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I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why It's Ok to be a Terrible Runner

Jordan Fortenboher is an amazing woman as you will see from her guest post below. She has an awesome blog where you'll be able to check out the post I wrote for it today about my experience making pottery. I appreciate what Jordan has to say about finding God in everyday experiences. As someone who used to hate running (& still avoids it most of the time), I enjoyed her honesty here. I hope you do, too!

Megan
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A few weeks ago, as much as I hate running, I decided to push myself to go for a quick run at a nearby park.  Dusk was approaching and I forgot my headphones.  It certainly felt eerie hearing only leaves rustling in the heat of July.

Let me be clear--I am not much of a runner.  But lately, I have been trying to discipline myself and exercise--plus I have been striving to do so in many areas of my life.

And this striving brings worry.  What if I'm not good enough to run well to the end?  What if people running by think I am weak for only running in short bursts?

And this was not the best day to run.  The heat of the scorching day lagged steamy between the tree leaves.  Each and every air molecule seemed to be bursting with humidity, like a thick mist suspended and still, only cut by the warm skin of those daring enough to journey through it.

I was really trying to run well, but I felt held back.  Hot air sticking in my burning lungs, leg muscles aching, I stopped.  I looked up and around me.  I was alone on this difficult path.

A gentle voice welled up inside of me:  "Be free."

How?  I thought.  I am not a runner.  I am chained down by imperfection and not-enough-ness and...there it was again.  That voice:

"Be free, like the trees who let their leaves dance in the breeze, singing their rustling song to Me.  Be free, child.  Breathe with intention instead of fear."

I closed my eyes and listened to the trees around me, leaves rustling without a care.  My lungs burned but I let go of a sliver of fear each time I breathed out.  And I desperately sucked in God's strength in its place.

The journey of seeking God is not easy.  Sometimes we run freely, other times we have to slow our pace to a walk.  And sometimes we face-plant.  But the command of the LORD is still the same:  "Do not fear; I am with you." (Isaiah 41:10, paraphrased).

"Live with intention and freedom in ME instead of fear" was the message from the Holy Spirit that day.

Suddenly I felt convicted, not about my running, but about my whole life.  All this striving I was doing was taking my mind away from trusting in God.  It was directing my thoughts toward fear.

My heart can get so clenched up in anxiety that I don't even notice until I'm practically falling over on a running trail!  The muscles of faith in my spirit were just as tired as my lungs.  I was only working up worry in all of my effort.

I stood still, breathing in and out, remembering this verse:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  (2 Corinthians 3:17, ESV)
FREEDOM.  Not panic.  Not perfectionism.  Not chains of worry.  Not slavery to fear.  But freedom in Christ.

And maybe, just maybe, as we let go of our fear and lean in to the strength of Christ, we can start to lean in to the flow of the story He is writing for us.  Maybe, as He orchestrates the symphony of our lives, we can loosen up a little and be free like the dancing leaves of the trees.

Whether life brings a strong wind or a gentle breeze, maybe our lives could be released from our tight, fearful grip and lifted up in a song of praise to God.  Every trip, every stumble, every victory...maybe it's all a song to Him.  Maybe it's all about putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, in obedience.

Maybe being brave is all about shaking off the chains of fear and walking freely in trust.



Jordan Fortenboher is a writer, worship leader, and wife.  She lives in the Cincinnati area where she blogs about faith and bravery.  You can read more on her blog, http://jordanforty.me, and connect with her on twitter (@jordanforty) or her facebook page.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Michigan



I found these fun facts about Michigan here:

  • The name Michigan is derived from the Indian words "Michi-gama" meaning large lake. 

  • Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes.

  • Anywhere in Michigan, you are within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes.

These were found here:

  • Colon is home to the world's largest manufacture of magic supplies.  

  • Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and became the 38th president of the United States He attended the University of Michigan where he was a football star. He served on a World War II aircraft carrier and afterward represented Michigan in Congress for 24 years. He was also was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. 

  • The Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car in 1939. 

  • The Kellogg Company has made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital of the World. The Kellogg brothers accidentally discovered the process for producing flaked cereal products and sparked the beginning of the dry cereal industry.



