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Thursday, December 29, 2011

A wonderful poem written in 1880, but still relevant today!

I was struck when I read this how relevant it still is to me today.  When you think of women of old, you think that they somehow had it all together and never dealt with the same frustrations that we do today.  Read this, a poem by Faye Inchfawn back in 1880:

Within My House

FIRST, there's the entrance, narrow,
and so small,
The hat-stand seems to fill the tiny hall;
That staircase, too, has such an awkward
The carpet rucks, and rises up on end!
Then, all the rooms are cramped and close
And there's a musty smell in rainy weather.
Yes, and it makes the daily work go hard
To have the only tap across a yard.
These creaking doors, these draughts, this
battered paint,
Would try, I think, the temper of a saint,

How often had I railed against these
With envies, and with bitter murmurings
For spacious rooms, and sunny garden
Until one day,
Washing the breakfast dishes, so I think,
I paused a moment in my work to pray;
And then and there
All life seemed suddenly made new and
For, like the Psalmist's dove among the
(Those endless pots, that filled the tiny
My spirit found her wings.

"Lord" (thus I prayed), "it matters not
at all
That my poor home is ill-arranged and
I, not the house, am straitened; Lord,
'tis I!
Enlarge my foolish heart, that by-and-by
I may look up with such a radiant face
Thou shalt have glory even in this place.
And when I trip, or stumble unawares
In carrying water up these awkward stairs.
Then keep me sweet, and teach me day
by day
To tread with patience Thy appointed
As for the house . . . . Lord, let it be
my part
To walk within it with a perfect heart."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In an ideal world...

A few months ago, Brian, Liz, and I went to Chicago for the day. I had just started crocheting, and Liz and I wanted to check out a yarn store. It was amazing and beautiful and pleasing to the eye. It had nooks and crannies and beautiful colors and amazing textures. The only problem was, the majority of the yarns there were around $25 for a small ball of yarn. In order to make something with the yarn, you would more than likely need to buy 2 balls. $50 for a handmade scarf? Maybe in an ideal world...

That got us thinking... If we lived in an ideal world, what would we do? I honestly don't remember what other people's responses were, but I know mine was, "I would live in the city, use all organic products, make my own clothes, grow my own food (in an urban garden), and, in a lot of ways, be a modern day hippie!" It's funny, but, aside from living in the city, I am pretty much doing all those things without even realizing it!

Today, I was with my friend Mary Ann, and she helped me remake some of my clothes that were nice fabrics, but fit all baggy and didn't make me feel amazing. One of the things that she kept saying was, "What is your immediate response? If you don't absolutely love it, why should we go through the trouble of making it if you won't wear it?" Through a lot of pinning, a lot of trying on, a lot of measuring, and a lot of stitching and then cutting, we were able to transform a shirt that was too baggy on me and a dress that was too revealing into an amazing dress that I can wear to a Christmas party on Friday. I am honestly so pleased with it, and it didn't take too much to make it happen!

I feel like the season that I am in right now is a lot like those clothes. I like the fabric and the way it feels, but the fit is not quite right. So, if what I am doing right now isn't working, why don't I just change it (like the clothes) to make it better? I have felt trapped in my laundry area and desperately wanted a room. So what did we do? We made a room for me, and I love it. My small, awkward kitchen is way too cluttered. I need a new way of storing things, so I am going to make it happen very soon. I'm not completely satisfied with my body the way that it looks right now, so I joined a gym and am trying to go. Basically, there are things in my life that I am not absolutely in love with, so why do I keep them? I just need to alter them slightly to make them fit me and my personality.

I feel like this next season is going to be a lot about change, and I'm excited about it. Finally, my life is going to "fit" with the rest of me. God, give me the strength to make it happen!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dream Come True, or Just Another Place for Clutter?

5 years ago, when we first moved into our house, I had an idea for a laundry room. A place where I could go, wash, dry, and fold my laundry, and live in peace. A place where I could go away from the hectic mess of the rest of the house. An oasis. Someplace that I could go to get away.

The reality of it was, it was cold, a little damp, dirty, and surrounded on every side by horrible clutter. Clutter that I had made. Clutter that Brian had made. Clutter that was made by decluttering our upstairs living spaces. When I would go down there, especially when I was in a rough place about 3 years ago, I felt trapped instead of set free. One day, on a whim, I was so tired of looking at the clutter in the rest of the basement that I got the staple gun, a couple of flat sheets that we weren't using, and made "walls" to shut out the clutter. It felt better, but still not complete. I tried emptying out my shelves and painting them a different color. I tried organizing all of my laundry into specific bins that would go into each person's room. I tried so many things, but try as I might, the laundry "room" still felt like a trap. I wanted walls.

The opportunity for the possibility came last year when we had a girl move into our basement. When she got her life straightened out a bit and could start paying rent on a regular basis, we would build her walls down there instead of the sheets that surrounded her "room." Building her walls meant that I could have walls, at least in a small part. Unfortunately, it never worked out, and she left without the walls being built.

When another young lady moved in with us, Brian promised walls would be built. Sheets were obviously not enough, especially when the winter cold blasted through the concrete walls. Brian promised walls by the first snow, and almost made it by a couple days: They were finally built a year and a half after they were promised to me. As long as they were putting up walls in one part of the basement, though, what if they extended the walls just 7 feet to build me a real wall so that I could have my laundry room? They agreed, and my laundry room was created! Sheetrock was placed up last week, followed by pegboard, and right now the guys are putting up shelves for me. I can't even begin to explain how relieved that I am. Relieved that I have a place to fold my laundry. Relieved that I don't have to do it on the couch where people who walk in might feel embarrassed that there is laundry all over the place. Relieved that I have my own space that I can organize however I want without it needing to be presentable at all times.

