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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer and a churchy conclusion

It seems to be time for my monthly Dumont update. We are in hardcore summer mode. The kids are having friends over. We're going to the beach. Cookouts, ice cream, and popsicles are happening. Football is wrapping up, but we've been at the park two evenings a week for the last month and a half. VBS is going on this week. Tommy has already done his yearly week with his friend, aka "Bro Week". Charlotte and Matthew have done a kids camp while I went to my CC practicum and training. Official schoolwork ended at least a month ago. In fact, I've been spending my time gathering books and curriculum for this fall and our next school year. I've done a few projects including upcycling an old TV cabinet into a homeschool containment device for board games, curriculum for the upcoming year, and supplies.

I'm already passed the ugly stage of the yearly book reorganization. In case you don't know, this is the time when I take all my school books off their shelves, move my bookcases around, and pull out the books I need for next year while shelving the ones I won't need. It's a big production that takes days. I can't tell you how much Jon loves it when I decide to move bookcases. He acts like the stacks of books all over the floor bother him, but I know he looks forward to this every year.  A couple of other pinterest projects have happened. It's been good if just a smidge on this side of chaos.

Then there's our ever evolving church discussion. After years, years I tell you, I'm done with the subject, and I've come to my conclusion. I've read, searched, vented, and commiserated. I've gone through periods of attending out of a sense of obligation. I've listened to speakers, read blog posts and books. I pulled out my systematic theology book more than once to get some help in where to look in Scripture for prescriptive as opposed to descriptive. And where have I landed? Well, we landed at Journey Church where we started over 5 years ago.  Church theology is one that is more fluid than soteriology for example. Councils and smarter people than I have hammered out the meaning of certain doctrines centuries or even a millennium before me. Doctrine on the church though is still evolving and didn't get councils, discussions, and creeds. So if a church teaches the Gospel of Jesus, and the people live to love others, what more do I need? Every church gets things wrong sometimes because each church is made up of people that get things wrong sometimes. God knows I get enough wrong on a daily basis.

It's been easier for me to extend grace to people that don't follow Christ than those that do. I've known through much of this personal journey that the problem is mostly me. Not that the church doesn't have issues. Of course it does. But I have a lot of issues in my heart, and I can actually do something about those issues.  So I'm letting it go. I am all in with our church. It's our church home. We're committed. When I join the future churchy discussions and people start to dissect every line item of their church that's wrong, I will ask them "Do they love Jesus and teach the Gospel? Are they hurting people or are they hateful? Is your problem really an issue of preference?" If your answers are "Yes, no, and probably," I'm going to shrug my shoulders and tell you there are bigger issues in the world. I'm all for a good discussion, but I've exhausted myself of the constant critique.

By the same token, I know I have some friends with real questions and issues they're working through. Those are things I can get behind and talk about. I also had to go through my own path to get to the place I'm at now.  I couldn't have gotten here if friends weren't willing to listen to me question, argue, and be judgy while offering their own more tempered and gracious responses. So friends that put up with me, thanks for that.

Anyway...summer. I think I've covered it. Until July...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I have a confession.

Hi friends, both old and new. I have a confession that I need to share. It's been a long time coming, so here it goes. I've become afraid of you. I spent the entire year of 2015 being cautious with my words for all the wrong reasons. I've been afraid you won't like me. That my "realness" would be horrifying instead of refreshing. I was afraid of judgement and criticism, and I honestly didn't want anymore advice, "I told you so" comments, or looks. You know, the look that says "You're all wrong about everything, but I don't feel comfortable telling you how wrong I think you are."  It's a real thing.

It took me the entire year of 2015 to recover from 2014. And now it's taken me the last 4 months or so to really dig deep into the city that we've decided to call home. I've been ever so slowly committing our lives to Charleston. We bought a house. I contracted to tutor Challenge A next year with our CC group (BIG commitment for me). I signed the kids up for camps and activities over the summer months in advance. That might seem silly, but it was hard to actually commit to summer camps in March. Do you know how many things can go wrong between March and July?! I can list 5 right now without even trying.  It's been a process for us. I have no doubt some of you have thought that we need to get over everything already. I know I've thought it about myself.

