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Archive for the tag “life”

Lessons from a Banjo

Lessons from a banjo… Not something I ever expected, but that is often how God works, isn’t it my friends? God teaches us things in the most unexpected ways. Meeting us where we are… and right now, I am listening to a lot of banjo…

My husband has wanted to learn to play an instrument for a long, long time. I bought him a guitar on our 2-year “dativersary”. That was 13 years ago. It broke this past summer, right when he was finally starting to get the hang of a few chords. It would cost more to get it fixed than what I paid for it, so he has gone with out while trying to figure out what he wanted to do…

Enter the banjo. My precious has always loved bluegrass (and therefore, I have also learned to love bluegrass) and has often said that once he got the hang of his guitar, he would like to learn to play the banjo. So when talking about how he missed his guitar one day, the subject of replacing it with a banjo came up, and he started researching and finally found the one he wanted. It is a Goodtime banjo, by Deering. Maybe that means something to you, it doesn’t really to me, but it makes my man happy, and I’m covered on the gift department from now through Christmas 😉 Happy Dativersary, Valentines, Anniversary, Father’s day, and Birthday my precious!

If you have ever learned to play an instrument, you know that you have to trudge through the baby steps to get to the fun stuff. My precious is struggling with that right now. Right now he is having to work on technique and mastering the “Brush Stroke” and “bum ditty” – when he really just wants to bust out some “I’ll Fly Away” or “Cripple Creek”. He keeps trying to play the songs, when he just isn’t ready yet (he hasn’t even had his banjo a week), but in his heart and mind he can “claw hammer” like a boss. One day he will be able to, he is determined to succeed, and I look forward to the day we can sit around with our kids singing some great bluegrass gospel tunes, and some fun folk songs, but in the mean time he is going to keep trudging through the boring baby steps so that one day he will soar.

It’s the same thing I struggle with. It dawned on me this week that his struggle and mine are one in the same. We want the fun, the rewards, the goal or prize, but we don’t really want to have to take the baby steps to get to it. In my mind I understand that the hard work must be put in. That grit, determination, hard work, and prayer are what it takes to succeed. But I have a goal! I see the prize – and I want it!! I want it so bad!! Just like my husband wants to be able to just pick up his banjo and strum a beautiful melody, but he just can’t yet. It’s going to take hours of time and practice, broken fingernails, and broken strings. The same goes for me. It’s going take time, hard work, prayer, determination.  A can do attitude, a willing and joyful spirit. It is going to take me getting out of my comfort zone. I’m going to have to “get busy“.

Life is full of baby steps to get us where we need to go. A baby must first learn to lift its head, then it rolls, then it crawls, then it pulls up, then it walks, then runs… The baby steps never really end do they? You have to learn letter shapes and sounds before you can read. You have to know basic math facts before you can solve complex problems and formulas in math and science. I am teaching these lessons to my children, and in turn God is using them to teach me as well. Just like he is using a banjo to teach me a valuable lesson, even though I am not learning to play it.

If I want to lose weight, I am going to have to eat right and exercise. Is it fun – no. Is it worth it – YES.
If I want to build my Healthy Home business I am going to have to stretch out of my comfort zone. But is it worth it? Yes!
If I want my children to obey, and develop godly character, good morals, and habits – I am going to have to teach them. I am going to have to set the example. I am going to have to be firm and consistent. Is it going to be hard – yes. It it worth it – YES!
If I want a clean house, I am going to have to break bad habits, and get up and do the work! I have to get rid of the clutter, actually take things to the dump or donation sites. Will it take time and hard work – yes. Will it be worth it? YES!

It is like that with all of life. Relationships take work. Marriage is hard work. Raising kids is hard work. Even friendships take hard work. Nothing in life is easy. We have to decide what is worth the hard work, and we have to pray for God to give us strength, because I know that there is nothing I can do on my own. I need Him!

That is what I have learned from a banjo.


When God flips the table…

I’m not a control freak. Not really. I would like to think that I am one of the most laid back people you will ever meet. A “let it roll off like water on the ducks back” kind of person. I try not to be one of those people who gives unsolicited advice. (Even if I really DO know what is best for you, lol!)

Then this past 6 months happened (not to mention THIS WEEK happened…). God has shown me that I really do need to step back sometimes and let Him handle things. A friend of mine and I have always joked that we have a tendency to want to “play Holy Spirit”. That we tend to think we know what is best for people, and may be a little pushy about it. Have you ever fallen into this trap?

I just spent a good hour in prayer about this particular issue last night. It’s like I’m saying “OK, God. I really do trust You. You know what You are doing. But….” Sigh, that has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. “I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but…” – “I’m not trying to mind your business, but….” – I truly HATE when people do that to me! I just want to scream, don’t you realize that by saying “but” that you are doing EXACTLY what you are trying to say that you are not doing??? And here I am, doing that to the Almighty!! GAH!! Why does He put up with me?

