The Presumptuous Ladybug

A blog about Faith, Family, Life....and Anything else

Month: December 2016

A New Year’s Blessing for my Readers

Author: Jacqi Kambish

First, thank you for being here.  Thank you for stopping by and taking a look and supporting me.  Your presence here is felt and appreciated and even if it’s a tiny thing in your day, it matters to me.  Maybe I don’t know you personally but I definitely know one thing: YOU MATTER!

Whether or not this is your first time to my sight or you have been here before, here is what you should know about the core beliefs that are driving my writing.

There is always hope.

I am not alone and neither are you.

Life is worth living and fighting for.

Life is messy, but good.

We can encourage each other.

We can laugh together.

You matter to me, and more importantly, you matter to God.

We are here on this earth for a purpose and for a reason.

Life is messy and crazy and hard.  Life can be bleak and chaotic.  Life can be hectic and heartbreaking.  I hope that by sharing some of my thoughts and my journey that you can be encouraged in some way, whether through humor or sentiment.  Someone out there needs to know that not all is lost.  Someone needs to know that when the chips are down and things are messy…there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and that there is still hope for them.  Once upon a time…that person was me.  I had people who lifted me up, were authentic and honest with me, and who helped me find my way.   Now that I am on the other side, I want others to know the hope I have.

I can’t help but talk about my faith throughout my blog; it’s going to happen.  But my message isn’t just for Christians.  I hope that no matter who you are, you leave feeling encouraged, perhaps a little thoughtful, and maybe sometimes, with a smile on your lips.

I don’t know what kind of year you just had, but my hope for you in 2017 is that you will be blessed, encouraged, and uplifted.

Ultimately, my dear reader, I pray that in 2017 you have peace, kindness, comfort, and warmth.  I hope you have enough to eat and a safe place to sleep.  I wish for your eyes to see and your ears to hear and for you to grow.  I hope you have a heart that is soft and a soul that never gives up.  My prayer for you is that you experience the deepest love and the most gracious interactions.  May the new year, 2017, be a year in which you can look back and say, “I’ve been blessed.”

 

 

 

Parenting is Expecting the Unexpected

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Being a parent is the greatest and most adventurous life mission.  You say things you never dreamed you would say.  You do things you never dreamed you would do.  The unimaginable and unexpected happens every single day.

Recently, my 5 year old son woke me up at 3:30 a.m. to tell me his bottom was itchy.

3:30 in the morning!

I laid there for a moment in groggy silence trying to process an appropriate response to that.

I’m positive he thought a century had gone by so he repeated his dilemma as loudly as humanly possible.

“Mom…My butt…”

”Shhhhhh.  I heard you.”  I cut him off.  I didn’t want him to wake the entire house.

There were a lot of things going through my mind.  None of which were right and good.  I wanted to go back to sleep.  I wanted to stay in my warm bed.  I wanted to tell him to go back to bed and we would deal with it in the morning.  But, apparently it was so emergent that the discomfort had woken him up.  Here he was, standing over me, with insistence.  No… going back to sleep, any time soon, was definitely out of the question.  As parents, sleep is a privilege we frequently miss out on.

I imagined for a moment what could possibly make him itch enough to have woken him up from a dead sleep.

Maybe he wasn’t really sleeping that well….

Maybe it was poop.  Had he pooped that day?  I don’t know…That must be it.  Unless….

My mind pulled up every horror story I ever heard or read.

Was it some, absolutely, gut turning nasty parasite?

I read once about a type of worm that lives in your intestines and at night when you’re all toasty and sleeping, it crawls out of your bottom to lay eggs and is itchy when it does.

See? 

Horror stories!

I swear, google it.  Wait…maybe … don’t google it.

I gaged a little and terror welled up with in me as I started to crawl out of my warm bed.  If he has a parasite, I am going to lose my mind…

It’s not a parasite.  It CAN’T be a parasite.

My skin started to crawl as I followed him to the bathroom.

“Did you poop today?”  I asked hopefully.

“No…maybe…”

That wasn’t the positive reinforcement I needed right then.

I helped him in the bathroom.  Sure enough, he hadn’t properly wiped.

