I will continue

Today I have so many emotions and thoughts running through my head, it is hard to filter through the noise. I sat down with a cup of coffee and my Bible to gain some insight, some new perspective…something. I love it when I’m reading a passage, and the words jump right off the page. That does not always happen.

Even when God’s direction and voice don’t seem clear in that moment, the Holy Spirit holds these words in my heart. I still believe.

I love my Bible. It’s the best present I’ve ever received. It’s battered and dog-eared. It has many highlights and underlines, and side remarks. Even doodles from times my attention was elsewhere. I like reading a passage, and seeing something that was meant for me to hear at a different time. That’s the power of the Word. A passage can mean different things to different people, and show you a new message at a different time.

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When I re-dedicated my life to the Lord in 2003, I dove into the words because I wanted to know how I should be living. If we are called to be followers of Christ, what does that mean? What are his commands, and how do we accomplish this? This is probably why I love the Apostle Paul so much. He guides and shows how to live it out. He makes it practical. I had such a craving for this daily bread to fill me up.  I read the whole book through in just a few months.

Funny, I sat down to write about my emotions, and now I sound like a preacher. Let it flow Lord!

When I first felt the calling to write this blog, I prayed and prayed about it. I wanted to do His will. To let His words flow, to be used for a purpose that I didn’t yet know. I knew there was a purpose in this, but I still don’t know the full extent of it. I felt another desperate desire to dive into His Word again. Let me just say, I do not read my Bible faithfully everyday. I am guilty of clinging more to my faith when times get tough. But I do pray all day long, in a constant conversation with the Lord. Admittedly, I do most of the talking. Anyway, words and phrases kept jumping out at me over and over again. Songs on the radio, or just words in my head repeating. But, I felt that same calling; to hear His word.

I knew He was up to something.

My heart told me to go straight to the book of Acts. Jesus commanded his followers to “go and make disciples.” This book is the story of what the disciples did after he ascended into heaven. So this book was the “now what?” part of the story.

If God has called me to do this, now what?

So I dove in. Through Paul’s words, I was reminded that if I step out in faith and write about Him. I would be persecuted for Him. Okay Lord, so this won’t be easy for me. Point taken. I’m just going to have to gear up for it. Then my counselor told me that her church just happened to be doing a study, based on a book about “putting on the armor of God.”

I see what you did there.

So back to my reading: Paul’s account shows so much tenacity. He goes from place to place, basically evangelizing most of the known world at that time. He was persecuted, beaten, jailed, yet he stayed the course. He picked up and moved on to the next place. He loved, and shared, and was given much love in return.

I’m always a little jealous because he clearly understood his purpose. The Lord called, and he went, and his efforts were rewarded. I have spent so many years praying for God’s purpose for my life. Yes, I admit, I want the plan just laid out for me. I’m a big picture kind of person. I want to know! I want to know the path, and faithfully follow it, marching with my head held high in confidence. I know if I make a bad choice, that it will render consequences unforeseen. I’d rather skip that. So the Holy Spirit quietly reminds me to “wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

Sigh. Okay God. I will try to be patient. Then I start praying that if a decision I’m pondering is not the right one, that He would make it abundantly clear! Stop me. Slap me upside the head; whatever it takes! He’s done that for me in just a few hours of praying that prayer before, so I have no qualms about praying it!

I haven’t done any fancy writing that would earn me any accolades. That’s not my intention. I wanted to reach out to other moms who are dealing with similar situations to mine. Other moms who are separated from their children and are hurting. I thought that was the direction God was taking me. Perhaps it still is.  This blog has stirred up plenty of emotions. I had no doubts that it would cause a stir in my family. What surprises me is that I started this blog for my own healing and perhaps other moms, but God is using it in my own family. I know that emotions are high, but I praise God. My daughter who holds her emotions in has been letting them fly! She thinks I will be angry with her words.  It makes me happy that she is letting it out. We had another long talk. I don’t know if it helped. I only have control over myself. I can only do what I have the power to do; which is to speak the truth, and reassure her of my love. I don’t have any control over how she takes  it. That is all I can do.

