Establish the Work of My Hands

establish the work of my handsI’ve been washing dishes by hand for several weeks now. Our dishwasher broke a few months ago, and it’s not repairable. We need a new one but have put off the purchase until we can find a great bargain and save up enough cash to buy one.

I don’t mind terribly dish washing by hand (don’t get me wrong,though; I’d love to have a working dishwasher again!) because I recognize there’s a real benefit in doing manual labor with your hands.

What is it about working with our hands that can be revelatory, inspirational, insightful, and, ultimately, healing?

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Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

What I Learned While Mowing the Yard

What I Learned While Mowing the Yard - 4 principles for reaching goals

A few weeks ago, I decided to surprise my husband when he came home from work.

No, no. It was nothing romantic and didn’t even involve his favorite meal.

What brings a smile to my man’s face and a “Wow, honey!” to his lips?

Our yard—freshly cut.

That’s right. I mowed the yard.

Now, I’m no stranger to mowing the yard. I grew up on a farm where our yard was three huge grassy areas. I have mowed my share of yards. I have logged my time on mowers—both riding and push.

But it’s been oh, several years now that I’ve done yard work. And it’s sort of an understatement to say that I’m out of shape.

These realities did nothing, however, to quell my zest for getting work done! For surprising my hubby! For feeling productive!

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Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Five Challenges to Working at Home

Guess what?

I have my first guest post today at The Work at Home Woman!

Check out my article, “Five Challenges to Working at Home.” I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for almost seven years. I’ve operated my business from my home, so I feel pretty qualified to speak on this subject.

If you are a work at home woman or want to be one, subscribe to The Work at Home Woman. It’s a great resource for all things related to working at home.

See you over there!

I Am Tired, Part 2

“We need just a few more volunteers. Do any of you want to help?”

No, I think. Lady, I’m just here to take pictures and watch and have no responsibility.

I felt like such a cranky b**ch this morning. But for today? I just didn’t want to do anything.

I attended my daughter’s big race at school for one hour this morning. Apparently, the organizers were short-handed on volunteers for lap-counting or they hadn’t scheduled enough people or someone didn’t show or something. Whatever the reason, the lady approached a small group of us moms standing there waiting for the race to start and asked for help.

I didn’t jump at the chance. I didn’t offer to help. I just stood there.

Ordinarily, that’s not my personality at all. I am the volunteer of volunteers. I REALLY enjoy helping. I like being part of a team to do anything. I’m a joiner. I was a member of everything in high school and college (seriously) and held a leadership office in most any organization of which I’ve ever been a part.

(Except organized sports. I don’t have an athletic or competitive bone in my body.)

As this week squeaks to a halt, however, I’m confronted with my limits. I am exhausted. I think I’m a bit over-committed (which is nothing new; I’ve been over-committed since I came out of the womb) and honestly, I don’t know what to do about it.

I guess refusing to help monitor the race was a good place to start? Hmmmm.

Here’s what our week was like (and we aren’t the busiest family by any stretch):

  • Preschool fall festival party-Friday
  • Basketball cheerleading signup-Saturday morning
  • Trick-or-Treating-Saturday night
  • Church-Sunday morning
  • Cruise on the Cumberland River-Sunday afternoon
  • Dinner out with church group-Sunday night
  • Van wouldn’t start and was in the shop for two days
  • Girl scouts meeting-Tuesday night
  • Run to the grocery store for ingredients for school bake sale goods-Tuesday night during GS meeting
  • Bake muffins-Wednesday night
  • Deliver muffins-Thursday morning
  • Spaghetti supper at school-Thursday night
  • Race at school-Friday morning
  • Work, work, work, and work-Thursday night I was up until 1 a.m.

So, Lady At The Race Today, if you ask me to help next year, maybe you’ll catch me at a time when I’m a bit more rested and not so overwhelmed.

Or maybe not.

I think this is one reason why my friend Jennifer chose to homeschool this year.

