Thursday, February 11, 2016

Facebook Envy

On any given day if you are scrolling down the Facebook news-feed one might see pictures of a couple madly in love, children happily enjoying the rides at Busch Gardens, a group of friends having a night out on the town, others at the movies, a friend's new haircut, another loosing weight, new house, new re-model, and
smiles, smiles and more smiles!
But when one is having a no good, rotten, horrendous, dreadful, or in other words, an all around crappy day, all those beaming grins, tender looks, and expressions of delight can lead one straight down the road to envy.

I'm just being honest here. How can everyone have a great day every day?! It's not possible or I'm just living a life differently than everyone I know.

Life is hard. Marriage is tough. Parenting is challenging-(it's actually what knocks me out into a deep sleep every night). Home schooling is demanding. Ministry can be heart breaking. Friendships sporadically laborious. I'm sorry, but that's my day-to-day reality as I am working hard to make a happy life. It's true. Believe it or not my life is hard. Don't get me wrong, I really do love my life, but it's a whole lot of digging deep, working hard, being consistent, staying up late, waking up early, to get to those happy moments.

One day my daughter and I were perusing all the inspiring items in Hobby Lobby when she spied a canvas that read, "Work Hard and Be Happy." She looked at me and said in her perfect 'Miranda-Sings' impersonation, "That's not correct. It should say, 'Work hard to be Happy" She already knows that it's a choice and it's hard work to be happy. My reality is this: life is work and many times it's hard, but God blesses me with some really sweet moments. Sincerely, God has given me many, many, joys in my life, and maybe I don't see them every day. Maybe I feel like I'm in the muck and mire most of the time that I don't even realize how many blessings I've been afforded, but for many of the ones I have had, they aren't always picture taking, slapping up on Facebook, worthy.

So, for all of you out there who struggle with a busy, active, overloaded life, who generally have a full plate, and don't take the time to take a picture and post it up on Facebook, I understand. For all of you who see everyone else laughing until their sides hurt and you weren't a part of it, I get it. For those who feel their life is boring, I sympathize. You're not the only one sitting on the couch and turning green. But let me share with you something I have figured out- the reality of facebook is not a reality at all. It is one picture, one event, one special moment from one person's life. Sure, there are lots of pictures and moments, but it's not all coming from one life. My news-feed is showing me the scattered moments from over one-hundred different people. Okay, so maybe that fact doesn't help much because you still think your life is uninteresting, monotonous, and humdrum, but there is hope!

I have found that when I'm home with my husband and children playing games, talking, or laughing together over an episode of the Partridge Family, or laughing so hard with a friend while working out at the YMCA that I can barely do the workout correctly, or simply having lunch with my in-laws, I'm happy. I am content. I don't need the world to see it. I don't need a picture to remind me or tell me or anyone else that I am blessed. I already know that in my heart. I don't need Facebook to tell me that my life is blessed.

For the times when I'm reading the Bible and a Word jumps out at me and ministers to my heart, or when I see an answer to prayer, or even when one of my children prays a prayer of faith, there is no picture that could ever capture the joy in my heart- for Jesus is my joy.

Sure, my life may not look as glamorous as many on Facebook, but for me the tender moments that I have had and will continue to have I treasure and they are the ones I keep to myself. The stuff that no one on facebook sees. And if you are struggling to find the treasured moments all I can say is..."You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13) God is waiting to bless you, rejoice over you, and basically give you a 'facebook' worthy day! Seek Him and you will find pure joy.

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:11)

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Little House in the Big Woods: Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Two Big Bears

I LOVE this chapter! In this chapter Ma and Pa have a separate, but equally scary adventure with a bear! The children loved it!

On the first day we read Ma's encounter with a bear. In it we learned that Ma and Laura went out at night to milk the cow, Laura was holding the 'lantern' for them to see. So, I took out a lantern I had bought, closed the shades, lit the lantern and continued to read by the lantern's light! It was so fun!

Knowing that we were going to hear two stories on bears, I had the children do research on bears. We learned about what bears live in the United States, where they live, what they eat, and much more!

The next day when we read about Pa's adventure, The Story of Pa and the Bear in the Way," I gave the children a bear to color and put together. When they were done completeing the bear, they had to decide which story, Ma's or Pa's, they liked better. They had to summarize the story and explain why they liked it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Adventures as Sandra Bullock

As a dating couple back in 1995, my husband and I went to see the movie, "While You Were Sleeping." We loved it. We left the theater and couldn't stop talking about it, but by Sunday morning we forgot all about it and had our minds on getting to church. As we arrived and began talking to friends I saw, my then, Pastor's wife making a bee-line towards me with a huge smile. As she approached me she excitedly asked, "Did you see the movie, "While You Were Sleeping?" I cautiously responded with one eyebrow raised, "Yes." Then she exclaimed to me and my friends, "Doesn't she look exactly like the girl in the movie... Sandra Bullock?!" I was startled. Before I knew it they were all staring at me, studying my face and agreeing that I could be Sandra Bullock's sister. With a feeling of beauty filling my heart I raised my head and felt great about myself, as if I had actually accomplished something.