In the midst of intense emotional situations, remember that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” (Psalms 34:18) We have been crushed and broken for so long Lord, hold us closer.

It will get worse before it gets better. Wading through the emotions is never easy. I will continue to seek sanctuary under His wings. I will continue to pray for healing and truth. I will continue to take my daily bread.

I will continue.

 

 

 

 

 

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Side effects of living in Florida

Florida is known for its miles of beautiful coastlines, numerous lakes, golf courses, and of course M-I-C-K-E-Y (admit it..you sang it). All the family activities is what compelled us to move here. My husband, originally from Massachusetts, lived here twice previously, and couldn’t wait to get back. We even honeymooned here so he could convince me just how amazing it is.I was impressed. This Texas girl had only seen Texas and Mississippi beaches….definitely not the same as Florida coastline, even on the Gulf side. Three years later, we were packing up and waving goodbye to the Friendly State, and crossing into the Eastern Time Zone. We moved right into Disney’s backyard.

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Florida Orange Tree

 

 

Everything is geared towards tourism. Hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. There are souvenir shops, and places to sell your tickets, and hot air balloon rides, and helicopter rides, and mini-golf. We did get enjoyment out of the balloons though. They used to land near my daughters’ school, so we would see them up close every morning.

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Hot Air Balloon over our house

Traffic is the worst part of living outside the “Happiest Place on Earth,” both human and vehicular. There are just so many people here! Not only does traffic back up from people going to the parks, but all the people that work in the parks! You learn when to not go to certain restaurants, or beaches. There is no secret time to go to Disney either…its always busy! The area we moved to was mostly vacation homes. It lacked the sense of community that we wanted. It’s hard to get to know your neighbors when they change weekly.

Florida is the #1 vacation destination, but I never realized until I moved here, that many people come here for vacation..and decide to move here. According to http://visitfloridaonline.com/article_visit.htm, an estimated 958 people move to Florida each day! That’s over 350,000 a year! They come here from all over. It’s rare to be from Florida. Aside from the beaches, and the weather, Florida does not have a state income tax. That entices a lot of people from the northeast to head south. There are also tons of “snow birds”, or retirees who hold dual residence, that arrive to enjoy the warm weather.

What I’ve noticed is that a lot of people move here to have a better life. They want to pay fewer taxes, enjoy nicer weather, and just enjoy life. The reality that they encounter is not always what they expect. Sure there are fewer taxes, and the cost of living is less, but wages are less too. Also, the education system is ranked pretty low compared to the rest of the country. Last year, we dropped to #28 on a national ranking. For more information, read about it here.  Retail, restaurant, and hospitality, are the jobs that are the most readily available. Horrible schedules, lower wages, and swarms of people everywhere, is what they end up with.

Many people, my family included, move here without any family around. Let’s face it, as an adult, it’s hard to make friends. You know the people you work with and that’s it. Unless you are plugged into a church, or some other type of organization, it’s challenging to meet new people. It can be very lonely. Earning less money doesn’t always make it easy to fly home to visit family. Luckily, people usually want to come visit Florida. We moved here wanting to improve our family life.

Boy did that blow up in our faces.

My daughters were unhappy we took them away from everyone, job situations didn’t improve (kind of hard to branch out of your industry when the job market is saturated). Things just didn’t go as planned. In the 5 years we’ve been here, our household has decreased by half. The girls went to live with their dad, and my mother-in-law headed back up North. The boys (hubby and son) and I try to enjoy the few weekends off that I get, but we mostly end up at Costco or GameStop. We miss family barbecues, and just being able to socialize with other people! Work, home, repeat is our lifestyle. We knew we needed a change. Life is too short to be lonely and miserable.

So after much deliberation, we decided to head up North. It was not an easy decision to make. It is one thing to have my girls move away from me, but for me to move and NOT be moving to where they are? That was a different thing altogether. When choosing to move, especially to another state, there are many things to consider: cost of living, income potential, housing, and social aspects.

The whole reason we want to move is to be near family.

