Moving Home Again

March 12, 2013 — Leave a comment

The past month and a half we’ve been house-sitting for my parents.  They went down south for February and then just as we were about to pull out, we got a couple feet of snow dumped on us and the campground said there was no way for us to get in.  Then we decided that since my spring break was coming up, and Brent was taking vacation that week, we’d just stay here a little longer and then go vacation camping (as opposed to living camping?).

So that’s next week.

I enjoyed living here but I do miss our trailer.  I like staying with my parents and hanging out with them more often.  We help each other with various things and it’s nice to have someone new to chat with while Brent is gone all day.  But at the same time, I miss the outdoorsiness of the trailer.  Even though it was pretty cold in there all day, you could hear the birds and the rain.  You’re much closer to nature, even without having to go outside :)

I’m also glad I don’t have to do the upkeep on a house anymore.  It feels lazy to say that, but it really takes a lot of time to clean 6 rooms as opposed to 2.  Plus the multiple rooms cuts all feelings of “togetherness”  Andrei might be in the living room with us, but I can’t even see him all the way over there.  And there is a lot more yelling from room to room.

All in all, I liked living here, but I also like living in the RV, and I’m really anxious to move back.  5 days!

I had this thought come to me a couple of days ago when I was reading my Bible.

Let love soften and strengthen you.

Let love soften you when your heart wants to be angry and hard and it feels like everyone is going against you and you can’t forgive.  When you want to yell and scream and be angry, let love soften you and fill your heart with compassion and grace.

Let love strengthen you when you feel your heart melting like wax.  When nothing is going right and people are pushing you around and you’re drowning in sorrow or pain or stress.  When you want to just hide in a hole and give up on the world, let love strengthen you and help you do what you need to do.

Let love be the pull that brings your heart back from the extremes.

I had some thoughts last night after posting my International Women’s Day post.  Really, all the blaming of women and responsibility on women does a disservice to men, too.

I once told someone of my plans to go to school, they asked – when I was in class, who would cook dinner for Brent?  What were they implying?  That Brent wasn’t capable of cooking for himself?  That it was only my job and he is so helpless that I must also feed him?  I’ll let you know that both Brent and Andrei take their turn cooking dinner and they’re both quite good at it.

Saying that women must cover themselves from head to toe so not to incur lust in men shows that if a man sees a woman, he can not possibly be expected to keep it in their pants.  Men all over America have such feeble minds that they can not focus on God if a woman in the building might be wearing a sleeveless top.  Men’s eyes are so weak that there is no physical way he could look away in a situation where a woman is dressed inappropriately.  That does not give a very high view of men.

I think the worst is when women are punished for the crimes of men.  When a man isn’t held responsible for his own actions, it doesn’t help him, but hurts him.  How can someone grow as a person if they are allowed to blame their wife or girlfriend for their issues?  How can a man with an anger problem grow closer to God if his wife is just told to submit more and not “provoke him”.  He will never over come his anger, it will become worse until it destroys him.

I make a point to strongly teach Andrei about personal responsibility.  He is responsible for his own actions.  It doesn’t matter if someone hit him first, or if a magazine with a girl catches his eye.  He is responsible for himself and will be questioned only for the choices he made.  There is no “she made me do it” in our family.

 

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave or free, male and female.  Among us you are all equal.  Galatians 3:28

I am a feminist because I am a Christian. God commands us to fight for the helpless, uplift the broken, and share God’s love unconditionally to those around me.  I find gross disconnect between how men are treated and how women are treated in this world.  And, not because I am a woman, but because I am a Christian and have experienced God’s love, my heart breaks for women all over the world.

Woman burned by acid at the hand of her ex-husband, is forced to remarry him

Woman punished for being gang-raped

Worldwide, women are more likely than men to be poor and at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets.

It happens in the United States

Divorce makes men wealthier, but women worse off

Rape victim may be expelled from university for speaking out against attacker (who she never even named)

Pregnant senior not allowed to attend graduation (the baby’s father was)

It even happens in the church

Women are asked to submit to their husbands so far that they are being abused

I personally know women who were excommunicated for divorcing their abusers, who were abandoned financially and spiritually for questioning their abusers, One woman left her home church because the leadership wouldn’t call her husband her on his abuse.  When she returned, everyone was so happy that she was “back with God” – but she was also back with the man that verbally and financially abused her, but no one mentioned that.

