Step 1: House for Sale

In the process of getting out of debt and beginning to live a more simple life, we’re selling our current home. It was really a no brainer to get to that decision. Now, understand I do not live in a fancy grand home that is mortgaged to death. I do have a nice home in a desirable neighborhood. Though, my house is the smallest in the neighborhood, it’s nice.

The plan is to use equity to pay off debt. If we can still buy a house afterwards, then awesome, if not, then we’ll look for a rental. Honestly, the main goal is to become debt free and be able to breathe a little. Debt is dumb. Dave Ramsey is so right.

The house has only been on the market a couple weeks. We are doing this for sale by owner to get as much equity out of the house as possible. Unfortunately, that tends to slow the selling process in our area. We’ve had only two showings, lots of drive bys, but no real interest.

I take it personal. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I feel like our house is black balled and real estate agents will NOT show it. I feel like when someone drives by and doesn’t call, then I’ve not done a good enough job make the house look welcoming. When we do have someone look at the house, I am obsessive about the way it looks making sure pillows are just so, that there’s no fuzz on the carpet, and that sinks are spotless. Umm, psycho right? Like someone isn’t going to buy my house because there is a piece of trash in trash cans. But, in my crazy head I see it as me not being enough. Narcissist much?

Last night and this morning, though, I’ve decided to stop. My obsession will not be to sell my house and  search relentlessly for a new home. I have been praying for our buyer. I have been praying for our next home. I have been praying for a sense of peace in this waiting. And it’s hard. This is like a minute by minute releasing. Especially when friends sell their homes in three days! So, I am putting it our there, that I release my house obsession. I trust that God’s plan will be better than mine and his timing is better than mine.

For now, I sit and wait. I still clean my house. I actually kinda like it that way, crazy, huh? I still make sure it looks presentable. And I wait.

 

Fraud

Have you ever felt like a fraud? Like you’ve portrayed yourself one way, but lived another?

That feels like me. In reading my old words, I cringe. For years I’ve written of a simple life, down sizing, getting rid of stuff, etc. My life is anything but simple, though I still yearn for the simple life. I still have more stuff than I need, yet the desire for less is always with me.

Looking back, this simplicity has been my desire for many years. I finally feel like I am ready to earnestly pursue that life. I’m actually taking steps for less so that I can gain. Boxes fill my home with things that no longer represent joy, but instead it shows me items that I bought in my pursuit of happiness. I never found it in the vase. Or the picture. Or the pretty scarves I owned.

Next week our home will go on the market. We are ready to sell the only home my children have known. Our debt has become more than we’d like and in selling our home we will pay off all debt we owe. We see our light. Thankful God has brought us to this place. Thankful we are finally seeing where God is leading.

Once we move, our lives will change drastically. We may or may not be able to buy a home. And I’m ok with that. We will go to an area 40 minutes away from our current home. We are leaving familiar and I’m ok with that. My kids will have to make new friends. They are less than ok with that but they will be fine. We will change our church location (same church, different campus) and I’m ok with that. And most drastic change, we are going to homeschool our children. And yes, I’m even ok with that.

These are all changes and paths that God is setting before us. We do not know how it will all look in the end, but we know without a doubt that God is walking with us on this path. Can I just tell you that for once I feel peace? I’m a planner and I like to make things happen. With this, I’m not. I fully trust that God is in this and that his plan is much greater than anything I can imagine.  We’ve already seen things happen that could only be God’s provision. It’s exciting.

I want to revive Shack on the Rocks to journal our progress. I truly see a simple life within my grasps and I cannot wait. Y’all God is pretty awesome.

When I said I Do

I met my husband when I was 16 and he was 17. We didn’t know about the depths or difficulties of happily ever after. I knew he was cute, he liked me, and we kissed a lot. That about summed up the first several months of our time dating.

Eventually, we took things further physically. Do I regret it? Yes and no. He was my first and only. I loved him as much as I knew about love at the time (which really wasn’t all that much). I wished we had waited because now, I know, that God’s plan for us is to wait. We didn’t consult God all that much when we were teenagers, truth be told.

