Monday, April 9, 2018

Doing the Right Thing...Just Not Right for You

Greetings Once Again, Chaotics!

I'd like to give you some long, lengthy apology and justified reason excuse as to why I'm not writing consistently.
I have heard from several of you, and please let it be known...I hear you. I'm sorry.

I'm also going to apologize in advance if this entire post sounds super-vague and confusing. As much as I'd like to give you my usual, unfiltered blog post...this time, I cannot because it involves people that I don't have permission to write about.

For quite some time, there has been a bit of uneasiness in my heart and my home. I had noticed it going on in several close friends lives as well. We are waiting for something good to come because life was dealing us an awful hard blow(or five hundred). We all had different circumstances and situations, but the outcome was the same...lots of frustration, lots of questioning God, lots of anger/depression/tears/anxiety over what's next.

In my own situation, I can tell you that *it* was causing a HUGE strain on my family life and marriage. I've cried more in the past few months than I have my entire life. There were MANY times I cried out to God to do SOMETHING...ANYTHING...because if He didn't give me some kind of answer to the questions on my heart, my marriage would be over. The pressure of *it* was just too much.

This alone made me cry even more. I freaking LOVE my husband, I used to LOVE our life, and I was SO CERTAIN that everything we did was for the best for our family.

For the record....no, there are no drugs, abuse, or adultery involved.

My husband kept saying this was the right thing. My brain knew it must be the right thing. People are benefitting from this. It wasn't us, but...people somewhere were benefitting from this.

But...our marriage was starting to feel like a wrestling tag team instead of a marriage under the guise of the right thing. My husband felt like he was trying to please five masters, and no one was ever happy. I was being wrongfully placed under the headship of...not my husband, and as a result, I felt bitter. We were barely talking, and it was guaranteed that there were only a few days of polite speech before the arguments came. Words were exchanged. Feelings were hurt. Apologies would eventually come, but the problem of what started the argument in the first place was always there, unanswered. Simmering in the background of our hearts, waiting for another few days before it was brought front and center once again.

How can the right thing....bear such rotten fruit in us?

There were weeks we didn't speak. I largely did this because I didn't like the words *I* was saying when the arguments came anymore. I'm pretty sure there are many verses in the Bible that says a wise person holds their tongue. Well, I won't be the first to admit if I'm wise, but I was just tired of the hurt- being hurt and hurting him.

Once we did finally speak, the tears flowed. As we continued talking about *it*, we realized we were both stubbornly doing something we perceived as right(and to most people's standards...it would be right), but it just wasn't right for us. We both admitted everything within us screamed no, to not do it, but we had been under the impression it was our flesh that wanted nothing more than the easiest route to take. We refused to be THOSE people...the people that see a wrong and do nothing to make it right.
Hypocrites.
No, we were going to do the right thing.
....even if it destroyed our marriage.

I have no Bible verse to support this off the top of my head, but sometimes....we humans, in our limited wisdom, will see a wrong and want to right it. It doesn't matter what it is, or what religious background you adhere to. There is something in all of us that just wants to always do the right thing. We don't dare to think that by doing what we perceive is right, that anything could go very, VERY wrong for us.

Christians are not immune to this. I would dare to say that not only are we not immune to it, but we are the people more prone to it.

Why?

I can't speak for every Christian in my answer, but for myself, it is largely due to the many times I have focused on verses that say DO THE RIGHT THING without really going into the DO WHAT GOD CALLS YOU TO DO bit.

But...isn't always doing the right thing also doing what God calls you to do?

Simply put- no.

God will not always do what we perceive as the right thing AND at what we perceive to be the right time.

In our situation, we were called to do the right thing...for a season. But when the season was up, we kept riding the righteous right train. We unraveled more and more reasons why we must press on because clearly, the alternative was the WRONG thing. We justified it to each other and to ourselves...without the other's input and, I'm ashamed to say, without asking God what the next step was or if this was still the right thing for us to keep doing.

Simply put, we were doing what was right...in our own eyes. And when the fruit bore from it was rotten, we looked to God questioning and doubting each other and ourselves. We wondered if we were horrible people for thinking the alternative was better when we knew(again, in our own eyes), it was not.

This for me is so, so hard to admit. Because I had people...many people in my life, who unfortunately didn't know our full struggle with *it* tell me constantly we were doing the right thing. Heaping praise and giving us many pats on the back that we were doing such a right thing(even though many of them would then whisper they could never do it..but, oh, we're practically saints for doing it because it is SO RIGHT!)!

I can't speak for my husband, but for myself, it seemed as though this praise, this encouragement from others would usually come when everything within me was screaming "STOP IT!". I took that as a sign that, even though I wasn't consulting God on it, maybe God is giving me the encouragement I need to just keep doing it.

Looking back now, I see that it was not that at all. It was the selfish part of me, the part that LOVES to hear people see MY hard work and clap. Because let's be real here- these people weren't clapping in my direction when I was doing what God had called me to do for the long haul.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."~ Proverbs 16:25

I really don't understand why God, knowing how passionate I can become, would allow something that would by all the world's standards be the right thing to do....and only allow it for a season. I kept thinking.

Oh.

