God the Father…of open sourcing?

 I am in love with the concept of open sourcing. Offering ideas, designs, and products for the public good fits well with my personal belief in philanthropy. Even further, the concept of open sourcing involves improvement upon the work of others. In this respect, Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 advocated a type of open sourcing in that he said “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”

The Bible is filled with incidents of generations who reaped the benefits of their parents’ blessings or, in the case of Abraham, an entire people who did. In fact, the centerpiece of Christian faith is belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins. He came to earth, did great works and appointed disciples to continue his work (Matthew 28: 18-20), who then encouraged all believers to continue to build upon their work.

But as humans, we are tied to the fact that there is a beginning and an end…deadlines for our work, seasons to our lives, and limited years to our time on earth. In Acts, Jesus’ followers wanted to know a time-frame for His kingdom on Earth. But Jesus cautioned them to keep their minds on the task at hand. Sharing with others what had been given to them…the gospel message. Jesus understood that the disciples’ lives were just the beginning of centuries of God stretching out His hand with His most perfect gift. It is not for us to put a time-frame on the days leading up to Christ’s coming. It is enough that we open source our lives, our blessings, our talents so that all may be reached and not one should perish. Blessings!

From Stressed to Blessed

I hit a wall on Wednesday. Not a literal wall. My life had just become a rollercoaster careening out of control. I was tired of holding on for dear life and wanted off the crazy ride. Wednesdays tend to be appointment days. Some of my kids require more than the average amounts of appointments and my parents, although relatively healthy, still have medical needs.

Usually once a month, I have a Wednesday appointment marathon. This month, however, every provider, counselor, and caregiver was trying to make up time from taking 2 weeks off around Christmas. So, I was having trouble getting anything done because of appointment-mania.

Wednesday dawned and I tried to psych myself up with words of inspiration. “It’ll be great to get these all out of the way.” “These things have waited long enough.” “You’ll be near medical professionals if you keel over from exhaustion.” I rubbed my French press but no genie popped out to offer my 3 wishes so I resolved to just dive in and start the day.

But alas, fate had other plans. Two of my girls awoke sick. I am fortunate to have my family all around me, so I transferred my girls to the sick ward (at my sister, Susan’s house, where she and one of her daughters were also sick). This effectively dropped the piano lesson from my to-do list and made it unlikely that I’d be able to help with the kids club at church that evening but my day was still full.

And so it was that 4 appointments, 1 meal, and many miles later (having run back and forth to drop my son at school and pick up my parents and drop them off) that I pulled in the driveway just as my son was getting off the bus from school. We high-tailed it out to the store to pick up the requisite sick bay supplies: tissues, popsicles, juice, and Oreos (those were for me, don’t judge), bought Chinese food for dinner, picked up the sick kiddos and finally arrived at home with a plan to throw wood on the fire, food at the kids, and hide in my house until Spring. Unfortunately, I arrived home to a trash explosion, compliments of Trixie, our not-quite-as-cute-as-she-was-yesterday-before-the-trash-incident border collie. Then I got 2 urgent phone calls for things that had to be handled by 9PM that night (because not everyone works in Eastern Standard Time).

She put herself in the corner

She put herself in the corner

By the time I made it to bed, I was barely functioning. I forgot about my son’s homework until right before he was going to bed. I never put away the Chinese food leftovers. I didn’t clean up the house before I went to bed. And I never put wood on the fire. The list of things I neglected was huge.

But, I had also received a huge amount of blessings to be thankful for that day. I’m incredibly thankful that this was not one of my son’s more difficult days. I am thankful that I have an awesome sister who’s always got my back (and would have taken my sick kids even if she and her family were healthy). I feel tremendously blessed that I can live next door to my parents and be there to help them. My heart sings because my kids want the privilege of helping their grandparents or delivering dinner to them.  I’m thankful for the patience and kindness of mental health professionals who are willing to help kids who have had rough starts overcome them. I’m thankful for medical professionals who respect the right of the elderly to retain control over their care and treatment. I’m grateful that we were safe on the roads.

But most of all, I am thankful for a God who keeps me going through all of the craziness and who has provided for me physically and financially so that I can be there to take care of my family’s needs.

The Canvas of my Life

I’m a mom. That means I do things that I don’t like to do because I love my children. Take crafting for instance. I rate it right up there with root canals, plumber’s cracks and reality TV. I wouldn’t be surprised if hell was actually an eternity spent making crafts with egg cartons, pipe cleaners, and glitter. In fact, I just saw an article about a company that mails glitter to your enemies. I am thinking about moving.   Immediately. With no forwarding address.

Actually, when my kids were younger, I suffered silently through the crafts hoping they wouldn’t notice my innate disgust for all things sequined. When they could finally create cool stuff independently and I just had to cheer them on, I’m pretty sure the heavens opened and I heard the angels sing. God knows what we can handle and, as only He can, He has blessed me with a youngest child who likes science experiments more than crafts. When the others are grown and have moved out, our will be a science-experimenting, board-game playing, craft-free existence. Ah, bliss!

