Category: Untraditional Living

Review of Morrocco Method hair care products

Just before Rachel’s trip I was contacted by a sales person from https://www.morroccomethod.com/ asking if we would be willing to review some of their hair care products (it caught my attention unlike most of the product review requests I get because the sales person was awesome and bothered to read my site enough to know who we were and write an email full of geek references. She just asked us to review the products she sent and a few days after I ordered we received a package with the full size haircare products. She also contacted us to make sure we received the products, helpe dus choose which would suit our needs most, and told us to contact her if we needed any  other hair help. Excellent customer service.) The products are raw, gluten-free (important for those who are actually really sensitive to gluten- we have friends who are as sensitive to gluten as Shamus is to animal dander), and wild crafted (they are also vegan if that is important to you.) They have a lot of great information on detoxing and growing in hair including how-to videos (would have been helpful when we first tried henna-ing.) Because their ingredients are all simple and up front it was easy to avoid the things Rachel is allergic to when purchasing.

As you likely know we generally stick with no hair care products due to allergies and cost. We also usually keep it super simple and can’t be bothered to fuss with hair except for occasional color. I cut all of our hair and when we need hair care stuff I usually make my own. She wrote at the right time though. Rachel and Es have gone through a phase where they are pretty tired of homemade products and want to try other things. Rachel had also had her hair dyed and the results, though cool looking, were pretty hard on her hair. 

1167439_10200548810264464_351703214_oRachel’s hair was bleached and dyed. When we bleached it a section of it got over-processed and basically had the consistency of straw. It was horrible. She was getting a giant dreadlock in the back of her hair every morning when she woke up.  For a  while she debated whether to just go ahead and dread her hair (until she realized it would mean none of her hats would fit. ) When she took her trip we braided it all over so she wouldn’t have to try to detangle it every morning.  When she got back home our package from Morrocco Method had arrived and she gave it a go. I had ordered Diamond Crystal Mist Conditioner & Moisturizer and Euro Natural Oil Conditioner & Moisturizer for her to try.

“At first my hair was so tangled my brush got caught in it every time I tried to brush my hair.  After I used the oil and the conditioner spray  on it my hair was super soft and I could run my fingers through it easily. It was wonderful.”

The Diamond Crystal Mist Conditioner & Moisturizer is a thin mist so it is super light instead of traditional heavy conditioners. I was surprised how much it actually did. It worked like a detangler but also softened the hair. Rachel pointed out it smells like our local incense shop but the smell is light enough that it isn’t overwhelming. The oil was unscented and works similar to a hot oil treatment but without the heat- just rub in a little and it softens the hair and detangles it.

9918263695_8e10e1c7b8_bEsther’s hair is short and “anime style”.  It is dyed with henna and she specifically asked me to cut it in “anime style”. When we were picking out things from Morrocco Method she asked for some proper styling gel (we had attempted to make our own from aloe gel, which was okay but not awesome.) And of course dragons so we got  Blood of the Dragon styling gel. She loved it. Her hair is naturally curly in places and she just wanted something to  bring that out. It did  just enough without her hair being super stiff.

I had also ordered the Zen Detox Hair and Scalp Therapy for myself. I still do a lot of detox baths/soaks and I know from past experience that I love bentonite powder and green clay for detox but had never used them on my hair and scalp. This stuff was like those but had added minerals and was wonderful. After use my hair was super soft and my scalp, which gets itchy when I get exposed to certain foods or have an allergic reaction to something, felt so much better.

Will we keep ordering from the site? I am not sure. The products are really high quality and we really liked them but they are pretty pricey. I do think that next time we order henna we will get it through them and I am tempted to get more of the Zen Detox. The other products we ordered do get used often but we need so little that I am not sure when and if we will reorder. After regular use both the oil and spray are still pretty full, the hair gel is not used that often because Es seldom leaves the house. If she asks for more we will definitely consider it. I am awfully tempted to order some of the soaps they carry- the oatmeal lavender soap sounds wonderful.

I am pretty impressed with the quality of service and of the products. I would definitely prefer ordering from them than buying off the shelf at the health food store- the ingredients lists are straightforward and made of actual real things instead of chemicals.

 

Just Life

Life has been busy.

Awesome family photos by http://halseymae.com
Awesome family photos by http://halseymae.com

Crazy busy.

