Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh Dear!

Proverbs 31: 15 -
"She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day's work for her servant girls."

If there is one thing about me that is known by everyone I meet it is that I am NOT a morning person! I despise it! It is my belief that God should have created each day to begin at noon. I am a night-owl. I enjoy staying up late. After about 10:00 PM, I get wide-awake and want to get up and do chores and clean and organize. That's just who I am.

I would rather stay up late and make any preparations for breakfast that can be done the night before. I would rather plan the next day's work that night. Isn't that the way God made me? Didn't He design me this way?


Or maybe this comes from habit. Maybe I was trained this way from a young age. After all, when we were kids my dad worked nights, or "graveyards", and my mom didn't want to be up alone. So she wouldn't put us in bed until she walked in the room and saw that we had fallen asleep in the floor while playing.

Whether I was created this way and this is one of my "thorn(s) in the flesh" that I have to learn to overcome or this is a habit that I have to learn to undo, I really have no excuse for ignoring this verse.

The truth is, God wants His women up before the sun. He wants us awake and fresh. He wants us up early to spend time with Him, to study His Word. He wants us preparing breakfast for our men who are about to head out into the world and need sustenance for the tasks He has planned for them that day. ("She brings her food from afar." Are we meeting his needs? See more here.)

He wants us up to plan chores for our "servant girls". Nowadays, we don't have "servant girls", we have children. Our children need chores to teach them responsibility. Now, this is an easy part of the verse to skip over. The majority of families I know have specific chores for their children each day. However, as a mother of young children that cannot do much, if any, of the chores, I need to be up planning for myself. There are things that are specific to life's circumstances. Is there out-of-town company coming? There are extra beds that need to be made up. Is someone coming for dinner? Extra places need to be set at the table. Extra food has to be prepared. Are you making a welcome-to-the-neighborhood dessert for the new people down the road or dinner for sick or elderly people or those with a new baby? Someone has to do all of these things. Are you going to do all aspects yourself? Will the kids help? Which kid is going to do what? Do you have a tighter schedule today? Do chores need to be done earlier than normal? Is there a child having trouble with a specific subject in school and needs to study longer? Someone may need to pick up his chores that night to relieve some of his pressure. Is there a child with extra homework? Someone might have to do her chores so that she can finish it all. Is somebody sick or out of town? Someone is going to have to have to pick up the slack that is left when another person is gone. Who is it going to be? Are there chores you're constantly forgetting about? (I am forever forgetting to thaw out dinner!) Put it in the plans for the day.

The point is, no household runs exactly the same every day. So while a specific child may feed the dog everyday while another loads the dishwasher after dinner every night, there are other things that come up to create more work. God gives this verse to help us out. He wants our days to run smoothly. He wants us to be stress-free. He wants us to feel that we've accomplished something in our households each day, and He has so kindly given us the formula to make that happen.

Now, there is no way to plan for every little thing that will occur in a day. Things are going to come up occasionally that will cause that day's plans to be thrown out the window. Babies are going to get off schedule. Your son is going to break a bone. Your daughter is going to have crazy hormones and emotional breakdowns and is going to need more of your time. (Most of us reading this are females. Haven't we all just needed a day to cry . . . for no reason???) Your husband is going to have a bad day at work and is going to call needing your undivided attention while he vents. Someone is going to throw up or bleed all over everything or wet the bed at nap time and create extra laundry. However, if the day's responsibilities are planned out, it will be easier to make adjustments than it would if nothing is planned out . . . I know this from experience!!!!

I "get" all of this. Where I struggle is "why is morning so important"? Why do I need to be "up before dawn"? I went to the Bible to see if God says anything about this. My Bible cross-referenced this verse with Romans 12:11, "Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically", but that is as far as I got. The rest of this is based solely on my opinion and what I feel God is telling me.

When I get up early . . .

1.) I have time to read the Bible uninterrupted. I can spend time studying God's Word and praying for my husband and children and extended family and friends without worrying that the baby is going to drop her bottle and cry for me to pick it up.

2.) I can get a shower without toddlers standing at the door yelling "momma!" and without having to worry that they are getting into something they shouldn't or breaking things. Our husbands are at work, many of them having contact with other women throughout the day. If my husband comes home from work for lunch and I'm still in my pajamas without my teeth brushed, Satan is going to continue reminding him of that picture when he is at work around other women. I know, I know. Men are responsible for their actions. Yes they are, but if I can do something to keep the temptation from being greater than it has to be, why not do it??? If I'm up early, I can be cleaned up when he comes home for lunch. I will also be cleaned up if someone drops in or there is an emergency (like a toddler drinking a bottle of Tylenol!) and I have to rush out of the house without preparation!!

3.) The day's work is planned and organized that morning and is fresh on my mind. When I make lists, especially for chores or organizing things, I want to get started on it right away. If I make it the night before, I'll sleep on it and lose my enthusiasm. If I get up early and make it in the morning, it's much easier to get up and get going.

4.) Staying up late and sleeping late causes it to be difficult to get into any kind of routine. Everything is based on what time I went to bed the night before and what I consider a "good night's sleep". Getting up early causes me to go to bed early which, in turn, helps me get up early again the following day. Doing this repeatedly will help create a routine - something I and my kids thrive on.

I have my opinion about why God wants His Women up early doing these things. The truth is though, my opinion doesn't matter. God says that's the way it should be and that's all that matters. Sometimes He doesn't tell us why He wants things a certain way. Sometimes we have to blindly obey Him. His ways are best, and because I know that to be true, I can learn to get up early. He has given this command to His women. What else do I really need to know?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finally Back To It!!

It's been quite a while since I posted thoughts on Proverbs 31, but instead of rambling about why (reasons available in my post Too Long), I'm just gonna jump right back in like I just left off yesterday! So, here goes . . .

Proverbs 31:14 says, "She is like a merchant's ship bringing her food from afar."

Now, I've read this chapter many times in my short 28 years which means that I've read this verse numerous times as well. This is one of those "read-it-without-thinking" verses. There doesn't seem to be much to it. However, I know that God would not have included it in His Holy Word if it were not still relevant today. So, what does it mean and how do we apply it?

I. Have. No. Idea.

I have searched the Bible for other verses about merchant's ships. I have scoured the internet. I have continued praying. I'm getting nothing.

So I thought maybe I was reading too much into it. She brings "her food from afar". She is willing to go any distance to make sure her family has what they need. She goes wherever is necessary to make sure they are taken care of. She doesn't use the excuse that she has 3 babies and it's too much work - my common excuse. She doesn't use the excuse that it's too hot or she is too tired or anything else. She takes care of her family. Do we do the same? Or do we put it off until there is absolutely nothing left to eat. Do we provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our families? Or do we leave them scrambling to have that basic need met? It is not our husbands' job to provide meals. As the wife and/or mother, it is our responsibility.

Please don't misunderstand me. There are nights when momma is sick or exhausted or just had a baby or surgery or just needs a break. It is okay for daddy to take over at times. It's okay for daddy to help. In fact, I would even say that dad needs to help occasionally. However, this is not about daddy. This is about us functioning in our role as our husbands' helpers.

If we want to fill God's description for His women, we have to take this verse for what it is. We have to see God's heart. He entrusted these men and children to us. His desire is for us to care for them just as He cares for us. To be willing to go to any distance to meet their needs. It makes me sad to think that there were times when I didn't meet my husband's and children's needs. How much more does it break God's heart to see that I am neglecting those He so graciously entrusted to my care?

Temporary Change of Subject

So . . . in just a few short weeks - 6 weeks and 2 days to be exact - we will be joining the ever growing group of homeschooling families in this country. I'm a little nervous about this new experience, but I'm also VERY excited. Since I began homeschooling in 9th grade, I've known I would homeschool my children - God willing! Well, the opportunity has arrived!

Elizabeth will be 3 on August 31. If she were going to attend preschool she would be old enough to start Preschool 3. Since my goal is to homeschool, the thought of sending her away for preschool never even entered my mind as an option. So I began scouring the internet for things I should be teaching her. I came across an awesome, FREE, Christian, preschool homeschool curriculum!

