Tampon, Locked Bathroom, Bloody Nose, Cheetos…

{Update: I wrote this LAST week, but this week’s One Word is RIDICULOUS. Which is completely fitting for this post, so I’m using it}

This is supposed to be the One Word Blog Challenge day, but I have a story I need to share. This happened earlier today, all in just 45 RIDICULOUS minutes.

What do a Tampon, a Locked Bathroom, a Bloody Nose, and a Cheeto all have in common? They all helped to make 45 minutes of my life just a little more exciting. The Eubanks: Unplugged: S1:E11

S(9)’s dance class started at 7pm. That’s normally the boys’ bedtime, but since hubby wasn’t home and oldest sister was at work, I had to take all 4 of the littles with me. J(8) had homework to do, so she sat at a table and worked while the boys played. After a few minutes I glanced over at J(5) and saw something blue in his hand with a string hanging from it. It looked like a tampon, but I thought no way, it couldn’t be. I said “what do you have?” He said “A toy.” I said “give it to me.” He did. It was a tampon APPLICATOR. No tampon inside. I pray to God Almighty that it wasn’t used, it just somehow came out of its wrapper and lost its cotton. Probably some other little boy got into his mom’s stash. That’s what I’m going with. I don’t even know where he got it. He probably picked it up in the parking lot. I looked around and there was no trash in sight, so I tossed it on a nearby table. Yep, I did. Sorry, I couldn’t deal.

Another few minutes later J(8) finished her homework. There is a park nearby, and the kids wanted to go play for a bit. First we made a potty stop. The three of them all went to the bathroom, and T(5), the last to go, somehow managed to lock the bathroom door on his way out. It was a onesie, and as far as I know the only bathroom in the building. So now, thanks to my kid, nobody else can use the bathroom. Awesome.

So we went to the park. It was a nice 5-minute walk. A few minutes after arriving, J(5) started crying. I couldn’t see him on the play structure, so I walked around until I found him. He was laying on the platform babbling incoherently, his nose bleeding. I got out of him that some boy knocked him down as he ran past. His nose bleeds fairly easily, but later I noticed he had the start of a fat lip, so he must have gotten knocked pretty hard. We’re at the park, 5 minutes away from my car, and I had no napkins or tissues or anything useful. But it wasn’t bleeding too heavily, and he wanted to keep playing. Right about that time the other boy and his family were leaving. How convenient.

About 3 minutes later, J(8) said she saw T(5) put something in his mouth. Well I have to say it’s not unusual for him to put random nasty things in his mouth. I told him to spit it out about 5 times before he spit out a tiny bit of something brown-ish. Then he opened his mouth and I saw a lot more of it in there. I tried to get him to spit as much of it out as I could, and asked him what it was. He sheepishly pointed to a stray Cheeto lying on the ground. Now, besides the fact that it’s just disgusting to pick up random food from the ground at the playground and put it in your mouth, this particular boy isn’t allowed to have much of anything processed, sweetened, or made from wheat. It makes him a million times harder to deal with. So not only was it gross, but it was also processed wheat, which probably means he’ll be heaps of fun tomorrow.

That was it for me, I’d had it. I said, “We’re done,” and got up and started walking towards the car. The kids all followed. And as we were walking, J(5)’s nose blood smeared on his face, hands and arms, I started thinking about how we don’t have any tissues in the car, and the bathroom door is locked, and how I could really use a tampon right about now (for the bloody nose).

Tuesday Ten: 10 Random Facts

Yes, it’s Wednesday. I wrote my Tuesday Ten list yesterday, but didn’t finish it. Now it’s finished, but I’m late. But I’m posting anyway.

Tuesday Ten Graphic

Tuesday Ten is hosted by Lisa at The Golden Spoons and Rabia at The Liebers.

