Stranded, a Story.

This is a longer story than usual, but one I wanted to write down for the records…

A couple years ago my family got to experience the strange and horrible feeling of being being stranded in a strange place with nowhere to go. 

We had an old 15 passenger van which was, admittedly, near the end of its life. We thought we had figured out the ONE magical part that needed to be fixed in order to keep the van running. Alas.. we were wrong. After spending a month in Maine with my inlaws, we were traveling back to Tennessee with a trailer towing behind us, holding all our bikes and camping gear and canoes. We had our dog with us as well. 

Somewhere in Massachusetts, on the turnpike, our van gave it’s last breath and died. We were very close to a rest area and were able to coast into the rest area parking lot. I spent the next eight hours trying to keep 9 children happy (this was before Noah came along). Andy worked on the van doing everything he knew to try. Evening was coming and we realized the van wasn’t going to get fixed. We needed to go somewhere. Unfortunately, transportation was a real issue. A tow truck would not transport a family of eleven. Taxis would not transport a family of eleven, we would have to split our group up. At that point in time, our oldest child was only fourteen. There was no way we were going to send a taxi load of our children off by themselves when we didn’t even really know where we were. I got on my phone and looked at the map, found the next town on the turnpike and then started looking up hotels. I found a motel that was offering cheap rooms. Since we had our dog with us, we had already decided that my husband would get a tow truck and go with the van and our dog and just sleep in the van, and our oldest son elected to stay with him. So, it was me and eight children who needed a room. I called the motel and explained the situation and asked if it was possible for me to get one room for me and my children since I was the only adult and I didn’t want to put my little kids in a room by themselves. The lady on the phone said, yes, of course. I got the address of the motel. Now we just had to figure out how to get there.

Andy came over just then and said he thought he had a ride for us. Apparently two police officers had pulled in to the rest area. They were driving a prison transport van which was empty. My husband approached them and explained our situation and asked if they could help us with a ride. They were surprised at the request, but talked it over and said, yes, they could do this for us. So, we grabbed a couple bags of clothes and diapers and I put the baby in my carrier and got into the back of a prison transport van with my children. Lots of nervous laughter. I exchanged a panicked look with my husband. All we had to keep us connected now were our phones. I had no idea where I was and he wasn’t sure what town the tow truck was going to take our van. We trusted that somehow we would reconnect the next day. 

By the time we got to the motel it was dark. My kids were tired and traumatized and I was being brisk and efficient, trying to exude an air of confidence as I ushered all my kids into the foyer to check in. In the foyer there was a large statue of Buddha with incense burning. My kids had lots of questions about that and I was stressed, trying to keep them quiet, hoping they wouldn’t inadvertently ask an offensive question. I spoke to the lady at the desk and told her I was the woman who had just called her. 

She looked at my group and said, 

Two rooms. You have to get two rooms. 

I gave up arguing and said, Fine, do you have two rooms that are right next to each other? 

Yes, of course. 

I pulled out my bank card and gave it to her. She ran it and then came back to me. 

Your card has been denied. 

WHAT??

I knew that I had a large chunk of money in my bank. I pulled up my banking app, just to verify. Yep. There is definitely money in this account. I asked her to run it again. 

Your card has been denied. 

Ok. Regroup. I walked over to the side and called my husband. I quickly explained what was going on. Ok. He said, here, right down my card number, have them use my card. 

I did so and gave the new card number to the lady who was starting to look suspicious. 

This card has been denied. 

WHAT!!!!!!!!

The lady then said, there is an atm machine across the street in the little strip mall. Go take out cash. 

I counted up the cash I was traveling with. I was ten dollars short of being able to pay for the rooms in cash. I gathered up the kids who were now in a full-blown panic. Keep it together. Keep it together. Lord help. 

I was carrying  the baby and we put the next youngest in the little umbrella stroller we had brought. My oldest picked up the next youngest child and then the other older daughters helped the other boys walk, as they were all falling asleep on their feet. By now it was close to eleven pm. We crossed a little road and approached the bank. I tried the atm machine. My card was denied. Apparently something had triggered a security lock-down on my card. (Personally, I think it was the motel, it was a rather shady establishment.)It was the weekend and late at night so I couldn’t contact my bank. I pulled all the kids in a huddle and had them sit down on the sidewalk in front of the bank. The bank was well-lit, I was pretty sure there would be security cameras around as there was a 24hr atm machine. It seemed like the safest place to stay for the moment.

