Monday, April 25, 2016

Fix It

Ever since we returned home from Mayo, I have been a mad woman on a mission to take care of all the things around the house that bug me or that need attention.  I have never been good about finishing things, so this sudden burst of motivation is odd to me.  I'm pretty sure something in me snapped and decided that if I can't fix Nolan then I will fix my surroundings.

So I set to work finishing all sorts of projects we had previously started.  We redecorated the kids' bathroom, and I'll share that in its own post.  Sometime.

We had painted our bedroom and put up pictures and curtains.  The last major piece was choosing a bedspread, which has taken me more than a year of browsing for the perfect one.  So I finally just bought one.  I originally wanted a frosty mint green, and this one is more blue, but I still love it!



I'd still love some decorative pillows and taller lamps, but I'm calling this one done for now.

We donated our dishes to a local charity and bought plain white Corelle dishes.  They are thinner and take up less room in our cabinets.  They also came in multiple sizes of plates and bowls, which has been a huge plus.  I threw out the kids old plastic "kid" plates and bought the divided Corelle plates for them.


You can see that I bought two shelf thingies to help organize the plates.  I also rearranged all of our cabinets so like items are together and everything makes a little more sense.  I moved the coffee pot to the counter under the cabinet with mugs.  I decluttered our plastic leftover containers to just what we use most.

Some of our drawers were already fairly well organized, but three of them were in desperate need of attention.  I didn't take "before" pictures because, as previously stated, I was a madwoman on a mission.




We had cute gray placemats that were a basketweave pattern.  It was hard to wipe them completely clean because inevitable spills would get between the woven strips.  So I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased some laminated fabric.  I cut it into rectangles to make my own placemats.



They would have been slightly nicer if I had used my rotary cutter and ruler rather than scissors, but again I plead the insanity defense.

My spice cabinet has been driving me bonkers for years.  I pulled everything out of the cabinet and got to work.  I ordered clear spice jars from Amazon, and I transferred my spices into the matching jars.  I used the labels that came with the jars, and I used my new label maker for the rest of the spices.




I still need to figure out how to organize the new spice jars in my cabinet, but don't you think they're better already?  I can guarantee you there will be some alphabetizing involved. :)

I had to run to Hobby Lobby this weekend and I just happened to pick up this cute little sign.  I hung it above the hooks where the kids hang their back packs and jackets.


My final project to share with you today is one I completed this past weekend.  We recently inherited a piano, which made us quite ecstatic as Griffin has a knack for playing it.  However, the piano bench left a little something to be desired in both the comfort and style categories.


So I removed the top by unscrewing the hinges.


I spent for-ev-er pulling staples out of each individual layer:  the trim, the white fabric, and the yellow upholstery.  My hand turned into a misshapen claw.


I cleaned the piano bench and the naked piece of wood that had been stripped of all old fabrics and trimmings.  Pretty sure I inhaled asbestos.

I had purchased some 3" foam from JoAnn Fabrics as well as some gray upholstery fabric.  I was looking at fun fabrics but ultimately decided to go with something very neutral since this is a semi-permanent piece.  But I did find one with hexagons in the weave!  I heart hexagons!

I put the foam on the wooden bench piece, wrapped the fabric around, and used a heavy duty staple gun to afix the fabric to the board.  Then I covered the back with a gray utility fabric, and I covered the edges of that fabric with some ribbon trim.



I then screwed the hinges back onto the seat board through the original holes.


I was amused to see the service record sticker inside the bench:


Here it is reunited with the piano:


Now I have to go fold my fifth load of laundry for today.  Anyone have a fix for that?

Jessica

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Who I Am

Let's just say it.  I'm anal.  I am.  Some may see me as uptight but I think my ways just make good sense.

For example, I own scissors for fabric, scissors for food, and scissors for paper.  My kids know which pair to use for cutting open popsicles and which to use for homework projects.  And which ones to never touch.

I want my fabric scissors to stay sharp enough to cut through fabric well.  I want the food scissors to always be clean.  But I also don't want my kids to grow up afraid of choosing the wrong scissors.  So I work on tempering my black-and-whiteness with grace.

But I think it's pretty clear that I'm a girl who loves rules and boundaries.  I like to know what's expected and how I'm doing.

Believe it or not, this can lead to problems in the Christian life.  It leads to a little something called legalism, where I worship the rules instead of God.

