Category Archives: Blogging

What if?

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What is it about the click of the keypad I find so…. satisfying? As if somehow my thoughts have more significance when there are in front of my eyes versus whirling in a soup in my busy brain?

I suppose the speed that I can type is a much more manageable speed to process my thoughts,  than the speed my thoughts normally come: fast and furious, a whirling dervish of cerebral activity.

So, here I sit, and with every click and tap of the letters on my laptop and with every hit of the space bar, my thoughts are measured out… bit by bit.  Portioned serving sizes of my meandering brain… that I can manage to consume without too much waste.

I have been saying (to myself) for quite some time now I am goin to pick up this blog again.

To write again.

To write more.

To write.

I love the outlet of laying my thoughts out. Seeing them in front of me. The sharing of myself… with the giant void of the internet. Hitting the “Publish” button, and WHOOSH… the sense of letting them go. (Ah… now that? Feels good.)

But I worry…. that when faced with the reality of recoding the gooey innards of my grey matter?… the words may possiblly end up being more cynical and negative than I would like.

I have a charming duality to my persona:

I love to see the best in others. Yet often see the worst in myself.

I hold on to hope of great and wonderful things. Yet fear the future will cruely deal harsh realities.

I love to laugh. But sometimes, with laughter still hanging in the air, doubt creeps in.

There is nothing that holds my heart more than the love I have for God, and his goodness. Yet there are days when the silence comes easier than prayers.

And what if… when given the opportunity to leave an imprint in words… they are not the hopeful, inspiring kind? What if they are the doubt-filled version? The cynical point of view? Of a sarcastic tone?

Would those words be as significant?

I know each point of our lives holds meaning. The doubt filled moments can bring as much clarity (eventually) as the ones that are happy.

So, if you promise to keep in mind my heart… I will promise to always deal honestly with my fantastically, wonderful struggle that is my joyous and peaceful, frustrating and overwhelming life.

Deal?

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Resist the temptation to run from struggles.

This evening, it is raining. There’s something about the rain. It makes you reflect. At least… it makes ME reflect. The sound of the slap of rain against my roof draws me out of whatever I am doing.  I HAVE to go to it… stand in the door and watch it. Open a window and feel the air that carries the coolness of the water on it. It washes me over. Refreshes me.

As cheesy as it sounds, its true… I shut my eyes against the night…. and FEEL it. I BREATHE it.

Water is life.

And all at once I am aware of the weight of the things pressing against me. For a moment, I feel the heaviness of the tasks of life. While simultaneously feeling the hope that surely lies in my future. (I am, as always, a complicated woman. I am… an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, dipped in confusing sauce. I am, an acquired taste.)

I have had an eventful year since I have visited my blog.

I will not list all the changes me and my family have underwent. But it probably is not all that different from your own last year and the changes and challenges YOU have experienced: Tears surely have been shed. Limits were most definitely pushed. Joy was discovered. Peace was pursued.

And struggles were encountered.

And  the struggles beat against your body like a relentless ocean. This ocean is your life, your personality, your career, your weaknesses, you finances, your flaws, your uncertain future. And this ocean? Never gives up. Never lets up. Taking your breathe. Slapping your skin. Stinging at your eyes. Making you weary.

You brace yourself against the waves. Knee deep in the swirling foamy water…  you tighten your body’s muscles to hold your ground. You have the desire to fight. To stand. You must.

Then you realize… you are standing against an ocean. A massive body of water. The ocean will never run out of salty ammunition. It replenishes itself with unrelenting stamina. You realize… the ocean will never stop.

You know you lack the strength to stand there much longer. The sandy foundation moving under your feet. It is a battle that will only prove your human ability is finite.

Then all of a sudden, the salt water starts to taste a little bitter.

A familiar haze of weariness comes over you… as you get the fantastic idea…

to run.

Run away from the work. Run away from this body of water that taunts you with its perpetual existence. To run from the struggle it takes to stand in those waves.