God created us all beautiful children of his family.  It kills me to know that half of the population is considered to be less strong, less wise, and less valuable than the other half.

I’ll add one more link – Rachel Held Evans always seems to say what I think much better than I do – The Accidental Feminist

Happy International Women’s Day!

More than any other single Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us… We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface.  If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately.

 

March is fasting month.  Not one I was particularly looking forward to.  It’s not exactly fun. The other disciplines I can carve out some alone time and do them all on my own, but this one affects my family and how I go about my life.

I have tried fasting in the past.  It has never gone well.  I give up easily.  I forget.  I decide that it’s doubling as a ‘diet’ and then my ‘motives are off’ and that gives me an excuse to quit.

What is in the quote is true.  There is a reason it’s called “comfort food”  When you go without food, crankiness comes quickly, and with that frustration and rude words and whatever other issues you have hiding in your heart of hearts.  If your kids act up, you make sure they have eaten something before judging that their behavior.  If I get really hungry, I sit on the couch and sometimes can not even think straight until there is food in me.  Fasting is sort of like purposely “poking the beast” so you can get a chance to tame it.

The book recommends a weekly fast, and continuing with that for at least two years.  It said that is sufficient enough time to run though all the gamut of emotions and thoughts and finally settle down enough to really focus on God.
I’m not sure I can do that.  Once a week is quite a bit.  I’m already running through excuses – what if there is a social event, what will my family say, oh but what it will save on groceries, and I might lose that 5 extra pounds.  All the wrong reasons are popping into my head.

Maybe I just don’t want to.  It’s too hard.  I can be committed, but once a week is really very difficult.  Before I started writing, I had decided on at least one 24 hour fast per month.  But can I, should I do more?  I don’t know.

Prayer as comfort

February 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

Part of my 2013 Challenge is praying every day.  I keep putting off writing about it because I keep wanting something magical to happen that I can write this super awesome and inspiring blog post and it will be amazing and give everyone who reads this a gigantic faith boost and be the best thing evah!

But that has not happened.

It’s almost the end of the month, so I really do have to update how my prayer month went.  I started off pretty cynical, I must admit, and after my little rant, I tried to focus on what I thought was good about prayer, instead of all of my doubts.

I kept coming back to Prayer as a Comfort.

It certainly is comforting to have a friend pray for you when you are feeling down, or need some encouragement.  It’s comforting to me to pray for my family or a bad situation.  Even if nothing comes of it, I feel more calm about the situation.  I think praying helps me take a step back and have a more global view of the situation.  I think of Brent as a strong and wise leader and pray that his words and actions make an impact at his workplace.  I see Andrei’s broken past and see Brent and my arms wrapped around him, holding him together as God works in his heart.  I see my friends loving on their families and God’s protective bubble around their house.  And it makes me feel like all could be okay in the world for now.  It comforts me.

I don’t think I’ll really ever pray for specific things.  I get too hyped up about that stuff, what exactly I believe or don’t believe about how God interacts in the world.  But I do know that God acts in peoples hearts and I can pray for that to happen.  I don’t know how effective my prayers are in the lives of others, but I guess, cliche though it is, it sort of does change me.

The second chapter of Celebration of Discipline focuses on Prayer.

Confession – it’s the 6th of February and I’ve only done prayed twice.  Well, unless you count “Dear God, I don’t know what I’m doing.  What am I supposed to do with this prayer thing?”  If that counts I may have prayed more than a dozen times.

Truthfully, I am not a good pray-er.  I don’t like praying.  I don’t even like to pray at meals and that’s the easiest prayer in the world.

I have some theories on why but they’re still super disorganized in my head, so this post might also be super disorganized.