Today I finished reading For the Love by Jen Hatmaker.  I highly recommend it, by the way.  It's filled with humor and sarcasm and truth, all things I enjoy.  I love her chapter where she writes one letter to Church Leaders and one to Church People.  I want to photocopy it and distribute it.

In her chapter entitled "Dear Christians, Please Stop Being Lame," she writes the following:

I obviously related to this passage.  I do want boundaries.  I do want to stand before God having gotten it right.  I do want to be assured of my insider status.  And I have asked all the same questions Jen Hatmaker mentioned here in her book.

Can I just be really really honest with you for a minute?  Even if it's not pretty?  I did fight for my insider status within the church.  Let me say, without hesitation, that I genuinely loved the people I served, legitimately wanted to further God's kingdom, sincerely sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit as I lived out my many roles within the church.  But part of me also grew to love being so rooted in the church.  I liked belonging.  I liked being useful and serving a purpose.  And I liked feeling approved.

Somewhere along the way "who I am" got tangled up with "what I do at church."  My world is so small.  I'm a stay-at-home mom to three kids and I babysit two more kiddos.  My world consists of my house, two schools, church, and Walmart.  Some days I just have this inner voice that asks the question, "Is there more to me than being a mom?"  It's the best job in the whole wide world, but I also know that if I am to survive these chickadees flying from my nest, then I need to have my identity be based on more than motherhood.  Since I'm not looking for Walmart to define me, church became my identity-giver.

And really it makes sense to find my identity at church.  My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life.  I just didn't realize that all this time I have been building an identity based on who I am in the body of Christ, rather than who I am to God.  Do you see the difference?  One is who others perceive me to be and the other is who God knows me to be.

There's another passage in For the Love that fits our current discussion.  In Hatmaker's letter to Church Leaders, she describes what happens when "ministry" is defined solely by church activities.
"When you tell your people, 'Come Sunday for worship, Tuesday morning for Bible study, Wednesday night for Community Group, Thursday night for Awana, Friday night for a service project, and Saturday afternoon for leadership training,' it is defeating.  Intentionally or not, it develops a culture in which discipleship is measured by attendance."
I became so highly aware of this once my attendance became less than perfect.  I felt (honest:  feel) scolded for not being the good Church Woman I'd groomed myself to be.  I've heard so many people in our church say something like, "We are in church every time the doors are open!"  I internalized that as a requirement for holiness.  So now that I'm not at church every time there's a service or event, I feel like a Less Than.

Oh, hear it.  Hear me say that I love my church.  I highly value specialized ministries offered at my church.  I would have shriveled into spiritual oblivion without my Bible study ladies.  Before my son's endless headache that rocked our world, I was super involved at my church.  I taught an adult Sunday school class (my very favorite role!), participated fully in women's Bible studies, planned and hosted baby and bridal showers (with two other women), served on a Sunday School & Discipleship Ministries Board, planned on a decorating committee when our church built a giant addition, planned and decorated for various gatherings such as our annual Women's Retreat, typed devotions for couples in our church, interviewed potential volunteers for our children's department, and taught a class about healthy sexuality for married women.  I was a busy woman.  Sometimes I felt like I was going to lose my mind.  But I wasn't about to say no to anything because I really do love people and want to serve God by serving people.

Once The Headache descended upon us and this whole medical crisis blew up in the middle of our ordinary life, everything had to change.  Most of it against my will.  One by one, God gently removed each precariously balanced role from my hands and said, "Honey, I'll take this."  When I looked at each thing individually, I loved each one.  But all piled up, I was simply carrying too much.  I'm guessing I probably would never have given up most of these precious roles if I hadn't been forced to by the extremely overwhelming task of caring for a chronically ill child.

The hardest crown for me to lay down, by far, was that of Sunday School Teacher.  I just flat out LOVE those people, and I'm afraid no one will love them as fiercely as I do.  Sound crazy?  I can't help it.  Even with being exhausted and--quite honestly--burned out, I just couldn't give it up.  So God pulled it from my kung-fu grip and patted me on the head.

So here I am.  I am not a teacher.  I am not a church decorator.  I am not a party planner.  I am not a decision-maker or a cupcake-baker.  I no longer have perfect attendance.  I'm wandering in uncharted territory where the boundaries aren't as clearly marked.