I explained proper hygiene…again.  I’m sure it went over his head…again.  I shortened it to, “Let me know next time so I can help you get clean.  That’s why you’re itchy, you couldn’t reach.”  He looked at me with doubt in his eyes.  “Every 5 year old needs help with some things.  This is one of them.”

I think that was still too many words.

He nodded absently.

As I helped him back into bed he gave me a hug and a kiss.   He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

I wasn’t so lucky.

I was still shaking off the parasite theory.

If parenting has taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected.  Life doesn’t fit into a beautifully wrapped package.  Things don’t go as planned, dreams don’t always come true, and sticky fingers sometimes smudge up your best ideas.  Sometimes, crap hits the fan and everything seems to fall apart.  Sometimes…you get an itchy butt…

That sleep I so desperately need, that deadline, that perfect meal that just flopped onto the floor…

That flat tire, broken washing machine, and exploding soda…

The sick baby, unemployment, loneliness, anxiety, sorrow…

In life there often are unexpected turns and difficulties threatening to overtake us.

Life can be a pile of itchy poo that is relentless and persistent.  That’s just a fact.  It can be so uncomfortable and painful to deal with.  I’m convinced, though, that the sun always comes out to dry up the rain.  Eventually, things get better.  We can get to the source of our discomfort and, eventually, the fog that has poured in, will lift.  Life gets messy and overwhelming and sad, but there is good too.

I’m trying to remember to focus my attention on the unexpected joys and pleasures rather than the difficulties, no matter how big.  The good is there, even in the middle of gray skies and life’s storms and… an itchy bottom, and no sleep…I promise, it is.

Sweet baby kisses, kindness from a stranger, a loving spouse…

Kids that learn to share, a surprisingly thoughtful gift, an encouraging word from a friend…

Hugs, impromptu dance parties, laughter…

Unexpected moments of joy that remind me to hold tight to hope when things are tough or I’m just having a bad day.

Can I remember to cling to the happy moments, and let go of the irritations and inconveniences?  Can I trust God with the big stuff, enough to keep it from becoming overwhelming?

I can.  I just have to remember in the moment to fix my heart on the good.

Even when it’s 3:30 a.m. and I’m sleepily helping a little boy who still needs me.  One day, this boy may not need me anymore, but in this moment, he is sweetly and wholeheartedly, mine.

Unexpectedly sweet moments are a thing to cherish.  If I remember to check my heart…I won’t miss them.

Making Time for Quiet Moments

Author: Jacqi Kambish

I had a bad attitude the other day.  I felt worn out, overstimulated, and like things were out of my control; which I hated.  To top it off the weather was probably the worst of the season.  A few weeks ago we had snow and freezing cold temperatures.  Then the temperatures soared and the snow and ice began to melt during the day and then froze again at night.  A week or so of that and our yard was filled with icy, mud puddles and dirty snow.  Following that, we had a winter storm warning, but it didn’t snow, it sleeted.  Icy water pelted me in the face as life forced me to go outside.   I think the combination of sleet, ice, and mud at the same time is awful.

By the end of the day, I could feel my agitation growing.  The kids sensed it too.  That’s why they got into the car slowly, fought over who gets to buckle first, and asked for a snack every 5 seconds, even though they just had one.  I think they just wanted to stomp on my last fleeting nerve…. Or maybe they were just tired and sick of cruddy weather too.

Once home, I let the kids pick a movie to watch after dinner.  The wind picked up and a loose cord of Christmas lights flapped against the house in a sporadic rhythm.  Something was blowing in.  I felt it on every level.  My bones ached, my attitude spiraled, and the kids created chaos by bouncing off the walls and yelling at every opportunity.

Later, while the kids watched their movie, I sat down at the kitchen table.  Why was my attitude so crummy?  Was it really because the weather was bad?  Or was it because I was inconvenienced by the errors of the day which were heightened by the annoying weather?  Maybe it was the overwhelming feeling of endless tasks to be completed, the realization of bills I forgot to pay, the dwindling bank account, or the long week at work.  Maybe it was having to drive two hours each way in bad weather just to get supplies for Christmas events, parties, and celebrations…  At the bottom of my grumpiness and wrong attitude, I felt worn.  I realized that, in the busyness, I had neglected the most important thing in my life.  Rather…the most important person.  I’m not talking about me.  I‘m talking about God.

