Excuse this work in progress

IMG_4780 copyIt started with a text from a friend letting me know she would be in town and wanted to grab lunch.  I glanced over at my 3 year old who is still just a week post op- tonsillectomy.  He is a little unpredictable generally, but recovery has left me not knowing moment to moment his mood.  It has been over a week since I did anything that resembled fun and lunch with adults sounded wonderful but I knew I couldn’t load up 5 kids and go.

I looked around at all the unfinished things at my house.  I have no kitchen faucet, the island is without a counter top, trim isn’t finished, light fixtures need to be installed, closets aren’t done…. The list is long.  But I really wanted this opportunity to visit.  I responded  “I can’t got out for lunch but you are welcome to come here!”  She responded with excitement to see the new place but I felt the need to disclose, “just so you know, it is a work in progress, excuse the mess and unfinished state!”

I couldn’t help but feel like that could be my life hashtag #excusethishotmessimaworkinprogress

Jesus is still working on me y’all!  I mean it!  Everyday I feel like I discover a ways I need to do better.  I can want to hide my face and run away at some of the mistakes I make.  I get embarrassed and insecure knowing I have so much to work on.  I can easily let my work in progress state keep me from things, knowing I am flawed and imperfect.

Today I made lunch for friends in my unfinished, work in progress, no where close to perfect house.  We laughed, dreamed, and enjoyed our few hours together. I could have missed out on this chance if I let the fact that we are still working on it bother me.

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The truth is, we are all a work in progress.  There isn’t one of us that will ever arrive at perfection and be able to say “I do not need to work on me any more!”  But how often do we let the work in progress state we are in keep us from things?  From my own experiences, I have found that perfection isn’t always inviting.  Sometimes it is down right intimidating.  When we allow ourselves to embrace the work in progress, knowing it won’t always be this way, we can lovingly invite others into our story, on our journey, and share our life!

Lets be brave enough to show our real, imperfect, work-in-progress lives to each other, so when Jesus makes new of what is a mess, others get to see that transformation too!  Can we all love and extend grace to one another so can be a community of brave women, sharing our journey?  Join me friends!

What’s with Sundays?

This morning I woke up positive that today was going to be good.  The past 3 or 4 Sunday’s have just not been fabulous so I went to bed feeling a little bit dreadful but woke up feeling great! I was able to drink my entire cup of coffee while it was hot, got myself and the kids all ready for church- on time, and was about ready to head out the door when it started.  “those shoes are too tight!”  I know they are not.  I just bought them a few days ago and they fit great.  but I couldn’t convince her.  So I quickly decided it wasn’t worth the fight.  I offered a different pair of shoes- tears and crying…… “I want to wear those!”  Wait, what?  The ones you just screamed were too tight?  The tears and crying continued and I threw my hands up, taking both pairs of shoes and the child to the car where everyone else was already waiting.

Phew!  We are still on time! I silently celebrated as I put the car in reverse.  It sounded funny as I backed up, but our driveway is gravel so I put it in drive and started out, only to quickly realize that funny sound was my wheel grinding into the gravel.  Flat tire.  I put the car in park and jump out as I call my husband- who is at work (ask any firefighters wife, it all happens on their shift!) I have never changed a tire.  I go back and forth about how i feel about it.  On one hand I don’t want to be the damsel in distress calling for help over a flat.  On the other hand I don’t really feel like I have missed out on life by never changing a flat tire.  But suddenly, I had this deep desire to take care of it myself.  As Joel insisted he would come change it, I insisted I could handle it.

My oldest child and I got the tire out and started the process.  I watched a quick youtube video and up the car went.  I worked on the lug nuts and I got all but one off.  The last one was not wanting to come off.  As I was about ready to give up, our good friend showed up to help!  I didn’t know it, but Joel had already called him and asked if he could stop by since he was just a few minutes away.  He helped us finish changing the tire and off we went to church, 30 minutes late!

