Goodbye Week, I am Done With You!

Dear last 7 days,

I am breaking up with you.

There I said it. I have tried REALLLLLY hard the last several days to keep an upbeat and positive attitude, but you have made it difficult to say the least.

Last Saturday started out so good, a Missions Committee meeting where I got to share my passion about community, a successful trip to the grocery store and ready to start the day. We are repainting our sun room space, little by little, and I wanted to get it completed that day. I was headed in the right direction until I decided to step off of the bar top/counter I was standing on to reach near the ceiling and through the ladder instead of on to the ladder.

Painting Sunroom

Yep, that’s right and this girl went a tumbling down, all.the.way.down.

There was paint on the floor and all over my clothes and my leg/ankle was hurting BAD. Gabriel came running right away asking if I was ok and all I could say to him was “don’t speak to me, just don’t speak.” I cleaned up the mess, assessed the damage to my leg, quickly finished painting that section of wall on 1 foot and then spent the rest of the night with my foot elevated and iced.

Thankfully nothing was broken, although I have one large/long bruise down my leg to remember the fall by.

On top of the fall, Elijah spent Saturday night and on and off on Sunday with weird stomach pains. No fever, no vomiting or other symptoms…just sharp pains in his gut that would last 20 minutes and then go away for several hours only to return later.

We stayed home from church to recover (which never starts my week right) and spent the day resting.

On Tuesday the High School called because Isaac was sick, same stomach pains but with some nausea to boot. In 4 years he has never gone home sick, so I knew he wasn’t feeling right. We thought it was the same thing that Elijah had…

Then on Wednesday morning he sent me a text at 4:30am asking me to call him when I was up. Because Karlena has not been sleeping well ALL.WEEK. I was up. (I am exhausted btw, exhausted and need sound sleep more than I can say)

Isaac had been unable to sleep all night, the pain had also radiated to his back and we were worried about the possibility of appendicitis, and his pain was bad enough that off to the ER we went.

Isaac Hospital

After blood work and a fun drink of mylanta and lydacaine, they sent us home thinking it was likely a virus, but to watch and see. Being the awesome mom I am I forgot to fill his prescription for the anti-nausea pills they gave us, so Isaac got to suffer another sleepless night again. Good times.

When Isaac went to school yesterday, still not feeling great but unable to miss anymore in-class work that his schedule demands, I noticed he had a red spot on his cheek. I figured it was a pimple and didn’t think anything of it.

When I got home from work he came downstairs and I took one look at him and said “You need to go to the Dr. immediately!” It looked like he had been in a bad fight. His entire cheek was bright red and swollen and too close to his eye for my comfort.

So as I ran Gabriel to his band concert, Dominic was in a late meeting and Isaac had to go to Acute Care alone. Turns out he not only has a staph infection that came out of nowhere on his cheek, he has such a terrible ear infection in both ears that he can’t even hear out of one side.

So lucky Isaac, got a shot of some heavy duty antibiotics, and a prescription of horse pills to take for the next 10 days.

Friday, you couldn’t have come fast enough.

My only prayer is that as we come close to the close of this week, that we won’t carry any of the terribleness forward with us. Please God, no more.

Normally a trip to my favorite local shopping boutique would be warranted right about now, and would probably make me feel better about things (ahem)…but I have committed to no unnecessary spending (and even more specifically on myself) over this period of lent…so I  must suffer through. :)

I wonder if I can find any chocolate around here…that may just help! ;)

Worn and weary and wishing for a new shirt, Kristin

A Neighborhood Valentine’s Party

Valentine's Party

This past Saturday I stepped out of my comfort zone and hosted a Valentine’s Party for all the kids in my neighborhood.

Yes I am feeling alright! ;)

As many of you know I have been exploring this idea of how hospitality looks in a practical sense in my own community and since it is too cold outside for the Turquoise Table, I knew that I had to get brave and open my home if I wanted to start before Spring.

So a few weeks ago I sent a message out on our private neighborhood FB group asking if anyone’s kids would even be around and interested in coming if I had a party and to my surprise almost everyone said they wanted to come!!

We have LOTS of kids in our neighborhood. Ranging from ages 1 1/2 to 18! Our final number was 14 kids total which included my 3 youngest! Isn’t that awesome?!

I wanted to keep things fairly simple…I had a few pre-planned activities, but I knew that if I spent all this time planning stations or things to do, that the kids would rather just play…so I went onto Pinterest (The holder of all knowledge of party planning fun) and printed out coloring pages, word finds, word scrambles and Valentines Bingo cards!