Jen Hatmaker says living the gospel life was simple according to Jesus:  love God and love people (see Matthew 22:36-40).  So I'm gonna work on these.  Each day I basically say, "God, what in the world does trusting You look like today?"  I'm learning what it means to love Him when He doesn't do what I wish He would do, when I am empty, when I don't understand, when we have a good day, when I get sleep, when I'm too tired for anything.  Oh, I love Him.  I'm practicing living out that love.

And the second most important commandment is to love people.  Sometimes that might look like church-organized events or ministries.  But sometimes that looks like taking my daughter to a birthday party and seeking out the one mom who doesn't know anybody else and drawing her into the conversation very deliberately so she knows she's welcome in our circle of friends.  That used to look like my family going to church on Wednesday nights so Jared and I could spend quality time praying for the people of our church while our kids participated in a Christian scouting program.  I love the Wednesday night crowd.  But now loving people looks like staying in on Wednesday nights so my kids can get a little time with their parents instead of being asked to listen and perform after a long day of school.  It's baking banana bread with my daughter while my boys play a game together.  It's getting my kids to bed at a decent time so we can all be more lovely on Thursday mornings.

We are slooooowwwly figuring out what our "new normal" is.  I'm still not a huge fan but I'm learning how to deal with it.  I still feel like I have dirty secrets (like not attending Wednesday night church) and like I wear some mark of shame for no longer being who I was.  However, I'm also discovering that the time I used to invest in my weekly lessons can be spent reading books like For the Love or even--gasp--fiction books!  I'm not as busy with school volunteer work, so I can get to work lifting up other moms at the school.  I'm focusing more on my family.  I'm listening to people rather than trying to earn their approval.

I'm learning who I am in Christ.  It's His approval that matters (ugh, will I ever learn this??).  He sees what my life looks like right now.  I don't have to explain to Him exactly what is so difficult about a kid with a headache.  He gets me.  Apparently He still has plans for me and they do not line up with my plans to wear pajamas all day, eat pure crap, and wait for life to change.  He is changing my course in order to shape me and use me.  He wants me to know that I am loved.  I am chosen.  I am redeemed.  I am clothed in righteousness.  I am His.  Every uptight part of me.

Jessica

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Modern Wreath

Yesterday I just wanted to do something, anything, to feel normal.  So I decided to tackle a craft.  And finish the heck out of that thing so I could feel like I accomplished something.

Inspired by this wreath that I recently spotted on Instagram, I made a new modern wreath for our front door.


I had some navy and white striped fabric left over from a previous project.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought two embroidery hoops, some heavy duty Heat & Bond, and some fake succulents.  I had the white ribbon on hand already.

I love succulents.  They're like a plant-flower hybrid.  I really want some live ones in my house.  But at least now I found an excuse to get some fake ones!


I decided to use an 18" embroidery hoop and a 12" hoop.  I just liked these proportions.

I started by laying the bigger hoop on my fabric and cutting a square of fabric that was a little bigger than the hoop.


Then I cut a matching size (ish) square of the Heat & Bond.


I followed the package instructions and ironed the Heat & Bond to the back of my fabric.  This isn't strictly necessary but it gives the fabric more thickness and stiffness.


The next step was to cut out a donut-shaped piece of my fabric.  Mmm donuts.

I chose to separate the two rings of my bigger embroidery hoop and trace around the inner ring.  You could also trace around the outer ring and just cut a little inside your line so your fabric doesn't hang outside the hoop.

I used a black pen on the white stripes and a white pencil on the navy stripes.  Because I'm fancy like that.

Next I traced my inner circle.  I laid the smaller hoop on the fabric and measured all around it to make sure it was centered.  C'mon people, you knew I would be obsessive.  I traced inside the small hoop and knew I'd have to cut just outside the line to avoid having fabric show in the middle of the wreath.


I cut out the fabric donut. 

My glue gun had been heating up while I was thinking about donuts cutting out the fabric.  I very carefully hot glued the embroidery hoops in their proper places.





You may have noticed that I chose to place the screw-clasp-closure-thingy on the very top of the big embroidery hoop and in the bottom right region of the smaller embroidery hoop.  I knew my succulents would cover said thingy on the smaller hoop.

I had picked up some random fake succulents from Hobby Lobby.  I used wire cutters to cut off the stems.  I played around with the arrangement and then hot glued them to my wreath.


I got a white ribbon from my endless hoard of ribbons and fed it between the two rings of the big embroidery hoop.  Luckily I hadn't glued them together.  I tied a pretty bow.  Then I realized that it would be slightly twisted if I hung it on my wreath hanger as-is.  So I grabbed a white pipe cleaner, fed it through the knot of the bow, twisted the ends, and made a ring.