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Be Still and Listen

When you are married it becomes an issue of whose family you choose to be closer to. I learned in my first marriage that when your parents, and your in-laws, live in different cities (or states), you can’t make everyone happy with where you live. You have to make the choice that’s right for your household. So my household will pack up and be one of few moving trucks headed North on I-95 this summer.

It’s hard to tell your parents, and children that you don’t believe it is the right thing to move closer to them.  I’ve spent so much time praying about this. I really want to follow God’s guidance in my life. I always want to make everyone happy, and I just can’t. I think God has the girls in Texas for a reason, but I don’t think that’s my place to be. I see the good things that are happening in their lives. Sure, I’m a little sad that it wasn’t that way when they were here, but I’m super proud of them.

I know I’m making another decision that won’t win me any popularity contests from my side of the family. I continue my prayers that God will heal this family, and truth will prevail.

The ball is rolling, and we are fine-tuning the details. Massachusetts here we come!

Stay tuned for more posts as this Texas girl discovers how Wicked New England really is.

 

 

 

 

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Basket Liner Tutorial

Ok, so here’s my first crack at a craft tutorial! My blog deals with a lot of emotional stuff, but I love to do a wide variety of crafts.

I guess it’s my own brand of therapy!

So, occasionally, I will be sharing some of my craft therapy creations here.

I don’t know about y’all, but when I move, I look forward to new ways to decorate. The last time we moved, we had to buy a shower curtain, because we went from having glass doors, to a standard stall/tub shower. Immediately, I got excited and started scouring websites for bathroom ideas. I even started a board on Pinterest, where I gathered my “pinspirations.” Check it out here, to see my color schemes, and projects I wanted to tackle. I really love the new trends of coral and mint/turquoise! I’m so glad it continued into this year from last year. I don’t have much wall space available for any of the art projects I saw, so I was trying to figure out how to bring more color into the room.

Check out my Bathroom Ideas Pinterest board for other turquoise and coral decorating possibilities!

One day, I was browsing through the fabric department at Hobby Lobby (my favorite part of the store!), and I came across a collection of fabrics that just encompassed the color scheme I love, and arrows (which has also become a favorite of mine recently).

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I didn’t buy any fabric that day. I know! Crazy, right? I think I’m the only sewist who doesn’t buy fabric just to buy it. I didn’t know what I would do with it; therefore, didn’t know how much I should get.

One day, the inspiration hit me. I have this little wicker basket on the toilet for toilet paper.

Hello! New Basket liner!

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This tutorial is a basket liner makeover for my handy toilet paper holder. I don’t know where the basket came from, I just kind of acquired it from my mother-in-law, while she lived with us. Thanks, Nana!

So, I started browsing…you guessed it…Pinterest. There are numerous tutorials about basket liners, with patterns, etc. This one over at So Much Sew, is really helpful, but I basically just measured my existing liner, since it fits, and did my own thing! My mom would be so proud of me. I’m usually a stickler for needing a pattern for everything.

Turn the liner inside out. You can see the basic construction of the pieces. Plus, it gives you an idea of the seam allowances, and how the edges are folded over.

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My liner has a rectangle bottom, two longer sides, and smaller squarish end pieces. The side pieces are more of a trapezoid than a rectangle. Overall, basic pieces.

I used my rotary mat to measure the pieces.

  • The bottom piece is 11″ x 5 1/2″
  • Sides are 11″ x 8″ x 13″
  • Ends are 6 1/2″ x 8 ” x 7″
  • *Make sure you add the amount that is folded  over at the top seams*

I can also  see that a 1/2 inch seam allowance was used for the liner.

Here are all the cut pieces:

*I decided to make a smaller basket liner with the arrow fabric, so only the triangle fabric is seen here.

Whether or not you press them after you cut, is just a matter of preference. I pressed mine because they had creases, from being folded up, sitting in my craft closet for a few weeks.

On to Construction!

You have to remember that a basket liner is kind of backwards to how you would normally construct fabric pieces. When you sew the pieces together, the right sides of the fabric will be on the inside of the rectangle you create.

I’ve seen other tutorials that sewed the sides to the bottom first, and then sewed the edges. Either way works. I did it this way because I’ve done similar projects that were done like this.

