Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

"Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they will be called children of God." 
Matthew 5:9

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving, 
considerate, submissive, 
full of mercy and good fruit, 
impartial and sincere. 
Peacemakers who sow in peace 
reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17-18

We have such a long way to go with this! I need the constant reminder!

I've been trying to teach myself chalkboard art, as I wrote about here: Chalkboard Art for Creative Communication. I went to Michael's Crafts this week and found a larger board with fluted edges. In the children's section, I found Crayola chalk in brighter colors than what I'd had before. In the future, I may buy some larger decorative wooden cut-outs and spray them with chalkboard paint. I'll have to practice spraying smaller pieces first. :-)

My youngest daughter sat down and worked on one of my smaller boards that I bought at Walmart around Christmastime. This is what she chose to write and draw.

We certainly need that message, too! 

Trust me on that one, will you?

Virginia Knowles

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Move Forward in Pain and Weakness

Feeling a bit scraggly?

Dear friends,

Welcome back to my Move Forward series! The other posts so far are:
I've talked about moving forward in various situations, but today I'd like to touch on pain and weakness. That describes my life right now. As I mentioned in my last post, I am recovering from an auto accident over three weeks ago. In the middle of my hectic life, this is slowing me down big time! Everything hurts, from the headaches at the top of my head to the shooting pains down to the soles of my feet. It's the worst pain I have felt in my life except for childbirth. Not everything hurts all the time, but something always hurts up and down my spine. And because of that, I'm not sleeping well at all during the night. And because of that, I'm often quite fatigued during the day. And because I can't keep up enough around the house yet, it's easy to get discouraged and even depressed. (Yes, I am getting appropriate medical treatment, and yes, I have a lawyer. I will be so glad when I don't need either anymore.)

I know that so many of you have experienced seasons of pain and weakness, too, whether physical or emotional or both at the same time. (That would be me.)

I also know that when we are facing a stressful season like this, the temptation is to shut down, to become paralyzed and not want to do anything for ourselves or anyone else. To be honest, there are extreme times when we shouldn't be burdened with doing anything but cooperating while others care for us. However, most of us can do something to not only take care of basic daily needs, but also recover through healing and strengthening our bodies and souls.

I'm talking about moving forward through the pain and weakness, and then out of it. That may not be entirely possible, but we should look for progress, even if it is stop-and-go, three-steps-forward-two-steps-back at times.

It means I can rest, ask for help, lower my expectations, and grieve my limitations - but still figure out what I can reasonably do. I don't want to get stuck here. I want to get better.

My chiropractor recommended that I get back to the Y and try using the elliptical machine since it is low impact on the joints. We went on Saturday. I was going really slow and for only a very short time as compared to what I could do before the accident. It was uncomfortable, but I could do it without screaming pain. One of the professional trainers who has worked with me before has offered to rework my Fitlinxx weight circuit routine to accommodate my vastly reduced strength and range of motion. I'm not quite ready for that, but hopefully soon. I'll ease into it with the elliptical machine and walking around the neighborhood a little while longer. (I will NOT walk the dog. She pulls too much for my poor back.)

It's also hard to sit up long enough to home school my youngest daughter or work at my desk or drive around town running errands. But you know what? I have to do it anyway! Somebody needs to work on insurance papers, record expenses, rewrite the kids' chore chart (delegation!), keep school records, teach math, read stories, chauffeur kids, and buy groceries! That would primarily be me! It's a privilege, really. My family is so worth it. I'm glad I can still do what I do, but it takes a lot out of me and I don't get as much done. And then I take naps.

Baby steps! Slow and steady wins the race!

I've been writing this in short bursts. Now I'm hurting again. I need to quit and go lie down.


The end!

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

P.S. #1: You might also like to read about weakness in this post: Power: What Price and Purpose?

P.S. #2: Remember the picture of the scraggly plant at the top of this post? I took it while out slowly walking around the neighborhood on Sunday morning. Withered leaves or not, it's got fruit on it! That's what I hope for as this mom grows up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Move Forward When Life is Hectic

Move Forward When Life is Hectic

Dear friends,

For me, 2015 is the year to MOVE FORWARD, and I've been writing about how to move forward in different ways and circumstances. Today I'd like to share about moving forward when life is hectic. A week ago, I flew home after visiting family in Maryland. I needed to “hit the ground running” but it was challenging to stay productive when I was overwhelmed with everything on my To Do List. In addition, I was in a car accident about two weeks ago, and I'm facing months of recovery for damage to my back. Ouch! That sure slows me down! (Moving Forward in Pain and Weakness.)

