Saturday, August 9, 2014

7 Things

Dear Blog,

It makes me sad how much you have been neglected lately. I could make a lot of excuses to try to make you feel better, but it all boils down to only being able to do so much. Some days my focus is just making it to bedtime without any major meltdowns!

Here's some of what's been on my mind lately, from the trivial to the life-changing.

1. Do you ever see an image in a magazine or on Pinterest and it just makes your heart stop?!

This dining room did it to me yesterday. I saw it first on Pinterest and could only track it as far as this web site (where it's been pinned almost 1000 times). Anyone know where the original image comes from? To me it's the perfect blend of rustic farmhouse modern industrial timeless kid-friendly neutral yet so stylish.

I thought, after staring at the picture, that I just had to share the inspiration. It's certainly what I'd like to have in my own house. A rustic table, a bench, metal chairs and lights, built-in shelving for fancy dishes and cookbooks and pretties.

In fact, I wrote a whole post about it, complete with many more pictures and sources and links...

And 90% of it got eaten by cyberspace. Poof! There went my evening of blogging...

I just didn't have the energy to recreate that post, so I didn't. My blog isn't really a decor blog anyway. I'm trying to remember that and be ok with it, and use it more as a family scrapbook, but sometimes it's easier to just browse Pinterest.

2. Which brings me to point number two, in which I promise to only be vague and confusing, at best, as I muddle through what I've been feeling lately. There's so much background to where these thoughts are coming from, but basically I don't like who I am when I spend too much time on Pinterest. I get jealous. I whine in my head, It's not fair! Why does she get a beautiful fill-in-the-blank?

It steals my joy.

You've heard that saying, right? It's so true. There's more to the story, like I said earlier, but one thing I'm doing about it isn't spending less time on Pinterest, but purposefully editing what I see on Pinterest to be more uplifting. Not just feel-good stuff, but more I-could-do-that DIY stuff, life hacks, homeschool inspiration, modest dress, healthy food, Christian morals, living with less, you know.

Because anyone could compare their life with masses of others and come out feeling empty-handed. You know what? It works the other way around too. As in, think of all of my amazing blessings instead of focusing on what I don't have. I mean, duh, I know this, but the action from my latest bout of self-induced malcontent is to actively change what I see on Pinterest.

I'm editing my boards. Following different pinners. Doing new searches. It's going to take some time to kill the jealousy-inducing monster, but I know I'm using the right sword.

3. Grandpa has cancer. Their Grandpa, my husband's Dad, my Father-In-Law. He's losing his hair, no thanks to chemo. Gary and our boys shaved their heads, even though Grandpa lives in a different state. In solidarity.

Aren't they beautiful? And what a precious thing to do for their Grandpa. Please keep Grandpa in your prayers.

4. Only in part due to Grandpa's diagnosis, Gary and I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw from our mission to the British Isles. I know it's been awhile since you've heard an update. I've really been sporadic about posting or even knowing what to post. I keep hoping I'll find my blogging groove eventually, but for whatever it's worth and for the family record, we have officially stopped fundraising and have quit working with the wonderful organization that was sending us.

I could ramble a good bit about different things that made up our minds, but the most convincing argument is this. Our mission was donor based. We were not getting donors. We're still not sure why, but after a year of active fundraising in which most candidates get 70-100% of the needed funds, we were at 11%. I'm sure there are lots of factors, but our emotional energy was spent and we feel the door was firmly shut.

That decision has been brewing for a couple months and Grandpa's diagnosis just emphasized to us that we need to be closer and more available to family, even if we're still quite far geographically. We'd love to travel, love to share Jesus with people who don't know, but we also need to be more available in times of need.

What I expected when we officially withdrew was relief. This year of trying to get other people interested in our mission has been very taxing on us, always feeling we should be trying harder, we should be reaching out more, we should be should be should be... We were trying to figure out why we weren't getting support, and we still are, but officially quitting should have been a relief!

I didn't expect the mourning.

I didn't expect to feel like a failure.

Between Grandpa's diagnosis and our mission ending before it even began, July was a pretty dark month. You know? No energy. Crying. Struggling with meaning and happiness and what it means to be happy and what to do to get that. Thinking we had been divinely lead one way, only to have the door firmly shut and locked, then sickness to become such a real part of life...

5. We're not depressed and we haven't given up on life. We know there's more to it than that. We were never promised unicorns and rainbows, just joy after sorrow. Beauty for our ashes.

I don't want to turn this into a list of all I have to be thankful for (so much), nor do I just want to throw a Plan B out there and we all do the golf clap and fake smile and pats on the backs and everything will be ok. It's not ok. But it's what we have, and God never fails.

Gary is enrolled in classes starting this month at the college we happen to live a block away from. He's finishing a degree he started years ago, in Theology. We'll see where this road takes us!

6. Meanwhile down the road in a very adequate though not ideal rental home in a neighborhood we don't want to stay in any longer than we have to, I'll be homeschooling our little trio. I'm sure I'll be posting more about them this fall as we kick it into high gear. I firmly believe children are constantly learning, whether or not they are actively given opportunities. But I'm also an educator by training and background, so the fall is when I naturally just want to kick it up a notch!

We'll be learning with My Father's World, supplemented by whatever floats our boat, whatever projects I see on Pinterest, whatever almost-free supplies I see at the dollar spot at Target. (Seriously, they have so much good stuff there right now!!!) I'm excited about the possibilities, excited to figure out what works for us and what motivates each of my learners.

7. One thing we've chosen is to babysit less. It just didn't work with homeschooling last year. Maybe the right combinations of kids, maybe a more predictable schedule, maybe a less transient stage of life. But for now we've chosen to cut back. It'll mean fewer stops at Target for those dollar supplies that really add up, fewer evenings at a restaurant to give a stressed-out mommy a break but spending half of the grocery budget on one meal.

But to be able to focus my attention and my energy on my own kids! To be able to shape our days based on what we need to do, not on who's going to be at our house, to have more control over what influence is in our home--HUGE deal!

I need to link my future self to this post. I know I will need to re-read this when I'm tired of feeling trapped by the budget again. I'll need a reminder of why we chose this. I know it'll be another hard year ahead.

It's empowering to think of it as a choice though, isn't it?

Well, I'm tapped. I was going to make this a 10-things post, but I'm done.

Blessings, my friend.

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