Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Facebook Folly

Facebook hurt my feelings today.

Sometimes Facebook hurts your feelings when no-one "likes" your photo or status.  Or maybe you post something meaningful and heartfelt and receive no comments.

Other times, Facebook is hurtful if you check your friends list, and notice that someone "dumped" you as a friend.  That's what happened to me today.  I was the victim of an "un-friending".

The silly thing - I don't even know when exactly it happened.  I don't know the fateful hour when this person decided to clean-up their friends list and wipe me from their newsfeed.

And I honestly felt crushed... but then I began to reason with myself - am I acting like a Jr. High school kid?  Does social media really have that much power over my emotions?

Too bad I'm a softie.  'Cuz it hurts.

However, it does give me cause to question how much "approval" I seek from such a fickle, artificial environment.  Facebook may provide more accessible, often light-hearted access to relationships.  Often, these are people whom I wouldn't physically be able to remain in contact with over the years due to time and/or distance - but, once again, it doesn't offer a true representation of humanity.

Even I am guilty of carefully wording status updates, to ensure they are received a certain way (I hope).  I also avoid commenting on political/religious/parenting/philosophical debates because I don't want to bother with unpleasantness during my "social media break-time". 

Then... there are the profile photos that are so carefully selected to look "better than real life" and display me in the best possible light.

I can't even imagine if Facebook was in "real-time" to the degree that my profile photo was a current image of myself - no matter what I was wearing, what my hair looked like, whether or not I was wearing make-up, and no matter where I was currently seated. (Ummm... I can't be the only one guilty of using their smart-phone in the bathroom!)

So, I've established that social media is contrived, perhaps even fake to a certain degree.  But, "real" or not, it is also very powerful.  It can make me laugh, cry, be encouraged, and even warm my heart.

Despite the "good" of Facebook, I have taken a stand and deleted Facebook off of my phone.  This is not due solely to the woes I've just pointed out, and recently being "un-friended", but because I feel that I need to have a firm grip on reality in order to fully live my life.  I don't want Facebook to replace face-time with the people who have to live with me day after day.  They are the ones who experience the unfiltered "me" and I want to give them a more devoted, attached, committed relationship.  Instead of constantly looking for approval, and connection, and even laughter in the glowing lights of a screen, I am going to look for more satisfaction in the faces of my children, husband and those with whom I am blessed to spend my time.

Facebook is not my umbilical cord of connection to humanity... although, my smart-phone, with it's melodic bleeps and boops throughout the day would like me to believe that the opposite is true.  So, I will silence those noises, and instead spend my days with my attention tuned to the laughter of my children - to the words they are waiting to speak, and to the emotions that they wish to share.

Hello, reality!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cleaning Up... Again!

There comes a point in time when I can no longer identify the food stains on the floor, and I know that I must do a thorough cleaning and mop up the mess.  Last week, our family took turns having the flu, so there was an awful lot of laying around, feeling tired, and looking the other way when someone spilled their cereal or a piece of peanut-butter toast went face down on the floor, under the table.

So this morning, knowing that we would have company tonight for my husbands birthday, I decided to clean the kitchen "for real".

I ignored the children's school-work, instead content with the fact that they were happily playing together - using their imaginations.

I swept, I wiped walls, and I mopped the floor until every splotch and smear was removed.  The table sparkled, the floors were damp but clean and the dishes were all either being washed in the dishwasher, or put away!  Ahhhh.... for a few moments I basked in the simple pleasure of cleanliness.

One hour later...

Salt and food coloring drippings from our craft made a trail from table to sink.

My 3 year old had peed on the floor.

Two children decided to fight over a bowl of sticky dipping sauce from our lunch (mmm... somosas!) and it resulted in splatters all over the two children, all over the table, and all over the floor!

"Why do I bother to mop!??!!!" I said (or maybe yelled or shrieked or perhaps wailed out) to the children.  My heart was pounding, my eyes bulged out, my blood was boiling and my frustration over-the-top!

With a deep sigh, I told the kids "Don't move a muscle!" as their clothing and bare arms glistened with dripping sauce; forming puddles and spots all over the now unclean floor.

I grabbed a dishcloth, wiped them clean and sent them to change.

My floor was sticky.

My life, somehow became undone as I battled the emotions that I've been seeking to contain and control.

I don't want to be angry.  I don't want to "cry over spilled milk", as they say.

But it never seems to end....

And I wondered, for a moment, what it feels like to be Father God, looking down on this mess of a world.

He sees every broken heart, every lonely soul, every angry thought, every desperate action.

He sees all of my mistakes and failings as a mother, wife, friend... but never says to me "Why do I bother to clean you up???"

Instead, "His mercies are new every morning." (Lamentations 3:23)

His "righteousness like the waves of the sea", washing over me; again and again - no matter how many times I fail. (Isaiah 48:18)

I'm humbled by a God whose love never fails, or dries up, or gives up on me.  It continues, and I can always depend upon it; like I know that the sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day, and next week, and next year...

As I am renewed and empowered by this grace and mercy, I have strength to mop the floor again...