This week’s list is Ten Random Facts About Me. Here it is:

10 random facts about me:

  1. I love canoeing. I haven’t been able to since having kids, but it used to be my all-time favorite outdoor activity, followed closely by hiking and camping.
  2. I can’t stand when people use my bath towel. For one thing, I hate when it’s wet when I go to use it. But mostly it’s because it feels the same to me as someone using my toothbrush.
  3. I live by the WWCD motto: What Would Caroline (Ingalls) Do? (not with everything, but in tough situations).
  4. I have 2 younger brothers. They’re both super awesome and talented, and I miss them.
  5. I always wanted to have at least 8 kids, mostly boys. Until I had 5, and the last 2 were boys.
  6. Working at summer camp through high school and college had the biggest impact on me of anything in my life besides my immediate family.
  7. I love reading the Classics to my kids at bedtime. We’ve been reading the Anne of Green Gables series for a couple years. It’s a lot of books.
  8. When we retire, my husband and I want to buy an RV and travel the country.
  9. I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I really hate to do it, but I love how I feel afterwards. Unless it’s canoeing or hiking J
  10. I have a fairly black thumb. My husband is the one who is really good with plants. I LOVE plants of all kinds, but I need the kind that do a good job of taking care of themselves.

What’s a random fact about you? I’d love to learn something new.

Sunday Reflections: Oh, How He Loves Us

Today is Easter, the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. I’ve never been a big celebrator of “holy week” or Good Friday. I’m not opposed to it, I just haven’t done it. But there is a lot on the internet, and I’ve read a few things this week and I’ve been reflecting. This article in particular hit me pretty hard, as well as this one and this one. 

Today in church we were singing the song “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder. It’s a popular song in Christian/worship music. It’s one of my favorites. I feel it deep in my soul every time we sing it. In fact, I heard it on Pandora yesterday, and I hoped we would sing it in church today. I thought it seemed fitting for Easter.

Sometimes when I’m singing in church, especially when I’m on stage, the songs bring images to my mind. Sometimes I feel like sharing what I see. I’m not sure if it’s only for me, or maybe for others too. Today’s vision was fairly simple, and maybe it won’t be a big deal to anybody else. This song had me thinking about the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. All four gospels tell a similar story, but there are enough variables in each of the stories that it makes you wonder if it’s actually several different accounts, or if the writers got some of the details mixed up. Anyway, it doesn’t matter much. There was a woman. She was a “sinner,” in one account. We’re all sinners though, aren’t we? In other accounts she was a close friend of Jesus. In one story she pours expensive oil on Jesus’ head. In others the oil is poured on his feet. She cries, her tears fall on Jesus’ feet, and she wipes them off with her hair. It’s a strange story, one I can’t quite grasp. The people around her are upset that she is “wasting” expensive perfume. They say it could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Not a bad idea. I can see myself in that thought process. But Jesus rebukes them, saying the woman had done a beautiful thing for him. Nobody really could understand why she did it. But Jesus did. He saw it as an act of worship from her heart to his.

This morning in my vision, as I sang the words,

Yeah, He loves us,

Oh how he loves us,

Oh how he loves us,

Oh how he loves.

and

Oh….

How he loves us so,

Oh, how he loves us

How he loves us so

I was the woman. And Jesus was gazing tenderly into my eyes, into my soul, telling me how much he loves me. My sins don’t matter. The judgments of others don’t matter. The cost, the objects, the perfumes, the tears, none of it matters. The only thing that matters is that Jesus loves me.

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A Eulogy

I friend of mine passed away two weeks ago. She attended my church off and on over the past few years, and though nobody knew her extremely well, as she was quite introverted, I wanted to honor her life and her participation in our church body by saying a few words at the end of yesterday’s service. 

I met Sara sometime around 1987. My family started attending the church that her family went to in Minnesota. I was in 4th grade, she was in 6th. Over the years my parents became very close friends with her parents. They were even in a small Bible study group together for several years. Sara was the oldest of 4 sisters. Two of her sisters are the same age as my two younger brothers. They were also close friends growing up. Even though Sara and I were in youth group together, our families were close, and we attended the same junior high and high school, we were not all that close. She was two years older than me, and at that age, two years matters a lot more than it does now. We were not close, but we were more than mere acquaintances. I would definitely say that we were friends. I liked her.

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1992 youth backpacking trip in Northern MN. A few of us got up early to watch the sunrise. Sara is the blonde on the left, standing in front of me.