Will peace come from retreat?

No.

It will not. As hard as the struggle is to stand, there is no peace in running. Retreating and giving up is a wasted decision. It is wasted, because no matter how weak you think you are. No matter how tired you feel yourself to be at the moment. No matter how much you doubt your abilities…. you will return to this ocean. You will return to these waves.

Because water… is life.

The ocean is ours.

Not ours to master. But ours just the same.

Here is our choice. To run away from our struggles. Or to turn and face them… walk into them… and float above them.

Did you know what you can float on these waves? You might have to wade out a little deeper. You might have to fight the flow a little harder for a distance. You might even swallow your fair share of salty water perhaps. BUT... but, my friends,  once you’ve walked the proper distance into this body of water…and you lay back into these same powerful waves?… arms out… in surrender? In trust of the laws of nature our marvelous creator has? You will float.

And here’s a little science for you: it is easier to float in an ocean. The salt in the water causes it to be heavier than fresh water. And your floating will come easier.

Those powerful waves that shook your foundation before?  That power is still there under you. The same things that would have smacked you in the face? The same things that would have stung your eyes and taken your breath away…. those things?… now carry you.

A dear friend is always telling me (quite often in fact, she is tireless in her advice) … the TRUE struggle in life? Is learning to rest and not fight so much.

Cuz, what does fighting the ocean of struggles REALLY benefit you? All you will get is stinging nostrils filled with salt water and a tired and weary you.

Rest today, my friends. Let’s both rest. Let the waves come. Wash past us.

And whatever you do…

Resist the temptation to run from those struggles.

Resist the temp…

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I have returned.

Commence to start dancing.

Or crying.

There are no wrong feelings here.

Sick Day.

So, for those who have the extreme blessing of knowing me, you know I like to verbalize. I am a talker. And sometimes, I whine. I might have an occasional tendency to complain. Shameful, I know. Woe to those who know me.

Today… I am sick. I gots me a little cold. Generously served up by one of my bacteria-carrying little ones. (They are so kind to share. – They get their giving spirit from their Mamma.)

So, now taking into consideration my love of the art of spoken words couple that with me sick? Well, no one wins.

It is a sad day, indeed. Let the complaining commence.

I could tell you of the stuffy nose. The scratchy throat. The pained ears. The chilly toes. (Oh! The chilliness of the toes!)

But I will try to save you from the torment of my complaining.(Because my love for you is so great.)

Instead, I will offer up to you… a pictorial.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So for your viewing pleasure, I give you.

My morning as a me… only sick.

Me and my BFF. My mac. The warmth of the motor. The glow of the screen. Ahhh….

It’s cold here at the “Du” today. (The “Du” is my husband’s affectionate name for our temporary home, a duplex.) We are trying to save some money on the heating bill. Anybody ever been there? The briskness may be why I am ill today. (Remind me to complain later.)

Here we have exhibit “A” of my illness. An empty roll of TP, which was my tissue of choice until Charlie got me a new box of ACTUAL tissues. Good thing he also bought a fresh supply of TP as well, as this was the last roll available in the “Du”.

When you are as ill as me. (Or as lazy as me. Or a combination of both.) You need to keep the essentials nearby. Here you will see my phone and remote. It is sad how worn out our remote is. (This is in no way an indication of how much TV we watch here at the “Du”. None whatsoever.)

Awe, look who stopped by to check on me… ain’t she sweet? So full of love. So full of kindness. Compassion, even.  She even brought her own blanket so I won’t have to share mine. (I am not what they call a “sharer”.)

Wait folks. Wait just a minute. She did not come as an angel of mercy… but a thief of my Mac. O cruelness of it all. I cannot bear such treachery… in my own house. It pains me so. (Remind me to complain about that later.)

I turn to the Bible in times like this. Of illness. Of betrayal. It is a healing salve, is it not? I do love me some study time. (Even if someone is stealing my covers while I read it.)

Cover stealer.