I get there and realize Harvey fell asleep.  A 3 year old with a 20 minute nap is no good.  I took a very cranky boy in the church.  Melt down. Nothing was right.  He was just mad.  I finally got him to stay in his class just in time to hear the sermon.  As I sat down I realized that in the madness Harvey had wiped his glazed donut all over my black shirt- oh well, I was just glad to be hearing the sermon!  The final song was about to wrap up when someone taps my shoulder “Harvey pooped in his pants” WHY?  Harvey….. Why?  He does so good, until he doesn’t.  Any way, potty training is stupid. the end.

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If we go back to when I got in the van this morning, there was a smell.  I addressed it- told the husband what I thought it was and he said to come by after church and we would take the seats out and find the source.  So that is what we did.  He pulled the seats out, vacuumed and found nothing.  I got in with some cleaner to really detail it since the seats were out.  I had already told him I was sure I knew what the smell was, but as I cleaned, it was confirmed.  I found mouse poop.  IN MY VAN.  Are you kidding me?  Where have we moved?  We have lived a lot of places and I have never in my life had so many mouse issues.  Is moving an option? I mean before we buy land again can I get a mouse survey?

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So, after taking off panels, finding a LIVE baby mouse IN MY VAN, taking off my wheel, 3 hours of searching, the dead mouse is still in there somewhere.  Why?  I mean seriously?  Who has mice living in the panel in their car?  Of course, I do!  UGH!  I don’t even know what to say.  My little kids loved the baby mouse and wanted to bring it home as a pet.  They squealed with excitement and kept saying “mommy its so cute!”  As I die inside just a little.  At what point will they both loose the “its so cute” attitude and turn into “oh my gosh there is a LIVE mouse in my car”?

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Just a few short weeks ago, I had a similar Sunday with all kinds of crazy things.  Honestly, that Sunday had a Harvey poop incident, a dead mouse (in the camper), and a flooding situation.  The Sunday’s in between have been crazy too.  I use to love Sundays.  Jesus, friends, family, food….. But now it seems like Sundays are more like poop, mice, and madness…..

Friends, I don’t know if my life is just that crazy, or maybe It is just that I don’t know the right people and others have just as many crazy things happen,  But here is my plea- if your life is full of crazy “incidents” that when you tell others they all look at you crazy and laugh, asking why weird things are always happening to you, please raise your hand, leave a comment, something!  We can start some sort of support group.  I keep wondering if maybe God is like “Hello, Mrs. Meinardus, I am obviously giving you really good material to work with!  Write it down, make lots of money with these crazy stories!” Or maybe He just likes to laugh!  If it wasn’t my life, I would totally be laughing!

Love, even when its hard

img_9572My parents divorced when I was little.  My dad was not a constant in my childhood.  The older I got, the more I saw him.  I pushed for him to be in my life, especially in my early teen years.  As a kid I just saw my dad as this cool, music loving, hippy.  I didn’t understand the complicated things.  I just knew I wanted to be around him more.

When I was about 14 my dad decided to quit his job.  He walked out one night after getting upset with his boss.  He had no plan and his free spirit seemed to be leading him.  He decided he was done working for the man and I remember him vowing to never work for someone else again.  He lived off his savings and 401K that he withdrew.  Eventually that ran out.  He had no money for rent so he became homeless.  He had no money to pay for his truck, so they took it back.  I remember wanting nothing more than to help him.  I begged my mother to let him stay with us and she did- for months.

After he over stayed his welcome he started what he would keep up for the next 15 years.  He would live from place to place until he over stayed his welcome.  I was his advocate for a long time.  I would make sure he was taken care of.  I took him food and gave him some money over the years. He lived with us more times than I can count.  I wasn’t alone in this, as there were several of us who were constantly taking turns.

At some point, I started getting a little resentful.  I was always doing for him.  Each time he would come to stay with us, it came with a promise.  This promise was that it was temporary and that he would get a job and save to be on his own.  Each time his stay would end with us telling him we could no longer keep it up unless he did as he promised and each time he would leave without even looking for a job.  He bounced back and forth between several places over his last 15 years.

