Just call us the Fieldings

The guy to fix the sink arrived while my husband was on the phone with a refrigerator repair company, while I was brushing my teeth and noticing a little pool of water forming behind one of the bathroom faucets.

And then the sink fixing guy said he can’t fix the kitchen sink.

Have you ever seen the movie The Money Pit where the Fieldings buy a beautiful old house that starts to fall apart around them as soon as the purchase is final?

I’m currently living in a scaled down version of this movie.

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A little psycobabble to start off the weekend

Friendship hurts.

I’ve learned this in the last two years, these last two years where I’ve stepped outside my little comfort bubble and really been myself with all my quirkiness in the real world for the first time in a very long time, maybe ever.

There is no delete button in the real world.

I’ve hurt people, been shown forgiveness; been hurt, shown forgiveness.

I’ve stayed angry for too long.
And I’ve felt what it’s like to not be forgiven.

And it’s almost enough to make me shy away from meeting new people here.

I’m a closed off person.  Without trying to sound too psycobabbly, I think it stems from being bullied as a child.  I know every public school kid is bullied, but when it makes some people stronger, other’s get weaker, and some just hide.

I am a hider.

One of the best friends I’ve ever had only became a good friend after she pressured me in the sweetest way to join a woman’s book study group she was hosting.  I was fully prepared to say no, and did say no at first, but she is a true seeker and she found me. 

And that’s how it goes.  All my best woman friends have had to seek me out. 

We’re trying a new church tomorrow.  This is always the hardest part of moving to a new place for me. 
Finding a new community.  Fitting in.  Knowing our unusual family will not just be noticed, but will be watched.  Finding women who will love me even in my quirkiness, even when what I meant to say isn’t exactly how my words came out, even when I am very different from them.

I pull out my standard answers to make things easier, to keep my mouth from fouling up.  It’s like a stack of index cards I carry around in my brain.  I want to burn them…
I’m trying to be more genuine. 

No backspace, no delete, no spell check.

I shudder.

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In the last week…

… We’ve delt with a giant headless naked statue mural.
-Our refrigerator killed our food.
-Our washer, the one that came with the rental, is quite the work horse.  It will not stop washing our clothes.  It just keeps cycling through until we remember we have a load going and stop it.
-Our washer drain hose removed itself from its housing and dumped about 6 million gallons of water onto our floor.
-Our landlord’s emergency number wasn’t the correct number.
-Our refrigerator stopped working again.
-Our sink fell out.  It’s the kind that fits under the counter, not on top of it.  After a little inspection Ryan deduced that it was installed using silicone sealant. That’s all.

None of this is tragic.  Nobody has been hurt.  It’s all just inconvenience, really.

But this sort of stuff doesn’t usually happen to us.  It happens to my BFTKC, Mama Squirrel, but not to us.  We mostly live a somewhat uneventful existence, even with all our kids. 

Now I’m sitting here waiting for the next thing to happen.  Like the fan flying out of the ceiling.  Or the door to fall off its hinges.  Or the cabinets to crash to the kitchen floor.

While I am a bit concerned that we may have signed a year lease on a Bluth company model home, it’s feels almost exciting.

Almost.

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The past few weeks…

…have been a whirlwind.

Just as my morning sickness subsided it was time to prepare the house for the movers.  Since the movers do all the packing this isn’t a huge deal but it does take a little time and organizational effort on my part. 

Ryan winged, which was awesome, but I was so stinkin’ tired, getting regular headaches, and just feeling overall yicky. Our BFTKC friends were able to come down with their 1 week old baby and that was awesome too.  ‘Cept their 1 year old got pretty ill and they ended up at their hotel for most of the visit.  It was sad not to be able to spend much time with them, especially since they will be living across the country from us in a few months. 