I insulated myself so well last year that it's taken me the first few months of this year to even realize how much I've closed myself off from anything new. I've become timid. ME. I'm not timid. But that's who I've become, and I don't like it. I've missed opportunities because I was afraid of drawing attention to myself or of making someone else uncomfortable, and for that, I'm ashamed.

So. Here it is. A few bullet points of who I really am and things I've wanted to say:
  • I drink wine. I like wine. I like beer too occasionally. I don't drink too much, but I make some delicious red wine truffles.
  • My van is trashed. I can't blame the kids. I mean, I can for a lot of it, but my car has always been a little trashed. The kids changed the form, not the behavior. And I don't even care that much.
  • Classical Conversations. It's been great for me and my kids, but I don't think it's the end all be all of homeschooling. CC moms that think this is the only way or the best way for every homeschooling family ever needs to stop. Stop talking. Please.
  • People that don't like CC, stop hating on it. Nobody's making you do it. Stop calling all of us weird. We're not any stranger or judgier than you are for your unschooling, or your unit studies, or your boxed Bob Jones curriculum. People talk about the things they do and like. You don't have to like CC, but please stop. Just stop the eye roll before I see it.
  • Don't trash your husband. Especially don't do it in front of me. The next time I hear it, I'm going to gently say "Oh, please don't say that. Please don't talk about him like that to me." And especially don't bash your husband to me IN FRONT OF YOUR HUSBAND!
  • I keep getting the very innocent question about where we go to church. Then I go into this long thing about where we used to go and where we've been visiting, but we might go back to the first place, and we don't know what we we're going to do, and we don't want to visit anymore churches because OHMYGOD. I'm so tired of visiting churches (all the moving, remember?), but we need a church, but I've kind of made my own family of Christians so maybe we don't need all the things the churches we visit say we need from them. Because let me tell you. Most churches are about 75% superficial, and I just. can't. do superficial formulaic church anymore. It makes my eyes hurt. And my heart. I don't want to spend all of my time with church people, and I don't even know what to do with all this. If you ask me about church, it's going to be an inarticulate mess of a conversation so be prepared.
I think that's enough for now. Oh wait, sometimes I say "bad" words. I'm very careful about where and when, but sometimes a good "bad" word is the best word to convey the meaning. So that's it. I'm making a conscious decision to put off the timidity that I ensconced myself in for the last year. Fear has had too strong of a grip on my heart. I've given in to the "what if" questions too much. It's exhausting, and I'm done. The insulation and timidity was good for me for awhile, but it's time to throw this blanket off and move into a new season.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ode to the cinnamon roll

I know it's wrong, but I can't help myself. I can't get you out of my head. I can still taste you, and I need you again. I tried to get to you last week, but the kids were with me. They don't understand why I want you so much. How can they know the pleasure you bring? Finally, this evening I'm free for just an hour. It's more time than I need. Tonight, we'll be together again. Just me and that sweet cinnamon flavor. Oh cinnamon roll, how did you work your way into my life? I've eaten so many cinnamon rolls in my day, but there's something different about you. Maybe it's the iced coffee I drink with you. Damn you, Panera and your magical Thursday evenings of cinnamon rolls! You're no good for me! You're full of calories, white flour, and sugar! You do nothing but push me into larger pants, but I can't say no. I must have the sweet, cinnamon, goodness; Feel that first tender bite of pastry. Smell the heady scent of cinnamon. Cinnamon roll, you will be mine.

And that, folks, is what happens when Jon gets me a laptop for my birthday. I can now write again without being interrupted by the kids and their incessant need for Minecraft, Spotify, or email. You get to read about my sinful desire for cinnamon rolls.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Where are we now?

My writing has slowed down a lot. Our lives have slowed down after 5 years. It's amazing how life flows from one season to the next, and you usually don't even realize it's happened until it's done. I wake up this morning and I realize that we've flowed into the picture of the suburban American dream complete with an HOA, a mortgage, and slightly crammed schedule of troops, school obligations, teams, and youth group. This looks like a place we've been before, but it is so different. We see the world with totally different eyes than we did 5 years ago. And although we might look like everyone else with a cursory glance, our focus is no longer on acquisition but surrender. Part of what I've learned in the last few months is that even if our lives don't look as visually exciting and dare I say "authentic" from the outside, it doesn't make our new life any less meaningful and impactful. But enough of that. So what have we been up to lately?

First, Tommy is finishing up 8th grade. He's preparing for mock trial next month where he's playing the part of one of the prosecuting attorneys. I have to get ready for high school. I'm going to have a high school student. My child will be in high school. I have to keep saying it out loud because it doesn't seem possible. This little guy was going with me to college while I finished up my senior year just yesterday! As of today his career goal is to be a singer. Ahem. He's so 13.

Charlotte is on her very first overnight camping trip with her American Heritage Girls troop. This is kind of a big deal. She's an hour and a half away. She is thriving in our homeschool group. Her biggest struggle in life at the moment (other than her brothers) is finding friends in our neighborhood.

Matthew. Ah, Matthew. He's still the same kid. He says random things. He makes up elaborate stories about his careers. This morning his BBQ restaurant had its grand opening and is doing well. He and Tommy will be on flag football teams this spring. This goes well with his football obsession. I need him to have other football people in his life because I can only fake excitement in the same football conversations for so long.

Jon is working a lot this weekend. He's growing a mustache for Mustache March. Apparently that's a thing in the Air Force. I will post pictures soon.

And finally me: Well, a few things have happened to me in the last month. First, I'm going to be directing Challenge A next year in our CC group (that's roughly the 7th grade group for Classical Conversations). I'm really excited to take on something new. I'm a project person. I need new things every once in awhile to keep my soul happy. Second, I started and quit Whole30. My friend didn't think I could do it, and she's right. I hate putting myself in a box of rigid rules. It makes me die a little inside after awhile. I did it long enough to detox from all the sugar and carbs that my body was addicted to. I found out that I actually CAN be one of those people that wakes up with energy in the morning and keep going for the whole day. Who knew that a diet full of fruits, veggies, and healthy fats could make such a difference! Still, my deep, passionate, lifelong love affair with pizza will not be denied. Pizza and I have a bond that I can't fully describe with words. Um...I didn't mean to profess my love for pizza so much. I was trying to say that I cleaned up my diet long enough to discover some of the things that bother me. Basically, sugar. Anything that makes my blood sugar go up and down quickly is really bad for me. My goal is to generally eat vegetables, fruit, and protein. Desserts are now the rare treat they were meant to be. Bread and pasta can't be the star of the show anymore. They can be like the guest star that shows up every once in awhile for the season finale. I'm not even that sad about it because I felt so good once I cut all of those things out.

I don't feel bad about quitting because I think it did what it was meant to do. I learned how unhealthy my eating habits had become, and it forced me to change direction. No matter how much I described my attempt at Whole30 as a type of fast or trying to figure out the best way for me to be healthy, my kids were still starting to categorize foods as good and bad which I'm NOT okay with. I also don't want to be one of those people that doesn't eat what is served when visiting someone's house. I didn't want to be ruled by food, and I was starting to feel like I'd exchanged one form of food slavery for another. I think Whole30 is great for a lot of people, but it just wasn't for me. Still, I encourage everyone to look at it and cut out the described foods for at least a week and see if you feel a difference. I'm serious when I say I've felt like a new person in the last few weeks. I haven't had so much consistent energy since...I don't even know when. College maybe? Before kids? I've been happier. It's made me calmer and happier in general. I got rid of all the ups and downs I had everyday. Even adding in a few of the foods I'd abstained from, I still feel great. So seriously. Give it a try. You might be amazed at how much better you feel.

And one last thing. We've been visiting a new church since January that I'm considering falling in love with. I haven't quite decided how I'm going to let myself feel about things yet, but it's got the hallmarks of what I've been longing for in a church family. The people are friends with each other, it's not simply a Sunday morning things to do. The services are simple. We sing songs, we pray, we sing more songs, we listen to teaching. There's no production to it, which I really love. I know lots of people really enjoy the loud production that is so popular today, and I'm glad that option is available. For me it always felt like more of a distraction than a help in corporate worship. I know that's personal preference, and I can't totally worship in both settings. Differences are good. God made all different kinds of people so of course churches will look different from each other in the superficial.