I don’t need to go into all the details of all the things that happened, but at some point, my heart changed from a caring concerned daughter to an irritated, inconvenienced daughter.  At some point I quit seeing my dad through loving eyes and just saw my dad as a constant irritation.  If I listed all the things, I could probably get you to say that I was justified in my feelings but I don’t want to be.

I loved my dad.  I miss my dad.  But when he was here, there were a lot of things that were a constant source of hurt for me.  I needed a dad my entire life and my dad couldn’t be what I needed.  I had slowly started to accept that I needed to view our relationship differently and morn the fact that my dad wasn’t ever going to be able to be that dad I had always wanted.  It was still hard but getting better.

But now, my dad is gone.  Our relationship will never have a chance to mend or be healthy.  Now I wish I could be inconvenienced by going to pick him up for a birthday party or holiday get together.  Each time I eat at a restaurant that he loved, I only wish I could buy him dinner, where before I would have been frustrated I had to buy his dinner because he never had money.  Now when I try a new dark chocolate, which was his favorite, I wish I could offer him some.  The list goes on and on.

The reason I am writing all of this down is to remind us all that we need to love others even when it is inconvenient.  Love others when it is difficult to love.  Extend grace and understanding even when people are frustrating.  I know we all have relationships that are hard.  We all have those people in our lives that we don’t understand and that seem impossible.  I am sure that right now you are thinking of someone who fits this description.

Here is what I would do differently if my dad was still here and I had the chance to do things over.  I would do my best to understand him.  I would spend more time trying to see his heart. I would ask hard questions to find out what has happened to land him where he is.  I would focus on him as a person rather than his actions.  I would make sure that he always felt loved and welcomed where he was.  I would make sure I stood up for him.  But I would also hold him accountable.  I would remind him of the steps he needed to take to better himself and I would encourage him along the way.  I wouldn’t do it all for him, but rather come along side him and cheer him on, lending him a hand when and how I could.  I would have set healthy boundaries sooner to ensure our relationship was healthy, even if he wasn’t.  None of these things are easy to do and hindsight is 20/20 and it is easy to see things different now, but I want to try to learn from this and apply it where I can now.

You see, Jesus loves us all.  He loves us when we are difficult.  He loves us when we are broken.  He loves us when we are at the bottom.  He loves us when we don’t deserve it.  He loves us when it is inconvenient, messy, ugly.  He loves us.  Love God and Love people.

I see my dad in every person I pass holding a sign on the side of the road asking for something- food, money, shelter.  When I stop and offer what I have to give, I want so badly to know them.  To know their story and to know what has landed them where they are.  I see my dad when I see someone hurting and in need.  I see my dad when I encounter a difficult person.  I just want to understand what has caused pain in their life.  I have learned so much after my dads death.  I see people different.  (I am a work in progress and not perfect!) I see people as more than their sin, their actions, their words.  I am working on loving deeper, extending more grace, and truly seeing people.

Today I want to urge you to love others even when it is inconvenient, messy, or difficult because that is what Jesus would do and you never know when that might be their last chance to be loved like Jesus loves.

Happy Camper Christmas

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This year just hasn’t felt like Christmas.  We didn’t have a tree up or any decorations.  Time has flown by and it doesn’t even seem like it should be 5 days until Christmas.  A few weeks ago we were discussing a tree.  Every year we go and get a live tree and love that tradition.  But this year, we live in a camper.  Our tree decorations are all in storage and not accessible at all.  I had pretty much just decided that we were not going to be able to have a tree.  We are so busy, things are crazy with building, and time was running out.

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Then one night I asked Joel if he thought there was any trees on our property that might work as a Christmas tree.  I told him I didn’t care if it was perfect, that really it could be a Charlie Brown type of tree.  We discussed how much fun it would be if we made popcorn garland and dried oranges to hang on the tree.