The movers arrived just as my two youngest got sick with high fevers, our house was packed in a day, and the movers drove off with our goods the next afternoon.  We had dinner with different friends over the next few days, and a dear family of 12 had us over for breakfast on Monday morning with some other friends before we drove out.  I had been feeling and acting grumpy about moving, being tired, and all the stuff that goes into preparing for a military transfer; but the food was so good and the company so gracious.  I slipped out of my funk without even realizing it.  20 kids in one house.  It was so cool!

Our trip found us with a blown trailer tire, an hour on the side of the interstate, but a smooth drive other than that.  We drove straight to our new dwelling, a nice house we signed a lease on the week before.  We really like the house.  Really like the house.
Except…

There is a giant mural on the wall.  A giant mural with headless statues.  A giant mural with naked, headless statues.

We covered it up with some large Craigslist book cases that we purchased from an older woman who was turning her house into a castle, complete with dragons and swords.  She was more than a little strange, but so childlike – I applaud her.

Some of the mural still shows but not the naked statue half.  Whenever I see the wall I have this overwhelming urge to declutter that area of the room.  But there isn’t any clutter over there, just an obnoxious mural that we aren’t allowed to paint over.  I’ll have to take a picture.

So, we’re here, completely unpacked, and feeling settled.  Ryan is wrestling with the kids, who are giggling.  Kait is reading a book, and I’m blogging.  Little boys are everywhere in this small neighborhood and my sons have made a large number of friends.  Everything feels so normal. 
But I miss my very good friends.  I miss my church.  I miss our homeschooling group. I miss water that doesn’t taste like soap and have white floaties in it.

And I miss not having a giant mural on the wall.

But the opossums and cats sharing our backyard shed are making things a little interesting.

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Esther & The Whale, Lego dragons & lists

How do you move Lego creations without destroying them?  We just don’t have room to carry them in the van (7 kids, 2 dogs, the cat…  5 boys worth of Lego creations would be a bit much) and I know the movers can’t be concerned with helping maintain super fierce Lego dragon status while packing the boys stuff.

And, Whale, Gabe’s fish.  He’s really getting ginormous and Ryan and I aren’t quite sure how to transfer him safety.  He’ll be displaced for at least 4 days, maybe up to 2 weeks. 
I think Esther will be fine.  She’s a sweet, friendly Gecko who will make the trip in a box and be no worse for the ware. 

In a box we’ll take with us in the van.  Just to clarify.

There are so many decisions to make. So much to remember.  So much stuff I really don’t want to take with me.  Things I’d like to just give away and never look at again.
I’ve gotta go make a list or three.

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Goodbye, Hello

We’re moving next week.  Not just to another house in our town, but to a whole new town I’ve never lived in before.  This is a common occurrence in the military and we knew it was coming.

But, good grief did it sneak up on us quick!

Ryan just got his orders last week.  Again, we knew they were coming, and we knew we wouldn’t have more than a month to get moved and settled.

But, again, good grief!

There is something fun about moving.  Something exciting about venturing out into the unknown.  We’re an adventurous family and even though it’s really, really hard to move away from the people we love, we always look forward to a new place, new town, new church, and new friends who don’t know enough about all your oddities to hold them against you yet.

Moving also means I get to unpack my house again.  That’s always interesting.
And it doesn’t seem to matter how organized and ready I have my house before the movers get here, they always manage to mix everything up.
On one pack out the packers labeled a box “garage”.  It had garage stuff all in it – except the bottom had my pots and pans.  Which means that while I was looking for my pots and pans in the boxes labeled “kitchen” they were sitting quietly in the back recesses of my garage – the last room we unpack.

And then there were the drinking glasses in the “linen closet” box – all wrapped up in the towels. Not sure what possessed them to do that.  Maybe they forgot the glass cupboard and didn’t realize it until they were packing the linen closet.  On the other end of the house.  In the hallways.

Yeah, it’s gonna be fun.

Seriously, though, we’ve had some great packers.  They don’t complain about my kids marveling at their ability to rip brown tape with their bare hands and asking a bazillion questions like, “How much money do we have to give you for putting our stuff in boxes? Or do you just do this cause you like it?”, they excuse themselves all the time when they think they’re in the way, and they have all been super polite. I don’t want to knock them.  It just gets interesting is all.

