Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Driving, Not My Favorite Thing

Until last night I’ve been able to say I’ve never been pulled over while driving. Not once, no tickets, nothing. Those of you who know me and what a wonderful, hahaha, driver I am can all share in a small laugh right now if you so choose.

When we moved here, we joked that if I managed to get through our year here without being pulled over, it would be amazing. Driving here is that difficult. I made it almost five months. Yay me. 

How fun it was last night to be driving home from taking my oldest son to the doctor, hungry and cranky after waiting at the doctor’s office for over an hour right at dinner time, fighting off the beginning of my own raging headache, minding my own business, driving carefully because I was determined to beat the odds and not get pulled over for driving like a bonehead around here and because I had seen the police car in the next lane over, when I turned onto the main road home and immediately heard that ‘bloo -oop!’ and saw lights in my mirror. My son looked shocked and said, “Is that for us?” I said, “Looks like it is.” So I pulled over and sure enough it was for us.

As we sat there waiting for the officer to come tell me what I’d done wrong, I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. I had my turn signal on, wasn’t speeding, signaled my lane change, what?? 

Turns out my plates expired last month (exactly 24 days ago). Somehow in all our moving around, we either didn’t get the renewal notice or, worse, I’m going to find it accidentally filed away somewhere when I clean out my files. It’s been a rough year. I have been wracking my brain trying to remember if I ever saw a renewal notice or not. Doesn’t matter now. We went online last night and took care of it, and that little clerical error will now result in me having to pay a not-so-welcome fine to the city and get a report sent to the Ohio Division of Motor Vehicles. Happy I am not.

At least the police officer was nice about it while he handed me my ticket, though I felt really stupid when he said, “Are you aware your plates are expired and have been since October?” and I had to honestly say, “No sir, I was not aware of that.” I didn’t even try to explain about moving and not getting the notice to renew. Fun times, fun times.  

And that headache that was just nudging at me behind my eye last night?  I woke up with it raging this morning, since apparently three of the five of us now seem to be fighting what the doctor informed us is a nasty head-cold that’s going around. Yay me, again.

Actually, I’m thankful that if I had to be pulled over for this, and it was inevitable since I’m pretty much the only one who drives that car and we really weren’t aware it had expired, that it happened at a time when I wasn’t late for an appointment or, even worse, taking my son to school. Can you imagine that humiliation, to be pulled over in the high school car drop off line?

So, I can no longer say I’ve never been pulled over, but at least I can say it wasn’t for being stupid with my driving. 

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Things I Never Considered When I Lived in Florida

Things that I had never considered or even realized people might have to do when I was growing up in Florida and complaining about the occasional cold day, but which have become a part of my life now that we live up north:

