There is always something to be thankful for.

Life is too short to make a big deal out of everything.  Do your best and God will take care of the rest.

The greatest is love. 

You are much more than the number on a scale or the tag size on an article of clothing.  Lisa Jo Baker said so.  (So.Much.More.)

The truest thing about you is who God says you are.  I am redeemed, forgiven, not condemned, and beloved.

Giving your life in service and sacrifice to your family is not a waste.

Your children each have their own free will, their own soul in need of salvation, and you are not the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Their decisions are not a reflection of your failure (see Adam & Eve).

As much as you love and want the best for your children, God loves them more.

Every day is a gift.

 

 

I never knew that a bolt could teach me something about my husband Rod.  The man I’ve spent over half my life with.  The simple truth of our life together is that we’ve been through a lot.  We’ve  spent more of our life fixing what was broken than I ever dreamed we would.  I’ve been his helpmeet through every bit of life.  He’s more like his grandpa “Papa” Sloan than I ever knew.  Papa lived through tough times, with Mama Chloe right by his side.  Papa could fix anything, he was stubborn and deeply devoted to his family.  Rod is his Papa “made over”.

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Rod’s Maternal Grandparents,
Edwin and Chloe Sloan.

Along with the excellent qualities mentioned above, Papa was always looking for a good deal.  We once watched Papa negotiate a car deal for a Yugo with some yuppie sales person in Edmond.  I’m not sure that salesperson made a penny off that deal, but I am sure he never forgot selling a car to Mr. Edwin Sloan. Papa was all about the hunt and if he had his mind set on something, he wouldn’t give up till he had it.  It might take six months to find just the right thing, but he was willing to wait.  Rod is the exact same way.  This made car shopping for our teenagers a very long ordeal.  Hours were spent on Craigslist, and several trips were made to look at vehicles that didn’t result in a purchase.  All of this to preface the story about the bolt…

We had finally purchased cars for our teenagers.  Our daughter had her heart set on a Honda CRV, and we looked long and hard until finding one.  We had it three weeks when she broke down on the highway.  Our fears were confirmed that it was the timing belt.  This usually means a new engine if it breaks at highway speeds.  We (along with our daughter) were devastated.  Two days after her car breaks down, our son’s Nissan Sentra burns up the clutch.  Two teenagers, three work schedules and one car.  I was one stressed momma.  We managed to make schedules work with one car while Rod ordered parts and began reading up on making the repairs.  Because of ease of repair, and the fact that we would have to work on the Honda before determining if it needed a new engine, the Nissan was fixed first.  It meant removing the front wheels, the drive shaft, and removing the transmission to replace the clutch.  It was terribly messy work, so much grease and dirt.  In 100 degree temperatures.  We were not looking forward to fixing vehicle number two.

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Fixing the Honda meant removing the front wheel, something with the power steering, taking off the engine cover, (a bunch of other mechanical stuff) and busting the crankshaft bolt to replace the timing belt and water pump.  Once these were replaced, we could see if the engine would turn over and then go from there.  All this work to not even know if the car was going to run.  It was hard to get excited about.  Rod tore into the car and reached the point of taking off the crankshaft bolt.  There is another terribly long story about this homemade tool that he spent hours reading about, basically some plumbing parts to wedge into the crankshaft to hold it steady while the interior bolt is removed, but that will be for another blog…  So, I go out to help him with the bolt.  This involves the homemade tool, a trampoline pole (used as leverage), and did I mention that it’s 100 degrees?  We start trying to break the bolt.  Our son comes out to help, we work for a half an hour and a friend stops by to visit.  I fix lunch, our son goes to work and we get back on the bolt.  Did I mention I’m in a skirt and flip flops?  It’s 100 degrees…  I’m pushing on this 6 ft trampoline pole while Rod is under the car.  We do this for over an hour.  Sweat running down the back of my legs, Rod on the hot gravel driveway.  Kids running outside every 10 minutes to tattle on one another, it is not pretty.  None of it.  I’m frazzled, Rod is up and down out from under the car, at least three dozen times.  I’m getting frustrated – tempers are short, I’m upset that we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.  The homemade tool is adjusted several times and we continue trying to break the bolt.  Rod is determined.  I am not.  I’m supposed to go bra shopping with a 12 year old girl.  Said girl keeps coming outside with a pout to see when we’re going to Target.  When is he going to give up???  This redneck hillbilly homemade tool is not going to work…

After over an hour, I leave  to go bra shopping.  I’m at Target for 15 minutes and I get this text:

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This is THE bolt.