Rachel and Esther
I have been working overtime.

3 Christian radical unschooling families together.
3 Christian radical unschooling families together.

We have gotten together with fellow unschooling friends from all over every single week for almost 2 months.

At the zoo with friends.
At the zoo with friends.

Rachel took a 2 week trip to visit her friends in Arizona and Texas.

At the bus station, about to leave.
At the bus station, about to leave.

Shamus is writing a video game- but you knew that.

Shamus and Heather
Shamus and Heather

I have gotten sick enough to have to call off work. Twice. I still have a cough that will not die.

Like I said. Fun photo shoot.
Like I said. Fun photo shoot. And yes, the photo has been double copyrighted- my friend Tina took the photos, which I added a copyright for on Facebook then reused and added a regular for my site and I am too lazy (or too busy) to go back and fix.

The kids are suddenly tall- Issac is the only one NOT taller than me and he is getting there fast. And he is getting a mustache. For real. And a deep voice.And he just turned 12.

Rachel's shoes
Rachel’s shoes

The girls? They are 5’7.5″ and 5’9″.

Kids
Kids

The Christian Unschooling  group I run on Facebook (with a small group of admins) has reached over 1,600 people. I have an awesome group of admins. Really. They are wonderful.

At the zoo with RCU friends
At the zoo with RCU friends

Life is going by in a streak.

With Jennifer of The Path Less Taken (http://jennifermcgrail.com ) and Teresa- a fellow radical unschooler and dear friend from only 3 hrs away. Both mother's of my daughters' closest friends.
With Jennifer of The Path Less Taken (http://jennifermcgrail.com ) and Teresa- a fellow radical unschooler and dear friend from only 3 hrs away. Both mother’s of my daughters’ closest friends.

And it is good.

A Thought about Stress

Think about a time you have been under a lot of stress.

A person you know and respect gets angry and starts yelling at you for reasons you don’t understand.

Your boss berates you for something out of your control.

A close friend is struggling with stress at home and lashes out at you about something trivial.

A bereaved loved one takes their frustrations out on you.

A dear friend misunderstands something you said and refuses to discuss it or listen to what you meant.

A client is angry about a situation you have no control over and takes it out on you.

A bossy family member insists you do things their way when you know it would not be best.

Your spouse had a bad day and lays into you about something unrelated.

You mess up in a big way and feel bad but don’t know how to fix it because you know the person involved won’t take it well.

You screw up and try to fix it but don’t manage to do it right and the other person is furious.

You are trying to learn something new, working really hard at it, and someone teases you for not getting it already.

Someone treats you as a second class citizen because of something you can do nothing about.

Someone blames you for something you didn’t do.

Someone with more experience, expects you to understand why they do what they do but doesn’t attempt to do the same for you.

Someone demands you show them respect when they show you none in return.

Someone belittles you in front of others.

How do you feel?
Does fight or flight kick in?
Do you panic?
Do you fight back?
Do you empathize and realize that person is having a bad day, week, year and stay calm?
Do you belittle the other person?
Do you try to make peace?
Do you take it all on yourself, blame yourself, and accept full responsibility even if it wasn’t your fault?

How does your heart feel?
Do you have anxiety? Stress? Do you just move on as if nothing had happened? Do you internalize it and hold on to it? Does just the thought of the situation make you sick inside?

What if this was a regular occurrence? What if you were dealing with this person on a regular basis? What if their treatment of you was constantly belittling, blaming, or just plain stressful? What would you do? How would you respond?

Would you lash out at them?
Would you respect them?
Would you be timid around them?
Would you avoid them completely?
Would you feel sick all the time at the thought of dealing with them?
Would you willingly tell them everything or avoid speaking to them as much as possible?

This. This is what we do to our children.

This is what we do when we are having a bad day and lash out at them for knocking over their water.

This is what we do to them when we get angry at the mess they left and didn’t notice.

This is what we do when we accuse them of motives they had not even considered.

This is what we do when they don’t know what they did wrong or we misunderstand but don’t listen.

This is what we do to them when they are having a bad day and we belittle their feelings or even get angry at them.

This is what we do when we tease about past mistakes, point out failings, make fun of what they like.

This is what we do when we treat children like second class citizens, demand respect without showing them respect.

