Saturday, September 29, 2012

Takin' It to the House.

You have no idea how much I wanted to title this "Takin' It to the Hizz-ouse". 
But, Spouse would tell me I'm a spaztard. This is not true. 

I thought about "Movin' On Up!", but then my Millennial readers wouldn't sing: "to the east a deeeelux apartment in the sky-y-y" and that would be important to me, so that one went in the proverbial compost bin. 
(Hilarity from my last post.)
So, that's your title, Friends. Hope you see how much distress I go through over this jazz.

Movin' on.
To the East Side.
To a Dee...

OK. So, last week the girls and I made the ever-so-invigorating 4 1/2 hour drive down I-45 from DFW  to Houston in order to meet with the movers. It was a quick and dirty trip. "Just get it unloaded, we'll unpack what we can and press on back to DFW for our last week." 

I know what you're thinking. 
Why didn't y'all just stay for the week and work on the house? 
A fine question with a couple of answers. I had just traveled to Florida the week before for 4 days to pack up our house. We felt like we had been separated a lot and we just like each other. 
Also, the girls had a class at the Fort Worth Zoo this week AND we had a date with one of our favorite Trinidadian-Millennials on Sunday. We really wanted to take him to FBC Irving. So, that's why. 

7:10am. Big honkin' truck arrived for an 8am appointment. Well, alright. Let's do the thang.
You work for your supper 'round here, Folks. No handouts. No bailouts. No freebies.
My girls DO work. Meghan's job was to check off the sheet while the truck was unloaded.
Notes: Maddy worked a lot, too. But, since I was working, too, there aren't any pics of it. Also, that fan should have never come here. It's not even ours. I don't even know why we had it, but it got loaded.  
JAG, Spouse will send you some $. :)
At one point, I couldn't get out of the kitchen.
My boys, Emmanuel & Moses, had a good time with that. 
One day this will be schoolroom/library awesomeness.
The goal is before our lease is up. Aim high, Kids.
The Acts 1:8 Bathroom.
I want to tell you a couple of quick things before my fam wakes up and the work day begins. 

How we treat people matters. I sincerely appreciate people who are in jobs that provide a service to others. I am genuinely appreciative of cashiers, bank tellers, car washers, servers, movers, and the people who keep public restrooms clean. I GUSH over them. Let me tell you something, they notice. 

It was not a perfect day. There are furniture pieces missing and tables scratched and trinket boxes broken. But, those are just things. 

Emmanuel, Moses, and Chris the Truck Driver are people. 

Emmanuel and Moses told me they were Believers. 

Chris, in his heavy New York accent, 
"I suspected you were a Born Again just by the way you acted. 
People get real bent out of shape over a scratch in a table... 
My uncle is a Born Again and he home schools and his kids are just as polite as yours. 
You don't see that much anymore." 

Thank you, Jesus. These girls made You look good again.

You don't just get McD's Sweet Tea in Texas. You get Texas McD's Sweet Tea. I'm lovin' it.
It's gonna be a rainy day in most of Texas, which makes it a great day to unpack! The boxes are calling' me. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wasting Away...

Today, I've got an assignment: Waste


Today we are talking about a chapter from Jen Hatmaker's book, 7. Waste. I accepted this assignment from the folks over at (In)Courage.  7 is their current Book Club selection.

I read the book several months ago, then when Amazon ran that sucker for a $2.99 download, I ordered it for a few of my friends. Yay for a 2.99 gift!

Really, the whole book is on excessive, wasteful habits: eating, spending, trashing, killing our minds with mind-numbing media. Yah, it's not exactly a 'guilty-pleasure summer beach-read', but it's worth your download, for sure! It'll rock your world.

If you don't know of her, Jen Hatmaker's a bit on the snarky side, freaking hilarious, and she loves Jesus, justice, and people. All of the best qualities in a person, don't you think? Say it!

Seriously, we could be BFFs if not for her hair. She has great hair; I'm pretty sure I would end up hating her. Settle. I kid.

Anywho, some of y'all are well aware that The Spouses just moved. Last week. I watched our belongings get packed up in a moving truck and then I watched it get unloaded into our new house exactly 1,008 miles away.  (More on this later.)

As the contents of cabinets was getting boxed up, I was disturbed at how much stuff we own. Blech. You really see it when you have to move it. 
I even remember thinking about this chapter as I was taking the __th black trash bag down to the road. (If I say how many bags there were, Jen may demand her own book back.)