First, I sewed the side pieces together; matching one long, and one short piece, sewing right sides together. Make sure that all your shorter edges are on the same side. Then, I sewed those two pieces together; matching up a long to a short. Then, join the ends together, forming a loop.  Press all seems from the right side. Using the narrow end of my ironing board, I slipped the loop over the end (right sides facing out), and pressed it that way. Voila!

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Now, to add the bottom piece to the sides. A little bit tricky, but I’ll walk you through it.

With right sides together, match up the long end of the bottom piece to the long piece of the loop. Center the piece between the two seams of the long piece of the loop. Sew together, still using the 1/2 in seam allowance. No need to backstitch. It worked out nicely that my triangles were 1/2in, so I followed the line! In order to sew the other side, right sides together, you will need to flip your loop inside out. When the two edges of the bottom are done it will look like this:

 

Now you can scooch your seems together, lining up your fabric the same way as the other side. Once that is done, time for the ends.

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I used pins this time, so my fabric doesn’t shift. At the machine, make sure you backstitch the beginning and end seams to reinforce your corners.

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All that’s left now, is to fold over the edges for your top seam. I’m always quite particular about my hem stitches. I use a sewing gauge to measure as I go along, folding, pressing, and pinning. Fold over and press 1/4 to 1/2 in, to the wrong side. Fold that over, and pin. I like to spot check with my gauge to make sure my hem is the same size all the way around, before I stitch. Sew close to the edge of your fold.

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Tada! You now have a completed basket liner! You can also see the other liner I made with the arrow fabric.

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Healing of a Hot Mess Momma

This is not one of those blogs where I give you the “top 5” ways to improve your life. Please don’t think that I’ve gotten things figured out, and now that I’m all better, I can show you how. My healing journey is not over. No. Not even close.

When you scroll through Pinterest, you see a lot of bulleted lists of how to do just about everything. These pages make you think these people have the secrets of life figured out, or at least how to get your oven clean. Social media sometimes leaves us feeling inadequate, as we compare ourselves to others. The wonders of technology also have a tremendous amount of power. Power to link us to people that we would never encounter in our daily lives. It’s actually how my husband and I met.

Anyway, back to the reason for the blog…

These last few years have been a real doosie for me. My husband knew I was depressed and needed help before I did. Even after I knew I needed counseling, I still procrastinated. Eventually, things in my personal life collided with my performance at work, until I finally realized, it was time to bring in the professionals. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t cope with life. Hadn’t I already been through a tough season in life, when I got divorced? I managed that like a champ. Sure it was hard dealing with the girls being gone, but why was it harder than before?

_I tried making everyone happy. In reality, I didn't make anyone happy._

Then, I realized the difference.

I had been through some tough times in my personal life, but work was my escape. I had done well, and was working my way up through the ranks. Suddenly, for the first time, I wasn’t doing so well at work. When home life is tough, you can have some peace while at work. But, when work life became tough too, I was losing on all fronts. I was overwhelmed with the thought “I can’t win. I’m trying hard at everything in life, but I just can’t win.” Defeatism consumed me. Anxiety set in. I would get panicky if I felt like I wasn’t seeing the right results, not wanting to disappoint anyone. Emotionally, I just fell into moments of despair. I just wanted to cry.

So, I started counseling.

Back in January, I started praying for healing in my family. I begged God to heal all of us, in whatever way He deemed necessary. A bold prayer, I know. I felt like I had done all I could to make things better. I tried so many years to make everyone happy. In reality, I didn’t make anyone happy. Especially not me. When I told the counselor about my prayer, she said that me being there was the starting point in my healing. I don’t know why it struck a chord with me. Its seems blatantly obvious, but I hadn’t even considered that! I thought “Duh, Nik!”

I’ve started down this road to save my sanity, and gain some perspective. It will not be an easy journey. This blog is to share my journey. For others to share their journey. I know there are plenty of other Hot Mess Mommas out there!

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I want to go live with Dad

Some of the most painful words a mother can hear are:

“I want to go live with Dad.”