Since that time, I have had the most hysterical adventures as Sandra Bullock!

One time a few years ago, I was in Walmart, pregnant and standing in line with four of my children when I over heard a few teenagers giggling at the magazine rack. I looked over at them and they giggled again. I then asked, "Can I help you?"
They said, "Aren't you Sandra Bullock?" One of the teens squealed with excitement and turned away from me. I had to tell them the truth-right? I let them down easy, but they refused to believe me! I tried to reason with them, saying things like- "Sandra Bullock is not pregnant." They didn't care.
I then said, "I'm sorry girls, but Sandra Bullock doesn't live here." No response, no change in their attitude. Then I said the thing that rang some truth, "Sandra Bullock doesn't and would never shop at Walmart!" That got them. They eventually walked away talking and trying to convince each other.

Another time I was shopping at Walmart alone when I noticed two men following me throughout the store. I quickly grabbed a few more items and went straight to the registers. I looked around and saw the men at another register checking out too. I left the store and did a light jog to my car. A bit worried I looked over my shoulder and there they were. The two men were but a few paces behind me. I loaded up my car and stopped and said, "Can I help you?"
They responded, "You know who you are."
I was nervous. Did they think I was a lost love? An old friend who hurt them? I called out, "I'm sorry, there must be some mistake. I have never met either of you before."
They responded again, "You know who you are."
They were not showing any signs of aggression, my nerves began to calm down a bit and then it hit me, they must think that I'm SANDRA BULLOCK!
I said, "Do you think I am Sandra Bullock?"
They smiled and began to laugh, "YES!" That's who you are!"
I apologetically told them I was not, but they would not believe me.
I tried again, but they laughed. I tried my, "Would Sandra Bullock shop at Walmart?" routine, but that would not set them off their course of telling everyone they knew that they had just met a famous actress.I got in my car and left. I drove home feeling very proud of the Oscars that I had not won!

Okay, one more story. This time I was standing in-line at Jo-Ann's fabric store. I was purchasing material to make a blanket for my new born. I still had my pregnancy weight and the quite exhausted look from the infancy stage. As I laid the fleece fabric and other items on the counter I began to talk to the cashier. Soon, everything became quiet. I looked around. I went back to discussing my things with the young lady behind the counter and then looked back at the now long line of customers behind me. I was surprised. One minute there was no one in line and the next second there was a long line of ladies standing behind me. I looked back at the worker and heard whispers. I ignored it. There was no way that I was being mistaken for Sandra Bullock again- not AFTER pregnancy! The murmuring continued. I finally looked up and said to the group of women, "You guys don't think I'm Sandra Bullock-do you?"
The reply came in one chorus, "YES!"
I said, "Well, you all just made my day. I'm sorry, but I am not."
One of the ladies whispered to me, "But you are her sister-right?" and then added, "I'll take your autograph." Tempted, but no. I did not succumb to the temptation. I so wanted to make them happy, but I didn't even know if Ms. Bullock had a sister!

I have years of stories of being mistaken for Sandra Bullock and they are all too funny! Well, now, what do  you think? I'd love to hear from you!

This is me...

I'm not a celebrity, 
but some think I look like one!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bottom Line...I've Wanted a Mom

For as long as I can remember I've dreamed of being close to my mother. And by close I simply mean, I wished that she wanted to be with me. Of course, there was also the hope that we would know each other, laugh together and make some great memories, but none of that has happened.
The dream of being close to my own mother, has been just that, a dream.

I was just a freshman in high school. It was a cold, New York winter morning and I was rushing to get ready for school. I had woken up late and on my tight schedule that couldn't happen. You see, the high school I was attending was one-and-a-half hours away and took three city buses to get to. I had to catch the first bus at 5:35am exactly, which would drop me off at the next bus stop at 6:10am giving me about a five minute wait for the next transfer. The next bus dropped me off at Main Street, which lead me to my last bus ride at 6:50am to drop me off right around 7:25am giving me a few minutes to prepare for my first class. Needless to say, the commute to school each day was stressful as my promptness relied on the transfer of each New York City bus being on time no matter what the weather. So, on this particular day, as I was scrambling around the house, gathering my things up to head out the door, my mother said to me, "Stop worrying. I'll drive you." I breathed a breathe of relief, but still thought that even by car my school is still 1 1/2 hours away. I urged my mother to hurry and go, but she replied, "No, I know where your school is. We do not need to leave until 6:45am." I sat back and rested.

