Better to Die in Egypt

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you wanted something different, something better? And then something happens…and you change your mind and want your old life back?? (Not speaking from experience, I promise…. 😉 )

I have occasionally wanted something and then got it, only to find out I didn’t really want it at all. AKA, a small sporty car. Give me back my big engine Explorer! 🙂

Abe and I are attending a class on Wednesday nights offered by our church, called “Restoring Love in the Blended Family.” This was our first week. We are watching the “SMART Stepfamilies” video series by Ron Deal. (If you are part of a blended family, which a HUGE percentage of Americans are, please check out the site: Smart Stepfamilies You will be encouraged!)

Before I get to the reason why this blog post title is about Egypt, let me back up. I was excited and cautious when I found out our Pastor was doing a blended family parenting small group class on Wednesday nights. For those of you who don’t know me, I married my husband Abe in December of this past year, 2014, and became an instant step-mom to his beautiful daughter Kali. So we are about 9 months into the whole blended family deal. And it is true, NOTHING can fully prepare you for this life. You think you are ready, and you prepare, and you pray…but it is simply, as Ron Deal puts it, “complex” and there is no easy formula! 

So back to this class, I knew I wanted to go…knew I needed to go. I tried to think through our church families…Umm, who besides Abe and me will be there?? I actually knew of many in our church that would possibly go to it. Will we have to talk? Because I’m positive there’s no way Abe will say anything so that means I will have to. I was relieved when Pastor announced that it is open to people not in blended families as well, as they could still learn from it. Phew!

Another part of me was scared to admit I needed to go. So many well-meaning people took it upon themselves to talk to either me or Abe or both of us about what we might be facing when we got married. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the advice…but when you are the main pianist at a large church, a lot of eyes watch you! And when you are a staff member, pianist up front, teacher to most of the kids in the church, AND you are about to marry a man with a daughter…there is no END to the advice offered, warnings issued, “I’m praying for you” phrases heard. I remember patiently trying to graciously accept each and all and take as much truth out of them all as I could. But then the wedding happened…and life went on. People still watched, but didn’t talk as much. They just watch us walk into church with Kali, watch Kali calling me mom and getting excited to watch me play the piano, watch us both try to keep her quiet during the service. (Haha! She turned 4 right after we got married…so we got to deal with those fun times right away!!) And somehow the combination of all the talk before the wedding, with the silence after the wedding, and the reality of our life after the wedding, put a little guard up on my heart. All of a sudden, it wasn’t about appreciating prayers and advice and kind people. It was about proving that we could make it, that we don’t have problems, that being a step family is the most natural thing in the world. 

But it’s not.

It’s really hard. 

There, I said it. 🙂 All of the kind people at my church are truly kind–it is only in my heart that I feel pressure to live up to expectations. This class on Wednesday nights is slowly taking that guard off of my heart, and helping me realize I can admit that sometimes life is a struggle. Whether you are part of a blended family or not–life will be hard!

Ron Deal made a statement that was like cool water refreshing my soul: “Feeling lost in the wilderness is par for the journey of a step-family.” How did he know?? 🙂

Sometimes I do feel a little lost in the wilderness. Sometimes when I see the hugeness of it all. Like the fact that Kali is growing up. And just like I grew up in my stable home with mom and dad and brothers and sisters, she is growing up in my home. Is it stable enough for her? Are Abe and I a good team, do we let our own problems affect her when we think she doesn’t understand? Will she ever resent me? Am I doing all the right things as a mom for her? How on earth will I get her through school and make sure she learns and does well in her class? If you are a mom out there–step mom or biological, I’m sure you can relate to the myriads of questions and concerns that bombard my mind constantly regarding Kali. I simply feel inadequate to meet all her needs.

Sometimes I feel lost in the wilderness because I’m not sure where I belong. My life took a turn that I never envisioned–so how do I go forward when I’m not even sure what our family life is supposed to look like? After 9 months, I’ve accepted the fact that we are, and always will be, a blended family. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We’re not like my parents, or my family. We’re not like Abe’s family. We’re not like the families that most of our own generation grew up in. So where do I fit in? I’m embracing this new family life, embracing Kali and everything that comes with her. But I realized in jumping in wholeheartedly, it is easy to actually lose my heart’s orientation…lose who I am, myself, as a person, why I chose what I did, why I do what I do. Hence…I’m lost in the wilderness. 🙂

As we sat in the dimmed chapel and watched Ron Deal on the big white screen speak about the Isrealites in the wilderness, I thought about the verse he read about Isreal wishing they were back in Egypt. First they wanted out of their slavery. Then they got what they wanted, and found out they didn’t want it at all. They were envisioning the Promised Land full of milk and honey, peace for their families and land to build a life on. Instead they were stuck in the wilderness–wandering, lost, losing sight of God’s plan and provision for them.

