Saturday, December 31, 2011


I don't know what you have planned for New Year's Eve tonight, but in this household the buzz is all about the new iCarly coming on. I promised the kids if they cleaned their rooms they could stay up until 8:00 to watch it. You would've thought I told them we were going to watch the ball drop in Time Square. Same level of excitement around here. :) I thought I would share the kids resolutions with you.

         Sarah plans to exercise more, read more and take better care of her teeth. (You know she did NOT get the exercise thing from me.)
 Eli wants to make his AR score even higher and brush his teeth more. (Thanks Sid the Science Kid, for teaching us how important it is to take care of our teeth.)

                                         I asked Kate what her goals are and she did this......

When I think about the year 2011 it is the first one I can remember, maybe since I got married that was pretty uneventful. At least by our standards. For a while it seemed that every year held job changes, moves, babies or all kinds of big life stuff. This year, we enjoyed a kind of  "settled" existence that brought lots of new memories, challenges and fun times. 

We had some new stuff~

* We hosted our first open house for the church at Easter
* Eli played t-ball on the most awesome t-ball team in town
* I finished my first year as a dance teacher and had the chance to dance with Sarah
* I got a job teaching theatre and that was something VERY NEW!
*Kate got her first manicure. :)

We had some milestone stuff~

*Josh and I celebrated 10 years of marriage
* Our niece, Layla, was born
* Kate started pre-k

We had some fun times~
* Our kids have reached ages where things like bowling and the beach and going to the movies has become really fun!
* I had an awesome girls weekend getaway
*Josh got to play golf in Pensacola with his buddy, Matt
* We went to our first FSU game as a family and had tons of fun and ate lots of food
* Luke and Lyla got to spend the night at Aunty Em's all by themselves!
* The kids have had the opportunity to spend lots of time with the grandparents and be extra spoiled!
*Josh and I had an anniversary getaway that was heavenly!

We had some great victories~

*We saw our two brothers return safe from Afghanistan
* Sarah and Eli were both named Dazzling Dolphins in their grades for the year
* Our church began a children's church
* I was able to avoid surgery by making some big changes to my diet (something I've got to start doing better at again!)
* We payed off an $8,000 student loan in 10 months. 

Yes, we did. And when I think back on 2011 that is truly the greatest victory. Not just for financial reasons, but because it overshadowed everything that happened in 2011. We were in a very difficult situation trying to pay that off and it meant that there were some experiences and opportunities this last year that had to be sacrificed. And it turned out to be the greatest thing for us. We do not use credit cards so when we were told we had to make almost $700 payments every month, I cannot even tell you the stress that hit this house. It was a suffocating, strangling kind of stress. There was panic and desperation. I try not to talk about money. I was taught it is not polite. But I just can't let this year go by without giving God the glory He is due, because truly I can't explain how we ended this year on our feet without Him. Every month, that payment got  made. We were blessed that there were many times Josh was able to work with his Dad and make some extra money. We thought it would be paid off in May, but then we got notice that the company had misfigured and we owed another $700. At that point we were planning to go on a  cruise to celebrate our anniversary and we knew that was out the window. We figured any plans for the rest of the summer were out the window. But, then what do you know? I randomly got offered a job teaching summer theatre classes and not only would it cover that last payment, but we would have enough to still do our weekend trip. Those months really became a blessing as we saw God work, but also realized how much better stewards we could be of our money if we were able to make those payments. What else could we be doing with that money for God's glory? God began to do a work in my heart about what is truly necessary in our lives and what are unnecessary luxuries that we don't even really miss. 

I can say that this year has been so full of blessings. It has been a year for me personally of tough lessons. Of asking God to show me my heart and Him doing just that. I haven't always liked what I've seen. There's a lot of work to be done. I've also been reminded of a side of me I had forgotten. The side that loves to be creative. It has been a fun time for Josh and I to work on projects together and pray over our church together.  But I will forever remember 2011 as a year of having my eyes opened. Opened to possibilities and new adventures. Opened to need and heartache around me. Opened to the reality that the world does not revolve around me and that is a GOOD thing. 

I have my normal resolutions. Eat healthier, lose my weight I've found again, keep my house clean. But this year, I have such greater resolutions. I resolve that I will be a more caring, encouraging wife. I resolve that I will make my home a place of love and a refuge for people who might need it.  I resolve that there will be more of Him and less of me. I resolve that I will care more about others and be more thoughtful towards them. I resolve that instead of living for moments of quiet and rest, I will live for moments when God can use me to bless someone else. Mostly, I resolve to fall more in love with Him and learn to lean on His strength. I resolve that in whatever 2012 brings, I will remember where my joy and peace come from. I resolve to speak with the same passion and conviction of Paul when he said, 

" I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
                                  ~Philippians 4:12-13

We pray that this year, no matter what your circumstances you will know the contentment and peace of Jesus! And that you will have lots of laughter, someone to hold your hand, and that you only look back if it makes you smile! Oh, and good reading and healthy teeth, too!  :)

                    HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE FIDLERS!!!
And a special congratulations to my cousin Drew who is getting married today and our friends Matt and Cortnee who are welcoming their baby, Zhane, today!! What a way to start off the new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Creating Christmas

Well y'all, I don't know what happened this year, but the month of December turned into a marathon of parties, baking, decorating, picture taking, play directing, set building, dancing,shopping, wrapping, visiting, and helping a friend move. I feel like I'm entering the last lap and pretty soon somebody will be waiting with a gatorade and a hug. Anybody else there? I shopped for 12 hours yesterday and decided that if you've been to 13 Christmas parties (yes, that is for real, I'm not even kidding) that is the way to feel justified in eating 1 (or 10) more pieces of candy. I will hit the highlights.