The kids colored for a time but then decided to explore the house and play. I knew this was a possibility and was totally fine with it. Depending on your space this may not work for you, but I determined that I wasn’t going to stress about messes made or kids running. This was a 2 1/2 hr opportunity for them to be in a new environment and just have fun.

The kids were amazing. The played and ran and did a Just Dance competition. I think that they all had a great time. There is something about spending time in a new surrounding that is fun!

I planned the party over the lunch hour on purpose. I figured it would give the parents a break and also use up a portion of their time here. I kept things simple here as well, but WAAAAY over planned on the amount of food I needed.

We had pizza and hot dogs, carrots, grapes, Cuties and juice boxes. I bought 2 5lb bags of Cuties and think the kids ate 2 Cuties total. :) Then for dessert I had mini cupcakes and bought these heart shaped sugar cookies from the local store bakery and 2 kids of frosting and sprinkles so that they could decorate their own cookie.

After lunch we played Bingo and I think that was a hit for everyone! I hadn’t gotten prizes but we had some mini candy bars left over from the treat cups in the cupboard. If someone got a Bingo, they got a treat. At one point we had 4 or 5 Bingo’s – I totally recommend that because kids of all ages can play!

Finally towards the end of the party one of the kids spotted our Elf on the Shelf movie (of all things!) and asked if they could watch it. So for 22 minutes the house was quiet as everyone piled into the living room to watch a show!

I got balloons for everyone at our local Dollar Tree and used those to decorate the kitchen, and everyone got to take one home. I also made treat cups as well.

Valentine's Treat Cups

We don’t thrown big parties for the kids on their birthdays. Honestly they have so much stuff already, and the gifts they get from us and their grandparents…it is enough. At a birthday party everyone expects to bring a gift…this type of party was so much fun and it takes the pressure off of the parents having to scramble to find something for a gift that my kids don’t need anyway!

I would host this type of party again in a heartbeat!

Clean up was pretty fast because we had used paper plates and napkins and a plastic Valentine’s table cover. We just gathered everything up and threw it out! And my kids LOVED being able to have all their friends over….they are still talking about it.

Gabriel’s only complaint was that it wasn’t long enough!

I know that opening your home can be scary…especially with adults right!?! So why not start off with a kids party?! It is a great way to meet the kids your own children spend time with and an unexpected treat in the middle of a cold cold winter!

Have you ever hosted a neighborhood party?! I’d love to hear about it and get ideas for future events!

Backup Singer, Comedic Relief and Why Dying to Oneself is So Hard

Sheet Music

I have always loved to sing.

In the most difficult times of my life, singing praise and worship songs, belting them out in my car as my cry to God,  were my lifeline.

When I didn’t feel able to praise God in spite of my circumstances with my own words, the lyrics to my favorite praise songs did that for me.

I haven’t ever taken lessons, and in junior high I was always jealous of those girls that were a part of the jazz or swing groups. The would sing and perform on stage and had such confidence.

I tried out for concert choir in high school and while I felt like I botched the audition, I made the group and I loved that time learning and singing.

When we moved to Marshall almost 4 years ago we found a church that we loved right away. I remember seeing the worship team lead and wished I could be a part of it…half hoping that someone would hear me singing and tell someone that I needed to be up on stage.

It all happened a little differently than the magical way I had dreamed of, but about a year and 1/2 ago I started singing on our worship team.

It terrified me.

I am not kidding, like all out body shaking, voice quivering, terrified.

Don’t get my wrong, I equally loved it at the same time too, but it was all I could do to not run off the stage on the Sunday’s that I helped the team.

We have some really great, strong singers on our team and as we practiced my confidence grew a little. I started learning how to hear and sing harmony on some songs (which has completely wrecked my ability to NOT sing harmony on most songs I hear on the radio) ;) But the one thing that terrified me more than anything was the possibility of leading.

As the person leading the song, you have to know when to start, when to come in, you need to sing strong and know all the notes…you are leading and the rest of the group depends on you.

So clearly my scardy-cat self was not prepared for a job like that.

You see I joke that I was hired for background vocals and comedic relief. Now of course we are all volunteers and don’t get paid…but if we did that is what I would be paid for. I would not be paid to lead. At least not in my mind.

And then this week I was asked to lead. Sometimes leading means everyone on the team sings with you, and as the lead your mic is just turned up a little louder than the rest. Other times when you lead it means that you sing a solo for a time before others join you.

The latter option is horrifying to me. Horrifying.