 I called my husband again. Explaining in an even voice the situation,  but I know that the fear I was feeling was coming through loud and clear to him. He said he was still waiting on the tow truck to come. I told him exactly where I was and he said he would just have the tow truck bring the van to where I was. We would sleep in the van in the parking lot. At least we would be all together. I sighed a big breath of relief. It was very scary to be doing all this without him. 

I sat down with the kids and tried to quiet them and reassure them. One of my little boys started crying. I held him and rocked him, continuing my silent prayer that hadn’t stopped since our van first broke down. 

Just then a fancy little car pulled up in front of the bank. A well-dressed, middle-aged man hopped out of his car and walked towards the atm machine. I tried to look like it was very normal for a woman to be sitting on the sidewalk with eight children in the middle of the night. He glanced my way and kind of winced and then kept walking. He used the atm machine and then walked over to us. Here, he said, and thrust four dollars into my hands, and then quickly got in his car and drove off. 

Now, I must admit, I wasn’t feeling very thankful for this bit of charity. 

Four dollars. Really?? How is this supposed to help??? 

The kids were very curious as to why a stranger had given us some money. I tried to explain that he obviously thought we needed help and so he tried to help.

How is four dollars supposed to help us mom? Umm. I’m not sure. I guess it’s the thought that counts?

Then my phone rang. It was my mother-in-law. We had been on the phone off and on with them, keeping them updated to our situation. I explained how my bank card was not working at all and she told me she would like me to try her credit card. She gave me the number and I said I would let her know if it worked. I called my husband and gave him a quick update and then me and my older daughters gathered up the sleeping children again and we made our way back to the motel. 

I patiently explained to the suspicious lady at the desk that my mother-in-law had offered to pay for the rooms and I had her credit card number. This time it worked and the lady begrudgingly showed us to our two rooms. The two rooms were not next to each other. They were several rooms apart. I smiled politely, thanked her, and waited till she had walked back to her office, and then ushered all my children into one room. No way was I splitting us up. 

The kids were so exhausted it only took minutes for them to fall asleep, spread over the two beds and on the floor. I sat there and waited till they were all resting and then called my husband again. I told him where we were. He said that the tow truck was towing them to the same town and according the maps, it was only about two miles away. He said that when he got the van settled at the auto repair shop, he and our son would leave the dog in the car and walk to the motel so we could be together. Big sigh of relief. 

I decided to jump into the shower before I went to bed. I entered the bathroom and immediately started hearing screaming from the next room over. There were some large crashes and more yelling. Something thumped into the wall of the bathroom. I continued my day-long prayer. Lord, whatever this altercation is about, please don’t let them start shooting off guns. 

I sat up another hour until finally I heard a quiet knock. I walked over to the door and removed the chairs I had stacked up in front of it (since it was a super-flimsy door without a proper security lock) and let my husband and son in. They were exhausted. They had just walked about two miles and it was now closer to 2am. I handed him the key to the other room since this room was literally overflowing with children. We hugged briefly, clinging to each other, then they went to the other room to sleep. I laid down, feeling peace now that our family was all in one place, and went to sleep. 

The next day my husband left early to go back to the garage to check on our dog and figure some things out. I got the kids up and dressed. We walked back over to the strip mall where I had noticed a small grocery store. I bought some food for the day and we walked back to the motel to eat. The room had a tv but it only got one channel. The room we were staying in was playing JAWS the movie. Not exactly what I wanted to entertain my children. The kids got the bright idea to check the other motel room we had paid for, maybe that tv was showing something different? It was! A western. Fun.

A little later my husband showed up. He and my son were both on bikes towing bike trailers. In one bike trailer was our dog and then the other bike trailer was just full of bikes and bike helmets. Well. This is an interesting solution. My husband and I and five of our children rode bikes while the other five rode in the bike trailers and the dog ran alongside us. The motel owner and his wife came out into the parking lot to see the spectacle. They seemed surprised to see that my story of a broken down car was actually true. 

To make a very long story shorter…We finally ended up riding our bikes to a Jellystone Campground (great place!). The mechanics from the garage were willing to tow our trailer to the campground and so we had all of our camping gear and were able to set up camp. The van was declared unfixable and we spent a week trying to figure out how to get home. Finally my inlaws decided to buy us a van and drove it down from Maine for us. (A super blessing we can’t begin to express our thankfulness for.)