Our month started with children's theater production I was directing. I've done things like this before, but always on a volunteer basis. I got paid to do this, so I felt a little bit of pressure for it to actually be acceptable for public viewing. I won't lie. It was rough. Our entire first week of December went to building a set and everyday practices. Sometimes together. I got a touch of the stomach bug and when we were at practice and Josh was drilling in the wings, kids were forgetting their lines and Eli was asking me "How do you spell January?"  I wanted to cry. And I actually did go home that Wednesday night, ask somebody to take my class at church and laid on the couch and cried. Then I felt better. Sometimes you just need a good cry and a nap. Anyway, it turned out great. I have the most talented group of kids. I really do. They totally came through for me. We did 3 shows and they just got better all day. During the 2nd show we had a prop malfunction. We used our futon to double as Scrooge's bed and a couch. In a very serious scene as we learn that little Suzy Loo Hoo died two of the girls sat down on the futon and BAM! It hadn't clicked into place and they went flying back, legs in the air. It was HILARIOUS! Y'all, I know I was just deliriously exhausted by that point but I could not stop laughing. One of my girls asked, "Mrs. Emily, do you need to step outside for a minute?"  Oh, my gracious! I was in the wings mouthing "Make it look like your crying!" And they totally did and it was great. I just have to show y'all the pics of the bookcase and desk I found on google and the ones Josh built. He is amazing.

Here's a pic of our set
Josh even built the walls. He made that desk from the girls old dresser. He just cut it in half and built the middle. I picked out the colors and when I asked the guy at Wal-Mart to mix them he said, "You're not using them in the same room are you?" Ha! Gotta love being Seussy!! 

Some of my other fun creations this month included these for teacher gifts. I got the kid's teachers other gifts, but Kate has 5 teachers in her pre-k, so I had to get creative! Okay, really I just found this on Pinterest and pretended to be creative. :)
The girls and I had lots of fun making this candy......We used mint kisses and to me they kind of tasted like Thin Mints! 
The crowning glory of my Christmas creation was the veggie tree. Josh actually ended up doing most of it. Go figure. :)   I couldn't find the cone I needed for it so he had to build one out of styrofoam cups. Guess that seemed like a piece of cake after the desk. :)  I was super proud of it. Of course it was for Eli's class and I went to his party last time, so I helped Josh take it to the classroom and then left for Sarah's party. I made pb and j's for it. God likes to keep me humble. Can't get too big of a head about pb and j's. :)
I got this pic as evidence that there was one year I was that mom. Because next year I'm totally sending chips. :)

I shared these pics because I was thinking about the marathon I feel like I've been running and I realized it's because I'm officially a mom and really feel the need to "create" Christmas. I've wanted events and traditions and things that would make it feel like Christmas for my family. As I contemplated laying in the aisle and sucking my thumb in the 11th hour of shopping yesterday, I thought about Mary and the life that God created in her. I thought about the baby in a manger. I thought about telling that story to my church kids and setting up the nativity scene and saying, "This was the first Christmas."  And the realization that I can bake and shop and wrap and decorate until my arms fall off, but I can't create anything greater than what God created on that first Christmas. How I pray that I will let go of the pressure to have the "best" Christmas.

*No matter how beautiful my tree is (and y'all, I love our little tree, but beauty is not the word for it :), there will never be a better gathering place than the manger.(Luke 2:16)

* No matter what recipes I find on Pinterest, Jesus is the Bread of Life. (John 6:35)

* No matter what Christmas cards I send, they will never hold a message as great as the one that Jesus had arrived! (Luke 2:9-10)

* No matter how much I decorate, my house will never shine like the star God gave. (Matthew 2:2)

* No matter what gift I buy, the greatest gift ever given was when Jesus came as Immanuel, God With Us. (Matthew 1:23)

Father, thank you for the greatest gift ever! Please remind us in this season that you are God with us. In the midst of busyness, fun, parties, stress, heartache, frustration, you are there through it all. You created Christmas when you came to this earth and became a personal Savior. Thank you for being my Savior. I pray that because you created Christmas, I will also allow you to create a new heart in me. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

O Christmas Tree.....

It's official. As of the 11th day of December there is no Christmas tree in the Fidler home. All of the other decorations are out. The stockings are hung. There is an empty space waiting for a tree. And yet....there is no tree. You see, we planned to get our tree yesterday. I ran to the Pig to get some stuff to make Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. Yes, they are as awesome as they sound. So anyway, I observed during that trip that the trees at the Pig weren't looking so hot. But, I had to get home and make brownies so I didn't think much about it. We got ready to go to a party at T and Dandy's house and before we knew it we had partied until dark. I suggested we look somewhere in PC for our tree due to the sad state of the ones I saw earlier in the day. Josh said we would just go to the Pig. So, we did. What followed was a Fidler Fiasco of epic proportions. 