And so, of course, THAT was the option for me this week.

I didn’t feel confident and the song felt to high. Do I try and sing it strong with the risk of straining my voice, or do I revert to the falsetto high voice that I need to reach those notes that are waaaay up there?

Switching between the 2 wasn’t coming smoothly. I practiced throughout the week. I listened to the notes on CCLI, and I begged God that He would impress on the team that someone else was better equipped for the job.

Clearly I struggle with a few self-confidence issues.

And here is the deal. I KNOW that I sing because God gave me a voice, and I do it for Him. But the voice in my head tells me that if I don’t have it perfect, then I will be a distraction to those trying to worship.

If I can’t sound like Natalie Grant or Kari Jobe…then I shouldn’t be leading.

Dominic told me to sing loud and proud. But as we approached the song in practice yesterday morning I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I tried and it sounded awful, there may have been a few tears too…I was so mad that the whole thing was such a struggle for me.

It is embarrassing to feel that emotional about singing a verse and a chorus by myself. Our team is amazing, and they came in early and sang the chorus with me…and one of the WT leaders talked to me before the service started.

This too is like labor. A process we must go through, and in the end there is a reward. We get to honor God with our voices – even if they aren’t perfect.

Because it isn’t about me. And yes I KNOW that…but boy the physical reactions that I feel in that situation say otherwise.

And I am not there yet. She said that this too is a process of dying to oneself. Of getting to that place where we are leading in worship, unashamed. I can’t and won’t get it perfectly. I am not Natalie Grant or Kari Job, and the people at my church don’t expect me to be.

They all give me grace but I am unwilling and unable to give it to myself.

And she also said that my perception of the situation and the reality may just not be the same. (Who knew?! ;) )Which is unfortunately the case in so many areas of my life. If I really sounded as terrible as I felt I did, they wouldn’t have me up there.

So this is a process that I am going to have to walk through. I will be honest it would be easier to just ask to never lead a song again, or to quit. Because it is my nature to flee from things that are difficult like this.

But God doesn’t want us to run from the difficult. He calls us to walk through those things, and promises that He is with us.

I don’t know when I will get over the fear. But I know that I want to honor God with the voice that He gave me…so regardless of how I feel on the inside, I will choose to keep trying, and will trust that He will refine this area in my life as well.

What do you struggle with that God is calling you to walk through? I would love to pray over you this week!

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary

Getting Our Paint On – #TheFringeHours

FringeFridayLogo

In honor of her upcoming book, I am joining Jessica Turner today for Fringe Friday. Sharing fun ways that we spend our fringe hours.

I had seen the idea on Instagram. My friend Logan had created a fun abstract art project for her kids to work on and I was inspired. I showed a picture of it to Elijah and he said that he wanted to do it too.

So one evening I ran over to our local Wal-mart and grabbed some new paints and some 11×17 blank canvases. A 2-pack for $6.97 seemed like a steal, so I grabbed 2 packs, a couple of rolls of painters tape and some new brushes and started dreaming up ideas of what we would do.

I will be honest the supplies sat untouched for several weeks. It is hard for me to take time for things like this. My kids love it and are asking me to let them paint all the time. I tend to get too stressed out about the potential messes and the fun quickly loses its appeal.

But I am learning that I need to take time for myself (and my kids) for fun projects. And I love painting, although I don’t have a lot of natural talent. So after dinner one evening I asked the kids if they wanted to paint.

Excited to get started, we pulled everything out. The idea was to use painters tape and tape off patterns on the canvas and paint around the tape. When it is dry you pull the tape off and the colors pop!

I did the taping, but let the kids tell me where and how to position it. I wanted these to be their projects – not mine! And then I let them choose their colors and set them to painting!

Painting Collage 1

It really was a lot of fun watching them explore their creative side. Continually praising their work, they beamed with pride over their creations. We were all anxious for the next morning when we could take the tape off the dried canvases!

The first thing we did in the morning was remove the tape and wow, what beautiful pieces of art we had!

Painting Collage 2

They are now all proudly displayed in their rooms.

Sometimes my fringe hours are spent encouraging the creative side of my littles. (<====Click to TweetAnd while there was commotion and mess and a little bit of crazy going on during that time, I have memories of fun and laughter and pride over their work.

It was worth every minute.

I forget this all too often. That I need to be willing to make a mess, and to show my kids that I am not going to be stressed over it so that I can enjoy some quality time with them!

And the look on Elijah’s face the following morning as he held his art, perfection.

