When God talks to you (through others I mean)

May 31st, 2009

Okay God, I get it. You have been trying to tell me something. For the last few weeks, the lessons and discussions at our church seem to be focused right at me. Letting go of stress, forgiveness, and realizing that there are some things you just can’t change.

For months and months, I have been stressed out over something I have no control over. I see someone continuously hurt others and it makes my heart ache. I feel frustrated. I feel angry. I feel disappointed. I feel protective of those around me. I feel like I am in deja vu. Can I change the situation? Nope. Does stressing about it make the situation better? Nope. What is my part in the whole grand scheme of things? Pretty much to stay out of it as much as possible and concentrate on my own life.

Today’s lesson at church was about forgiveness. Whoa! That one is tied up with trust for me. There have been people close to me in the past that have hurt me deeply. I may continue to love them, but I will never trust them again. Not completely. The thing is, I KNOW that I am not supposed to judge others. I KNOW that. I do. However, I have a very hard time with trusting those that hurt me once they have committed the deed. I don’t mean a small thing like a white lie or saying something out of anger. It has to be a “biggie”. My biggest hang-up is seeing someone continue to harm. I have a REALLY HARD TIME with saying: “It’s okay. Keep at it. Keep travelling down this road that is causing pain for others. I forgive you. Just keep it up.”

I try to be a good person. I really do. I try to do things for others. I try to be kind, supportive, loving, faithful, honest, and generous. Even with all of those positive things in my heart and actions, I still have a horrible time with forgiveness and worry. I know that God wants me to leave things up to Him. He always takes care of situations. It might not be in my time, but it will always get resolved. Why can’t I just let go and leave it at that? Things happen for a reason. I don’t usually understand why they happen while I am in it. However, it always works out.

I might be a Christian, but I have a lot to learn. I can’t protect everyone I love from grief or pain. I can’t change the way that people feel or act. I can only control how I react to situations and conduct myself. With everything else, I just need to let it run its course. And pray. Lots of prayer.

Seems like God has been talking to me lately. I guess I just need to let go and listen to Him. I can be so stubborn. Maybe my expectations are too high for others? I need to concentrate on my life and let the other stuff go. Of course, that is easier said then done. Okay God, I am listening. Work on me and help me to forgive and stop worrying over the things I can’t change. I may be sitting in class, but I am not always an attentive student.

What do you mean I have to take a math test before auditing an art class?

May 26th, 2009

I am a n individual that wants to audit a watercolor class at my local community college. I am not looking for a degree. I am not looking to add to my resume. I just want to sit in the back on a watercolor class and learn to paint a new way. I don’t even mind paying the full class fee to do it. I don’t want a grade. I just want to learn to watercolor. Simple, right? Wrong!

It appears that our local community college doesn’t have such a program for people like me. Nope. If I read their webpage correctly, I have to take a math & english test to qualify for a watercolor class. Can someone tell me why I need to take a math test in order to learn to use pigments, brushes, & water? Who came up with this asinine requirement?

My school room is full of art books. I probably have 8 or 9 books on learning watercolors. Sure, I could teach myself. However, it is nice at times to learn from an experienced individual. That is all I want to do.

There are some people in this world that don’t fit the college mold for whatever reason. I was one of those. However, some of us want to go take A SINGLE CLASS to support their hobby or to branch out intellectually. My husband wanted to take a single photography class a few years ago. The local community college said the same thing. “You have to take a slew of tests before you can snap a photo with us.” How moronic is THAT?

Seriously community college….can’t you spare a chair for a wanna-be watercolorist? Do you really need to know if I can calculate Quadratic Equations? Honestly folks, that is plain absurd.

I’m sorry dude, that is NOT music blasting from your car!

May 14th, 2009

Texas heat brings open car windows. That is unless it is 90+ degrees, then people run their air conditioning. Today it is in the mid-80’s. That is pleasant. Most of the drivers puttering around in my neighborhood have their windows open. It is a nice day.

I drop my son off at martial arts class at 5pm. I usually spend the hour that he is in class going running. As I have a huge bookfair tomorrow night, I just dropped off my son so I could go home to price books.

