Hidden Talent?

So it’s late…I really should be sleeping. Instead I’ve fallen into a YouTube rabbit hole!

Are you ever blown away by the amazingly talented people with whom we share this earth? What ability! What influence!

I’d love to throw my voice out there, to be able to have an effect on the world. To have people type my name into a web browser and see a neat tidy list of my accomplishments and contributions. I don’t believe it’s a fame thing, persay. I’m talking about knowing that I’ve used what I was given and made an impact.

There’s a story in the Bible about a landowner who goes on a long journey. Before he leaves he calls three of his servants and leaves them with some money. Jesus never says that he told them what to do with what they were given. I guess, it was implied that they were merely stewards and that they were to do with this money as they thought their master would do. Anyways, the first two double their money and are richly rewarded when their master returns. The third, however, digs a hole and hides the money. He gets ridiculed a lot, but, since I’m a hoarder by nature, I think I understand his thought process. It’s not that he didn’t want to invest it, he just wasn’t sure what to invest in. Panicked he simply buries it to keep it safe. Better to bury it, than to lose it all together, right?

When I was in my early teens, I worked for a lady with horses. I mucked stalls, bathed and fed her horses and did some basic tack cleaning. Every time she paid me, I tucked it away in a bedside table drawer. After a few months, my dad caught me trying to shut my drawer on top of my stacks of dollar bills. Shocked he asked how much I had in there. I shrugged and said, “I dunno, probably around $400 now.” He took me to open my first bank account that afternoon.

Even now, my husband is constantly reminding me that we cannot just leave a chunk of money sitting somewhere. It needs to be in a mutual fund or something where it can earn some interest for us while we’re saving. I see the wisdom in it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me nervous.

I think anytime I’m trying to decide what to invest in, I start to get overwhelmed and nervous and would much rather just “bury it.” You see, growing up I heard many (so so so many) sermons and challenges about not “burying your talents,” but using them for the Lord. Always in the context of “you know what you should be doing, but you’re not.” Never in the context I needed. Which is “what am I supposed to be doing?”

Honestly!! Tell me what I’m good at!! I’ll start using it for You, Lord, right this very minute!!

I have tried many things in my life, all the while hoping to discover some hidden talent that blows everyone away. You know what I’ve found? Nothing! Not a thing!

Anyone else with me? Or am I the only one?

Be honest! I’m a great listener! That IS one thing I’m good at.

No, no, I’m Fine. Really.

You know how in the midst of a bad day, it feels like everything is just failing and falling apart. You may not be able to put your finger on why or what, or it maybe that you have multiple things that are truly going wrong. Either way, later on, it usually happens that you look back and you almost feel ashamed at how much you overreacted.

I know that a week, or a month, or maybe a year from now I’ll look back and see that. But right now, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Dramatic, right???

This morning while in the midst of an already difficult grocery shopping trip with my youngest three, I received the news that my oldest son had broken his leg. Normally, this kind of news is not big enough to send my world into a tumble. I have four kids, odds are one of them will hurt themselves bad enough to seek medical care a few times a month. Today, though, it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Having struggled with depression, I have in place all the thought processes and coping mechanisms to help myself get out of the dumps. So, honestly? I’m just fine, really. I’m just…exhausted.

I’m tired of the division, the hatred, the endless drama that has become our “normal.” Every little change and every little disagreement gets blown out of proportion and it’s suddenly “the end of the world as we know it.” Guess what? Everyday our world is changing. Some bad, some good, but whether we are noticing or not, it’s changing. And furthermore, it will all be okay.

I’m not saying sit back and adopt a “Que Sera Sera” attitude. Though with some things, that is a healthy approach. I’m saying, If you see the need, Take the Lead!! If something is bothering you. Find a way to fight it or change it! And, NO!! Trolling people on Facebook and other social media sites will not change anything. Not really.

I’m saying write a letter to your governor, mayor, council person, pastor, dean, etc. Sign a petition. Join a group. Attend a town meeting. Get on the board at a local community group. Make a difference. Sitting around drowning in your own sorrows is not going to do you or anyone who feels the same any good. I’ll bet there are hundreds maybe even thousands who feel the same way you are feeling, but they’re too afraid to say anything. Or maybe they feel just as lonely in this as you do. Reach out! Not only to commiserate, but to encourage.

Anyway, thats my soap box tonight. Thanks for listening. You can go back to your scrolling now.

What’s on your plate?