Painting 7

And after they were all off in bed, I took some time and did some quiet painting of my own and came up with this….

Painting 10

My heart has been focused on community lately, and dreaming of that turquoise table this spring…I thought this painting captured that well.

I don’t always do a good job of enjoying and utilizing my fringe hours, but when I do…what a blessing it is.

What do you like to do in your fringe hours?

Roadblocks

Roadblock 2

Recently I got an email from a sweet reader B asking about roadblocks. I have written several times about the various ways in which our family faced difficult times, changes in our plan etc. She is facing a roadblock of her own and she wanted to know they whys…and what to do about it.

While I am at times an expert in living with the roadblock, I unfortunately don’t always deal with them well. In looking back at some of the major setbacks we have faced, I can see more clearly. I can see why God has us walk another path…why we needed to go through the difficulty.

But honestly, in the moment, all I can see is pain and frustration.

Dominic and I were talking again yesterday about how God answered a very simple prayer with a seemingly difficult answer. Almost 5 years ago Dominic started praying that God would bring him someone that would teach him another area of law…give him a chance to learn and thrive.

When we got that call from a head hunter about a position in MN, we did everything “right”. We researched the area, the type of law he would be doing, the man he was being interviewed by. We got down on our knees every morning and prayed together that God would clearly open or shut doors so we knew we were making wise decisions.

We didn’t want to make a choice based on money alone, and while the salary increase is what we needed financially at the time…we didn’t want to have dollar figures rule us. At the end of several months of interviews that resulted in a job offer, we took it excited to face the adventure ahead.

Dominic and I are the type that are comfortable in sameness. We don’t go out  much, we are homebodies and do well with routine. Living apart for the following 8 months, he in MN and the rest of us in SD, was one of the hardest things we have been through.

On top of the difficulty of living apart, his position at the new firm quickly turned to a hostile one. The environment there was awful, to say the least, and Dominic was under so much stress he was wearing it on the outside.

Why would God lead us to this place that was so toxic?

We pushed forward though, prayed about selling our house which sold after 1 viewing, in 4 days. An open door to make a move to MN to all be together.

And then, as I have shared before, months later we both found ourselves unemployed. How did this happen? How could God let this happen?! Those were the thoughts that went through my mind each day.

That year on my birthday my sister gave me a plaque with the following saying on it. “Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve so much more.”

At the time I couldn’t see the truth in all of it.

I was bitter and angry at God and just wanted to be done with all the struggle. Have you ever found yourself there? Just wanting life, everything to come easy?!

But as you know, those dark times led to big steps of faith. Those steps led to the opening of our own business, my transferring to the office to work with Dominic…and today a successful business.

It isn’t easy. We are busy and often stressed at the workload, but it is a good stress. One that we are grateful for because we know that God’s hand was in the entire situation. God answered Dominic’s humble prayer so many years ago.

He provided someone that would teach him the basics of this new area of law, and while we had anticipated that he would be working there for a very long time…God had bigger plans for Dominic. Ones that we couldn’t have thought or imagined at the time.

Yes we had to face roadblocks and setbacks through the process, but ultimately our prayer was answered with a result that is far better than we could have hoped.

I don’t know what roadblock you may be facing today. And like I told B, I wish that I could tell her the “whys”, and the “what nows.” I don’t have all the answers, and honestly as I walked through my own I didn’t do it with a lot of grace.

So instead maybe learn what not to do from me! :)

Today I try and spend some time in the Bible each morning. I pray that God will guide our every step. And I try to remember all the ways that He has been faithful to us throughout the years, so when I face another roadblock (and oh they WILL come) I am prepared with my arsenal of faith stories to get me through in a positive light.

If you are facing a seemingly impossible situation today, would you leave a comment and let me know. You don’t have to give details if you don’t want, but I would love to pray for you!

Photo Credit: B4bees

Neighboring Well

ArtOfNeighboring

It was clear that she was “new”. As a new dance mom myself and just a few months into the routine, I could tell that she was attending drop off for the first time. I raised 3 boys before we had a chance to welcome a girl into our family, so this dance mom thing is new territory for me.

And can I just say it is a bit intimidating.

Maybe it is just women in general, we can come off as illusive and unapproachable. I do the same, I make myself busy with my phone so that I don’t have to make conversation with a “stranger.”

As an introvert and shy to boot, it is work for me to join a conversation, to make friends.

It isn’t comfortable, it never is, but I am learning that sometimes God calls us to step out of our comfort zones and do something different.