Wait.

After talking...really talking, to my husband, we both came to the conclusion above at the same time. It's like God took us, in that car, and mid-sentence knocked us upside the head and said "DUH, DUM-DUMS!!"

We hadn't been seeking His will.

We hadn't been asking Him if this was His Will for the long-term.

We hadn't involved Him in the process really....at all!

And guess what?

We got what happens when humans do that....we almost killed our marriage over *it*!

We did what we perceived to be right in our own minds. We cherry-picked scripture to further solidify it MUST be right.

But...we forgot.

When dealing with individual souls. futures, plans...

EVERY TIME...

God knows better than we do! He puts things, people, events into our paths. And not everything is meant to be in our own lives, hearts, atmospheres...forever! Sometimes, even though it seems right...it's not always right for us...forever!

And that's okay!

We may not at the time always understand. It may take years of wondering, questioning why we can't keep plowing through Rightsville even though it's very, very right.

In the end, though, I have learned. My husband has learned. We have both grown.

* Depending on God really is a moment by moment thing. Not just a solid yes or a solid no forever. If we do not as a couple continually ask God what's the next step, we WILL fall flat on our face each and every single time, even if it's while in the midst of doing the right thing.

* Listen to that still, small voice. Sometimes, God says "NO" or "Not forever", and we aren't God. Trying to change His plan to fit with ours never ends well. NEVER.

*Pride comes before a fall. If you aren't following God's will, aren't asking Him what's the next step, marching to beat of your own accordion, then it doesn't matter how right whatever you're doing is...you are being prideful, and you will fall. Hard. And it will hurt. A lot.

There are many things that will, to you and everyone around you, appear to be right. You may find verses to back up or justify your stance.

However, PLEASE remember what I've said here.

By doing the right thing, even God has not called you to it....or hasn't called it to you forever...will produce bad fruit. It will result in doing the right thing that's just not right for you.

Sometimes, God calls other people do it and by insisting you are the right person for the job, you may find yourself destroying relationships or future ministries.

Don't be that person.

Accept the fact that doing the right thing may indeed look like NOT doing anything, or doing the WRONG thing.

Even the wrong thing will be turned right in His hands, and His time.

Only if we let go of what we insist must be right.

Until Next Time,

~Mama Jenn



Sunday, March 11, 2018

StepMom Chronicles, Part 1: "You Knew What You Were Getting Into..."

Greetings, Chaotics!
Today, I thought I'd start a series of posts about my (mis)adventures as a stepmother.
This week, I'm dealing with an often said thing to stepmothers when they hit a point of frustration.
"You knew what you were getting into..."

Let me start by first saying I was am an overachieving fool. I'd also like to add that I myself am a stepchild.
When I married my husband, I assumed things were pretty normal. He got married, he had two children, he got divorced. When we met, he was in the thick of the divorce part. I was his friend back then, so hearing him get frustrated about his "crazy ex-wife" didn't affect me. I was an ear to listen and vent to and to offer my own perspective. Besides, don't all men call their exes crazy women at some point?

When things started to get serious between us, I asked him more about his children. I talked to them a handful of times. They both sounded shy, so I didn't press anything. After all, I was this weird black lady talking to their dad on Skype and over the phone from 2,000 miles away. Being a shy child myself, I could understand their inability to warm up to me in those circumstances.

When we started talking(and working towards) meeting and getting married, again...I assumed things would just fall into place. Eventually. I thought back to evolving relationship with my own stepmother. I initially was shy, and kinda freaked out that another woman was spending SO MUCH TIME with my dad. Then, she was just...sort of there. I didn't really think about it as good or bad, I didn't question why she was there or why I had to interact with her. I was a child; I was told not told to respect all adults and obey all rules. She was an adult and I tried to respect and obey her. I don't recall many times(until my teen years, when we had to start living together) that I ever disobeyed or told her I didn't like her. I didn't like her(because my mom didn't like her), but I was a kid-my opinion meant diddly squat to adults.

When we had to live together, I(in all my teenage wisdom) saw my dad being "controlled" by her. My dad was a cool guy- he always bought me things when he thought to and he paid his child support. I mean, surely SHE had to be the problem. There's no way my dad could be that much of a jerk to me without her pulling some invisible strings to make it so. Plus, I was hurting from the loss of my own mother(she passed when I was 13). I wanted someone, anyone to take out my frustration and confusion on, and like I said...she was just...there.

Then, I became an older teen/young adult. Our relationship was hit or miss, but it was overall better. I still thought I knew everything and she was just trying to fill the space in my heart that arrived when my mom passed. Sorry, nope, I don't WANT another mom, I had one. Flaws and all, she was amazeballs and you're not(all the time, anyway).

Then...I became an adult. She was still "my stepmom", but our relationship improved. I became a mom, she treated my kids as her grandbabies and I didn't fight it. She and my dad did their best to be there for my kids, and as a single mom, I needed any and all help I could get. She jumped in eagerly during holiday meals at my house to do the dishes, or stir whatever was on the stove or baste whatever was in the oven. She recorded shows that my kids wanted to watch but couldn't because of our tight finances. She and my dad bought them stuffed toys year round and Christmas presents, birthday presents, and "just because" presents. I'd talk to her for hours on end, about my budding faith, about mom life, about things going on in my life. She rarely criticized me for doing stupid things and defended/pleaded for me when my dad was telling me(in his harsh voice) that I was screwing up AGAIN. She called me "daughter" and I didn't fight it.