That made it hand straight forward on my wreath hanger.  When I put it up on our front door, I had to retie the bow because the wreath hung too low.

Don't we wish that my front door was painted a fun color?

Yes, it's crooked in this picture.  Yes, I fixed it.  No, I didn't take a new picture.

So I accomplished something.  I did something creative for the first time in quite awhile.  It did come at a price.  When Nolan and I went to Hobby Lobby for these supplies, he was suffering with a colossal headache.  We had to stop three different times for him to lay down on the floor in Hobby Lobby.  While other shoppers and employees looked at us like we were loony.  But lying flat eased the pain and then we could make it through a few more aisles.  I felt terribly selfish for dragging him to Hobby Lobby.  But we are trying to get to a new normal where we don't just shut ourselves at home and lay around trying not to anger his pain.  So I made a wreath.  Apparently that is part of my new normal.

Jessica

Friday, March 25, 2016

Better

Last night I was discussing current events with my father-in-law.  The recent bombing in Brussels, Belgium, took place in an airport through which my husband has traveled many times.  It made me tense up with fear, realizing that my husband could have easily been one of the many injured or killed.

I have prayed so many times for God to take away the travel related to my husband's job.  God's answer has been, "No, but I will protect him."

I have prayed so so so many times for God to take away my son's constant pain related to his current health crisis.  God's answer has been, "No, but I will walk him through it."

Maybe God's answer is better than what I'm asking for.  Maybe His presence is better than smooth circumstances.  Maybe learning true faith is better than counterfeit calm.  Maybe relying on Him for survival is better than fooling myself into believing I've got everything under control.

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

"Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!"  Psalm 63:3

Jessica

Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Help Someone In Need

I am currently in one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  I've been through hard stuff before, but this is different hard.  I suppose I'd never grow if God only allowed me to experience difficulties I've already overcome.




My son has been in a health crisis for over three months.  Every single day and night.  We don't sleep and there are very few remnants of our previously normal daily life left.  I've had to withdraw from all my commitments and responsibilities, some that I was ready to release and some that left me with a stinging bareness.  

I've had to accept help.  I 100% love being a helper, and I 100% loathe being a helpee.  I have managed to resist help through all sorts of tough times.  But here I am in a new season where I don't have a choice but to allow others in.

I wanted to share with you what I have found most helpful in the help department.  Let's face it:  you're busy too.  If you are going to invest time, energy, and/or money into another person, you might as well maximize your efforts.

Please hear me.  This is critically important.  Any gesture of help--kind words, a text to check in, a hug, a meal, a ride, a gift card, a card in the mail, babysitting--is seen as an act of love.  You don't have to do things the "right" way.  I want to give you tips from my point of view, but I can tell you that I have appreciated every single anything that anyone has done for me or to me in order to help me on this journey.  

Don't be paralyzed by perfectionism.  Know that your heart will be appreciated every bit as much as your actions.

Helping Someone Emotionally

1.  Try to understand what the person is going through...

Take a moment to think about what the person is experiencing.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Imagine what they could be feeling.  Observe and ask questions.  Some people might like the chance to talk about what they're experiencing and some may be too tired to talk.

2.  ... But don't assume that you already understand.

You can sympathize with a person when you know enough about what they are going through.  But empathy comes from having experienced the same thing.  I have so many wonderful people who see my pain and exhaustion and reach out to me.  But I really connect with other parents who have actually experienced a child going through a health crisis.

I have also encountered many people who simply don't understand why our life is so difficult right now.  They know a tiny bit of information, assume they understand the situation, and make comments that do more harm than good.

Don't be afraid to say something like, "I don't fully understand what you're going through, but I can imagine that it must be difficult."

3.  Use personal experience to connect.

Maybe you haven't gone through the same exact circumstances before, but you likely have something in your arsenal of experiences that gives you some insight.  Briefly mention what it was, how it made you feel, and how it helps you understand this person.  You might say, "I haven't lost a parent, but my grandmother was extremely important to me.  When she died, I felt like the world was a different place without her in it.  I'm praying for comfort for you as you grieve the loss of your mom."

Sometimes opening up and telling how you felt in a hard time allows the other person to feel safe enough to share their feelings.  Be the first one to be vulnerable.  It's a great gift to offer.