So, here we go on a brand spankin’ new adventure.

Yay.

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Hello. My name is Mel…

… and I am a recovering Pharisee.

I read an article today passed on by Amy.  It was timed way too perfectly and was completely eye opening.  I’ve been in a funk for the last 4 or 5 months trying to figure some things out about standards, outward appearance, and judgemental-ism in my Christian walk.  This article summed up a lot of what I have been thinking, and pointed out why I’m struggling with it all.

And I realize that for the last 5 or 6 years, maybe longer, maybe forever, I’ve been a pharisee.  Pointing out, however silently, the outward sins (or what I considered sins), of those who had chosen different lifestyles than myself. 

and they call themselves Christians…

It is natural for people to want boundaries.  I can see it in my kids, I can see it in my friends, I can see it in my church family.  We want something to measure ourselves by. 

Am I a good Christian?

Well,  lets see…
We homeschool.  We have all these kids.  We go to church every Sunday.  I wear lots of skirts, and so does the daughter.  We have a family Bible study most every night.  We don’t allow our teenager to date. Our kids are very obedient. We have a good marriage. We tithe. We don’t have cable or satellite TV. We cook from scratch.  Our 3 year old has been memorizing scripture since he was 2. I grind my own wheat and can make a pretty excellent whole grain bread.  We don’t celebrate Halloween, we don’t do Santa or that bunny…

Go ahead and stamp my forehead with “success”. 

One of the things that characterized the Pharisees was that they created their own standards of holiness related to outward appearance, and then belittled others who didn’t hold to their standards. Jesus spent a lot of time exposing the Pharisees for their shallowness and their self-righteousness judgments, yet, many of us homeschoolers have inadvertently followed the Pharisees’ path — we have overly elevated outward form and we have condescended to those who appear less enlightened.
read the whole article here

I think I might throw up.

Now, the article was specifically written for homeschoolers, but I find this statement to be true of many, many people, not just the homeschooling population.  There is so much focus on what we say and do in the conservative Christian circle that our hearts, and the hearts of our children are getting forgotten.

I’m not saying that rules are wrong.  Not at all.  Don’t miss my point.

We didn’t start living the lifestyle we live because we thought it would be holier, we just wanted a better chance for our children.  However, it didn’t take long for me to start judging others who weren’t holding my high standards.  I thought they just weren’t there yet.  I’d simply made it a higher level of realization than they had.  I didn’t recognize that I was thinking this at the time.  But looking back, I was – and I liked the feeling of being holier.

How dare I think that I had reached some kind of higher spiritual plane because the TV was off, and I was in a skirt kneading bread dough.  And what on earth do skirts and bread have to do with the Christian heart anyway?  I’ll tell you.

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

The decisions we’ve made for our family have, for the most part, been good and we definitely see the benefits of them.  However, for anybody to think that they have the corner on modesty, spirituality, and holiness simply because they are lookin’ it on the outside is simply wrong. 

And what might this attitude be doing to our children?

It is also possible that they [our children] see the shallowness of our “religion” and are not attracted to it in the least. Christianity is not a system of do’s and don’ts – it is following a wonderful Savior who gave his life for his people. A legalistic faith consisting primarily of “avoid this, wear that, and attend this” is not attractive to most children. Such children grow up full of knowledge and rules, but lack attraction for the Lord Jesus. They may identify themselves with Christ at an early age, but it is possible that the Christianity they learned from us was characterized chiefly by religious rules and doctrines. They will eventually forsake their identification with Christ because they grew up under the weight of religious standards, but lacked the grace and power to carry them out. Many such young people have forsaken “religion,” and still need to find Jesus and the grace of salvation.

The last  4 or 5 months have changed me.  I saw somebody I didn’t want to be, but I was her. 

I was so her.

I didn’t know where to start, or what to do.  But God heard my longings and started a change in me.