An argument has already ensued about me wanting my room to be my room and not a place for his tools and other stuff to creep in. But, after some prayer and me leaving the guys alone to do what they do best, I now have 2 out of 4 shelves up. The rest will come sometime next week. Then, FINALLY, I will have my room. My safe haven. My oasis. My place I can call my own.

I pray that it will not get cluttered again. Or, at least, that I will stay motivated enough to keep on top of it. I know I can... I just have to keep positive! Good stuff is in store!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Awkward Phase

The other day, I was sitting in a circle with a group of very beautiful, very trendy women from my church. Two of them were pregnant with their first, and the other's son was in between my two girls. We started talking about the "awkward stage" that most teenagers go through. You know, when you're in between being a kid and suddenly thrust into full-fledged puberty before you even know what hit you.

Suddenly, your body is expanding in ways that you never knew existed. Your hair is suddenly greasy, your skin breaks out, your teeth are in braces, and you don't quite know what to do with this suddenly bigger body. Especially for me. This all began when I was 9 and by the time I was 12, I was a full grown woman. Eventually, you read some magazines, talk to some other girls about what they do, and figure out how to dress appropriately for your figure and use makeup to cover up the acne until it finally dies out on its own.

Slowly but surely, you feel good about yourself again. As you grow into an adult, you feel confident with yourself, your body, and your accomplishments. You feel so confident in who you are that you are able to attract a mate and get married. Life is good. You have finally accomplished what you longed for all those years as you cried out to God to change you and help you find the One.

Then, something happens. All of your friends that got married around the same time start getting pregnant and having babies. You watch them as they grow and suddenly, there is a longing in your heart once again not for the One, but for many. So, you start "trying", and for me, it took 8 months before it finally worked. 8 months of crying every time I got my cycle because it meant that I wasn't pregnant again. Then, finally, the pregnancy test comes up positive. Hooray! Now, what you longed for has been accomplished!

For me, pregnancy wasn't the smooth sailing that it seemed to be for all my friends around me. At around 5 months, I was so swollen I couldn't wear my rings anymore. By 7 months, I was so uncomfortable I could barely walk or function. By the time Sommer was born at 37 weeks, I was so swollen that my eyelids, my nose, and my ears were swollen. I had pre-eclampsia, and if I had gone 12 more hours, the doctor said that I could have died. But, Sommer was safe and sound and healthy, and that's all that mattered.

Except, she was tounge-tied, so she had a REALLY hard time feeding. I knew how important breastfeeding was, so I kept at it even when it was difficult. Finally, at about 5 months old, she "got it" and everything was smooth sailing. And then, when Sommer was 5 1/2 months old, I got pregnant with Harmony, but didn't find out for nearly 9 weeks. So, there was this period where I was trying to figure out why I was eating right and working out, yet feeling tired and gaining weight. I went to the doctor and he told me, "Eat less and excercise more." Duh. No help, at all. Finally, I figured it out on my own, and found myself pregnant while raising a baby. It was difficult, but we were able to get through it.

Once Harmony was born, a lot of things all happened at once. The first two months, she screamed and cried and I had no idea why. Later on, I figured out that she had a really severe milk allergy, and so I cut out the milk in my diet, which I read later has calming effects on the body, and can work as an anti-depressant.

About this same time, around Christmas, we were in Target and tried on some hats to be silly. A couple days later, my head was itching and so was Sommer's. I looked at her head and saw something suddenly crawl across her head, and it confirmed my worst fear: we had lice. I reached out the only way I knew how. I wrote it on facebook and tried to get advice and help from all my friends. However, instead of the words of encouragement and you'll get through this, I got reactions of disgust and repulsion. The worst statement that still runs through my head was, "Are you going to the Christmas party? Really? If you are, I'm not."

That sunk me into about a year of post-partum depression, and one of the hardest times of my life since I was that awkward teen. Everything that I knew, everything that I had clung to and was a part of how I valued and defined myself, was suddenly ripped from my arms. My body was awkward again. My hair went from being pretty and wavy to weird and almost straight. My face and body broke out again due to the post-pregnancy hormones. I was having hot flashes and mood swings that were off the charts. I related more to peri-menepausal women than I did the people that I had considered my friends.

Somehow, I got through that year, but sometimes I feel like it was by the skin of my teeth. I made it a point to reach out to people and I repaired the relationship that had been damaged by the hurtful comment. Slowly but surely, I began to redefine myself the way I had when I was a teen. Brian, my husband, got interested in fashion and started picking out clothes that he felt made me look attractive. Because he saw me that way, I began feeling attractive again, and I emerged from my awkward stage into something more.

We are currently trying for more, but I found out the last time that I went to the OB that I have PCOS, a condition that makes it difficult to get pregnant and has a whole host of other symptoms, including depression. I'm praying for more. The vision that I have is for 4 kids, but only God knows the number for sure. Until then, I enjoy my almost 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old with joy. God is good, and He brings us through every season and shows us a lot along the way. More than anything else, I know that my life is in His hands, and I can't do it on my own. Every time I try, I fail, so I give the reigns to Him daily.