Victory.

Two hours and one bolt says so much about the man I married.  He isn’t giving up.  Ever.  He is putting in the hard work.  When it’s hot, when he’s physically tired, when it means hard work just to do more work.  When his wife is unsure (ouch), he isn’t giving up.  I can’t believe how much that one task says about his character.  This story ends with the greatest victory and it is much more than one bolt.

The bolt removed, the new parts installed, we still don’t know if this work has been for nothing.  Rod gets the car put back together enough to turn the key and see if the engine turns over.  I stand in the driveway nervous about both of our reactions if it doesn’t.  Will I still see God’s blessings if the car needs a new engine?  Rod turns the key and the engine starts and runs.  We are so grateful.  Everything we had read and heard said that the engine would almost certainly need to be replaced.   Another half hour replacing things on the engine, he takes the car for a test drive and delivers it to our daughter who is thrilled to have her car running again.

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This was our view an hour after the car was finished.

I am blessed.  I married a man who fixes things.  He is confident in his ability to do just about anything, (although I draw the line at self-directed dental and medical work).  He loves his family deeply and has provided every need our family has had in the past 23 years.  He works hard and values the lessons learned in doing the job as much as the completed job.  Our life together in this fallen world will no doubt involve things breaking down.  There is no one I would rather fix things with.

I hope to have many more years of handing tools, pulling wires, carrying brush, scraping paint, and holding the ladder.

Dianne

I haven’t blogged for almost a year.  Terrible, although I know no one is hanging in front of their computer waiting for me to blog.  Heck, my own mom doesn’t even read it!!!   It’s not that there haven’t been blogworthy moments, it isn’t the excuse that I’m too busy, it probably has more to do with me being petrified of saying too much or not enough.  Something I’ve always struggled with – either giving waaaaay more information than is necessary, or not saying anything at all.  I’m a contradiction like that.

I’ve been examining my life lately.  Decisions I’ve made, things I love, things I miss, what I truly need in life.  Just probably normal stuff for someone my age.  I spend so much of my days taking care of my husband and family, that thinking of myself and my own wants and needs feels like quite an indulgence.  Reading good blogs has made me realize that I have something to share, and if it’s only for a few close friends or my immediate family, it is ok.  I am not blogging to become famous.  I am blogging for myself.  It is sweet to read through old posts and see what was happening in my life.  So what have I learned about myself?  Here are a few things:

I like coffee.  More than I care to admit.

I have a few irrational fears:  driving over bridges, being at the bank if it were to get robbed, and I sometimes worry that when I’m reading a library book I’m going to get bad germs from it.  I have a “no library books in the bathroom” rule, but don’t think anyone else does.

I can never go “home”.  For one, it doesn’t exist anymore and hasn’t since I was 13.  I plan to start writing some about my childhood, for my children to have someday.  Maybe I’ll share a post or two here.  Home for me now is what I’m creating for my children.  Hopefully they will have an appreciation for my efforts someday.  Usually when I think they don’t appreciate it is when I feel the urge to write about how differently my life was than theirs.

I like change, but not technological change.  I’m all for moving the furniture, re-arranging the kitchen cabinets to make them more functional, but mess with facebook or twitter or instagram, and I’m not happy.  Now that my favorite social media (Instagram – diannemarie68) has installed a video feature, I’m considering deleting everyone who posts a video.  :)  Just kidding, although I’m not a watcher of videos.  Vine makes me dizzy and I find very few of them funny.  I fight to stay in control of my blog reading, instagram searching, facebook browsing, and screen time in general.  Facebook is no longer on my phone, and I am trying to take a sabbatical from social media one day a week.

