Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shopping Comparisons From Idaho to Texas


So I’m still a ‘newbie’ to this great state of Texas. But I’ve been struggling at the grocery stores so far. Not only am I not familiar with the layouts of new-to-me stores, but they have different products than I’m used to!

For one thing – I’ve yet to find Gallo Salami, Nalley Pickles, or Red Vines (my husband’s personal favorite) here in Texas. I’ve been to four stores and haven’t seen them anywhere. So I’m having to try out different products to find suitable replacements.

Sub sandwiches. Our family loves to eat sandwiches on the submarine/deli type rolls. In Idaho, I’d commonly buy them anywhere from $1.50 to $1.98. Here in Texas they are usually $2.39 to $2.98!! Not only that, they don’t have several different kinds. Like you know, you go to the bread aisle and can choose your brand and style? In sub rolls they usually only have one kind. So I’m stuck with the price. Texans must not be big on eating sub sandwiches!

Their produce departments seem to be big. I’m almost lost in them. I love the selection of tomatoes. They always seem to have both small and big as well as yellow tomatoes (my personal favorite.)

And because of the warmer temps here in Texas, they are still selling flowers! I know my friends are starting to shiver back in Idaho so I know flowers are gone from the stores there and we usually didn’t see them again until spring except your Christmas poinsettia special.

You want beans? They have all kinds and styles of beans. Tons of sauces, rubs, and seasonings.

Cheese seems to be higher priced and not as much selection in the 2lb chunks. Milk is higher too. But gas to get to the store! Tons cheaper!! We are loving the gas prices here.

As for driving around town. I seem to see a Walgreens and a CVS on every corner. (Feels that way.) And Chase bank is huge too. Gas stations are much harder to find and aren’t as common as back in Idaho where you could find THEM on every corner!

I’ve only seen one Taco Bell (not that I was a huge fan.) Taco Cabanas are everywhere and Whataburger. I’ve yet to try either of them.

Strip malls also seem to be hugely popular here. Except I rarely need them. I’d love to find more “fun” fare at them but usually they have a nail salon, dentist, hair place, some kind of insurance place, things like that.

These things aren’t bad. Just different. That’s why it’s Texas and not Idaho! But I do miss some of my favorite foods. I know over time, I will get used to the layouts of the stores and how I can’t just go up one aisle and down the other but aisles are all here and there laid out in odd ways.

And I know I will get used to my food condensating quickly in the cart if I buy something cold and I hang out in the store for awhile or it sits out on my counter for awhile. I will remember over time, to put it in the fridge quickly.

I know I will get used to the “turnarounds.” I will have fun trying new restaurants and new products.

But I don’t think I’m going to get my husband to switch from Red Vines to Twizzlers. I just don’t see it happening. And for the time being, Nalley baby dill pickles are still my favorite.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spontaneous





I can “do” spontaneous sometimes. But I must admit that sometimes I have to be talked into it. I usually have a plan laid out in my head of how a day is supposed to go. I dress accordingly. I THINK accordingly. So spontaneity sometimes messes with me and I’m just unprepared to go with the changes.

But sometimes…SOMETIMES, doing something spontaneous is the best thing that could happen.

Like the time our family decided to pull a mattress out in our backyard, grab some blankets and look at the stars. It was after 10pm. But we laughed. We talked. We reminisced. We spent time together and it was a wonderful choice even though I’d been just about ready to turn into bed. That night, those moments turned into a treasured memory immediately.

There are lots of moments and memories in life like that. I think of all the times I said “no.” Sometimes, yes, the timing was just off.  Something wouldn’t have worked out or I just wouldn’t have been able to get something needed done first. But I also think about what fun moments and memories I might have missed out on if I’d only said, “yes.”

I’m learning that a schedule is just that – a schedule. It can be changed. It can be set aside for the most part and for most times. It’s really my control that I struggle with. My set mind on how something should have gone. That is the inner struggle. But when I do, there is such freedom to be found. Such joy. Such precious moments and love to be shared in doing something together with those you love!

I still struggle with spontaneity sometimes. But I’m better than I was years ago. I think I’ve found a frame of mind that can quickly assess a situation and decide where the priorities should be. I can throw away my agenda in the quest to capture a few extra minutes with priceless kids who will soon be grown and out of the house, or I can decide that a prior commitment needs to be accomplished. I can weigh and decide where the value is and what needs to take higher precedence. But yes, sometimes, I still need to be talked into things.

I will tell you that unplanned moments and events sometimes have brought just the “freshness” my heart has been looking for. To laugh, to smile, to relax – those are things that you need….every day.

