Sunday Storytelling-Be Happy Where you Are

This is a post I wrote about two years ago, and for some reason, I have been thinking a great deal on this subject lately.  Maybe one of you can relate.  Enjoy!

When I was 20, I went on a spiritual retreat.  One day, we were told to be silent.  No talking and on our own as much as possible.  We could eat together, but no talking.  Everyone must remain silent.  We were trying to listen for God’s voice.  Well, I do not know about you guys, but quieting my mind is more difficult than not talking.  I think about everything and worry about more than I should.  When someone says try to listen for God, I freak out.  My mind begins to think constantly about why I do not hear His voice.

Even at age 20, which is almost 20 years ago, I felt this way.  I would like to say that things have changed, but with my anxiety, it has not.

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So that morning, I decided to take a walk.  Our retreat was up in the mountains, next to a beautiful stream with many,many wild flowers.  Oh it was gorgeous!  So I knew I wanted to hike along the stream to look for a place to sit and try to listen.  As I began my walk, I would see the best places to sit and ponder, but they were already taken.  I would get mad and say to myself, “Everyone else has the best place, why can’t I have the same spot?”

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The further I would walk, the more I realized that all the great spots were taken.  Why couldn’t I find a spot like everyone else had?  Why did they get all the good stuff?  Now I was about a mile and a half into my hike, and I was getting so frustrated.  I wanted to hear from God damnit, and I couldn’t because everyone else had the perfect spot. The interesting thing is, I did not turn around and go back, I just kept walking.  I came to a dead spot in the walk where everything seemed to be brown and crunchy.  I became even more mad and actually began yelling at God, as to why he talks to everyone else but me.  Why does he give good gifts to all the others, but me, I get a dead spot?

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Still, I walked.

And walked.

Suddenly, the trail opened up into a huge green meadow.  The meadow was lush, green beautiful, and colorful with newly blossomed wildflowers.  And I realized that God had spoken all along.  And it is a lesson that I have needed to be reminded of.

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The lesson is that I spend a great deal of time looking at other people and what they have.  Not possessions, but family, friends, spiritually.  I get frustrated and wonder why I cannot have what they have.  Why do I get to keep walking?  Why do I have the crunchy dead spots?    But in reality, I do have the most lush green beautiful life. I may have to walk and walk to get there.  I may have to go through the nasty stuff, but when I come out of it, I have beauty.  I have to focus on the beauty in the journey as well, and be happy for the people who are in there beautiful spots.  You see, they had to go through nasty stuff to get there.  I just do not know their story.

Instead of dwelling on what others have and what I do not, it is time to remind myself to be happy for them.  Love them and know that what they have been through to get there has been just as difficult or more so than what I have been through.

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Your time is coming, just keep walking.

Love,

Suzy

End of Summer Bounty

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I sit here in the silence of the morning, getting ready to wake up the children.  Outside I hear the sprinklers run and water the grass, still trying to help it grow even with the cooler temperatures. I think to myself, “I still have to mow the lawn!”  I see the produce that my garden is still producing, and I think, “No not more!”  Not more stuff to do, not more things to think about.

I think to myself, “Maybe I will let my kids sleep in for another hour.  I need the break.”  The silence is nice.

I noticed that I was looking at this day as a chore, and I realized I have a choice.  I can make this day about me and my needs, or I can love.  I can love this day that has been gifted to me.  I can live this day and love the chores that I have been given.  I can choose to teach my kids with enthusiasm and instill a desire in them to live this day they have been given.

I can focus my attention on the amazing things of this world or get caught up in the doing.  My kids are not chores, they are gifts.  The food being provided from our garden is the gift of health and how can I teach my kids to give the gift of health to the world.  I used to dwell on how can I change the world?  I found the answer is living with gratitude daily.  My kids see this gratitude, they go out and are thankful, and guess what?  This changes the world.

So simple, yet so complicated.

I choose to get started on this beautiful day.

Love,

Suzy

Deep in It

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We have been deep in school for the past month and a half.  Some days it goes very well, but it seems that my oldest is having his fair share of problems this year.  He seems to have been bitten by the lazy bug, and I cannot help but wonder if he is experiencing teenage attitude a little early.  He is only 11, but man his mouthiness!