First, Kate fell asleep on the way.....

Then, we had Sarah who had just suffered a foot injury on T's exercise bike. She may or may not be a tad bit dramatic, but she told us she could not walk.
Eli was beyond super hyper and scaring people in the parking lot...
I wanted this to be a special family moment to remember for years to come. Well......we'll remember it.....

It was cold. We were freezing. Kate wouldn't wake up. Eli wouldn't chill out. Sarah was pointing at trees from the shopping cart. Eli told us to pick the tallest one and lets go! Josh decided none of the trees looked very good. I didn't say I told him so. Okay, maybe I did.

A highlight was getting this awesome pic of me and the kids. They just LOVE taking pics with me, can't ya tell? (Not everybody has a pic in the Christmas album that includes a shopping cart at the Pig. Just sayin')
We left there and headed to our fancy new Dollar General Market. No trees! From there we went to Family Dollar. Ugly trees! Oh who am I kidding? Like I can really be picky. I should probably have just gotten one of the half dead ones to start with. That's how it would look after 2 days in my house.

In other "I'm so awesome" news, my peppermint wreath totally melted and has been covered in bees. Yes, y'all, bees. I was going to throw it away and there were two bees having the time of their life on my peppermints. The next day I found one dead. I can't figure out if it got stuck, froze to death or died from a sugar overdose. Nothing adds to the beauty of a melted candy wreath like dead insects. 
Add to that the fact that Daisy knocked the gingerbread house down and destroyed it and I am really thinking we need to quit while we're ahead......

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Little Like Christmas....

Did y'all know it is December? Apparently there are people who have trees decorated, lights hung on the house, and presents wrapped and ready. I'm pretty sure I don't even have to tell you I'm not one of those people. What do I have? One present, a snowflake throw on the couch and a wreathe hanging outside. And let me tell y'all about this wreathe. It was supposed to be THIS wreathe. Well, I got all of the stuff and put Kate to work helping me unwrap peppermints. We hot glued that baby together. It was far from perfect, but if you didn't look too close it was okay. Would you believe that the next day IT MELTED! Am I the only one too clueless to not realize it probably shouldn't go outside? Oh well. It was good while it lasted. All 22 hours.

We decided to wait and get our tree next weekend because we have had so much going on and we wanted to wait until we could make it a fun, family outing. The truth is that the theater group is performing next Friday night and I am at the point now where I am in the zone. It's mostly all I can think about. Three of my dance classes performed today at a breakfast with Santa (who, by the way, my Mom overheard saying he "had to go" as soon as we got there) and now that that is over, I feel like if I can just make it through next week I will be okay. Any of you ever feel that way? I actually woke up at 3 am last Monday morning completely stressed out about the craziest stuff. I finally prayed enough and realized just how crazy it was and I can honestly say I have felt so much better and so not as stressed. I had even planned to spend today stressed out and working on props and stuff. You know it is bad when you plan to be stressed. But, I decided I did all I could last week and  this whole next week will be devoted to it, so, I enjoyed the day.

I was sooo proud of my girls who danced. They had two weeks to learn their dances and they did fabulous. I don't have any pics, but my Mom got some.  So, after all the dancing we went out to eat. We ate at a little burger place downtown and sat outside. It was 70 degrees. It didn't feel like Christmas and I was okay with that. I soaked up the rays while looking at the downtown decorations. I could have sat there all day. Seriously, I really could have. I don't know about y'all, but I'm good as long as I keep going. Once I sit down, I'm done! I finally dragged myself home. 

My Mom gave the kids a gingerbread house kit. That is something I usually wait until closer to Christmas to do, but since we had a few hours before the Christmas parade I decided we should make the most of them. The kids had a blast. I learned last year at Eli's class party that you need a box or something to hold the house up. I found a box of bow tie pasta I thought would work and came up with my own cheesy broccoli and carrot pasta. It served a great double purpose. :)
 They were so proud of themselves for knowing how to put the frosting in this thing. They saw it on Cake Boss.

 This is blurry because it is an action shot. Eli thought it was fun to throw the candy and see if it would stick.
These girls had a plan.

                                            My first favorite Christmas memory of 2011.

We also made it to the parade tonight. All 15 minutes of it. You think I'm kidding don't you? I'm not. What can I say, we're a small town. :)  But it was perfect weather and a good time.

                                                                It was a little loud....
Kate and Eli wouldn't wear their Santa hats so Sarah asked me if I would. I really did NOT want to wear one, but I know in the next few years my babygirl will be too old and too cool for things like wearing Santa hats. So I wore it. And I thought about how quickly we go from the phase of life when our parents embarrass us to the phase when our kids do. And I am happy I have this picture and this story for the day when I ask Sarah to do something with me and she says, "Mom, that is SO embarrassing!!"   :)

What is going on at your house this weekend that feels like Christmas???