What’s a schedule anyways if it’s just things that only you know need to be done? Can it be set aside for a few hours, a few days to do something spur-of-the-moment with people you love?

I’m betting it can.


Friday, October 25, 2013

When You Feel Like God Is Taking Forever To Answer You





How long is too long? This thought sat on my raw heart in the not-too-distant past as I impatiently waited for God to answer my prayers.

I felt like it was taking forever.

Sometimes while waiting, I was bored. Sometimes lazy. Sometimes I felt angry and other times frustrated.  I felt like my future was being stifled….wasted. Time was ticking and I could see and feel it slipping away day by day.

Just, as I’m sure, the Israelites felt like as they wandered in the desert for 40 years.

And as I compared myself to them, I saw how differently I wanted to be remembered. I didn’t want God to see me as the impatient child who didn’t trust Him. The one who complained and whined and forgot quickly how faithful of a God He was. He IS.

No. I wanted to hang in there. To see the gifts of manna that He brought me in its different forms as I sat in the waiting position.

But it was hard. It IS hard.

How long is too long to wait for God? How long before we bail on Him and tell Him He’s going too slow --- so we will take matters into our own hands. Go our own route?

How long?

When I ask myself that question, there is only one answer. God’s timing is perfect. For me. And for you. Always. And so no matter how long it takes, that’s how long I must wait.

The attitude I take in the meantime is up to me. I can learn, grow, refuel, and take whatever I want from these desert experiences. Or I can take nothing. It’s up to me.
But God WILL answer. And He WILL come through.

When the moment is perfect.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When There Is Less To Do, You Push Yourself To Do Less





We sold our beautiful home on an acre this last summer. It was an adjustment to move our family of four into a tiny little apartment as we awaited God’s word on where He wanted us next.

People told me that at least my house would be cleaner, quicker – because there was less to clean. But I discovered something within the first three weeks. That wasn’t true.

I discovered that when there is less to do, you push yourself to do less.

People got a little lazy. And because our space was smaller, it showed the mess quicker. Glasses were left out. Wrappers. Shoes and laundry. It wasn’t vacuumed for the first three weeks. THREE WEEKS, people!

I believe in living simpler lives than most of us are living. I don’t like the “go, go, go” lifestyle. But I also believe that we all need to give ourselves to things. Have motivation. For somehow, when more is expected of us, we are pushed to do more. BE more!

I’m wondering if that’s why it’s so easy for some people to stay in situations they are in. There are no expectations. Nothing to motivate them. They have less. They FEEL less inside. And so they are pushed to do less and be less.

Everyone needs something MORE in their life. Something to push themselves upwards and towards.  Something to excite them. Because easy isn’t usually best.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Serious Mode





I tend to wear a serious expression on my face when I’m not smiling. It’s not a conscious thing. It just happens. I’ve looked at many candid pictures and video (which I love by the way) and seen my own expression. I sometimes look mad. But I’m not.

My husband once told me that when I smile, my whole face and countenance change. And I’ve been told ever since I was little, that people love my smile. So why do I look so serious when not smiling?  I’m not sure – but maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a deep thinker. Not deep as in “theological.” No – no. My mind is too simple for complex things like that.  But I’m a deep thinker as in I’m always pondering life and the best way to navigate it. How to be the best mom, wife, Christian. How to handle certain situations, solve dear ones’ hurts – stuff like that. Deep thinking.

The thing is – I don’t want people to think I’m mad just because I’m not smiling. I want to have a kind look about me – a warm, approachable, loving look.

So I’m trying to be intentional about my thoughts.  Instead of furrowing my brow and going into “intense” thought all the time, I’m trying to consciously choose to be joyful in my thoughts. To enjoy the weather, the scenery, watching my children, etc. I’m trying to be thankful and I’m trying to be content – in my thoughts. Mind you, I feel like I’m those things most of the time. But my thoughts don’t constantly revolve around them. I think too much.

I think it’s okay for me to be serious while I’m on the computer or when reading. If I’m intent on getting a stain out of the carpet or cleaning up a mess – okay. Serious mode. But I don’t have to “wear” the face of intensity all of the time. I think it might sometimes give others the wrong impression of me. I can only imagine what I look like as I listen to a sermon in church!

I don’t have to smile constantly. I don’t have to always be laughing or be animated. But I can relax.  I can enjoy. I can love the moment I’m in. Those things show in my face. And you can bet I want to wear them.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Not All Stretching In Our Lives Is For OUR Good




I get tired of being stretched.  I “get” that whole, “It’s not about you or your comfort” thing. I realize God often likes to take us out of our comfort zones so He can grow us.