This past week, these are some of the things I did:
  • unpack from my trip
  • home school my youngest daughter
  • do daily laundry, dishes, house cleaning, budgeting, and scheduling - though I needed a lot of help since I'm in pain
  • go grocery shopping several times
  • go to the chiropractor and massage therapist twice
  • go for an MRI and a pain management / damage assessment appointment
  • go to one other appointment 
  • take my daughter to a Valentine party at our home school co-op
  • watch my sweet baby grandson for two afternoons - my other kids were there to carry him around
  • shop on-line for birthday presents for three of my children and one of my grandchildren
  • prepare for and host a family dinner (15 people) to celebrate the four birthdays
  • prepare to teach a high school history class
  • prepare for and host a teenager's sleepover birthday party with six guests
  • have several long discussions with family members
  • see two sons off to a weekend youth group retreat
  • go out to brunch
  • lots of errands – hair cuts, bank trips, library, pet store, etc.
  • help my family adjust to our new dog – the first we have ever had!
  • reassign weekly chores
  • do two photo blog posts about my trip
  • prepare for and attend a dinner outreach for homeless folks living at a local motel
  • help my daughter figure out her high school schedule for next year
I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things, too! My goodness! It makes my head spin to even look at it. Yet I somehow managed to get it all done! Maybe not the way I'd like. Maybe with a little grumbling here and there. But we made it through. I say “we” because it wasn't just me. I had help.

Anyway, as I was muddling through all of this midweek, I started thinking about how I could get through in one piece and do a decent enough job. Here are some of my ideas:
  1. Plan for what you need to do, either for a longer general time period (a week) or before an event (what I have to do this afternoon). Make a list and check it twice. If there is a specific time, put it on your schedule or calendar.
  2. Use technology. I set alarms and make reminder lists for myself on my iPod using the Calendar and ToodleDo apps. I use e-mail and Facebook to coordinate event details with other people. I listen to music on my iPod to keep myself motivated. I take pictures with my iPod to jog my memory later. Can you tell I love my iPod? I did some of my birthday shopping on-line, and I can also do some of my banking, renew my library books, find recipes, look up time-saving information, make maps of where I'm going, and so much more on my computer.
  3. Rank the To Do items by priority. What has to get done? What should get done? What could get done if there is still time? I could have written more blog posts this week, but I didn't. They weren't crucial. When we're having a party, I don't attempt to organize the house thoroughly. Usually, I'm throwing stray stuff in bins and stashing it in my bedroom. This gives me extra time for the essentials, like cleaning the bathroom, tidying up the public areas, and preparing food.
  4. Decide if you want to eliminate anything from your To Do list right now, or just leave it open. I had other appointments I could have scheduled, but decided to save them for later.
  5. Decide what you can or should delegate to someone else. If you are in a crunch and no one else knows how to do it already, you may need to just do it yourself, but see if you can at least get someone to come alongside and assist you. Getting ready for parties required a lot of kitchen time, so I had some of my kids help with food prep as I supervised.
  6. Group your items logically. If you are running errands, try to do ones in the same part of town in one trip. If I'm going to the grocery store, I can also take books to the library book drop and go to the dollar store. If I'm really in a hurry and need lots of different things in one place, I go to the Super Walmart and knock it all out.
  7. Fill in the gaps of little moments. I always have my iPod Touch with me, so I can type in lists, check e-mail, read a Kindle book, or something else as I wait for at appointments, stores, stoplights, etc. Or if I am about to go to bed, I might tell myself to put away 20 things first. When I'm making dinner, I unload the dishwasher.
  8. Make sure to take care of yourself. For me, the chiropractor and massage were non-negotiable. I I'm not sure I could have moved without them! I took a few short power naps when I needed them, and spent some other down time to relax. I didn't do so well getting the nighttime sleep I needed, or eating right.
  9. Enjoy as much as you can, especially when you are spending time with others. I find it easy to get snappy when I'm tired, but then I have to remind myself to breathe, smile, and keep a good sense of humor. My kids sometime deflect my grumpiness by pointing out a pretty tree or giving me a hug.
  10. Communicate with others what you are doing. Coordinate your schedules and your expectations. Ask what others need. Share your feelings. Be generous with affirmations. Connect heart to heart with your family members. My kids sometimes need my attention and listening ear for significant chunks of time, sometimes late at night!
  11. Don't make yourself fix a complicated dinner every night if you're having a busy week. Buy some canned soup or pick up a pizza at 7-11. When we had our big family dinner, I didn't make everything from scratch. One of our main dishes was a frozen Stauffer's vegetable lasagna. One of my adult daughters brought over homemade soup one evening since I had been babysitting her little guy.
  12. Take time for simple fun and relaxation to lighten up the load, especially if your kids are feeling lost in the shuffle. Play a game. Watch a TV show with them. Look at a picture album. Give lots of hugs and kisses!
  13. Evaluate how things are going and make necessary adjustments. If you mess up, figure out what you need to do to fix it and get back and track. Don't let yourself wallow in your failures. Keep at it! Perseverance does the trick! It doesn't have to be perfect, and if you're overwhelmed, learn to accept “good enough” for now.

What would you add to that list? 

You might like to read these related posts:

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles