Sunday, June 24, 2018

passing on political posts

You wanna know why I rarely (in fact, I'm 99% certain that I never) comment on political social media posts? Maybe you don't want to know and that's okay. I'm not offended. It's totally your choice to read on or to not read on. I respect that you have your opinion about what you are or aren't going to do.

But for those of you who are interested in why I stay neutral on social media when it comes to political posts, well, the answer is simple. It's not because I don't have opinions. I have some pretty strong ones, actually. Nope. That's not why. It's not because people say some pretty rude, disrespectful, and judgemental things when they aren't speaking to you face to face but rather typing their words. While that might be true, that's not the reason either. Well, that might be part of the reason. That's a pretty good reason...

It's because when I look at what people post on facebook, I know that I am not well enough informed on any subject to stand up against the potential backlash of stating an opinion that could come from my comment having one or two words out of order. In other words: I don't know enough about any political situation to be able to join in the conversation. Call me ignorant. Call me naive. But if I haven't walked in your shoes, if I haven't informed myself of the same facts as you (facts: which I'm thinking are hard to come by these days), if I don't have the same types of friends or worldview or family members who are living lives that influence your opinion, then I don't get to shoot you down for what you believe.

So if I don't like your post, that doesn't mean that I don't agree with you on some level. But unless we have a discussion about it, you won't necessarily know where I am coming from and honestly, I don't want to have a public discussion with someone I care about just so the whole Facebook world can have an opinion about my opinion.

And if I'm being honest, which I try hard to be, I have one more reason as to why I don't publicly express my opinion on such matters that are disagreeable among my friends. I would be greatly saddened if I lost a friend because they defined me according to one opinion that I have that doesn't fall in line with their belief system. There are a lot of facets to KC. I guarantee there are a number of them that you wouldn't like if you knew about all of them. Turns out that I don't have everything figured out and I'm not right about everything in life (but don't tell my kids that. Don't worry: my husband already knows.)

My moral compass is guided ultimately by God's word. But even having that, many of my friends disagree on some very fine points. In my younger years I grew up in a very black and white world. As it turns out, there's a lot of grey in this world. I find the best way to swim through the grey is with a large measure of grace.

So if you made it to the end of this post, I appreciate you despite our differences (and there are some, I guarantee it. There's no way any 2 people could completely agree on anything in life). And if you didn't make it to the end of this post, I appreciate you anyway, even thought you'll never know it because you didn't read about it here.

KC

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Ginormous List...

Um, guys? Why have none of you come over to my house and kicked my booty into writing a blog post? Don't you know that my self-discipline is nil?!
*sigh*

So it's summer. And I'm exhausted.
Wait, what?! How is that even possible? I'm not teaching at Cragin Academy (home school) and I took the summer off from piano lessons. I should be having ALL THE FREE TIME!!! I should be getting ALL THE THINGS DONE!!!
Except I don't and I'm not.

You guys: my summer plans were to get all the purging, cleaning, organizing, planning, remodeling, and sleeping done that I didn't get done during the school year. We are entering into our second month of summer break and I feel like I am 1/100th of the way through my "Ginormous List of All the Things To Do This Summer."
And sleeping? Well, just look at the time when I actually get this posted...

But you know what? There's no one looking over my shoulder telling me that I need to be doing more. There is no one monitoring my "Ginormous List of All the Things To Do This Summer." There is no one telling me that I'm not good enough because I can't get it all done.
Except me. I am telling myself all of those things. I do it every day, summer break or not. I am my own worst critic/boss/enemy.

So it is once again time for that look in the mirror when I tell myself that I am good enough and try to turn my perspective around 180 degrees.

Because here's the truth about this summer so far. I have started CrossFit again AND gymnastics (because nothing says I'm looking forward to turning 40 by trying to defy it!) I have found another way to share my crafty-ness with the world! Or at least with the community of women in Ripon. I have intentionally scheduled down time at the pool while eating cheese and crackers because cheese is a minimum weekly necessity in my life. I have taken my kids on day trips. I have loved (almost) every moment of my son's baseball season (with the exception of some of the adults who struggle to keep their words kind at the games. I am told this is a part of life in sports. I don't like this part of life in sports.) I have involved my kids in their passions. I have had some much needed improvements done around this house (can you say "Good-bye flat white paint that collects every child's fingerprints?!"). I have actually cleaned and organized 3 rooms and a closet. And I have made new friends because I just can't help myself: I like people.

And I have kept my family fed and in cleanish clothing and alive and even if that is all I did, that would be enough because that is the most important part of my life, outside of God: my family.

So BOOM! Things have been accomplished! I just had to stop looking at what I haven't done and look back at what I have done. That backwards perspective is imperative to me moving forward.

Some mornings I wake up with the to do list running through my brain.
Who am I kidding?!
EVERY morning I wake up with the to do list running through my brain and most mornings it is so daunting to me that I don't even feel like taking that first step out of bed. But every morning I get up and do things. Sometimes the things are awesome: like planting a garden and sometimes the things are not: like grocery shopping. (I dislike grocery shopping almost as much as I dislike cleaning the shower which is an immense dislike.) But at the end of the day I can look back and see that things got done. Not EVERY thing, but many things.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is "Lay off me, Kathy! I'm doing a pretty decent job of getting stuff done!"

Give yourself a break, friend. And come on over for some intentional cheese eating time. (Yes, it changed from "down time by the pool..." to strictly "cheese-eating." Priorities, people. Priorities.) And then you can mark that off your "Ginormous List of All the Things To Do This Summer."

Unless "Eat Cheese" is on your To Do List, you should throw that list away.
(Except for my dairy-free friends. In which case, substitute your favorite non-dairy food in every time you see the word "cheese").

KC

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

mom fruit

YOU GUYS!!!!
The coolest, most wonderful mom thing happened yesterday. It was so confirming and was a sign of fruit through all the tough and crappy mom stuff that I have done thus far. I NEED fruit. It's not a craving. It's a symbol of hope for all the time and tears and heartache and effort that has gone into this whole mom thing. To see that fruit happening is a beacon of light for this weary mom soul!

My bright, figure-anything-out, go-getter 12-year-old daughter had come up against her nemesis once again: math. No matter what super powers that girl brings to the fight, math always "one ups" her. It beats her down and frustrates her to tears! (She's got a phenomenal tutor and great math curriculum, in my opinion, so that is not the issue here.) Math, no matter what size or shape it comes in, pushes my girl's buttons.

And yesterday was no exception. Negative integers and deciphering between the area and circumference of a circle and the distribution property got her to her wits end and we heard all about it! Long story short-ish: she was frustrated with herself. There are so many things in this life that come easy to that girl (except for keeping her room clean and being nice to her brother) and to have one thing that doesn't come easy to her just aggravates her! It breaks my heart to see her frustration, but I can't do anything about it. Math is important in education and we won't let it slip around here.

It all came to a head when I stepped into the garage to find a piece of chocolate from the freezer. She came out after me, wrapped her arms around me and said, " I just want to be smart like my dad." I held her with all my love and told her I understood and then, a moment later, to lighten the mood, because that's how I work, I teased her and asked, " Wait a minute: if you want to be smart like Dad, what does that make me?! Not smart?!"

And you know what she did? She looked up at me (which I can only say for a few more years, I'm sure and then I'll be looking up at her!) and then buried her head into my chest and said emphatically, "You're wise, Mom!"

I'm immediately started laughing. It was a laugh that came from my soul! Partly because that was a good recovery on her part - she was quick with that response! And also because I knew she meant it. She's told me this before.

Y'all. My 12-year-old daughter thinks I'm wise. Amongst all the eye rolling and the talking back and getting the last word in, she still thinks I'm wise.

I often question my choices in parenting. Shoot, I often question my choices in what I snack on! But every once in a while, God allows me a little glimpse like this one into my daughter's heart and reminds me that I'm doing okay. And that makes me want to keep trying at this whole parenting gig.

Look for the fruit, my friends. If you haven't seen it, ask for it! God will give you a peek, if your eyes are open. And even if you have to wait a while for it (I waited years and years and I'm not even lying), keep at it because it'll come. And it'll be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears (and I'm speaking figuratively AND literally there!)

I'm praying for you all, my friends!

KC


Monday, April 16, 2018

Doritos

As I sat in front of my computer, eating cashews (because cashews are beyond delicious and better for me than Doritos), I kept trying to come up with something clever to write about. I started about 3 different posts, quitting after about a sentence for each one.

"No one wants to read what I have to write about. I don't have anything interesting to say. No one is going to care about what I've got going on in my life."