I understand that and I’ve seen that happen on many occasions. But it seems to me, that there is also another way the pendulum can swing….an unhealthy way.

People can say that our stretching and being taken outside of our comfort zones is good for us. They can say that we will grow character. And sometimes that may be true. But I also think that, well, sometimes it may not.

Sometimes being stretched means that we need to make changes in our life. Sometimes being tugged and pulled often outside of our comfort zones may mean we are not living withing the God-given “bent” that we were created with. Sometimes, it may simply mean others are taking us for granted.

Stretching CAN be good. We can do things we never thought we could do. But stretching also, can break us. There are certain things in life, that when they are stretched too often or too far, they snap. I think that can happen with people too.

It’s important to know what we are capable of. What are our limitations? Where do boundaries need to be placed in our lives? What do we do when things feel out of our control? Do we have people in our circles of influence who look out for us, and our welfare, or do they push us to do things that THEY are comfortable with?

I think often, the best way to be stretched is when we are motivated to allow ourselves to be stretched – never when it is forced upon us. Yes, we can learn during those times, as well, but often, they aren’t the catalyst to push us to become stronger and better. We have to want that and desire that for ourselves, first.

If you are living in a period of being stretched, maybe it’s time to take a good look at where and why the stretching is happening. Are you working towards a goal or is their purpose in it? Do you just put up with what is going on? How can you be better from it?

We can’t always be comfortable in our lives. But we can make choices to put ourselves in positions where our best side shines forth, and usually some kind of comfort level comes with that.

We are who we are for a reason and we need to be comfortable with that. 

Sometimes a lot of stretching and pulling in our life is just needless and works against who we are and who we were MEANT to be.

It’s up to us to have the discerning eye to know the difference.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

He Is Fascinating



God is fascinating. 

Have you forgotten? 

Remember that awareness when He first came into your life? That knowing and wondering at all He could do. At His glory.

He is fascinating. Sometimes we just get too busy with our lives to notice Him. To see Him at work. To watch, learn, and discover.

For there is always more to discover.

Are you touched when God comes through for you? Do you feel His love when He overwhelms you with something extra….just because He can?

Do you notice how He works? Often it’s never in the same way twice. Our God is creative. Loving. Tender. Surprising. Humorous. Strong and powerful. Amazing.

He is fascinating.

I could sit and stare at all His amazing creation….a butterfly, a hedgehog, the rolling mountains or the raging sea. And I see glimpses of His character. I am fascinated and I remember how often I put Him in a box. I expect certain things at certain times in certain ways.

I can be confined by my own structured thought-processes.  Thank heavens, God is not.

I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to ignore or fail to see His wonder, His glory, His love for me. I don’t want to miss it when He comes through or swoops in and lavishes His love on me. I want to see His blessings, feel His care, and know His heart. For I know that I must have only caught a glimpse up till now.

Every time I am over come with humility at something God has done in my life; I see it and know.

He is fascinating.

And I love Him so.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Texas Life: First Impressions


Well, we’ve been Texas residents for about a month now. I have so much to learn but I’ve already noticed quite a few things that are different than the northwest.


Roads.
The roads here have what are called “turnarounds.” You can’t always just cross a major road if you want to visit, say, a store on the opposite side of the street. No. You have to go up the road then into a median area where you “turn around” and go back on the other side to the place you wanted. It’s kind of a pain sometimes, but I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Grocery Stores.
I had the choice of Fred Meyer, Winco, Walmart, Costco, or Albertson’s to shop for groceries. Here, you have Walmart and Costco. There is also a Target superstore. But the main grocery store? H.E.B. And H.E.B. alone. I’m trying to learn the layout of the store and also figure out what brands to buy, as they have brands I’ve never heard of!  I’ve yet to find Gallo salami here in Texas and that’s the only kind my daughter likes.

Bugs.
Everyone kept telling me about the Texas bugs. I’m sure I’ve yet to dig into the whole “bug” thing. But so far, I’ve seen a big roach-like thing at the park, a black slug (we have brown slugs in the northwest) and experienced fire ants in a way I never want to again. (They came into our closet and were massively congregating on our clothes! It was horrid.

And mosquitos. I made the mistake one night of hanging out in my car while my daughter went to youth group. I had made a picnic dinner and was going to work on my computer. The windows were open and it was a nice warm night. I’ve often sat in the car in the Northwest with my car windows open. Big mistake in Texas. I know of at least 4-5 mosquitos that flew into my car. You guessed it. Within two days I had quite a few mosquito bites – one in particular that has itched so bad and grew to be about the size of a nickel! Something else in Texas quite likes to bite me as well. I’m not sure if it’s mosquitos or what – but every few days I find a little bite that itches like crazy. No fun.