Since the day she was born I have gone back-and-forth in my mind about holding her back a year or not. After all, she only makes the cut-off by one day. When I found this curriculum, I was still trying to decide. Then I discovered that this website has a 2 year old curriculum. After reading over the objectives for 2 year olds and for 3 year olds, I decided that she fits better in the 2 year old category. I felt at peace with holding her back a year. This also means there will not be a grade between her and Jennifer.

That said, I am looking for some books that are used in the curriculum for 2 year olds. I went through the books we already have here at home and found that we only own one of the books on the list!! I feel these are a worthy investment because I have two other children for sure - and possibly more than that - who will follow in their big sister's footsteps and make use of these as well. However, with all the other supplies I will need to do this, I am not in a financial position to purchase all of the books. So, before I make any purchases, I'm asking if anyone has any of the following books they'd like to donate to our library.

Here they are:
1.) Llama Llama Red Pajama
2.) When the Elephant Walks
3.) One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
4.) Five Little Speckled Frogs
5.) Good Night, Gorilla
6.) Old MacDonald Had a Farm
7.) Moo, Baa, La La La!
8.) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
9.) My First Baby Board Book
10.) Wheels on the Bus
11.) Put Me in the Zoo
12.) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
13.) I Love You Through and Through
14.) Ten Little Fish
15.) The Foot Book
16.) Peek-a-Who?
17.) Pat the Bunny
18.) We're Going on a Bear Hunt
19.) That's Not My Train . . .
20.) Where's Spot?
21.) The Going-to-Bed Book
22.) Very Busy Spider
23.) How Do Dinosaurs Do That?
24.) Old Hat, New Hat
25.) Clifford the Big Red Dog
26.) Time for Bed
27.) The Rainbow Fish

As I was typing up this list, I started thinking, "what if someone has one of the books but their financial situation requires them to need to sell the book?" Please let me know even if you can't donate but need to sell. Even though I can't purchase it right now, maybe I will be able to by the time we need it. These are used for "Book a Week" and they will be used in the order I have them listed. Thank you!!!

***Update: I meant to include the website for any other mothers out there wanting to use it as well. It is

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Too Long

I know it's been a while since I posted last. Life has been terribly crazy and yet very lonely and boring all at the same time over the last couple of years.

I began working at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City a little over 5 years ago. I absolutely LOVED it and everyone I worked with. It was the best job I have ever had the experience of working. I would not trade my years there for anything! 

However, the entire time I was there, I knew that was not what I was called to do with my life. So, I kept looking for the "next thing". Namely, a husband. In 2007, the day before Thanksgiving, November 21, I met a wonderful man who talked nonstop about the things God was teaching him. We talked day and night about all of our favorites - movies, music, food, books, etc - but what we talked about most was God. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was a man who would seek God's face before he made ANY decision. I hadn't experienced that before, except in my father. 

A year and one day later we were married - November 22, 2008. I had a terrible photographer so the few documented memories I have of that day are blurry or dark. I had it videoed, but it's still on the video camera tape so I have never seen it. It doesn't matter though. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember being nervous and excited at the same time. I remember freezing and sweating at the same time. I remember pacing up and down the hallway while waiting for "my turn" to enter. I even squatted down and rested my head on my knees to calm the butterflies - or jumbo jets as my dad used to describe the feeling before he preached - in my stomach. I remember Cherie, my boss and wedding coordinator, being by my side trying to keep me from freaking out. 

I also vividly remember my reaction after we walked out the back of the sanctuary. See, the groom deals with the "forever-ness" of the relationship long before the wedding day. He deals with it before he even purchases the ring. The bride, on the other hand, is waiting so excitedly for the ring to come to her that she doesn't think about it as much. At least, I didn't. I mean, I had thoughts about wanting to spend forever with him. But the reality of "til death do us part" had not been grasped - until the moment in the foyer as soon as the ceremony ended. My exact words? "What the heck did we just do?" My exact thought? "I can NEVER get out of this!" I didn't regret my decision. I still don't. And I don't want to "get out of this"!!! It was just the forever-ness that was finally hitting.