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, It Applies To You

Kate came home from school excitedly telling me about Mrs. B's paddle. "It's hard" she told me, with a smile on her face. I nodded and smiled for a second until a lightbulb came on and I looked at Josh. He gave me the look that says, yes, it is what you are thinking. "Did you get paddled?" I asked incredulously. It wasn't registering. It couldn't be real. Surely this was not for real. She must have seen someone else get paddled. She put her head down with a look of shame and Josh confirmed it. I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I don't pretend that any of my kids are perfect saints, but Kate has had a smiley face everyday since school started. A paddling was a far fall. Didn't we at least get a frowny face warning? I just stared at Josh, my jaw hanging. He explained to me that when he went to pick Kate up he told her to pick her coat up off the floor. She wouldn't do it. She set her heels in and gave him what we've termed "the Kate Face". That went on for a few minutes until her teacher told her to pick it up and she wouldn't listen to her either. She then took Kate into her office for a talking to. Still didn't work. Mrs. B told Josh that since he was there he could handle the situation, but because it was school and there were so many people around that it might be better if she did.

I won't lie. I cried. All I could think was that it was a good thing I wasn't there. At first I didn't know how I felt about it. I had JUST had a conversation with someone a few days earlier about how I don't mind other people disciplining my kids, but I prefer that they let me do the spanking. At some point Josh said, "We signed the paper saying our kids could be paddled...." and I found myself thinking, 'Yeah, but I never thought they would be!!' And at that moment a truth that God has been dealing with me a great deal about came to life. Basically what I was saying was that I understand the need for consequences, I just don't expect them to apply to me.

I'm not sure why I would struggle with that. Consequences have always applied for me. I was always the kid who was good 99% of the time, but the one time I talked in class I got caught. My very first speeding ticket was in a small town and instead of giving a terrified 18 year old girl a warning, they TOOK MY LICENSE and I balanced the town's budget that year. The second, and only other ticket I've gotten, was because of an expired license plate that I couldn't fix because the bank didn't have the official title to the jeep or something crazy like that. I ended up having to take 3 kids under the age of six to court. To court, y'all!!! Anyway, what I'm saying is, I've experienced some consequences in my day. But I can honestly tell you that it is 50 trillion times worse to see your kids suffer negative consequences. You know that saying, "This is gonna hurt me more than you"? It is for real. It hurts my heart to discipline my kids. To take things away from them or keep them from doing things they want to do.

I am blessed. For the most part my kids are very well behaved. Except for when they're getting paddled at school. :) It is not often I have to discipline them That hasn't always been true. Anyone who experienced the toddlerhood of Sarah Beth Fidler knows that she put the strong will in the strong willed child. There were days I was pretty sure all I did was get on to her. There were days my 3 year old was physically stronger than me. If you don't believe that can be possible try putting one in a car seat while they arch their back. There were days other people gave me the "I'm so sorry for you" look. But we made it, and Sarah makes me proud every second of her life. She still has a strong will, but it has been molded. She still has to deal with some consequences like not having friends over if she hasn't cleaned her room, but she has come a long way. And she taught me something very important. There are no "Good kids" or "Bad kids". The Bible tells us we are all born with a sinful nature and that just makes us human. We all make good decisions and bad decisions. We all have to face consequences to teach us to make more good decisions than bad ones.

I've said for a while now that Kate was going to be rotten. She is my baby and I will admit that I am way more laid back with her. Mostly out of exhaustion. :)  Not really. Her strong will has always manifested itself differently than Sarah's and it usually shows up with what she won't do, as opposed to what she will. I guess this week was just the wake up call I needed that I'm not doing her any favors if I let her avoid consequences. I have a responsibility to teach each of my children that it doesn't matter if you're cute, it doesn't matter if you're the preacher's kid, and it doesn't matter if it makes your Mama cry. If you mess up, you've got to face the music. Yes, even at the age of 4. Especially at the age of 4. I realized early on with Sarah that if we didn't let her know who the boss was when she was 2, she would for sure be the boss when she is 16. And that was not happening!!

Unfortunately, the lesson of reaping what you sow is not limited to childhood. I am ashamed of the times I have whined to God and said, "But I'm a preacher's wife! I do this and I do that! I've always tried to do the right thing."  I then usually turn to pointing out other people who haven't faced the same consequences even if  they've deserved them. (Turns out I'm rotten, too.) God is not impressed with this. He always reminds me of Hebrews 12:10. "They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness."

It's for my good? Yep. You mean I can't share in God's holiness if I always get my way and never have to face the consequences of anything I do? Nope. You see, I am a recipient of so much more mercy than I could ever deserve. That's the point. Mercy is God NOT giving us what we deserve. As in, hell. The truth is,  He has shown even more mercy than that. There are plenty of things I've done that I haven't paid the full consequences of. But for the times when I've had to deal with the messes I've made, it was good. It was for my good. Because He loves me with a true love that won't leave me where I am. He loves me in a way that cares more about the person I become than my temporary happiness. He loves me enough to discipline me, even if it hurts Him more than it hurts me.

Yes, I've known grace and mercy. But the rules still apply to me. And to each of us. And it's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whatnot Wednesday: It's Like 10,000 Spoons When All You Need is a Knife

* WARNING: This will not be encouraging. This will be me venting.

* My favorite shoe broke last weekend. In the grocery store. 

* I almost got hit by a taxi pulling out in the parking lot at Mr. Cheap Butts. Later I was kind of disappointed I didn't. The jeep could use a new paint job.

* We're getting a piano tomorrow. Nobody knows how to play the piano in our house.

* Yesterday I typed out a letter to my theater parents and when I went to print it, it was gone. I learned that I had typed it using a program that we only had a 60 day trial for. Guess when the 60 days was up. Yep.

