Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Miss You In The Ordinary

Recently, my mother-in-law passed away after a short bout with cancer. Up to that point in her life, she had always been healthy. At age 86, she didn’t take any medications, and she would walk 2 miles a day—Monday through Friday (on Saturday if the weather was really pleasant).

Often her daughters would come over and walk with her, and she would always encourage me to walk with her, also. Being her next-door neighbor was a good enough reason to do it, but I always had an excuse: I was too busy, too tired, too grumpy, too lazy (probably the real reason). At one point I justified not walking with her because I didn’t want to get too attached to her.

Judge me if you must, but this reasoning came after her sister had passed away. For years, every morning between 7:00 and 7:30, she and her sister would call each other just to talk and check up on one another. After her sister passed, I saw the pain and loneliness that my mother-in-law had felt for her sibling, and I made a conscience decision that I didn’t want to suffer that.

Knowing that she was a bit older than I, I assumed she would go before me and I was preparing myself emotionally (some psychologist out there can work on that if they need to). But when I began to reason within myself, I saw this for what it was…just another excuse (a twisted one perhaps).

Eventually, I began to walk daily with her. She encouraged me, prodded me on, and took it easy on me those first few days while I adjusted to her walking pace. Actually, she was just recovering from a cold that she had harbored for several weeks, so she was only walking one mile a day in the beginning, and I was able to keep up with her (wow, that’s pretty sad, since I’m 43 years younger)

After several months of walking, talking, griping, and laughing together, she found out that she had a very aggressive form of cancer and was given 4 to 6 months to live. But like everything else she faced in life, she stayed strong, faithful, and level-headed. She got her house in order and began telling her kids how she wanted everything done. She planned out her own funeral, took care of all of her financial business, pretty much decided who was going to get what, and assured us all that she would be okay, because she had accepted Christ as her Savior and she knew her final destination (although we already knew this, because it showed in her everyday life).

My mother-in-law was many things; loving, giving, faithful, energetic, stubborn and proud. When she became too weak to walk with me, she still encouraged (and threatened) me to keep on walking for my health. And I did, mainly because there was a need for someone to stop in each day and help her with some meds (it kept me accountable).

She was a strong woman and wasn’t used to being helped out. But eventually, the cancer made it impossible for her to be by herself. We kids began taking turns staying with her, and my fear of becoming too close became my reality. We spent weeks doing ordinary stuff for her; talking with her, reminiscing with her, eating with her, watching TV with her, and just being with her.

And now I find myself missing her in the ordinary—when I walk past her house, Sunday afternoons, eating candy bars and drinking sodas, watching Matlock, and a hundred other things that became daily routines. So many things, that I couldn’t begin to list, and no one else would understand, because they are just my memories.

I Miss You in the Ordinary
I see you in the ordinary,
In the things that happen day-to-day.
I see you in the ordinary
As I’m walking along life’s way.
I miss you in the ordinary,
In the things I daily do.
I remember you in the ordinary,
And realize how much I miss you.

In the commonplace of living
You have affected all of my days.
I miss you in the ordinary-
I miss your extraordinary ways.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:10

Monday, January 20, 2014

An American Dream

An American Dream

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream to day.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with is vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and  black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, delivered this historical speech on August 28, 1963, in the middle of one of the most turbulent times in America’s history.

There is no denying that racism and prejudicial treatment was rampant in parts of the United States, and there was a need for change. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a successful leader in bringing about a lot of that change for our nation.

Dr. King fought for human equality. His famously orchestrated March on Washington had a big impact on our country. While quoting from The Declaration of Independence, King encouraged our leaders to be mindful of the statement that all men are created equal. And this declaration goes farther than King quoted. It goes on to say, “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As a nation, we have come a long way. We now have laws that prohibit racial discrimination in employment and have ended racial segregation in our public schools. We have a president sitting in the Oval Office that would not have been able to be there 50 years ago. Other discrimination barriers have been broken also. If you are an American, no matter what race or gender, it is possible for you to rise to the pinnacle of government or private business. You can own your own business, work for someone else, or run for any office in the country. You have the liberty to pursue your own happiness.

