When All You Want to Do is Hide

So this is what my blog looks like, I almost forgot!! It’s been a while… 😉

April and May are whirlwind months every year for me, but this year they have flown by before I can even catch a breath. Two state competitions for my piano students, three piano recitals, field trips with Kali, programs for my elementary music classes…the calendar on the fridge is full. Probably most of you can relate!

But tonight is Saturday night and Abe is working so I get to blog a little. 🙂

I thought I’d share with you what I wrote in my journal today. I’m not sure what to categorize it as–stepmom stuff, family life, what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong… but I had a “moment” today. So here’s how it happened, straight from my heart. (And journal.)

This morning: RAIN. GO AWAY.

We’ve had rain for like two weeks straight here where I live. Once again, it’s Saturday morning and raining. And I WANT to go to yard sales!! I had plans this morning to take Kali (my step daughter) and Sophia (my 1 year old niece we are watching this weekend) down to West Chester to go to a big community yard sale with my mom and sister, who is up from Virginia. So I get the little girls and myself ready, pack our backpacks with every possible thing that might placate any temper tantrums, and make sure everyone has raincoats on and hoods up. We trudged out in the rain to my car. To find that my sister-in-law forgot to put Sophia’s car seat in my car the night before. (My kind heart doesn’t blame her. She’s busy and has tons of other things to remember. My inconvenienced brain wants to scream.) I plop Sophia on my lap and drive the couple feet to my in-laws house right behind ours. They’re away on vacation, but surely they have an extra car seat around somewhere. Nope.

Poor little Sophia had to ride in Kali’s car seat  and Kali got to be a big girl and use only a seat belt. And my angel mother went out as soon as I called her and found me a baby car seat for $5 at a yard sale. (Have I ever mentioned that she is the best mom in the world? She is!)

So then we go yard-saling in the rain, and it’s OK. I mean not exactly relaxing and no stress, but it was fun.

We got back home around 2pm, and both girls fell asleep in the car. Yay–nap time! We literally didn’t do too much for a few hours. Straightened up here and there, Abe and I watched a show and ate food…a nice lazy rainy Saturday! Not for long.

The girls got up, and I decided since the rain had cleared and it was nice out that I should take our indoor cucumber and pepper plants out and plant them in our garden. The ground was still wet and soft, and I really don’t know anything about gardening but it seemed like a good idea. So Kali, Sophia and I got to enjoy some time outside. I planted our little sprouts and Kali and Sophia ran around collecting dandelion wishes. It was beautiful. When I was done planting we stayed out for a while, playing on the swings, Kali being a big helper and pushing Sophia in the baby swing. Abe came out and got to swing with us for a few minutes before leaving for work.

Can I just say….

WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAPPEN AFTER YOUR HUSBAND LEAVES FOR WORK??

When he’s home, we’re a beautiful little family. Swinging on the playground. Planting a garden. The kids are happy and love him.

Then. He leaves. And chaos decides it’s time to hit. Because now it’s just mom home! (Oddly, I remember that feeling as a kid. Dad leaves, and it’s like OK we can party now, it’s just mom. What goes around comes around…)

Anyway, literally minutes after Abe’s car goes out of sight, and just as I was about to suggest we go inside and get their baths for church tomorrow, my in-laws dog somehow got loose and came bounding and barking into our back yard. His name’s Boone for future reference. Boone is a medium sized, loud, energetic type dog. (In case I forgot to mention, it had just rained for two weeks. Our yard is basically a giant mud puddle.) Boone proceeded to get myself and the two girls very muddy. I can handle cleaning up mud. But I know this dog, and I know that trying to grab him to take him back inside is next to impossible. I’ve been at their house plenty of times when there’s two or three people trying to corner Boone and grab his collar. The in-laws are away, I’ve got two little girls and a mud puddle, and I just groaned at the thought of trying to take care of Boone. I gave myself lots of excuses why I should just ignore it and let him stay out all night. But I ended up going the responsible route.

I left Sophia and Kali playing and chased Boone back through the trail and trees to his house. Where naturally it was impossible to get a hold of him. While I’m trying to get Boone to come, sit, stay, etc. I heard Kali yelling “Mommy!!” and Sophia wailing. Ughh. I left Boone and ran back to our yard. At this point I don’t even care about my mud splashed jeans. As soon as I’m in sight Sophia stops crying. Kali sweetly calls, “Never mind, Mom!” Grrrrr! Since I was running, Boone got excited and ran with me back to our house, and somehow was just sitting there with all three of us. I grabbed his collar, called Abe’s cellphone, and he decided Boone was staying at our house tonight. Yay. He’s currently downstairs with a mat and water and the door closed.

But chaos isn’t done quite yet. Now we have to get through bath time. Kali was so excited to have Sophia play with her bath toys too. I got muddy clothes off both girls, and picked Sophia up to put her in the tub while Kali was climbing in herself. Sophia chose the moment her feet touched the water to stand still and poop. Right in our soapy clean water-filled bathtub. AAAAUGGGHH. Can my shift be over? Isn’t it someone else’s turn? Abe come back!!!

I cleaned up the tub. Refilled it. Shampooed Kali’s hair for church. Got both girls in their jammies, and was literally hanging on by a thread for bed time. And it dawned on me we never ate dinner. *Inhale.* Crackers, bananas, and milk. We can do this. Then it’s bed time.

FINALLY. The girls were fed, bathed, clothed, clean. I gave Sophia her binky and blanket and rocked her in the rocking chair next to the crib for a few minutes while Kali was in the bathroom finishing up brushing her teeth. I started humming the song that Pappap sings to all of his grandchildren when he puts them in bed.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

I didn’t even get past that first line. Because there in the dark room, Sophia cuddled up on me in the rocking chair, with the fan blowing to give her noise to sleep to, I had a moment with God. Lord all I want to do is hide. Hide from the stress, from the problems, from the chaos. Let me hide myself in Thee. Please! Cleft for me. God made a spot for me. For when the hassle is too much, when I need to hide. The Rock of Ages is my Rock to hide in, my place of refuge. It made me think of one of my favorite verses in Psalms, “Lead me to that rock that is higher than I.” 

Kali came bounding in from brushing her teeth and heard me humming. I asked her if she would sing it for me. She sang the first verse perfectly and beautifully, and my whole aggravated heart melted into a thankful spirit. Thankful for the old hymns. For almost-bed-times. For Kali and Sophia.

Thankful that my God lets me hide in Him, the Rock of Ages, when I can’t even make it to bed time.

Both girls are sleeping now. I have a blog post written. Abe will be home again soon! 🙂

I hope you have had a good Saturday too. EVEN if it involved frustrating circumstances. 😉

Until the next time I drop by….

❤ Flossie

 

 

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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 ❤

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