Even though, at the moment, my toes have reach chilliness that should never be known to man, I will push through this and share with you a bit of lost wisdom. I don’t know if you knew this or not. But one of the most well-kept secrets on recovery is M&Ms. Lot’s of them. Preferably peanut. I accredit them to my speedy recovery. Wait… I am not quite recovered yet. Maybe I should eat more?  Couldn’t hurt.

My oldest daughter has been homeschooling. What? I didn’t tell you? Well, she is. We have abandoned the traditional brick and mortar school for the “School in yer Jammies”. I highly recommend it. (Even if I have to take a break from eating M&Ms to check her American History quiz.)

When you homeschool, your child can attempt to speed your healing with humor. Humor may be healing. But wasting chocolate in such a manner? That is not helpful to my recovery. I wouldn’t advise it. In fact, it is frowned upon here at the “School in yer Jammies”.

And the younger are so easily influenced. For shame. (Remind me to complain about this later.)

I decided to paint my toes. I do enjoy to paint. Canvases. And although, most people might categorize me as creative, I am always disappointed in my toe painting skills. I chose this color because I thought it might look “Christmassy”. It does not. It looks “Shrekky”. I am not delighted. (Again, remind me to complain later.)

Here you go, something for  you lovers of all things random. Here is something that is CUTE & GREEN. Unlike my shrekky toes. Right? Right? It makes me smile.The caterpillar, not my toes.

Well, I must retreat back into my blankie. Have a bowl of stewed chicken and veggies. Watch the Hallmark channel. Maybe being sick isn’t the worst way to spend the morning.

 

 

Got a minute to waste? Read on.

Just what the doctor ordered. I have no desire to post and this meme just made it easy.
What were you doing 10 years ago?

Let’s see… 10 years ago, I was, um…. 23, that was 1998. Awwww, Alina had just turned one. We were living right down the road from where we live now. I weighed 107 pounds. I had been married for 4 years. I was suffering from daily panic attacks that made me scared to leave my house, drive a car, go to church, the movies, a restaurant… or pretty much anywhere.

Favorite Snacks

French Onion Dip and Ruffled Chips

Chocolate (Anything chocolate)

Strawberries and Blueberries with my cream cheese dip

To Do List

Clean my house.

Study the bible.

Take a class.

Start the magazine.

Take a me vacation.

Take a family vacation. (Notice the order of vacations? Not a typo.)

Jobs I Have Had

Graphic Designer

Assistant Manager of a Print Shop

Retail (usually at Christmas time)

Janitorial

Places I Have Lived

801 Newton Drive, Newton Falls 0-9 years old

607 Ophelia Street, Newton Falls 10-19 years old

1954 State Road, Champion (my mom in laws) 19-21 years old

1060 Harvard Drive, Warren 21 years old

5555 Oak Hill Drive, Champion 21-28 years old

5425 Oak Hill Drive, Champion 28-present

Bad Habits

procrastination, worry, eating too much, exercising too little, impatience

5 Random Things People May Not Know

I ignored my husband the first time we met. (I thought his friend had pretty eyes tho.)

I sang in an national singing competition.

I was playing with my pet gerbil once and swung it by the tail, until it it’s tail fell off.

When I was in 9th grade I wanted to ask Doogie Hauser to the prom.

I constantly obsess no one likes me.
CDs I would want if stranded on an island

The audio Bible, 13 Goin on 30 Soundtrack, Steve Tyrell, Hillsong

What I’d Do if I Were a Billionaire

1. Pay off Debt, mine, my parents, my sisters, my in laws and brother in laws.

2. Buy a house with enough bedrooms for my kids and a guest. (An inground pool would be nice too.)

3. Buy an ocean side vacation home big enough for my whole family. (the same listed above)
4. Make my dream God gave me come true.

5. Help at least one person start their dream.

6. Refuse to live extravagantly.

7. Donate generously our church.

8. Take my whole family on a trip to Disney. (siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins – EVERYBODY).

So. I guess that’s about all. I have completed my annual meme.