What’s on your plate? No, I do not mean your literal plate, this is not a diet article. Maybe one day, I’ll write down my thoughts on dieting, whether it be fad or lifestyle. Today, I want to ask you about what you spend your time on?

I haven’t written for a while (Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, no matter). The reason being I ladled a huge helping of something onto my plate and it literally pushed things like blogs, hobbies, exercising, and free time off the edge.

In May of this year (2019) my husband and I decided to buy a local business. Technically, we decided to start looking into it and researching around February 2018, but the final papers were signed and the decision final on May 6th, 2019. I knew our lives were going to change, and I braced for it. I figured money would be tight and Reed would be more stressed when not at work, but nothing could have prepared me for the craziness that was about to ensue.

To be fair, there were other complications around the same time that led to us losing our church family, so the earth shattering stress and anxiety that hit about a month in was not all due to owning a new business. We found out that a lot of problems were lying under the surface, and it would have been much simpler to do a startup, then to take over a full grown business with a very poor reputation and crazy amounts of drama.

The beginning of July was the low point (which was obviously the turning point as well, if you’ve ever had experience with low points). We had a very full schedule and no employees. So me being the supportive partner I am, I offered to haul the kids to the shop and help run things. I figured it would be a couple of weeks of crazy stress, he would hire a couple of guys, then the kids and I would come back home and pick up normal life again. Boy, was I wrong!!

Months passed. We worked our way through three babysitters. (Because, surprise, trying to run a business with four kids under foot is not possible. For me anyhow.) My perspective on “normal” forever shifted.

I have always admired working moms. Marveled at their passion, tenacity, and what I assumed was copious amounts of energy. It was absolutely the hardest few months of my life! I was working 40+ hours starting a business beside my husband and coming home to clean and cook and homeschool and strive to make the kids feel as if nothing had changed. That plate I mentioned?? Was more like a waiter’s tray full of plates with me struggling to balance it and also make sure all the loaded plates didn’t bump each other.

Friends were worried and wondered when the madness would end. In the midst of it though, I struggled with what I truly wanted. I knew I didn’t want things to stay the same, but I also did not want to go back to the way things were. I loved being a huge part of the business! I got a thrill every time someone asked, “Oh are you the owner?” and I could legitimately say, “Yes.”

I understood the drive and the passion of a working mom, and didn’t know if I could go back to not being involved in the day to day of this baby business I had now poured sweat into.

So what’s happening now? Now, I work mostly from home, keeping books, billing and invoicing and paying taxes. Tracking the expenses and income and running the social media platforms. Have I found a way to balance that waiter’s tray of a plate? Not 100%. But most days I get to have the best of both the business world and the mom world! Also, I’m starting to work my hobbies back into a normal routine, though it’s a slow process.

The “Mom Ringer”

This last 36 hours I have been through the “mom ringer.” No, I don’t mean on the phone, Santa Baby. A ringer is something used in hand washing clothes. Instead of a spin cycle on your machine, it would squeeze (or ring) the item of clothing so tightly as it rolled through that any excess water would be rung out. Therefore, making the clothing easier to hang dry.

My 2 year old caught a bad case of croup. She started with just a sore throat, and I live in a high, dry elevation, so I simply sloughed it off and put a humidifier in her room that night. She woke up at 1 am with what they term “stridor.” Which is the most raspy, raggedy breathing I’ve ever heard. I spent the rest of the night on the floor beside her bed, to comfort her when it became to hard to breathe. I described it as “horrific” to a friend of mine as I cancelled plans the next morning. Little did I know that horrific hadn’t even begun. The day was tough, I tried all the home remedies I could find on the internet and through friends. Moist air, hot showers, Colloidal silver, Lavender essential oil, Elderberry syrup, Honey, cough drops, and even Vicks Vaporub. All these things would give a few moments of easier breathing, but nothing seemed to make it get better. I did not look forward to another night on her floor, so I brought her in bed with me that night. My husband and I have a king-sized bed, but she was so restless she literally flipped and flopped all over it. By 11 pm she had only sat still for maybe 20 minutes, and most of that was only to watch an episode of “The Octonauts” on my IPad.

As I held my baby struggling to breath, I kept searching on my phone for more details to let me know what I should be doing. Everything I had read said that croup is common and easily taken care of at home and only in extreme cases does the child need to go into the hospital, but I couldn’t find anything on what “extreme cases” would look like. I prayed and begged God to please help her get better so we could just both sleep. Finally, I couldn’t watch her suffer any more. Around 12:30 am I called the emergency hotline and explained what was happening. The nurse on the other end told me croup was going around and if she was having such a hard time breathing I should bring her in. So I called my husband home from work and packed up for the emergency room.