Those quiet moments I spend with my Creator are critical; but as my day fills up those moments get chipped away into nothing.   The thing that brings restoration and fills up my soul, dwindles away until my attitude is a swirling, whirling, sleet pelting, storm of misery.  I need time to be quiet and listen.  I need time to be still.

I realized, in that moment, that it’s time for rest.  It’s time for me to fight back against the mayhem and chaos by finding those quiet moments and anchoring myself to them.  The presents will get wrapped and the treats will get baked.  And if they don’t…is it really that important.  Must there always be cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and pretty paper on every gift in order for it to be Christmas?  Does the house have to be spotless?  Do I really need all my ducks in a row to celebrate and worship Christ?

I woke up the next morning to find the yard covered in a few inches of fresh white fluff.  The sun glimmered off the snow in the best way possible.  It was beautiful, and everything was still and quiet and peaceful.  I sipped my coffee and reflected:

What if the storm of the night before hadn’t raged within my heart?  Would I have realized that what I deeply need is closer connection with the One who can calm the storm and bring peace to my worn soul?

The quiet doesn’t last.  The kids fight and yell and bounce off the walls.  They tattle on each other and beg for a snack 1.5 seconds after every meal.  I get overstimulated by lights, noises, people, and expectations.  The dishes pile up and laundry gets done, but never put away.  Messes get made and I get tired.  The endless scurry and hurry of getting everyone out the door in the mornings and off to bed at night are a revolving door.  Sometimes life just feels like a whirl wind of chaos.  The difference is, if I make God a priority and cling to him when life feels stormy and overwhelming, then I can have peace and rest for my soul…even in the midst of chaos.

I know it isn’t easy.  I have to work at it and set aside specific time in my day that I refuse to give up.  More than that, I have to change my mind set.  Prioritizing quiet moments with God isn’t just about setting aside specific times, but it’s also about allowing God to be a part of every moment and calling out to him when I am falling into the spiral of craziness.  It’s not delegating him to a corner of the day but including him in every moment.

Christmas Hope for Seasonal Blues

Author: Jacqi Kambish

Know what I hate about winter?  Everything. I live in the Colorado mountains and I get the full winter experience.   I hate the frigid bone chilling mornings, I hate the windy face numbing afternoons, and I hate the arctic nights.  I hate that stepping outside means navigating around dangers like impalement by icicles, hidden patched of slick ice, frostbite and other drivers on the icy road.  The cold seeps in and a gloom begins to stir within me and a bit of despair rises up.  By the time May rolls around, I’m struggling to find a glimmer of goodness to hang onto.

It is there though…the goodness and the light and the warmth.  It’s hard for me to see it when the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or other mental illness are threatening at my door, but it is there and at the very root of the goodness and light, is my faith.

I can see that there is beauty in the bitterly cold snow.  The way it gleams off the trees and shines back at me with the reflection of the sun.  It is breath taking.  And it isn’t so different from the way the light of God’s Son reflects back at me from other believers.  Their smiles, words of encouragement and prayers…they lift me up.  They remind me of the hope I have in the true Light of Life, Christ Jesus.

And hope is everything.  That’s why I love the Christmas season so much.  There in the midst of the shortest, darkest days of winter are the bright lights, festivities, and merriment of hope and light.

John 1:4-5 says that “In [Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The light shines in the darkness….

I realize that the Christmas season is hard for a lot of people.  I regularly offer prayers for those tormented by memories and emptiness and loneliness. But for me, as I struggle through the short days and cold temperatures and fight against the gloom, Christmas is a bright reminder that the light still shines in the darkness.  No matter how horrible and dark and evil this world becomes.  And, I need that reminder.

