Thursday, May 31, 2012

SUMMER!!!!! Unplugged, and DIRTY.

So, it's the last day of school.

I'm pretty much the most excited mom in the world.  No, we aren't planning any trips to Disney or to Florida- although, I wouldn't cry if that happened.  We aren't planning anything extravagant- as far as vacations go.  I'm pretty sure we will be lucky to get away for one weekend.

Never the less, I'm FIRED UP!!!

Before last summer, I was depressed- Not like "Oh, *sigh* I feel sad."  But more like severe postpartum depression-  like on meds to keep me functioning, and completely plugged in to the world wide web to keep me feeling validated and encouraged.  I was that mom who wanted her kids home so they could help with the housework and the little kids while I played on the internet.  Yes, I know how that sounds, but it's the truth and I think people need to know the real me- not just the parts I wanted you all to see.  Plus, I have a feeling I'm not the only mom who ever wrestled with this.  I would either sit on my computer, surfing the web, playing on Facebook, or e-mailing- OR I would sit on my phone and text- always looking for that outside "thing" to fill me up, to validate me, to give me purpose.  And if we're being reeeeeeeeeeally honest, I'll admit that I spent a ton of time blogging to help me feel important and wise.

Yes, I know how that all sounds.  There was probably some respect lost there, but stay with me.

Over the past several months, God has taken off those shackles and words cannot fully express the change that has taken place in my heart, in my mind, in my life, except to say I'M FREE!  I'm free to be the wife, the mom, the woman I was created to be and I couldn't be more excited (unless, of course, I woke up tomorrow 50 pounds lighter with rock hard abs and a Swagger Wagon in the driveway).  But back to reality....

So my typical default for the summer is: Morning- chores.  Noon- kids' nap.  Afternoon- pool.  And that's about the awesome extent of everything we do for the summer.  Try not to be jealous...  But this year, I've made a plan and am determined to make memories with our family that will last a lifetime.

It all started last fall when The Lord began moving in my heart, stirring me to unplug- to break free from the Facebook, Pinterest, internet addictions.  I felt like he was showing me my most important ministry (my precious family) was right in front of me and I was missing it because I was so completely focused on self.  So the first step was to cut back the time spent on Pinterest.  In fact, I decided I would use the site for locating recipes or creative ideas that would help for special projects, but I limited my time to 15 minutes for each visit and i was only allowed 2 visits per week.  Then I realized I didn't want to go to the site at all.

Next, I cut way back on texting.  I learned (the hard way, of course) that I hurt people (friends and family) when I text or check my phone every two minutes while with them.  I learned that when I do that, I send a message that they are not as important as Facebook on my phone or the person I am texting- and that's not my heart at all.  So I set new rules and boundaries: when my children are awake and need my full focus, the ringer is off or down and unless it's an emergency or the Hottie, I don't respond until I have time.  For a couple of years I was sending a message to my sweet husband that he was pretty far down on my list of importance and over time he actually adopted that lie as truth.

So then my husband and I began working together to set healthy patterns for our family.  We began routines that included reading together, praying together regularly, and one major rule- WHEN IT'S FAMILY TIME, WE REMAIN UNPLUGGED!  Imagine that!  A family with no electronic devices during family time!?!?  You mean we don't need the TV or the Wii to keep us entertained???  Nope!  We recreated our identity as a family and guess what?  We discovered that we actually like each other.

So how did it all happen?

At the beginning of Spring Break, I was looking for some ideas to make Spring Break fun- that's when I stumbled across this: (Click here to read my friend Julie's blog- the blog that inspired me to tap in to my creative side as a mom).  I loved the enthusiasm of Julie and her husband and I loved that they were making memories their kids would cherish forever.  So I called Julie and asked for help coming up with some inexpensive ideas to help me accomplish some memory-making fun in my own home during Spring Break.  She gave me a few amazing ideas such as this one:



The kids loved every minute of the experience and have started a new tradition (that my heart loves, but my OCD wrestles against) of eating a messy meal with no hands.  *breathe, mom*  We also had a cup-stacking competition, a night out at the movies, a camp out in the game room, a scavenger hunt in the grocery store- while dressed in our jammies, and the creative train of thought just kept going, and going, and going... until finally the Muhles challenged the Brietzke family to a night that my family and I will certainly never forget- MUD WARS.

That's right, folks.  If you can imagine it, we did it.  (CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO JULIE MADE.)

And after all was said and done, I was re-inspired.  I was reminded why I'm here- not just to have fun and to make memories.  Not to make a name for myself or for my family.  I'm here as a servant of the most high God and right now, I have been given a task- to raise these precious angels to the best of my God-given ability; to help them become the men and women he created them to be.  I don't need to look around for the next best thing, or make opportunities for myself.  I don't need to look for validation by accepting every single volunteer position that is available.  No- I need to recognize that (in the words of Beth Moore) "Every opportunity to serve God is not FROM God." And I need to start focusing on the opportunities that are from God and are right in front of me- opportunities that I took for granted for way too long- like my amazing family.

So what does this look like?  How do you make t hat change?

Step I- Unplug.  Refocus.  Renew your mind.  If you need to spend time confessing pride or selfishness, or insecurities, do it!   It can only set you free!  And ask God to help you rediscover (or discover for the first time) your passion for your God-given role as a mom, dad, grandparent, husband, wife, aunt, uncle...

Step II- Get excited folks!  SUMMER IS HERE!!!  It doesn't matter if you've always been the person who dreads summer with their kids.  It doesn't matter if you don't feel adequate as a mom, a dad, a grandparent. Those are all lies from the devil who wants to keep you from becoming the person God created you to be so that he can keep you from experiencing the fullness that the truth of God has to offer.  "And you shall KNOW (not just hear, but really, fully KNOW) the truth and the truth shall set you free."  You have a chance to start over, just like we did and make this summer like nothing you or your family has ever experienced!

My challenge to anyone who might be reading this is to take that first step.  To turn off your phone, your Wii, your iPad.  Step away from the computer, the television, and everything that distracts you and have fun discovering your unique identity as a family.

I'll continue to share some tips from our summer fun, but remember- our family is not like your family.  Find what works for YOUR family and do it!  And whatever you do- if you see us out at HEB or Market Street in our jammies, don't judge.  I may or may not have done laundry for the day, but in all likelihood, we're just Muhles, being Muhles... and making memories.

No longer lame.

No longer plugged in.

No longer self absorbed.

No longer I,
The Real Life Mom.