It was a crazy time. My kids were amazing. I was determined to keep our attitudes positive and made it a requirement that everyone list off things they were thankful for every time the mood started getting sourl. The kids managed to relax a little and enjoy the time at the campground. We called some friends from our church and they got on the phone and helped with paying for the campground and even arranged for a nearby church to bring us a hot cooked meal. God provided for us in miraculous ways. 

I can’t imagine going through life without God. His peace is what carried me through that time. 

 

A Gift, Not a Right

I’m sitting in my bedroom right now. I have an armchair in the corner of the room. Lots of windows. It’s evening and the light is coming in at a perfect slant. It’s the time of day when everything glows. The walls in my room are painted a peachy-apricot color that is designed to pick up the sunlight and reflect back the color of warmth and coziness and life. I love my bedroom. My husband remodeled it for my 40th birthday. It is a haven in my not-so-remodeled house. 

Today is a sort of home-coming to my room. Our summer-long houseguests just departed yesterday. We gave up our bedroom for them and have been camping out in our kids’ bedrooms all summer. I am finally back in my own space. 

This summer has been an enlightening experience. 

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just how entitled and privileged I am. It has been disconcerting to not have my own private space. In fact, it has been pretty irritating. In fact, at times it felt like I was going to go crazy. One night I was lying in bed. Silently steaming. Here I was, lying on a mattress on the floor in my boy’s bedroom. Kids sleeping all around me. I felt suffocated from the lack of privacy. And then, I had a thought, which I think was from the Holy Spirit…What about all the families living in refugee camps right now? And then, after a bit more thought…What about almost all the other countries in the world? I would say that parents having their own bedroom is something that only happens in the wealthiest percentage of the world. Everyone else shares whatever space they have. Having my own private space for me and my husband is in fact, not a human right. It’s a privilege. A byproduct of living in a wealthy country and making enough money to live in a big house. 

It’s kind of humbling to realize that the things I consider basic rights, basic human comforts, are actually just a cultural thing. In our culture we have an expectation that a married couple will have their own space, their own bedroom. We are used to this set up. It feels healthy. It feels right. And when we don’t get it, everything feels really wrong. 

I am currently reading a book called Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid. It is an amazing book about the Christian walk, basically a modern day interpretation of the writings of John Newton (of Amazing Grace fame). There is a quote that really struck me. It is speaking of John Newton and says:

“He also believed that the richest fruit of God’s work in our hearts would be evidenced by increasing humility and dependance on Christ for everything rather than in a ‘victorious Christian life.’”

Think about that for a minute. The evidence of our growing in maturity in our walk with God is not that we become more perfect and amazing, but rather that we become more humble and more reliant on God. 

Part of our becoming humble is coming face to face with our sin, uncovering it layer by layer. And as we uncover it, we bring it to God and lean on his power to repent and turn away. 

This summer I had a mirror held up to my face. Wow. I really become unpleasant when my creature comforts are taken away. 

I have this image in my mind of what my life should look like. I would hope that I would pattern that image off of what the Bible says my life should look like, but instead I’ve patterned it off of what my culture tells me is expected. Expectation: I should always have enough money to get everything I need and at least a handful of extra things I just want. Expectation: I should live in good health. Expectation: I should have my own space and my own stuff and strong boundaries to keep people out of that space and that stuff. Expectation: My life should be worry free with no hardships or trials. 

No wonder the Christian walk can be so difficult for us Americans. Jesus said to take up your cross and follow him. He said, in this world we would have trouble, but to take heart because he has overcome the world. The stories of the early apostles and the early church are not about people living comfortable easy lives. But, they are about people living in complete dependance on God and trusting that the end reward is worth all the suffering here on earth. And of course, the most amazing part is, Jesus also said he would never leave us or forsake us. As we go through hardships and troubles here on earth, he is with us the entire time. 

And for me, part of my walk is seeing that what I see as hardship, really isn’t. I actually have some pretty spoiled ideas about what my life should look like. And I say, I’m sorry Lord. I’m actually really selfish. And God is gracious. He gave me back my room. But now I can see it a little better for what it is…A gift. Not a right. And my pleasure is a bit richer and I try harder to keep this gift in an open palm, ready to share, ready to release  it whenever I’m called to.