* My tap girls are doing a dance to the song "Hot Chocolate" from The Polar Express this weekend. I went today to get mugs and saucers to use as their props. After my hour and a half round trip, I got home to realize that even though I asked the cashier if everything was in the one bag she handed me, it was not.

* My eye has been twitching for 3 days.

* Monday Josh went to get all of the wood and sheetrock for our set. He realized after he bought everything that he couldn't fit it to bring it home. He had to wait for his Dad to finish work so he could borrow his bread truck. By the time he got home it was freezing and raining and everything weighed 80 trillion tons. That's an exact weight. I'm waiting for him to get out our wedding video and find the part where he vowed to build sets for plays.

* I started drinking coffee today. I guess I'm becoming a grown-up.

* I'm having the kind of week where if you ask me my opinion, I will give it to you. 

* If my Dad were here he would tell me to take some Midol and go to bed. :)

* On a happier note, we have a whole new collection of Coca-Cola glasses from McDonald's. Put those with the new souvenir cups Josh and Eli got at the FSU game and we are totally ready for a dinner party.

* If I had an elf on the shelf he would be telling Santa bad things about me.

* Thanks for letting me vent. I know I'm ridiculous. Even as I type this I am thankful beyond measure for all of the blessings in my life. Even on my most stressful day God allows me a glimpse into other's lives and reminds me that on my worst day, I've got it good. But if you need to vent too, feel free. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Highlights

* Watching my 6 year old, who is a very quiet, serious 6 year old jam to "Tonight Tonight" in the car. We rolled the windows down and he sang the loudest. I heart him. On the way home last night at 11:45 he woke up for a few seconds and that song came on. I heard him singing and I looked in the backseat and no lie, he was singing in his sleep. 

* Seeing Kate snuggle with Mamaw

* Dressing. And potato salad. And sweet potato casserole. And Mamaw's green beans made with oil and sugar that keep all the nutrients in. :)   Okay, maybe I should just write FOOD.

* Watching the "Dancing With the Stars" Finale with the whole fam and Mamaw telling me that Josh and I should be on there. That is totally one of our New Year's Resolutions this year.

* Going shopping the day before Thanksgiving because a cold front came through and my aforementioned 6 year old was literally down to one pair of jeans that didn't have holes in the knees. While we were at JCPenney I saw an artist easel that was half off and told my brother the kids had talked about wanting one. A few minutes later he had disappeared and we were standing in line to check out. I looked across the store and there goes Phil carrying that huge box with the art easel!! He is just the best uncle. 

* My Mom and aunt took the kids to the Dollar Tree while we shopped and Eli got a puzzle, Sarah got a coloring book and Kate got a baby doll bottle. Today they have played with their stuff like it is the greatest stuff ever. I'm thankful my kids are still entertained by Dollar Tree toys! 

* Spending time with family.

I promised Mamaw I wouldn't put any pics of her on FB, but she didn't say anything about my blog. :)

* My Uncle brought his puppy that is a week old and being bottle fed every two hours. It was very entertaining to watch a grown man give a puppy a bottle and hear him talk about how exhausting two hour feedings are.

* My aunt kept the kids at her house a lot so it kind of felt like vacation for me!

* Cuddling on the couch with my hubby.

* Basketball game after the meal. Watching it, not playing. Are you kidding? I could barely walk after eating that meal, much less run around!

* Realizing how much these kids have grown and changed since last year.
Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2011

* To top off my holiday highlights today I am remembering the day after Thanksgiving 10 years ago. It was mine and Josh's first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I went shopping on Black Friday with T, and Mammy and Leah and I was sooo sick. I thought I was getting the flu. A few weeks later we found out we were getting a Sarah! I am so thankful for that sweet child!

I am late, but just wanted to wish everyone out there in blogland a Happy Thanksgiving from the Fidlers!

Monday, November 21, 2011


There are so many things I am thankful for, but today I feel extra thankful for my husband. We truly are partners and I'll tell ya, the Fidler circus could not keep the 3 ring act we've got going called life in motion without each other. Last night we were discussing how the craziest things always happen to us and Josh told me that if he had to go through all the craziness I was the one he wanted to go through it with. He said, "You make life bearable."  And I had to give him a very hard time about that statement and decided that it would be the perfect sentiment to put on a 13th Anniversary card. "Happy 13th Anniversary. You Make Life Bearable." Ha! But, I know exactly what he means. If at times life is going to stink (and it will), it's important to have someone who will shrug their shoulders with you and laugh. It's all you can do.

When the tire went flat on the Jeep over a week ago Josh came home and started looking for the best deal on a new set. He ordered some from Sam's and they were expected to arrive at the store in 3-5 days. That was 2 Fridays ago, meaning they should have been there by Wednesday at the latest. We've been waiting on pins and needles, checking his e-mail obsessively and crossing our fingers they would be here. We are planning to leave to go out of town tomorrow and tires are a pretty important part of that plan. I will just tell you now that my husband has the patience of a saint. I know, you don't have to say it. I am aware that it takes the patience of a saint to be married to me. I'm glad I could help cultivate that in his life. :)  Anyway, he kept saying he was just going to call and tell them he was going to have go somewhere else, but he never did it. Finally, he just headed out to Sam's to handle things in person. He texted me saying that the website will actually let you order stuff that is not even in stock and apparently that is what had happened. However, they had gotten some and they were expected to get there today. He was just going to sit at the store and wait for the FexEx truck to get there. I won't lie, I've been beyond frustrated. I started wondering what we would do if they weren't on that truck. We had discussed renting a car for this week, but the thought of renting a car AND having to pay for tires when we got back at this time of year (or anytime for that matter) was not making me a happy camper. 