As we drove along together I could see, from the highway, my little bus and it's route. I stared out the window with a bit of excitement budding in my heart. I thought, "I can ride with my mother each day to school. (I had just learned, that morning, that her office was minutes from my school). I thought to myself, "I can be alone with her each day and get to know her and she could get to know me. We could share our days together." I also thought about, NO MORE BUS RIDES! My heart was filling with more and more excitement that I couldn't stop looking out the window. I didn't want my mother to see. I wanted to play it calm. I wanted to act all grown up, not a child panting for her mother's affection. As these thoughts whimsically filled my mind, my mother broke the silence and shattered my dreams when she said, "Don't think I'll ever do this again. I'm not. I will drive you today, but that is all."

My heart sank. Tears flooded my eyes. I couldn't move. I hadn't wanted my mother to see my excitement and I certainly didn't want her to see my broken heart. I allowed the tears to roll down my cheeks until they stopped on their own. Then with one touch I wiped my face and left the car.
She never did drive me again.

Years later, when I was old enough to drive, I remembered that horrible day. I dropped what I was doing, got in my car and started off to visit my alma mater. I had to know how long it actually took to get to my high school by car. It had plagued me. I set out to time the car ride. Was it actually a short drive or was I so happy that day when my mother drove me that it only seemed like mere minutes? When I arrived at the school in less than twenty minutes, I parked the car and  I began to cry--again. Those years, months, days, in the rain, and freezing snow, that I had trudged to school taking three buses and traveled almost two hours when it only took twenty minutes to drive in a nice warm car. Then it hit me, I remembered my mother worked in the same neighborhood as I went to school.  I could drive around to check out where my mother worked in relation to where my school was. I found her building- she worked but three blocks from my school. She worked three blocks from me. Everyday for years we were steps from each other. Tears that were filling my eyes were immediately rubbed away and anger filled it's place. How could a mother do that to her child? How could she care so little about the welfare of her own. How could she have no compassion for me as she watched me day in and day out wake up early and go to school alone? I knew that day that my mother very clearly did not want a relationship with me, but as I drove home and cried and even yelled I realized I was crying because the desire to know my mother and be loved by her was still not dead. I still wanted her and yet I knew it would never be.

Without my mother...
I muddled through my childhood by leaning on some of my older sisters for help.
I struggled through my teen years without guidance.
And I think I was okay with all that, until I became a mommy.
Being a mom brought up so many questions in my mind and heart. I tried to ask her questions, but she would act aloof and would say she didn't remember. As time went by, and I had more children I had more questions.
I felt alone.
I felt like a failure.
I wanted advice. I wanted help.
I needed encouragement.
I wanted my mother.
I wanted a mom.

So, when I finally realized, about ten years ago, that the dream of a mother/daughter relationship was never going to be a reality, I began to search for other women in my life to fill the emptiness. I tried one friend after another, but none could match the perfectly shaped hole in my heart that was meant for my mother to fill.

To be honest, and as ridiculous as it may sound, I still hope that there is someone out there that will be a mom to me. Someone to advise me. Someone to pray with me and will pray for me. Someone who will teach me how to sew like my grandmother or knit like my mother. Someone who will come and hang out at my house and be family. Someone to mentor me. But more recently I have had a revelation that I have not even asked God to fill this void in my heart. I have not allowed Jesus to fill my emptiness. I have not given Him the chance to be everything to me.

I forgive my mother. I forgive her for her selfishness. I forgive her for not trying to get to know me. I forgive her for cutting me out of her life. I forgive her for the wasted years. I forgive her for not being there for me when I needed someone, family, to confide in and advise me. I forgive her for killing my dream of having a mother who truly loves me. I forgive her for not being a grandma to my children.
Lord, I ask you to fill my heart. Fill in the empty place that I reserved for her. I ask you to be everything I need. I ask you to satisfy this longing in my heart for a mom. I love you, Lord, with all my heart. I want to be healed so I can raise my children in wholeness.
Your Ellie

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

100th Day of School!

This is our 100th Day of school celebration.
We spent the day counting and counting and counting to 100!

First, we started by counting on our 100 days chart.
(My princess was a great helper).

Then we read the book,
"The 100th Day of School." 

Then we made our 100th day hats!
This is an Ellie original!
I purchased the number stickers from Oriental Trading.
I then cut ten strips and stapled them to the base of the hat.

Then each child had to put their number stickers on each strip.
They did great!

It wasn't easy, but each one did it =)

After all that hard work we stopped for snack time!
We counted twenty sprinkles on each cupcake!
One of my student's mommy made these treats for the kids-
How PRECIOUS is this!!!
Thanks Emily!

Afterwards we painted!
(I found this wonderful idea on Pinterest).

We had ten different paint colors.
Using our fingers, and one color at a time, 
we counted ten 'gumballs' and continued and
 changed colors until we reached 100.
At the end of it all we had 100 gumballs!

Lastly, we celebrated all the students who read 100 books!
I handed out the 'Book Worm' log form back in September, 
and the children have been diligently working on it all year.
Today seemed like the perfect day to celebrate that too!

I made little goody bags for them to take home.

Each child wanted to have their picture taken!
I'm so proud of all my students!

It was a wonderful day celebrating our numbers together!
Each child received a certificate too!