(Though I’m secretly hoping I won’t be called to do so again for a really long time.) 

Fat Fridays: Week 30 Taking a Short “Life has Interfered” Break

Hey Everyone. This is going to be short and sweet. This Friday my summer-long houseguests are going to be moving out. I am going to be spending this Friday and the weekend trying to put my house back into order. Next Friday I will be gone on a mini second honeymoon as me and my husband celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary! Yay! So, For the next chunk of days I am not going to be even thinking about diet and exercise and being healthy. But, the day after we get back, our kids will start school up again and I have a plan that I hope to initiate that week as well. I will tell you all about it when I surface again from the busyness. I’ll see you again in a couple weeks! 

 

Diary of a Mom of Ten

blueberry muffins

Summer. Day 597 of rain. (Maybe a slight exaggeration.)

 

9am

 

I currently have eleven children in my house. (Mine and some extras.)

 

I made some beautiful blueberry muffins. Not because I was feeling especially domesticated, but more because we are out of cereal and blueberries were on sale at Aldis and I stocked up. 

 

Of course, half my kids looked at the muffins and decided they wanted eggs instead. Since eggs are theoretically healthier than blueberry muffins, I gave them permission to cook their own eggs. They then proceeded to cook their eggs in my iron skillet and forgot to add oil to the pan first. When I exclaimed loudly about this to the son who was responsible, he looked at me in confusion, “Oil? I never put oil in my pan.” (Which now explains why the pan is always so hard to wash after he cooks eggs.)

 

From one of the blueberry muffin-eating children there has also been a complaint that I put too much sugar on top of the muffin. (Too much sugar?) I explained that if that particular child did not want to eat something sweet for breakfast, they were welcome to have a piece of toast. Child then explained that they wanted the muffin, they would simply scrape all the sugar off the top. Which somehow seems sacrilegious.

 

11am

 

After breaking up approximately 27 fights, I have now banished all children to their rooms. 

 

11:30am

 

I have put on an educational movie about the jungle. All the children complained, because it was educational and not animated. 

 

11:40am

 

Children are calling me into the room to come see the amazing flying snake that flattens itself and then glides through the air. Hurray for educational movies. 

 

12pm

 

I could cook some rice and open some cans of beans for lunch. Or I could gather up the last remnants of our bread and try and make some sandwiches. Or I could run down the road five minutes to Kroger and get a big box of corndogs. 

12:30pm

 

I’m at Kroger. Oh look, strawberries are on sale. Strawberries and Corndogs. That’s a well-rounded meal right?

 

1:30pm

 

All the children have been fed. Dining room has been cleaned up. Rain has stopped. Children have been banished to the outdoors. They are all playing a game which involves chasing each other from one end of our playset to the other without letting their feet touch the ground. When I question the wisdom of tightrope walking across the beam that holds up the swings, they all assure me that they would never fall, accidents never happen, and they are in fact, invincible. 

 

3pm

 

The two year old has been fussing all day. He has a bad cold and has not been coping well. He thought it would be funny to smack me in the face. I did not think it was funny. I swatted his behind. He did not think that was funny. He is now crying for his daddy. Which is his new method of foul-play. Every time I do something he doesn’t like, he starts crying for his daddy. Like I am no longer the parent of choice, I have fallen out of favor. I have never had a child do this. It’s quite lowering to the moral. I suddenly have a lot more compassion for my husband who has had all his other children cry for mama at some point in time when he was alone with them. 

 

5pm

 

Time to make supper. What is the easiest, quickest thing I can make??? After wandering through my kitchen, I have decided to make burritos. Heat up the tortillas, open some cans of beans, cook up some beef. Add cheese and salsa. Presto. Supper. I ask one of my teenagers to help heat up the tortillas on the skillet. She keeps burning them. Smoke fills the kitchen. I complain that she is not doing it right. She says I gave her the wrong job. She has asthma, she shouldn’t be around smoke. I point out that creating smoke is not part of the job. 

 

6pm

 

A wave of despair. Tonight is my husband’s night off. We have figured out that if he can have a night to himself to work at his shop and if I can have a night off to get out of the house, and we can both have one night when we go out together…We are mentally healthier. But it means that tonight I am parenting solo.

We watch the movie Rio which I rented from the library. Personally, I think the voice of the main character is something akin to fingernails scraping a chalkboard. But, there is some fun music. 