Unfortunately, there are those who think that the liberty to pursue happiness, has become a right to be happy. Just like money can’t buy happiness, neither can handouts. People who are given things without working for them tend to become ungrateful and dissatisfied (just take a look at your kids at Christmas time).

This nation was set up in a way that everyone could have the opportunity to make a living by human ingenuity and hard work, and then be able to prosper through modest spending and wise investments—not on race or gender.

In fact, I think we need to change the way employers hire their employees. Can you imagine going in for an interview and the potential employer not having you fill out a resume that asks for your race or your gender, but instead has questions about your morality, your loyalty, and your attitude. Wouldn’t it be great to be chosen for a job or position based strictly on your ability, intelligence, wisdom, or endurance level? My! People may actually begin to appreciate their employment, while employers may actually be able to hire and fire according to performance. (wonder why no one has thought about that?)

Unfortunately, as sinful human beings, there will always be some prejudice. It’s hard to see things through other people’s eyes. Prejudice is not a political issue, it’s a heart issue, which can only be altered by Divine intervention.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Re-Arrangement

“Mom! I can’t believe this! How could you?”
I hear my daughter’s panicked questions coming from the other room.
“What happened? Why did you do this? You’ve got to put it back!”

Rolling my eyes and laying down my laptop, I get up and go into the kitchen, knowing what the problem is before I even walk into the room. There I see my 16 year-old daughter standing with all the kitchen cabinet doors flung open. The bewildered look on her face and the hands flailing about her head, tell me she is not happy with what she sees.

When she notices that she has my attention, the shrills begin again, “What have you done? This is no good, no good at all! You can’t keep changing the cabinets. The cups don’t go near the plastic bowls, and all the plates are suppose to be on the same shelf! Please tell me you haven’t changed the stuff in the drawers. Aagh! You moved the silverware! Change it back! Change it back!”

Oh, brother, I think to myself, and then reassuring her I say, “It’s fine. I just moved around some things to make it more convenient for me.” Rolling her eyes, she takes her Oreo and leaves the room. This is a familiar episode we go through any time I decide to rearrange the cabinets, or the furniture, or if I turn the kitchen table in a different direction. My kids act like I have committed some heinous crime. What’s that about?

Is their childhood so unstable that they have to hold on to every steady fixture or utensil that has ever crossed their paths? I don’t believe it is. We have lived in the same place for 25 years, we’ve been going to the same church for 10 years, their Dad has had the same job for 35 years, and they’ve attended home school all of their life with me, their stay-at-home mom, as their teacher. How much more steady could their lives be?

Regardless, this is my kitchen; I do all of the cooking and most of the cleaning. The only time my kids like to come into the kitchen is when I am fixing them something to eat and they are waiting on me to fill their plates.

I used to be more sympathetic. I didn’t want to damage them in some way that would cause them to fail in life. But now seven of my nine kids are grown, and I decided it really doesn’t matter how careful you are with their psyche, they all turn out a little screwy anyway. (hee, hee... oh wait, maybe I am the problem)

I’m just kidding on that point. I know that parents are responsible for some of their children’s idiosyncrasies (hopefully, we are their biggest influence, after all). And I think it’s obvious to this self-proclaimed doctor of psychology, that children are affected by change. However, when that change is done in my domain, they need to be able to accept it.

I do not go into their bedrooms and make them change them to suit me. There are some requirements of keeping a half-decent room, but other than that, they are free to arrange and rearrange their rooms any way they would like.

Maybe I should inform them that if they want to help more in the kitchen, then I would allow them to have an input into the way it’s arranged or not rearranged. But since that’s not going to happen, I will continue to move things around the way I like them. And I’m sure they will continue to complain about where things are…or aren’t. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Smartphone Plans Starting At $5 Per Month

Has the high cost of living made an indention into your budget lately? It has ours. We have had to plan a budget, re-plan that budget, and then tighten it up just a little bit more.

Between Dishnet, Apple, Nintendo, and Sony, our budget had just about become unbudgeted!

So I had to get busy and find some way to save some money. One of our greatest expenses is the cell phone. When we first got a cell phone, I was the only one that needed it. We got rid of our home phone, which we couldn’t seem to get below the $30 mark (for local calling only), and used my cell phone instead.

