Do You Ever Feel Like You Don’t Do Enough for God?

Lately, I’ve been feeling this.  Although I quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom again, to homeschool my kids, and to take care of my family AND to write novels for Him, it just seems like the day-to-day drags me down and when I go to pray at the end of the night and I review the day in my head, it seems as if nothing is done for Him.  Anyone else feel this?

Maybe it’s just because I feel like I have so much more to do than cleaning my toilets, emptying the trash, picking up dog poop, running my kids here, there and everywhere, etc.  Admittedly, I don’t get much time to myself and what time I do get I’m either here blogging or at my CrossFit box.

I have to tell myself, “I am doing His work,” like a mantra.  If I could remember that (and praying throughout my day), I think the mundane wouldn’t feel so mundane after all.  What do you all think?

I Got a Massage!

My Thoughts were as Serene as a Snowfall
My Thoughts were as Serene as a Snowfall

Yesterday, I got a massage.

I had hurt my back somehow doing Group Power on Monday.  I iced my back, but it was still tight.

I asked my husband to rub my back, but he gave up.

Finally, I decided:  I need a professional!

It has been years since I’ve had a massage.  It’s just an extravagance I normally don’t indulge in.  Like getting my hair done…

But it was so worth it!

My back feels so much better.  I could feel the knots in my back as she worked them out.  I lay for one hour, not moving, not having kids demand to be fed or the dog demand to be watered or any other distraction.  And now I feel awesome.

Granted, it hurts.  But it’s supposed to hurt if the job was done right.

I got tips to do at home when it happens again.  And I was sent away with a glass of water.

It was a good reminder that sometimes a little pampering is needed in this harried world that never stops.  TLC can go a long way to reducing stress and for me pain.

Maybe I’ll do this more often.  I definitely left taller than when I entered.  And to me that was worth every dime!

The Day I Realized I Was Ordinary…

…I was pretty depressed.

I had all these dreams of doing something great with my life.  Something noteworthy.  Something extraordinary.  Something big and exciting and unusual.

Then I realized my little life will always be little.

A mom of three kids and some dogs and cats and little else.

I pretend I do other things:  write novels or work a job or play guitar or exercise or be a “Mom who has it all”.

In reality, I don’t want to do any of these things.

It’s all work and I don’t want to work.

Trying to figure out your calling is a challenge.  One I don’t want to do anymore.

I pulled a muscle yesterday.  I realized I’m getting older and my body won’t last forever.

I pissed off some people on my daughter’s soccer team because of another fee I didn’t realize I had to pay and I had the nerve to question it.  I had to apologize for my lack of understanding and secretly vow the end of soccer which is all political bull####.

I woke up this morning.  Made my husband’s lunch.  Did the dishes.  Blogged a bit.  Kissed my husband good-bye and thanked him for earning a living because I am obviously a dysfunctional member of society and would be incapable of surviving in the working world.

This is when it hit me:  yep, I’m ordinary.  Nothing about my life stands out or is even worthy to be remembered.

Don’t tell me I can live an ordinary life in an extraordinary manner.  I’ve heard this enough in my lifetime.

I do realize I am blessed because I know God and Jesus.  Yes, I get that…

But beyond all of that, when it comes down to it, I’m just one person of 7 billion on the planet. Eking out a living and living out an eking…

It’s not a happy day to say the least.  Maybe it will take off some of the pressure I feel to be extraordinary although knowing myself I believe I will always be striving for extraordinary despite my new-found knowledge.

In my kids’ eyes and pets’ eyes, I am extraordinary.  I don’t deserve to be…

Well, I must end this rumination as my ordinary life calls.  It’s trash day, and I must get my trash can out and ready for pick-up.  The dogs need fed.  The kids will be getting up shortly.  And I’m out of coffee…

I’d Rather Be Reading Than Having My Nails Done…

Last week, we were on vacation.

My husband on a whim decided to paint my nails.

I agreed–ignorantly.

I didn’t know how long it would take to have your nails painted.  Well, I had finally had a chance to begin reading a book for myself (a rare occurrence) called City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare and I was itching to get back to it.  The problem:  I couldn’t move for almost half an hour.  I would have drummed my fingers if possible…

I’m definitely not a girly-girl and while I don’t mind having my nails painted, it’s something that I don’t particularly care for and would rather be doing something else.

Nails Done!
Nails Done!

My husband did an awesome job (note the cross on the thumb nail!) and now I am all painted.  I returned to my book in due course and my husband discovered a hidden talent.

All’s well in the world again…

God’s Reason for the Flu

We all know the medical reason for the flu:  our body catches a virus which are tiny microorganisms that infect the body and our body then has to fend it off.  This builds the immune system and is in general just a part of life.