Have you ever tried making plans? You would think I would know better by now. In my last blog I spoke of my husband and I trying to plan a family, and having to learn that God’s timing was better than our own. That is just one of many examples that God has taught us to trust in Him and His timing. Obviously, we are slow learners…

It’s like we are building a house of cards. All of our plans (or cards in this case) carefully laid out. Taking such care to place them in the perfect spot. Then God comes up and just flips the table, and all the cards go flying. But in hindsight, I know that where they land, the way they land… is a beautiful masterpiece, that I could never have dreamed up or achieved on my own.

So if I know this, why am I so hard-headed?? God has shown me over, and over again, that He has great plans for me, and my family. So why am I having such a hard time trusting Him… again…

Then “The Voice” posted this on facebook today (remember, God and I just had a nice LONG chat about this last night…) – “Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Voice)

Thanks, God, for the reminder.

When I grow up

I am a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).

I never wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it!! I wouldn’t change it for the world. It is the hardest, yet most rewarding job in the world. My children are a precious gift from the Lord, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to stay home with them.

I just wasn’t one of those kids that knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be a wife and mom. I knew some girls that that was their dream. My dreams were a little different. In kindergarten, I told my teacher that I wanted to be a “Barbie punk rocker, with a hot pink limousine with a jacuzzi in the back.” She told my parents I had a very active imagination.

In second grade I wanted to be a vet – for career day I wore a white lab coat, stethoscope, and carried a dog around.

My inspiration for my secretary outfit.

In 4th grade, I wanted to be a secretary – I wore a plaid skirt, red turtle neck, tights, loafers and carried around folders.

In 6th grade, a fashion designer. I even created my own fashion magazine “Va-Va-Voom” followed by the sequel, “Va-Va-VA-VOOM” (I kid you not – you just can’t make this stuff up!).

Then I discovered HGTV and I knew my life purpose – I was going to be an interior designer! I dreamed of moving to New York and strolling through Central Park with my hands full of shopping bags while I gathered inspiration from nature. I would attend the Rhode Island School of Design. I would have a Park Ave. pent house apartment (I didn’t even know what that meant, but it sounded nice). I’m pretty sure there was a scene in which I just happened to bump into Prince William which led to coffee and a courtship… but its all a blur now – lol!

Then I decided maybe that was a little ambitious. I would go to the Art Institute of Dallas and see where that led. I even cheated on that test they give you in high school that tells you what career path you should take in college. I answered each question in a way that there was NO WAY it could not tell me to be an interior designer. And sure enough, that was one of the options it gave me. (Gasp! How did it know?? – Sarcasm, sorry.) From the time I was a sophomore in high school I had a career counselor at the Art Institute who kept in touch with me. My senior year, I applied and was accepted. Then we went up there to visit. I was way out of my comfort zone. When my parents and I returned, I told them with tears in my eyes that I didn’t think that was what God wanted me to do with my life. So I decided to go to community college, and spend time in prayer as I sought God’s will and direction for my life.

During this time I had met and fallen in love with My Precious. We met at church, and started dating my sophomore year in high school. In February of my senior year, we became engaged. We would not be getting married for a little over a year though, so he that he could finish his degree and get a job so that he could provide for us.

I had began taking college courses while still in high school (I’ve always been a nerd at heart), so I jumped in with both feet to being a full time college student. Still praying and trying to figure out what it was God wanted me to do with my life. I decided to take American Sign Language for my foreign language credit. I fell in love with the language and culture. So I decided to transfer to another college that offered a degree in sign language interpreting. However as it got closer for me to prepare for an internship, I panicked. So with that being said, I have an A.A. degree, with several elective hours and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. So I decided to work for a while. I worked in a teachers supply store for a while, then I kept children, then I went to work at a scrapbook store. (No, I am not a scrap booker.)

During all of this we decided after being married two years, we were ready to start a family. We didn’t tell anyone, we wanted it to be a surprise. Shortly after we prayed about this and began trying for a family, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. We chose to kill my thyroid with RAI and our family plans were put on hold for about 6 months. Once we got the OK from my (super-awesome) endocrinologist we began trying for a family again. After a year, with no success I began to worry. My dr. assured us he would get us pregnant, it just may take us longer due to my health issues (thyroid, and PCOS). I would get depressed at times, we really wanted a baby so badly. It was something we prayed about together, and cried about together. At this time we still hadn’t told very many people that we were trying. We didn’t want to get our families hopes up, and we didn’t want people feeling sorry for us, or wondering what was wrong with us that we couldn’t get pregnant. (Looking back I know this was silly, we could have used the support and prayers of our family and friends, but this was a growing process for both my husband and for me.) All together it took us about 3 years to conceive our first child. During that time there were lots of prayers and tears. Several of our family and friends welcomed children into their families. That was hard. I didn’t want to be jealous, but I was. I had to pray not to be angry or bitter. I wanted to be joy-filled for them! Babies are a blessing! And I trusted God. I had to keep that thought at the forefront of my mind daily. God had a plan for me. (Jeremiah 29:11) God cares for me and my problems. (1 Peter 5:7)

I may not have ever given much thought to being a SAHM, but my plans had always been to have my first child when I was 22 and my last child by 27.