She graduated from high school in 1994, and we lost track of each other. In those days there was no social media and the internet was relatively new. Fast forward about 15 years. I graduated, went to college, moved to Indiana, got married, started a family.

By the fall of 2009 Facebook had burst on the scene, and I had reconnected with many of my friends from high school, including Sara. We were all experiencing the aftermath of the housing crash, and the “Great Recession” was well underway. As many of us were, Sara was unemployed. She was also recently divorced, and living in Virginia. Her lease was running out, and she posted on Facebook that she was going to need a place to stay.

At the time we owned a duplex. We lived in the larger half and rented out the smaller apartment, but it had been empty for about a year. I half-jokingly responded to her plea for housing, saying, “I have an apartment available, but you’d have to move to Indiana.” *Ha-ha*. Little did I expect her to take me up on it. It turns out she had another friend in Elkhart, who coincidentally was also a friend of ours. The timing seemed to be perfect for all of us. We agreed to let her stay there for free for a few months. Give her some time to find a job and get settled, as long as she could pay the utilities.

She lived in our house for four and a half years, right up until we moved out last June. I saw her almost every day, coming and going to work, when she was working. My kids adored her. She would occasionally babysit them. Whenever they saw her outside they would run out, yelling “HI SARA!” They would talk her ear off with the kinds of silly stories children tell. I was embarrassed at how often she probably heard me lose my temper and scream at my kids, through the thin walls. She probably knew me better than I realized.

Sara was a true artist and a talented musician. You may remember that she played the piano and the bass guitar on our worship team from time to time. Her illnesses prevented her from being able to participate more, but her mother told me that she really appreciated the times she got to be part of it. I remember her, as a teenager, playing Great Balls of Fire on the piano. Her mom says she learned to play it by ear. She had a very eclectic style, as many artists do. She had a gorgeous collection of pottery, unique art, trinkets from friends and souvenirs from her travels.

She was the kind of person who held others at arm’s length. There were very few people she truly let in and get to know her closely. She was a quiet tenant, didn’t party or have a lot of company. She never complained. We had her over for dinner sometimes, and on rare occasions she and I would talk outside on the porch, but most of the time she kept to herself.

Sara had a lot of struggles, both internal and external. She wasn’t the type to ask for help, or to go seeking charity or government assistance. She wanted to appear strong, and I think she wanted to BE strong. She WAS strong, for a long time.

Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Sara had the kind of trouble that many, perhaps most of us will probably never be able to comprehend. And now, those of us who knew her and cared about her are facing trouble as well.

Jesus also said, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Sara is now experiencing ultimate rest for her soul, in Jesus. While we wait out our days here on earth, though we have many troubles, Jesus implores us to take heart, and he invites us to come to him and find rest.

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A more recent photo of Sara, circa 2014. She loved her cats.

#OneWord Blog Challenge: Wonderful (and Confused)

This week’s One Word Blog Challenge words were Wonderful and Confused. When I sat down to write, both of them made their way into my story.

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In just a few short months, my last child will be going to Kindergarten. I have conflicting emotions about it. Mostly I’m ecstatic. My two boys (the youngest) were… can we just say… a handful during the toddler years. You know how toddlers are – getting into things ten times faster than you can keep up with them and their shenanigans. Emptying shampoo bottles and tubes of toothpaste, eating the dog’s food, finding a scissors that you were sure was hidden away and cutting up important papers, coloring in permanent marker on walls. It’s relatively easy (though still exhausting) to keep the house toddler proofed when your oldest child is the toddler. But when it’s the youngest of five children, it’s one hundred percent impossible. The older children are kids themselves, and though they have a much better sense of boundaries and knowing not to smear Vaseline all over the living room, they do NOT very well know that they should not leave their backpacks, uneaten food, precious toys, craft supplies, and other valuables laying around where toddler hands can reach them. My dad used to say the house “Looks like a hurricane hit!” I thought he was being hyperbolic, but now I know he wasn’t. Being surrounded by children who make one mess after another, all day, at the speed of light, I felt like I was in the middle of a hurricane. It is insane. It is completely exhausting. It is even defeating. When you’ve been cleaning up messes all day, and the house is still a complete disaster, you wonder why you bother.