Last night, we had a talk with him about his choices.  He is the one who chooses to be defiant, he also chooses to make wise decisions.  Oh my goodness, nothing sunk in.  Instead we heard him say school is too hard, he does not want to work, and this is child labor.  It struck me that we our middle class kids have no concept of labor.  Sure they help out from time to time, but they get distracted and play.  Play is great and I am all for it.  They have the opportunity to play and have fun, which I am so thankful for, but they are stuck in mediocrity.  The middle.  I am not saying I want my child to experience truly difficult times in which he has to participate in child labor, or be in want of food, or have to go through trials to accomplish.  But I do want my kids to have a knowledge and appreciation of what others around this world must face on a daily basis.  I want them to know that school and helping with chores isn’t the worst possible thing that could ever happen to them.

Growing up, my dad was in construction.  He was and still is very good at what he does, but there were times when building just was not happening.  We experienced some tough times.  We had to move where the work was, he would go for a few months to another state so we would not have to move, just so he could send money back.  There was a time when we could not find a place to live right away and had to live in a tiny travel trailer and go from park to park.  Looking back, it was difficult, but I would not have changed it.  I have learned from my parents to never give up.  To stick to a task and finish.  To stick together through difficult times.  To work hard and achieve goals.

Now, I live in mediocrity.  I like my mediocrity, but I am so far removed from what goes on for so many everyday.  How can I help my children understand what true child labor is?  How can I help my children understand that it is a privilege to go to school?  How can I help my children understand that times will be tough but if you stick it out, slow and steady, working together you can accomplish whatever it is you are doing?  How do I teach this without them going through truly awful times?

This to me is true education.  True learning.  As you can see, I am deep in thought today.  Being a parent is difficult and the balance truly challenging. Any thoughts or ideas? And please remember, I have been vulnerable and honest.  I do not want to hear criticism, but ideas that would be beneficial for everyone to hear.

Messy Weekend

What is life without messes?

What is a home without messes?

Sure I like to keep things clean, but I also like people to truly live in my home.

Not just my family, but also my friends.

This weekend I had a canning party in which some dear friends helped motivate me to can over 30 quarts in one day of spaghetti sauce, my award-winning salsa and tomato sauce.  What was once bare shelves are now showing the fruits of our labor.

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One of the biggest compliments was given to me that day.  One woman, I know really well, and she feels comfortable in my home, the other is new to our town and was the first time I really got to know her.  The latter of the women wanted a glass of water, and immediately my other friend told her where to find the glasses and water.  She turned to me and said, “I am sorry!  This is your home, I just feel so relaxed and at home here!”

I loved to hear this.  I want my home to be a place where people can come and be relaxed, cared for and know that they can feel free to care for others in it.

My boys had a slumber party in which they made their sleeping area on the landing of the upstairs.  I let them get messy and make a mess upstairs.  When it was time for their friends to go home, their friends  were sad and wanted to stay.

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The classroom is where all the learning will take place this year, and now it is a mess.  But the excitement from seeing the mess is too much for my kids.  Not a bad thing, but they are so excited to see what they will be learning.

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This is life, messy and comfortable and I would not change a thing!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Love

Suzy

Love Letters

Recently, my husband and I were apart for three weeks with no phone contact.  When he has been away  before, we have had contact on the phone or have been able to Skype.  There has really been very few times when we have not been able to hear each others voices.  Email is nice, but it is so difficult to really express your love, it still feels as though you are not truly alone.

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So, I went old school, and wrote love letters every night.  I never sent them off, because they would not have made it to him in time, so I made a little decorative cover for the letters and kept them in order.  I was able to express to him the love I have for him, the craziness of my days and the adventures of the kids.

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This idea did not occur to me because I am a romantic, but instead because I read a book.  I have read the Anne of Green Gables series, and one of the books were mostly love letters to Gilbert, the love of her life.  These letters reminded me of the letters my grandmother kept from my grandfather during WWII.  He told her everything he could, and how he felt. These letters were so very romantic, and fun for me to read.  They are treasures that I will always, well treasure.  I wanted the same for my kids.  Artifacts that inspire love.  They see our love everyday, but as they get older, it will be nice for them to read and remember our feelings for each other.