But did you ever think what God’s reason is for the flu?

I have the flu/cold.  I had to leave work and come home.  At home, I took some medicine and took a nap.  Then my lap cat jumped up on my lap and I petted her for a while.

Later, I took a bath with my husband.  I got out and the kids got in.  My husband stayed in and told stories of his childhood to the kids.  All kinds of stories about hunting when he was young, chasing his younger brother, the story of all of his scars, the various places he lived when he was a child, etc.

The house is a disaster.  I need to pick up dog poop.  Laundry and dishes are piling up.

My Lap Cat
My Lap Cat

Yet here I lay, in bed, with my lap cat by my side, nudging me every now and then to pet her, as I listen to my husband tell the kids of how we met.

God’s reason for illness I believe is rest.  It’s truly the only time I stop and rest.  There’s always something to do–something demanding my attention.  But when I’m sick it all can wait.  And I can just rest in Him.  Pray for healing. Thank Him for the rest.  And it’s okay.  No one will judge me because of it.  And truthfully no one will care.

Everything can wait.  Until I am better.

I can rest.  In Him.  Experience Him. In my messy house.  In the tales of my family.  In the love of my cat.  In the blessings I now have time to count.

And God’s reasoning is unfathomable.

And in this case, I am glad.

Whatever Happened to Thanksgiving?

I’m shopping the Halloween clearance racks at the major chain stores and notice the Christmas stuff right next to it.  I immediately thought, Where’s the Thanksgiving stuff?

So I started shopping around for it and after walking around for a bit I found one aisle off by itself with mainly tea towels and table decorations of turkeys and owls.  Not much else.

Is it just me or does Thanksgiving seem to be skipped?

Did you know Halloween is the second most lucrative “holiday” for retailers after Christmas?   $7  billion dollars worth of Halloween paraphernalia is sold.  Christmas does about $450 billion.

Thanksgiving?  A mere….footnote before Christmas.  Consumers spend $30 billion at Thanksgiving.  More than Halloween, right?  Yes, but not as profitable because the money spent at Thanksgiving is mostly food, which does not carry as high of a mark-up as Halloween items do; hence, it’s less profitable.

Shame, isn’t it?

It’s a shame that the “holiday” (although in my opinion Halloween is not a holiday) of Halloween is so celebrated in this culture.  93 % of children elementary age go trick-or-treating.  That is a HUGE number!  That is more than the percentage of the population who celebrate Christmas.

Sad….very, very sad.

How what began as a pagan celebration has now evolved into one of the most celebrated “holidays” in the United States.

I myself can’t stand Halloween.  We do not celebrate it.  My kids don’t trick-or-treat.  (The origin of the phrase is from those who actually used to play pranks on others–and not so nice pranks).  It drives me nuts.

The only reason I like Halloween is for the half-off merchandise the day after.  For years, my kids have gotten all of their dress-up clothes at these sales which I then save for Christmas presents.  We also get some candy half-off as well.

So after the windfall of Halloween, the greedy retailers then turn to Christmas, the biggest shopping season of the year.  Fine.  They have to turn a profit as well.

But Thanksgiving seems to be skipped.  It just doesn’t sell.  Is this because of the retailers or because of us consumers who put greater emphasis on Christmas?  You can be the judge of that.

We must take the time to be grateful for Christmas.  A holiday that gave us Christ, our Lord and Savior, and without which we would be nothing.

The Pilgrims and the Puritans had it right.  We must give thanks to God for our bounty throughout the year.  And it should be more important than a day that involves dressing up as scary monsters and zombies and scaring your relatives.  After all, Christmas is a national holiday; Halloween isn’t.

My point to this rant is this:  we should not allow Thanksgiving to be squeezed out of our memory.  We should be grateful every day for being alive every day.  We need to take more than one day to thank Him for everything He has given us.  And we need to focus on our gifts from Him instead of what gifts we can buy on Black Friday.

Thanksgiving deserves a more honored place in our society.  More so than Halloween.  I think in most people’s hearts it does.  But if one is not careful, thanks and giving will be squeezed between candy and Santa.

What Makes Life Suddenly STOP…

Today I was driving into town on an average day full of errands:  library, bank, and the grocery store.  I was a bit ticked off at the husband who wouldn’t wait on me and left the house about 30 minutes beforehand.  And he forgot to take the rent check.

So I dropped off the rent check and pulled out of the landlord’s driveway.  I quickly sped up to 55 mph and spotted something in the road up ahead.  As I got closer, I noticed it was a bird of prey.  I positioned my vehicle for the bird to pass under my truck and in-between my tires so I wouldn’t hit it.  I thought it was dead.

After I passed, I looked in my rear-view window and I saw the bird flapping its wings wildly.