  • Brent and I are infertile and have heard a billion and one times that if we pray for a baby it will happen.  It didn’t.  Neither did any of the adoptions (after Andrei) that we prayed for.  So there’s some hurt there.
  • I’ve heard it said that prayer is for you and will change your heart if you’re not in line with God, so I spent quite a while only praying for myself. Not for things, but for myself to be a better person/more like God/etc.
  • Sometimes I think I lean more Deist in my beliefs.
  • I feel like if I pray for something, and it doesn’t happen – then it’s my fault.  But if I pray for something and it *does* happen, then I have sole responsibility to fix everyone’s problems in the whole world by praying for them.
  • Prayer is kind of ambiguous, really.  If you pray for something and it happens, then Praise God! But if you didn’t, then it’s not God’s will.  So what’s the point?  God does what He wants to and I can accept that.  But why fool myself into thinking I have a say in the opinion of the Most High God.
  • I don’t really think God cares much about the weather for my camping trip.

God and I have lots of conversations, sure, but I never really “pray for things”.  I realize that this part of me is broken and I try not to spread my heresy too much for fear that Andrei will grow up with the same cynicism as I have.

But this year is about a challenge, I guess.  A challenge to get out of my comfort zone and become closer to God, whatever that really means.  

It is winter and we’re still surviving in this RV thing.  It’s getting pretty cold out though.  We were supposed to move to my parents house for February while they’re snow-birding, but then we had a cold snap again and we have to wait until it goes above freezing to empty the tanks and winterize.

Pretty much the whole day is centered around heating something or monitoring the temperature in something else.  Let me tell you how a day goes here.

At night we have the heat set at 55 or 57F.  Andrei has an electric blanket and Brent and I share one, plus we all have multiple fluffy quilts keeping us cozy.  Brent and I have our bedroom door shut and there is only one tiny vent going to our room so it gets pretty chilly in there.  There is literally frost in the corners of the room.  This morning, one of my pillows was frozen to the wall.   But with the million blankets and dehumidifier, it is tolerable.  Sometimes our noses get a little chilled, but that’s it.  Getting up, however, is a different story.  If one of us gets up to use the bathroom before the alarm goes off, it’s their job to turn up the house heat (66-68ish).  Otherwise it’s usually my job.  My alarm goes off at 6AM but it might take me up to an hour to have the guts to climb out of bed and make the mad dash out of the room.  We call our version of ‘Cold Shower Therapy‘.

Anyway, I finally get up and immediately put on slippers and my hooded sweatshirt.  I purposely keep them in the main house so it is toastier than whatever temperature our bedroom drops to.  I start boiling water for coffee and get breakfast going.  One of the things I started doing was taking our plates and coffee cups out of the cupboard and setting them on the heater to thaw before I put the hot food on them.  Restaurants do it to be nice – we do it out of necessity.  There is also frost in those cupboards so the dishes are *icy*.

Foto

 

After breakfast and coffee, Brent puts some more water in the teakettle for his morning wash-up.  We quit using the shower in October due to water usage, and turned off the water heater in November due to propane usage.  If we’re going through a tank of propane overnight in these temps just to heat our house, I can’t imagine what we would have been using to keep our hot water tank heated too.  So we use the stove.  We have a big enamelware washtub that we fill with our desired amount of water and then take it into the shower stall to splash and wash and do whatever we need to get clean.  It’s not horrible.  It’s not the most fun, but it’s not bad, really.

Until we all washed up and the morning dishes are done, we’re pretty much running the teakettle constantly.  After that we’re all heated, and the house is heated, and we’re ready for the day.

If you were to stop by during the day you might see the following:  Anyone who is sitting down is covered in a blanket.  Me jumping out of my skin because the cat is curled up underneath our blankets and I leaned on him to make the bed.  Random objects laying on the floor because we set them on the heater where the cat’s “seat” is.  The tea kettle running again, because of more dishes.
Also there is the “rule of the heater”, which I haven’t quite figured out yet.  The big question is – when the heater comes on, do you unblanket and run around to do your chores, or do you wait until the heater cycles so the house is at the maximum temperature.  I haven’t decided which is best yet. However, one thing I do know is that if you have to pee or something, as soon as you hear the heater kick in, you better go right then.  The bathroom is tiny and has it’s own gigantic heater vent, so it is always sauna temperatures.  Brent and I both may get caught sneakily bumping the temperature up so the heater kicks in right before wash-up time.