I am tired of being a stuff manager.  With five kids there is a lot of stuff.  Add homeschooling to that, and a spouse who is sentimental about everything, it is a daunting task.  I am taking it one day, one cabinet, one closet, one drawer at a time.  It has taken the fun out of thrifting – I see things and I think “I don’t want to devote time and space to that”.  People not stuff has become my “mantra”.

The days truly are long, but the years are short.  My oldest turned 18 and graduated from high school.  My youngest starts school in the fall.  Now THAT will make your head spin.  I’m getting more gray hair by the second.  My kids are awesome and motherhood is my greatest accomplishment in life, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.  Especially for someone who fights perfectionism and doesn’t want her kids to carry the baggage she’s carried all these years.  My best advice is live in the moment.  Be thankful for everything – even the crappy stuff, and realize what truly matters in the light of eternity.  These are souls for Christ and His glory, not mine.

Lastly, exercise and clean eating is good for me.  Eating crap makes me feel like crap.  I still have days I don’t want to work out, but I know when I miss a workout, I’m going to feel it.  I’ve been consistent for a few months now.  If I ever get my eating and exercise in sync, I’m gonna be awesome.  I’m 25 lbs. lighter than this time last summer, and I have a personal goal of losing 25 more.  I’m so much more than a number on the scale, but I know to be the best “me” I can be, I need to be healthy and stay active.  My four year old deserves it, and I desire it!

Well, dinner and a quick errand call.

D

(Or:  My Most Blog-worthy moment of Summer 2012)
My family is different.  We are what I like to call “above average”.  With five kids, you live life a little differently than most.  We eat at home a lot, we shop at thrift stores most of the time, and we vacation differently than most people.   Our family vacation of choice is a small cabin in Northeastern Iowa and 26 hours in the van in the course of 10 days.  This story is what happens on the return leg of that trip…

We had been driving for 5 hours and were trying to make a 10pm deadline at a campground in Missouri.  The first two hours of the trip included our camp counselor Jani who we gave a ride to an exit off of the interstate so she could go home for the weekend.  We had all been on our best behavior with a guest in the car.  (Jennifer, you will understand this I’m sure…)  Des Moines was our destination for a stop at Sam’s Club for our dinner.  (Again Jennifer…)  We got our pizza, hot dogs and a salad along with 32 ounce sodas for everyone.  After eating, Rod leaves with the teenagers to walk around Sam’s for a minute before getting back into the van.   I had Luke duty and Luke decides he needs the bathroom for the second time during our Sam’s stop.  (For those of you without a three year old boy, this means one thing – #2 in a public bathroom.)  I tell him to start walking to the bathroom and notice that he’s holding both the front and the back – take a moment to gather that visual…  This bathroom is 100 yards from the snack bar.  Rod sees this scene playing out from 50 feet away and starts towards the front of the store.  Luke makes it (literally) without incident and we head to the van.   Rod scoops him up on his back and we walk out.  I’m carrying cups and the older kids are 20 yards ahead of us in the parking lot.  Rod gets a crazy-eyed look on his face and says to me:  “Where’s Luke?!”  I look over at him (with a 40lb. kid on his back, arms wrapped around his neck, and Luke’s feet dangling at his knees) and laughingly say: “Seriously?!”   This is when Rod goes out of his mind and starts yelling at the oldest across the parking lot:  “GRANT – WHERE”S LUKE?!!!!”  My oldest four kids look back and don’t know whether their dad is kidding or if he has truly lost his mind.  I’m doubling over in laughter, and it’s at that point that he realizes Luke is on his back…  We are all punch-drunk from lack of sleep, being road weary and knowing that we still have about 8 hours of driving before making it home.  We laughed for about three miles, and “Where’s Luke” has become a punch line in our family.  We were ten minutes late for our campground deadline and got the last hotel room in Kansas City on the weekend of the Little League World Series, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Have a great Thursday friends.

Dianne

Lemon meringue pie

Rod’s favorite – this was a beauty with four inch meringue!

Coconut cream pie

Cooling and waiting for the cream…

Chocolate cream pie

Cooling and waiting for the cream…

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