Would you look at that?! I totally discouraged myself, all by myself! I didn't need any help from anyone else. That's pretty typical of me: I'm my own worst enemy. If I try hard enough, I can talk myself out of anything and put my self worth as low on the ladder as possible... (I was going to say on the totem pole but being low on the totem pole actually means being wise and other good stuff and that's not what I've been telling myself!)

(I have now moved on to Club crackers, if anyone is interested. They are also quite tasty and maybe 25% healthier than Doritos.)

When I tend to get down on myself, I have usually forgotten one very important aspect of me: God created me with a purpose. He made me on purpose. He decided that He was going to put together a Kathy Lynn Cragin for reasons: His reasons!

Sheesh! If I could just get out of His way then maybe He could do some bigger and better things with me so that He could accomplish more stuff and things! But NoooOOOOoooo. I've got to put up walls and close doors and just get in the way of it all.
*eyeroll at myself*

I know I'm not the only one out there who does this...
People! We have GOT to get out of the way! At least once in a while!
Take a chance! Do a thing! Listen to that poking and prodding of God and stop doubting yourself. Because God wouldn't poke and prod you if He didn't already know that something good was going to come out of it all.

So tonight I just started writing and discussing my evening snacking habits with you and TA-DAH!!! He ended up coming up with something kind of cool to tell you (and me! Pretty much all of what I write to you is just stuff I need to hear too!)

Now, if someone could please bring me a bag of Doritos, I would greatly appreciate it...

KC

(Nacho Cheese, please.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

aaaaand: fail.

I don't know, y'all. (And yes, I do say "y'all" in real outloud life even though I'm from California. It's for emphasis!) I just don't think I'm cut out for this parenting thing. The more I strive to get ahead, the more I look around and see every where that I am failing!

I just put bath towels away in my kids' bathroom, only to have to rearrange the entire cupboard because one of my children has moved in and also started to take over the second cupboard in that bathroom. I'm going to start charging rent on cupboard space.

Earlier today, I kept getting sticky feet while walking in my kitchen. On hands and knees and with a wet towel, I identified the area of sticky-ness that no one seems to know how it got there. I now leave a pair of flip flops near the kitchen floor for when I get fed up with crumbs and sticky spots on the floor. I can't.

"Child, please don't eat this entire bowl of blueberries."
Returning 5 minutes later: "Where are all the blueberries?!"
Child: "I ate them all, I guess."
YOU GUESS?!

I constantly buy my children dental flossers. Those little sticks that have a small piece of dental floss to make it easy for them to floss every night. But I recently asked my children if this flossing is being completed. Can you guess the answer?! Can you guess when our next dentist appointment is?! Three days from now. Ugh.

My daughter rolls her eyes at me an average of 10 times a day.
My son's cursive handwriting leaves a lot to be desired.
Math. I'm not saying anything about math.
There were snails in my garage in a bucket for about a week.
Wet bathing suits and towels live on bedroom and bathroom floors, just beneath the hooks installed for just that purpose.
My kids eat candy. (See paragraph regarding dental flossers.)
Little Lego pieces everywhere. Just everywhere.

I look at every one of these and think: "There's more I can be doing as a parent to stop these behaviors! If I have so many parenting fails (y'all, this is like an eensy-weensy peek into a very large box, nay, garage full of parenting failures), then obviously, I'm not cut out for this!"

But there's always this word that constantly inhabits my mind. Sometimes it's loud and sometimes it's quiet. But it is always there. It is a gift that God gave to us, hand-in-hand with free will. There is absolutely NO way we can attain parenting perfection. (I'm telling you: the ones who show you their perfect parenting are not showing you every part of their parenting world.)

So God gave us grace.
He shows us favor and gives us blessings despite our shortcomings.
And that grace covers a LOT!

Today I had to apologize to my daughter for something rude I said to her. It was eating me up as her mom but when I told her I was sorry, she told me it was no big deal and hadn't really bothered her: grace.

Last night I failed as I hadn't even thought about what my daughter would wear to church on Easter Sunday. There was no way that we could find a dress for her before church the next day. She pulled out the one dress she had that was flowery and then looked at me and said, " Do I have to wear a dress?!" HA!! Nope! Grace.

I looked at the mess that I had just gotten frustrated over and my son came up and hugged me despite my aggravation: grace.

