Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Craft!

Normally I post about the horrors that have fallen on my family for Valentine's Day, but I thought I'd go a different direction this year. I was in Hobby Lobby yesterday picking up a specific doohickey for a specific project, but somehow found myself in the jewelry making section where I discovered a sudden need to make Nix a Valentine's Day present.
I wanted to make tags for a necklace, and I wanted the tags to have a couple of key words from Bible verses. The thought was that when Nix gets fidgety and starts to play with the necklace, the words will trigger the memory of the whole verse, which will then calm her spirit and ease the stress.
First up is "Be Still" Psalm 46:10
"Be still, and know that I am GOD"
I paired it with a compass because I know that one of my biggest struggles in seeking God's direction is just being still and waiting for God to set the path.

Next up is "By Grace" Ephesians 2:8
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of GOD"
This one is just a good standard reminder. We have been given a gift of salvation. We can't be good enough to deserve it, or bad enough to lose it once we accept it. It has a cross charm with it to be reminded of what giving that gift cost God. 

Last is "But God" 2 Chronicles 20:15
"Do not be afraid or dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's."
I bet you were expecting something different there. The phrase "but God" is actually used closed to 50 times in the Bible. Over and over we see men making bad plans, but God stepping in to fix it. We see people intending harm, but God showing up for protection. We see the world falling, but God sending His Son. The phrase "but God" shows love, mercy, protection, grace, guidance, strength, life, and resurrection! It is paired with an anchor because life will toss us about, but God is our anchor.
  
I recently heard someone say that obtaining craft supplies and using them are two different skills. This is definitely the case here. A few years ago I bought a cheap set of metal letter presses from Harbor Freight with the idea of trying this at some point, but just never did. Seeing a set of tag blanks on clearance reminded me of them, and set me on a mission to get it done. I am very pleased with the results. If you want to do it "the right way", craft stores have a small section of proper tools and kits to make it all come out perfect and even, Since I am not perfect or even, I think I will stick to my cheap tools for now.



For those of you who are dying to know, yes a family member did have to visit the hospital today, but for a pretty basic test and nothing too scary, I did have a stomach issue hit me during the middle of the concert I took Rocky to, but I survived without having to leave early, and the flu has been in our house, but seems to be clear now. The day isn't over, so I am not prepared to let my guard down just yet.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Chasing Peace


Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.
Psalm 61: 1-4

If you have followed along in what I have now affectionately termed "Adventures of a Wholesome College Girl", you know that Nix has had an impressively weird college life. Who gets flooded out of their dorm because a guy down the hall sets fire to his bed with a vape pen? My daughter, that's who. That hasn't even been the half of it. Really, if she were less wholesome I could turn it into a script and sell it to the CW.
This being the first week of classes for the new semester, she was determined to start it off in a much better place. Then life happened. It wasn't anything horrible or even all that dramatic, but it was enough to give her trouble sleeping and the fear that her life was doomed to be one complicated mess after another. 
Last night, I was talking with her, and it dawned on me that what has really happened is that her peace has been taken from her. Peace is one of those wonderful things that is promised to come from living a godly life. Not easy, not simple, not free from pain, but peace in the midst of the bad. We needed to stop looking at it problem by problem, and start looking for time to be at peace. That is when I said one of those things that I can't take credit for. It just came out of my mouth when I needed it to. "Honey, peace isn't going to just happen. You are going to have to chase after it, and grab it. It is there, but you won't finding it mired in the what if's and second guessing." 
To be honest, I almost had to sit down and cry because I realized that I have not been chasing peace either. Here we are letting the mac truck of trouble run us over time and again without bothering to stand up and get out of the road. 
This morning I sat down with the intention of finding a word about peace. Very quickly I was taken to this beautiful psalm. I sent it to Nix right away, and then set to work turning it into a picture to meditate on. 
One of the words that stands out to me is "abide". I wish we still used it. It is so much stronger of a word than something like stay or live. It is a word that reminds me that I can be filled with the Spirit of God at all times, and part of that means being filled with peace. It is a cool deep breath that soothes my soul. I know I am going to have to make a daily effort to chase down peace, but I look forward to the change in me that will bring.

Isn't it funny how ministering to someone else's needs can lead you to the place you didn't realize you needed so badly? God can be really interesting in His methods sometimes. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

The Legend of the Christmas Corn Dog

This was a bit of an unusual Christmas for our family, to say the least. My grandmother, Rixie the 2nd, has been in bad health requiring a few trips to the hospital since October. Thankfully, she is on the mend now, but Christmas was done in shifts this year. Between the hospital visits, my mother, Rixie the 3rd, had a reoccurring sinus infection. It is safe to say that Christmas decorating was the very last thing on the minds of my parents.
When we got into town we had two main missions. For me to restore a touch of normal to the house through cooking and doing laundry, and to get the house decorated for Christmas. I took advantage of my cousins' well timed visit, and got them to help us with the tree. When it came time to add the tree topper, there was an odd addition to the star's box. It looked like a wooden corn dog. We looked at it, scratched our heads for a minute, but went on with the job.
The star had a springy sort of bottom that did not want to balance on top of the tree. As soon as I got it somewhat secured, it would start to lean. It was getting really frustrating, and then a long buried memory came flooding to the front of my brain.