So, excuse me for thinking that my relationship with my own(soon-to-be) stepchildren would be just like that. I thought I AM a stepkid so I know EXACTLY what I am "getting myself into, thank-you-very-much."

Except.....I had NO FREAKING CLUE.

My first encounter with my stepchildren was, at first, what I expected. I met their mother, I saw them for the first time face-to-face, it was a lot of awkward silences/nervous laughter at the wrong times, and looking down at feet for me.

I went to greet my stepson. I tried to shake hands with him. I knew what it was like to force physical contact from a relative you can't stand, I didn't want to be that person. I thought a handshake would be non-invasive.
"Hi, remember me? I'm Jenn. How are you doing?"

He looked at my hand like it was a freak of nature. He looked at his mom. Back to my freak of nature hand, just hanging there in mid-air. He looked down at the ground.

"My mom says you're not my REAL mom. That you're JUST marrying my dad. And I don't HAVE to call you mom or anything else. And you're not replacing MY MOM. You're not going to be MY MOM."

Uhm.

I looked over to their mother. She sneered at me.

Well, there goes my notion of The Brady Brunch. 

Back home, an adult would have slapped a child for talking so rudely to an adult. Here, nothing was done.

Toto, I don't think we're in PA anymore...

That entire summer was filled with lots of ugly crying calls to my husband from the bathroom, lots of "hidden stash" chocolate consumed(and not all of it from me), lots of screaming, and lots of feeling "WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO?!?!"

No. I did NOT know what I was getting myself into. And I'm not alone- most stepmothers today say the same thing. This quote is a horrible quote to say to a hurting, confused stepmother. None of us had a clue as to what we were getting into.

Sure, there are(so I am told) adults out there that marry, have kids, get divorced, get remarried and everything is peachy-keen. Co-parenting is done swimmingly. There's rarely a disagreement, the kids know their place, and adults think and interact with the best interest of the children. If there's any anger towards one parent's way of doing things, it's resolved or discussed without one person feeling attacked. Stepmother and Biological Mother even become friends, taking pictures together with hashtags along the lines of "this is how adults do it" or "This is what REAL co-parenting looks like".

But for a bulk of us...it is not this way. For whatever reasons, Biological mothers or fathers are bitter about how the divorce(or split-up) went down and use the kids at every opportunity to make their former spouse miserable. They're hurt their relationship didn't work and take them to court for EVERYTHING. Or use the kids as instruments of power, to control their ex-spouse and their new partner.

Kids are left in the dark. They don't know why their parents split or want to blame it on one parent unjustly. Most of these kids don't get therapy(and trust me, some NEED it) or have a healthy way of expressing their frustrations. They are transported from one house to another, never really getting comfortable, truly comfortable in either. They have to abide by two sets of house rules, two ways of life, and they can't always keep it straight which rule/way of life is for which parent/house.

No. I did NOT know what I was getting myself into.

I know if people who come from divorce in these sort of situations were honest...COMPLETELY honest, there would be no second(or third or whatever) marriages. Any potentials would have been run off and freaked out by their dynamics.

I had NO CLUE that my husband's ex-wife was ACTUALLY freaking crazy. Not just the "I can't stand that woman, she's nuts!" crazy, but the "oh, she's medically confirmed as bipolar and sometimes chooses not to take her medications and does illegal things from time to time" sort of crazy.
(and please...before I get hate mail from people that are bipolar and "I'm clearly stereotyping and how dare me", unless you've lost you're kids three times and have CPS knocking on your door at least once every two to three years, sit down. If you can relatively function as an adult on a regular basis and take your medications as prescribed without self-medicating with what our state considers an illegal drug, then I'm not talking to/about you. I'm talking about the one person I encounter that has it, NOT all of the people that have it. )

I had NO CLUE my stepchildren were being neglected, or that they were special needs. That first(and second) summer, I thought they hated me and (by their actions) letting me know it every chance they got. I wrongfully called them "little heathens" to my friends because I didn't know the extent of what they've gone through/the way they were processing the world. I didn't know there WAS such a thing as adults that didn't really make children a priority. I mean, I guess I did in the grand scheme of things. But those are the parents you usually see on the 6o'clock news, getting their kids taken away from them. Not, you know...being given visitation and summers together because well, that's their mom, whatareyagonnado?

No. I didn't know what I was getting into.

I had only seen step-parenting as a stepchild. And, my parents(and stepmother) did a whole lot of adulting, and adulting well, because I thought despite not liking each other, they shielded me from an awful lot. If there were fights between them, or disagreements, or bitterness, I rarely saw it. If my stepmother didn't like me because(let's be real here), I was a total BRAT, she hid it awfully well. I only recall one incident, when she called her relatives and spoke Spanish(which I don't speak fluently) in an angry tone after getting into a fight with my dad about something I did. If she cried and ate chocolate in the bathroom, I never knew it. If she ever wished someone, anyone would take me instead of her and my dad, I never heard it. If she ever wondered what she got herself into, she never voiced it within my earshot.