And that's it. You've gotten the Dumont family update for February and half of March. No trips, no moves, no devastating job changes...just normal family stuff. =)



Friday, January 8, 2016

Beautifully boring January

I always settle on my New Years Resolutions/goals about a week late, and this year is no exception. For 2016, I'm doing things a little differently. Like everyone else, my yearly goals tend to get lost and forgotten by March. I think about them throughout the year, but it's not a constant thing like I'd prefer. So this year I'm taking my yearly themes (you know...be healthier, read more, be better in general) and breaking them down into monthly goals. Let's call them baby goals. Since we just moved into our house on January 1st, my January baby goals will have some extra house themed projects. Yay!


January Goals
  • Get comfortable cooking fish at home
  • Read one theology book that I already have on my bookshelf but haven't read yet
  • Get curtains put up downstairs. Replace the incredibly ugly vertical blinds with cute curtains instead. 
  • Consistently hit our 9am-12pm school session during the week.
  • Exercise 3 days a week.
  • Get the kitchen and living room completely put together 
  • Dust at least once a week
So how did these things make my January list? Well. The fish thing might seem random, but we all know that fish is great for us to eat so it fits solidly under the "be more healthy" column. My family (except for Jon) actually likes fish, but the thought of cooking it was intimidating to me. No more. I cooked fish for lunch yesterday, and I'm going to try for once a week or so. The theology book and the dusting were both inspired by our move. I packed up all these great books that we have, but I've never read. And they were embarrassingly dusty. This month, I'm going to read God is the Gospel by John Piper. I know. I can't go wrong with Piper. =) Then I will dust all the other books so they never get in such a state again. School and exercise are the obvious ones. New year, new me. Or whatever. School slides throughout the year so January is a great time to reboot those plans I made in August.

And finally, the house. I plan on getting this house together room by room. From day one, we started with the kitchen and living area. Since this is the space we spend the most time in and people will see when they visit, it made sense to me to put it together first. Throughout the year, I'll work my way room by room until I get things completely put together.

Finally, isn't this a completely boring blog post? No job loss announcements, no life changing news at all. Just completely boring and forgetful information that no one really cares about but me. Isn't that wonderful? Seriously. Sometimes boring is beautiful.








Monday, December 14, 2015

From no home to two homes!

We were supposed to close on our beautiful house on Friday, but the closing got bumped to today because of paperwork. Actually, paperwork was the mundane excuse given. After looking at Timehop this morning, I knew exactly why things got bumped to today. First, if you don't know what Timehop is, I'm sorry that you miss out on such a fun experience every morning. Basically, it's a fun app that shows you all the things you've posted on social media on that day in previous years. It's like my very own "On this day in Mindy's history...".  That makes it sound important. It's usually more like this: 4 years ago Mindy was baking cookies and dealing with a crying/vomiting/screaming child. Fun times.

So why did Timehop have such importance to me today? Well, exactly one year ago today I shared a couple of posts on Facebook that perfectly bookend where I am today. The first post was about how our church's moving ministry came to our Cary, NC apartment and loaded it up for us. It was a HUGE blessing to our hearts and our muscles that day. My second post was about unloading everything we owned into my parents' then empty house and realizing that there was no way we were going to be able to stay there while we figured out where we would live. Yep. One year ago today, I was standing in the living room of my parents' house surrounded by my belongings packed in boxes and realizing that I didn't know where Jon would work, where we would live, or what we would do. I  might have cried. Then I called my friend who had offered to let us stay in their guest apartment until our lives were straightened out and ask if we could take her up on the offer. It was not an easy phone call to make. It was about as close to rock bottom as I've ever felt in my life up to now. I'll never forget walking into my friend's house that night. I've never wanted to NOT be at this house so badly as I did that evening. I believe I slumped in, slid into a chair at the dining room table, and had a glass of wine ever so gently placed in front of me.