Bring me the Christmas Corn Dog!


Years ago my father had noticed a hole in the top of the tree just the right size to slide a dowel into. He turned a piece of wood to match the size and length of the spring on the star.


It slide right in, and blended in perfectly. I put the star on, where it stood perfectly level and steady all through Christmas.

Leave it to our family to come up with something both confusing and ingenious all at the same time.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Non-toxic

There has been a ton of talk lately about sexual harassment, and part of me hates to add to the ever growing list, but I have something positive to bring to the table.
As is my family tradition, I must start with "Everything is okay, but..." Nix recently experienced a difficult situation with a young man being inappropriate in how he engaged with her. Can you tell I'm trying to make this not sound scary? On paper it sounds pretty bad. We had to file reports and talk with officials to get it to stop, but it has stopped. We never had serious, imminent fear for her safety. We more had concern that this guy desperately needs mental health intervention, and reporting was really the only way to encourage that. Plus, I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and if this kid turned out to snap, I didn't want it to be around my kid.
It has been a true learning experience for all of us. A big part of it was trying to figure out at what point does sharing God's love for someone stop looking like compassion and start being you taking serious steps away. I actually had to stop one of the interviews Nix did to explain this concept to the interviewer. That she let this go on because, as a Christian, when we see someone in pain, we want to help, even at our own disadvantage. In the end, the God given instinct of fear overwhelmed any good she was capable of. I am beyond thankful to say that the interviewer accepted this reasoning and completely changed her approach going forward.
So, now that I have explain what happened in completely vague terms (sorry, I hate vague), I'll get to my point.
While all this was going on, the gentlemen at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) went above and beyond to keep my girl safe. They took turns walking her to her car, taking her to the bus, giving her rides, running interference, taking the guy aside and engaging him in prayer and Bible study apart from her, and even standing guard over a door while she sat in a back room trying to submit evidence to the campus police (I know that last one sounds scary, but it really is a "better safe than sorry" type thing). Every single one of these things was done with no intention other than keeping her safe. Not one of the guys who stepped up ever took advantage of the situation. Not even a little.  She always felt safe with them. She was never worried about one of them hitting on her, or getting the wrong idea as they walked her to her door. These are the men we hope we raise our sons to be.
With all of the day's talk of toxic masculinity, I am proud to tell you how I have witnessed non-toxic masculinity at work. My daughter might not "need" a man to keep her safe, after all she does carry a high powered taser, but even still, it is nice to know that there are guys out there that still embrace that protective instinct in a very positive way. It adds an extra level of security, and peace of mind for me.

If you have questions about our process for reporting the issue, what the experience was like, who we had to talk to, or what the results were, please feel free to message or email me. If this experience can in any way help someone else take steps to ensure their safety, I am glad to share.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

5 Steps to a Better Facebook Feed

I have noticed another round of people becoming aware of the need for privacy settings on Facebook. I have had numerous friends ask me how I filter my feed. I not only control who sees what, but I also control what I see from other people. It is surprising how much more peaceful and useful Facebook becomes when you filter things properly. I finally had time to sit down and make a tutorial with pictures. It is super easy.
Step 1
Locate your master friends list
 Step 2
Create lists to group people into. Facebook has a couple of defaults you can use such as close friends, local friends, and acquaintances. I have added to that a good bit to include a group for church people, geeky people, only women, and a few other categories that have been useful.
Step 3
Now click the spot where is says "See all friends" and use the drop down box to put each friend into the boxes you want them in. This doesn't take as long as it might sound. I probably did all of mine in less than a half hour.

Step 4
When you post, there is a box asking you which group of friends you want to post to. This probably takes the most getting use to. Normally, mine stays on "close friends" and only about 25 people see it. When I do switch to a different group, I have to remember to change it back for the next post. Another thing that is handy about this is there is a tiny icon that goes with the categories. Public is a globe, close friends is a star, local is a map point, and various other things. When you start to notice those, you can tell what settings other friends have used for their posts. I avoid posting on public posts, which is funny, because when I post about this I will probably make it public. 

Step 5
This is how you filter what you see from others. There are 3 little dots in the corer of every post. Click there for a drop down box. There is an option there to unfollow without unfriending. This means you don't see what they post, but you haven't unfriended them either. This comes in handy for those relatives that are still posting 3 year old memes, "only 10% of people will repost...", and outrage over satirical articles. There is also an option to just see less of the specific type of post. So, if you have a person posting game updates all the time, you can hide the game entirely. I haven't seen a Facebook game notice in at least a year. It is lovely.

