Seriously, enough with the change already

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This year is supposed to be about looking what we have and improving on it. The foundation is set, we have what we have, and now I build.

But I am already wrong.

The “life building plans” just changed.

Last Friday my husband was told he has been put on an out of town job for as long as they need an extra man or until construction is complete. It is a large project and they’ve already been working on it for 2 months. This means he is gone every Monday-Thursday.

Every.Single.Week.Until.Who.Knows.When.

Then Tuesday he was told there would be at least one weekend involved. And it could be this coming weekend. As with all construction projects, it just depends on the stage of the project, when they can get in, and what other contractors are doing. We just don’t know.

So Wednesday morning I sat down with the girls on my bed and we had a chat of sorts.

I explained the situation. I told them it isn’t anybody’s fault, but it just is the way it is. That doesn’t mean it is better, it just is.

Through tears, they started asking questions.

  • When exactly is he going?
  • What weekends does he have to work?
  • How long is the project?
  • Does he have to go every week?

All I could say was I don’t know, dad doesn’t know, the company doesn’t know, because when dealing with construction anything can go wrong. Timetables can be tossed out within a moment’s notice and sometimes it has nothing to do with your work.

As I held them, I was reminded of the families who do this often. Of long haul truck drivers, traveling business men, and those in the military who leave for months with a tangible possibility of never returning.

And I felt slightly guilty living in my selfishness. My husband gets to come home every weekend for 3 days. My husband gets to make nightly phone calls. My husband isn’t putting his life on the line.

I made myself stop.

I know some families do this often, but this isn’t what we wanted for our family. He intentionally looked for work that would give us more family time, not less. It doesn’t seem fair.

I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, the job will end, he will be back home, but it doesn’t make this any easier. I’m tired of the change, tired of the unknown, tired of being flexible for anything that may be thrown away.

I want consistency. I want to know what is coming up.

But for now, I don’t get that.

Some days he’ll be here, some days he won’t. Some weeks he’ll be out of town, some weeks he won’t. And because he is the extra man and everything is dependent on how the project is going, we may not find out he is leaving until the day before he goes.

As Miss Crafty said, “This just sucks.”

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I try to stay optimistic and find the positives in any situation.

So to help me prepare for his absence, I’ve been looking. I had to dig deep and search hard this time but I came up with a short list:

  1. He will get 3 day weekends. So we get one extra day a week with him home unless it is one of those rare work weekends.
  2. He is doing so well at school that his teacher has given him a pass from attending class while he’s out of town. As long as his assignments are in on time and he’s doing well, he doesn’t have to do any additional make up work.
  3. We’ll use less diesel in the truck. I’ll take him to work Monday morning and pick him up Thursday nights. This is in essence only 2 days of commutes instead of 5 plus school.  It will save us $40-$50 per week.
  4. There’s gotta be something I can build in this situation. I don’t have it yet, but I’m holding on to the idea that a part of me is going to be stronger when I’m looking back from the other side.

That’s all I can come up with but at least it is something. So today, through my frustrations, I’m trying to hold onto those 4 things because in reality I want to curl up in bed and just pretend this isn’t happening.

It’s not fair.

I want to plan my life, or at least next week.

I want my husband home with me.

The girls need their dad.

This.Just.Sucks.

~Crystal

Side note: I will get over this, and I do understand how fortunate we are. But in the spirit of Living in Green Grass I’m choosing to share this side of me too–the side that shows nobody’s life is perfect or rosy. Sometimes things happen and it is what you chose to in that moment that helps determine whether you are content or not.

The accidental tradition

mccartyv / Pixabay

Every year we buy the girls a WebKinz. It has become a tradition in our family.

In order to continue to play the online game, the girls have to enter a new code once a year. This is a cheap way to give them a game they love.

And until this year they’ve played it often. Then they discovered Minecraft. WebKinz has lost its glitz and grammar, being replaced by something more pixelated, yet more interesting.

So about a month ago I asked the girls what they wanted for Christmas. Miss Crafty let me know, “aside from our annual WebKinz, I’m not sure.”

I was so confused. They don’t even play online any more. It is just another stuffed animal to add to their collection.

I pleaded my case but was informed it had to be a WebKinz because they each get one every year.

So I took to Amazon to select their annual present, envisioning myself doing this every year. With this expectation, I’m going to be mailing them WebKinz when they’re 30.

I decided to mix it up this year. They’re getting the same animal. The only difference is that one poodle is pink, the other is black.

I quickly ordered their first Christmas present and set my mind off of it.

Then the girls came to me Monday night, they had another request.

They wanted me to hide their WebKinz in the house. Make a Christmas morning scavenger hunt of sorts. Wherever did they get that idea?

As they reminded me, I did it last year.

Then it all came flooding back. Last year I bought their WebKinz early and hid them in my room. I completely forgot about them until late Christmas Eve. The wrapping paper was buried in the garage and it was cold outside. I didn’t want to go find it.

