Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another First: Purchased a Van!

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For the first time in my life, I purchased a vehicle all by myself. Even before I was married, my parents made the arrangements and I just paid for my vehicle. In marriage, my spouse heard my requests and made the decision. But when my van was diagnosed to cost more in repairs than it is worth when running well, I knew it was time to look for a decent used vehicle.
I began scouring Craigslist and looking at most every mini-van that was listed. Fairly quickly it became clear what I would and would not be able to afford in a van. It’s always a bit hard to reconcile what I want, with what I can reasonably afford. So, I narrowed my search and determined some markers that I would look for:
  • No older than my existing 2002 model.
  • As close to 100,000 miles as possible.
  • No known mechanical issues.
  • Rear air vents for the kiddos.
  • At least one “amenity” like auto sliding doors or dvd player.
  • Could be paid for in cash or feasibly paid in full by the end of the year.
I test drove eight vehicles. I made offers on four. This weekend, I finally purchased one! I am thrilled to have the decision behind me and thankful that I found a great deal. Our van has the automatic sliding doors, but no dvd player – much to the chagrin of my children. But it runs well and is comfortable and I feel safe driving it wherever we choose to go.

It was oh-so-tempting to 'upgrade' to a van with more perks than my budget could reasonably afford, but I'm very thankful that I refrained from overspending.  Once again, I see God providing before I knew about my need. 

The experience of researching, test driving and purchasing a vehicle was a new one for me. If I was not divorced, I would not have had a big part in the task and so there is a sense of victory in having accomplished the purchase. Many thanks to my father who listened to me recount my test-driving, received many emails describing vehicles and finally helped me locate the chosen vehicle in the backwoods of East Tennessee. I take full ownership of my purchase, but I would not have found it without his persevering navigation skills.

I love being a mini-van-mama!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In the Thick of It

This week is going pretty well, but last week was a doozey!  So, this week I'm in the middle of several projects like contacting insurance about storm damage to the home, researching used van values & reliability, spending time with my family in town for a visit and working as many hours as possible to fund our vacation next month.  I hope you're having a great summer, share one obstacle you have overcome in the comments!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Victoria, I know your secret and I'm not buying it.

It's time for the semi-annual sale at Victoria's Secret.  There was time I got excited about going in to the store to select some fun, new undergarments, plucking through the bins of exotic bras, lacy undies and enticing negligees that promiesed to make me irresistable.  But I haven't been in several years now.  Even though I tend to like cotton undies, I am a woman who is feminine to the core.  Now when I see the commercials or even pass the retail store, I don't see cute and frilly things to encourage feminity.  I see fake and uncomfortable things that encourage fanstasy.

Seriously, the female body is alluring and attractive, beautiful and to be celebrated.  However, I find the flaunting and restructuring of the normal shape to be offensive.  The message to me is clear: "If you don't look like this, you're not attractive in the right way.  If you aren't shapedlike these models, you must constrict, lift and conform or cut reshape to be what we deem desireable.  You are not enough to satisfy, to allure, to be wanted.  You need what we sell or you won't measure up."

It makes me sad because we get this message from so many sources.  The message that somehow we are not enough. But when it comes to something as close to our identity as our core female value, it becomes more personal and more important to guard our minds with the truth.  Because so many of us have been used, betrayed and exploited our insecurities can render us weak if we gather our value from people and not our Father. 

With a background in advertising and brand marketing, I know that corporations prey on the female desire to be beautiful and desireable.  While working with one company, the marketing V.P. often commented about "creating the need" for an unnescceary but profitable product line he was selling to women.  I give credit Victoria's branding of sexuality, just the label of "Victoria's Secret" makes most men assume that whatever the product is, it will be sexy.  How sad that they now market to the teen and even tween generations!  See the "Pink" brand?  Already, our girls are innundated with the message that they must be sexy to be valuable. 

So, for me - at least for now - I'm not buying anything from Victoria's Secret.  What they sell is not reality, but fantasy, and I'm not buying the fantasy.  My reality is pretty great.  What about you?  You may whole-heartedly disagree and I'd love to hear why.  I do not think my little personal boycott will raise one eyebrow at Victoria's Secret headquarters, but I feel good about taking this stand.

"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord" (Psalm 45:11

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Honoring Their Dad

If you are a single mother, then there is likely a father who is a “Ex” of some sort. Father’s Day can be kind of tricky – but remember this: Give your children the gift of loving BOTH parents. It’s time to get over whatever resentment you harbor toward the man who is Daddy to your children. This is not about you. It’s about empowering your children and never making them feel like they have to choose.

I know – it’s hard to think of spending energy, time and money complimenting someone you may no longer admire. Don’t think of it as doing something for him, you are doing something for them, your children. You are training them to honor their parent, to keep traditions, to love well. You can be sure they spend time with their Dad feeling like they get to bring something to the relationship.