There are times when the grip of depression cuts too deep and the hole feels too dark.  It’s in those times that I have needed help on a physical and spiritual level.  I know I’m not alone.   I want to assure you that it’s ok to see a doctor and it’s ok to ask friends and family for prayer and help if you’re there.  When I am in the depths of despair, I know that I can’t hold myself up and I need Christ to bring healing to my soul, faithful friendships to lean on, and sometimes medication to stop the downward spiral.  My war with depression isn’t new and I have seen some very dark days.   I believe that addressing depression takes a whole mind, body, and spirit approach.  Believe me, I know the struggles are real and no amount of fluff can wipe them away.  I need my mind and body to be well, but I need my soul to be well also.

I know what my body needs.  It needs the triad of good nutrition, good exercise, and sometimes medication to stay balanced.  My mind needs truth and goodness and scripture to think on and sometimes counseling. As far as my soul goes, looking to the joy and hope of Christ and clinging to that truth offers freedom; and a reminder that God is good and is present and that he cares.

I believe in Christ Jesus.  I believe that he came to earth as God incarnate, lived through every experience of man, and that he is deeply moved by the hardships we face.  When life is crushing, I believe in a good God who works as our Defender and offers peace to the weary soul even when I can’t feel him at work.

The God of all creation, the GREAT I AM, has made Himself fully known to us!  And, at the very end of it all… good ultimately overcomes all that is wrong and evil and the chains that bind can be broken.

It is easy, in the misery of life, to believe the lyrics from ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’:

“And in despair, I bowed my head ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men,”

The good news is that in the dawn of faith, the Spirit of God filters through our muck and…

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead, nor does he sleep, the wrong shall fall, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.”

In the end, hope does prevail and peace and goodwill come near.  We can still rise from ashes and sing.  A bud still breaks through the snow and a gleam of light still touches the earth.  Good still overcomes.

In this Christmas season, may we put aside the crowds and shopping sprees and controversial debates long enough to recognize and proclaim the goodness of Christ.  Let our hearts and lives shine as brightly in the darkness as the bulbs on our homes and trees do.  Even in a dark, cold, dreary winter season, may we find hope and joy and peace in the Light of Life.  When the depression of our mind threatens to steal our joy, let us fix our eyes on what is good and be filled with awe.  Then, let us seek the intervention we need to get back on track.  There is good to come.  Let us remember that, for Christians, this season is about worshiping a perfect and loving God who had mercy on us and who gently pursues us because he loves us deeply.  In the difficulties, let us cling to hope.  Let the lights in our homes be a reminder of the Light that has come into the world.  Let our attitude and actions be a reflection of all that is good and noble.  If not for yourself, then perhaps for souls like mine that need to be reminded sometimes – the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not (and cannot) overcome it.

 

Public Bathrooms and Small Children-Life Adventures

Author: Jacqi Kambish

bathroom

Bathrooms are a necessary and useful thing.  They serve their purpose and I am thankful that I have plumbing, especially on cold mornings in the winter when temperatures are sub-zero.  I get that they are a modern convenience.  I mean, thank the LORD we don’t have to use outhouses at the mall or grocery store.  Could you imagine that scene?  My nose wrinkles involuntarily just thinking about it.

While I am thankful for the modern convenience of plumbing, public bathrooms still incite a certain level of anxiety for me.  Oh, I wasn’t always this way.  Once upon a time I could use a public bathroom with little difficulty.  I had a routine of use.  It worked well.  I checked for the cleanest looking stall.  I check the toilet seat carefully for remnants of the last user and wiped them away when needed. (Side note:  Seriously people!  If you can’t get it IN the toilet at least do the next person a favor and wipe it away.)   I always carefully placed the toilet seat covers perfectly upon the porcelain throne. I checked for toilet paper on the role before sitting.  I was careful to touch as few surfaces as possible.   I diligently washed my hands and used a paper towel to open the door before leaving the facilities.  I had a perfect, streamlined routine with few upsets.  Maybe it took me a bit longer than my friends to get through my routine but,generally speaking,  going through the routine helped keep me sane in an environment I see as innately contaminated.

I guess I don’t need to mention that I am a bit of a germ-a-phobe.  I try not to be over board about it.  I bite my tongue and suppress my inward cringe when a friend laughingly explains that her child, who is now sharing the same bowl of pretzels with my child, is finally recovering from a nasty stomach bug.  My inward panic button starts screaming’ “What the heck?” while the more subdued reasonable side of me realizes that it probably ran its course already and then mentions to her that maybe the kids should have their own bowl of snacks just in case and… a warning next time would be appreciated.  When I get home, I scrub the children’s hand vigorously and then douse them with a heavy bath of essential oils…just to make me feel better.