And now exactly one year later God has orchestrated things into something completely different. I mean, I can't speak for God, but I feel safe saying that God knew what He was doing when He worked these two moments exactly a year apart. If you can't see the design in this situation, you're blind. On this night a year ago, I was dejected, kind of homeless, and very broken. Tonight, I am overjoyed, have two homes, and am very much whole again! How does that happen? How do I go from no kitchen to prepare our Christmas breakfast to having two?! And how does this all happen to come together so perfectly exactly one year apart? This is not coincidence, friends. This is God showing that He will do what He will do. He will give, and He will take away. He will remind us of His goodness. This morning when I woke up, my first thought was "THIS IS HOUSE DAY!" Then a few minutes later I checked Timehop and saw where I was exactly a year ago. If ever a situation brought closure, this was it. In this moment, I had closure. I had one of those moments where I could remember the beginning of this chapter and know that I'd reached the end of this particular part of our story.

I still know all too well that things could change tomorrow. Any number of things could happen, but on this day, everything came together. In no way do I see this house as some kind of cosmic reward for something we did right. I don't see last fall as a cosmic punishment either. We make good choices. We step out on faith. The results are up to God, not us. It doesn't always tie up neatly with a bow. We forget that God's plan is not a formula for us to follow. Sometimes we do all the right things, and the results look all wrong. Last year looked all wrong for us. This year looks like a mega church billboard story of what happens when you do all the right things. But I can't take credit or blame for the results.

Anyway...all that to say that WE BOUGHT A HOUSE TODAY!!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Not so fast...maybe my world isn't imploding after all.

I hesitate to even say anything because I don't want to put anyone through the emotional whiplash that I felt last week. Still, things have changed. I know that many of you have been praying hard for us, and I want you to know that those prayers have not gone unanswered. First, regardless of how things have changed or will change again, I can't say how much your prayers, messages, phone calls, and meals carried me through. God really used some of you to encourage me through a very stressful week. Thanks for that! You don't know how much it meant for people to reach out to us. You really were the hands and feet of Jesus to us last week.

Second, imagine if you will, that you're almost a year past a season of unemployment and legitimate uncertainty about where you will live.  I mean, it's not like we were ever going to be homeless on the streets because we have a great support network of friends and family, but still. We didn't know what we were going to do or where we were going to go. That kind of situation leaves a mark on a person's soul that 11 months won't erase.

Last week we spent most of the week thinking that we were going to have start over somewhere else. Again. It was a tough week, but things have changed dramatically. Again. Basically, we have good reason to believe that we actually can stay here and that Jon will have a job after all! This turn of events was just as shocking as the original news about losing the position in the first place. Last week was basically like living a tennis match with your life serving as the ball. You get the honor of being a spectator. Not a player, not even a referee. Just a spectator.  I can't give any details, but we feel confidant that we can stay put. So now we're back to buying a house! Although we'd signed to terminate our contract, none of the paperwork had gone through. If all goes as planned, we'll buy a house at the end of this week or beginning of next week. That's so funny. "If all goes as planned." It's like I've learned NOTHING! =D

Finally, having gone through these kinds of situations where I look completely normal while my life is actually imploding on the inside, I'm going to offer some advice. Please. Please. If you know someone is going through a personal crisis, don't ignore it when you see them. Please don't act like everything is normal or avoid them. It might feel awkward for you to genuinely ask how I'm doing, but I promise it's more awkward for me to try to figure out if I should answer your generic greeting with a "Fine" because you don't want to deal with me or a "Well, you know...my life is blowing up again, but other than that I'm good." I say the person going through the life implosion gets the pass, and it's the other person's responsibility to step up and acknowledge the person's pain and struggle. Send the text or the facebook message letting that hurting person know that you're there for them and praying. Keep their kids for a few hours or bring them coffee. Offer to meet them for lunch. It depends on what kind of relationship you have, but don't ignore their struggle. I can't express how much it meant to me to have people call, text, or message me and Jon.

And that's it. Last week was another reminder that the Lord is control of everything. He turns the world the way He will. I'm thankful to be able to participate in His plan.