It was alive!

I did what I hoped most would do:  I stopped, turned around, and went back.

Admittedly, I have done this before; but not with a bird-of-prey.  But a baby bird in the road I wanted to save.

Something deep inside of me has a heart for animals and I can’t stand to see them suffer. I almost became a vet except my heart bleeds when animals die.

I drove back towards her, praying another car would not hit her.  I saw her mate who flew down but didn’t land due to a passing vehicle.

I pulled over across from the bird and got out.

I approached.  It wasn’t moving.

Female or Juvenile Northern Harrier
Female or Juvenile Northern Harrier

I gently picked her up (for indeed it was a female or a juvenile as I just discovered on the internet).

I thought she’d claw me or try to fight.

But she didn’t.

She just looked at me.  Immobile in my hands. Completely at my mercy.  Helpless.

It was almost as if she was relieved.

To be off the road.  And in safe hands.

She was soft.

And insanely beautiful.

Now what? I thought.

I had just wanted to move her to the side of the road.

But I couldn’t leave her now that I saw she needed help.

I gently placed her in my back-seat floorboard.

I googled on my phone the local raptor rescue group and called.

They were open and they’d take her.

Phew, I thought.  Now she might make it.

I knew exactly where this rescue place was.  I had been there many times before to show my kids the rescued birds.

I drove the bird there.  I briefly worried she would fly around my car or try to escape while I was driving.  Instead, she merely tucked her head and sat–grateful, it seemed.

“It appears to be a Northern Harrier,” the gentleman who picked her up from my truck told me.

“She didn’t fight me,” I said.

He confirmed my suspicions: that wasn’t a good sign.

He took her immediately to the back to be examined.

I filled out some paperwork and received a case number so I could call in 48 hours to check on her status.

How amazing.

As the lady thanked me, I instead thanked her and slipped her a $20.

For I had almost been in tears when I had picked that bird up.

The rescue lady was doing me a favor as well as the bird.

Granting a second-chance at life that we all so very-much deserve.

Just like Jesus has for all of us.

She is in good hands! (And I pray God's!)
She is in good hands!
(And I pray God’s as well!)

Northern Harriers are birds that fly low to the ground, hunting their prey in open fields.

Easily able to get hit by a passing motorist.

Unlike most birds-of-prey, the males are distinct from the females.  The males are grey.  The females and the juveniles are brown.

I feel God put me there, at that moment, not long after the bird had been hit, to save it.  If nothing else, to at least not let it lie in the road, in fear and panic, awaiting the next hit that would end its life.

For I knew what to do.  Maybe the one who hit it (and the others who passed by) didn’t.

For in that moment, what I had been thinking about, where I had been going, my anger, my frustrations at life–every minor thing that was passing through my brain–STOPPED.

I became focused on this bird and getting it help.  Everything else could wait.

After I dropped her off, I went about my errands and my day.

But I was different.

Not angry.  Or frustrated.

But privileged it seems.

To help God’s creatures when they cannot help themselves.  Especially when its injuries were caused by man’s inventions.

We are all custodians of life.

Life great and small.

And I shall forever remember my brief encounter with this seemingly insignificant bird.

Who is gorgeous and majestic, strong yet precious.

And who might have been overlooked on any other day as it flew along the winds in amazing grace…

But for some reason our paths crossed.

And I feel connected to that bird in the ten minutes it sat quietly in my truck.  Resting…

And I pray it will return to its mate and fly again.

Right where God put it to begin with.

Right where it belongs…

Please support your local raptor rescue group.  Most are non-profits who do it for the love of the birds.

For you never know when one day you will be called upon to help.  And you will need a place to go.

I Am Lost…

I actually googled this and nothing helpful came up so I thought I’d write about it…

"Hey, is this the right place?!"
“Hey, is this the right place?!”

I am lost.

And depressed.

I don’t know which direction to go. Which direction God wants me to go.

I get up in the mornings….lost.

I have no desire to write.

So I toot around on the Internet for a bit.

Then I look around the house for all those miscellaneous projects to do that I never usually make time to do.

Then I do them.

Then I’m lost again.

I think about this time last year and my life was in turmoil:  we were moving.

Today, it’s in turmoil; just in a different way.

Life always seems like this to me.  Just when things seem to be on the uptake, it falls.

The specific contributing factors change.  Today it’s how my husband’s new job is not what he thought it would be.  How we’ve burned through $10,000 in savings in the last few months just paying the bills (and, yes, buying up guns–we are one of THOSE people). And how the book I spent 2 years of my life working on is once again going nowhere and is a pages file on my computer.

So where do I go from here?

My husband wants me to find a way to make money online.  Not all that easy.