If we as adults get sick, stressed, frustrated, try to escape, or place blame when others treat us like this. If we get angry when we feel we have been unjustly accused or when others attribute motives to us that we had never considered. If this is true of us, mature adults who have had plenty of time and experience to learn how to deal with these situations, how much more so for children, who have not yet learned empathy, who are still learning how to navigate the world, and have people they love and should be able to trust treating them this way on a regular basis? No wonder teenagers refuse to share what is upsetting them, refuse to talk about how they feel, prefer to hide what is going on lest they get blamed or berated. By the time these children reach young adulthood they have spent the large majority of their life living with constant stress and dealing with loved ones who treat them with less than respect.

What if, instead, you are treated with gentleness and respect? What if in a misunderstanding the other person regularly gives you the benefit of the doubt, values both your feelings and your opinions? What if the other person, treats you with respect and grace and gentleness rather than blaming and demanding respect?

What about our children? What if they are respected, treated with gentleness and understanding? What if we recognize that they are struggling way more than we see as they learn to navigate this world? What if, instead of assuming they are just doing things to get on our nerves, we recognize that they are having a rough time, they are in pain, struggling to learn something new? What if – instead of rushing them to new things because we are sick of picking the same toy off the floor in their new game – we stick with it, recognizing that they are learning something- that this game is part of their development and that it takes lots of repetition for them to figure it out? What if when they make mistakes as youngsters we try to understand what is going on both what really happened and if there are any struggles we have been missing? What if when they lash out because they are having a rough time we recognize it as just that and look deeper, helping them work through all those emotions? What if, by the time they are teens they have had lots of grace and understanding (real understanding)? What if they really know they are loved and respected because they have had the opportunity to live with love and respect- where their opinions and feelings really matter?

Which young person is going to be healthier and happier? The one who lived with constant stress or the one who lived in a world where he felt valued? Which one is going to make better decisions? The one who is afraid to talk to her parents and so just lies or the one who knows they will really listen and help? Which is going to be more mature and ready to face the real world? The one who has spent most of his life bullied or the one who knows himself well enough to know who he is and what he really wants? Which is going to have the healthiest relationships? The one who has lived in unhealthy relationships or the one who knows her value?

Defined by Hormones

A week ago Rach and I went to the library after her piano practice. She wanted to pick up some old favorite audio books to enjoy while she was drawing. When we got there we found that while working on the teen section of the library they had put all the audio books, all the manga and comic books, and about half the other YA books in storage. All that was available was a smattering of popular and “improving” print books. A whole library of space– room for a huge magazine room for adults, several computer rooms, several open rooms in the basement, a huge new music area, and plenty of other available spots and they had stored away the vast majority of things the young adults actually used instead of finding a place to leave them out while they worked- the project started in April and won’t be done until at least November. Rach was understandably frustrated. I was frustrated and angry at the lack of respect for young people (they had recently done similar work on other sections and never stored any of that away. This is an ongoing issue at this library- if it is for teens then it is easy to push aside.)

What made my blood boil was the response of the librarian we had questioned told Rach, “Just listen to some of the grown-up audio books,” then she looked at me and said, “She is just being a teenager.”

As if Rachel’s righteous frustration at not being able to get to the audio books she wanted because of the thoughtlessness of others was due to her age or hormones. Her genuine irritation at the situation and their treatment of teens was discounted as just being her age.

I want to take a moment and say that our children’s librarian is excellent and genuinely enjoys working with young adults as well as children. He brings in a lot of excellent books, audio books, comics/manga. He has introduced game days and movie nights for the young adults and made the library a natural hangout and friendly place for young people- but he can’t change attitudes. The other librarians as well as the majority of volunteers will quickly sweep aside the concerns of the younger generation, have been known to cancel activities for them for the sake of activities for older adults, and so on. This treatment is reprehensible but it is the comments that irritate the most.

This is something we run into everywhere. Not just at the library, at the store, at the Y, it is everywhere we go. Perfectly ordinary people who have never met either of my daughters automatically discount their very legitimate negative feelings when things go wrong or people treat them poorly as “being a teenager”. Yes, hormones do affect the way we feel- they act like a megaphone for our feelings, especially when we are in the worst of it, but that is just as true during menopause, during the menstrual cycle, during pregnancy. I know the majority of the women I know would be very unhappy if their feelings were regularly discounted because of hormones. “Oh, ignore her, she is just pregnant.” “Oh, she is just cranky because of her period.” “Oh, she just is crying because of perimenopause.”