When we got there, Praise the Lord, we were taken back right away. They went to work on her so quickly I think she was almost in shock. She sat so still, so stoic, and wide-eyed as they strapped blood pressure cuffs and heart monitors and oxygen lines on her. She opened her mouth obediently when the shoved a nebulizer in her face. Finally her breathing turn from the “see-saw” to just a ragged shudder again. Then they put an IV in. Since her tiny arm and blood vessels are no match for large needles, it took them a couple of tries and I held her as she screamed out in fear and pain. I held her pink stuffed bunny as they took X-rays of her chest. I nodded and tried to wrap my head around all the medical jargon as they explained to me each step and each medicine and asked questions about her symptoms and when they started.

Finally things slowed down enough that I was able to call my husband and update him on the details of what was happening. We decided that he would come and switch out with me so he could deal with the doctors and decision making.

It was painful leaving my tiny baby lying there in that big hospital bed. I knew she was in good hands and that I was too drained to be of any use to her anymore. When I got home I needed to go feel all my other children’s chests. I needed to know they were breathing okay. I needed to know those ragged gasps I was hearing was only in my head. I stood and stared at the large bed with the heap of covers and pillows where my poor daughter was just thrashing around struggling for a basic necessity.

My story has a happy ending. My daughter recovered and came home from the hospital. My older daughter, Capri, has even been jealous of her new stuffed animals and stickers and the fire truck nebulizer Ella gets to use. She has whined several times saying she wishes she was sick, too. My oldest son, Colton, and I have a different opinion. When I asked him what he was going to write about in his school journal, he said something along the lines of, “Not everything that happened with Ella. I don’t want to remember all of this.” “You and me both, Bug,” I replied squeezing his shoulder.

Yet, here I am writing about it. Why? To share the moral of my story. The ringer is used to get rid of the excess. I had a lot of excess I had been worried about in my day to day. “When will Ella finally get the hang of potty training?” “When will we get the driveway heated?” “What will it be like when Reed changes jobs?” “When will I reach my ideal weight?” “When will we finally have our house remodel finished?” On and on and on.

Last Sunday a fellow pastor preached about living 24 hours at a time. Christ told us to let the things of tomorrow take care of themselves. I thought, “Huh, I pretty much do that already.” Nope! I do not!

When your busy routine comes to a screeching halt because you’re sitting on the floor holding a sick baby, you realize that you haven’t thanked God for your child’s good health. That you’ve been taking all the daily provisions for granted.

I can’t say that I’ll remember this lesson every day, but I can tell you when I do think about “that time when Ella had the croup” I will remember to thank God for all the little daily things He does for me.

The Secret to Friendship???

This thought has been bouncing around in my frazzled brain for a while. And it’s something that I have always wondered. Maybe, I’ve actually expressed it to a few people, but I doubt I really got across how often it bothers me. Maybe you’ve had it, too.

Remember a time that you are sitting across from a friend, or maybe you’re getting back in your car after hanging out with them for a few hours, and this thought crosses your mind, “Why are they friends with me?”

I’m one of those people that pursue and chase down friendships. It comes from years of moving constantly in a military family. It boggles my mind when I hear people complain that they haven’t made any friends after living somewhere for any amount of time. Yes, I’m one of those people.

Now knowing this about myself, I do often wonder if my friends are simply friends because I gave them no other choice. I know this isn’t 100% true, and I’m not writing this so all of my close friends who actually read my blog will come and assure me of their affection.

I’m writing this for those others out there like me, who wonder constantly if people really do like them, or if they simply put up with them. I know there are so many times I annoy myself, so why wouldn’t I be annoying to people around me? I’m forgetful and spacey, I often forget to think through what I’m about to say. I know I come across as ignorant and (forgive the stereotype) blonde, on a semi-regular basis.

My only redeeming trait, is love. If you are my friend or close acquaintance even, I will love the heck out of you. I might not hit your love language. But I will do my dead level best to remember what you like and don’t like. Know when your birthday is (though I may not send a card, because I despise them). I’ll know your children’s birthdays, your anniversary. Have on hand a couple fun memories we’ve shared, and a mental slideshow of my favorite moments with you and times you’ve made me literally Laugh Out Loud.

Are people willing to put up with annoying personality quirks and weirdness, just to be loved?

In my experience? YES!

To put in my own words a famous quote from the wisest man who ever lived: If you want friends, first you have to BE a friend. Love them!