 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Was Homeschooled But My Child Is Not

 I'd like to introduce you to my new friend, Mindy, who has so kindly allowed me to share this post and also to do a guest post for her blog. Check out what I had to say on her health & wellness blog, and enjoy her story here.
Hi everyone!  I am a recently thirty-year-old person, and I also happen to be a wife and a mother. I'm a day-jobber with a freelance writing addiction.  I like moderate exercise resulting in a maximum of moderate amounts of sweat, the color purple, discussing science with my six-year-old daughter, and food.  If you want to read more about me, or read more of my posts, come visit me at www.mindyminix.wordpress.com
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Thank you, Megan, for blog swapping with me!  You are an amazing lady, and this has been a wonderful experience!
I was an odd child, or, at least that is how I felt growing up.  My mother homeschooled me and my two brothers.  Homeschooling has grown in popularity since I was a kid.  I dare say it is almost cool to homeschool your children these days.  When I was a child, though, the only other homeschoolers I encountered were generally odd, to say the least.  Because every homeschooler I met was odd, I just assumed that meant I was odd, too.
When people find out I was homeschooled most of my childhood, they usually have questions.  It is so hard to produce succinct answers, though.  I will try to sum up my homeschool experience here.
I look back on things, and I try to keep in mind that I am looking through the eyes of a child.  I wasn't an adult experiencing this, or even (initially, anyway) an older child.  My first memory of learning something significant was when my parents taught me to tie my shoes.  It was a joint effort, both mom and dad encouraging and working with me.  I remember learning to write my name, and then learning to write my middle and last name as well.  I don't remember these events taking much cajoling or significant effort on my parents' parts.  I wish I could say it all stayed that way.
In my experience, there are definitely some families that make homeschooling look easy.  There are other families that obviously have difficulties, but they stick to a schedule and they push through together.  From where I sit right now, it seemed messy, chaotic, and unorganized compared to those families.
Mom let us sleep until we woke up, and then she fed us when we said we were hungry.  Sometimes that meant she cooked three separate times just for breakfast.  If I could knock out an entire day's worth of workbook material in less than two hours and get each answer correct, I was done.  If I insisted I wanted to play outside first before completing any of my work, that was okay, too.
Some days if the weather was beautiful, we would go to the park for a few hours and play and hike and picnic.  When we finally started looking bored, she would bring out some random curriculum.  One of us would sit at a picnic table and work with mom while the other two kids played.  We took turns as she taught us.  I don't remember ever going over every subject in a single day.  We usually focused on just one subject matter each day. I always had a spelling test on Tuesdays, though.
Something I have said that usually makes people laugh is that I didn't learn to read until I was at least seven-years-old.  Sadly, I'm not kidding.  My mother tried teaching me to read at age three, four, five, and six, and she tried many different approaches. But the problem was me!  I wasn't interested.  I was a stubborn, headstrong, self-absorbed brat, and she was NOT going to make me learn.  I look back on this and shake my head at the child I was all those years ago.  I didn't learn to read until my best friend was reading every book, sentence, and word we came in contact with everywhere we went!  How ridiculous of me!  How did my mother not strangle me?  Let's just say, Hooked On Phonics worked for me.
My brother has dyslexia.  We didn't know he had dyslexia until he was almost an adult.  He was a slow reader, but he was good at everything else he did.  I remember within a year of learning to read, I passed him up in reading.  I was reading stories much longer and more complex, and in a fraction of the time.  He was three years older than me, too.  My mother didn't hold me back from reading three to four grade levels higher than I should have been, and she also didn't stop my brother from learning high-school level math at age twelve.  Eventually, I helped my brother with reading, and he helped me with math.
I get asked a lot would I homeschool my child.  My answer every time without hesitation is a resounding no.  I used to resent that I was homeschooled, that I had a different story than most people.  I hated that I didn't have yearbooks, or school pictures, or friends except for those I met in church.  Those are all the reasons I would have given for not homeschooling before my daughter became old enough for school.  Now, as a parent that is finally understanding where my mother was coming from, the answer is still no, but for different reasons.
I look back at what looks like chaos and I see an overwhelming pattern emerge. My mother was loving, patient, and she didn't take any crap. She taught us everything, including common sense. The most important part, the overwhelming pattern, is that she was there.
I graduated high school from a real school. It was small, but it wasn't school at home and it wasn't GED class. I graduated top of my class. I also have the best little girl in the world that is kind and loving and smart. I learned from my mother how important it is to be there for your children.
I wouldn't homeschool my child, though. It just isn't for me. It just isn't for my child, either. I would readily support any homeschooling family, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative lifestyle. It gave me so much more time with my family.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Decide if You Should be a Nanny: 9 Simple Questions

"Were you born before or after World War II?" 

That's what "my" 9 year old girl asked me one night before bed. 

I've been a full-time nanny of four (ages 6, 9, 12, 16) since January of this year. 