If this isn't the cutest thing, you're dead inside.
"Mom, I need my bucket! We've got carrots, broccoli, & blueberries!"
I like to think I'm a pretty conservative person. I'm definitely into conserving money, space, and, ya know...calories. I'd rather give stuff away to someone who will use it than have a bunch of clutter around wasting space and collecting dust. I prefer to use plastic bowls rather than plastic storage bags. I've even been known to wash a plastic bag a time or two. I like reusable water bottles and most anything that serves more than one purpose. I prefer local businesses, especially businesses with Christian ownership. I've made my laundry detergent for over 3 years now. I took the girls to a Composting Class with 4-H once. We've had gardens, chickens (that gave us eggs AND chicken dinner!), and Mack. Mack was the bull that went to the freezer. He became a Big Mack. Don't judge. Carnivorous Southerner, here. I even keep my cutesy Ron Jon reusable shopping bags in the car! And, when I forget my bags in the car, I reuse my plastic shopping bags in the trash cans in the bathrooms. 
Corn, squash, green beans from our backyard.
Dude. I'm one step away from dreads and hemp sandals.

Except that I drive an SUV. And, I don't care enough about the plastic use to go back out to my car to retrieve said Ron Jon bags. I don't know where my recycle bins are (at the old house). I know we have some. I keep purchased water bottles for guests, even though we have excellent well water. I buy prepackaged, pre-pre-prepared dinners, and disposable whatever-is-convenient. We've got paper plates, disposable cleaning wipes, and aluminum cans in the trash. I only occasionally remember to turn the water off while brushing my teeth. Check this out: we flush EVERY time we use the toilet! And, then there's the whole Big Mack thing. We eat meat. 

The Dreadlock/ Hemp Sandal Police would never let us into their club.

So, I'm a consumer, not a conserver. And, I just moved from acreage to the burbs. Blessed assurance.

<Enter Jen Hatmaker and "Seven Habits for a Greener Life" business.>
  • Gardening
  • Composting
  • Conserving energy & water
  • Recycling
  • Driving one car
  • Thrifty/ Second-hand shopping
  • Buying only local. "Live here, give here". (p.118)
She is challenging us, in the name of God, the Creator, to conserve the natural resources that God provided for us. We honor Him by respecting what He created. 

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
Psalm 24:1

Before 'going green' is a political issue, or a social issue, it's a stewardship issue. We, man and woman, were created AFTER the earth and all that was in it. We were given a message to 'fill the earth and subdue it', not 'fill the earth and consume it'. (Gen. 1:28)  Cultivate the earth. As Christians we should consume only what we need, not to be hippy-minimalists-reality-show types, but because we are so crazy-in-love with the One who provides that which we need!

Jen likened God's earth to our kids' artwork brilliantly. "If I don't preserve their creations right now, one day I'll have bare walls because I squandered these beautiful offerings when they seemed so plentiful".

This is not an effortless task. When was the last time you did something of generational-thinking that was simple? 

"Buying local is often synomous with overspending." (p.141)
Saving money means buying at Walmart.
Buying local means spending a little more.

Or this hypothetical inner-dialogue scenario:

If I cook dinner from scratch every night, spending my days grinding wheat and picking vegetables from my garden my kids will never be able to participate in any after school activities rendering them ineligible for scholarships because they won't be well-rounded students and they won't get to go to a good college and they'll never be a professional athlete or get a decent job and they'll be living here for the rest of their lives!! 


Or, we set an example for the 'tree hugging liberals' that our commitment to the earth goes deeper than theirs because we know the One who spoke it into existence. 

We can tell our own stories, like Jen did, of how "God has captured me for creation care" and then live like you are captured!

Use less, recycle, repurpose, reuse, buy local, buy second hand, garden what you can. (p. 149)

I'm in!
Who's with me!?

Monday, September 17, 2012

If Walls Could Talk

Have you ever moved to a new home? In your adult life, I mean? After a few years of marriage and children and stuff and memories have accumulated? 

It took about 6 hours for 3 men to come in my home and pack up 83 boxes of material possessions. They laughed and commented about how many books we have. The next day it took 5 hours for the same 3 men to load our stuff in a big, honkin' truck. 

Can't leave those paddle boards!

It is, at the very least, a stirring of an assortment of emotions at once. 

It was odd. 
Watching someone pack up memories into a box and stack it on top of another box of things that should have been tossed out. Weird. 
Plus, I wanted to help. But, they asked that we not pack anything! So, I felt like a lazy bum just hanging around answering questions when they needed me. Don't misunderstand me, at the same time, I'm grateful. These guys were machines.