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So that is what we did!  We decided to make the best of what we had and guess what?   It turned out to be amazing!  So much fun and so many memories.  The kids all talked about how we should make this a new tradition.  I bought one ornament and we all agreed that we will put it on the tree each year to remind us of the time we spent Christmas in the camper!

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As we worked, Joel started crafting ornaments out of scrap wire from our house.  He even created a copper star for the tree topper!

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I love that even though this camper life isn’t ideal, some how we all encourage each other through it and find ways to be thankful.  Each of us have bad days where we are tired of being in the camper, but it never fails that someone else reminds whoever is down, just how much we have to be thankful for!

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Jesus is truly the reason for the season and without a tree or decorations that doesn’t change, but the memories made decorating this sweet little tree are irreplaceable! Camper Christmas has had many obstacles to figure out (like where do I keep all the presents until Christmas) but I sure am happy to be here with all of my family and our Charlie Brown tree!  And most of all this Christmas I am thankful for a savior who was sent to us as a baby on Christmas day!  Thank you Jesus!

Home Sweet Home: part 2

I am a little sad that I haven’t blogged more of our adventure.  Camper living while Joel literally builds our house is an adventure to say the least.  I am hoping to update on camper life soon, but this will be a long post updating construction over the last 2 months.   Slowly but surely, we have chipped away and gotten this far!

When I last wrote about the house, we had just finished framing.  Since then, a lot has happened but a lot of it wasn’t super noticeable so I didn’t even want to blog about it.

The windows went in and then then roof going up was the next thing.  This took several weeks to complete because it is really hard to roof alone.  Joel had to wait for help and when he didn’t have help, you can see he improvised.  It was nerve wracking at times watching him up there! img_4182

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Thankfully his dad, brother, Kamden, and our nephew all helped out several days.  We chose a galvenized metal roof which I am excited about!  I love the way it looks and can’t wait to see it with our siding and rock.

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We wanted a very open floor plan and our kitchen, living, and dinning are all one big room.  I was probably most excited about this part of our plans.  But, when it came time to design the kitchen layout, I found it very hard to envision what the big open room was going to be like.  I spent many mornings with my coffee, floor plans, Pinterest, and a tape measurer trying to make decisions.

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I finally was able to communicate to Joel and my father-in-law (who is building the cabinets) what I was wanting!  Joel was able to roughly draw up what I wanted and I showed lots of pictures and I am confident that I will love the end result!  I am so excited to see them finished!

Over the next 2 months, lots of things happened.  Electrical was ran, as well as plumbing.  Joel did this mostly on his own with help and guidance from a few experts. Joel set bathtubs, installed outlet and switch boxes, and spent lots of time in the attic and under the house.   He also has run all the duct work for the heat and air and the units in place.

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Any time I got a chance I was in the house writing scripture on the walls.  I knew I wanted to do this and had lists of scripture for every room.  I enjoyed praying the scriptures in each room and dreaming about how they would be lived out within those walls.

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In between each step we clean up.  Kamden & Jade have been a huge help and we are so thankful they willingly help!  Vera Jane spent lots of time supervising!

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Our fireplace was installed and the exterior doors went in as well.

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Insulation was up next and we did pay someone to do that.  We decided to go with spray insulation.  We have been impressed that the inside temperature of the house is pretty nice, even without any heat and air!  It was so messy during the process but they came back through and cleaned all of their mess up!  img_7274

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After insulation we were ready for sheetrock!  I was so excited for this step and to finally see what the walls would look like.  We decided to pay someone to hang the sheetrock because they can get it done so much faster then we could.  They got here at 8am and were gone by 2:15!  I was impressed!

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So here we are, sheetrock up!  Finishing should start next week and then we will move on to paint and floors!

Joel fell through the ceiling a few nights ago.  Luckily he caught himself and didn’t hit the ground, but there is a little patch job that will need to happen!  I am thankful that he was ok and just a little sore!