Helping Someone Practically

1.  Take a meal.

This is one of the most common ways to help someone.  I often say that food is my love language.  I love to give people food they will enjoy.  It's just a fact of life that everyone eventually needs to eat, so it's a known need to meet.

Here are my favorite tips for taking someone a meal:
  • Use disposable dishes--foil pans, Ziploc or Glad containers, zip top bags.  Stress that you do not need any containers returned to you.  Let them off the hook of washing extra dishes and returning them.  Bonus points for bringing paper plates, plastic forks, and plastic cups for the actual meal to be eaten on/with.
  • Be on time.  Tell the person when you're coming with the meal and then try your best to be there at that time.  You don't want hungry kids getting impatient or a nursing mother trying to hold a baby off until after guests have come.
  • Ask about food allergies and special dietary restrictions.  No sense in taking a meal that can't be eaten.  You can also keep components of a meal separated for anyone who is picky.
  • Offer homemade meal choices.  You might offer two or three meals that are favorites or easy to make and ask which one would be most enjoyed by the person or family.
  • Offer restaurant choices.  I had someone send me a text saying they wanted to bring me dinner and asked what restaurant is our favorite for take-out.  Sometimes it's easier on everyone if you simply pick up food from a restaurant where everyone already knows what they like.
  • Offer day choices.  There's a fine balance between being bossy enough to nudge the person into accepting your help and still being sensitive.  The best way to handle the balance with meals goes something like this:  "I would love to bring you a meal this week.  I can do Monday, Thursday, or Friday.  Which day works for you?"  Then the person doesn't have to decide if they'll accept a meal, simply when that help would be most convenient.
  • Inject something healthy.  I love me some comfort food, but sometimes I need to eat something that's good for my body.  A friend recently brought us a delicious salad with all sorts of yummy healthy ingredients.  It was awesome.  She also brought a big bowl of strawberries, which are my kids' favorite.  It felt so good to have fruits and vegetables, especially when I can't get out for fresh produce.
  • Give a meal for later.  You can bring a meal for their freezer that can be eaten on whatever day they choose.  You can also give a gift card for a restaurant that delivers.  
  • Make the same meal for yourself.  It's easy to make a double batch of a meal and simply put it in two pans.  Add the same side dishes and the same dessert (of course!) and you've got both families covered.  Or purchase your own dinner from the same restaurant when you order dinner for the person/family in need.
2.  Do some shopping.

One of my friends regularly texts me to let me know when she's on her way to Walmart or the grocery store.  I tell her whatever items I need and pay her back when she delivers them.  This has been extremely helpful.  She always seems to text right when we have a critical item or two that we really need.  I've never given anyone my full grocery list, but I'm so happy to get what we absolutely need.

3.  Run errands.

This is the same idea as getting someone's groceries.  You could let the person know when you are going to run your own errands and ask what they need.  It's easier to accept the help when they know you already have to be out for your own errands.  When a family is in crisis (or recovering from surgery or adjusting to a new baby), they might not be able to do things like return library books or pick up dry cleaning.  You can clear these things off their to-do list while you're tackling your own.

4.  Clean--with caution.

This one is tricky, am I right ladies?  Every woman wants a spotless house, but we all feel like we have to present a perfectly clean house to anyone who comes into our home.  We are a clean-before-the-cleaning-lady-comes breed.   So this one requires some sensitivity.  There are only a few people I will allow to see my house as it really is and even fewer I would allow to help me clean it.

Alternative ideas:  Clean someone's car, rake leaves, mow grass.  Stick to outdoor spaces or limited areas to avoid shame for the person who hasn't been able to clean.

5.  Provide a ride.

You might drive someone to appointments simply to give them a little time off from driving.  Or offer to pick up or drop off kids.  When Nolan is having a really bad day, my friend will pick up my other two children from school and bring them to my house.  This spares me from having to drag Nolan out when he is in pain, and it also saves me from feeling like I have to put on my happy mask in front of the other school parents.  I've had another friend pick up homework and papers from the office of Nolan's school when she's there to pick up her own son.  It saves me a trip and gives us what we need.

6.  Babysit.

I have had friends stay with Nolan for an hour so I can go volunteer at the school for one of my other kids' classes.  Family members have watched our kids so Jared and I can have a date.  I even accepted an offer from someone who stayed with all three kids so I could run a few errands by myself.  Sometimes I need someone to run the errands, and sometimes I just need a minute outside this house by myself!  You can offer similar babysitting depending on the situation.