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Especially, when Dad…..lives in another state. This was not a path I ever thought I would be on. I never thought I would get divorced and remarried, and have another child, but I did. Sure, those things happen. You see it all the time. It’s normal.

But my children not living with me?

Living with someone whose level of participation was minimal? That just seemed wrong. I dug my heels in and said “no, we will go to counseling and work this out.” Well, when you take a ten and twelve year old to counseling, who don’t want to be in counseling….you get nowhere fast. Picture the crossed arms, and pre-teen angst.

I prayed long and hard about this. My husband was all for it. He was on blood pressure medication by this time. He was too young to have high blood pressure, and certainly didn’t want to follow the path of his father..who had a heart attack at a young age. It felt wrong, deep down in my heart, to let my girls live with someone else. My oldest had already spent a school year living with her grandmother, where she did go to counseling. But to go live with him?? Ugh. I prayed for years that things would get better. Now, I was praying for what was best for them. My biggest fears were how they would carry this pain into adulthood. We all know how girls can seek out love in all the wrong places. I wanted to send out strong, independent, young women into the world. Not, hurting, and broken women.

So, before school started, I let my oldest go. It was heartbreaking, but I thought it might be good. Let her get to know her Dad better. They think he walks on water. Let them know the person that I know. I thought perhaps my youngest would be happy to have her own room, for the first time. Perhaps that would alleviate some of the pressure. Wrong. She spiraled into a depression, that left her only wanting to eat and lay on the couch. She didn’t go outside with her friends much. By Christmas time, we were packing her up to go too. I kind of pushed her to go a little more than I did with her sister, but she was always a Momma’s girl, and didn’t want to admit she wanted to go.

Two years later: it’s still hard. I text often, but we speak very little. Occasionally we Skype, and I see them a few times a year. It took a long time for me to forgive myself. I spent a lot of time fearing judgment from people. Part of this is due to the fact that my own family judges me.  They accused me of “throwing my children away.” How dare a mother not raise her own children. My relationship with my parents has never been the same. That’s a whole other struggle.

I don’t throw this information around in many conversations, but when I do speak to people about it, I realize that I’m not the only one. I’ve spoken to several moms, who have gone through something similar. Sure, not everyone will understand my situation. Heck, even I don’t understand all of it!

But, I know that this is what’s right for my family.

When I pray about tough situations like this, I remember that the right way, may not be what the world thinks is right. It’s hard to listen to God above the noise of everyone else telling you what to do. And even harder, to hear above our own fear and anxiety.

Both my girls seem happier in general, and are excelling in school. I know letting them go was a good thing for them. While my husband no longer needs blood pressure medication, I’ve been barely holding it together. There is still pain, and a need for healing, but I think we are heading in that direction.

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Welcome to my nest!

Do you ever feel like you’re the only  mom who is failing miserably? Like everyone else is winging it, but still winning? Lots of moms joke about falling behind on housework, and being disorganized, and getting by with copious amounts of coffee, or wine.

But what about the tough stuff? What about the raw, harsh emotions? Nobody wants to joke about the brokenness we sometimes have within our families, especially our children. When there is real, gut-wrenching pain, we often hold it in. It’s just not something we talk about for fear of judgment. We may be lucky enough to have a spouse with whom we can confide, but let’s face it, we need other women, to really understand us. It’s even harder when life takes you down a road you never thought you would be on. We spend so much time analyzing the “coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’s.”

So how do we get past it? How do we live with the way things have turned out? What do we do when God hasn’t answered our prayers? Is He listening? If we believe that there is a plan for all things in our lives, how do we trust God? It can be brutal, in the midst of our situations to see how things could be for our good.

How do we heal?

We need to grieve what was, and live in what is. I don’t know about you, but the grieving part has really dragged me down. All my relationships have been in turmoil. I’ve even allowed this to affect me at work. I put on brave face, and smile. But I’ve been slowly unravelling, and now it shows. I’ve wasted too much time having a pity party. I’m ready to move forward!

This blog is for all those moms who are struggling, broken, and running low on faith. I will share with you my journey, of a blended family that never mixed, and how God keeps me going.

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