So, whether you feel like or not, get over those feelings and get over yourself. If your child is old enough, talk to him or her about what she wants to give. Otherwise, take the lead. Here are some practical suggestions:

Monday, June 13, 2011

D-Day


Discovery Day.  Dooms Day.  Disaster Day.  It's got many titles but in the world of the betrayed, almost everyone has a D-Day.  For some, the discovery comes in bits and pieces, unfolding into truth.  For me it was like a broken dam, exploding all over my seemingly ordered world.  It's been three years since what I describe as my first D-Day and there are several things I learned through the difficult times:
  • Do not make any major life decisions in the middle of emotional chaos.  There is no reason to rush.
  • The way you feel today is not the way you will feel forever.
  • Make time to think.  You need the emotional space to process what you have learned.  Even if it has been going on for a while, this new reality needs time to be accepted.  Be cautious not to be so 'busy' that you avoid dealing with the trauma.
  • Find a way to take care of yourself.  Walking, long baths, books of recovery and time with encouraging friends.  You will be enough for all that you must do.
  • More than any other time, take care to feed your faith.  Do not abandon the principles of scripture when you will need them most.  If you have never studied the Bible, do so now.  Start in Psalms or Proverbs to remember that others have survived betrayal and hurt, glean the wisdom necessary for rebuilding.  You do not have to survive this alone.
  • Choose to act, not react.  Remember to be a woman of dignity, even when you find yourself part of very undignified circumstances.  You can be proud of how you handle this terrible season.
  • Activate a support system - find those who can help you practically with meals, childcare, therapy, prayer, whatever it is you need now.  This is the time to relinquish caring for others and let others care for you.
I'm so sorry if you've recently experienced a D-Day.  It will shift your life so very much, but someday you will be able to see this shift as the time your reality began to move from darkness to light.  Knowledge of betrayal  happens only after the fact of betrayal.  Information is power and that knowledge can be used to create the life you really always wanted.  The horror of D-Day allows for the freedom from the bondage of betrayal.

 
My D-day was almost exactly three years ago.  I can hardly believe how my life has changed in that time!  Have you experienced a D-day?  How has your life changed?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Have A Great Weekend!


I'm heading out on a road trip for the weekend with some girlfriends and attending a Beth Moore event...much needed personal investment time is scheduled - yay!  In the meantime, Here are some things I've recently found that were quite interesting:

Circumstances Do Not Determine the Future

Disease Called Perfection

Victory for Single Moms!

Top Ten Locations for Single Mothers

This is What I Wish

How To Follow When You're Called To Stay

Abuse in Single Parent Homes

Please share if you've read or written something great!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Frozen Heart


It is blazing, record-breaking hot where I live near the Smoky Mountains.  The frigid winter recently passed is nearly forgotten in the hazy, humid, long days we're now living.  The cycles of nature, from one season into another are one of the ways I remind myself that life moves on, change is part of it and nothing that I dread today will last forever. 

With the heart, change is often met with resistance.  You refuse to allow to grow, change or become something else.  You naturally become sensitive, insecure or guarded after being insulted and hurt. But,  it is dangerous to allow a temporary state to become a permanent character trait.  For example, you may justifiably angry about something, but you do not want to become an angry person.  You may have feel discouraged after disappointment, but you do not want to become a negative person.  You feel guarded and hesitant after being hurt in relationship, but you do not want to become a cold, unfeeling person.  Keep reading to find out what gives me chills...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Living in Plenty

My van is back in the shop today.  It's the third time within four months and I'm feeling a little sorry for myself.  A relative rolled into town in a very 'tricked out' minivan that seems downright glamorous compared to my ride.  Yes, minivans are glamorous to the stuff-toting, car-pooling, multiple child mother.  I see children with ipods, specialty sports lessons, high end gadgets and I wonder if I'm setting mine up for failure by not providing as many opportunities.

It is so easy to compare myself negatively with others.  Someone is skinnier, prettier, more hip.  Someone else has the ideal home, is not required to work elsewhere and spends hours in the pursuit of hobbies and extracurriculars for her children.

Intellectually, I know that I live well.  I have seen first hand the poverty in Brazil, the modern starkness in Hong Kong and the diverse mix of excess and need in Singapore.  Statistically I live better than 85% of the world population.  But when I compare myself, then I can find my lack, the gap between me and another who has more.  How foolish of me to dwell of what I don't have rather than all that I do have!

Comparison never leads to anything good.  It is altogether unhealthy and a habit that only feeds on itself.  I don't want to guage my life by looking at others to see 'how I'm doing.'  Also, I want my children to be grateful for what they do have.  What are some ways to train gratefulness, contentedness and joy with what you've got?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Recently I was weeding in my mother’s garden, doing my best to make her place look lovely as she comes to visit soon. My own garden is overgrown, needs water and fertilizing. This week I dutifully washed and folded all of my children’s clothing, put them away and changed their bedding. My own laundry basket is overflowing and I scramble in the morning to locate something fresh, clean and appropriate to wear. Last night I emailed some friends and straitened the house, but I never took time to feed my spirit. Are you noticing a trend here?