Monthly Archives: June 2016

Are You Happy?

My dad asks me this ALL.THE.TIME. And I never know what to say, because, like, I think I am. But I’m so freaking tired. And there’s laundry. And I need to resolve a conflict at work. And other crappity crap. But I’m still reading “Can’t Not Do” by Paul Shoemaker. And he shared the story of a change maker, named Lisa. And she has an AWESOME answer to this question that I think should have a quick and simple answer. But it’s never that simple…

“People ask her now, ‘Are you happy?’ (in doing your work that changes other people’s lives)

“Lisa says, ‘I have to think for a moment because for me it’s not about doing this to be happy. I completely believe in what I’m doing and who I am and that to me is far more fulfilling than ‘are you happy?’ I’m not unhappy at all. It’s the bigger sense of purpose where you just know.‘“

This. All of this. Note the keyword: purpose.

And I know God’s trying to talk to me about this topic because I came across the phrase in my church Bible study, “Seamless” by Angie Smith

The key to happiness is being content with who God made you to be.

HELLO! Isn’t this every person’s struggle? Especially women. We’re always comparing. And wanting to be something more (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you have boundaries). But then I wondered: how do I reflect on who God has made me to be?

And naturally, I found three questions (I honestly don’t know where I originally saw these. I wrote them down a long time ago and they “resurfaced” this week…ok, God, you’re talking to me, I hear ya)

  • What was the last enthusiastic thing you’ve done?

It was our 6 year wedding anniversary on Monday. And we got Friday night without Lil O (he’s stayed overnight with Grandma, his #1 favorite person. Seriously, he picks her over me all the time. Which should probably hurt my feelings more, but…I like the break.). So this meant J and I had to talk. Great. Remember how well this went last time? (I’m seeing a common theme, over and over again.) But we did pretty well and ended up in pajamas on the couch at home watching a Redbox movie. And I drank wine. So while enthusiastic may mean something thrilling to you, just veggie out in my new enthusiastic go-to, because I need to be energized.

  • How did you grow today?

Yikes. Hard question. (5 minutes passes) Ok, so I’m trying hard to think of how I’ve grown spiritually today. But I just haven’t. But I’ve grown in my knowledge today through articles I’ve read for my “real” job. And I love learning. So I don’t have to try to grow in a formal spiritual way everyday. I think I need to be better about recognizing God in my everyday – and that those articles can involve my growth as a whole person.

  • How did you let God use you today?

Oh, this is easy. I made an invitation to someone. Something simple, but I don’t do enough. And I hope it made them feel noticed.

I’ve recently recognized my daily purpose is to keep God at the forefront of my thoughts and actions, and trust that He’ll guide me onto other purposes. But I just suck at doing this. I mean, I wish I could remember to pray. And keep priorities in check (i.e., happy family over…everything else). But maybe I can instead focus on finding enjoyment, in an effort to have purpose – and be content with who God made me to be. So when I next get asked, “Are you happy?”…I’ll ask myself, “Are you living your purpose?”

What comes to mind when you think about God?

When I see the name “God,” I think: God the Father; not the Son, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.

And my first reaction: sacred. holy. in charge. judgmental. a bit scary. way impersonal.

(I mean, I don’t think this should be surprising considering I’m a rule-following, list-doing Martha.)

I think of Jesus as the personal part of God: forgiver. friend. super personal.

So imagine my surprise when I read Genesis 6:5-8 this week (prompted by the church Bible study I am in, “Seamless” by Angie Smith): “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heaven, for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

Uh, whoa. Did you read God’s deep regret in ever making us? (Obviously, considering I italicized it.) When I read this, I noticed God’s huge feelings. He was like the ultimate disappointed dad. He was so depressed about the whole thing that he said, “Forget it. I’ll just ‘blot out’ man.” As in, destroy, or wipe out.

But wait! Check out the last sentence of this verses: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” And then you might know the story of the flood and how only Noah’s family survived.

I think we all owe Noah a huge thank you for saving mankind. Seriously, Noah. You the man.

But the Noah conversation led to more deep thoughts among our group on a Tuesday night. And our video guide (Angie Smith) prompted us to consider: Why are we so surprised that God wouldn’t save everyone, and yet not surprised that He would choose to save me?