I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment as I’m sure you can imagine.

And if you want – you’re it!

My Desk.

You can tell a lot about people from whats on their desk.

And as always, my life is an open book.

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Your turn.

Holy Long Lines Batman!

I am a simple gal. With simple pleasures. One of which is taking the kids over to our smokey neighbor state and visiting Kraynaks.

Like I said, I’m a simple girl.

Me and the girls look forward to goin twice a year, once in the spring for the Easter Bunny Land and once in the winter for Santa Land. Oh, the joys of the holidays.

Occasionally, I can drag Chuck along, but he remains noncommittal, always trying to ditch us. This year he laid aside all manliness and followed us to Pennsylvania.

Once we got there, we walked in the back door, where we were directed to go back outside to the front door. (as the line to enter Santa Land extended well beyond the heated warmth that is Kraynaks and plunged through the front doors into the cold that is the climate we so love up this way.)

Then we waited. Ah, the glorious splendor that is the holidays. This is when Reese decided to take a snooze. (Waiting is boring.)

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This is when I was thankful that my husband decided to come.

As you can see in the background the portal to heatedness awaits in the distance.

But before we got inside I snapped a pic of my B-E-A-U-tiful girls. (minus the one that was getting her beauty sleep)

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Ain’t they delicate flowers? (They get that from me.)

Well in no time at all we found ourselves basking in the animated ornate illumination that is Christmas. I love it. I love the hokey 70’s mechanical Charlie Brown and Strawberry Shortcake. The “Mr Bill” choir singers with erratic bobbing heads. The overuse of tinsel and well, the overuse of everything. I love it all. And my Christmas is somehow not complete without a trip  through this land of seasonal fun. (I feel like I am using too many adjectives. Am I?)

But, in the end it all turned out well.  Reese finally woke up and got to partake in the Neff tradition: Christmas Over Exposure.

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I hope everyone’s Christmas was one to remember.

Oreo Bon Bons

Recently I’ve discovered the happiness that is Oreo Bon Bons.

Let me share this happiness with you. And if you ask nicely, I will make you a batch.

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Take one whole package of regular Oreos. Put em in your food processor. Make Oreo dust. (I never had a food processor until now. I never knew I needed a food processor, then I found these cookies and knew that life would not be complete without a food processor.) If you don’t have a food processor, put all your Oreos in a bag and bang the heck out of em with a rolling pin until you make Oreo dust.

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Let a package of cream cheese soften, I like the fat free kind, cuz it’s softer and easier to mix and no one will ever know that there is a lack of fat, cuz of the existing heart clogging fat in the entire package of Oreos. Ahem.

Blend the Oreo dust and cream cheese in a bowl.

Roll into 1 inch balls. Place them on wax paper or foil. You should be able to make 100 lil balls. (Cue: all guys to giggle. “She said balls.”)

Wrap up the balls in foil and put em the freezer. Chill a few hours at least or overnite.

Later that day, or the next day:

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Put a bag of white chocolate melting chips in a bowl. Microwave em for 45 seconds and check to see if they’ve melted. Not melted? Put em back in for another 45 seconds. Repeat until smooth and melty.

Take those balls out of the freezer. (Cuz that’s just not sanitary.)

Dip them in the chocolate and set aside on wax paper.

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After they are all dipped, you can drizzle white chocolate on them, or dark milk chocolate.

Now, you’ll have a Merrier Christmas than what you would have without these glorious Oreo Bon Bons.

Let’s all give the good Lord praise for addictive desserts like these. And all God’s children said? Amen.

Now you know.

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I could complain. I could. But I won’t.

I could complain about the IRS. But I won’t.

I could complain about the weather. But I won’t.

I could complain about my children’s immune systems. But I won’t.

I could complain about endless poopy diapers. But I won’t.

I could complain about a bottomless sink of dirty dishes. But I won’t.

And you wonder why I haven’t posted.