But alas, as a frog being boiled, I got used to the convenience of the cell phone, and the luxury of became an expected need. It wasn’t long until I was lured into the seductive power of the Apple iPhone. What style! What ease! What power! I went from talking to family and friends on the phone to being able to map out a long trip, or look up an elusive meaning to any word I came across, not to mention when Siri came along. With these smartphones, we hold the world in the palm of our hands. (Ahh…I digress.)

However, as the kids became teens, they thought they needed phones too. Son #4 was able to purchase his own phone. He too started out with a nice convenient cell phone, but was quickly caught up with the whole fandomhood of Apple I-Phone-itus. Looking at the family plan, he could get an iPhone fairly reasonably, as long as he gave them two years of his life. And we soon found that two-year commitment had become very costly with purchasing the data plan, paying overage costs, and a little mishap with a river excursion. Fortunately, he was financially independent from us. J

Daughter #4 was next. For a short while, she was satisfied with a $20 phone and that cost us $10 per month. But she quickly found that wasn’t sufficient for her. She now has Virgin Mobile prepaid, but it’s still quite a bit more than our budget likes.

So I got on the WWW and began to search “cheap smartphone plans”. I just couldn’t go back to a dumb phone. I tried to use The Farmer’s phone and didn’t even know how to operate it anymore. It didn’t do anything when I touched the screen. And all those push buttons just had numbers on them…it was so confusing!

Fortunately Daughter #1 lives very frugal and she told me about a site called mrmoneymustache (highly recommend you check him out). On his site I found a company called Republic Wireless.

Republic Wireless is a company that started a beta phone service in 2011. The way I understand it is that their phones use existing free wifi service to make calls. Unlike the big boys who use the cell towers and charge you an arm and leg, this company makes use of free wifi hotspots that you find everywhere. I have used free wifi from McDonalds, Lowes, Starbucks, Target, and my favorite car dealer, Chris Auffenberg Ford, in Washington. And of course I use the wifi I have here at home.

However, Republic Wireless doesn’t only rely on free wifi, their phones also use the cell towers. The default setting for their phones are free wifi, and the backup for the cell phones are the cell towers.

When I first began to look into it, the only phone they had was their beta phone—Motorola Defy XT. And the only plan they had was $19 a month for unlimited text, data, and talk (a lot cheaper then I was paying for that same service). So using Daughter #5 as a guinea pig, we purchased the phone for her and I tracked her activity for that first month.

She got great reception, always had service, and never missed a call (well, except when I would be calling her to check to see if she had finished her chores while I was away—not the fault of the phone). So when my servitude, I mean contract, with AT&T ended I switched to Republic Wireless.

Unfortunately the beta Motorola Defy XT was not available, but fortunately they offered an awesome Android phone, the Motorola X (and I could purchase the white color for the same price as the black-can’t do that with the iPhone). I love it! With a little bit of a learning curve, I find the Moto X as appealing to me as the iPhone.

Now here’s the best part (well another best part), Republic Wireless offers smartphone plans starting at $5 a month! The plans range between unlimited talk, text, and data (wifi only) for $5/month up to unlimited talk, text, and data (wifi and 4G) for $40/month. There are other plans for $10 and $25 per month.

I have had Republic Wireless for 1 ½ months, (Daughter #5 has been with them for 4 months) and I highly recommend their company. If you would like to look into what they have to offer, here is my affiliate link. Just link on the image.

Seriously, I will be saving $480 a year using Republic Wireless instead of AT&T.

That’s just enough money to go on a 7-day Caribbean cruise!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

500 Words a Day Challenge

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to write more. To help keep me accountable, I’ve joined a writer’s group that has proposed a challenge of writing 500 words per day until the end of January. So for the rest of the month I will be writing about random things in order to fulfill that challenge. I hope you find them interesting and not too random. (wow! 66 words already…hee, hee)

Okay for the first topic, I have decided to try and express why I write a blog. One reason is because I love my life here on the farm. The Farmer is sometimes uncomfortable with all the attention he gets through my blogging. And he does get highlighted a lot, but it’s because my world revolves around him, and Life With A Farmer is all about, well…living life with a farmer—and he is THAT farmer.