Does anyone else keep old Bible Studies? I want my girls to have them. Is this normal?                                                 Should they go?
It was embarrassing. 
I have photo albums and scrapbooks that I would never willingly part with, but then I had nonsense. 
I like to think I am one that doesn't accumulate junk, but I certainly have! I haven't made a scrapbook page in about 4 years--WHY am I still holding onto that circle cutter thing? Why do I still have all that scrappy paper? Before you say "The girls might use it!", I've asked them over and over. They do not seem to have any more of a creative gene than I do. Bless.

It was motivating.
I am hoping to seize the opportunity. Since it's already packed up, I'm hoping to just get it on Craigslist and sell it. (Says every person whose ever moved.) Books, scrapbook stuff, games, etc...they've got to go! Let me dream!!

It was enlightening.
We have been gone from this house and the majority of our belongings for the better part of 6 months. This means we had an obscene amount of clothes in closets that we obviously survived without wearing, seasonal items excluded. We went without using the footbath/massager thing. I made it 6 months on a pair of gym shoes and 4 pairs of flip-flops. I don't know how many peasant skirts. A few.  I haven't worn a pair of jeans since March. 
How many sets of gel pens does one family 'need'? Markers? Hairbrushes? You would think we work with Haz-Mat if you saw the number of rubber gloves around this place!? What is that junk about?

Don't judge the walls. I never could see that it made sense to paint the closet.
I was surprisingly not emotional about seeing my stuff packed up in front of me. At times I even felt guilty for not being more so. 
It is all just stuff. We usually have a pretty healthy perspective on material things, but I did wonder if I wouldn't have a little episode with all of it happening at once. Nope. I didn't.
It is just a couch.
It is just a hammock.
It is just a bed.
It is just a table.

It is just a house.

But, that's when it hit.

Sitting in that house. Alone. No chairs, no table, just me and the carpet. I started really thinking about who was going to live there. I hadn't thought to pray over them at all! I was so ashamed!

I went in every single room praying over who would sleep there. I prayed they would know the Jesus I know. I prayed that that little house would serve them they way it served us. Humbly and perfectly.

While in each of those rooms, I thanked the Lord for making that house a home for us. My Jesus and I had a good, Southern-style cryfest. It was ugly and beautiful at the same time. I was crying some kind of ugly and the gratitude I felt toward Jesus and my Spouse was beautiful.

They really were grateful tears. Grateful for two little girls' spit up on the carpet. For Barbies and Legos and The Teeny Tiny Mouse. Grateful for Goodnight Moon and Genesis 1:1. For the healing that house has seen. I'm so grateful for the marriage that is only a representation of God's grace. He knows and I know that this marriage is NOT a reflection of what I would have made it by myself. I am so thankful for Grandma & Papa's visits everyday at 11 and 4 until the Alzheimer's stole the reminder. For the multiplication and adjectives and Chutes and Ladders. I am so grateful for the Word that has been opened at that kitchen table. For the discussions and debates and conviction. Grateful for the meals and prayers and movies and laughter and late nights.

I imagine if those walls could talk they'd tell you that this girl is skilled at a tongue lashing. They'd let you know that your Spouseisms writer is, in fact, the hot mess she claims to be! I pray those walls would also tell you that Mark and Melissa are exactly who they say they are: The Spouses.
What you see is what you get.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.

And, I am so very thankful for every tale those walls could tell.

What do you think your walls would say?

I'm also very grateful that this was my 'rental car' after the transport company took the truck. Thanks, David! I enjoyed the 'Stang! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Make the Call.

"_______ is not my calling."
"The Lord has not called me to ______."
"I don't feel called to _________."
"I don't have the patience to _______."
"God has not given me a desire in my heart to ______."

Fill in the blank: Adopt. Missions. Be a SAHM. Work outside the home. Downsize my home. Upsize my home. Home educate. Teach a class. Lead a Bible Study. Have more kids. Share the Gospel. Give $X to this ministry. You know...

Most of us, at one time or another, have made one or more of the statements above. I have, for sure.
I actually told someone, "I guess I'll know for sure that it's time to 'Go' when the U-Haul shows up in my driveway."