And I'm realizing there's an endless supply of hilarious things they say. 

If you've ever considered being a nanny (or know someone who has), then I hope this post will help in the decision of whether or not it's something to really pursue:


1. Are you okay with working 2nd shift? There have been weeks where I didn't see my mom even though I live with her because she was asleep when I got home and gone to work when I woke up. It's definitely something to keep in mind when considering being a nanny. Many children are in school, so you'll probably be on a different schedule than the 9 to 5 crowd. For me at least, the hours are fairly flexible. I can go in early to buy groceries, prep a meal, clean rooms, do laundry and dishes, or I can just be there in time to pick them up from school or get them off the bus. Then I can finish things up after they've gone to bed. Some days I'll go in at 10am then others at 4pm.


2. Do you not mind being made to feel old? Besides the WWII question, these kids can make me feel old. Last night I told the boy that I was his age twenty. years. ago. They've also never heard of things that were a big part of my childhood. Speaking of my childhood...


3. Do you want to feel guilty for your behavior as a child? I thought I was the easiest kid to raise ever. I never broke a bone, never did drugs, always made good grades. Yeah, that's great, but kids are still a lot of work and responsibility. It takes brainpower to teach a kid to be respectful while also making sure they do their homework that gives them "a headache," eat their supper that's "disgusting," and go to sleep because it's an hour passed their bedtime. I'm sorry, Mama.


4. Do you love adventure? Every week, if not every day, is an adventure. Sometimes it's a walk to the pond to throw rocks, or a visit to their school book fair, or a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, or almost an entire day in the Apple store because someone dropped her phone. Every day is different enough to be fun, but enough stays the same (like the kids' names and where their house is) so that it doesn't feel like it's my first day again. Not that my first day was bad; I just didn't know where anything in their house was or what their routines were.
Another unexpected adventure was making an adorable Dorothy outfit for her "dress up as a book character" day at school.


5. Do you like the idea of getting paid to read and be read to? My boss' secretary told me that the only thing he's said to her about me is, "She stays a little later than other nannies, but she reads to my kids and I like that." I was just doing what they asked me to, although I do read more than one book a night. Reading is important to most parents (& teachers), so it's a huge plus if you enjoy it!


6. Do you genuinely care about people you just met? The mom told me with tears in her eyes that it's so hard to find someone like me who really cares about their children. I didn't feel like I had done anything special; it's just natural for me to care about people. That will make your job so much easier. If you don't care about people, don't waste your time or theirs. I've had a job where they told me maybe I care too much about the kids, so there are jobs where you don't have to care so much. Being a nanny is not one of them.



7. Do you love to laugh? The 6 year old went outside in his PJs to get his dad from the barn. So when he got back, I asked him to put his shoes away. I went upstairs searching for crayons for their upcoming vacation. He finds me in the laundry room later and says, "Megan, I have something funny to tell you. I just walked all around the house looking for my shoes! Then I realized they were on my feet the whole time." It's a good lesson to learn now, buddy. I'm glad he was such a good sport about it. And I love that he wanted to tell me; otherwise I wouldn't have had that great laugh. They do and say things daily to make me laugh. Every single one of them has cracked me up! Not only is is good for you if you like laughing, but it helps them be in a better mood and see you as more approachable.


8. Are you ready to be able to relate to nine-tenths of the things moms say? "I miss my kids already, and I just left them. And I'll see them again in 2 days." I never thought I'd say that about my own kids much less anyone else's. I've also caught myself thinking, "I'm excited to fold laundry because I get to sit down." I read a post of things about being a mom, and one of them said, "You run toward vomit instead of away from it." I had just done that the week before. Cleaned it up & also did the whole "hold her hair back while she's bent over the trashcan" thing. This was so unexpected for me.


9. Can you handle being treated like family? This includes being ignored, locked out of the house, and complained to. The day after I wrote the first draft of this post, one kid said, "I'm glad you're not going to the beach with us," because I had to make her clean her room before they left. Being a nanny can be hard on your emotions. You have to be able to let stuff go and remember you are awesome even when the kids don't think you are. But being treated like family also includes being invited to lunch at school, having inside jokes, getting an unexpected hug, and being given a valentine card with a note from each one! They'll break your heart, but they'll also melt it.


If you answered yes to most of these questions, I highly recommend signing up on Care.com which is where I found this job as well as other part-time babysitting jobs. There are lots of opportunities according to zipcode, & it's easy to use. Oh, and it's free! I'm happy to answer any questions you have about it or about being a nanny in general.


If you've been a nanny, what questions would you add to this list?