And things are different now.  Not only am I feeling much less judgemental, but I also feel less of a need to perform, I feel a lesser need for my children to perform.  I long for their hearts to belong to Christ and right now that seems to be the only thing that matters to me.  I want their outside to be a genuine reflection of the growth of faith on their inside. 

I’ve got so much more to say.  And I don’t know how to end this post. 

I’m rattled and it hurts a little.  But it’s good.

And I’ll just leave it at that.

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ranting about how happy I am

There is this new popular wave of Christian mom blogs.  They are the brutally honest, poor me, my life sucks because I’m tired, the kids are bad, and the laundry is piled up blogs. 

I’m not talking about the I had a bad day today posts.  Or even the occasional angry with everybody rants.  I’m talking about this new blog breed where the authors are not only down in the dumps with their own lives, but they’re pretty angry with other mom bloggers who seem to have it all together.

I read recently on one blog, a blog I normally enjoy, where the author accused bloggers who don’t complain all the time of being liers.  That we were fake.  That we made her feel like crap because we “seemed” to have it all together.   

The comments on posts like these are overwhelmingly in favor of the poster’s rant, affirming her feelings, and many commenters are agreeing to come out of their supermom hiding places too,  essentially feeding the poor me blog mama’s pitifull-ness. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I do feel for them.  I’m sad for the spot they are in and that they seem to have such a distaste for those of us who just don’t feel as crappy as they do.  I know what it feels like.  I’ve been caught the same trap before.  It’s was stupid and it hurt. 

Not going back there.

It’s not that I judge them for being down in the dumps.  My beef is that they are mad at happy people like me for it, for not being down in the dumps like them, for not being miserable, that they would feel better if I was having a bad patch. 

Doesn’t misery just love company. 

But even in my cynical-ness I’m still a happy mama and wife.  Even when there is poop all over the bathroom floor it doesn’t ruin my entire day.  When my bread doesn’t turn out well I just add it to the dogs food.

It might catch me for a moment, but it doesn’t break me.

And if that makes you feel like crap, I’m sorry.  Don’t come around here then.  But think twice before you accuse me of being false, secretly hiding my dispair behind pictures of my cute kids.

I’m genuinely happy.  So get over it already.

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I can’t not believe

I like to think that I’ve got most of it together.  Even on days when the laundry is backed up, it only takes a couple hours of wash, dry, fold and I’ve got it manageable again.  When the kitchen is out of control I call in the troops to do their chores. When things get messy around here, I sweep through like a tornado and get it all picked up.
It’s pretty easy, most days.

There are some days, though, when I’m a mass of tangles.  The easy button is burried in a pile of poor-me.

Elizabeth Esther posted something yesterday that really stirred me.  And while I’ve never felt exactly what she is describing, I’ve been in a place close enough to it to understand what she is talking about.

And it’s good to know I’m not alone.

There are times when I don’t feel like being a Christian.

[shock and awe]

It gets hard, living this life of freedom in Christ.  Using the word free in association with Christianity doesn’t always make sense to me.  I feel bound, shackled, and limited by my beliefs.  Not all the time, but in those times.  Times when my selfishness slides into the drivers seat while I’m preoccupied with soaking an entire bottle of purple honey off the 2 year old. 

There are moments in my life when it is just too difficult – always striving to do the right thing, answer well, and react properly. 

And I’ll admit to pushing my faith aside before, ignoring it so I didn’t have to deal with my sin.

But I can’t, really.  I can turn my back on God only long enough to spin around in a complete circle and come face to face with Him once again.
Turns out God is irresistible to me.  I can’t not believe. 

Isn’t.
That.
Something.

In her post Elizabeth Esther quotes Sheldon Vanauken. 

“And then I found I could not reject God. I could not. I cannot explain this. One discovers one cannot move a boulder by trying with all one’s strength to do it. I discovered–without any sudden influx of love or faith–that I could not reject Christianity. Why I don’t know. There it was. I could not. That was an end to it.”  
Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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