No. In general teenagers are the only part of our population who regularly have their feelings discounted because of the hormonal stuff going on in their bodies. Everyone else gets the benefit of the doubt.

I wonder how this older librarian or any of the other older ladies who have made “teenager” comments recently would feel if I referred to her regularly as middle aged or a “middle ager”. What if I discounted her feelings regularly because she is dealing with perimenopause. “Oh, you aren’t really upset because you are having a bad day and people are treating you like crap. It is just because you are perimenopausal.” I don’t think that would go over well. And if everyone was doing that to her, after a while she would become pretty sensitive to it.

Our society as a whole tends to treat both young adults and children as second class citizens. We push them to do this and that, to grow up as fast as possible, and then refuse to acknowledge their maturity until a single age when suddenly we expect them to be all grown up. It doesn’t work that way. Everyone is different. We all grow and learn and mature at different stages. We need to respect one another, recognizing that everyone, children and young adults included, are dealing with different things. We all have struggles. We all have frustrations. We all have good days and bad. And as our children grow, we can gradually help them work through the rough spots, encourage them in their strengths, and treat them from early on with respect, recognizing them as fellow human beings instead of second class citizens. I think if we did that we would find that the vast majority of what we call “teenager” behavior would be eliminated.

Oh, and we solved the problem with the library- I suggested Rach go ahead and order the audio books from all the other libraries in the system. Sure it will be inconvenient for the librarians. Sure it may take an extra day but maybe next time they will leave them out instead of storing them away.

Rethinking and Survivorship Bias

I have been thinking a lot about this:

When I first read this http://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/ I was thinking “oh, I never thought about it that way, I need to redirect my brain”. Then I realized that no, this is how my husband and I see everything. (Caution, very long and wordy article. Good but wordy. The first half is more a history lesson, then a bit that is important to the article, and then the end comes back to that first half full circle. So iuf you are in a hurry skip down to the image of the bomber and read there.)

If it isn’t working for other people then we look for a different way to do things. Instead of looking at the few successes with any given thing (and boy do we hear about those- but it worked for so and so…so what, it didn’t work for 90% of the other people who tried it) we focus on why isn’t it working for all those other people, there has to be something better. Then we search until we find something that is working for us. Thus the radical unschooling, thus the home/unchurching, thus the natural remedies, the gentle parenting and so on. We tend to rethink everything. If it isn’t working then lets do something else- why continue doing something that is damaging us and our relationships even if it IS tradition or the way things have always been.

I remember a while back Jessica Bowman wrote a great post about not worrying about what they aren’t learning and repeated the “This is stupid, so I’m not doing it anymore.” Exactly. (http://www.christianunschooling.com/why-i-stopped-stressing-myself-out-with-classical-homeschooling/) If something isn’t helping us or our family, if it isn’t making our lives better or doing what it is supposed to be doing, then why are we still doing it. “This is stupid. I’m not doing it anymore.”

Advice for a young, Christian geek seeking a relationship

A while back Shamus and I received an email from young Christian, geek gentleman seeking Godly council on seeking a mate. That email ended up in an email account that I “lost” when I upgraded my computer to Mint from Ubuntu. Shamus looked over my answers and gave them a thumbs up but never got around to sharing his own answers (it has been a super busy couple of months.) Today another young male geek friend asked for advice on marriage and it reminded me of the questions we received from this young man trying to figure out what to be looking for in a wife. I think my answers apply to both, especially as I have found myself repeating several of them in the last months in other places. So here you go, my advice,  after 16 years of marriage and 21 years of knowing each other as a couple of geeks and Christians all rolled in to one.

 

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1) Has your relationship always been built on a strong Christian foundation, or were there some struggles in the beginning? I know that you mentioned you and Shamus argued a lot about the Bible 

and God. What kinds of things were deal-breakers for you both? How did you reconcile those differences? What do you still both disagree on to this day?