I pull up to a red light and hear this HORRIBLE stuff coming out of the rolled down windows of the car next to me. It isn’t music. It is a electric guitar plinking a few notes and some guy eating the microphone with deep, angry screaming. I sat there for about a minute with this abomination to my hearing. The only garbled words I could hear was “bloody tears”. Seriously guy, what is that utter trash you are listening to? You can’t seriously think that is MUSIC, do you?

Out of curiosity, I looked up Bloody Tears on line. Apparently, that was the song title from a band that plays ‘Black Metal’. What is Black Metal, you may ask? I was curious too, so I looked it up. It is pretty much death, destruction, hate, anger, oh…and satanic worship. I didn’t know that Lucifer had hymnal music. All I can say is that it isn’t music.

Here is what Wikipedia said:

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal. It often employs fast tempos, shrieked vocals, highly distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, double-kick drumming, and unconventional song structure.

Additionally, some musicians have been associated with church burnings, murder and/or National Socialism. For these reasons and others, black metal is often viewed as an underground form of music

Umm….Eww….I had no idea there was such stuff out there. Yup, I’m naive.

Music to me is something you can dance to. Maybe not even that. It is something that gives you feeling. I suppose the listeners of black metal get feelings from their type of “music” (although, I doubt it is a positive feeling). I know that not everyone would enjoy Ella Fitzgerald. However, I listen to her words and accompanying melody and I feel THAT is music.

I wonder what makes people listen to stuff like that guy had. Are they angry people? Have they become disillusioned with life so they turn to hatred and destruction? Why on earth would you listen to that? I’m sorry. What I heard wasn’t music. It was…something…..

Yup, I’m speechless. As Mr. Horse used to say on Ren & Stimpy: “No Sir, I don’t like it.”

Frugal good. Frugal bad.

May 13th, 2009
Benjamin Franklin said the following:
“Rather to go to bed supperless than rise in debt”
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship”

Ben was one smart guy. He probably knew how to stretch his pennies. I try to do that. I try to stretch our one-income paychecks every way I can. Although I don’t have a job (ok, motherhood is a 24/7 job), I do try to bring in some income now and then. One way I do this is by finding deals on items at thrift stores, garage sales, book sales, etc. and then reselling them.

Two days ago, our son had a meeting to go to for 1.5 hours. As I had time to kill, I went to my favorite thrift store: Goodwill Blue Hanger. This is Goodwill’s thrift store. Seriously. It is amazing. I have found $100 Ralph Lauren pants (still tagged) for $1.25. About 4/5 of my closet is thrift store clothing. You would never know it by the look of them. I look over everything like a hawk and buy expensive labels. Yup, I’m cheap.

Anyway, I went over to my local Blue Hanger and spent the next hour + looking through bins of donations. My local store no longer carries clothing. They only carry housewares and books now. A warehouse FULL of these things. I could spend hours and hours in there and not see everything.

I happened across 7 practically new piano sheet music books (Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago, Seussical the Musical, Cabaret, etc.). How much did I spend for each? Fifty cents. I think the cheapest book cost $12 new. Not bad for fifty cents.

I also ran across a teacher instruction book + new/never opened instructional disk for teaching children to read. The book was in impeccable condition. As I have a homeschool book sale this Friday, I thought I would buy it to sell this week.

When I got home, I thought I would look online to see what the instructional reading book was worth. I am sure that I looked like a cartoon character with my eyes bugging out at the screen. This book new was over $100! I couldn’t find the book any cheaper online then $60. Woohoo!

I turned right around and posted my $4.00 purchases in hopes of making something in return. I got an order today for my instructional book: $50! Gotta love amazing finds like that.

I went out today and visited my second favorite book sight: Salvation Army. On Wednesdays, they have 1/2 off throughout the store. Books that were normally .50, are now just .25. I have found many wonderful Sonlight & Veritas readers there. I have filled many shelves in our home with books from this thrift store.

I walked up to the book shelves to see that they had changed their pricing. Books were no longer .50 each. Now, they were at least $1 (that was even for the really beat up children’s books). They also stopped the 1/2 off deal on books. I was crushed. I know that they need to make money. I just felt like one of my “buying secrets” had vanished before my eyes.