I also wanted to start recording my memories of things that happened in my childhood or in the past (mostly to keep them safe for future generations, because I’ve found my head is not the safest place on the planet for such things). These are a little harder, because I usually have to wait for someone to remind me of something that happened earlier in life.

Poetry is another love of mine. I find myself sing-saying things as I look out the window at the snow or take walks through the woods. Even when I’m outside watching The Farmer work, I sometimes begin to hum a poem. My Mother writes poetry also, so I’m sure I got the love of it from her. But I also contribute my love for rhyming to Dr. Suess and (oh it’s right on the tip of my tongue)…It’s a children’s show about a mannequin that would come to life when the store closed, and there was a talking mouse that talked in rhyme all the thyme J

Politics and religion are something that all bloggers are warned to stay away from because it could kill your blog faster than anything could. Therefore, I don’t usually discuss my political views—it’s not going to make a difference what I think anyway. The government has many problems on all sides—Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and whatever other party there is out there. Okay, I will say this—I think we need a complete overhaul and get back to the Constitution being our guiding factor. I’ll stop there because I feel a whole rant coming on.

However, I do write about my faith. If you have read any of my posts, you will notice that there is a defining factor of my faith in the God of the Bible. I believe in the Trinity, the miraculous birth of Christ, His sinless life, and torturous death on the cross. I believe my sins (and the sins of everyone else) were placed upon Him. I believe Jesus took my place of punishment (because I am a sinner and undeserving of Heaven), and had the power to overcome death and defeat Satan by His miraculous resurrection. And I believe that one day I will stand before God and He will say to me, “Enter into the place which My Son has prepared for you.”  

All this is found in 2 Corinthians 13:14; Luke 1:26-35; Mark 15:1-39; John 3:1-21; John 14

Okay…well there it is—556 words! I would love to hear from all who stop by and visit my blog. Please leave a comment. Also, if you have any ideas on a subject I can write on in January, write it in the comment section below and I’ll try to accommodate. Have a blessed day!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Resolutions for 2014

It’s time again to consider if there is anything in my life that needs to be improved, changed, or even eliminated. Last year I resolved to consider my ways and allow my paths to be directed. So, getting out my list from last year, I see that a lot of the things on that list will be on this year’s list also: lose weight, be more consistent in Bible study and prayer life, be more punctual (just to name a few).

It’s kind of frustrating. This whole set-goals-and-don’t-meet them deal is quite discouraging. I’m not usually a Debbie Downer, but looking at last year’s list put me in the dumps. But as I’m writing this, my Positive Polly side begins

to react.

If I compare myself to last year, there has been some improvement. Not as much as I would like, and I haven’t completed all my goals, but there have been significant changes. In the area of weight loss I started a program (The Fast Metabolism Diet), stuck with it, and found that my metabolism began to change, which caused me to lose weight. I plan to start that again this year. 

In the area of Bible study and prayer, my goals were to get up every morning and read and pray before starting my day. Although most days I have been able to accomplish that, sometimes Bible study gets put off until later in the day or before going to bed; but later is better than never…right?

Timeliness has always been a daunting factor for me. Some people who love me and can get away with such statements (uhhum) have told me that I will be late for my own funeral (not sure that would be my fault), but I have surprised these same loved ones and been on time quite a bit this past year. I think this year I’m going to keep track of the times I’m on time or early for an event, just to keep for evidence (and bragging rights).

Other areas in my life need improving (nobody’s perfect, right?), so I’m going to go back over last year’s list and probably add to it. But this time I’m going in with a prayerful heart and asking the One who knows me best what He would have me change. Too often we can’t see the forest because of the trees, and when we take a good hard look at ourselves we may be looking through rose colored glasses. (wow, I used two clich├ęs in this sentence…too much?).

I’d be interested in your resolutions, too. Do you remember them from last year? Were you able to accomplish them? What are some new ones you are implementing this year? Please let us all know by commenting below.

May 2014 find you safe, happy, and at peace.

“For it pleased the Father that in him [Jesus] should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…” Colossians 1:19-20