When we were dating I was Roman Catholic– a strong, determined, deep in the culture Roman Catholic. Shamus was a non-practicing Christian. I was actively seeking and gradually God brought me around through my study of the Roman Catholic Bible (slightly different– more books, but I had been taught had all the RC traditions within so when I looked and the Bible said the opposite of what I had been taught it lead to a crisis of faith.) A week or so after we were married I was baptized by dunking (rather than the dipping I had received as a child) and started diving in to the Bible wholeheartedly. At that time Shamus just kind of came along for the ride (he was working things out internally but I wasn’t seeing any changes so didn’t even know at the time.) . I was zealous and growing leaps and bounds every day and determined to learn all I could about this new thing. I was sharing all I was learning and at that time Shamus was happy to just sit back and watch. I am sure there were many things we disagreed on but he saw fit to keep his mouth shut except for in the things he felt were important. Shamus has been blessed with the gift of discernment for a very long time and in this, he knew it was best to keep out of it and let me grow. Later he went through his own growth spurts and yes, there are some things we are not in wholehearted agreement on, I am sure.

We have studied in different ways completely (I have read straight through multiple times and have a special heart for the Old Testament while Shamus has done in depth study via audio Bible of the New Testament so that combined with what the Holy Spirit has spoken to each of us colors our perceptions.) Instead of focusing on those things when one of us comes up with something we see differently we wait and pray and very seldom discuss except in a conversational tone. No point in arguing– in the end the Lord usually opens our eyes and shows us that we have both just been seeing the area from a different angle and that we actually are pretty much agreed.

2) I know that this question is cliche, but I still need to ask it. What would you tell yourselves before you got married, if you could? “Hey younger Shamus, don’t forget to pick up your socks”

I would tell myself to stop whining and complaining, to focus on the positive, to start changing myself instead of trying to change him. In fact just the other day I gave similar advice to a young woman who was asking about marriage and how people can stay in love for so long. My answer to her was the same: Recognizing that only God can change another person– you WILL NOT change them and if you attempt it they WILL resent it. Instead focus on becoming the very best person God has for you to be, follow His direction, pray for wisdom, pray for discernment, seek Him and He will work it out. Also, we all bring baggage into our relationships–our perceptions are colored by them. We have to recognize this and find out what the other person MEANT, not just how we perceived it. Nearly all the marriage problems we have had have come down to communication and perception. And talking to another lady married for the same amount of time to a completely different type of person, she said the same exact thing. So communication and perception- praying for wisdom before opening your mouth. That would be a huge thing I would tell myself (I was NOT wise, at all, so I really needed to pray for wisdom.)

(On a side note, Shamus STILL leaves his socks on the floor but now I understand why– so they can dry and he can put them back on because they got wet.:D)

3) Heather, where do you draw the line between supporting your husband’s passions, and pushing him to be more “grown up”? Some of the “Christian girls” I meet make it clear that this whole nerd thing is just a phase, and they aim to change that. Needless to say I don’t often go on a second date with those. But what qualities should I look for in a woman who can be both supportive of my passions, and still call me out if I’m being a child and playing video games all day?
Hmmm, I think comes back to this “not trying to change the other person” problem. This is something we females are excellent at attempting. Every fairy-tale, every princess, every romance– all come down to trying to change the other person instead of being happy with them as they are and with who you are.

I DID try to change him in this regard (I have a post brewing about that, about valuing another person’s interests because they have value to that other person.) Even though I knew when dating Shamus that he could spend 9 hours programming while I looked on, that he would stay up all night playing a video game without blinking an eye, it made me angry once we were married and had kids. I tried to force him to go out with me even when he had a brand new game or the programming bug had hit. Thankfully Shamus is strong in his passions and refuses to let others stand in the way of them and only gave in very occasionally. Those things that I did not value, that I thought were useless, those very
things lead to him being the person he is today, to the very jobs he does today. (It’s almost as if God knew what He was doing when He designed Shamus. ;P)

Now I recognize that playing video games all day can lead to great things and can’t imagine asking him not to or calling it childish. In fact, I, when I have time, like to play video games all day as well. It is a family activity for us, one that we all value and enjoy, and the growth and learning that has come out of it is one that I would not trade for anything.

On the other hand I have also learned that it is okay to let him know that I have barely seen him in a few days and that I am starting to feel unloved (if you get a chance and haven’t already, read The 5 Love Languages”. It has been a huge help in our marriage in understanding how each of us gives and receives love and how we perceive it. I am a “acts of service” and “spend time with me” person, Shamus is an “encouragement” and “physical touch” person. This made our early marriage life horrible as we kept trying to show love and get love in our own love languages and nothing was working.