Please don't assume that when someone marries another person with a child/children, that they KNOW what they're getting themselves into. Just like people who decided "let's have a baby" or "let's get married"doesn't 100% know what they're getting into...step parents are no different. There are unspoken dynamics, there are messy, imperfect people(and more of them) involved. There is assumptions of how it's going to be, and expectations never fully met. There are sides of people never seen until thrust in certain situations-sometimes good, sometimes not. There are children one(or more) adults didn't raise or give birth to, and there's the expectation we're supposed to just get this internal instinct upon saying "I do" that these kids are supposed to feel JUST like ours, we're supposed to treat them as if they are our own(until the Biological mother finds out), when society is screaming at us every chance they get that they're not.

When becoming a step-parent, no one completely knows what they're getting themselves into. NO ONE.

So, please, stop saying this when a step-parent comes to you in frustration. It does nothing to help them feel better, and often times, makes us feel worse. We feel like we SHOULD of known without you telling us so. We feel terrible when we weren't handed whatever wisdom should of been given by the step-god-mother fairy upon putting on the ring. We often feel like we're the only ones sucking rocks at this, something must be wrong with US, because, look at so-and-so, they're totally nailing it and I'm totally NOT.

Instead, just listen. Be a good friend. Pray for us. Stepmothers need those more than your opinion of what knowledge we should have received beforehand. And by all means, if you ARE a step-parent and have some wisdom to impart, TELL US. Not in a condescending way, please; but an "I've been there and I can relate to your feelings" sort of way.

And most of all...give us chocolate.

I'm not speaking for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. There are poor unfortunate stepmothers that are allergic to the stuff.
Pray harder for those stepmothers.
But for the rest of us....having chocolate and tissues on hand helps.
Having a sympathetic ear to listen...helps.

Not throwing shade on their feelings by saying "You knew what you were getting into..." that REALLY helps.

Until Next Time,
~ Mama Jenn



Monday, January 1, 2018

WordS of the Year

Greetings once again, Chaotics!
Hope everyone is having a great start to the New Year!
Speaking of...have you decided on YOUR New Years Goals/ Resolutions/Word for the Year?

The past few days, I've had time to sit down and reflect on my word from last year. If you'd like a recap of 2016, as well as a more detailed explanation of what my word was, click here.
Last Year's Word was: Peace.
And, if I have to be honest....last year was anything but Peaceful, despite my effort and prayer!
(Keep an eye on my YT channel to find out why! I'll update this post when I upload it)

This year, as I thought and prayed...I realized I can't really give ONE word alone to my year. As much as I'd like to, each season...each month is different. I have different goals for each, and although the idea of just one word helps me to strive towards consistency throughout the whole year...call me crazy, but I need several words to further refine and redefine my life for an entire year!
(Clear as mud? Okay, great!)

With all that said...this season's word came to me as I answered a question on social media so others could get to know me better. As I looked back with longing of previous Winter's, I realized that we had NONE of that word this year. As I approached the end of Thanksgiving and the start of Winter holidays(my birthday, Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Years)....for the first time, I didn't feel the usual excitedness or joy that came with this time. I felt rushed, frazzled, and downright robotic(i.e.-going through the motions). On my birthday, I cried. Christmas came and went and the only thing I looked forward to was...it being over. New Year's Eve arrived and all I wanted to do was sleep right through it.
My home's atmosphere didn't feel the usual buzz of anticipation for this season, nor did it reflect it. The people within felt the overall uneasiness and responded accordingly.

It dawned on me that my heart, my home, my family...NONE of us were ready or prepared for the start of Winter, nor did we do the usual things that open our hearts to welcome the season. We were all waiting, restlessly, for the traditions that tell us this time is here. Because of everything surrounding our family, my brain was on autopilot and the traditions fell by the wayside. When I tried to start one, I was reminded we skipped a previous one, and we couldn't fully enjoy the one we were on because we did them out of order.

With the start of the New Year...I realized one word, one key element was lacking at the start of our Winter. That word is my word for the season: SAVOR.
We were restless because we weren't slowing down. Isn't that what Winter as a whole makes us do...slow down and savor the things within?
We can't inhale usual Winter treats...they're usually too hot for us to do so! If we didn't savor the cup of hot cocoa, or the cookie fresh from the oven, or the stew in the crock pot...we'd give ourselves third-degree burns!
If we don't slow down on Winter roads(we may not savor winter driving, and that's okay)...we'd cause an accident!
We can't rush through warming ourselves by the fireplace. We can't quickly set up the Christmas tree. Stories or memories of past Winters can't be read/said "Long story short edition". Traditions for this time of year are like fast food...there's no "drive-by edition".
Winter makes us SAVOR and slow down. Snow, cold, ice...they may be inconvenient to some, but to people like me, they are a reminder that this season was intended to be enjoyed at a less frantic pace. You simply cannot "GO GO GO" during Winter....our bodies, our minds, our souls(not to mention, most of our cars) are not designed to do so!