But, back to bathrooms….

Oh the days…..The glorious days of using a public bathroom all by myself.

Fast forward 8 years:

I now have an 8 year old, a 5 year old and a 3 year old in tow and my safe routine is constantly being stomped on and thrown to the wind by small people who have no concept of germs and cleanliness.  Take for example a recent and very real bathroom experience I recently had:

 

We are in a small dirty gas station bathroom with one stall.  My oldest takes her turn first.  “Make sure the seat is clean,” I state automatically.  “It is,” comes her reply, much too quickly.  I have my doubts but I am trying REALLY hard not to let my fear of public restrooms surface and take over.

My five year old is next.  He bounces into the stall and slams the door shut before I can intervene.  “I can do it!” he chirps a bit too positively.

Oh my stars!!

I can hear the toilet seat clank as he lifts it.  Curses!  I just KNOW that the rim is a festering bacterial feeding ground.  Little micro somethings are eagerly waiting for an opportunity to attach themselves, like ticks, to my son.

It is my turn.  I look all three of my kids in the eyes with piercing seriousness, “Do NOT touch ANYTHING.”  I’m a bit stern.  They smile and nod.  I’ve had this conversation before…many times.  They don’t care.  They don’t care AT ALL!  They are perfectly happy to lick the walls, hug the toilet seat, and play with the tampon box.  My sanity is hanging by a thread now.  My anxiety is creeping up as I click the stall door shut.  I’m acutely listening to their every move and every word. “Just pee and get out.”  I tell myself.

 

I can hear laughter and the hair rises on the back of my neck, “What are you doing?”  I yell out.  “I said don’t touch anything.  Just stand there.”  I can’t really see them.  I don’t know what they are actually doing.  I just yell it out because…somewhere in recesses of my heart…I know.  I. Just. Know.

I walk out of the stall and take it all in.  They aren’t looking at me.  They are giggling and pointing at each other.  My son is rolling across the putrid floor, my 3 year old daughter is kissing the floor length mirror with a look of delight.  “Look Mommy, I’m giving me kisses.”

My oldest is doing God knows what, but her mouth is open and against the filthy wall.  I can hear her laughing.  My anxiety soars to Code Red.  She looks at me and smiles. “I’m a Sucker Fish!”

She is laughing.  I am not.

I am not sure who to address first.  My mind is reeling.  Dirty floor! Dirty mirror! Dirty wall!

“For land’s sakes!!  What is WRONG with all of you?!”

I can’t stop myself, the words are flying out.  I’m turning in circles and looking at each of them, unable to focus on just one child.  Their giggles stop.  They looked surprised.

Why do they look surprised?  We had this conversation last week!  Why on EARTH do they look surprised?

“What’s wrong Momma?”  Bubba looks bewildered.

“The bathroom is dirty, everything is dirty!  People POOP in here!” I say with exasperation.

They are just looking at me.  I know they know I’m losing it.  They are waiting for the insanity to run itself out. “Don’t touch anything and especially DO NOT put your MOUTH on anything in the bathroom.  Do I really have to say, ‘Don’t lick anything?’  Do NOT Lick ANYTHING!  And do NOT put your mouth on anything.  Not the wall or the mirror or anything!?”  In my hysterical state I am suddenly overcome with the humor of it all.  I get an image in my head of them with their tongues frozen to the faucets like the kid, Flick, in The Christmas Story who got his tongue frozen to the pole.  In that moment a woman walks into the bathroom.  I know she heard my rant because she gives me a knowing look of sympathy.  When our eyes meet a laugh begins to bubble up into our faces.  I realize it is comical, at the same time I am horrified.  I’m not sure which feeling is strongest but somehow the laugh finds its way to my lips.  The Lady starts to laugh as well.  I’m ushering the kids out as the laughter takes over.  My son is looks at me and asks, “What’s so funny?  What’s funny Momma?”

“Life.”  I respond, “Life is funny.”