There it is, 5 simple steps to a happier facebook feed. I know it takes a little time, but it is well worth it.
One little bonus tip, you can actually select to only see the feeds from a specific group of friends. All you do is go back to the friend list page from step 2 and click on the list you want to see. It will automatically filter your feed.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Big, BIG news

The past 12 hours has brought some rather unexpected news to our home.
Last night, Nix confessed to something she had been keeping a secret. Over the summer, we attended special Monday night church services with several different guest speakers. During one of these nights, Nix became convicted that she had not fully given her life to God. That night, she had asked God for help. She accepted Christ into her heart, and has felt a beautiful change come over her. As a person who remembers her first profession of faith and baptism, I didn't want to question her faith, but I knew that the fruits had just not been there. She tried, but the good seemed a passing phase while there was anger taking root. I feared for her as she was about to enter college, and then all of that changed. Not just her actions and attitude, but also my worry seemed to fade. Now I know why. She told us last night because she knew she needed to make it public and be baptized. She had backed out of saying something a few times. She was worried how we would take it. Would we accuse her of lying about her faith up until now? Would we understand? How could she explain? All of that doubt and worry were put to rest very quickly, and we helped her make a plan to walk forward today and publicly profess her desire to follow Christ. 
During our time talking, JD was uncharacteristically quiet. I looked at him, smiled, and basically said, "It's okay. You can say it. I already know." It all came spilling out. He didn't remember accepting Christ. He had no memory of his baptism. Because he has always been in church, he knew what to say, how to act, and what it should look like, but it wasn't touching his heart. He had doubts. Big giant doubts. Since Nix had just poured out her testimony to us, I shared my own, and then Rocky shared his. JD sat in silence knowing that he had nothing to share. We made it clear to him that this was between him and God, not us. He could not just say the magic salvation words, mainly because there is no such thing, but also because this needed to be serious business between him and God, and done for no other reason than wanting a true and complete relationship with Christ. He wasn't ready to make any decisions. You can probably guess how well I slept last night. The day before I thought I had two kids on a righteous path, seeking God, and all headed towards Heaven. To have that now called into question left me restless in the worst way. As I laid there trying to sleep at 12:30, I felt a sudden pull to go pray at the foot of JD's bed. I obeyed, but walked away confused not knowing why. This morning, I found out why. When I went up, JD had only been asleep maybe 10 minutes. He had been up praying to God to guide him into salvation. JD asked God to forgive his sinful life, asked for the Holy Spirit to come into his heart, and fully committed to following Christ. 
This morning, my kids walked up together before a congregation that they only knew a few of, to a pastor they had never met, and told him that they had both accepted Christ and wanted to make it public this morning.
I don't think proud is the right word for how I am feeling. Overjoyed, relieved, or happy doesn't cover it either. I think I am just very full of all the good emotions available. More than anything I am thankful. Thankful that God caught what I missed. Thankful that He moved my kids, and cared for them more than I ever could. Thankful for the salvation of my entire home. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

You Found Us

With my daughter off at college, I have taken up a new hobby. Cyber stalking all the new people she meets. Kidding! Sort of. I like putting a face to a name, and my kid isn't one of those girls who takes pictures of new friends or daily activities or food. (not complaining on this point) I only look up public social media information. Interesting side note, kids today are pretty good about locking down the security on their accounts, their parents, not so much. I always learn more about people from their mother's facebook page than I do from their own activity. At the moment, my son is still pretty hard to track down info on. His name is generic enough to confuse google searches, and he has none of the expected social media accounts. My daughter, well, she has my distinctive first name which means, if someone searches her, they will end up finding me and this blog. I did a quick search to see if there was anything horribly embarrassing. I didn't find anything too bad, and I feel it is my responsibility to correct that oversight. So, without further ado, I present:

 "A letter to the person google searching my kid"

Congratulation! You have hit the mother load of information here. If you want to, you can now scroll through several years in the life of our quirky little family, and musings of the mother of the kid you are looking into. OR, I could save you a little time and sum things up for you.
- God is at the center of our family. It is why we are still happily married, why we are never free on Sundays or out too late on Saturdays, and the first reason why we don't really fit into the "normal" box. We strive to be faithful and committed followers of Christ. We do have friends outside of those we go to church with. We aren't isolated amish type people. We are just serious about our faith.
- We were geeky before being a geek was socially acceptable. I have worn a costume for occasions other than Halloween. I have been to conventions (yes plural). I have stood in line for tickets to a premier showing of a movie that started with the word "Star" more than once. Most of the art work in our house has something nerdy about it. We try to dial it back when we meet new people, but sooner or later you will see us in a t-shirt you don't understand and we will make a Harry Potter joke that we don't realize not everyone was also thinking.
- We aren't very social. We have friends. We get out. We do things. We just aren't the type to throw parties. I have never been clubbing. We haven't ever vacationed with people who aren't family. I can't even think of anything else social people might do, which should paint a pretty good picture of how little we get out.
- Our family is very close. We do our best to share at least one meal a day with each other during which we share about our lives and laugh a lot. Our conversations are rarely boring because we are the type of people who will say that weird thought out loud. Just yesterday JD asked, "What would be the worse song to play at a funeral?" This was followed by each of us suddenly interrupting other topics to name another song. My husband won with "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead".
If anything you have read here, or elsewhere on the blog, concerns you, you might want to run now. If your kid has become attached to one of my kids, relax, we are good people. We are quirky, but mostly the harmless fun kind of quirky. I hope we get to meet face to face one day, but if we do, I promise to overlook you knowing things you shouldn't, like our cat's name, if you overlook my knowing where your last vacation was.