We went to a friend's house for dinner last night. They are a seminary couple too, and we really like them. But I digress.
After dinner we entered into a more thought-provoking discussion about why our culture does not grieve or mourn very well. We all shared different thoughts, and several times during the conversation one of the guys said, "Well, in my Ref. and Mod. class we discussed..." or "..in my Old Testament class we learned.." And it hit me in a big way, so much so that I thought I might start crying, which would be ironic considering that our conversation during dinner had been about the wives' increased comfort level in crying in front of their spouses.
As I sat and listened to these two men talk about what they're learning in their classes, and apply it in such a real way to life, I was struck by the realization that if Spencer decided he wanted to drop out of seminary and pursue an average career, I would be sad. I felt convicted that I spend more time lamenting the fact that we still have 3 more years until we're done than I do praising Jesus for the chance for us as a couple to be shaped by Covenant Seminary. I spend more time wishing that I was a SAHM with a beautiful baby than I do thanking God for the chance that Spencer gets to be a student for 4 years and sit under such wise and Godly men. I spend more time wishing away my days of working a full-time job rather than being grateful that I have the means and opportunity to support us in the professional world. Despite all the time I spend "wishing" things were different, I would truly be sorrowful if this precious season was over.
We are learning so much about ministry, work, and marriage. We are learning what it means to practice community in the midst of a busy busy life. We are learning what hard, slow work it is to build relationships and grow friendships. We have much yet to learn, and harder seasons ahead. But we are learning again and again that the Lord provides, and that He has a beautiful plan for us even though we can't see around the bend. Yes, our future hopes may have to wait. But all of this is so worth it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
It was a fateful day in January of 2011. Me and the Treadmill had been going steady for several years now...in fact, we practically had a date lined up 4 times a week! On this particular day, I was jamming to some music (probably Shane and Shane, Shawn McDonald, or Bethany Dillon), and I was running at a good pace. I was lookin' good in my shorts and T-shirt, ponytail, and sweaty face. All of a sudden, I found myself holding onto the handlebars for dear life, legs slamming against the belt with every rotation.
It was like a slow-motion movie. I had the time to think to myself, "if you want to get off of this treadmill, you have to just let go. Ready 1,2,3!" And on 3, I release my hands and my body rolled off the belt and I to the ground.
A bloody and embarrassed mess, I attempted to quickly collect myself as I looked up at the fellow treadmill runners staring at me with gaping mouths. "Are you okay?!" one girl asked. "Oh my GOODness! What happened?!" exclaimed another. And just as I rose to my wobbly feet, the very cute boy who sat at the weight room desk came running over to help me.
"It..it..was a clumsy mistake!" I mumbled, with burning cheeks and stinging eyes.
"Are you sure?" He asked with a concerned look. "Maybe you should sit down."
"Thank you, but I'm fine....I'll be fine," I assured him as I picked up my iPod off the floor and grabbed my water bottle, "thanks for coming to check on me though!"
And with that, I walked to the waiting room, painfully aware of my throbbing shins and knees, burned raw from the fast track of the treadmill belt.
I still have the scars on my legs from that day, and it makes a pretty good story now! But I never have gotten back on one, and I don't plan on it. It was a clean break-up... and I won't turn back!
"Mommy, mommy look at this fish!!!" she exclaimed, as her pigtails bounced from side to side. Tugging on her mother's sleeves, she persistently said again, 'Mommy, look! I really want for you to see this fish." Her mother, not taking her eyes off of the shiny iPhone screen muttered, "In a minute. Just hang on." Not to be deterred by her mother's focus on the task before her, the little girl waited a moment and continued to watch the fish, gazing at the tank as the little legs clad in pink tights swung back and forth on the chair. She glanced up at her mother again, and seeing that surely a minute had passed she reached up to her mother's arm and declared, "Mommy, this fish. Look at this fish!" "Mhmmm..." the woman replied and nodded her head, eyes still glued on the Facebook status she was reading. The bright brown eyes looked down at the floor, downcast. Tilting her head up she said much more quietly, "Mommy, please look at me." "Okay, okay!" she replied in a frustrated tone, and with one last scroll through the newsfeed, she turned her head to look at whatever it was that her daughter was so fascinated with. "Oh no! Mommy, it went away. You missed it." And with that, the mother sat down in the nearest chair and pulled the phone back out, compulsively drawn to whatever new the iPhone world might offer to entertain her. Across the room, the girl went back to kicking her legs, bobbing her ponytail, and watching the fish. All was right in her 5 year-old world, but a little wound had been placed on her heart just then, and she didn't even know it.