  1. Using a hairdryer to try to dry out the inside of an 8-year-old’s snow boots because she got a little overenthusiastic the day before while playing in the snow mounds on the way home from school and I didn’t realize snow had gotten inside the boots and the insides actually got wet and now it’s frigid and we have to leave for school soon and I don’t want her to have wet feet on the way to school. 
  2. Finally giving up because my hairdryer is overheating and inserting the rack in my dryer so I can put the snow boots in the dryer and hope I don’t have it set too hot for them.
  3. Waking up to a weather forecast that says, “Feels like -7˚ F” in NOVEMBER. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!
  4. Wondering why my strange neighbors next door have their window open when it feels like -7˚ outside and I am standing in my kitchen freezing with the storm windows closed and the radiators on all the time. Seriously, I’m not kidding, my neighbors’ open window is one of the things that plagues my curiosity. I’m not trying to be overly nosy, it’s just so….odd. They’ve had it open every day since the snow started. I would not want to have to pay their heating bill.
  5. Checking the various websites and my text messages every so often, hoping school is closed or at least delayed due to snow or cold. They really take school seriously up here. Tons of snow, arctic temperatures, no snow day. Our last city where we lived for the past four years got snow days when there was even a hint that snow might happen, and 1-2 inches meant at least two snow days. Not here in the snow belt.
  6. Wondering since they didn’t grant us a snow day when we had lots of inches on the ground and snow was still falling or when we dipped into negative temperatures, yet I know they did have some snow days last year, how bad, exactly, is it going to get here? 
  7. Feeling grateful for snow plows and salt on the roads.
  8. Counting shoveling snow off the driveway as part of my exercise routine. 
  9. Actually putting ‘shoveling snow’ into my fitness tracking app so I can count the calorie burn.
  10. Remembering when I thought 60˚ was cold, and it really, really was cold, because I had never lived up north.
  11. Being amazed at how the body adapts to real cold and that what used to be, not just feel, but actually be, cold now is something I long for as a ‘warming trend,’ and realizing just how self-centered I am. Cold is cold, wherever you are, and when you’re used to warm all the time, and you don’t have cold-weather clothes, it takes a lot less time to feel cold in Florida than it does where it gets colder and we’re expecting it. It’s not a contest. Perspective, I guess. 
  12. Eagerly anticipating snow because I just love it and it is so pretty, but dreading it at the same time, because driving in it is not fun. Pretty snow is great when all you have to do is sit and watch it out the window. I love that. But when you have to get out and function in it, not as fun.
  13. Buying several different coats, and not really being satisfied with any of them, because I grew up in Florida and am clueless about how to buy and dress for winter. Wishing I had a personal clothing buyer who could just shop for my winter wardrobe for me and say, “Here, this is exactly your size and it will look just right on you, and we were able to do it on a budget that didn’t break your bank.” Actually, I need one of those for every season. I do not like to shop and I’m not very good at it.
  14. Finally relating to those Calvin and Hobbes cartoons where he always seemed to have the snowiest winters. That’s not imaginary. There really are places that get that kind of snow. I’m living in one this year. In fact, I found out recently that Bill Watterson actually lives around here somewhere. Now I know where Calvin is from.
  15. That I actually have to tell a kid to go back upstairs and put on a coat, a sweater just isn't good enough when it's this cold. Don't they feel cold??
  16. Not being able to feel my legs after walking outside for about 5 minutes.
  17. Slipping and falling on the icy sidewalk on the way home from taking my daughter to school, being thankful nothing is broken just a little sore, deciding to walk the rest of the way on the street since it isn't a solid sheet of ice like the sidewalks are. True story.
  18. That surreal feeling when you are falling that feels like time sort of stops or slows way down and you have all this time for random thoughts, but in reality it is really only a second, you know you are going down, yet there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop the fall, and all the odd thoughts that randomly flit through your brain as it happens. That is one of the weirdest feelings ever.
  19. Being very thankful for a heated house. And boots, oh the joys of a comfy pair of boots!
  20. Learning to really love the change in season. For all the whining, I have loved watching the beautiful leaves this fall, and the novelty of learning to deal with snow is kind of fun....well, it's an adventure, anyway. And freezing in the winter just makes the warming trends of spring that much sweeter. Besides, after how swelteringly hot it was here with no air conditioning in the house when we moved here in the summer, I said I wouldn't complain about the cold. Apparently I lied. It just doesn't work that way. Remembering the heat doesn't make it any less cold today. :-)

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Stay warm!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reading Proverbs

For the past several years I have added a chapter of Proverbs to my Bible reading every day. Since there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, I usually read the chapter corresponding to the day of the month we are on, and double up at the end of those months that don’t have 31 days. It’s been very helpful. I wish I could say I apply and follow all the wisdom perfectly after all this reading, but that would be very far from the truth. It is becoming more and more part of my thinking, though. 

One thing that has often struck me is how very often the Proverbs I read speak directly into my life in the exact situations I’m walking along in each day. It says something very ugly about me that sometimes in my flesh I find that I have to fight the temptation not to think about other people to whom I want to apply them sometimes, and when that temptation is strong, I’m learning to turn it around and ask myself, where do I need to apply this to myself? Stop looking outward and look at my own deceitful heart. Trust God to deal with everyone else. And when I’m hurting and confused, run to my Heavenly Father and tell Him, and pray for wisdom, understanding, peace, and grace. His grace is sufficient in every situation. I must learn to rest in Jesus.