People, this happens every day. My shortcomings are greeted by God's grace. Sure, my kids are probably going to need counseling someday, but I believe that every step of my parenting is surrounded by the grace of God. What makes me think that I need to have it all together when I've got a great big wonderfully wise God walking right next to me in this adventure?! Guess it's time to show myself some grace...

KC

Thursday, February 22, 2018

save the drama...

So one of the things that I have realized from being a female for my whole life is that I don't do drama. I'm don't like it. I don't have patience for it. I think it's petty and dumb. When I was younger, I hung out mostly with the guys because they don't really don't do drama. I was a tomboy probably for that very reason!

Recently, I had a run in with some drama. Like I said, I don't do drama. I was simply pulled in by being in the same room as this gal. It's complicated to explain and not really worth it (BECAUSE DRAMA *eyeroll*) and that's not the main point of the story anyway.

Here's the main point of the story (well, getting there anyway...): part of me was very frustrated with this person who had not even spent a moment of her time to get to know me before judging me and creating drama. I had a couple of good friends who were involved in this situation as well and while I know a part of us wanted to bash this person, that wasn't the right thing to do either.

While our frustrations were justified, our bashing wouldn't have been appropriate. We don't know this person's background, what kind of baggage they might be carrying (because we are ALL carrying luggage around, some of our bags are just bigger than others!), we don't know what a person's state of mind or heart might be or what in their life has influenced them to be who they are or act the way they do.

And for these reasons, and because God calls us to, one of those good friends on mine said that we should pray for this person. Not because we liked her, but because it was the right thing to do. (I'm telling you, I have amazing friends.)

Matthew 5:44 specifically says: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Do you KNOW how hard this is to do?! Pray for the person who is being mean to you?! AND LOVE THEM?! God, really, you are asking too much. That's just ridiculous.

But do you know what that does for you? It releases the responsibility of justice and anger from you and puts it in God's hands. And although the whole "love your enemy" part might seem impossible, you are truly showing them love by praying that God might have a mighty work in their life.

So as much as I'd like to avoid drama, it looks like I can't even in my late 20's...I mean 30's (*sigh*). I might as well be a teenager again...

KC

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

breathing

I just returned home from a little trip away where I got to spend time with some of my nearest and dearest. I left my most nearest and most dearest to do so. In other words: I left my hubby and kids so that I could spend some time with my friends. (Sorry I used so many words there. I thought I was maybe being clever or something. Maybe not so much!)

I try to do this about once a year. I used to feel guilty about going. After all, I was leaving my family to go and do what I wanted to do. Things like eat what I wanted, eat when I wanted, eat where I wanted.  Okay, usually it really is about food for me. I love to eat! I like to cook. But I really prefer to go somewhere and have someone else make my food for me. You know: like even a sandwich will taste 10 times better if you don't have to make it yourself! Maybe I should just hire a chef...

Okay, but digging deeper: there are many reasons I like to go away for a bit with my friends. I like to have fun and it gives me a chance to catch up on their lives. We go places and experience things I don't regularly get to do. But the truth is that I need the break from home. My brain needs to get out of my house so it doesn't keep the big to-do list up front and center. My body needs to sleep in without the nagging feeling that the laundry should be started. My heart needs to not "mom" for a bit (not that you ever stop momming, but it is nice to hear the sound of the water fountain outside the hotel room instead of the children bickering and arguing and making annoying sounds!) I get to think about me and my needs instead of meeting everyone else's, just for a little while.

I love being a wife and mom. But being a wife and mom often means running at full speed to make sure that everything runs well, or in my case just making sure everything runs! Eventually the gas tank runs out. If it runs out for me I can feel myself getting bitter and resentful. I'm not saying I'm right in feeling this way. I'm just saying that it becomes a struggle.

So I go away for a bit so that I can fill the gas tank to this old Katillac. (See what I did there?! Cadillac, but with my name instead! Clever!! Or dumb. Mostly dumb.) And when I come home, I feel needed and ready to tackle all the responsibilities once again! Well, not exactly. I could handle vacation for a little longer. But I do come back feeling as if I have caught my breath and can do all the things on the to-do list. That feeling lasts for about a day when reality checks in and I see that the to-do list is never going to be completed. But there is hope once again and hope is an important thing to have.

I don't know exactly how Jesus felt about this but in Mark 6:32, He and his buddies did go away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. Sounds like a chance to breathe and rest to me!

So next trip away from the to-do list, who's with me?!
(I'm thinking we go next week...)

KC