This, my friends, is why Kindergarten is wonderful. Preschool is actually kind of wonderful too. The crazy toddler years are behind us, and I’m thankful. Looking back now those memories are full of funny stories. But they weren’t so funny in the moment. This year, with my youngest in preschool, I have about 10 hours a week of kid-free time, which is WONDERFUL. But I still find that my days are full, even with most of the kids at school. Starting in August I will have FORTY HOURS a week of kid-free time. That is a HUGE difference. And it’s strange that though I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, now that it is approaching I’m feeling confused about it.

I’ve heard of moms at this stage of life going through a kind of identity crisis. I’ve been out of the “work force” for a full decade. I’ve tried to stay connected to some hobbies, to give myself a sense of being an individual – my own person – something other than mom, housekeeper, chef, chauffeur. I find myself feeling a little like I felt at the end of high school, wondering “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” What are my interests, my skills? Of course, I still have a family to raise. My neighbor next door has two teenagers and one grown and gone. She went back to work full-time when her kids started school, and she advised me not to do that. She said that if she could, she would rather be home, to be there for her kids as they go through the school and teen years. I do feel that if I had the school day to do the “stuff” – the grocery shopping, house cleaning, food making, bill paying – then I would have the time and energy to attend to my kids’ needs in the evenings and on weekends. It would be very difficult to work full time AND do all the stuff, AND take care of the kids. Part time work seems like it might be a good compromise. But where? What? Who hires almost-40 year old moms? Am I really almost 40? Now I’m having another crisis.

I’m not complaining. I’m thankful that I even have choices. Single parents usually have no choice but to work full time AND take care of the kids and all the stuff. Many families need two incomes just to make ends meet. Though to be fair, my circumstances are unique too – My husband works unconventional hours, so I’m often alone with FIVE kids (though my oldest is starting college next year, I think she’s planning on staying at home), trying to juggle homework, chores, making dinner, sports and activities, bedtimes, friends, etc.

I’m in a transition place. Trying to decide on the next step. I might just take the first week and binge watch a bunch of Netflix.

This post is part of the One Word Blog Challenge hosted by:

Lisa of The Golden Spoons

Janine of Confessions of a Mommyholic

Marcia of Blogitudes

1 Word Linkup

#OneWord Blog Challenge: Morning

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I couldn’t think of much to say about mornings because I hate them, and that’s all. The truth is, I don’t feel like a very good person in the mornings. It’s a stressful time on school days, and I’m not ready to handle it. Therefore, I am often cranky with my kids in the mornings. So I thought maybe I would share one of my favorite morning photos, one I took in Yellowstone in 2010. And I thought of this Bible verse that tells us that God’s compassion (some translations say “mercy”) is new every morning, which is such a relief. So many days – today for example – the stress and chaos of parenting pushes me to the edges of my sanity. But the good news is, no matter how rough today was, or yesterday, or tomorrow… no matter how many days we mess up and act in ways we know aren’t the best, God’s mercy and compassion is renewed EVERY MORNING. Each morning is a new day, a fresh start. Now if I can just get through the first hour without screwing it up royally. I should hang this photo in my kitchen as a reminder.

This has been part of the One Word Blog Challenge hosted by:

Lisa of The Golden Spoons

Marcia of Blogitudes

Janine of Confessions of a Mommyholic

1 Word Linkup

Fear, Karma, Jesus, and Love

There is no fear in love.

There is no fear in love.

This is the rambling musings of what’s on my mind today. Sorry if it doesn’t make complete sense. There are a couple trails I felt I could go down, but I’m trying to stick mostly to the point. When several things happen within a short period of time that are unrelated but related, it’s usually a good idea for me to open my eyes, ears, and heart to what God is trying to show me.

After church today a man in our congregation who is known for his prophetic visions told me that he saw two angels standing guard over me during the service. They had swords, and they were whispering into my ears. He said that sometimes the sword was pointing down, and sometimes the sword was pointing up. He didn’t know what that meant. But I’m asking God to reveal to me if it meant anything at all. Sounds a little weird, huh? Well, I don’t know. You can say it’s hokey, but I tend to believe him. Here’s why:

During the sermon my mind kept being pulled in two directions that were sort of related, and I was trying to sort out how. On the one hand, I was trying to listen and process the sermon being given at the moment. It was about the difference between Karma and Jesus.