Finally, I got the text saying they were here and Josh was waiting to have them mounted on the rims. Relief. As much as I've loved driving a 15 passenger van around town, I am very eager to once again be able to get out of the driver side door and listen to the radio. I got another text. It said, "Tell me God doesn't give divine appointments..." He went on to tell me that the manager of the tire department he had been dealing with all day is a former pastor who has taken time off to care for his Mom and Father in law and that he thought he needed some encouragement. And my heart swelled with love for this man that I get to call mine. This man who has patiently and graciously dealt with frustrations that would leave most of us (okay, maybe just me) making ugly faces and saying ugly things. And to top it off, he was able to see God's hand in it. That not only did his not so patient wife need to experience some inconvenience in her life to grow some patience, but that today was the day a tire department manager needed some encouragement and Josh Fidler needed to be there to give it. I'm thankful that while I was just tired of the whole situation, he allowed God to use him and saw that the person in charge of the tires was more important than the tires. 

"And as for you, brethren, do not become weary or lose heart in doing right [but continue in well-doing without weakening]."
2 Thessalonians 3:13

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Threw the Plant Away

If you lose a loved one, they give you a plant. It's kind of like when your parents go on vacation and bring you back a t-shirt. "Oh, your Dad died? Here's a plant." Now don't get me wrong, I could not have been more thankful for all of the flowers and plants and cards and outpourings of love from people when I lost my Dad. I do not in any way want to seem ungrateful. I just will never forget when the funeral was over and life was back to "normal" and I looked in the corner of my dining room and I had...a plant. I was simultaneously reminded of how loved I felt during the time of my Dad's loss and how catastrophic my loss was. I was so thankful  for people who had thought of my family and given to us during that time. And I was devastated that in place of a Daddy hug and Daddy advice, I had a plant.

The truth is, it could have been a plaque, a casserole dish, or a piece of jewelry. There just isn't a "thing" that can replace a person. And of course, that isn't the point. It's not there to replace them, just to comfort you. To remind you of that person and those who loved you through their loss. I came to love my plant. I don't exactly have a green thumb or the best history with plants. I always say that I won't buy plants because it is premeditated murder, but I made sure to care for that plant. I called it my Resurrection  plant because there were times it would start to look pretty bad, but it would always come back. Well, over the last month or so, I couldn't get it back. It was gone. But I also couldn't bring myself to throw it out. So it sat in it's pretty little planter in my dining room, a sad, shriveled up mess. This week, I finally threw it away. 

It was a little symbolic that it happened this week. There is no holiday that makes me think of my Dad more than Thanksgiving. It represents everything my Dad loved-food, family and football. His birthday is also next Saturday and so that just adds to my feeling that Thanksgiving was his holiday. When I was still at home he would always wake me up to watch the Rose Bowl Parade because he knew I loved it. Last Thanksgiving we went to my sister's house and, as I did with all holidays last year, I went into overdrive trying to plan things to stay busy and doing my best to do anything but really deal with the reality of our first holidays without him. This year, it won't be so easy. We will soon be leaving for Mississippi to visit family. And my Dad's grave. I just felt sick to my stomach writing that. Because my Dad has a grave and a headstone and instead of trying to figure out what to get him for his birthday I'm trying to decide if I should take something to place on his grave. This will be my first time to visit the cemetery since we buried him, almost two years ago. I've been dreading it for months. Trying to prepare myself. Wondering how it will feel. Not really wanting to know how it will feel. 

The truth is, my Dad is gone. And that is a reality I've been dealing with for two years. It's something I know every time I go to Panama City and don't see him, every time I want to call him and I can't, and every time I post a pic of my kids on FB and he doesn't comment and say that they are his beautiful grandchildren. But in the craziness of life I have no choice but to keep going, keep moving and as Elisabeth Elliot said, "Do the next thing".

As I put my plant in the trash and prepared my heart to visit my Dad's grave I felt that was the message spoken to me. It's time to do the next thing. Does that mean that I will magically stop grieving or mourning my Dad? Nope. As each day passes I've just realized that his absence in my life will be felt stronger and stronger. There will be more he misses out on, more I want to talk to him about, more I wish I could tell him. Daddy's are not easily forgotten or replaced. Not the kind that I had. Not the kind who make sure you stay safe, make sure you stay happy, and make sure you feel like you matter to somebody on this earth. It truly is a loss, and there are no special words or amount of time that makes that better. But, as birthdays and holidays and anniversaries approach (and the seem to all be at the same time for my Dad), it is tempting to dwell on the ache in my heart. It is tempting to overlook all of the many good things in my life and focus on this one loss. It is tempting to shrivel up like that plant and hide in the corner. Thankfully, I have a Heavenly Father who does a much better job of caring for me than I did that plant. I am counting on Him to keep me not just going, but growing. 