One verse that I’ve done a lot of thinking about over the years is Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” With that I also think about Proverbs 18:13, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” The gravity of these thoughts came home to me in a striking way some years ago when I was serving on our county Grand Jury for a couple of months. We had a very complicated case come before us that took the greater part of one day just to listen to the testimony, and no small amount of debating among us about what to do with the testimony we’d heard afterward. The general consensus of the group was to send down an indictment on two people, though it was a confusing and very complicated case, and some of us disagreed about whether both people might be guilty of the indictable offense.  All of us were quite confident about one of them, but not all of us were sure about the second one, though in this case it only required a majority to carry the case forward. Well, when the story of the indictment hit the newspapers, there was much about the case that couldn’t be reported due to some strict confidentiality restrictions on it, so the story in the newspapers, while factual, did not present a very true overall picture of the whole case. I happened to read some of the comments people left under the story on the internet version, and it was amazing how differently things looked to the readers and what that led them to believe and say from what I knew to be true about the case, that it wasn’t nearly as cut and dried as people assumed from the short news article. 

I learned something after that experience, and it was to be more careful about my assumptions. I wish I followed this better more of the time, but I am at least aware of it in a more real way now. I may think I absolutely understand a situation, but I need to realize I may not know all there is to know and it’s quite possible that if I knew more it might change entirely how I viewed the story. This is easy in theory, but very hard in practice. Turned the other way, when someone unjustly misunderstands me or misreads my intentions in a really big way, it’s hard for me to remember that they may not know everything I wish they did, and I also try, hard as it may be, to realize that if someone can so greatly misunderstand me, is it possible I’m misunderstanding them just as much, that probably there are things about them and their situation I don’t know that might change how I see things? These are things I try to think about, though imperfectly, I’ll admit, especially when my emotions are running high. I think this is part of the wisdom in 1 Corinthians 13 that tells us that love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs and is not easily offended. Learning to put the best construction on things and let go of my right to be offended when it’s really hard, especially when I’m feeling hurt, and to let go of my need to try to justify myself when someone is unwilling or unable to listen or understand where I’m coming from, is a hard thing, but it is the loving thing. 

Bringing this home to today, this morning I read Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” As I’m thinking on those, I’ve decided to turn off my Facebook for a few days. When you post and then delete several status updates in a row, it’s probably time to just sit out for a while and not be the fool you know you can be at times. Wish I followed that advice more often, too.

So, I am thankful for the wisdom in Proverbs, I’m thankful God gave us this book which has become so precious to me. The more I read it, the more I’m learning to think through the wisdom and learn to apply it. It is one source God is using to grow me in sanctification, a life long, and sometimes slow process I’m finding. I’m thankful that God’s kindness includes His gift of the book of Proverbs to us. 

**If you are interested in taking up the challenge of reading Proverbs daily, and you want a great resource to help in understanding how to read and apply Proverbs, I can recommend Dan Phillips’s book, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs.** 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Status Report - November 2014

Drinking… pumpkin spice tea with honey. I’ve already had a large amount of coffee, and I don’t want my hands to start shaking if I drink much more, but since the cooler weather is settling in for the long haul, only to start growing colder now, hot tea it is.

Making….sourdough starter, well, already finished making it this morning. Hoping it turns out well. I’ve not had a lot of success with sourdough, but my husband likes it, so I’m trying it again. Hoping it will be warm enough in the kitchen to get this starter going.

Enjoying…how absolutely beautiful Fall is here in Ohio. We live in a neighborhood with lots of older trees, and the colors have been splendid. It’s like drinking in the gorgeous colors as I walk and drive through town. I’ve never seen so many ginormous piles of leaves on the ground before, either, as the glories of the season are beginning to wind down and we head into the cold and snow of winter, as people keep taking some perverse pleasure in reminding me is just around the corner.