And as I thought about these things(and the seasonal theme of SAVOR)...another word came to mind for this month. As I reflected on my heart, I started to reflect on my home. Our home is a reflection, a mirror to which we can better see what's inside our souls.
What does my home reflect? Well, if I'm being honest(I am!), my home is reflecting CHAOS(and no, not the good kind that's the theme behind this blog). As a meme I saw once read:
"My Housekeeping Style is Best Described as "There Appears to Have Been A Struggle"".
Ain't that the truth! Last year, I said I wanted order and organization. However, adding two special needs children to our home this past year resulted in something FAR from order and organization! It resulted in an outward showing of the changes that happened within all of us, as we adjusted to these new additions...and not in a good way at ALL!
My home became a battleground of wits. It wasn't a home-it was a WARZONE! It was no longer a place of refuge from the world like it used to be. To see us nearing these four walls did NOT give me a sense of peace...it made me want to run the other direction!
What happened? Our house was no longer a HAVEN.
It lacked the love of homemaking I once had because I was up to my eyeballs in BUSY, NAGGING, and constant REMINDING. I felt like a firefighter in my own house...not trying to find ways to safely avoid fires, but just extinguishing one fire and waiting for the next. I woke up each morning in panic mode, and I went to bed each day feeling like I had done nothing more than keep the flames to a minimum.
My January word, as a result, is HAVEN. I am working towards many goals this month, but the central theme for it is returning my house back into a home; a haven, a place of refuge. I'm hoping and praying throughout this month that as I open myself to better organization and order within my home, the people within will do the same.
Granted...5 of these people ARE kids. But, that's why God gave us prayer, right?

SAVOR and HAVEN. Those are my words for the start of 2018.

What word(s) are Y'all working towards building up more of in your own lives? I'd love to hear about it!

Until Next Time,
  ~Mama Jenn



Saturday, December 10, 2016

God Has A Funny Way of Answering Prayers

Greetings, Chaotics!
*Disclaimer: I wrote this over a month ago. I am SO sorry that I totally forgot to publish it!*

Today, I want to talk about answered prayers. As you know, God and I have a....very interesting relationship when it comes to our form of communication(prayer and answers to prayer). And how it has to do with all the events of the past 24 hours.

Sometimes, I'll pray for something specific and in His time, I get it, exactly how I asked. These sort of prayers are pretty cool to see, because I feel like God is really interested in someone as totally boring as me. That God...dare I say? Really cares about lil' ol' me. I know people say parent's don't pick favorites and all that jazz, but when this happens, it feels like God is saying., "You're my favorite!".

Sometimes, I'll pray for something specific and...hear nothing back. These are often the most frustrating, because I feel like I'm praying God's will for my life, but then even the crickets are quiet and I realize...whoops, nope, that's just me treating God like some genie in the sky instead of the Maker of my soul. Then I have to back track, which usually means that God needs to work on something in me.

Sometimes, I'll pray(crazy as it sounds) over a situation that's on my heart and that God just does what He wants in it. Usually, this happens after Sometime #2 happens and I haven't really come to the point that it's me, but I'm just tired of dealing with it on my own strength. These are my "wild card" prayers because I think I know what God is going to do, and sometimes He does it just as I think He will, but most times He doesn't and it knocks my socks off in amazement. In some instances, He'll answer more than one prayer at a time and then I'm just totally flabbergasted because, well, that's pretty awesome and woah, he's blessing me in more than one way!

Well, these past few months, I've had my stepchildren on my heart. Call it the Holy Spirit, Motherly intuition or whatever you want, but they have been on my heart. For those who know me well, this was sort of a shock in itself. My stepchildren are NOT fond of me, and, although I love them, I didn't really....like them. So, they weren't usually on my mind or heart because they weren't my children. Until the past few months.

Because of the awkward position I was in(stepmother, not exactly fond of their mother), I kept my distance and did what I could....I prayed.

I prayed for their safety, because something in my heart said something's not right. 
I prayed for their family to come to know God, because, well, despite our feelings towards one another, I really don't want the children to be separated from God. I wanted all of them to know and love God.
I also prayed, and I don't fully know why, that if their mother was for some reason not being a good mother to them, according to God's standard and not my own(because I am human and flawed just like everyone else) that we would get full custody of them. But if that was not God's will that God will bridge a better relationship between all of us so I wouldn't have to punch her in the throat, I mean, so that my husband wouldn't feel divided between us and them.
As you all know, I have also been praying for more children. I thought God would open the door for us to have some of our own. And maybe He will. But as it stands, He hasn't. With this particular prayer, first I prayed for Him to miraculously open my womb. After a year of that not happening, I started to pray that God would provide the money for the surgery I need to reverse my unfertility. After a year of that not happening, I finally started praying my "wild card" prayer, just saying, "Look, God, you know I want more kids. I don't care HOW you do it- adoption, in-vitro, miraculously opening my womb, blessing us with the money to do the surgery, or if you just drop some kids on our doorstep. I really don't care anymore. I feel like kids are missing from our family and I want Your will to be done in it. So, do it however you think is best."
After months of no response, I assumed things were fine. The stepchildren were being kept safe, I was worried for nothing. And God was working on something in me to prepare my heart for more children. That He was showing me that He and I needed to have more heart-to-hearts on some issues because, He wasn't done with me yet. I was okay with this.
But then....
My husband got a call. First, a call from Utah, which was weird, because we know no one in Utah.
A few minutes later, a call from the children's grandmother. She wasn't sure what was all going on, but the kids may need to stay with us soon. Their mother had done some things and she may or may not get arrested for them. She'd call once she knew more.