I have watched this scene unfold over and over in the past 7 months of working in a pediatricians' office. My desk is situated such that I can see the fish tank in the waiting room and hear most of the conversation that goes on. Most of the time, it's endearing and funny to watch parents interact with their children. Kids will start singing, talking, laughing, and I love listening to it.
But there are also moments when my heart hurts just watching. This scenario in particular often stops me in my tracks- where the iPhone (or any other handheld device) wins over the child. The heart message that was sent to that little 5 year-old is this: Your interests are petty and are not worth paying attention to. The world on my phone is more important to me than investing in you, your discoveries, and your growth.
Now, as a disclaimer: I am NOT saying that parents should dote on their children every second of the day. That creates spoiled children. And, I am also not a parent, so perhaps writing a blog post on parenting is foolish. But I want to try it anyways.
Everyday, I see parents sitting in the waiting room with eyes glued on their screen, whatever it may be. Children address them, "Mommy, mommy!" "Daddy, daddy!" and most of the time, the parent never lifts their head. A non-communicative sound is normally expressed, and maybe a nod, but usually the child gives up and goes to play by him or herself.
One of the things that Spencer and I both respect in great parents is their constant quest to make life a lesson. What I love to see are the parents who take their child by the hand and lean down to look at the fish. They "ooh and ahh" right along with their kids and teach them about the ocean. They explain that the little plants are called sea weed, that the big black sucker fish eats algea off of the glass so that the tank stays clean. This brief moment in the day affirms children in their interests, develops their mind, expands their understanding of the world, and grows the bond between parent and child.
Or the parent who, instead of responding to their child's question about the Peanut Allergy sign hanging in our waiting room with a brief, "It's an instruction sign," stoops down to read it out loud with their child, discuss what an allergy is, and what it might mean to people. I understand that this takes effort, energy, and time. I understand that by the end of the day, you may just want to lock yourself in a closet and take a nap. I get it. But our culture of parents are so focused on screens that we're missing valuable moments with our children.
One of the beautiful qualities of children is their excitement and awe at the simplest of things: an ice cream cone, a butterfly, or a fish. If that mother had seen the look of sheer joy and excitement at the sight of the yellow fish inside the tank, I don't think she would have been able to hold back a smile.
And you know what? This all reminds me of us and our Heavenly Father. Do you know how many times He says, "My daughter, my son- look! Look at my Creation, look what I have done for you. Would you please take your eyes off the worries of this world and look at ME?! I contain all the wonder, all the stability, all the peace you could ever ask for." So next time I see a parent ignoring their child to continue on in whatever phone activity they're doing, I remember that I am just as stubborn as them. My Father, my Savior, my Lord, my King is tugging on my sleeve asking me to follow Him, asking me to find peace and joy in His salvation, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. But instead, I choose not to see the wonder. I choose not to accept the joy, and I continue on in my wordly pursuits, just as a parent chooses not to participate in their child's learning experience, chooses not to affirm the joy and excitement they've found in an ordinary thing.
I encourage you- take a moment and delight in your child today. Put your phone on silent, in a different room, and sit down and build a castle with legos, or an imaginary feast with play food. Delight in the simplicity of your child's soul and find joy in it. Look your child in the eyes and tell them you love them. You won't regret it.
I remember riding in the car one day, I was probably 8 years old. I wore pigtails back then, and had dorky glasses, and slip-on Skechers. Totally cool. Anyways, I remember looking out the window and seeing a woman in the car next to us, and she was crying. I was so distraught, and felt so bad for her, that I exclaimed to the rest of my family in the car, "Look! That girl in the car by us is crying. We need to pray for her. Something terrible must have happened."