And yet, God had his hand on us. I didn’t get pregnant as a teen. We didn’t share any crazy STDs. We beat the odds and got married. Lately, I have been asking God why. Why his hand has been upon us? For what greater purpose does he have in mind for us?

We’ve been married a little over 16 years. Last year, Scott realized that we have reached the point in our life where we have been a part of each others lives longer than not. It’s a long time, y’all. Over the last 16 years we’ve laughed, we’ve fought, we’ve cried, we’ve not really liked each other, and we’ve been inseparable.

The last six to ten months have been tough ones. Scott has stress and challenges with his job and will often pull back from me. I struggle with lots of issues, but I am learning that rejection is a big one for me. When he pulls back, I feel rejected. Now, understand that during this rough patch we still talked ( though not deeply) we still were intimate, we still spent time together. I just felt like there was a wall between us. We could talk over the wall, but not much else. I felt very rejected.

My heart waffled between hurt and anger. I missed him. I felt like though we made plans, we weren’t dreaming together. Our passion for life and one another was dim. He pulled back and so did I. I was honestly afraid he would do the unthinkable and stray, but then I felt that if he did, it would be my fault. Vicious cycle that seemingly would never end. I was unhappy.

He went out of town for work when we began to crumble. I accused him, he denied. He shut down, I became angry. He came home, I was not excited. It was the white elephant in the room. We had an issue but it was never discussed. For the record, he did not stray.

He doesn’t like confrontation, so he leaves everything inside hoping it will all go away. I am a knock down, drag out, yelling get it all out in the open person. This difference in personalities tend to allow issues in our marriage last forever. I think this is why I have felt such a disconnect for so long.

We fought this week. It was ugly. It was messy. There were tears. But, in the end, there was healing. Are we all back together and everything rosy? Far from it, but we are better. We better understand the others needs. We both explained our hurts and frustrations. He held me as I cried. For someone who has a flight mentality, it was hard for me to sit there, but I knew I had to so I could heal. I listened to him and he shared fears and challenges. It helped me see my strong husband vulnerable. I was honored to listen.

When I said I do I was 19 and unsure of the road ahead. I’ve always said that the first year of marriage was the hardest, but I now I’m not so sure. The past ten months have been very difficult, in many ways harder than that first year. But, the test of true love is sticking it out and fighting for marriage, even when you don’t like the person you’re with. We’re working together instead of apart. We’re remembering the I do for better and worse.

Freedom

Reading thru my old posts, I note desires for change in my life. I see the need for less. I see a person who longs to help others. I see chaos and someone seeking order.

Many years later, I am in the same place. I want the same things. I seek change, but it’s only temporary. It hurts to read my posts and see my desires and come face to face with my failures. And I have failed at many things. I have had enough with failing. I want to succeed.

If anything, over the years, particularly this last year, I am learning that true change is work…. and not something I can do alone. I am falling in love with Jesus. This is actually new territory for me. I have always loved Jesus, and have been a Christian for some time, but I have this insatiable desire to be in love with him. To know him, to feel him, and to follow him completely.

In doing so, it colors how I see things. It changes how I shop, spend my spare time, even the music I listen to or the shows I watch on tv. Who knew that falling in love would change how I shopped?!!?! It’s been an interesting learning curve and I’ve just stepped into this new world.

Our church offers small groups each semester. This time, I am a part of a Life group. This curriculum teaches you how to live in true freedom and to completely walk with the Holy Spirit. Living in freedom is something new for me. I thought that I would have hang onto my past and hurts forever. Dealing with them is not easy, it’s very painful, but knowing that this is a process and that healing is within my reach makes it worthwhile.

Freedom seems like a foreign concept in today’s world. We read so much where people hang on to their problems so much that it becomes their identity. It also becomes their barrier to freedom. I have learned that Jesus makes all things new… not just things we as humans deem worthy, but all things.  Even me, a person who struggles with her self worth. I am new.

There is much to be said, but this process is slow. I’m sure that over time it will be addressed in my little cyberspace, but not overly so. I think that God is bringing me one day closer to sharing my story. It may be some time off, but today it is closer.