 

9pm

 

Bible stories have been read, prayers have been prayed. Teeth brushed. Lights out. It’s time to clock out. Day is over etc. Except the two year old took an “unauthorized nap” somewhere around 4pm and he is now energized and ready to go. 

 

It’s been a long day. 

Good thing these babies are cute.

 

 

Just a Thought

My eight year old daughter was sitting next to me on the couch today. I noticed that she was wearing an old watch on her arm. It was silver and obviously too big for her. 

 

Me: Where did you get that? 

Nomi: What? 

Me: The watch, where did you get that watch? 

Nomi: (continues to play with a toy, doesn’t look up) Miss Linda.

Me: Miss Linda? 

Nomi: Yeah.

Me: (wracking my mind, trying to place this name…a teacher at school? Someone at church? A neighbor?) Who’s Miss Linda? 

Nomi: Miss Linda! 

Me: Who’s Miss Linda! 

Nomi: IT’S MISS LINDA!!!

 

You would think that at this point in time I would realize that this method of interrogation was not working and I should try a different approach. But, no.

 

Me: WHO’S MISS LINDA?!?!?!?!?!

Nomi: Mom, it’s Miss Linda. 

 

I stared at her in frustration. Then it clicked. My husband had taken two of his little daughters with him when he did a quick Saturday side job to put up a ceiling fan for Miss Linda, a retired woman he has done work for in the past. It was a chance for him to have some daddy-daughter time and a chance for Miss Linda to spoil some little girls. 

 

Ok. Mystery solved. 

 

Then one of my sons walked in the room, spotted the watch with his laser eyes, and quickly went into attack mode..

 

Judah: Where did you get that???

Nomi: Miss Linda.

Judah: Who’s Miss Linda? 

Nomi: It’s Miss Linda! 

 

I inwardly groaned as I knew I was now going to hear this whole conversation again. But as I watched my daughter I noticed a certain spark in her eye, a smug set to her mouth. She was having fun with this. 

 

What is it about kids loving to create conflict? 

 

MOM! SHE TOUCHED ME!

DID NOT!

DID TOO!

DID NOT!

dsDID TOO!

 

And on and on and on. 

 

I remember being exactly the same. It wasn’t until I was an older teenager that I started realizing that I didn’t have to react every time my brother pushed my buttons. And I didn’t have to push his buttons every time the opportunity presented itself. I presumed that it’s just part of growing up; learning how to live at peace with people, no longer delighting in sparking conflict. 

 

Enter FaceBook Stage Right. 

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love getting on FaceBook. I love seeing who just got engaged. Adorable baby photos. Who just got a new job. I love reading interesting articles that people post. Beautiful photos of far-off places. FaceBook can be a lot of fun. 

 

Then you have those posts that say, “If you don’t agree with my position, then you are STUPID!” And then someone comments: OH YEAH! WELL, YOU’RE STUPID!

AM NOT!
ARE TOO!
AM NOT!
ARE TOO!

 

Apparently the need to stir up arguments and be difficult Doesn’t go away when you grow up. 

 

I am not saying there isn’t a place for expressing ideas that differ from others. And I think there is definitely a time to say, I disagree with you, and this is why…I guess what always baffles me is why we can’t have differing opinions or even heated discussions without remaining respectful of each other. It is possible to believe strongly in something, have a desire to share that belief with others, and still not be rude or disrespectful to the people who believe differently than you. In fact, if you remain respectful, you will probably have a much better chance at sharing your beliefs with others. 

 

Just a thought. 

 

Fat Fridays Week 29: Determination with a Capital D

Hello everyone. How’s it going? Life is tripping along over here at a rapid pace. I can’t believe our summer break is almost over. Only a couple more weeks and my kids will be back in school. Looking back over this summer I can’t say that I made any major progress in the realm of weight loss and healthy living. But, on the other hand, I feel better about myself as a person. I also have not lost hope or sunk down into despair. I now have a better handle on what health issues I need to address right away. I am still feeling hopeful and positive. These are pretty good accomplishments for me as my default behavior has usually been self-hatred and despair which then lead to even worse eating habits. So, yay me!

 

This past week I looked for some inspiration on the good ol’ internet. I found a web page connected to People Magazine that had all kinds of weight loss success stories. People who had lost large amounts of weight and were keeping it off. I would say I read at least twenty of these stories, skimming through them quickly. I loved seeing the BEFORE and AFTER pictures, I don’t know why those are so inspiring, but they are. You see them and think, That could be me! I could do this! I’ve nailed the BEFORE picture, now I’ve just got to get that AFTER picture! I can do it too! 