Speaking….of driving through town, that is something of an experience around here, and not always a pleasant one. Wowza. Some days I feel like I’ve held my breath the whole way between home and where ever it is I’ve had to drive to. 

Thinking…about how ‘social media’ isn’t so much a good thing for the social life. It seems to have a role in hurting more relationships than helping sometimes. I’m learning to be a whole lot more ‘surface’ in what I post and staying out of a lot of conversations when at all possible. Then you get into the whole internet vs. ‘real life’ face time discussion that I don’t want to flesh out here. 

Logging out….of Facebook on my iPhone for a while. Part of that thinking up there. I am becoming convinced that, for all the good that comes from smart phones (maybe), they overall aren’t actually such a good thing for us in the long run. I’ve never seen something that I find so addicting as that stupid, stupid phone. I find myself scrolling and scrolling social media and checking in on the two games I play, and it just is NOT healthy in so many ways. SO much wasted time, energy, and emotion. I’m trying to use November to wean myself away from it a lot. That and it's really annoying to only see the tops of people's heads these days as everyone else seems to be just as addicted to the dumb phones. We are becoming a nation of phone zombies.

Reading…..a book called Time and Again by Jack Finney, which I did not realize until I looked up the link to share here just now as I write this is actually book one of two. Hmmm….. Well, I’m enjoying this one at the moment, and I’m about halfway through. I’m also reading Expository Listening by Ken Ramey, which I received from Truth for Life. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but if you are not listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life, you should be. :-)

Finding….that I am having a harder time sitting down to focus on reading than I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like I’ve developed adult onset ADD or something. I am sure it is directly related to my dumb smart phone. One more aspect to my love-hate relationship with the crazy thing. 

Writing….quite a few blog posts that I’m not quite ready to post in public yet. It’s frustrating. I have a lot on my mind, all of which it helps to write about, but none of which I believe is ready for the blog, if it ever will be. My private journal is getting lots of wear and tear lately. I may have to burn the thing sometime down the road, but it helps me to corral my thoughts to write about them and work through them.

Beginning….to research the area where we think we may be moving next summer. Another minor background stress, that not knowing for sure yet where we’re going next, but we’re starting to look at churches, housing, and schools in the area where we think we will be. Encouraging thing is, if we’re going where we think we will be going, there is a lot to be excited about in those areas.  

Feeling….the drain of missing having good friends to talk with face to face over lunch. We are only here for a year, and not having that camaraderie is so difficult. In fact, the last year and half has been one of the most difficult seasons of my life for various reasons, to be honest, and I’m feeling some of the strain of it, truth be told. My husband is wonderful at listening and talking me through things, but I’m sure he would appreciate it if I had some girl friends to share the burden of all my words. :-) Sometimes you just need your girl friends, you know? This moving for just a year is lonely, and I can see some areas where it’s quite difficult on my children, too, and that hurts.

Thankful….we have an excellent church to attend while we live here. It is a blessing.

Working on....memorizing the book of Colossians. I started this way back a year ago, then life got busy, my ADD kicked in and I let the project drop. I've picked it up again. I find the discipline of memorizing long passages of scripture to be very beneficial. It gets your mind engaged in a way that simply reading the passage once does not. This is one more reason I want to walk away from social media all-the-time connectivity, so I can free up my focusing ability to work on memorizing these passages. So, I'm working on finishing up chapter 1 this week.

Also thankful, beyond words….for Jesus. No matter how difficult or lonely or even confusing the path I’m walking today, He is with me, and I am never alone. Every promise in His word is true, and I can stand on every word. I’m so thankful for His Word, that I have a Bible I can read and study and learn to know Him. And I’m thankful for His discipline and for the mercy He shows His people as the Great Shepherd and Redeemer. 

And with that, I’ll sign off for now. Happy November!