I hope this inspires you to do the same.

Have a great day everyone!

Love,

Suzy

 

Lunch for our Neighbors and What This Means

Let me explain to you our neighbor situation.  We live on a dead-end street with about 10 other houses.  No one comes down this street unless they absolutely have to.  When we saw this house, the dead-end was one of the positives.  We are also surrounded by fields, so pretty much, our 10 neighbors are what we get.  This was a positive, but has turned into a negative.  You see, our neighbors have decided that we are not safe.  That our kids, are not safe to play with their kids because we are different.  We live in a state with a very distinct religion, and we are not part of that religion.  When we first moved in, our neighbors were awesome!  Our kids played with theirs, we had neighborhood parties, but slowly this began to change.  We are not going to change, and neither are they.  So their answer, to call in their kids every time my kids go out.  This happens  often, even today.  My husband and I have tried to talk, but they insist nothing is wrong.  The problem is, this is bullying, but it has happened to so many people who are not of this religion, that unfortunately it is the norm.  I will be honest, this is one of the reasons our children do not attend the local public school.  All the kids know each other rom their church which makes it very difficult for newcomers to come in.  It is a very sad situation because I know that in different circumstances we could all get along.  Especially the kids.  Kids are taught these actions, and let me tell you how hard it is not to tell my kids to be mean right back.

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But my kids have good hearts, better than my darkened grown up heart.  My two youngest last week decided they would pack a lunch for our closest neighbors and invite them over.  And guess what, they came.  Of course today, we had issues, but baby steps, right? Instead of getting mad, my kids are trying.  I realize they may get hurt, but they are teaching me to take chances, to think beyond the silliness that discrimination can bring.  My kids are teaching me to look beyond their religion at the person, and try to reach the person.  Not because I want to convert them, but because this is what I am called to do.  To look past, to love when I cannot.  This is exactly what my kids are choosing to do, but really do not know all the philosophies behind it.  They took a chance last week, today they were rejected and I had to tell them to always say hello, but not to get too close.  Always reach out, but realize that their efforts will not always be met with enthusiasm. Always act in love, even when love is not returned.  Now I must remind myself of the same advice and hope for the best.

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Have a great day everyone and remember to always reach out!

Love,

Suzy

Do you Ever Feel Like You are Doing Everything Wrong?

I do.  In fact this is how I have felt for the past few weeks.

It seems as though whatever I do, someone has something to say.  I stay home with my kids, “When are you going back to work?”  I home school, “I do not think that is healthy for your kids!”  I try to make amends, “Try harder!”  “Do better!”  I couldn’t breastfeed “That is why your children have allergies!” I let my children run, “You need to do better at controlling them!” Ugh!!!!

The crappy thing is, I have this part of me who listens, and takes everything to heart.  I personalize it so much that I begin to think I am doing everything wrong.  The voices that are telling me I am doing great, I cannot hear.  I deny their existence and say I must do better until I break.

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I have realized in the past few days, that the people who are telling me what I should be doing are just concerned or are unhappy with the way they have chosen.  What we have decided to do as a family is different for others to understand.  They worry about me, my children and my husband.  But for goodness sake!  Enough!  I am so tired of being compared to other women and families.

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Each and every one of us have our gifts. That is what makes this world work!  If we all had the same qualities, then think of how boring it would be!  There is a place for stay at home moms.  There is a place for mothers who work.  There is a place for home school.  There is a place for mainstream education.  I know it is scary, but we can get along.  We do not have to make everything into an issue.

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Slowly, I am coming to the realization that I cannot take comments like these to heart.  I am one woman, who will make mistakes.  Some will be big, some small.  Sometimes, I will do things well.  But enough comparing about which way is right!  We are all out for one thing and that is the betterment of ourselves and our families.

Take heart if you feel this way.  Remember your decisions, stick firm and support your friends in theirs.  If they ask for your opinion, give it, but be caring, loving and encouraging.  We must encourage always, and grow in understanding.  By doing so, we change the world.

Have a great day everyone!

Love,

Suzy