Bless. Like a moving truck was gonna drop out of the sky manna-style. Meanwhile, Spouse and I were both saying 'Go' to everybody else to the point of being annoying!
We pray, "Lord, lead us. We will do whatever you tell us to do." That was a sincere prayer of mine. I meant it. "Whatever". "Lead us, Lord."
Problem is, it isn't very specific. I mean, I said "wherever you lead, I'll go"--pretty broad statement. But, what I really meant was an island-type place like somewhere in Central America or even South Florida or the Philippines. But, um, Texas?
Not even on the radar. 
God had never given me a desire in my heart for anything in Texas. Even after we got to Houston and we were so pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it, I just knew that we weren't called to go there. I had two precious, Spirit-filled women that said, in different words, "Hmm...I don't know, Melissa. I'm just sensing something about this with Mark. I don't know..." And, I said, "Well, I do...It's really neat, but I don't think so."When we were coming back to Houston for the second time, I knew I had to ask the Lord very specifically to change our eyesight. I didn't want us blinded by the depression we were feeling over the Manila loss. We had to pray to see Houston with His eyes, to see the opportunity through His eyes. Or, would he close our eyes to Houston? We had to be open to the possibility rather than shut it down before the idea even had room to grow. 
We called on Him.
He answered.

There was this other time...
We had considered homeschooling Meghan from the get-go. I knew of a few homeschoolers, not many, but we wanted to try it. When it came time for kindergarten, I folded. Or was it that I just wasn't "called to homeschool"? I can't say that I was really called to put her in public school, either?
A friend said to me. "I understand, Melissa, if you aren't called to homeschool, but that only flies if you can tell me that you were called to put her in school. " 
Well, I don't know, really. I don't know because I didn't specifically ask the Lord if I was called to put my child in public school! Still, I would encourage other people to homeschool, even loan out my books on homeschooling (Yes, I had books-that I bought from the homeschool convention !! when Meghan was 3.)
Just like waiting on that U-Haul to show up in my driveway, I guess I was waiting on a shipment of curriculum or something!
It wasn't going to happen.
We had to make the call.

Even now, I hesitate to admit...
There has been discussion in our home about adoption. We are very much in the 'thinking about it- not called' stage. We are ALL, as Believers, called to champion the cause of widows and orphans. 

Our family definitely does this, we just need to specifically pray that we would be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in this area without dismissing the call of adoption as one that isn't for us. I don't want us to say, "I haven't been called to adopt" unless we can undoubtedly say, "I've been called not to adopt."

Oh, dear. I may never publish this post.

We've done it before, ya know? Adopt.

Bless. The last time we adopted, we adopted my teenage brother. We knew what we were to do. We didn't have enough good sense to think about too much and we were just cocky enough not to ask too many people for their opinions. I believe this was a good thing. At 22 years old, I don't think many people would have advised it. It wasn't practical. We didn't have the money. We didn't have the space. God isn't always, even usually, practical. He is God. He provided all that we needed and then some. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't change a thing.

When we call to him, He tells us great and mighty things we do not know.
We have to make the call.

Leave a job and start over.
Get involved in short-term missions.
Begin living a healthy lifestyle.
Get involved in long-term missions.
Marketplace missions. (I just made that up.)
Downsize in order to give more.
Write a book.
Move to an inner city apartment.
Take someone dinner.
Share the Gospel with your favorite barista.
Put one foot in front of the other today.
Start a business.
Sponsor a child through Compassion.
Offer forgiveness to another undeserving person.
Leave your comfortable hometown.
Go back to school.
Offer your house up for a Bible Study.
Homeschool your crazy kids.
Become a foster parent.
Maybe it is just getting out of bed today.

I just want to be able to say that I am called NOT to do something, if I say I'm not called TO do something. Does this resonate with anybody?

Make the call.

I will, too.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DFW Review

We have already been in Arlington for about 8 weeks. I can't believe it. We have about 3 more weeks here before heading back down to Houston for, what we think, is a longer term gig. This little season of our family life began back in mid-February when we went to Wake Forest with the intention of checking out student housing. We did. It was great. We came home and it's been crazy ever since! 

My girls have gotten some really neat experiences this year. It's been full of field-trips! 
Since we've been here in Arlington, it has been SUPER hot, so we have mostly visited the water park and the pool. 
Still, here are a few things we've gotten to do (and I recommend) while being here.

JFK Museum/ Dealey Plaza
This was amazing. Meghan was so enthralled; she is hounding us to take her back. We hope to do that! Photographs are not permitted inside, so we just took a few outside. 
The window in the top right of the building above is the 'Shooter's Nest' where Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President Kennedy. I can't imagine what that scene was like. 
Above is one of the X's in the road where the President's car was when one of the shots hit.
Fort Worth Stockyard

Every day at 11:30am, 365 days a year, the Longhorns make their way down Exchange Street. It's tradition, so I had to go see it.