Qualities? I would say valuing what others value because the others value it and not showing contempt for what you value. Those are killers in a relationship, regardless of the passions/interests involved. As I have discussed with my kids repeatedly– if someone can’t respect what you love regardless of what it is and how they feel about it then they are not going to respect you. Of course that goes the other direction as well, if you don’t respect HER interests then same thing goes. Either you will end up trying to change to make them happy (and likely will fail horribly and make yourself miserable) or you will spend you time fighting and miserable. Either way that is not how God designed marriage
to be. God is love, all the law comes down to love God and love others, where is love in contempt, whining, complaining, arguing, disrespecting others? It isn’t. That is not God’s way, nor is it God’s plan for us in our relationships.

So valuing others, having respect for other’s interests, not whining, complaining, putting down those interests, but honest when need time. Someone seeking God with all her heart and genuinely trying to get at the truth, not just trying to fit what Christian culture says a Godly woman looks like (my goodness do they have that one whacked out), those would be good qualities.
4) Do either of you attend a church? Or do you participate in a family bible study? How does your family pursue God?
The whole church thing was a huge point of contention for a long time (RC-me meant not going to church was a sin). God changed my heart on that and now has opened my eyes to corporate worship not = “the church”. The church is God’s people, wherever they are and wherever we find them, not a physical place. Physical place is fine if you want it or need it and don’t have natural fellowship with other Christians but is not necessary to growth. In our case it was only after we left the physical church (Baptist then Christian and Missionary Alliance) that God started really growing us individually and as a family.

We celebrate Saturday Sabbath (not all the trappings, just take a day of rest as a family) and try to at least have a time of listening to God’s word together then. We often will spontaneously do so at other times as well. We listen to the Bible, pause and discuss as anyone has questions or a revelation, then move on. We pray together regularly and with whoever is available anytime we feel the need– which is often, multiple times a day most days. We keep Bibles open in different rooms including the bathroom so it is always open and ready for reading. We discuss what God is doing in our lives all the time. He is a regular part of every day.

That said we do not do formal “bible study”. In general neither Shamus nor I finds reading what someone else says about God’s word, aside from information on original culture and meaning of words, is very helpful. There are very few authors that I have found helpful in my personal walk (Seth Barnes and John Eldredge as well as Elisabeth Eliot and Oswald Chambers being the few that I go back to.) Mostly I prefer to focus on God’s word and see what He shows me through the Spirit. Shamus is the same way. On the other hand there have been some excellent Christian books on relationships that have helped including “The Five Love Languages”, “Captivating”, and “Men are Like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti”.
546610_10151048843109335_607917733_n5) Biggest struggles? Another cliche question, but it is different from couple to couple.
Personality + baggage + love language= issues, definitely. The combination of my neediness (thanks to baggage from childhood and family relationship issues) and Shamus’ natural fear of failure and rejection (also baggage related) mixed with me being more extroverted than he and wanting to fix everything and him feeling I was telling him he had failed every time I tried to fix things, mixed up with our very opposite love languages made things extra complicated. Throw in a complete lack of financial wisdom on both of our parts, a very needy, very extroverted oldest child with health issues, our own health issues, and were it not for God’s grace it would have been a recipe for disaster. Instead God used it all to grow us up and change us and once we got over our idiocy bring us to a new place in our marriage that we never would have imagined possible in the first half (I would say the huge explosion that could have lead to our downfall but instead brought
about a renewed marriage was 8 years ago, so now half or marriage away and the second half has been amazing.) Yes, marriage is still work but we complete each other, hold each other up, encourage and help each other grow in the direction God is leading. I can’t imagine life without Shamus and I know he feels the same way about me.

6) Another other advice for a young padawan?

Seek God first. Focus on being the very best He has for you. Focus on hearing His voice (it can be awfully quiet at times), get to know Him through His Word and be open to where He leads, let Him show you His love– learn to see it in all the ways He reveals it.

Get to know yourself. Recognize your own struggles, sin areas, love language, and personality type (Myers-Briggs/Keirsey Temperament sorter is very helpful.) Look at your relationships, learn to be the best friend you can be.