A poem quoted by Elisabeth Elliot
Do The Next Thing
 "At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Do the next thing."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bears, Mice and Church Vans, Oh My!

I have been trying to wait until I have the energy and mental capability to write in a coherent, well organized manner. Well, I'm giving up on that. I've come to the conclusion that it may be mid January before I have energy or a structured thought. So, instead I will just ramble, post pictures and try to update you on WASSUP! Can you already tell this is going to be bad?

Mostly what is up is lots of activity. Lots and lots of activity. Monday night at work Barbie told me she wanted me to come up with some Christmas dances for my classes to perform at an event the first Sat. in Dec. I knew we would be doing Christmas dances, I just didn't realize it would be so early in the month. With next week off for Thanksgiving that gave me this last Thursday and the Thursday after Thanksgiving to teach the dances (that I hadn't yet choreographed as of Monday night).  YIKES! That sent my brain into overload. 

Tuesday and Wednesday we had theater practice. Wednesday I looked up and saw this on stage.
In case you are wondering, that is, in fact, a bear. And no, there is no bear character in our play. Our "Scrooge" just decided he felt like dressing as a bear. I don't know y'all. I can't explain it. I just roll with it. And thank God that I have a job where sometimes people come in costume. It's fun. And hard to take anything seriously. And sometimes I take things too seriously.

I started feeling a cold coming on at some point between Tuesday and Wednesday and wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I just felt bad. Not real bad. Just the "I want to lay on the couch with a blanket, fuzzy socks and a good movie" kind of bad. And I knew that wasn't going to happen. So I pressed on. And found excitement in my newfound favorite cleaning products. Baking soda and vinegar y'all. Do you use it? It's so great. It's like a chemistry experiment everytime you use it. My excitement over cleaning products can only be matched by the fact that we just got a new Dollar General Marketplace right by our house. It has bananas y'all!  Very exciting stuff.

As hard as it is to top that kind of excitement, Wednesday night was even more exciting as my class at church packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We've been collecting money for several months now and I was very pleased we were able to do boxes for  5 boys and 5 girls.

We have been waiting on my new tires to be delivered and they are taking their sweet little time. That means I've been driving the church van. Fun times. My favorite part is that the driver side door is broken so I have to get out and in of the passenger side. You should see the looks I get. :)   The biggest bummer is that the radio doesn't work. It was a long 45 minute drive on Friday to drop these boxes off in Panama City. Especially after I spent all week listening to a most random collection of songs to dance to for Christmas and the end of the year recital. If anyone saw me, yes I was the girl in the church van singing "Bugle Boy", "Let It Snow", and a song called "Absent Minded Mice".  Oh my, I have to tell y'all about that.

No one can appreciate this the way my blog readers can. So, a couple of weeks ago I was telling Barbie I was trying to figure out a song for my Tiny Tots to dance to at a community event we were having. Barbie, having no idea about my history tells me she has the perfect song. It's called "The Absent Minded Mice"!!!! So for the last few weeks I've been singing "We're always hungry cuz we can't find the cheese, can't find the cheese, can't find the cheese."  Today I dressed my child as a mouse wondered if I will ever be free of mice. It's ok. I like this one. :)

I didn't think I was ever going to convince Kate to put those ears and tail on. Or dance. She wasn't having it. I had bribed her with Barbies and threatened her with naps. Then, we got to the event and there was a big inflatable slide. That was it. The bribe she would accept. We even got a video of her dancing. I'm in the back doing the music and acting a fool because one of the girls kept looking back at me, despite the fact that  there were 2 assistants dancing in front of the girls. It was so funny. If I did the dance she would do it too, but she was facing the wrong way! It is also a jerky video because Josh was being attacked by a yellow jacket while he recorded it. Oh well. The point is, Kate danced and we have proof. 

Thursday was a day full of Christmas dances. I was feeling really stressed out because I wasn't feeling good and coming up with dances is one of those hit or miss things. Thankfully, they came to me that day and my girls worked super hard to learn them. Yesterday I finally got my hair cut.  I feel like I'm acceptable for public viewing now. I just love my hair lady. She totally knows that when I say, "I'm kind of bored and want to do something different" what I really mean is "Please just trim my split ends and leave it exactly the way it is because I don't have time to go through the emotional transition of new hair".  She's good like that. 

I left the hair salon and made my way to the school for an extra rehearsal I had scheduled for the theater kids since we will miss next week. I called it a "prop party" because I figure people can't resist a party, right? It was really a day I wanted them to bring in things they had that they thought would work for their costumes or scenes so I could see what we have and what we still need. I was so exhausted and could barely talk by the time that practice started so I just sat back, watched them come out in blue wigs and the craziest outfits you've ever seen and just laughed. I am pretty sure I will be crying come the week after Thanksgiving when we are officially in practice everyday, stay up all night building sets, nobody knows their lines mode. But for now, I'll laugh. 