My husband started to shake his head. "It was only a matter of time," he said.
I said, "let's not jump the gun, we don't know anything yet. Let's wait and see."

A few hours later....another call from their grandmother. We need to make arrangements to get them ASAP. Their mother was being arrested, CYS was involved, and her and her husband couldn't handle all three of the grandchildren. Could we take hubby's two?

God has a funny way of answering multiple prayers, doesn't He?

We drove the almost three hours to get to them. We were told the grim story of what the grandmother had just found out less than a day before, as well as what she and her husband had to deal with the past several months. I tried hard not to say too much, but once we had found out everything....something just overtook me.
Do you know what it was?
That crazy thing called Godly love.

Suddenly, these kids weren't just "hubby's kids that for some reason hate me." They were children that God loved and had a purpose for. They were children that God would do anything for. They were children that, for whatever reason, were dealt a crappy blow because their mother has mental health issues and couldn't seem to adult like what I assumed was the rest of us.
It didn't matter anymore if they hated my guts. It was of no concern to me that we may not get along.
God was answering the prayer of my heart. He was blessing me with more children. They were no longer "the woman we do not speak of" 's kids, they were now OUR kids. God said, "These are now YOUR babies." I get misty-eyed each time I think of it.
 Would I of imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I'd be blessed with two children that have had to process more dealing with their mom than most of us do in our entire lifetime? Did I ever envision myself in this way, once seeing them as "little heathen"(Oh, if only I had really sought God during our first two summers instead of trying to handle it all on my own! How much more understanding I'd have!) and now, as MY babies, who I love and would do anything for? Could I ever perceive that I, the person who wanted to do as little as possible with them, now has a mother bear instinct towards them, can't imagine life without them....?
God has a very, very funny way of answering prayers.
But do you know what?
I'm so glad He does.


Until Next Time,
~Mama Jenn

P.S.
I don't know what the future holds for our family, as Papa and "the woman we do not speak of" battle it out in the court system. I do, however, know Who does :) . Regardless of the outcome, I will continue to do my best with these kids, and bathe them, and this whole situation, in prayer. I don't usually ask for prayer, but considering the circumstances, it would mean a great deal to us if anyone out there reading this would send up a prayer on our behalf. Thanks, and until next time...~Mama

Thursday, October 13, 2016

When Was This "Not Enough"?

Greetings again, Chaotics.
Lately, I have been feeling....discontent with my life.
I had fallen away from my Stepford ways.
I stopped trying to lose weight.
My journey towards debt freedom was lonely and stale.
Our homeschool "day" was literally taking a good chunk of our day.
My husband started talking even MORE on homesteading, which, at one time excited me, but on top of everything else, made me feel even more overwhelmed.
And then, out of the blue...

I got a call for a job I had applied at two months ago. A job I applied at because, at the time, I knew I could get it. A job that, at the time, I only wanted because I was angry at my husband.

I asked my husband what I should do. A large part of me dared hope that this would be the ONE time he put his foot down and said, "NO!" and command me not to do something. That he would see how very overwhelmed I already was with homeschooling, how much of a failure I felt at tackling our budget, how tired I already was between home and church activities.

Maybe he did. But, instead, he said in a tired voice, "Do what you think is best. I'll support you no matter what you decide."
Any other time, I would have been thrilled to hear these words. But that day, those were the last words I wanted to hear.

So, I took the job. Not because I wanted to, but because I figured maybe this was God opening up a door for me to finally do something right(tackling debt). I prayed on it, and when I heard no response from God, no sign on the side of a dumpster, I took it as God was just saying, "Do I REALLY need to say anything? Just take the stinkin' job!".

In minutes, I realized...the people at this particular location are not the same as those in another location I worked at. There was no friendly chatter, no talking about their lives, no joking about...anything. I thought maybe it was because I was new, and everyone was a bit uneasy around me. But after two weeks, I barely got three half sentences about their life beyond the job.

No biggie, I reasoned. It's just a job until I become debt free. Work and go home. 

In two weeks, I realized, these people take their jobs a bit more seriously than my previous location. And that, if we're being totally honest, I could really care less. We're not getting serious bucks to take this job that seriously. Most of us are barely above poverty line for income. We're not getting paid according to our passion for the company. We're getting paid because we don't have the(fill-in-the-blank) to do a higher-income job.

But I digress.

I have called off twice in two weeks. I want to feel bad about it(especially considering I've only called off twice in one whole year at my other location!), but I really don't. They are already trying to gently tell me, I could do better. And, truth be told, I know I could. But, at the expense of what, exactly? And to please...who, exactly??

I woke up the other morning, still recovering from a stomach bug, and these words graced my brain-
 When was this "Not Enough"?