____________________________________________________________

My friend Kristin Schell is doing that with her #theturquoisetable movement.  I love this idea and can’t wait to get a table this spring. Recently she told me about another book that captures this idea of neighboring well.

The Art of Neighboring arrived at my door yesterday and I started reading it as I was getting ready this morning. If I didn’t have to be at work, I would be on the couch reading this. I had flagged pages and underlined in the Foreword. Oh it is going to be good.

“I am convinced that living in close community with our neighbors is the best way to live. The command to love our neighbors lies at the core of God’s plan for our lives, and when we follow this mandate, it changes everything. The journey begins when we choose a lifestyle of conversation and community over a lifestyle of busyness and accumulation. It’s about making room for life and choosing to befriend those God has placed around us.” p11

So often we make assumptions about people. We wave and smile as we drive down our neighborhoods, but it doesn’t go beyond that. And when we haven’t taken the time to really get to know someone, we assume we know what happens in their homes. Good, bad or otherwise…we don’t really know.

“Perhaps we’d find that the people on our block are normal people just like us. They go to work, hang out with their kids, and put their pants on one leg at a time. At the end of the day, they long for a place to belong, a place to be accepted and cared for. They want to do something significant with their lives, something that really matters. What good things might happen if you truly got to know the people in your neighborhood and they got to know you?” p18

These words put a lump in my throat.

If there are people in my neighborhood that are looking for a place to belong, and I can do something about it – what is stopping me? As a believer in Jesus, isn’t this my calling?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

___________________________________________________________

I am telling you that this isn’t going to be easy for me. My heart beats fast at considering hitting publish to these words, knowing that my neighbors may read them…people in my church. I don’t want to be someone who talks the talk and is afraid to walk the scary road ahead of me.

But this idea of better community, or neighboring well is hitting me on all sides and I can’t ignore it or assume that someone else will do the hard work.

So once again, with knees knocking, I step forward willing to let God use me. (<====Click to Tweet)

As I headed back to the dance studio to pick up my girl, I saw the new mom waiting…phone in hand, scrolling, because it is what we do.

And I turned and said hello, asked if they were new to Marshall, or just new to dance? They had just moved here for a job, new community and new people. Another mom joined the conversation and she also has been here only 2 years “And I don’t know anyone.”

I want that to change! So in a few minutes we stopped and share “newbie” stories and next week maybe that conversation can continue.

We don’t have to do this alone, we shouldn’t do this alone.

It will likely be baby steps for me, but they will be steps forward, to learning the art of neighboring, and neighboring well.

Will you join me?

Photo Credit: From The Art of Neighboring

When Technology Connects

Map

I think I loved the idea of developing friendships, creating community even at a young age.

My parents would take us on travel adventures when I was little. Driving across the US in our van or VW bus, we filled our time with road games, latch-hook and Sesame Street song tapes.

When we would arrive at our destination, usually a campground, we would find the best spot and set up camp. Back in those days we camped in an actual tent, like on the ground. You know where bugs and bears can get you…ahh the good times! ;) It was always fun and I have fond memories of those summers with my family.

Every once and awhile I would meet another girl my age who was out with her family. One year a girl from California parked next door. I say parked because her parents had a HUGE camper, and it even had a toilet inside. I was only slightly jealous.

She and I had fun exploring together and at the end of our stay we exchanged addresses and promised to write letters.  

The letters came frequently at first, but then as school got back in session, and life happened…well the letters stopped.

Today, because of the amazing technology we have, staying connected is so much easier.

I have marveled recently at how, through things like Voxer, women from all over the country have been able to develop friendships that will remain lifelong. A message, or a prayer can be shared in moments and suddenly they don’t feel so far away.

Some of my dearest friends are those that live the farthest from me.

A book launch originally connected us, and then emails, a sharing of life and laughter and even at times tears. We start our mornings with a greeting and prayer requests. These women have invested in me and I in them, in ways I could have never imagined even 10 years ago.

While technology can be, at times, a curse…today I see the blessings.

Because of technology, I now look at a map of the United States and realize that even though the States separate us, the gap doesn’t feel too big because with a touch of a button we can leave a vox, or send an email…and we stay connected.

How do you stay connected with technology? 

I’m sharing this story with this week’s community link-up at The High Calling. You can add your voice to the “Technology at Work” discussion here.

Photo Credit: Marxchivist

How I Got My Hope Back

Hebrews 6 19We are studying Colossians in our Hello Morning study right now and the question today asked how did the text talk about instructions for walking with Christ daily. Our leader shared that there is a woman in her church who is struggling to get pregnant and has lost hope in that dream being fulfilled.