I think it’s because we feel entitled – surely I’m good enough, or I’m at least better than so-and-so or this group of people. (Truth time: When I think who about I’m “better than,” prisoners always come to mind first. Like because I’m not in a jail cell, I’m somehow more worthy than those who are. Whoa. Talk about getting your superiority complex in check. I am not better than anyone. We are equally loved by God, and all made in His image.) So we focus less on grace and the gift we’ve undeservedly received (salvation), and instead focus on justice. Cue me thinking about news stories of Christians judging others. I cannot even BELIEVE all the tweets from people applauding the killing of the Orland Pulse club – because victims were LGBT (the tweeters are really sick people and if some claim to be a follower of Jesus, they so do not get what it means to be His).

God the Father was the first person to save us; He created the world before He sent His Son to live and die in it. And God felt these deep feelings very early on of creation. I’m going to try to keep this story of God’s deep regret pre-flood in mind when I think of His characteristics. No one has ever seen God – but many saw Jesus. We don’t have any photos, but the most convincing image I believe exists is this one: drawn by a child at age 8, Akiane Kramarik and identified by Colton Burpo (Heaven is for Real kid). I’m looking forward to meeting God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit one day in heaven. In the meantime, I’ll keep seeking out the personalness of this Trinity.

What’s Your Thing?

Y’all. I am reading a good book right now. I’m only on page 40 and have already made this conclusion.

Paul Shoemaker’s “Can’t Not Do” focuses on finding the social issue that shakes you so hard to your core that there’s no way you couldn’t not take action to work toward providing a remedy to that problem. Mr. Shoemaker’s job at his non-profit is to help others realize their greatest potential to make change. (I know what you’re thinking: PUH-LEAZE, Kristin. No self-help books. Don’t be that person. I’m not! This isn’t a self-help book. It’s an empowerment book. There’s a difference. A real important distinction that I think should get you fired up.) And while it’s difficult to get others fully jazzed with just a few paragraphs about this topic, I hope it will at least catch your interest to check out this book from your local library. (I love the library, y’all. My part-time high school job was to shelve books at my town’s library. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I definitely didn’t mind it.)

So what caught my eye so far, considering I’m only one page 40?

“Be intentional about how and where you spend the ‘change the world’ time in your life. Commit to that one thing where you have more optimism, more boldness, and begin to address it, because there is genius, power, and magic in it.”Kristin professional

This led me to wonder what my “thing” is. I’ve volunteered with a variety of organizations: Girl Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and I work at a non-profit that encourages and helps students onto college. I have really enjoyed the work, but I can’t say that any of it has been my over-the-moon I-must-focus-all-intentional-energy-on-this-as-often-as-possible “thing.” And that’s not bad. I’ve made impact in those groups and I really believe in what they’re doing – and lost sleep some nights with big ideas for all of them. But am I missing out on the one “thing” that could be my larger purpose? Obviously, as a Christian, God calls me to live for Him – that is the purpose for all believers. But I think we all live for Him differently, and we need to find that niche.

I can’t wait to read more as I hope Mr. Shoemaker guides me through this process to understand my “thing.” Is it something in education? With children? Women? Financial Responsibility? (I wish! I love learning about this, but I’ve got a LONG ways to go in my understanding.) Married couples? (Probably not, if I can’t even find commonalities with my hubs.) Faith-based?

What might be your Thing? I need some more ideas. ‘Cause I’m only on page 40. And I like to skip ahead.

You know what helps me think clearly? Wine.

I had a whole week off of work. A. Whole. Week. I prepared for this (because I’m a Martha.) I even made a “fun to-do list” because I knew I’d get caught in doing chores instead of enjoying time with my boys. So how do you think I did?

Well, as to be expected, the days quickly became full of travel to visit family. And, as predicted in my last blog, I got a cranky attitude by the end because I’m like a toddler needing structured time – and naps. Here’s what happened:

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I’m workin’ on that devil machine in the background

Trip to visit the parents. My parents are building a cabin on a piece of land they own in the middle of nowhere, and are getting close to having it finished. So we hung out there. O chased a frog, J built a deer blind, and I worked on sewing a dress with my mom. I have taken up really learning how to sew. My mom is a former seamstress and God’s sew-able gift to the world. And I’ve chosen to take my new hobby seriously. Unless the project takes more than 30 minutes. Seriously. (I originally wrote “3 hours,” but J read this post and practically ordered me to tell the truth.) Then I get angry, frustrated, and want to give up. So I think I’m about to take sewing less seriously. Because the projects all take me at least 8 hours. It’s ridiculous.