7.  Manage communications.

When Nolan was in the hospital, my friend Michele created a group text including a bunch of our friends.  I would text Michele our updates, and she would copy the update and send it to the group.  It allowed me to send one text and still reach the group.  Michele fielded their follow-up questions and gracefully accepted their suggestions.  I was busy talking to doctors and nurses and taking phone calls and texts from family members.

Maybe you can help update a particular group of people.  Maybe help manage a Caring Bridge page or Facebook updates.  Organize a meal calendar or rides to chemo or dialysis or appointments.  Be the one to let others know when there's a need they can fill.

8.  Maintain their car.  

Have you ever had your gas light come on when you're already running late and don't have time to stop?  When a person is going through a difficult time, they're not thinking about things like getting an oil change.  If you have time, park your car at the person's house, ask for their keys, and take their car in for maintenance.  You can bring along a book or work or Bible study homework.  When you return the car and keys, let the person know that you enjoyed the wait time for leisure or catching up on work.  

9.  Complete home repairs.

My brother recently came over and fixed a plumbing issue we've had for way too long.  Between Nolan's situation and Jared's work schedule, we just couldn't get to it.  Thankfully, my brother had the skills and patience to figure out the problem, and he took the time to come over and fix it.  We are still delighted every single day to notice that the problem is not there.  Maybe you have skills you can offer.  Clean out gutters, fix a leak, paint, drywall, fix a roof, hang a shelf.  Do whatever is unfinished or undone that may bring a little more peace to the person's home.

It's the Little Things

Don't think you have to make a big gesture in order to have a big impact.  I'm a girl who loves the little things.  Try these simple ideas.
  • Send a text.  I always love a quick text from someone, whether it's to check in and ask how things are going or to offer words of encouragement.  
  • Send a card.  Oh how I love the written word, especially when it is literally hand-written.  You can pick up a nicely worded card and sign your name or get a cheap blank card and write your own message. 
  • Offer a Bible verse.  Pray for the person and ask God for a verse.  You can use any form of communication to send the verse (text, email, card, Facebook, even Pinterest or Instagram).  This is also a favorite of mine when people give me a verse of encouragement.
  • Reach out and touch someone.  Some days there's nothing you can do to help but a hug can bring comfort.  If it's appropriate for the relationship, rub the person's back.  They probably have built up tension that you can help relieve.
  • Bring a coffee.  Get one for you and one for the person in need.  Tell them you're going and just need to know their order.  That offer is hard to resist.  Maybe grab a donut too.

A Few More Tips
  • You don't have to pay for everything.   Tell the person upfront that you'd be happy to get their groceries/dry cleaning/gas/prescription and they can write you a check when you deliver the goods.  This helps eliminate the awkwardness.
  • You will say, "Let me know if there's anything I can do," and they will likely never let you know.  That sentiment is still received as heartfelt support, but it also puts the responsibility on the other person to reach out to you.  So pick something to do, and do it.
  • Be real.  Be honest.  Show up with no makeup on.  Wear grubby clothes when you stop by.  Let them see your home when it's not perfect.  Let your imperfections show so they know they don't have to hide theirs with you.
  • Keep checking.  Needs change.  People always have to eat again.  Groceries run low yet again.  There are set backs and celebrations.  You can participate in different ways as their journey changes course.
  • Never underestimate the power of humor.  Sometimes there's nothing to do but laugh.  The more stressed I feel, the more sarcastic I become.  Sometimes a joke or funny card or meme can break the tension and lighten someone's mood.
Happy helping!

Jessica

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Broken Trust

Broken.

I just felt broken.

My son Nolan, who has had digestive issues for three years, has now had a headache for 35 days straight.  It's been more painful at times and less painful at times, but he has not been pain-free for 35 days.

We've been to every professional at our pediatrician's office except for our actual pediatrician.  We've been to the Emergency Department at the hospital.  I've lost track of how many times we've called and talked to nurses.

No one has helped us.

Then I got hit hard with a virus (I'm assuming influenza).  I've been in and out of sleep, day and night.  My husband has been working long hours and has had to be gone every evening.

Last night Nolan was up multiple times throughout the night, clutching his head, in too much pain to sleep.  I have devoted the last decade of my life to taking care of this boy and giving him whatever he needs to be healthy, safe, and thriving.  And for the last 35 days, he has come to me and I have not been able to help him.