I Am Tired

So tired tonight but up late working. Just taking a minute to keep up with my commitment to NaBloPoMo.

And so, I remind myself of the comfort contained in these words:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

—Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

I’m Really Old

As if I’m not already reminded daily (with three children that go 100 mph on air, apple juice, and ten hours of sleep) that I lack much in the energy and vitality departments, I must now face my pre-geriatric reality at work.

I’ve only worked in a few offices, but I would classify garden-variety office employees into three groups:

  1. the kids
  2. old
  3. decrepit

I know you’ve worked with the decrepit folks before. They’ve been on the job for 100 years. They’ve weathered lay-offs and restructurings. They’ve accrued six months of vacation and disappear for weeks at a time to redeem said vacation because they’ll lose it if they don’t. These seasoned veterans possess deep secrets, like where the good pen stash is hidden and how the postage machine works. Their desks are decorated with photos of grand kids in soccer uniforms. They have yard sales out of their cubicles.

The “old” guys are usually in managerial positions. In the “prime of life,” they have either found their niche in their profession or are about to make the next transition to success.

I always regarded the office old folks (about ten years ahead of me) with reverence. They were real grown-ups but had not yet checked out. They had mortgages and mini-vans. They had kids who took dance and went on family vacations. They cut the grass on the weekends.

They were—gasp!—in their forties.

So I’ve always been way below the “old” and “decrepit” categories. I’ve been one of the “kids” who sees movies on opening weekend, reads People, and could not—not even under duress—quote the Nickelodeon preschool morning line-up. I actually remember an office discussion circa 2001 where I was clueless as to who Spongebob was. Clueless. Now? I hum Spongebob songs in the shower and have a Squidward quote on my Facebook page.

At my new part-time job, I’m facing the reality that I’m an “old guy” now. Chattering about pregnancy and labor, children’s programming, and the decline of property values and home equity, I’ve moved into that category. Sadly, I’m displaying all the blandness of the “old” category without much of the “professional successful prime-of-life” aspects.

I’m working a few hours each week as an administrative assistant for a successful company that specializes in web-based training programs. I’m thinking a job at this company for someone in the tech or design fields would be a nice gig. Pleasant company. Growing company. Great future.

Naturally, the place is loaded with new grads or almost-new grads. Lots of people age 25 and under.

I try to fit in with the “kids” at the office. When they start to talk about recipes or weekend outings, I think I’m going to say something fun, youthful, and witty. Instead, most of my comments come out boring and irrelevant. Sometimes I feel like Lane’s dad in Better Off Dead as he consults a handbook of teen lingo when he talks with his son.

One day I was talking to C, a youngish professional, who sits beside me. She’s very friendly and likable. Somehow I tend to relate most of our conversations to the office where I worked before I had children. In my mind, it feels like I just left last month, when it’s been 6.5 years. So, naturally, a lot has changed. It’s actually been TEN years since I started that job.

I managed to turn the conversation that day into “Well, when I worked… blah, blah, blah,” which then became a mini-rant about the idiosyncrasies of a former boss. I was kind of in reminisce-mode-yet-so-glad-I’m-not-there-anymore-mode, while C politely nodded with a glazed-over expression. I concluded with the always-insightful and jovial, “Oh, well. That was ten years ago. 1999.”

C perked up. She said, “Wow. Ten years.”

It then occurred to me that my version of 1999 and C‘s version of 1999 were quite different.

I was beginning a great job, stockpiling bottled water and canned food for the Y2K “catastrophe,” and taking a cruise. I had already been married four years.

“How old were you in 1999?” Bracing for it. Here it comes.

“I was a freshman in high school.”


One day, I overheard the group trying to figure out another young woman’s age. They were going through how long she had been married, when she graduated from college, and so on.

Then they said, “She’s got to be ‘our age.'”

Yea. Our age. 30-ish? 30-something? Wait a second. What exactly IS “our age”?

“You know. Like 24, 25.”