Unfortunately, my "looking forward to the next thing" didn't end once I got married. Now, I desperately wanted children. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long. Nine months and 2 weeks later we had our first baby girl - Elizabeth Ann Rampy, August 31, 2009, 4:47 PM, 6 lbs, 18 inches, 5 days early. I had to work after Elizabeth was born, and I was NOT happy about it. I lived in guilt the majority of the time. I felt that I was neglecting her and that someone else was raising my baby. It affected my parenting. There are a lot of things I would do different if I could go back. But I can't. I can only do things differently now.

Though she was, and still is, our entire world, she now has to share time! See, we knew our family wasn't finished. We just didn't know how quickly it would grow. 14 months later she got a little sister - Jennifer Bryce Rampy, November 4, 2010, 11:48 AM, 5 lbs, 15 oz, 18 inches, 4 weeks early. After a 10 day stay in the NICU, she came home and has been a load of enjoyable work ever since!!! I only had 14 days of maternity leave - including the weekends - after she was born. With her in the NICU for 10 of those, I only got 4 days at home with my new baby girl. To this day, I still feel that I never bonded with her like I did her big sister. More guilt. We did get a new pastor, a wonderful and sympathetic man, that allowed me to bring my baby to work with me through the end of the year. However, I wanted to give my job my full attention while I was there so I ended up propping up her bottle when she ate. She didn't get held often. It would have been better had I just left her with her grandmother. More guilt.

Though I had a wonderful job, the best second-mother-boss I could ask for, and wonderful co-workers, my dream was still to be home with my babies. I know it affected my job. I couldn't give them 100% when my heart was somewhere else. More guilt. It didn't last long though. My husband joined the management program at work, and March 31, 2011 was my last day of work at Bay Area First Baptist Church. However, I was so looking forward to the "next thing" that I didn't fully count the cost. I wanted so badly to be a stay-at-home mom that I didn't prepare myself fully for it. I wouldn't change it now. I still love being home. I just wish I had prepared myself better. See, shortly after I stopped working, we moved to Waco. I knew no one. I had 2 babies. My husband's truck broke down so he took my car to work every day. I couldn't go anywhere. I was stuck. My husband worked 13 hours a day. I tried meeting neighbors but there was no where to "hang out" except standing in the parking lot, so people didn't go out much. There was no playground for the kids, and it was WAY too stressful to get to the pool with 2 babies. I did meet a neighbor. She didn't speak English. I didn't speak Turkish. We found a church but I couldn't get very involved without a vehicle and a very high heart rate and being out of breath just standing up, I couldn't serve in the nursery. My introduction to loneliness. Then? God expanded our family again! Jennifer was 15 months old and Elizabeth was 2 1/2 years old when we added our third child. Oh. Back up some. We could not afford healthcare. So, I could not see a doctor during the entire pregnancy. I told myself it didn't matter. People have had babies MANY times without a doctor! I've given birth before. The baby was coming whether I had a doctor or not. No biggie. I did have a friend in League City who was an ultrasound tech and needed practice so she asked to do one for me. This was how we learned the gender. Another little girl. I was HIGHLY disappointed. I tried not to cry. I tried to be happy. A baby is a blessing no matter what the gender is. I know that. I just desperately wanted a son. I knew I should be happy she was healthy, and not sad she was a she. But I wasn't. More guilt. I felt like a terrible mom and person.  I did learn to love her for who she was LONG before she made her appearance, and I wouldn't trade her for all the boys in the world. She is the perfect fit for our family. I still want a son eventually, but I'm thankful for my girl - Samantha Brooke Rampy, February 18, 2012, 12:52 AM, 6 lbs,1 oz, 17.5 inches, 3 1/2 weeks early. 

Another NICU stay. This one only lasted 7 days, but no matter how short it is, leaving the hospital without your new baby is a heart-wrenching thing. And trying to balance time at the hospital with time at home with the older siblings who are just babies themselves? It's impossible. I spent a lot of time in tears! More guilt. Then the doctor told us that my body is just too tired. I need to wait a year before getting pregnant again. A doctor could have told me I was too tired and put me on semi bed rest had I gone to the doctor. I didn't. It's was my fault my baby was in the NICU. More guilt

When Samantha was 2 weeks old, we learned we were moving again. To Terrell. Um, where???? So we packed up. With a 2 1/2 year old, a 15 month old, a 2 week old, and a husband gone to work for 13 hours a day, I packed us up. And when Samantha was 5 weeks old, March 30, we moved even farther from family than we had been. An hour farther to be (almost) exact! More loneliness.