All week I have willed myself to get better because tonight was a big night. The first official Fidler girl's night out. Josh and Eli were invited to the FSU game so I decided that me and the girls needed a fun night, too. I let Sarah set the agenda because that's what she does. She's my planner. She chose Olive Garden, pedicures, shopping, and milkshakes from Chick-Fil-A.  Pretty good, right? I have to be honest, I wasn't crazy about the pedicure. You will know how weird I am when I tell you this- pedicures stress me out. I don't know what my deal is. I'm just really ticklish, and I always feel like I need to help the lady working on my feet, and I HATE massage chairs. I know! I don't know what's wrong with me. I have sensory issues for real. But, once I was in the chair and my feet were in the hot water, I calmed down. 
And, no matter what it was worth it to watch my girls. They were born for the beauty shop.
                                              They picked a blue and a gold color.
                                                 These girls know how to do a girl's night out!

Sarah told me twice that this was the greatest night ever. So that makes it the greatest night ever for me. :)

I'm just feeling so thankful for the gifts I've been given-the jobs, opportunities, responsibilities, and the cool church van to do it all in. :) I'm especially thankful for the people this season has brought into my life. Even the ones in bear costumes and mouse tails. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Color Purple

So just last night I talked about God providing rest in times of busyness. And here I am for the first time in about 2 months on a Saturday with nothing to do. I am feeling torn right now. You see, we were scheduled to have family pictures made today and you may remember from this post that I've been a little obsessed with these pictures. However, my firstborn awoke me several times throughout the early morning to inform me that she had just thrown up. She's at the age that she can handle things like that on her own, but she just needs me to know about it, you know? Anyway, she is looking pitiful on the couch right now and I know she is sick. She is a girl on the go, so when she doesn't want to go, she is sick.

I am beginning to think these pics just were not supposed to happen today anyway. Yesterday I got out of the Jeep when I got home from picking Kate up from school and heard a sound. It just happened to be all of the air coming out of my passenger side tire. Awesome. Josh was running a bread route yesterday and today (I don't know if y'all have noticed this, but these things always seem to happen when he is in another town) so I am vehicle-less. I've had a gift certificate I got last Christmas that I was going to use to get my nails done and nobody would ever answer the phone when I tried to make my appointment. I can't find Kate's skirt. It has vanished from the face of the earth. Due to being vehicle-less I can't get my hair did, and I have to tell y'all that it is probably the greatest act of mercy ever that we have to reschedule these pictures because I need a haircut more than anybody has ever needed a haircut in their lives. Did I also mention that FSU is playing Miami today during our scheduled photo shoot? Or that we have to cook for our Thanksgiving meal at church tomorrow? Okay, so maybe this wasn't the best day ever. The problem is that the only other day our photographer could schedule us in is next Wednesday. Not exactly the most convenient time for us, but hey, I will totally check my kids out of school early and cancel theatre classes for pictures! But only if I get my hair fixed!!!! :)

The truth is I've been excited about shopping for our outfits. I've put a lot of time and thought into the perfect color coordination. And after discovering Awkward Family Photos I realized just how important this decision is. I mean, this might have seemed the obvious choice for fall pictures, but I just don't think we could use this for our Christmas card.

I thought about saving my color choice for the big reveal of our pictures, but then I remembered nobody but me really cares. :)  And....I may be in the nursing home before we get these pics made. So, the color palette I went with is purples and grays. A special thanks to my cousin, Lauran for supplying a great link on pinterest that has every color option you could think of. Purple has always been one of my favorite colors. It goes back to the days when my Mom dressed my sister and I in the same outfit but different colors. Jenny was always pink and I was always purple. I even had a purple phone. Remember the kind you used to plug into the wall? Yeah, one of those. :)
Me and Jenny in our pink and purple. We still really like ice cream. :)

So, this last week after hours online searching for the perfect clothes I headed out to actually gather them. I just don't trust ordering clothes online. I was disappointed I couldn't find the dress I wanted for Kate in the store, but I decided to go more simple with her outfit and focus more on the accessories.!  How fun! EVERYTHING is purple now! I found the cutest hair accessories and some super cute tights to wear under her black tutu skirt (if I ever find it). I even got purple shoes for me!!! It is probably too much purple, but remember, I love purple! They kind of look like these, but mine are a little different.

Originally I was just going to wear my boots. I finally broke down and bought new boots. And jeggings. I thought the world might come to an end. But, the jury is still out on how I feel about them. The truth is, they are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. The jeggings too. I imagine they are how pajama jeans feel. I've gotten lots of compliments on them, but I've also been told they look like stripper boots. Personally, I feel like a pirate when I wear them. So, what I'm saying is that even though I've decided to wear them, I'm not sure I want a family pic in them to forever immortalize the stripper pirate look. 

This picture cracks me up. Me trying to be trendy. My 4 year old too embarrassed to be seen with me. Sarah wearing my too big for her coat because we can't find hers. This is how I imagine our family pics will turn out. It's just a guess.....
Anybody else noticing a theme?

So, I have a few days now to get a little more organized. Here's my new To Do list:

- Find Kate's skirt
- Get my head shaved
- Buy Eli black socks
- Decide if I should try to pull off purple shoes or pirate boots
- Get my nails done and pray they last at least long enough for a picture
- Lose 10 pounds and get a tan (this is a constant on my to do list.....)
- Meditate and think happy thoughts and tell myself that I will not lose my cool even if Kate is hiding in all of our pics.
-Stock up on candy and all other means of bribery.
-Look forward to winning the next big contest on Awkward Family Photos!!!

I will leave you with a past winner of a family picture. This could only be better if we were wearing pumpkin suits......