We heard about how that picture is similar to a step-family situation. Two people fall in love–and envision the Promised Land. And then we find ourselves in the wilderness, and wonder what on earth went wrong.

If you are like me, and tired of wandering in the wilderness–don’t wish for your Egypt! Abe and I were encouraged on Wednesday night to not quit until we reach our Promised Land. We WILL get there. It could be long, hard, dangerous, difficult–but God is our God in the wilderness AND in the Promised Land. He IS leading us to right where He wants us right now–in the wilderness. Depending on Him. With the hope of the life He promised when He said, “For I know the thoughts I think towards you…thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jere. 29:11) And until then, we are finding God’s peace in the wilderness. When parenting problems arise, and worries crowd out our joy, we know we can depend on God to teach us what we need to learn in our wilderness.

It is NOT better to die in Egypt. I’ll stick through the wilderness and die in my Promised Land, thank you very much. 🙂

Honestly Yours,

❤ Flossie Phillips

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Our family when our Promised Land journey began ❤

And You Think Your Life Is Rough

Lately I’ve been thinking and learning about being thankful for what I have. I’m one of those people that can easily look at the negative side of things. I don’t like go into deep depression or anything, but if I’m not careful everything can seem sad to me!

I get sad whenever anything changes. I cried buckets of tears when I graduated highschool, knowing things would never be the same. I got sentimental and a little down every time I was done with a certain semester of classes and was getting a new schedule. I don’t like starting a new year—all I can think about is how I will never ever again have this year back. I think I just inherited a very sentimental, easily-attachable nature. (From my dad!) In some ways it’s a good thing—whatever I’m doing right at the moment, I end up liking it and don’t want to change. But it definitely can be a bad thing, when I don’t realize that I like what I’m doing until it’s over and something changes. Like college—I didn’t realize how much I loved it until it was over! (But I haven’t forgotten the stress and to-do list…yeah, I’m not crying much over that one. 😉 )

Here’s something else I can sympathize with:

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who hates changing my password! Even my fingers grow used to typing in my trusty old password and I have to get them used to a new one all over again.

So sometimes it’s good to just take a step back.

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To look around and realize that even when everything seems wrong, I am a blessed person. I’m going to Heaven. God’s on my side, He’s working in me. I live in America. I have two loving families that live within driving distance. I have Abe, and Kali. I have a lot of work to do…but that means I have a house and a job! I have a lot to pray about…but that means I have a lot of opportunities to see God work.

I’ve compiled some “First-World Problems” memes that put things in perspective. If you need a smile today or a reminder that it’s all gonna be OK, I’ve inserted some of my favorite stop-being-ridiculous pictures below. Hope it makes you smile!

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Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy your first-world-country life! 🙂

~Flossie ❤

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Home Sweet Home

Welcome, 3pm Friday afternoon! I’ve been waiting for you all week! (Well…with Monday off and Tuesday a snow day…I can’t really say I’ve been waiting all week. But would you believe…the past three days? The past eight hours?) But now you’re here and I can go home!

“Home is the nicest word there is. Well, one of the nicest, that’s for sure.”

I can still hear Laura Ingalls’ voice from Little House on the Prairie filling our small living room on any given night when I was growing up. I have to agree with her–Home is definitely a nice word.

For me, that word has been changing a little recently, taking on a different meaning. I love all the pins and quotes on Pinterest–“Home is wherever you are” and “Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.” It’s easy to say that…but when you wake up in the morning and can’t figure out where you are, or when you walk into the kitchen to undecorated white-washed walls because you’ve put off painting, you begin to wonder how long it will take to really feel at home.

Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? If you have never seen that movie, stop what you’re doing, go rent or buy it, and spend the next two hours watching it. Really. 🙂 It’s a very good movie about a Russian Jewish man living during World War One. He has five daughters, and the movie follows his relationship and reactions with each of the oldest three daughters as they grow up and get married.The middle daughter, who was always my favorite, marries a zealot who travels all over and carries out his beliefs with passion. There’s a scene where the dad takes her to the train station so she can go meet her zealous fiancée in Siberia where they will be married. Get out your tissues when it gets to that part—the music and acting and entire scene is heartbreaking! The man asks her if she’s sure she wants to leave her home, her family, and everything she’s ever known. The middle daughter tries to explain to her dad why she has to leave, and the climax of the scene leads to her drawn-out whisper, “When I’m with him…I’m home.” (Go watch it—it’ll be better than me trying to explain it! 🙂 )

I love that part–where she gives up what she knows as home for the man she loves. I haven’t done anything as dramatic as moving to Siberia  (Although I feel like I live in Siberia with this cold weather lately!) in a time with no phones or email or connections. But the dramatic part of me can sympathize with her. It’s hard changing your whole life around! But rewarding, too. Here’s what home has come to mean to me:

  • Home is when Abe apologizes after a fight.
  • Home is when we all do the dishes together. 
  • Home is hauling wood from the garage so we can be warm.
  • Home is finally finding an over-the-door hook to hang my wreaths.
  • Home is having a secret stash of birthday presents in the closet.
  • Home is when the fire is blazing, dinner is cooking, and we play “Ring Around the Rosies” fifteen times in a row in the living room. 
  • Home is carrying my sleepy little girl upstairs to her bed. 
  • Home is walking in the door, knowing that I belong right here–with these people, in this place, doing what we’re doing. 

So we could be at “home” almost anywhere! Which leads me to what I was actually planning on posting today…some lessons learned from buying a house! 🙂 I’ll try to keep this quick, but God did so many amazing things for us that I can’t go too long without sharing on my blog how He worked it out for us!

Here’s what happened: Abe and I (mainly Abe) bought a fixer-upper in October right before we got married. It’s not a major wreck, just needed some cosmetics, a few new pipes, paint, and just some TLC. We started looking at houses in the early summer, and the house we got was actually the first one we looked at! It was a little high for our budget though, and on top of that, it was about a two minute drive from his parents house! We debated over all of it, and decided we wanted something a little farther away so we could be our own family right away, etc. etc. So we decided not to put an offer in. Hence, four more months of searching. And putting in one other bid. And viewing lots of houses. Some nice, some small, some too far away, some too wrecked. Every house we went to, I couldn’t help but think how that first one was just so nice…it is perfect  for piano lessons, with a cute front room with wooden beams and a fireplace and just the right amount of space for a piano and shelving and seating. I could envision so many things in that cute house, and I began to regret influencing Abe to not get it. By this time, it had been taken off the market again.

I remember specifically being in the car with Abe when I told him that if by some chance that first house went up for sale again, we should get it, and work out the whole practically-living-next-to-mom-and-dad situation. He agreed, and then we spent the rest of the car ride listing all the solutions and boundaries we could set to make it work. Soon after we had gotten to that point in our hearts, Abe’s realtor called. She said the Rockhill Road house went up for sale again, at a lower price than it was originally. We were shocked. We went and looked at it again, and still loved it. We put in a bid, and got our call that they accepted our bid the day before it was going for Sheriff’s Sale! We were thrilled, and could finally start working on it and fixing it up and making it our own.

Isn’t it neat how God can change our minds? If I learned one thing through the whole house-buying process, it’s that God is not limited by us. When I had been regretting not getting the house the first time, my tendency was to think I had made a big mistake. Maybe I ruined our lives by influencing Abe not to get that nice first house! What if that was the one God wanted us to get! I should have been better, should have been more agreeable and had an open mind for wherever God leads. I should have seen the positive instead of just the negative. I could look at the first decision as a mistake. But God isn’t limited, or surprised, by our mistakes either. God knew if we waited four months, not only would the house be cheaper, but our hearts would be more ready to work out the social aspects of living there. In June 2014, I was not ready to live in this house.  But now, after God changed our hearts, we are absolutely so happy—we love our house, we love working on it together, we love our yard with the big playset and beautiful gazebo (that needs a lot of work and will be our spring project) and we even like being close to family. God gave us exactly what we wanted, and needed—in spite of ourselves! So go ahead—make that decision you’re thinking about making. Weigh it all out, and make the best decision you can. And rest in the fact that if God wants you somewhere else, that’s where you’ll end up. He’s in control!

Hope you enjoyed your Friday, and have a spectacular weekend. 🙂

❤ Flossie