But, concerning all my adorable little mess-makers... I'm pretty sure it's naptime.


Monday, January 28, 2013

If Life Could Be Fixed With A Glue Gun...

The new, oversize Frog stuffie has lost an eye.

Moms are meant to fix those things, and sew on buttons that rattled around in the dryer, pulled loose from someone's favorite sweater.

Moms are supposed to keep the house clean, too.  Most days I scatter myself around the house, pushing one load into the washer, dumping one load on the bed, then answer the child who asked "How do you spell 'considerate'?" and then chase the buck-naked three year old out of the pantry where he was trying to climb the shelves and steal some chocolate chips.

So I didn't get around to dusting... mopping... but at least a toilet was cleaned when I gave myself a "time-out" for five minutes.

I could never finish all the tasks on the "To Do" list.  So I am once again in the process of determining priorities.  I ask myself: What is urgent, vital, required?
What really matters?

I'd rather have the contented accomplishment of a meaningful, heartfelt conversation with my child(ren) than know that I gave the bathrooms a thorough cleaning.  I'd rather teach my children character than chemistry.  Yet, I know I can't forgo academic pursuits in their entirety just to pursue warm fuzzies and endless snuggle-time.

I'm on the prowl for a life-change; a change of me and my focuses and direction; so that I can use my time wisely.  Because it really does go by in a blink.  SUDDENLY, I am the mother of six children.  SUDDENLY, I have a teenager.  SUDDENLY, my kids will be grown up and leaving home, one by one.

I want to do things that really matter.  I want to set my priorities properly.  How will I make the right decisions?

I was reading an article about a homeschooling mom who was burnt-out and asking for advice, and the advice given was to


It makes sense.  I need to know my destination before consulting Google maps for directions.

I have a feeling that this isn't as simple as it sounds.  I'm not going to take this lightly as I tweak, adjust, modify, dissect, and amputate areas of my attitude, hopes, ideas and life.  Much consultation will be done on my knees, in prayer, as I seek God's plans and vision for my family.

For now, given the daunting task ahead of me, I'll fix the simple.  Time to get the glue gun and stick Mr. Frog's eye back where it belongs. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Season

-17*C and so much snow!
On a day like today, I actually started browsing the "last minute vacation deals" on various websites, feeling that if I could just find the right deal, I could fly my family (six kids and all) to a warm, tropical, white sand beach where we could relax and soak up some sun.  Pushing the fantasy aside, I instead browned chicken in a large stainless steel pot, preparing a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs stew for our family's dinner tonight.

Since I don't have an extra $7000 sitting around for an impromptu getaway, I could turn up the heat and the kids and I could get out our favorite summer shorts and tank tops.  Better yet, as an overt denial to this wretchedly bone-chilling weather, I could just prance around outside in a sundress, shake my fist at the falling snowflakes and scream out: "Winter, be gone!!!"

Okay, that would be some serious denial.  And I might freak out the neighbors... and my children.  (My husband? ...not so much!) 

Reality and circumstances dictate that I accept the changing of seasons - my very life depends upon it (unless I want to die of hypothermia).

For many months now, I've been struggling to return to the blogosphere and write about my feelings, revelations, activities and life-lessons.  Since the late summer, I've even had the same theme in my mind of a blog that I wanted to write, entitled "sabotage".  I wanted to express how we, ourselves can sabotage our personal success and even emotional health by making poor or negative choices.  For example (one of the easiest to pick on) is eating unhealthy.  You know that you "should" eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and not fill yourself up on cheese puffs and Mars bars, but you give in continually and end up tired, sick, and overweight.

For me, the idea of sabotage came with the realization that I am personally responsible for much of my success in life.  I make choices that influence my emotions, physical health and spiritual health.  If I dwell in the past failures or frustrations or hurts, I may very well be sabotaging my ability to enter into happiness.  I could become fixated on how weary I felt last winter, and expect this winter to be a repeat of that unhappiness. 

At the beginning of this post, I talked about the need to accept when a season is changing.  You can't live the exact same way in the winter as you did in the summer.  You have to get the shovel out of the garage, put on some tall boots and mitts and deal with the snow.  (Or, be like a teenager I know and wear a stylish coat and cute little shoes with no socks and look pretty while being cold!)

I've been sensing for my life, with this new year, that I'm entering a new season.  I'll admit it - the last few years have been filled with some incredible challenges - renovations, new baby, living with relatives, pastoring a church, trying to homeschool, and being iron deficient!  We entered into a time of major transition this fall and had a flurry of activity as we scrambled to complete renovations on our house, sell it and move back to the 'big city' for my husband's new job.  Now that the dust is beginning to settle, I'm getting the feeling that I should expect life to be different.  Of course we live in a different house, are attending a different church and are seeing different friends - that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about my expectations and hopes and my emotional outlook.  I sense a new season in life... where I don't have to expect most days to be a struggle, but where I can enjoy the tasks I have at hand instead of dreading them and feeling exhausted.

A changing of seasons requires a change of mindset. 

"Onward and upward!"
-C.S.Lewis The Horse and His Boy