Storms.
The last three weekends it has stormed. Each on a Saturday night. I find that kind of ironic. But cool. I love thunderstorms and have never experienced anything quite like a Texas storm! The sky just booms and cracks and my whole room (at night) will light up when lightening strikes across the sky. It’s very powerful. And the rain comes down in such a fierce downpour that it’s all very captivating.  No all day drizzles here! When it decides to rain – it pours and then it’s over.

The people.
Soooo friendly! I can’t even tell you. I don’t think I’ve run across one rude person yet. Everyone has been so friendly. I’ve had a “welcome wagon” lady come to my door with all sorts of brochures, magazines and info on the area. I’ve had two neighbors welcome us into the area. I’ve had people just, in general, be very kind. It’s refreshing.


The grass.
The grass here is so different than the grass back in Idaho and Oregon. It’s thicker and courser. I will say the Northwest has the advantage of gentle, lush green grass to walk around barefoot on. Not to mention you don’t have to worry about fire ants in it!


These are my first impressions.
I know I will have many more as I get out and expore the area more.

I’m always fascinated how one state can be so different than another.

I’m have a great time with each new discovery though.

Friday, October 11, 2013

When It Doesn't Bother Us Anymore





We stand at the Redbox station outside of a Walgreens trying to agree on a movie to use our “free movie coupon.” It can be tough for a family sometimes. Preferences aren’t always the same and then you have content. I, personally, cannot tolerate horror movies but my girls tend to lean towards liking a little creepy.

What it comes down to for me, is content. Content is king.

If my God died to save people from something, I don’t want to sit there and watch it as entertainment. Sex, mass murders, drugs, swearing – they all bother me. As they should.

I pretty much swear by visiting Plugged In Online. (http://www.pluggedinonline.com) As a parent, I have to be careful what our family sees. My girls will tell me that they’ve heard a movie is really good but I go and read the review and find out the main subject is all about sex. NOT what I want them watching.  Sure, they get disgruntled with me and they don’t agree about what they can and cannot handle. But that’s why I’m the parent.

We’ve lost our ability to be desensitized.

It doesn’t seem to bother us anymore when we see people sleeping together before marriage. It doesn’t bother us when we see someone half dressed or missing parts of clothing altogether. It doesn’t bother us when we hear swearing, or the Lord’s name used in vain (something that personally offends me greatly). We’ve lost a little bit of our softness. Our sensitivity. OUR VALUES.

We think we can handle it. But in the process, we lose part of our morality. Our standards. We become someone who has no boundaries or lines whatsoever. We will watch anything as long as it’s a good movie. A good book. A good song. Whatever.

And we are wasting away. We are wasting ourselves.

I don’t want to get desensitized. I still turn away when someone is graphically killed onscreen or commits suicide. Not only do I not want to watch, I don’t NEED to watch. I know what happens – I don’t need to see it graphically displayed in a manner that will give me haunting dreams, deep-seeded fears and cause anxiety in my life. No, I don’t.

God told us to dwell on what is good. What is right. To put that into our hearts and lives. Yet we don’t. We fill our minds and hearts with gore, indecency, and filth.

Because it doesn’t bother us anymore.

The question is, why doesn’t it? Shouldn’t it?

Yes. I say, yes. Yes, it very well should.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Is Today Really All About?





There was a time in my life not too long ago where I was living “in the waiting.” You know those times in life. The ones where you are asking God for something and you are being held on “pause.” I was in one of those.

It was tough. I wasn’t quite “there” but my heart wasn’t fully “here” either. And even though I had things to do and life kept moving on; I felt like I was killing time.

I started thinking about being alive. A friend of my husband’s was diagnosed with cancer and it reminded me that our days hold meaning. They are numbered. Even the ones “in the waiting.” So, what was the purpose of mine?

I would wake up and try to find purpose in my day. In the people I connected with. I would end the day and talk to God and review my day with Him. How did I serve Him? Did I do anything long-lasting? What was the reason He’d let me live another day? Could I find SOMETHING meaningful I’d done each day?

It helped me see that I wasn’t really “killing time.” I was given it. And it was up to me to make the most of it. To try and see what He wanted me to see.  Love and be loved. Continue to learn. Seek. And grow.

We each have today. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.  Hopefully we will get our tomorrows, but we aren’t guaranteed them. And even if we do get them, life could change for us in a heartbeat. We, ourselves, could get that life changing news of cancer, death, a car accident, etc.

So what is our today really about? What meaning can we find in it? What purpose? What gifts does God give us in our todays and not only that, what gifts can we give to others back for Him in them?