We have all had to learn a little patience through this project.  Each step has come with delays and unexpected things.  We haven’t met the deadlines we put in place and I have especially had to learn to just go with it.  I am not good at it by any means and I have spent more days disappointed then I would like to admit, but when this is over I know I will look back and be glad we chose to do things this way- even if it wasn’t the easiest way!

Not Measuring Up?

dsc_9374ccBeing content in life can sometimes be a struggle, am I right?  I find myself hating Thursdays because I run around a lot.  Preschool drop off, then preschool pick up.  Then dance, wait around for soccer to start, then soccer.  All the running, with all the kids is exhausting and when you add in that all 3 little ones need to poop during all the running around- the baby exploded and I used about 20 wipes to clean up her and the carseat,  Harvey pooped minutes after Garner used the lady bug potty in the van. (if you have small children and don’t have a potty training potty in your trunk, get one!  It will save you from all kinds of bathroom situations!)  By the time I get home on Thursdays I am at hot mess.  Lets face it, hot mess is just my word for this season.  I guess it is two words, but you know what I mean!

I seriously can find myself in a constant state of discontent if I am not careful.  It is always something at this house, ummm I mean camper.  I know that if I started listing all the things I would have lots of moms nodding their heads saying “yes girl, yes!” because the reality is, most of these things that are always happening are just part of it.  I just reread what I typed and sighed big.  My own words cause me to stop and sigh because sometimes I just wish that wasn’t the truth!

BUT- when I go to my trusty bible and start digging into what it has to say about being a mother and wife I find all kinds of fun stuff.  Like Proverbs 31.  Who is this lady?  She makes clothes and sells them.  She cooks good food, she keeps the affairs of her house in order.  She speaks wisdom and faithful instruction. She opens her arms to the poor and needy.  She makes profitable trades, she works vigorously, she gets up early.  Her husband praises her.  GOOD-NESS…… ummmm, I don’t sew.  Right now I don’t cook anything except toaster waffles (totally the campers fault), the affairs of my house are far from in order. wisdom? faithful instruction?  how about speaking pleas to the 2 year old? does that count? I am in survival mode most days so I know I am not extending anything to anyone.  Everyday I am awoken by a tiny human screaming “Mommy get me a waffle and milk” and I say  “ugh, I should have gotten up earlier”.  Needless to say, I am so not living up to that Proverbs 31 woman.

Most days, if you ask me, I would say I fail at more than I succeed at.  Through prayer I feel like God has encouraged me to see things differently though.  I hear His voice saying “you have what it takes.”  I am reminded that I need to quit focusing on where I don’t feel I am measuring up, and focus more on where I am getting it right, even if it seems like it isn’t much.  I need to extend myself some grace- enough grace to get me through the bad days so I can keep going and not give up!  In fact, something that has helped me in giving myself grace is this: Stop- think about the situation different.  If this were someone else telling you the same story your are currently beating yourself up over, what would you tell them?  Would you be quick to encourage them to give themselves a little grace?  If I take myself out of the equation, I am usually quick to see it different.  If you would extend others grace in the same situation, give yourself grace too!

When I was looking though all the verses on the subject of motherhood and caring for our families, I saw over and over again the message that God is with us in our time of need.  “I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me” Psalm 120:1  So many times throughout my days, I try to take it all on myself.  I try to do it alone and don’t call out to Him and ask Him for help.  But oh when I do, it can make the craziest of situations ok!

1 Chronicles 28:10 says “Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary.  Be strong and do the work.”  Although this passage is David talking to Solomon about building the temple, it really reminded me that God has chosen ME to be where I am now.  To be a mother and wife, and build this household up in Him.  Again in 1 Chronicles 28:20, David is encouraging Solomon- be strong and courageous, do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, For the Lord God is with you, He will not fail you or forsake you until the work is finished.  I find this so encouraging where I am right now.  Sometimes the work of keeping our homes running is difficult and frustrating but we can’t stop working at it.  We can’t allow ourselves to feel discouraged.  God is with us, He does promise us that!