A couple days at home. The garden is 100% IN! Tomatoes and peppers were the last to be planted. And J mowed the yard so I got to use all the grass clippings to cover the current bare spots in my garden.

This kid's happy place is truly cookin' in the kitchen.

This kid’s happy place is truly cookin’ in the kitchen.

The grass keeps out weeds and breaks down/composts to make your soil better – bonus points if you lay newspaper down first, but I just can’t with lil O running around too. It’s complete mayhem. He runs after his daddy on the mower, climbs up and goes down the swing set slide, picks unripened strawberries then attempts to eat them (one experience with the stem became a deterrent for a few days and now he hands them to me to make them “right”). We also went on a visit to the children’s zoo, and O had a great time watching the penguins at feeding time, as well as running. Just lots of running. Finally, I researched how to make a quality frozen breakfast burrito, J put it into action, and now that man is happy as he heads to soccer camp each morn with solid protein in his belly.

A trip to visit the other parents (J’s parents). It was anniversary weekend for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, so we offered to take their kids. I wanted O to have some good cousin time. Little did I know how exhausting it is to care for a 15-month old, a 20-month old, and 4-year-old.

Lil O with his Cousin B

Lil O with his Cousin B

Ok, I knew it would be exhausting. But you talk yourself into all these special moments they’re all going to have. Then you find yourself wrangling a kid with a poopy diaper while simultaneously yelling, “Don’t climb on that!” to another kid. (If you currently have more than one child, I realize this is your everyday. And I think you are crazy. And amazing for being able to do it. And I’m adding you to my prayer list.) I’d like to take all the credit for this exhaustion, but the truth is, when I say, “we took their kids,” I meant they came to Grandma & Papa’s, where four adults were present. And my mother-in-law nearly did everything. I deserve no credit. She’s the mix of an angel and bad ass beast all in one. Just like my mom. Moms are just killer like that.

Lil O with his Papa & Cousin M

Lil O with his Papa & Cousin M

O slept like crap. Which means we slept like crap. I know there are people out there with kids who always sleep awful and they manage to get by (not happily, but they still show up to work). But we are so not those people. Lil O is a champion sleeper. And has been for the most part since 9 months old. But we stayed away from our house 5 out of 9 days – with him in the same room as us. And at least 3 of those nights consisted of a wet bed and baby in the very early morning. It was less than pleasant. You just wanna say, “Get it together, kid!” Because clearly that will work with a child under the age of 2.

Finally, cue the Saturday night before I go back to work. And PTL my husband knows me because he picked up a bottle of wine at HyVee that same afternoon when he also picked up more milk for the little ones – while carrying a child through the store. (I hope the grocery clerk judges us for buying wine and milk. Because I would. Just short of a package of Oreos, I think it’s quite clear what is happening in our home. And that is parents about ready to give it up.) This man is truly worth all he challenges me with – and vice versa. I get the kid in bed that night and pour a…healthy portion. And start to feel the effects within a short time frame. I feel calm, relaxed…giggly. Oh PTL for wine. And as I chilled out, I realized I needed to for real chill out. I think wine takes my amped-up, always buzzing, on-high-alert brain and brings it down to a normal human level. (Seriously, J stands with his mouth wide open staring at me when I screw something up or forget something. Because I don’t do those things. It’s a mix of Girl Scouting, my mother, and an overstimulated brain. It’s not ADHD; it’s Martha-ness.)

I could choose to be the negative one (that no one wants to be around anyway), or I could choose to have a better attitude and enjoy the last few waking hours with family. I felt content (and, admittedly way too self-righteous in my decision), so poured myself another half glass of wine to really knock myself out overnight (remember the whole “O sleeping like crap?” I had to improve my odds of a night’s sleep that didn’t consist of a 3am wake-up to J’s snoring, then having to pee…a phenomenon I’ve learned I’ll never recover from post-pregnancy, and a 6am wake-up from the baby staring at me who would have gone back to sleep if his parents weren’t in the room). So what are my take-aways from this whole week off of work and with my family?

  1. I need to stop sewing.
  2. Three children are too many children.
  3. Wine helps me think clearly.
  4. I need a vacation.