At the same time, I kept thinking about a sermon I heard online 2 days ago. It was about the difference between God’s wrath (or what we tend to view as such) and Jesus’ love. That sermon was by the pastor at my parents’ church, the church I grew up in.

Karma is basically the idea that if bad things happen to you it’s because you’ve done bad things either in this life or previous lives. And if good things happen to you it’s because you’ve done good things either in this life or previous lives. But either way, the judgment has already been made. And since we can’t remember our previous lives, we never really know for sure if we’ve done enough good to outweigh all the bad we might have ever done. We constantly live in a state of FEAR or anxiety over whether we’ve done enough good to secure ourselves in the next life.

This sounds a bit like the idea of God’s judgment and punishment. If we don’t do what God wants us to do in this life, we will be punished with eternal damnation in the afterlife. But if we DO follow God’s will for our lives, then we will be rewarded with eternal paradise in the afterlife. This doctrine is well accepted in Christianity, but it holds an element of fear. We don’t do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do, we do it because we are afraid of going to hell, or of being punished. Whatever “it” is – some believe that asking Jesus into your heart is “it,” and it’s as simple as that. Some believe that being a generally good person is “it” – as long as you do more good deeds than bad, you’re ok. In psychology, doing good out of fear of punishment is an immature level of morality. But I can honestly say that I have spent much of my life in that place, and also in fear of other people thinking I’m a “bad” person.

When I was a teenager I saw a skit numerous times. There were 4 teenagers in a car, cruising along, having a great time as teenagers do. Suddenly out of nowhere, they are in an accident and all four of them die. Only one of them was “saved,” and so the rest were going to hell. The 3 condemned to eternal damnation were crying out, “why didn’t you tell me!?” And the one on his way to heaven was a tortured soul as he had no choice but to watch his friends walk away into hell, never to be seen again. I understand the point of the skit: if I don’t tell all my loved ones about Jesus, they will all go to hell for eternity, and it will be ALL MY FAULT, while I spend forever frolicking in eternal paradise. But the main take away was FEAR and GUILT.

Many of us have heard the “End Times” prophesies out of the book of Revelation. At the end of the world, God is going to come down and wreak havoc on the earth and punish all the wicked and evil people who have chosen not to follow him. If we’re lucky, we good guys will be outta here by that time, but that depends on whether you believe in a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture (if you don’t know what that means, look it up, but only if you want to go down a major rabbit trail). If we are still here, we better head for the hills and hide in caves because God’s destruction will be severe. Again: FEAR.

But 1 John 4:18, written by a man who was perhaps Jesus’ best friend on earth, says this:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

There is NO FEAR in love. FEAR has to do with PUNISHMENT. Jesus is all about LOVE, which has nothing to do with FEAR. We (I?) need to rise to a higher level of morality than being afraid of God’s judgment, wrath, and eternal damnation. God IS Love.

Karma says that whatever happens in our lives is either punishment or reward for past deeds. But Jesus didn’t operate that way. He loved and honored the poor and the sinners. He broke bread with prostitutes and tax collectors. His closest followers were fishermen – blue collar laborers. He instructed his followers not to give the rich places of honor in the temple, but to treat all people as equals no matter their social status. Jesus said that we are ALL sinners who have done bad things.

In my mind I keep coming back around to the idea that if we follow Jesus, he will reward us with good things in life – not necessarily material possessions or comfort, but deeper things like peace, joy, and fulfillment of the soul. But that would mean that if we are lacking any or all of those things, it’s because we’re not really following Jesus or we don’t have enough faith – back to the karma thing again.

What is the opposite of fear? Faith? Trust? Love?

I think the angels are still whispering to my heart on this one. I can’t quite wrap up my thoughts, but I think it’s something like, God is not someone who hands out rewards and punishments based on our behavior. Rather, he is a loving Father who we follow because we trust and rest in the security of his love.

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