I love that The Lord doesn’t leave us to do this alone.  I have been entrusted with a mighty calling in motherhood and caring for this household.  It truly is a BIG responsibility and I am ever thankful that His grace, love & mercy are covering it all!  Today I am clinging to the reminders that it isn’t about perfection or always getting it right, but it is more about continuing to fight the good fight for our family and choosing to not give up!  I hope this finds you encouraged today!

 

If you give a mouse popcorn

Everyday seems like a new adventure in the camper.  I discover something daily.  Now, not all of the things I discover are monumental or worth documenting,  but a few are.  Lets see, at times, there is the realization that the camper is really small.  When you are trying to get ready for church and all the little people want to play and run, but there is really only a small space to do that, and you can’t send them outside or their Sunday best will be a mess.  So in the end, mom looses her mind and yells at everyone because she can’t seem to get ready when little people keep running her over while she tries to curl her hair.

Or maybe the lesson of “if you give a mouse popcorn….” is one I should share….. Have you ever been in a camper?  If you have, you will know that the sleeping quarters are close to the kitchen because everything is close! In our case, the stove sits on the wall to our bedroom.  From my bed to the stove is literally 2 steps away.  A few nights ago I woke up to a strange sound.  I couldn’t identify it right away.  I sat up and listened and thought one of my kids was out of bed for sure.  I used my handy iPhone flashlight to shine into the living room and no one was up.  By then the sound was gone so I laid back down.  As I settled back into bed I hear the noise again and I suddenly realize that sound is likely a critter.  My heart starts racing a little bit because I am scared of critters.  I slowly slide out of bed and creep around the corner with my flashlight on.  I see that there is a bag of Stirred popcorn (it is covered in sugar) that was upright against the wall when I went to bed, is now laying on its side and moved over.  I knew then that there was for sure a critter.  I jumped back in bed fast and debated what to do.  Where is my brave husband?  If you have read this blog before you know where he is- at the fire station!  After what felt like an eternity of listening to that MOUSE eat through the bag of popcorn, I finally caved and called Joel.

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What was he going to do?  I don’t have a clue but I needed another adult to talk me off the ledge.  “what are you afraid of?”  UMMMM Hello?  There is a mouse, a few feet away from me, eating a bag of popcorn.  “I know but what do you think is going to happen?”  All I am picturing is Ratatouille, you know that cute rat cartoon, and I am picturing that mouse calling all his friends to come eat the popcorn with him.  I don’t know what i think might happen but I just want the mouse to go away.  My sweet husband suggests I go get the bag of popcorn and throw it out.  No way is that happening.  I just can’t.

So, apparently camper living comes with friends.  Friends I don’t care for.  Friends I would like to leave.  And if you give a mouse popcorn, he will probably stick around to see what else you have, in case you are wondering.

Look, I live in a  camper with 7 people and at least one mouse.  Life is a mess most days.  Please don’t be offended if I invite myself over or show up unannounced at your house.  I know it is rude, but I am just asking for grace in advance.  If you feel so inclined, just invite us over before I show up at your doorstep without warning.  I am normally all about bringing gifts of homemade bread and desserts as thank you for having us, but since my camper oven over cooks in one 1/2 and undercooks on the other, I don’t know if you will want to eat anything I bring, so I will spare you that.

So here I am, 5 weeks into camper living, thinking to myself, When is this house going to be done?

Today at church, I had the sweetest lady tell me “well you just have it all together!”  In case it appears that way, I will first say I absolutely do not!  The other day I took this picture of myself (yes, a selfie) and I thought Wow, I actually look pretty good right now!  Then about 5 minutes later I found BBQ sauce in my hair. Moral of the story, not everything looks as it appears.  Ok friends, don’t forget to high five your mommy friends you see out in public with their kids.  It really is work to get there! Happy Monday!