 

As I skimmed through the articles, I was looking for common denominators. Which diet plan was making this happen? You might be interested to hear that there was no single diet plan that they were all following. I read about Keto, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, counting calories, low-carb, weightloss apps, accountability groups, exercise programs, weight loss competitions. Pretty much, any diet plan you’ve heard about was represented. Which made me realize that Diet Plan was not the common denominator. In fact, what they all had in common was that they all hit a place in their lives where they said, Enough. I’m going to do something. And then they practiced Determination. 

 

It’s all about Determination. Here’s a definition:

Determination: noun. Firmness of purpose, resoluteness. (Google Dictionary)

Here’s some of the synonyms for Determination:

Resolution, resolve, resoluteness, will power, strength of character, single-mindedness, sense of purpose, fixity of purpose, intentness, decision, steadfastness, perseverance, persistence, indefatigability, tenacity, staying power, strong mindedness, backbone, stubbornness, obstinacy, bravery, boldness, courage, pluck. 

 

Wow. What do you need to lose weight? Read through the list of synonyms. 

 

So, I know myself pretty well. I like to think that I have all that, but history has shown that actually, I don’t. I stand in awe of the men and women who have mustered their determination and conquered. They have somehow persisted and managed to lose the weight. I want to be that person. And I am determined that no matter how many times it takes for me to try and fail, I’m going to just pick myself back up and try again. And one day, I’m going to post my AFTER picture. 

 

Everyone Needs a Manifesto

Today I have been focusing on piano. Piano teaching to be exact. In the fall I will be teaching piano lessons at our church’s homeschooling co-op which meets once a week. I will have four students this year. I had two students last year. I am slowly sticking my toe into the waters of Piano Teaching. My end goal is to teach lessons from my home when all my kids are in school, hopefully focusing on the home school crowd who have the flexibility to take lessons during the day instead of during after-school hours. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime I am slowly feeling my way forward in the realm of teaching. I have been looking at all kinds of different piano teaching curriculum. Reading reviews. Watching tutorials. I am also brushing off my own piano books, starting to set some goals for myself in learning new pieces and brushing up on my music theory. 

As I’ve been doing all of this, it occurred to me that I should write a Piano Teacher’s Manifesto. Kind of a written statement of what my goals are for teaching piano. I’ve been jotting down different ideas today, trying to figure out what is important to me and what isn’t important to me. I think I can boil down my ideas into two key points. 1. I want to share the joy of music: expose kids to all kinds of music and hopefully pass on the wonder and delight I feel when I listen to music. 2. I want to make music accessible to them: give them the skills they need so that they can participate in music and also let them realize they can enjoy and participate in music no matter what skill level they are at. 

Once I have a manifesto then I have a measuring stick. When I consider different curriculum I can ask the question, Will this curriculum enable me to fulfill the goals of my manifesto? When I plan out my lessons and recitals I can always be making sure my methods line up with my goals. A manifesto is a very useful tool. 

It occurs to me that I should have manifestos for other areas in my life. Like parenting. What are my goals for parenting? Teach my children to know and love the God of the Bible.  Teach my children how to love and respect the people around them. Teach my children how to become responsible citizens. All the parenting methods I use, all the decisions I make should be lining up with those goals. 

How about a manifesto for my online presence? Something to regulate how I act on Facebook and my blog and anywhere else I might show up. How about: Be respectful and kind at all times, reflect character that is pleasing to God. If I was tech-savvy, I could somehow make a little window pop up every time I’m about to hit POST or COMMENT…Is this content Respectful and Kind and Pleasing to God? I would have to hit the YES button on the window before I could go ahead and hit enter. 

Ok, I’m on a roll now…How about a manifesto for my marriage? Let’s see. All my words and actions should have the purpose of encouraging and building up my spouse and promoting unity between us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little voice reminding you of that manifesto every time you opened your mouth to speak..”Is this going to encourage him? Is this going to promote unity?” 

Anyway, I’m having fun with the whole idea of writing down my goals so that I have some direction when I need to make decisions. Maybe I’ll expand this to a House Cleaning Manifesto, Money Spending Manifesto, and Book Reading Manifesto!