In the meantime, my 3 youngest daughters and I took a daylong oil painting class. I went with the intention of muddling through while enjoying their happiness. But, it turns out that I love oil painting more than my craftaholics do! It was like messy color-filled therapy. I was trying to follow the instructions of the teacher but got lost in the pure joy of manipulating the paint on the canvas. I came out of my trance to find the teacher talking to me and my hands covered with paint. Good thing there wasn’t a principal’s office to send me to.

I had so much fun that I promised to buy myself oil painting supplies as a graduation present. With the gift card my son and his family gave me for Christmas, I even splurged and got my dream easel, a full-sized wooden French field easel. After about a million years (really, less than a week), my easel arrived and it was everything I ever dreamed it would be.

And so it came to be that I sat there, my supplies arranged around me, facing a blank canvas, trying to decide what I would like to paint. I knew I wanted to paint a landscape but with God’s glorious creation all around me, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. The decision was exciting but overwhelming. I finally settled on painting a photo I had taken at Mount Pisgah State Park after a sudden rain. I started painting and realized that mixing the colors is an art in and of itself. I’ve begun the painting but am unsatisfied with my color choices.

In progress...

In progress…

The beautiful thing about oil is that you can come back to it later and keep tweaking it until you’ve gotten the result you wanted. It’s the perfect reflection of my own feelings on life. Each year, actually each day, is like a blank canvas. I face it with the hope and expectation of a child on Christmas morning (I am an eternal optimist).

But then I make mistakes or someone splatters yuck in my life. I get upset, usually yell and cry over the phone to my family therapists (read sisters), then shrug it off and come back to the canvas to try again. I can do this because the artist of all creation is still in control of my life.

Knowing God has my back allows me the privilege of splashing the colors on the canvas on my life with reckless abandon knowing that the end result will be something He has made beautiful.

You are cordially invited to my pity party. Feel free to bring your own whine or wine.

I was cleaning out and organizing the files on my hard drive when I found this gem that I wrote a few years ago.  I write to vent since murder is against the law and I don’t look good in orange.

Got up early so I could do some paperwork. Emma decided to get up too. Did miscellaneous housework the elves forgot to do overnight. The kids were practically howling at the moon during breakfast. Got them on the bus without killing them or myself. Took Jeffrey, (yet another stray cat) to the vet. Clawed me and my new purse. Tried to drop said cat off at home but he wouldn’t get out of the car.

Took measurements for the door trim that Danny destroyed. Went to Lowe’s. Spent 2 hours ordering flooring for the kitchen, dining room, and living room, luckily I remembered the trim before I left. Couldn’t pay with my debit card because I had put a cap on it to prevent theft and I don’t have checks on that account. Feverishly ran from bank to bank to transfer money. Realized it was 2PM and I hadn’t eaten yet so I ate in the Walmart parking lot. I know…I’m classy like that. Stopped at Walmart for a few things.

In every aisle, I was behind a person who was leaning on their cart and slowly shuffling down the center of the aisle. After two light years, I grabbed my stuff and got in the checkout lane with the chattiest clerk and customers. Listened to a discussion of the merits of each can of dog food, beans, seasoned diced tomatoes and bagged cat food. Said customer also left the line during check out to “grab a few other things.”

I.hate.Walmart. Literally ran to my car. It was not a pretty sight. Ran into Aldi to get a few more boxes because 4 large boxes weren’t enough to hold the books I culled from my overburdened bookshelf. Felt like a thief because I took the empty boxes without buying anything. Really??? That Catholic upbringing still has me feeling guilty for everything?

Mailed package at Post Office. Flew home to get the kids. Unloaded the car and started dinner. Started having pity party because my kids need so much help with each part of their homework. Became drill sergeant extraordinaire since unoccupied kids decided to be mini hurricanes throughout the house. More homework. Took dinner to my parents. Had to listen to the details of the socks my dad wanted me to order him…read word for word from the cardboard insert that I was taking home with me.

Was feeling very crabby because I had hoped to finally sit down with my kids for a dinner together now that basketball season is finally over. Finally had to cut my dad short while feeling like the worst.daughter.ever. Moving into full fledged pity party. Had family dinner with hormonal preteens. Oh. joy. Next thing on the bucket list…a lobotomy. Finished homework finally. Kept having to send kids back to really do the clean up. All the while, I fielded calls and texts from half of my family members and everyone that I called earlier in the week while playing referee between my kids.

Joyous occasion culminated in Day 10 of friendship bread with 3 witchy preteens assisting. Had major freak-out over bad attitudes, bossiness and my exhaustion. Let’s hear it for friendship bread building the ties that bind. Heard stupid song “Everything is awesome” Refrained from punching the wall. Threw a spoon in the sink instead. Put friendship bread in oven and sent everyone to bed…

I should have gone to work today instead.