As I cleared my mind of cobwebs, I got pen to paper and started pouring out what was swirling around in my brain.

When was this "Not Enough"? 
Today, I'm home with some sort of belly bug. I worked less than two weeks and I'm ready to quit. 
What happened? Well, I got this job because I had said something wasn't enough. 
Papa Bear's bringing home more than he's ever bought home-yet because he still takes out cash advances, I said it's not enough.
Papa Bear kept adding to my plate of responsibilities. Instead of rising to the challenge, I ran away and said, "this is TOO MUCH, I've had enough!"...but instead of easing my own load, I added something else. 
My children weren't content with the rate things were going. Instead of telling them to suck it up, buttercup, I said in agreement that all we're blessed with is not enough.
Instead of wisely managing what I do have, I kept spending like money was water. I said it wasn't enough. 
I was tackling most of the finances. Instead of proving to Aaron that it all could be done, I foolishly started wasting--then yelled at him for overspending because I had hoped the money remaining would cover what I blew. I said neither one of us were enough.
When did I lose my joy in homemaking? When I realized it wasn't progressing us, when I said what I did, what God entrusted to me, wasn't enough. 
It infuriates me that I got a belly bug...that I got a job outside the home...to realize, I hate having to cater to someone that's not within my home's schedule, I hate not being the queen of all domesticated duties, I hate not being the boss of my own hours and days. I'm mad at myself that I could care less about this job, the service, about pleasing the very people who authorize my paycheck. 
I got this job to pay off debt...to prove to someone out there I was taking this debt thing seriously. But who am I kidding? I could of done that at home, being more mindful over Papa's money. 
It's not proving anything to Papa(**Side note- that night, he confessed it did. I'll explain below**). He's still spending money on the road. It's not proving anything to my kids. Except the complete opposite--how I value money over them. 
It's not proving to my debt journey friends a thing- they're not here. 
I feel like the biggest hypocrite in the world. I WAS a proud homemaker, I would constantly preach to other women what a joy it was  is  to be a homemaker. Now I'm embarrassed and horrified at the thought of someone I know seeing me at my job location. Now I'm falling behind in my housework. Now Papa and the kids are having to pick up the slack. Now I'm not sure if I want to keep going at this job.....

I stopped at that point because I started crying. I felt like such a fool. Someone, something had gifted me with this job..........to teach me a lesson. It wasn't about the money. It wasn't about proving something to, well, anyone. It was about ME. It was MY stinkin' thinkin' that needed to change. I was at my tipping point and the job was just the straw that broke this camel's back.

My husband and I had a talk that night. I really wasn't going to say anything. I was just going to suck it up and deal with it. I had taken the job, I was just going to need to learn to deal with it. But out of nowhere, my husband mentioned he was trying again to not spend a dime on the road. He was three days in, and he said, he was trying his best. He wanted next pay to be the pay he shows me a paycheck without advances taken out. The jaded part of me wanted to say nothing, to inwardly roll my eyes...because how many times have I heard that?!?. But I shut that hussie up and said words of congratulations. He then said something else....he noticed how he had been looking at the big picture(which, he had been lately-only thinking of our dream home without really thinking how we'd get there,etc.), and realized if he wanted to get to that place, that he had to take steps in the here and now to try and get there. As he said it, "I've been looking at the map but wondering why I keep tripping over rocks!".
Well, I started crying again. I told him how I hated this job, how I wanted O-U-T, how I discontent I was about not meeting any goals. He said he noticed, and that he wasn't sure why on earth I even took this job, my plate was already full, didn't I see how much what I WAS trying to do meant to him, to the kids, to our family? He then said how taking this job was the slap in the face he needed. He remembered how he promised me that as long as he was alive and able to work any job, that once we got married, I'd NEVER take another job outside the home. He knew then how much of a desire to be a homemaker for me was, but once he saw me at it(and not, you know, doing it Peggy Bundy style like his ex-wife did), realized how much he needed it, too. He didn't want me having to divide my time between a job that could really care less about me as an individual and a family that saw me as an essential part of making it work. That it is I who really makes our house a home, and without me fully devoting myself to it, it's just an empty shell that people share.

Well, if I wasn't crying before...I was REALLY letting the waterworks fly then.

We agreed, I was to quit.

The next morning, I realized both of us were doing the same thing, just in different measures. Papa was dreaming too far into the future without realizing the here and now. I was taking on too many of the here and now's trying to make the future into everything all at once.Because, wouldn't it be great if I lost weight, we got debt free, we had our emergency savings already in place, our pantry stocked, and a baby on the way..ALL AT THE SAME TIME?!?!
 I wrote down everything I was trying to accomplish, and put a number on the priority I wanted them done. That way, each time I start to feel discontent that everything is not falling into place at the same time, I have to remember, I am only one human being, and I can only do so much.