Being frugal can be a great thing. You can stretch your dollar and perhaps make a few by utilizing your time and wits. I guess I will need to work a bit harder to find sources for great deals. I know they are out there. I will find them. Oh yes…I will.

What I have learned in my 40 years…

May 4th, 2009

Today is my 40th birthday. Where on earth did the years go, by the way? Seriously? One minute I was graduating high school…today there is grey hair in my brush and my son is approaching the teen years!

The funny thing is that when you are younger, you think that people that are older “have it all together”. Umm…that isn’t necessarily true. I think that you can be one of those people that is always learning about yourself and the world. I think I am one of those people.

I thought I would post some “Shan’s words of wisdom” in celebration of my 40th birthday. These are just little things that I think younger (and older that want to throw in some extra ideas) people could use.

“I have learned in 40 years that….”

1) God/Faith, family, friends, the rest of the world. In that order, love them all.

2) What others think of you REALLY doesn’t matter. Be true to your heart and faith always. If they don’t like you after that, they don’t deserve you.

3) Everything in moderation. That means you can have that hot-fudged sundae every now and then. Just realize that you need to have a side of cardio with it.

4) DO NOT put off your dreams. You never know when you will get to them. If you have a dream, work on it NOW.

5) Have a strong work ethic. Have pride in your work. If you don’t know something, learn it.

6) Stop worrying! It will only give you wrinkles, loss of sleep, and a bigger waist line. If you can’t change the situation, have faith that someone else can.

7) Travel. Enjoy the world and nature. Get to know different cultures. You have more in common with them then you think.

(8) Read and learn. Never stop. You are never too old to feed your mind.

9) Giving back to family, friends, and your community are priceless. Do it as much as you can.

10) Forgive and move on. If someone has caused you harm, find room in your heart to forgive them. If you have caused harm, make amends and ask for forgiveness.  Grudges will only age you faster and make you bitter.

11) Enjoy more music, art, and laughter. There is so much beauty in the world. See, feel, hear, touch, and taste it.

12) Less Internet, phones, and television. More hand-written letters, picnics in the park, family game night, and home-town plays.

13) Be kind to all, no matter their religion, skin color, or age.

14) Stop talking – start listening.

15) Accept yourself for who you are. You were given this body for a reason. Revel in YOU. If you are unhappy with your weight, start today to fix it.

16) Happiness comes from within. It doesn’t come from a size 2 pair of jeans.

17) Pamper yourself often. You can deal with the world MUCH BETTER if you treat yourself like a beloved friend.

18) If you are in a dead-end job on a dead-end road, take a cab to a new location.

19) Gossip and lying are poison for the giver and receiver. The antidote is to stop dishing it out.

20) Wear good shoes. Get a good mattress.

21) Enjoy right now. Forget about yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow.

22) Listen to that voice in the back of your mind. 99.9% of the time it is right.

23) Don’t do things because you expect something in return. Even if it is a thank you. You set yourself up for disappointment. Do it because you know it is right.

24) If you don’t like the way things are, stop complaining. Find a way to make things better. Anyone can complain. It takes bravery to DO something about it.

25) Surround yourself with people you love and care about. Life is too precious and short to be around negative people.

26) Send hand-written thank you notes. People appreciate you taking the time to send them.

27) Before you lose your temper and say something you will regret, think. You just might save yourself some heartache and a relationship or two.

28) If you say you are going to do something, DO IT. Making empty promises will assure that others don’t trust you or your words.

29) Eat more veggies & whole grains. Eat less sugar and Little Debbie’s.

30) Tell those that you care about how special they are to you EVERY CHANCE YOU GET. Acts of kindness say “I love you” too.

If you are reading this and have any others that you have learned over the years, feel free to share them. I will be happy to add them.

Take care and have a great day!

Free-Range Kids: Why I NEED this book!