It’s funny how we make plans for our lives. Being married to a teacher, the goal was for a May/June/early July baby so that my Precious would be home with us. Age 22 came and went with no children. I was 25 when our daughter was born (in November), 27 when we had our son (early May). However looking back, it is clear that God’s plans are better than our own. During the three years of infertility, we were introduced to Dave Ramsey, and took Financial Peace University. That was life changing for us, and made welcoming a baby into our family a lot easier than it would have been had we conceived when we originally planned.

God molding me into the person that I needed to be, to be a SAHM was a process. He is still working on me, but I believe this was my first (of many) lesson in contentment. Of learning that I am not in control, He is. I need to just step back and let Him do His thing, because He does have great plans for me, if I will just trust Him.

Yeah, a lot easier said than done, I know. I am thankful that He loves me, and is patient with me, and that His mercies are new each morning.

So much has changed…

Wow, my last post was in April. I just re-read it, and couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I recalled that night. It seems so long ago. Actually, I had completely forgotten about it. I’m so glad that I wrote about it. It makes me wonder what else I have forgotten about? That makes me sad…

So much has changed since then. We are now officially a family of four! (With two dogs, and one fish…)

My sweet boy was born May 6th. He weighed 7 lb 9 oz and was 20 inches long.

We had some issues at birth. My husband actually wrote a beautiful blog post about that, and I will post it here shortly. Praise the Lord, he is well now, and thriving.

My love, our daughter, has adjusted beautifully!! The transition could not have been smoother. She adores her brother, and loves helping. People often ask me what we did to prepare her for this, and here it is: She went to almost every dr. appointment with us. We made sure to talk about the baby, in a positive way, daily. We explained that our family was growing, we told her this was a good thing. We made it seem as exciting as possible. She went to the ultrasounds, and got to see him on the screen. She got to hear his heartbeat at each appointment. She even (all by herself) started checking the baby’s heartbeat at home, with her toy stethoscope. We bought her a “Big Sister” book to read, and a special “Big Sister” dress to wear to all the “baby parties” (aka, baby showers) we had. Her daddy and I had bought her a present to give to her at the hospital the day he was born, it was “from brother”. We presented it to her like this “look what the baby brought you! He is so excited you are his big sister! You are going to have to teach him about this, because he is little and doesn’t know yet.” The gift was the newest “What’s in the Bible” dvd (#6 I believe) – she loves them!

She is also in a “big girl” bed now! We took the side rail off her crib the first week of June. She goes to bed on her own (after a story, prayer, and lots of kisses of course!) – it really could not have been easier. She has not yet fallen out. She does come to our room just about every night, but one step at a time, right? We are also “potty training”! WOW! Lots of big things happening for our little girl! This too is going way smoother than planned. Once I quit trying to make her go every 20 minutes or so, and just let her hang out on her own in “big girl panties” (no pull-ups for us) she just started going on her own!! AMAZING! This has been going on for about 3 weeks now, and we have traveled, go out and about in town, and have not had any accidents!!!! WHAT?!?! I know, crazy right!

We are also trying to keep a routine going at the house. Two to three days a week we do “school”. We do: Reading (using the “Your Baby Can Read” system and Leap Frog products), Language (Signing Time video – she has been doing this since she was 16 months old), and Math (puzzles with shapes, numbers, patterns, etc.). She LOVES “playing school”! She also enjoys pretend play. She absolutly loves playing with her toy kitchen. She loves dress up. She loves the Go Fish Guys! We even went to see them in concert this summer. Now, if you ask her what she wants to do for her birthday party, she will say “I want a Kick it Old School party with Na-Na-OO-OO”. Um, ok. I can throw a retro party, but getting the Go Fish Guys to come…. um, not so much. I guess we can invite them, what does it hurt, right? 😀

The Boy… is such a joy!! He is so happy! Always smiling, laughing, playing with his feet. He is rolling over already, and absolutely LOVES his sister and daddy. Nothing makes my heart more happy than seeing how his face lights up the moment he sees and hears his dad come in from work.

So yes, our lives have changed a lot since April. Each day is a joy and a blessing. Thank you God, for these things.

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Angela O'Dell

• author • speaker • teacher • coach • friend •

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