Don’t go searching for someone to complete you, instead let God complete you. When the time is right He will bring the right person into your life, someone who will respect you for who you are without trying to change you, someone you can love as she is.

 

And once you are in a relationship recognize that love isn’t just a feeling. It takes hard work to maintain a relationship and sometimes you will NOT feel loving. Sometimes you will fall madly in love all over again but sometimes? Not. At. All. Sometimes she will make you crazy. Sometimes you will make her crazy. Push through and keep choosing to love her.  Keep praying that God would change the stuff that needs change in you and keep choosing  to love anyway. You WILL get through it. God will help you. You can do it. God bless you.


A Season of Transitions and Many Blessings

After 3 years of  full freelancing, with God providing from all different places including the work of our hands, the Lord has seen fit to give me a job that is providing fully for our family. This will enable us, God willing, to find a local place to rent instead of moving wherever (as we were willing to do and are still willing to do should things change, yet this means we can stay here where family is, especially my grandmother who is not doing as well as we would hope.) This was completely God’s hand– one minute I  was doing some website work and an hour later I had a full time job.

New palette– sketch for future color reference.

This job is not a forever job.  I am part of a team of women who care for an elderly woman. When she no longer needs us then I will no longer have this job.  So we are using this income to get ourselves on better financial footing, to pay off debt,  and find a temporary place to live. (The bank finally, after 6 months, decided that the buyer of our home was not suitable and that we were going to back into full foreclosure. Sigh. So we have a Sheriff sale ate again and a move out date.)  We are packing up the house and looking for a place to rent, or will as soon as the plague leaves our house. We have a list of places to check but are waiting on God’s timing, and part of that is being healthy again (Rach got sick, then the rest of us did– par for the course, though I think we are on the tail end of it now).

Little reader dragon-ACEO

In the last month, not only have we been adjusting to the changes that come with me working full time but also, God has been doing some serious spiritual heart surgery around here.   There have been many changes of a wide variety and those, combined with me working, and the family being sick, have made for a very interesting time but one I am not quite ready to discuss publicly (especially since we are still in the midst of it– we are talking deep internal changes which only show in small things externally). Basically Shamus and I have been spending a huge amount of time listening to the bible together and talking about what God is showing us and  the internal understandings and changes have been pretty huge. Aside from  all the other stuff He has specifically laid 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.) on both of our hearts and we are praying and learning what that looks like in the work that He has given us to do.

Curled up with a Good Book– dragon postcard.

Also, during that time Shamus had a huge computer mess which lead to blessings but that is a story for him to tell (which I believe he will be sharing later this week.) In fact, I believe he has another thing to share this week as well.

All in all God has been blessing us from every angle.  The job I have permits me a lot of downtime and quiet, so I spend that time reading and painting. I do have internet access but no laptop or tablet so I can only be online in part, via the wi-fi smart phone– this means I can keep in touch with the family while there without having to make calls. This means I am spending less time  on groups on Facebook and more time just praying for the CU group (I can only access it sporadically from the phone and usually don’t get updates). That said it is a blessing to have quiet time to paint, and be encouraged to do so (the lady I work for loves that I spend my downtime painting and encourages it.) So I am not only working full time but also producing more paintings.

New book dragon.

The only downside of me working is I am getting less time at home with the family. 🙂  They don’t seem to be suffering for it, in fact it has been a neat transition as Shamus is taking on more of the daily conversations about anything and everything. I think it is a very good thing all in all but I do miss having a good feel for what is going on, what is needed, and who is struggling with what.

Finally, Shamus and I celebrated 16 years of marriage this week by getting nice and sick (well, he is.  I am only slightly  so– stuffy nose mostly) but that made for an interesting anniversary.  Also, Rach spent her birthday last week sick but I think had a super awesome birthday anyway.

So there it is.  A bit of a rambly post about how God is working in our lives and  where we are right now. Aside from being sick the kids are thriving. Shamus is thriving. I am thriving. God is good and is doing great things.  We will see where He leads us next.

#Birdsoftheair New Job Edition

Since last post God has provided  money for the car alignment, money for groceries,  more small gifts and more big gifts for the family.  Shamus was gifted a much needed headset for computer work and an awesome  insulated travel mug (for traveling back and forth to his desk and keeping his tea warm while he is busy) and I got one as well (French press which is extra nice for keeping the coffee grounds and tea bags out of the way.) Issac received a Minecraft axe which he is thoroughly enjoying.  Es got a pile of ebooks that she has been longing for.

