29 March 2016

The Village

**I started this post several weeks ago, and now I am finally posting it . . . **

In the midst of this first week month (**2 months) with Mike gone, the outpouring of support has been amazing and I have been so touched by all the phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, Facebook comments, and friends helping out.

A wonderful friend invited us over to dinner Saturday night, the night Mike left (so grateful for this! It really helped to take my mind off the fact that Mike had just flown away for what seems an immense amount of time). Another amazing friend met us at the park for a hug on the way back from the airport.  A sweet friend dropped off some beautiful flowers on Monday. My next door neighbor brought up my trash can for me. A friend made 4 mason jar salads at a salad party for me to have for lunch each day. Another friend brought dinner over another night. A friend listened at a gymnastics make up lesson on a really, really, super-awful-no-good-very-bad day. Another friend brought another meal on a different day. So many friends have given hugs and encouraging words. Another wonderful friend brought some chocolate, an Italian soda, and flowers to the park for Valentines Day. Our home-school community at Classical Conversations has set up a meal plan for us, which I am so thankful for. On super crazy, chaotic days spent balancing school, emotional children, and getting everything else done, not having to worry about what I'm going to fix for dinner is heavenly.

These expressions of friendship, support, caring, and love have helped me in this transition so much - especially since the kids are having such a hard time. My friends have surrounded me with love and support, showing me that I am not alone, that I have help, and that I can smile when I face the day, that I can do this, I can get through this.

It really reminded me that in a culture where independence is valued so highly, sometimes it really does take a village to help a person get through life - be it a day, or a season, or the entire thing. Humans are not made to walk this journey alone - we need fellowship. With fellowship comes support.

We are each given a burden in life to carry - taking care of ourselves, our spouses, our family. But sometimes life gives bigger burdens - the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, a deployment or remote tour, an especially overwhelming season (maybe having a lot of tiny humans enter into the world in rapid succession). When those times come, and your community comes alongside you, and wraps their loving arms around, you realize that you are not alone.

For me, feeling the beauty, love, and support of my friends as they came alongside me has been humbling. I feel that I can face this remote tour with greater confidence because I know that I am not alone.

I feel as though I cannot adequately express my gratitude for my sweet, cherished friends who have come beside me in this. Of course my friends cannot replace my husband, but friends are the family that we chose.

Galatians 6:2 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Life apart

I'm on my fourth cup of tea today, the kids started their morning with peeps and chocolate kisses, while watching the Magic School Bus and Wild Kratts, and that's pretty much going to be our day. (For the record, I did make strawberry banana pancakes for breakfast with Candian bacon.)

Because sometimes life just bowls you over, and it feels as if there is no other recourse.

Of course, some other recourse probably exists, but when you're exhausted from being woken up around midnight by a little one, and it took three and a half (or more) hours to fall back asleep, it just doesn't seem like it.

I wrote, back on New Year's Day, that my goal for this year has been to thrive, not just survive, and I can tell you that there has been no thriving going on this house since Mike left. We have totally been in survival mode, holed up in our heavy routine of school, therapy, and activities, and  honestly, I just don't have the energy to look outward and see more.

I knew that this year apart would be hard, but honestly, I have been completely taken by surprise at how hard it has been. You see, I thought it would be better for the kids and I have to have a break from Mike, with his focus on career and school (and resultant lack of time spent outside of the office and garage), his anger, and his isolation. Only it hasn't worked out that way.

Turns out God knew exactly what He was doing when He created the family unit, and even though those attitudes exist, the kids need their Dad. They need him on a deep, emotional and spiritual level that I don't think realized quite existed. To me, this only highlights the tragedy of families without a Dad - because of death, divorce or abandonment - and underscores the important of the father figure in the home. Their little emotional cores are off kilter, and the result has been a plethora of a disobedience, regression, anger, and sadness. Which is, of course, mostly directed at me, simply because I am present. It has been a slow process to get back to where we were before Mike left.

Also blind-siding has been the realization of the depth of my need for Mike. Not in an emotional, lovey-dovey, kind of way. But in a more practical sense - the other half of the parental team, the other adult in the house, the head of the house hold, whether he wants that role or not. And the deeper implication in the spiritual sense - the other half of the one-flesh, the leader in the home.

That "two flesh shall become one" is no light thing. The repercussions that pervade all areas of life, good and bad, after the union of two people is far greater than I knew or realized. No matter how I feel about Mike, and he about me, we remain joined together, soul and spirit - indeed we have become enmeshed. It's supposed to be like this, of course, in the Biblical sense. Why it has to be so tortuous I cannot fathom.

Mike and I have been through some hard times in our marriage. Some really hard times. We have seen friend's marriages fall apart and end in divorce when going through similar situations, but we have also seen friend's marriages survive and go on to thrive. We have done neither; we have simply continued to exist as a couple, carried by the momentum of life, struggling to stay afloat, riding out the monster of hard feelings of unforgiveness and hard-heartedness that rise from the dark deep to surface on occasion. For the record, we are both guilty of those things.

And now he is out of the picture, physically. Unfortunately, for me, I cannot kill the need to be loved by my husband, and thus I find myself on the end of a yo-yo, being strung along by the occasional reaching out in love, and then waiting expectantly, and hopefully, for more, which does not come, until at last I find myself ready to say goodbye, give up, and turn my back on the whole relationship, and then another letter comes, or a loving prayer written down, or a tidbit of encouragement, and that terrible bright hope rises up inside of me, hope I cannot suppress, cannot squelch, cannot kill, and it all begins again. And I feel I live upon the precipice of emotional turmoil, and my soul lives in constant juxtaposition of hoping for love and trying not to love, indeed even to hate at times, the man to which I find myself married.