 

Wrecked

Have you ever read a book that you knew would change you forever? I recently read a couple books by Jen Hatmaker . I’ll be honest, I had not heard much about her before I read the books. Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. What I do know is that after reading Interrupted I was WRECKED. And reading her book 7:A Mutiny Against Excess I knew my life had to change. I have told many in my world that reading these books was the hardest, best thing. It is not a book to read and put back on the shelf and say, “Well, wasn’t that nice.” No. These book should prompt you to do something. They should wreck you… in a good way.

As I read… no devoured Interrupted, I knew. I knew that the words she wrote would profoundly impact me. I have guessed for some time that God was up to something in my life. Ever clueless, I had no idea what it would be. If we’re being honest, I still have no idea, but I am one small step closer.

In this book, Jen explains how God interrupted her pleasant little life and opened her eyes to a greater purpose. God made her see the hurting and hungry in her area in a whole new light. He challenged her with the call to care for the least of these. In reading the book, it begs to reason that we are all called to care for the orphans and widows, to fill the needs of the least.

The book 7:A Mutiny Against Excess is actually the first book I came across. However, being a stickler for book order, I realized that Interrupted was the prequel to 7, so I read that first. In 7, Jen is real and honest in her 7 month long fast of sorts. I laughed along with her, I cheered as she wore seven items for a month, I was convicted when she noted the items in her closet and home that were complete excess. It was a tough read. But when she took the month to pause seven times in a day to refocus and pray in that moment, I was in awe. I saw the beauty in her moments. Intentional about praying to God, the one who gives us life.

After reading the books, I knew. I knew that my life was lived in excess and for myself, not for others. I knew this before, but really didn’t do anything. I walked around my home and looked at my pretties sitting around that I paid money for knowing that there are those around me who struggle to clothe and feed their family. It hit me hard. But, even though I have stuff I do not need, even though my closet has items that hang season after season, even though there are times when I feel our debt load too much to bear, I knew I had to do something.

And I did do something. Even though financially I cannot feed the multitudes and I cannot clothe the nation, I found what I could do. Friends and I gathered gently used kids clothes, shoes, book bags, and lunch boxes. We hosted a Back to School giveaway and gave the items away to those who came. It was a beautiful day. The faces of those getting things needed for back to school were beautiful. We served Jesus in serving some of the least.

This. This is what I was made to do. I feel I was created to serve Jesus by helping others. What does that look like on a daily basis? I’m not sure, but I daily pray for direction. Maybe hopping back into bloggyland will help with that in some way. If not no other reason for me to put my thoughts down to help sort it all out.

 

 

 

Pitch a tent

Several months ago I got the bright idea that we should take the kids camping. I have never camped but did have romanticized ideas of camping with our little family. I thought, How bad could it be??

We had to start from scratch. We had no tent. No supplies for camping. Only ideas in our heads. I tend to research the heck out of something before I plunge in. I looked long and hard at tent options, sleeping bags for the kids, and inflatable mattresses. I was prepared, right??

We decided to make our first camp experience one with friends and to celebrate Henry’s birthday. We invited our willing friends to join us at a local state park for the fun. We camped two nights while our friends only stayed one. Not too long but long enough.

I’m sure you’re expecting a horror story about a big rainstorm or bears or killer deer attacking us. Sorry, it didn’t happen. Instead, we fell in love with camping. I know, who knew, right?? Completely took us by surprise too.

We loved that time seemingly stood still. We loved the quite. We loved the feel and smell of a campfire. We loved watching our kids completely unplug and still have fun. It was bliss for our little family. Our kids fished in the creek, we walked trails, the kids rode their bikes, and we even just sat and listened to the sounds of quiet. We laughed with our friends. We ate hot dogs and smores cooked over a fire pit. We watched squirrels eat our breakfast leftovers. We watched deer venture close to our camp in the early morning hours.

We slept well in our tents. We woke early and it was still chilly. We started the fire and sat around it waking up slowly. We showered in a shared bath house and managed to come out clean. We left the park talking about our next camping adventure.

We loved the simplicity of camping. Little money was spent that weekend but much was given. Our kids were given freedom to ride and be kids. My son was given freedom to help build a fire. My daughter was given freedom to hike a hill with a friend. They truly loved it. It was so nice to be away from pressures of home, no bills to fret over, no Jones’ to keep up with, nothing but peace and quiet.