One of his co-workers fixed Chase's truck shortly before we moved, so when we got here we had two vehicles. I could explore our new town. God had other plans. My car broke down the day after Easter. I can't drive Chase's truck. It's a standard, and though my first car was standard, I've never learned to drive one - and I HAVE tried!!! This time I was truly stuck. More loneliness. I decided to meet neighbors. Apparently that would be the only way to make friends. They don't speak English. They sit at the playground watching their kids play while laughing and talking to each other in Spanish while I stand there by myself watching my girls. More loneliness

We still haven't found a church to be involved in. I haven't bonded with my newest baby because I'm so exhausted and lonely and busy with her independent oldest sister and her Houdini older sister. On top of that, she cries all the time. She wont eat when I hold her so I have to prop up the bottle. That all just adds to the guilt. My husband still works 13 hours a day. And while I don't blame him, when he gets home from work he has used up all his words with co-workers and customers, while I have used maybe 1/4 of mine saying "no!" and "stop it" and "get out of that" and "quit fighting"!!!! I wanna talk and he wants to veg! More loneliness. And then, though I understand, I get angry at him for not spending time with me. My love language is quality time after all. Then I feel bad because he has worked hard and I'm not letting him rest. More guilt.

Thankfully, some wonderful cousins, that I discovered only live about 15 minutes from me, fixed our car for us. I now have wheels again and can get out of the house. They have even offered for me to hang out with them. But I feel guilty "butting" in. I know that's not what it is since they offered. I just feel like it because I feel so needy right now. 

So, why do I share all of this?
1.) To remind myself of all the wonderful blessings God has given me. I truly have a blessed life. I just have trouble seeing it through all the craziness of my emotions. 
2.) To explain why I haven't continued with my post recently. See, with all the guilt and loneliness, I have sunk into depression. 
3.) To let people know that depression is real and that it's nothing to be embarrassed about.
4.) To encourage my readers to look at the people around you and not just in your regular circles. Make sure there isn't someone needing to be "found". Include EVERYONE even if they seem high maintenance. That may not be their real personality. It may their "starving" personality just needing someone. Don't just include them. Make them important to you and let them know they aren't in the way. 
5.) To show myself that the majority of the things I have guilt over are out of my control or are not things to feel guilty about. They are life. That is all. 
6.) To remind myself that I CANNOT do this life without God. I have been so down that I only want to stay in bed everyday. I get up because I have people that need me. If they weren't here I wouldn't get up (another of God's blessings). However, I stay in bed until they wake me up. I don't get up and spend time with God before they start begging for my attention. Then, when they take a nap, if they all do at the same time, I'm so exhausted that I nap too instead of spending time with God. I have neglected Him recently. That adds to my guilt, but I am trying to learn that I just need to change it instead of feeling guilty about it. 
7.) To remind myself that, as much as my husband loves me, he cannot fix my loneliness. Only God can do that. I NEED to spend time with Him. 
8.) And last, to tell my readers, if you're dealing with depression, speak out. To someone. To anyone. And when you have cousins or friends that try to "take you in", don't run from it. It's easier to stay in bed with the covers over your head. But it's not wise and you'll never get better. Let people befriend you. Don't be afraid you're going to get on their nerves. They wouldn't reach out if they felt that way. 

Please pray for me. I'm sharing my heart here, asking, - no, pleading - for nothing more than your prayers. That I would turn to God to fill my loneliness and to send friends and a church to be involved in. That I would let go of guilt and ask God to help me change in the areas I need to and just accept as "life" the things I cannot change. I know this is long. So, thank you for sticking with me to the end!

***Some sections are highlighted in white. I have tried numerous times to remove them without success! If you have any suggestions on this, please share!!!***