I am at a loss as to what to do, except to reach out to the Lord, to let Him be my husband, to love me and cherish me and fill the gap that my husband leaves behind, unwittingly.

In the wake of all these feelings, I have found myself face-to-face with the weight of my own sin - unforgiveness, anger, envy, hate, pride, disrespect and more. The Bible tells Christians to put off all of these things, and through study, prayer, and fellowship I have been trying to peel off the layers of sin and keep them off. For every layer removed, another surfaces, although it seems to be fractionally smaller. Hopefully anyway.

I see the hand of the Lord in all this pain and turmoil, and I know He is working on me. The only thing that gets in the way is myself - my own feelings when I put my focus on Mike, wanting to do things my way, wanting to run away, failing to seek the Lord on a daily, or hourly, basis. My lack of self-control is rather appalling, but when a person lets things go wild for so long, what can one expect?

When the Lord begins to move His words from an intellectual knowledge to a heart knowledge, those ten inches can seen insurmountable. I think of verses I have had memorized for so long, like Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path."

In all ways. In the pain of marriage. The bitterness of regret. The complete dismantling of any and all expectations for every aspect of life - learning to lean on Him in everything, even when you can't see around the next bend. Hard to live by, so hard. But you know, Jesus is right there to walk with me every step of the way. To comfort me when tears are streaming down my face as I beg and cry out to be released from the situation. To plant that minuscule seed of hope inside my soul that grows and insists on making its' presence known, no matter how dark things get. To learn, that no matter what, I am a child of God's, and He's got this situation, and He will use it for His greater glory one day. To lean into Him and learn that His love will be enough and that I can live without a man's love and be joyful. Not that I'm learning these things lightly, I speak partly of what I know will come . .. eventually.

For now, I will leave you these verses, which I have been trying to meditate on lately:

Isa 54:5-8
For your Maker is your husband
    the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;    he is called the God of all the earth.The Lord will call you back    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young,    only to be rejected,” says your God.“For a brief moment I abandoned you,    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.In a surge of anger    I hid my face from you for a moment,but with everlasting kindness    I will have compassion on you,”    says the Lord your Redeemer.

Col 3:1-17
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander,and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

07 March 2016

New Mexico Kids Consignment Sale is Coming!!

Looking for a great way to clothe your family while not dipping into your savings account? Looking for fantastic books at a fantastic deal? Looking for friendly people to help you find great deals?

If you are in Albuquerque, New Mexico (or the surrounding area - this sale is totally worth the drive!), then check out the New Mexico Kids Consignment Sale Spring Event!

It's this weekend, 11-12 March at the New Mexico Expo School Arts Building at the State Fairgrounds.

I first heard about the New Mexico Kids Consignment Sale (aka NMKidsSales) through my friend Jenny, who happens to own and beautifully run the sale. I like to sell things at consignment sales (hello paying off debt!!), so immediately my interest piqued and I signed up to sell at her next sale.

I do sell a few items at the NMKidsSales, but really, I love to shop at the sale! I have been able to get my kids another season of clothes for a really great deal! I have even found clothes with the original prices tags still on them!

And the books! Oh, the books! My real weakness here, really. This sale has so many fantastic books at incredible deals. My Usborne leader, Mercedez, sells some of her Usborne inventory at this sale - so you have a chance to get brand new Usborne books at discounted prices - hard to beat that! At the last sale, I love that my son, Little Man, perused the books and picked out an enormous (I mean 150-200 page book) and asked me to buy it for him (he had just turned 5). Love that book-loving spark coming out!

Really, the bottom line about this sale is that you can find thousands of gently used children's and women's clothes, baby items, books, homeschool supplies, baby equipment, shoes, strollers, toys, gear and more at a really great deal. And by doing so, you are helping out other families because you are buying items that they are selling.

And, it gets better! There will be over 20 direct-sale marketing and crafting vendor booths at the sale - including Usborne, Scentsy, Steeped Tea, Barefoot Books, Thirty-One, Norwex, Doriest Designs, Jamberry, Menicucci Insurance Agency, and many more! The event is also sponsored by Chick-Fil-A and Autism Spectrum Resouce. New Melissa and Doug products are also offered a significantly reduced price.

Again, the info for the sale is:

When: 11-12 March (that's Friday and Saturday)

Where: New Mexico Expo School Arts Building at the State Fairgrounds in Albuquerque

How much? FREE - the event is free to the public

But what about parking? The New Mexico Fair Grounds charges $5/car (get your friends together and carpool!)

How do I pay for what I buy? The sale accepts cash, VISA, Mastercard, and Discover.

Did I mention the Chick-Fil-A cow will be coming out?? Yes, Saturday, from 10:00am to noon!

Where can I get more info? Check out New Mexico Kids Consignment Sale.

Any other special stuff? Yes - the first 200 shoppers receive goody bags which include gift cards for free ice cream from Chick-Fil-A and other goodies!

Is there a discount day? Yes - Saturday many items are marked at 50% off!

Can I check them out on Facebook? Absolutely! Just click here!

That's all I have for now! Head on out this weekend and check out all the great deals! :)