Never would I have thought I would enjoy it at much as I did. I told my husband that I would love for us to have a couples only camping trip. I so love spending time with him, so hopefully we can do that in the future. If not, that’s ok, we’re already planning our next adventure with the littles.

Do you camp? Do you like it or do you think it’s not for you?

School’s Out for SUMMER!

Never have I been so thankful to see a school year end! My boy has had a tough year. My girl has had a great year. For both, though, I am glad to have them home for summer.

Henry is my busy, bouncy, adhd kid. He’s smart too. It drives his teachers crazy. He is cute and funny. He reads many grade levels above his. He gets math and loves science. But, he doesn’t understand boundaries. When he has a classroom full of boys (23 in his all boy class– never again) laughing and telling Henry he is the “burp master” what’s a boy to do?? He must give the people what they want. No, he should not be the burp master during class. No, he shouldn’t say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. There are many things he shouldn’t do in the course of a day, but he honestly cannot stop himself. He tries. He just cannot. He has terrible impulse control.

School brings on so much stress for him. Even though the class work is very easy for him, even though he can complete the work quickly, he never enjoys going to school. He knows he will get in trouble. He knows he cannot always control his behavior. He knows that in school, there is very little room for  gray areas. He must always walk the line and he just cannot comply. It’s hard for him. It’s hard for me.

Since he’s been out of school the last couple days, his stress is relieved. He walks around singing. He laughs. He complies with our requests. No issues. My last post alluded to some things we are praying for and scared to completely step out on faith. One of those concerns is regarding Henry and his education. We’re still praying thru it and praying for us to be able to truly trust Him for provision and direction. Really, we’re just not there. It’s sad and scary all the same.

My girl has had a wonderful school year with amazing teachers. She is a much different learner from her brother. Abby needs to be instructed on every little step. She is not a think outside the box kid, a very concrete learner. She does well in school. Has great friends. Loves getting up and going each day. Next year she will enter middle school. I hate middle school. Especially for a girl.

This summer we have no trips planned. We are planning on camping for the first time. A little nervous yet excited about that. My kids love to be outdoors and explore so I am hoping that this will be great fun. I do not expect all to be sunshine and roses, but for the most part, I think it’ll be grand. Just extra thankful school is out and my kiddies are home. They argue so much during the school year. Once summer is here they remember that they can play with one another and actually have fun. For that I am ever thankful.

Umm…. here??

Where do I even begin? I realize that many, many months have passed since my last post. Some of the absence was intentional, some was due to the fact that I didn’t have a blasted clue what to write. Overall, I came to the conclusion that I missed writing. I know no one is reading, but I’m ok with that. I missed writing for me.

Much has happened. Hubs is adjusting to a church job. It’s stressful for him as he is learning the ropes. Though he enjoys it, it has certainly been an adjustment. I have struggled a bit more than I thought having to share him with the Church. All of the conferences, meetings, and must dos seem to come all at once. There have been many weeks where he is home long after the kids are in bed and he finds me snoozing on the sofa or in our bed.

Do we regret his choice to work for our church? No. We both have learned much more about who we are and who we want to be in the last several months. I feel as if our goals and desires have changed. Well, not so much changed, but realigned and more focused. It’s been great, but it’s been scary. It’s almost as if, while we feel that we have these new desires, that we feel are from God, do we trust him enough? Do we really believe what he says when he tells us he will provide our needs? Do we feel like the burden of debt we have created keeps us from fully falling inline with his steps? Are waiting to get better financially, spiritually, to fully submit to the cross?

I think so. I think sometimes we try to fix our messes ourselves before we come to him. I know he doesn’t want that. He wants us to come to him so he can fix our messes. Now, does that mean that jumping into whatever God has for us means that our debt issues will automatically disappear? Well, no. If that’s how he chooses to help us, then yes, it could happen. But he’s a teaching God. We are to learn from where we are and have been so that we never end up there again. I can say these words to you all day long, but to say them as they should apply to myself is difficult.

I am learning. I am waiting. I know what my heart desires, but I do not have any details as of yet. I pray that once I see them appear that I will recognize them. So, as for now, I continue to hang on to my messes instead of giving them over. But I am learning….

T-Minus 2 Days….