And another day, office chatter turned to an Internet posting about a baby who was born at 12:34:56 on 7/8/09 (you see: the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9, right?). Anyway, that got us talking about weird birth dates and number combinations.

I just happened to blurt out—from my prehistoric perspective: “Well, I went to school with a girl who was born on 6/6/66. Isn’t that creepy?”

C says, “That’s not that long ago.” (Not really sure why she said that. Maybe she could sense my mental gymnastics with carbon dating and wanted to make me feel a little better? But anyhoo… her comment led to another co-worker’s comment:)

“Yea. She’d be… let’s see.. 43 now.”

Forty-three years ago. You know. Before electricity and air conditioning and frozen dinners.

So my fortieth birthday is still more than a year away, but I can’t help being all contemplative as that milestone approaches.

My new job with the “kids” has just accelerated my timetable, that’s all.

Watch Out For An Exploding Mary! and other thoughts

I’m not sure, but I may explode within the next few days.

During the last 24 hours, I have logged some time working 3 of 4 of my part-time jobs. I am writing/editing, doing bookkeeping/admin work for church, doing admin work for PureSafety, and marketing Melaleuca products.

Oh, yeah, and I have a full-time job of wife and mom.

Chris and I decided that we would work really hard to get on our feet and tackle our debt in an effort to reduce some of the financial stress.

I love doing all of of my jobs. But some days there’s just not enough of me to go around, to meet the deadlines, to keep all the knowledge sorted in the brain, to drive here and there.

We are grateful for the extra work. GRATEFUL. And I really enjoy it. I just need a few more hours in my days.


As if I didn’t have enough going on, I’m also teaching our Ladies’ Bible Study this summer. Yikes! Yikes! and Yikes! This is something I’ve wanted to do for ages, so on one level I am thrilled. On another level, I’m scared to death. I’m humbled (and properly so) as I remember the verse that says:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1


Also, I’m writing my own study (you didn’t expect me to take the easy route, did you?). It’s all about the centrality of the Word in women’s lives. We are looking at all the distractions and deceptions of our culture and how we Christian women open ourselves to being swept along with the culture primarily because we neglect the Word of God.

Prayers, please!


Today we met some friends for a little swim time in their neighborhood pool. We had fun, and the kids did great. I really can’t believe that I’m taking all 3 to the pool now by myself. Whoa! What a difference a year makes. Anyway, today, I was pulling Spencer around on a noodle and he asked, “Mom, could Jesus swim?”

How cute is that?

I said, “I don’t know.”

What I should have said was, “He didn’t have to. He could walk on water.” But Chris was like, “Of course he could swim. He made the water.”

But I’m like, “I don’t know. In his humanity, swimming would have been something he would have had to learn. Humans aren’t born knowing how to swim. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t.”

What do you think?


I totally have some strong opinions about Jon and Kate and the debacle their marriage and impending divorce have become. I think the biggest lesson for us here is to be careful, lest we, too, are led astray by whatever sparkles and catches our eye.

My sense—and this is only my rather uninformed opinion—is that her constant berating pummeled her poor husband to a shell of a man. Instead of responding as he should have, he rebelled and did, indeed, commit indiscretions. The two of them are now so far past preserving the integrity of the marriage that their relationship is irreparable.

Sadly, I don’t think either cares much. I don’t sense either has much to lose by being divorced. They will still go on with their show, their speaking engagements, traveling, and book deals. By now, the fame and money have outfitted them with nannies and bodyguards and housekeepers. Heck yeah—this “new arrangement” is preferable to actually living together, turning off the TV cameras, stopping the cash flow, working on the marriage, actually being at home with 8 kids all day, and dealing with the mundanity of ordinary life.

Of course, the children are the victims. I fear that once all of this blows over—whether it’s within the next few months or few years—the relationships between parents and kids will be forever altered. I think Jon and Kate mostly see the effect on themselves. My concern is they are not really evaluating from a “big picture” view because they really don’t want to say goodbye to the fame and the money.