Me?  I’d rather get a real job again.  It’s easier.

I’d rather write.

But every time I sit down to write, nothing comes out.

Frustrating.

And so far I haven’t earned one dime from my writings.

I just had a birthday and I think, What do I got to show for all these years on earth?

Kids aside, not much.

And I know in one year circumstances will change.

But it will be something else…

And will I always have this lost feeling?

And I’m not talking spiritual here.  For I know God.

I am lost in a different way…

A way I pray will not be there next year…

Why Holidays Are a Nuisance…

Unless you are a government or bank employee, holidays are more of a nuisance to us lay people.

1)  You have to wait an extra day to go to the doctor, dentist, or vet (unless you want to pay the exorbitant urgent care fees and after-hour fees).

2)  Because government offices are shut down, private businesses have to wait an extra day to get permits and such, stalling production and having employees have a day with no extra money in their pocket.

3)  The day AFTER the holiday, no one wants to go to a bank or government offices such as the DMV because the lines will be long and cumbersome.  And no one wants to return to work who had the day off because the day after a holiday is non-stop insanity, trying to make up the day.  (I DID have a life BC (before children) where I worked in a bank so I do know!).

4)  The kids are out of school.  This is a huge problem for working parents who are not fortunate enough to have the day off who now have to hire a baby-sitter or pay for a day-long camp.  Plus, like it or not, all these little holidays add up to an extra week of school since most states stipulate number of days kids must be in school.  This prolongs the school year to June in some cases or causes schools to start earlier in August.

5)  The Post Office is closed.  No receiving mail.  No sending mail.

6)  It compartmentalizes causes, in effect diminishing them, by squeezing all activities and commemorations into a 24 hour time-span.  Basically, by declaring “today is the day for…”, it implies every other day is not.

And this is just the US.

It’s similar in other countries.

Take England for example.  They have holidays called “Bank Holidays”. This is now a colloquial term for all public holidays but to foreigners like me I had presumed it was for no other reason than banks wanted a holiday.  Well, don’t we all, I thought at the time.  Still, the misnomer is confusing and seems to just be days off from work.

Then there’s Spain.  The whole month of August is a virtual holiday as most family-owned businesses shut down and go on vacation.  This is bad news for those foreign students moving there in summer for the fall semester.  This means most private businesses are shut down, no one is renting apartments, etc.  Nothing gets done.  If you want food, you usually have one choice:  El Corte Ingles.  And good luck if there’s not one near you.  The city is a virtual ghost town (and small towns are even worse) and the only ones walking around are tourists (who have no where to go!).

[Disclaimer:  this is based off of when I lived in Spain 15 years ago.  I have read that the month has been shortened to 2-3 weeks because of tourists and it may not be as bad as I make it out.  However, it was bad when I arrived!].

I am in NO WAY discounting what these holidays commemorate.  Trust me, I am the first to thank the soldiers who sacrifice their lives for our freedom (both of my grandfathers and several uncles served).  And I love the Fourth of July, which celebrates our country’s independence.

What I am saying is this: despite all the altruistic reasons to celebrate these causes they often cause inconveniences and have unforeseen repercussions.

We should be grateful every day for our independence and for soldiers who fought for it.  We should remember our troops and their families every day of the year.  We should be grateful every day (and not need Thanksgiving as one day to force us to be grateful) for what God provides for us.  We should remember Christ’s birth every day and thank God for sending Jesus.  We should remember our Presidents and Martin Luther King.

Point being:  we shouldn’t need the federal government to step in and pick a random day that says, “This day we will force Americans to celebrate such-and-such”.  And then the private sector gets involved and even the most noble causes become secularized (particularly Christmas and Thanksgiving–both meant to thank God for His provision and His son and are now reasons that are set on the back-burner).

[And I’m not even going to rant about non-official “holidays” such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, etc.  That is for another post.  Suffice it to say the principle remains the same.  I, as a mother, should be appreciated every day of the year and not just one!].

On the flip side, the good thing about holidays is they do force us Americans who are crazy busy to take a break and remember (at least for one day) our blessings, those who served our country and changed it for the better, and be thankful for it.  One day is better than none.  One prayer is better than none.

So, what does this say about our society?  I’ll let you be the judge…

Personally, this Memorial Day, I will be home with the kids and dogs, hopefully playing outside if the weather is nice.  I shall have to wait until Tuesday for my dentist appointment and to call my vet about my dog (who coincidentally is having teeth problems as well).  I will pray for our current troops and take a moment to remember the fallen.

But it will be a day just like any other in my life–one I shall try to live as Jesus would: prayerfully and thankfully, purposefully and for others, shining God’s Holy Spirit to the world.  In accordance with God’s will.  Always and forever.