Remember when I said that I knew Hubs new job would sometimes come before family time?? Well, the week of Christmas belongs to the church and my natives are getting restless. Our church is hosting nine wonderful Christmas services, all of which Hubs much attend/work. Sigh… I miss him a bit. Last night he came home as I was drifting to sleep on the sofa. We’re really looking forward to Sunday. We will open presents, eat breakfast, and drink coffee while the kids play. We will hold hands and snuggle.

Are you ready for Christmas?? I’ve made two batches of cookies. One I trashed and the others are ok. Shooting for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies tomorrow. Surely those will turn out ok! My kitchen skills seem to be lacking a bit.

If you’ve read my blog in years past, you have seen that I have a love/hate/tolerance relationship with my mother. Today she sent me a text stating she would be at my house this Saturday or Sunday. Didn’t ask, just stated as fact. Well, that doesn’t work for me, and I let her know. Saturday we will be attending one of our Christmas services at church then heading to the in-laws (like we do every year) and on Sunday, I like for it to be just my silly little family of four. Hubs will be super worn out from his new marathon Christmas adventure and I really want it to be a restful Christmas for him. I let Mom know that we would be happy to host her on Monday, so please do not think I’m a terrible daughter. I’ll even make a nice meal, promise.

I still have a few things to wrap. And it appears that our gifts from Jolly Ole St. Nick need to be charged, so that must be done too. How do you handle Santa gifts?? We have Santa only bring one gift for each child, it’s generally a special request from the kidlet. In our home, the Santa gift is not wrapped. All others under the tree are from us and therefore wrapped. I’ll be honest, I forget from one year to the next whether we give the kids stocking or if Santa Man leaves them. This year, I’m filling the stockings, so I think to simplify, that will be my job going forward, not the Jolly Elf.

So, we’re ready for Christmas. We ready to celebrate the meaning of Christmas. We’re ready to have Daddy home for a few days. And, can I be honest, I’m ready to take down my decorations. There. I said it. Maybe I am a little Grinchish this year. Merry Christmas Bloggyland.!!

Ghost of Christmas Past

Looking back on Christmases past I note a few things. One, a little chaos. Two, and little less heart in gift giving. Three, a desire for the holiday to be over.

Not to say this year isn’t without its chaos and irritable moments, but it has been a little less stressful. I’ve learned a very important lesson. It’s ok to let.it.GO! I haven’t sent out Christmas cards for two years now. Does it bother me a little? Yes. Enough to rush out and throw together cards and spends lots of money? Umm, no. I’m good.

I begin shopping early. Not for the big, special requests, but early enough to get little things here and there. My husband and I have made it a point to not overdo it on Christmas for our kids and for others. We do get our kids one of their big “Santa” requests along with several other nice, fun gifts. They’ve never complained and we never have too much junk to fit into their rooms. I find that getting purposeful gifts means more to the kids and makes me less twitchy with toy organization. By purposeful gifts, I mean games the family can play, books the kids can read, toys that require mind and imagination (not batteries). One of the kids favorite past time activities is reading. For the past couple years, I have gotten the kids a gift bag full of books. Many of the books are purchased second hand (in like new condition). The kids LOVE them! Last year the books were paired with a cozy blanket. This year, they will be given along with a Mickey/Minnie coffee mug. We went to Disney World in May for the first time as a family and the mugs will serve as a little reminder of our trip.

For gifts beyond our kids, well, we just give to very few.  Does that make us Grinch-ish?? Well, I hope not. We find that we could get really bogged down in the “have to” of Christmas. We choose not to. We choose to give to those in need as we can, we choose to give to our parents and nephews, we give to teachers, and a close friend or two. It mainstreams our budget, and we’re giving from the heart, not just a desire to keep up with the others.

And, can I be honest? My kids have been a little selfish when talking about gifts for themselves and showing jealousy when the other is talking about a gift they want to receive. It’s been driving me bonkers. They are both influenced by kids at school and I often find that it greatly affects their behavior. I am thankful that they are home for Christmas break. My sweet kids who will play games together should be making an appearance any day now. 

Merry Christmas friends. I pray you see the spirit of Christmas, I pray you embody the spirit of Christmas and share it with those around you.