There is a reason we are alive. A reason we are allowed to live and breathe another day. Even if it seems mundane, boring, or lonely. We have purpose.

So what is it?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maybe We Make It Too Complicated




Should I move here or there?

Am I spending my money wisely enough?

Did I waste my time today on watching a movie?

We feel guilty for not doing a Bible Study. Beat ourselves up for not writing that note of encouragement. Internalize all that we said wrong.

And I just have to wonder – do we make it too complicated? Do we agonize over things that God weighs ever so lightly?

If we love God, love people, and serve Him where we’re at – isn’t that enough?

I think these are good questions to ask from time to time to keep our life balanced and maintain right priorities – but I don’t think they are deal breakers in being a good Christian or not.

I think maybe we over think and agonize over decisions, details, and choices maybe a bit too much. Maybe we should just simply live. Make the best choice we can and let the guilt, stress, and fear go.

I’m beginning to think more and more that maybe we need to just love God, serve Him and do what we want with the rest. Because usually, everything else will line up when the other two are in place.

God cares about what we care about. Not necessarily because HE cares about it, but because He cares about US!

I don’t think it really matters to Him if we get a black fridge or a white one. He can use us in whatever kind of car we drive (taking into consideration using wisdom in our finances when we purchased one), and any home we can invite Him into. He may not particularly care what street it’s on.

We have been given a blessed life.  But we make things too complicated as we go about navigating it all. Give God praise, honor, respect, and love. Serve Him with your time, finances, and heart. Then just live.

Just live. And love and be loved by Him as you do it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Are We So Afraid of "Hard?"



Why are we so afraid of “hard?” Why do we quit and drop out so quickly when we know something will take a little effort …. Or a lot? Why do we embrace “easy?”

It’s the “hard” things in life that teach us. When we look back on our lives, we won’t often be thankful for what we learned from “easy.” But “hard?” Those moments probably taught us the most.

It’s the “hard” things in life that help us become better people. More humble, thankful, kinder.  “Easy” often does the opposite.

“Hard” may be painful and hurt a lot. We may be miserable in the midst of it. But it often has the most joyful rewards.

“Hard” may take forever. It may seem like it lasts months or even years. But it often gives our life purpose and direction. It causes us to analyze ourselves and look internally.

“Easy” may be fun.  It may be pain-free.  But “easy” can’t relate to the mother who just lost her child. “Easy” doesn’t know what it’s like to scrimp and save for a birthday gift. “Easy” doesn’t understand fear, doubt, or pain. 

Someone who’s been through “hard” knows the moment when someone needs a hug. They see the tear hiding just behind the eyes and offer great words of wisdom, mentoring, and love based on what they’ve been through and learned.

I think we’re so afraid of “hard” because we know we will be molded, sculpted, stretched, and grown. We know we will change and sometimes, to be honest, we just don’t want to.

I think we’re afraid of “hard” because we don’t like to be different from everyone else. We don’t want a different battle or struggle. We want “same.” We want to be a “part.”

I think we’re afraid of “hard” because it DOES hurt. And often it IS painful.

But there is beauty to be found on the other side of that pain. Treasures to be uncovered and joys to be touched. They can’t be felt or seen any other way – except by someone who knows “hard.”

“Hard” is a gift. Unwrapped by those who have the courage, stamina, and faith to stay the course.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This Girl Is Moving To Texas




I have lived in the Northwest most all of my life. Different states, but still, the western part of America.

For the first time in my life, that is going to change.

I am moving from Idaho to Texas.

It still feels a little surreal to say. Texas.

I will have a whole new world opened up to me. Some exciting, some fascinating, some hard and maybe even scary.

I do not embrace the fact that I will live in the land of scorpions, snakes, and tarantulas.

But I do embrace the fact that I will live in the land of warm sunshine. And I’m so excited.

It feels as if a whole new world has opened up to me. Who knows what is around the corner? What friends I will meet. What opportunities will present themselves to me?

My girls are even excited and that is so important to me.

I’ve been praying for a very long time and I’ve already seen God in the details, in the moments along the way in this journey. His timing is evident – His hand being unveiled with flourish.

I can’t wait to see what He has up His sleeve for us.

I learned a long time ago that God lives in your heart never just in a certain place. You can find Him in every state and every country inside of His people.

I am so excited to meet His people in Texas. To love and be loved by new friends. To wonder how I ever lived life without knowing someone.

I’m excited to discover new things about myself and to discover new things with my children.

I’ve lived my life in Oregon. Nevada. Oregon again. Idaho. And now Texas.

I may have a lot to learn about living in a new land, but I will be doing it alongside of my family. Together on an adventure.

Here we go.


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