So this morning as I drove my other children to school in my minivan that had one tire low on air and faulty heat in the midst of our frigid winter, I felt broken.

For just a moment, I started to angrily lash out at God.  You know what's causing all this.  Why aren't you doing anything?

But I made my choice to trust Him, no matter how Nolan feels.  So I kept praying.  I trust you.  I know you never allow your children to experience pain without a purpose.  I know you're doing something and I don't have to understand it.

All throughout my crazy morning, the same sentence kept repeating in my mind.


Seek His presence more than His power.

Once all the younger kids were safely at school (and I had taken Nora's forgotten gym shoes to her and put air in my bum tire), I left Nolan clutching his head while eating breakfast.  I went in my bedroom and closed the door.  And I got ready to seek God's presence.

For me, praise and worship music is the vehicle through which I most easily connect with God's presence.  So I pulled out my trusty smart phone to play music. 

Every time I've gone through a difficult season of life, God has given me a song to help me through that time.  The song He has chosen for The Nolan Headache Battle is Trust in You by Lauren Daigle. 

I first heard this song on Pandora a few weeks ago, and I instantly loved it.  A friend who has been praying for us sent me the lyrics to this song on the day we were at the hospital with Nolan for some testing.  Today when I turned on my phone to praise God, that song was the first to start playing on Pandora.

God is good.

The chorus of the song says:
When you don't move the mountains I'm needing you to move
When you don't part the waters I wish I could walk through
When you don't give the answers as I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you
You can view all of the lyrics here.  You can also listen to the song here:

I sang and cried and raised my hands to God right there in my bedroom.  The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people, and I gave Him a place to fill today.

It's not that I don't still feel broken.  I just know God is holding my pieces.  And He knows how to put them back together.

Jessica

Monday, January 11, 2016

Today's Time: Badge Removal

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  sometimes it's really hard to explain where my time goes.

For example, let me tell you what I did with today's time.

I've been down for two days with the flu.  I'm talking down like I don't think I have the energy to get up and pee.  The problem is that I really don't just sit.  Or lay.  Ever.

So today I pulled out a project that could be done from a sitting/reclining position since that's all my flu-ridden body would allow me to do.  I've been working on this project on and off for a few months.

These are Caravan sashes and scarves:


What's Caravan, you ask?  It's a Christian-based scouting program that takes place at our church on Wednesday evenings during the school year.  Kids earn badges that are added to their sashes and scarves.

Those sashes and scarves and badges cost a lot of money for the church.  Another church donated two boxes of used sashes and scarves to our church.  So I was given the task of removing all the badges.

I'm stripping these babies for parts.

Roughly 30-40% of the donated items had current badges on them, and the rest have outdated badges that can no longer be used.  But we could really use the sashes and scarves once the outdated badges are removed.

Some of the badges were hand-sewn on.  More were machine-sewn on.  I can use my seam ripper to remove the stitching and ultimately the badges.  Then I have to pick all the little threads off the badges and sash/scarf.

Some of the badges were hot glued on.  These peel off fairly easily and leave behind a white-ish shadow where the glue was.  Other badges were applied with some sort of mystery adhesive.  Some of these leave behind a thin shiny layer.  Others require Hulk strength to pull off and leave behind a thick rubbery glue.


A few of the sashes had badges that had been safety pinned to them.  These just required time and diligence to not give myself tetanus.

It's slow going.  It makes all my fingertips bruised from pulling on every badge and thread.  It makes my fingernails rough and broken and split.


It also occasionally does this to my seam ripper:

If you are not a seamstress, you may not realize that this is missing two parts that snapped off.
I have to take a break until my fingers heal and I get a new seam ripper.  Then I'll tackle the remaining 19 scarves (yes I counted).

I now have a bag of badges that can be reused:


A bag of badges that can no longer be used:


And a stack of stripped sashes and scarves that need to somehow have the adhesive removed:


So...does anyone know how to remove mystery adhesive and hot glue residue from fabric?  If so, PLEASE leave me some advice in the comments!  I'll be asking the Google for help on this one, but I'd rather hear from actual people.  If I can't get these sashes and scarves clean in order to be passed on to kids in our church, then all my hard work (and sacrificed fingernails and seam rippers) will be for nothing!

Now my nighttime cold medicine is kicking in and my head is getting fuzzy.  Does that make anyone else think of Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail?  If so, we should be friends.  Or we probably already are.

Ok, time to lay back down.  And find something to do while I'm resting.

Jessica