Now, that girl really may have been having a terrible day, and I'm thankful for my sensistive heart that was prompted to pray for her. But I realize now that more likely than not, she was probably just having a bad day, and the car is a pretty good place to let it all out.
Oh, the innocence of childhood. Those were the days. Before hormones make you cry for no reason at all, and your greatest care is whether or not your Barbie was going to have a baby. For the 100th time that week. At that age, I only cried when I got really hurt, like falling off my bike and skinning my knee. Ouch- i can still feel the burn. I also cried if I really got my feelings hurt, but even that didn't happen very often. Suffice it to say, in my 8 year-old mind, crying was reserved for tragedy.
Fast-forward 14ish years later, and I am totally that girl in the car crying. It could be because I couldn't get the seat belt buckled in my husband's car (that's a story for another day). Or because I'm hungry. Or because I don't know why I'm crying, which makes me cry even more.
My family still laughs about a moment last Christmas. We were sitting around the kitchen counter at my parent's house and I don't know how it happened, but somehow I spilled the Diet Coke that I had just opened all over myself, the counter, and the floor. And what did I do but burst into tears. Not just little tears sliding down my face, it was red eyes, shoulders shaking, and little gulp breaths. As my brothers, dad, and husband work to clean up the mess, someone says, "Well, I guess the saying 'Don't cry over spilled milk' applies to Diet Coke too, right?!"
And despite my hormone-driven meltdown about a Diet Coke, I may have smiled just a little bit.
Grocery shopping and budgeting. 3 words that make most people cringe. Because let's be honest, if you try to mix those two things, it doesn't normally work. The grocery bill will always be larger than you want it to be, and the grocery budget will always be smaller. There are many weeks when I watch the cash register screen climb. $30...$35... $50...$60...crash. With one little ding of the register, I exceed our budget and I feel like a failure. Every. Single. Week. I was a couponing monster this past summer- spending hours every week pouring over the ads and websites, trying to find the best deal and save the most money. It was fun, don't get me wrong. My husband says that my competitive side comes out when it comes to shopping for groceries. Trying to beat our budget becomes a game. But it's an exhausting game to play and too time-consuming with working full-time. Because let's be real, I want a life outside of couponing!So we've changed things around in the past few months.
Many of our friends have asked how we do our grocery budget and shopping, so I thought I would do a series of its own. I go grocery shopping once a month. During that shopping trip, I spend 80-90% of our grocery budget for the entire month and go to Aldi, Walmart, and Costco. Then the rest of the month, I just run into Aldi once a week to pick up fresh produce, milk, etc. That beginning of the month trip is exhausting but so worth it, knowing the rest of the month I will spend less than 20 minutes grocery shopping every week.
So you may be wondering- this sounds great, but how does this actually work?
Let me walk you through the steps with all the nitty-gritty details.
Meal plan! I print out any old calendar from Google and plan out my meals for the month. My hubby doesn't want to eat soup every night, bless his heart, so we have a 1-soup-a-week-limit.
Go through all of the meals and write out the non-perishable, dry ingredients you'll need for the month. I usually start buy counting up how many chicken breasts and pounds of hamburger I will need. I buy all of my meat and shredded cheese in bulk and then freeze it. Then I make a list of other items such as canned vegetables, bread crumbs, etc. Next, write down any fresh items you'll need for your first week of meals. For me, this usually includes milk, orange juice, fruit, and vegetables. Lastly, I comb through my master grocery list and make sure I have the basics: flour, sugar, dish soap, TP, etc.
Now you're ready to go shopping! I considered taking a selfie at Costco or Walmart but decided against it. You can imagine to yourself what this step looks like. Me, struggling to steer the rebellious cart down the aisle without hitting anyone or knocking expensive jars of gourmet jelly on the floor. I am a recipe for disaster sometimes.
Have your hubby carry in all the groceries. He loves this. ;)
Unpack your grocery bags, freeze the meat, put your groceries away, and take a nap!
What more would you like to know about once-a-month grocery shopping??