May 4th, 2009

Okay. Why is it that as parents, we now feel that the world is more dangerous now then when we were growing up? Why do we get worried when our kids play in the front yard? Why do we drive kids to school instead of letting them walk? Why are we happy with letting our kids sit in front of a mindless box instead of discovering the world outside? Why? Because we have been programmed to be scared of every possibility. We live in fear, and sadly we are encouraging the next generations to do the same.

My husband told me about a book: Free-Range Kids: Giving our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry by Lenore Skenazy. I think I need this book. Honestly. I KNOW that I worry too much about my son. I often wonder if I am suffocating him with my doubts & fears.

When I was a kid, I walked each day to & from school. I started walking the 2 miles to my elementary school when I was in 3rd grade. Only one time in all those years of walking to & from home, did I have someone pull over asking if I wanted to get into their car. Actually, it was a very creepy friend of my dad’s (whom later on got punched in the face by my father because he was trying to pick me up…they stopped being friends after that…thank goodness). The thing is, I was SMART ENOUGH to know not to get into this man’s car. I was just a kid, but I had the knowledge to protect myself. I didn’t get into the car even though that man might have caused me harm.

I also had two creepy men in my early life touch me inappropriately (one was our neighbor and one was my 5th grade teacher). I told my parents about the neighbor, but to this day, I never told them about the 5th grade teacher. Both situations really creeped me out. They also made me feel badly about myself. Why would someone caress my leg like that? I was something like 11-12 yrs. old. Did I deserve to feel like that? Did anyone else ever experience such a thing?

I guess what I am trying to say is that creepy people have been around for a long time. They have been around probably as long as people have been on the planet. The media makes it seem like they are a new, scary force. They aren’t. The modern technology of instant news (i.e. television, Internet, instant messaging, etc.) have made it seem like there are more of them out there. They have always been there. So…what do we do about them?

Our job as parents is to TEACH OUR CHILDREN about right and wrong. To make them feel comfortable with who they are. To know what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t. To be aware of their surroundings and be confident to the world (even when they don’t feel like it on the inside).

I do worry about my son. I don’t want him to ever feel uncomfortable or scared. However, can I really just lock him up in a protective bubble and hope that the “big, bad world” will leave him alone? Ummm..no. So, what do I do then? Well, for starters, I need to trust both my son and what we have taught him. I need to trust that he will protect himself with all the knowledge we can give him.

I can’t prevent him from getting the flu, but I can instil the need to wash his hands and cover his mouth when he sneezes. I can’t prevent someone from pulling their car alongside him and asking for help to find their lost puppy. I can teach him about distance from vehicles and to NEVER get into a car or go into a home without my husband & I saying it is okay first. I can teach him to put on sunscreen when he goes outside. I can teach him to look both ways before crossing a road. I can teach him to always swim with a buddy. I can teach…

I am learning to let go…slowly. Last summer, our son went to a summer Scout camp in another state. Was I worried? You bet! Would I let him do it again? You bet! He is doing it again this summer. Does our son ride his bike around the neighborhood to see friends? You bet!

I see so many parents in this world wanting to protect their kids. There is nothing wrong with that. However, where does loving protection stop and teaching a “be afraid to venture out into the world” lesson begin? By feeding on our own fears of: pedophiles, air-borne diseases, cuts/scrapes/choking/drowning, and cancer-causing pesticides and sun rays are we REALLY doing a service to our children? Will these same children ever be able to trust people, or will they see everyone as a possible predator? Will they be afraid to eat foods at a farmer’s market because it might not be “organic”? Will they all be incredibly overweight because going outside might mean that they could get skin cancer?

Like all parents, I never want to see harm come to my child. However, what is really in my power to protect him? Should parents spend these precious years preventing their children from playing outside or sleeping overnight at a friend’s? No? I believe that parents should spend these precious 18 yrs. by preparing children for the real world. Teaching children that most people are good. That they shouldn’t be afraid of the world. That the confident and observant ones are looked up to. To know their limitations. To be discover and play. To laugh. To learn. To be a kid.

I think I do need this book. I want my son to come back later in life thanking me for letting him explore and grow in his own time. I want him to learn from his tree climbing, bike jumping, bug catching, stick-sword fighting, and singing Scout songs around the campfire days. I want my son to love life, not be afraid to live it.