I was lazy.

So instead my husband and I hid their presents in the house. We put one of them in a dresser and the other in the cereal cupboard.

Apparently they had fun because they requested I repeat the game this year.

But they’re upping the stakes and created some rules:

  1. All Christmas presents from my husband and I need to be hidden.
  2. They need to be hard to find–but not too hard. They don’t want to spend hours looking for them.
  3. Presents can be hidden in the front of the house or the school room. Nowhere else. We have a small house so I have about 400 square feet of space to work with.
  4. Aside from the WebKinz, presents still need to be wrapped. This way it is easier to tell if it is a new thing or something they already owned.

So on Christmas Eve when everyone else is busily sleeping, I’m going to be snooping around the house looking for creative hiding places for wrapped gifts.

Participating in a new tradition.

All because I was too lazy to wrap a couple stuffed animals last year.

 

What are some fun traditions you have in your family?

 

~Crystal

Bad mom moment: I killed all her fish.

sad, hurt, anger, mad

amayaeguizabal / Pixabay

Sunday I had a very bad mom moment.

I killed ALL of Miss Crafty’s fish. I discovered the first 2 floating and within an hour the 3rd one had joined his brothers.

Her pets of nearly 3 years, dead and floating, all because I installed a new tank heater. It was necessary but it raised the water temperature too fast. The poor fish couldn’t handle it.

There was no one to blame but me.

And Miss Crafty was mad, hurt, in pain, grieving, and upset all at the same time.

At one point she was so mad she couldn’t look at me, but she was still my hurt little girl who needed her mom for comfort.

She didn’t know what to do, she stood in front of me looking at the floor as I apologized. I could tell she wanted to come for a hug but couldn’t bring herself to hug the person who had just killed her pet.

So I took responsibility and gave her an outlet, “I know you’re mad at me, and that is perfectly understandable and acceptable. You don’t have to pretend.”

That broke the ice.

She let her anger and pain show and it was raw and real. I stood there taking it, not fighting back, just listening. And she walked away.

About 10 minutes later she came and found me on the couch.

She needed her mom. It was one of those moments when nobody but mom would do.

Miss Crafty curled up in my lap, cried, and grieved for nearly an hour.

Because while I had hurt her, she knew that I could provide love and comfort in a way that nobody but a parent can.

I hugged her and just let her cry.

Once she got it all out, she was much better.

My heart continued to break. What a terrible mom moment. Here I am, the one who is supposed to lift her up and help her grow into a strong woman–and I’m killing her pets.

I haven’t forgiven myself yet. It is hard. I caused her so much pain and I can never make up for that.

Once again, Miss Crafty is teaching me, molding me, and making me better. She has already forgiven me. She’s no longer angry or upset at me. She holds no grudge.

 

Forgiveness I don’t deserve, forgiveness I can’t earn.

Pure. Perfect. Free. Unconditional Love.

And a reminder that even though I’m her mom, I’m still allowed to screw up.

 

It has been a few days since the ‘great fish incident’. Her tank is still set up waiting for her to decide what she wants to do.

She has started researching hermit crabs. It would take a lot to flip her tank.

I reminded her that Christmas is coming.

Miss Crafty reminded me that it would be her pet and I don’t need to help with ANYTHING.

 

Perhaps she has forgiven me, but she hasn’t forgotten yet.

 

~Crystal

When your mission field is at home

I'm not guilty doing my mission work at home

I used to feel guilty.

Guilty about what my friends, neighbors, and strangers thought of me.

Guilty because I happily lived in my house while others around me were hurting so desperately.

Guilty because I was content.

Guilty because I wasn’t doing enough to help society.

Guilty because I was selfishly focusing on my family instead of spreading God’s love with the world.

Guilty because being a missionary isn’t my calling, yet Matthew 28:19-20 tells me:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. and behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

Go

Make disciples of all nations.

Jesus said to do it.

So if I don’t go, am I guilty of ignoring the word of Christ?

In my contentment, in my happiness being where I am at and with what God has provided for my family, I felt guilty.

Guilty because life was so perfect.

Yes we have our struggles, but nothing compared to those in other countries who are risking their lives on a daily basis to simply pray to God.

The courage they have. The faith they have. Does that make them greater than me?

And what of those who will die before they are told of God’s great love and His mercy?

Am I guilty for wanting to spend time with my daughters in the comforts of our American home?

Am I guilty for not feeling pulled to those in other countries?

Forget about doing missions in another country. I don’t even feel called to do missions in my own country, state, or neighborhood.

I am the silent person in the background, loving and living by faith, leading by quiet example.

Guilty because I’m not openly spreading the word of God.

Guilty because I don’t knock on my neighbor’s doors and invite them to church.

Guilty because they see us leave on Sunday morning, but don’t know WHERE we are going. They assume but they don’t know.