In the evening Brent comes home from work and always gives an update on where our propane level is at.  We have two small 30 lb propane tanks that he switches out and then drives them to fill when one is empty.  They last a week when it’s cold, or a day or two when it’s frigid (i.e. WI in January).  After dinner we retire to our individual activities, all the while carting our individual blankies.  After dark the heat also gets notched up a bit and the electric blanket also gets turned on at least an hour before bedtime.

At bedtime we better remember to turn the heat back down, or someone (Brent) will have to do the naked dash and freeze their parts off climbing out of bed to turn it down after being snuggled under the covers.  Our bed does not have enough space to walk around so we have to climb over it to get in.  But the top of the cover is cold, only the inside is warm.  So I developed my own technique where I walk over the bed, squat down to plug my phone in and put it away and then sort of shimmy into the warm covers without ever touching the top of the bed.  It sometimes works but sometimes I get a cold shock.

After we are all snuggled, Brent and I amuse ourselves like all good married couples – by touching each other with our cold toes.  :P  After we are warm we drift off and dream of warmer temperatures tomorrow.

See, it’s not that bad – we’re just fine ;)

My project for 2013 is going through the book Celebration of Discipline – one discipline each month.  January focused on meditation.

I started out the month focusing on each of the fruits of the spirit but the concepts were too short and my mind wandered after just a few minutes.  Just about a week ago I found a list of self-affirmations and I’ve been going through one of those each day.  Those hold my focus for a little longer – if I get off track I try and get back with some deep breathing.

I meditated about 90% of the days – all of the days I missed were because I didn’t get up for my normal routine and then forgot later in the day.  Meditating later in the day would probably help me more honestly since I could use that break from the stresses and anxiety of the day, but it’s exactly those stresses that make me forget to do it in the first place.  So I’ll probably continue to do it first thing in the morning.  Maybe I’ll try and be more aware of the super anxious days and fit in another meditation in the afternoon.

I’ve also had Andrei meditating before school – just for a couple of minutes.  He has huge school anxiety and I tell him to focus on relaxing and pushing out his fears and focusing on God helping him when he’s afraid.  He said it is helping and I guess school this month has gone well, but it could just be him maturing.

I will definitely continue this habit – I feel centered and calm when I’m finished.

February’s focus is prayer – a skill I am not good at – we’ll see how it goes I guess.

I have a tendency to go a little overboard with my goals.  I’m *never* going to eat candy again.  I’ll completely stop nagging Andrei and be a perfectly patient mother.  We’re only going to spend $20 for our weekly groceries and then we can pay off all out debt this month!  Problem this never ever works.  I’m not really good at the long term thing.  But then I get to be a year later and I still have the same problems and same issues.

So I started baby stepping.  I know I’m a controlling person.  I like things done my way or the highway.  Mine is the best way, and it’s also my job to instruct my family the best way.  Unfortunately they don’t agree with me.  Sometimes I get stuck on something and get a bit… can I say… bitchy….  After a yelling session at Andrei for leaving his bedroom light on AGAIN, I realized I was turning into sort of a jerk.  So I tried not nagging for anything.  That quickly went downhill and I got no help for any chore and became super resentful.  So I decided I’d baby step my way into being a nicer person.

First, I would just stop bugging Andrei about his light.  Our electricity bill is not metered, and even if it was, it was one stupid lightbulb.  Did I really want one stupid lightbulb ruining my day and hindering my relationship with Andrei.  I have to admit, it was really difficult at first, seeing him go out to play and leave that dumb light.  It always happened when I was comfy and didn’t want to move to do it myself.  But I placated myself by reminding myself what a good and improving person I was becoming.  Yeah, it’s pride, but maybe I was ‘trading up’ on the sin heirarchy.

Eventually I got used to the not nagging about the light.  So I’d pick something else to ‘forgive’.  I quit nagging about wasting water, about pee on the seat (that was really hard), about not washing his breakfast dish.

I started doing this for a couple of months now.  It has really lowered my stress level and helped my relationship with Andrei.  Of course I still slip up but just taking some tiny steps has made a difference in Tracy the Bitch Queen Mom.