And then, a few days ago, a job fell into my lap.  A perfect job that fits exactly into our family schedule. I suddenly find myself working  as a part time caretaker for a local senior citizen. It was very clearly God’s provision and God’s perfect timing. The income should fill in the gaps and allow us to get caught up with bills and needs. The situation means I should have  time to work on paintings/editing/maybe even writing and plenty of time with my family while still providing for us.

God has also provided ways to  take care of a few other needs that worked out perfectly (includes gifts so can’t share.)

Shamus’ computer issues have worked out, leaving him with one less hard drive but a much more stable and faster computer now that he is using Mint.

The weird sleep issues I was having seem to have disappeared (apparently I tried to shift my sleep schedule to fast so that even though I was super tired my body refused to actually sleep. I guess shifting my bedtime from 2am to 9:00pm was a bad idea even if I was tired.)

Also, it looks like the house sale is continuing to go through as at least his most recent attempt by the bank to shake off the buyers failed.  We will see if they continue to hold on.

All in all it has been an amazing and wonderful week where God has been showing His provision for us from every direction– a book sale here, a donation there, a gift here, and job there. 🙂 It will be exciting to see where He leads next.

 

God Uses Our Baggage

We all have them; stories we seldom share because they are still too painful, too small, could hurt someone if we shared, or that we are still working through.

How can I possibly talk about dropping the vacuum cleaner and filling the air with dust just as my asthmatic husband was about to come in and work when someone else’s baby is dead? Why am I so upset for so long about something small when something huge has happened to someone else? How can I even  bear to pray for my small stuff knowing children are starving in Africa? How can we ask for prayer from friends or family about a missing pet when someone else is missing a child? How can we ask for prayer for a healthy pregnancy when someone has just had a miscarriage? How can we deal with all this stuff without laying our burden on others?

Instead of comparing ourselves to others, consider Esther (the queen, not my daughter) and Mordecai’s question of her, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” God can only use us when we are willing to step up to the plate, are willing to work through our stuff, to burrow through that baggage, and come out the other side and share what He has done. He uses us as we are willing and as we work through our anger, our frustration, our depression, and  focus our eyes on Him, willingly seeing the good He has for us in the darkness.  We are to be lights, shining on the world, showing them the way.  If we are caught up in our own misery, focusing on the pain we have or avoiding it completely instead of dealing with it, then our hearts turn rocky, they turn solid instead of soft.  We need soft hearts and open hands in order to be used by Him.  We need to be willing to shine and  burn all the way down to the nib. If we aren’t willing, if we are caught up just trying to keep the flame lit at all, then it makes it hard for Him to use us. If we look at others and see their problems looming or  assume that they don’t have it as hard as us, then it makes it hard for Him to use our stories.  

On the other hand, if we  open up, if we share even the stupid little things willingly and without anger, we find that God can use it.  For example: I have never lost a child.  I have never had a miscarriage.  I have never had an abortion.  I have no idea what that is like, what that grief is like.  Yet I have many, many friends and family who have lost a child, often not even talking about it except in whispers. Who knows how many people  would be comforted to know that they aren’t the only one to have lost a child to miscarriage,  abortion, adoption, or death after birth. What a comfort it would be to others who have also been there, to whom can then say, “Oh, me too.”

We are all in different places.  Our stories are all different.  What you are going through and what you have dealt with is what you alone have gone through, it is no one else’s story.  Only you know how painful it is, how painful it was.  Only you know your relationship with God through this thing, and only you can work it out with God.  Just know that  it is important.  It is important that  you work through it with God.  It is important that you remember. It is important that you heal.  When you are through it, when you come out the other side (and sometimes even when you are in the middle of it all), you will become a  memorial stone for the next person on that same journey, on that same path.  You will be a landmark and light for them.  You will, once you come out the other side, be the person encouraging the next person in the midst of it that this too shall pass. If you let God use you through it, then He will use you to  lift someone else up and  bear the burden. If you hide it and keep it close then He won’t be able to do so.

God wants to use your baggage and turn it into a light for the next person on the path.  Let Him do it.