life isn't about houses or even the fancy, garden tub I once coveted.  Its about our family being together, no matter where life leads us.  I love my family-they are what life is about; as long as we are together, we will find our way through each and every challenge that comes our way (including this one).