This is my list-
1. Start baby step 1 of saving $1000. 
   I texted Papa this, and told him, I won't quit my job until we meet this goal. If he's going to push himself to stop spending on the road, then I can push myself to make this job count in some way before quitting. If we both keep at it, we should have this by the end of November. I told him I really wanted to quit before snow and ice because, truth be told, nothing damper's a winter lover's attitude than actually having to put wheels under all that awesomeness and attempting to do stuff aside from making snow people.
2. Start saving a Repair/Replace Car Fund, and a Christmas/Birthday/Holiday fund.
   One of the main reasons we can't keep or maintain an emergency fund is that we treat our car emergencies like life or death emergencies and we act like Christmas(and birthdays,etc.) just springs up on us. No more!  After these two goals are met, we can actually enjoy the holidays without feeling like we're robbing Peter to pay Paul.
3. To have 2 months extra paid on all  our bills.
  This may sound like a silly thing, but it's not. Papa's a truck driver, and his ability to make more money slows down as he has to slow down on the roads. If we can keep our bills at two months ahead of time, then once the leaner months hit, we won't have to stress on if we can pay everyone because they'll already be paid.
4. To have a fully stocked pantry.
  This is my personal security issue. I want my dry pantry filled in case of anything, one freezer filled with just meats, and the other, with freezer meals I make. We're halfway full in the dry pantry, but once I leave my job, I'll have to start tackling the other two. IF I have time, I'd like to start using my youtube channel to record how I do this.
5.Baby Step 2- To have our debt fully paid by the end of 2017. 
I know this SEEMS impossible for us, especially on our income, ESPECIALLY with how much debt we have. But I'm trusting the God of the impossible.
6. To lose 50 pounds.
I have lost 10-ish pounds working my bum off during the summer. I need to do this not only to be a healthier me, but also because of  goal #7
7. To have the money saved up to do our DFS(Debt Free Scream) on the Dave Ramsey Show and get my reversal surgery done by 2018.
8. To start Baby Steps in Homesteading, while saving up for our dream home&land.

I'd like to juggle all these things at once, but I have tried and it doesn't work. While all these things seem like a ticking time bomb that need to be started right now, I know doing them all without giving each the total devotion it needs is just a recipe for disaster. Then nothing gets done and I become overwhelmed, tired and an angry, snappy Mama Bear. Even if this goal list takes longer than the times given, I'm going to trust God knows what He's doing.

So, no more of "This isn't enough." I'm going to be content with the step we're on now, and not listen or worry about what everyone else thinks. I'm going to give myself to the goal we're on and keep on keepin' on until we get it DONE, before moving onto to the next one.
Hopefully.

Anyone else like this as of lately? If so, I'd love to hear about it, or what you're doing to combat it!

Until Next Time,
~ Mama Jenn







Thursday, August 25, 2016

What's in a (Diet) day? Wednesday

Greetings, Chaotics!

Here's what I ate on Wednesday-
Pre-Breakfast Drinks: 2 Cups of water and 1 cup of Tea flavored with my Garcinia Cambogia packet



Breakfast- 1 cup of water, 1 energy bar, and 1 multi-vitamin

A.M. Snack- Cheez-Its and 1 glass of water

Lunch- 1 energy bar and 1 cup of water

Afternoon snack- 3 cups(roughly) of popcorn, 1 glass of water

Dinner- Ham and Cheese sandwich w/ 2 Tbs.(roughly) mayo, lettuce, pickle, and banana peppers. 1 Serving(about 24) cheddar and sour cream chips, 2 cups of salad with about 30 mini croutons, 3 Tbs. fat-free ranch dressing, and 2 glasses of water. 


And Here's what I did-
1. iWalk Strong 3 Mile(I alternated between using just a regular scarf and my ghetto weights since I don't have the stretchy band mentioned).
2. 7 Minute Total Body Toning Workout(I modified some of the moves because, well, I'm fat and can't do them)
3. Wake Up and Go with Denise Austin(again, modified a few and didn't realize it stops half-way through!)

TOTALS

Calories Consumed- 1675
Calories Burned-443
Total Calories(Calories Consumed minus Calories Burned)- 1232

Please note- I went over budget today. My Pre-workout calorie goal is 1539 calories. And I feel it- I woke up with a bit of a tummy ache :(  I will try better today(Thursday) to not get too crazy.

Until Next Time,

~ Mama Jenn

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What's in a(Diet) Day? Tuesday

Greetings once again, Chaotics!

Here's what I ate and did yesterday.
Pre-Breakfast Drinks- Water, Tea, Garcinia Cambogia, and more water. 

Breakfast- Water, Energy Bar, and my Multivitamin

I bought a huge box of these, so expect to see them for awhile LOL

Lunch- Slim Fast and water

Popcorn, 3 cups

Dinner- 2 cups salad, 1/8(roughly) cup of croutons, 3 Tbs(roughly) of Fat Free Ranch Dressing, and 2 servings(roughly) of Yellow Rice and Pigeon Peas with some leftover chicken from yesterday. 

I think I added too much Pigeon Peas- I realized I was satisfied half-way through and had to stop eating! 


And, my workouts-
1. 1.0 Mile Happy Walk
2. Wake Up and Go Kickboxing Bootcamp
3. Energy Boost 5 Minute Walk

TOTALS

Calories Consumed-1125*
Calories Burned- 248*
Net Calories(Calories Consumed minus Calories Burned)=877*
*Note- these totals are from LoseIt!

Until Next Time,
~Mama Jenn