[Tweet “Am I using contentment as an excuse to not share about the love of #Christ?”]

I am not a missionary or preacher. I don’t feel comfortable talking about my faith to strangers. To acquaintances I will discuss matters of faith if the conversation naturally flows there, but I’m not one to intentionally make it happen.

I am happy and at peace. I am content being where God has me and living the life He designed for me.

Yet at the same time, I am leaving out one important thing.

Go.

Make disciples of all nations.

And in that one little 3 letter word, my guilt faded away.

ALL nations.

Not just the village in Africa or China. Not just the inner city in Germany or England.

Not only the inner city or impoverished rural community in America.

Not even a commandment to be a missionary to those in my community.

But in ALL nations, ALL places, everywhere.

What better place to begin than to those who I am closest?

I have 2 precious souls with whom I can impact in a very real way.

2 precious souls who think I know everything for 10 years.

2 precious souls who think I know about half of everything for 3 years.

And 2 precious souls who think I know nothing for 5 years, only coming to me in their darkest moments when they are the most vulnerable.

I have been called to the mission field.

My mission field looks green. A green painted house and a green tinted roof surrounded by a green patch of weeds and grass.

And inside the green are two lively spirits who I can give a foundation to before they step out into the world. A world which isn’t always the most friendly or kind, but a world I hope and pray they are ready for.

A little outside the green but still in my heart are friends and loved ones. Those who I can encourage and pray for. Those who I can support in their dreams, goals, and struggles.

I believe God has made me content because I am exactly where He wants me, doing exactly what He desires.

Your mission field may be a different color, and even involve a different nation, and for that, I say GO.

But if your GO is to stay at home and nurture whoever God has placed around you, I say listen to that. Listen to your spirit and STAY….STAY and be a missionary right where you are.

What does your mission field look like? Are you called to be somewhere else or content right where you are?

 

~Crystal

 

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When You Don’t Fit In

hiding to fit in

geralt / Pixabay

Miss Crafty built a dam. She has been busily constructing it around her and allowing certain people on certain bridges. From one bridge you couldn’t see the other and therefore left completely oblivious to the other side.

In this way she built herself a safety zone. An area where she could be herself.

She only let her immediate family into her safety zone.

I knew she would build it some day. I knew that the walls were starting to be constructed but I didn’t realize that she had completed the project.

Yesterday I discovered her dam and it broke my heart.

Miss Crafty has always been smart. She thinks and processes at a speed years beyond her age. There are times when she is smarter than me.

It has always scared me. My Husband and I do the best we can to keep her intellectually challenged and emotionally balanced.

On one bridge are her intellectual peers. It depends on the subject how old these peers are. For math they are the 13 or 14 year old A-students. For other subjects they are about 12.

On the other bridge are her emotional peers. They are your stereotypical 5th grade girls who love horses, pink, earrings, and all things girly.

Those two bridges cannot cross. Those two parts of Miss Crafty are at war with each other and she struggles to balance it.

And sometimes she fails.

Yesterday was one of those days. So I found myself in a tear filled conversation about her intelligence when she confessed her dam:

“I pretend to not know things just so I can have friends and fit in.”

My heart shattered.

Her dam was completed. She had learned something that no child should have to learn.

She learned to split herself in two and hide the other half.

She can’t fully fit in with her intellectual peers. 12 and 13 year-olds do not have the same maturity as a 10 year old. They are interested in different things.

She can’t fully fit in with her emotional peers. When playing, she sees the flaws in their plans long before they ever attempt something. 4th and 5th graders simply don’t have the base knowledge to understand physics in the same way. While Miss Crafty can see they are doomed to fail, they are obliviously enjoying the fun filled moment.

So she pretends.

And as we laid on my bed and shared tears I tried to empathize the best I could. Everyone can understand the difficulty of not fitting in as a child. I know what it feels like to be left out. I wish I didn’t.

I did the best to offer what hope I could. I let her know that it is okay to have these feelings, and that there is nothing wrong with being smart and wishing you weren’t. I also let her know that she would eventually find some place she fits in, it just many not be tomorrow.

I told her that she is just fine as she is.

And we watched /Scorpion/.

If you haven’t seen that show on CBS yet, it is amazing. I cried through the first episode.

Miss Crafty isn’t as smart as these geniuses but I see many similar qualities and quirks in her.

While we watched the show, she laughed and looked over at me and whispered, “I can totally understand how he’s feeling right now.”

And for the first time in a long time I think she could fully relate to someone–even if it was a fictional character on the TV.

I don’t have the answers for her. She knows that God loves her as she is. We often tell her that God made her exactly who she is, and that she is perfect.

That gives her foundation and security, but doesn’t solve her problem.

For now, she doesn’t fit in anywhere.

Being a parent is hard. It breaks my heart to see her hurting, and all I can do is pray, love her through it, and give her the confidence to shine.

~Crystal

 

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