There were maybe 20 longhorns. It was sort of anticlimactic, but I guess it's one of those 'must-do' things.
I just loved this quote.

We made beignets. I'm pretty sure this was during the Olympics. Love the powdered sugar on Meg's face.
Fort Worth Rodeo
We've been to the Rodeo twice. This weekend we went back with some of Mark's coworkers, two are here from the Philippines.
Dinner at Joe T. Garcia's.

Horrid picture, but you can see how fast these boys are moving.
Another one bites the dust...

Me with my new friend, Rowvi! 

We've been hitting up the gym and made a sweet friend in our Body Pump instructor. She is too cool and we are looking forward to a playdate with her and her kids next week. We also had a fun little pool day this past week with a new friend from church. (No pics, boo.)
We've been in a really good little jag with our schooling, too! Yayy! It's a little too workbook-ish for my taste, but ya know, it's not about me. The girls are loving it and they are retaining. I always worry that they are going to be bored with the book work, but honestly, I think it's me that is bored. Not them.

Also, since there aren't many extra chores to be done in an apartment, we were having a hard time finding ways for the girls to make extra money. So, as always, they get $.50 for folding laundry. We've also added .50 for each EXTRA Math lesson per day and each extra Spanish lesson per day, up to $2 a day. I'm thinking this will come in handy when we are moving into our new house in Houston and need a few days away from the books!

Anyway, I fly out tomorrow to Plant City for a quick trip. The movers come to pack up our house on Wednesday. I've put together lesson plans and Spouse will be the substitute teacher while he works from the apartment! Woohoo!! They are going to have so much fun. I've said for years that Mark would make a much better SAHM/Homeschooler than I am.

OK, gotta finish up my packing'!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Cut.

Ok. I should be writing Spouse's Birthday Tribute post, but I just had to post this super quick! 

Meghan's been asking to cut quite a bit off of her hair for a couple of weeks now, but I've been dragging my feet in an effort to discern the sincerity of the request. Well, today was her appointment!  

After! The curls are deceiving, she cut about 6 in. off & added some cute layers.
Presh. I can't wait to play around with it!
Too fun. I'm excited for her. This kid is super smart, super funny, and super cute! 
This week has been filled with days of running with dad, getting up at dark-thirty to do her first (2nd, 3rd) Body Pump class, her first Zumba class (other than Kids Zumba), school, and pumping out extra Math & Spanish to earn extra money! 

We are headed to birthday dinner and a local high school homecoming football game. 
Fun Friday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

BIG BELIEFS, Little Beliefs

We are overdue for some beliefs! This is just a fun post that has become a recurring one.
Here is the most recent.

My girls were recently Jr Bridesmaids in the lovely Tara Parker Illingworth's wedding.
Photo by Beautiful Life Photography, Ashley Davis Galloway

I believe that...

Green Machine.
  1. In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
  2. The "No white after Labor Day" rule is ridiculous. (It was 106 here in DFW today!) 
  3. Coloring in a coloring book is therapeutic.
  4. The Naked Green Machine Smoothie is so awful looking, but I feel better after drinking it.
  5. We should say what we mean, and mean what we say.
  6. Skype and FaceTime have immeasurable value when you are away from your people.
  7. Crawling into bed with freshly shaven legs is a lovely feeling.
  8. People who are not passionate about anything make me sad. Apathy is not a lovely trait.
  9. Gym clothes (read: cutesy gym outfits) are a homeschool uniform.
  10. Pictures are the best souvenirs.
  11. It's okay to disagree, but not to be disagreeable.
  12. Worldview matters.
  13. There are too many adolescents in their 30s.
  14. Chronic tardiness is a selfish, inconsiderate habit.
  15. Conspiracy theories usually have some (or a lot) of truth in them.
  16. Fajitas will be included at the Lord's table in Heaven. (Believin' in faith!)
  17. Moms who work outside of the home are the hardest workin' moms in the mom business.
  18. Outspoken, opinionated folks (Whom I LOVE!) should have tough skin.
  19. Mascara and lipstick are makeup essentials.
  20. Our great country is in real trouble. 
  21. Music stirs up the most indiscriminate of memories.
  22. Failing to return a phone call is rude. (And I did this THIS week!! I have repented.)
  23. Lunges are directly from Beelzebub.
  24. Friends, old and new, are a precious gift.
  25. God's Word is the only "must read".
Doing some post-swim schooling.