There is a darkness that seeps into the empty spaces when hope is lost. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have been there.

I lived years in a struggle of trying to find and keep my hope. Years where my husband and I walked apart from God. Stubborn and selfish and sure that we could “handle it”….we stumbled along life, limped is more like it.

I cried out to God in those times that I felt completely alone. Where was He? I wanted Him to fix my problems, make it all better…but He didn’t, and I was angry.

When life started to change for us, when we recognized the need for a Savior in our lives, I started to feel that hope returning. Maybe this time things would be different.

We started going to church, we were baptized and rededicated our faith. We said prayers together as a family in the morning and shared our faith with others. We were doing all the “right” things.

As things started to change we talked about trying to have another baby. We had struggled with getting pregnant with Gabriel, but now…it should be easy. We were doing what God wanted. We were on His path so surely He would “reward” us.

And for 18 months we tried, and each month the hope that I had in the goodness of God faded a little.

You see I walked through those times believing that because we were finally making Godly choices, that somehow we deserved all the good stuff. Alll that God had to give us. I deserved it after all those years of struggle, didn’t I?

And then one morning, 2 faint pink lines.

Finally! I rejoiced in the goodness of God and my hope in Him swelled.

God is good when He allows good things to happen….

And then one morning the cramping came and I knew. I fell to the ground that day in my bathroom and begged God to stop what had already started. I believed with everything in  me that He could save this baby if He wanted. You can do this God – I will proclaim Your goodness if you do. Please God.

But it didn’t stop…and in those moments my hope was once again gone.

How could God allow bad things to happen to “good” people?

It was a question that I wrestled with for 6 months.

Honestly friends, it is a question that I still wrestle with…bad things happen to good people ALL.THE.TIME.

But I was lucky because I had some faithful people that surrounded me during this dark season of my life. Women that knew the Lord and openly shared their faith with me.

They prayed for me. They told me that God could handle my anger and my questions. They shared their own stories of loss and frustration, and then they shared the hope that they had in Jesus.

It didn’t come overnight.

I wasn’t sure it would ever return. I seemed surrounded with people pregnant with life, while I felt a barrenness in my own. I wanted what I didn’t have and I wouldn’t allow myself to celebrate with those who did.

I saw a counselor and she encouraged me to write a letter to the baby we had lost.

Looking back on it, it was one of the first things that led me back to writing in 2008. And so I penned the words I had for that child. The child we had prayed for and loved from the first moment we knew they were ours. I cried ugly tears through the process but found healing. I had written my love letter and I wanted to hope again.

And one day I found the blog of a woman walking on her own dark path.

And yet she had a faith that was strong and sure.

“Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday…”

As I read her words I felt my faith changing. I wish I could say that it came back because of my reading the Bible, or my prayer…but it didn’t.

I needed to see the faith of another, played out in real life in front of me, to believe again.

And that is exactly why I write today.

If I can share my testimony, a piece of my story and bring hope to even one person…it is worth it.

Angie did that for me…she walked the hard road with faith and my life was changed because of it.

Life isn’t going to be easy. Even when we are doing all the right things. I know that now, but today I hold onto the hope that it is all for God’s glory. That our messes and weaknesses and then our subsequent muddling through them might someday offer another hope.

I don’t do it perfectly, but I don’t have to.

Today I read my Bible in the hopes of knowing more of who God is. I know that difficult times could be just around the corner. I know that I am not promised tomorrow so I try and live today fully aware of His grace and mercy in my life.

I have so much to hope for, even when life is tough. (<====Click to Tweet) And I am called to share the peace that I have found in depending on God through it all.

So I write on. And I hope. For you and for me I hope. And for each woman out there that is at the end, on that cliff…feeling like all is lost and God has abandoned them…I am praying for you.

God can handle your questions, your anger and your fears. And He won’t abandon you just because your faith isn’t strong right now!

No in hindsight, I can now see where in those weakest of moments, He was carrying me…and He is doing the same for you.

Today I have confidence that He will return your hope back to you as He did for me. Hold on sweet friend, it is coming….

More than anything, I want them to see You

merry go roundI am less than a week from turning 40. The BIG 4-0. And I am surprisingly ok with it all.

I wasn’t really dreading 40, I feel better about who I am and where I am, than I probably ever have. 40 isn’t something to fear or dread. It is just another year right?! And I am surrounded by some of the best family and friends a girl can have, so I am really just overwhelmed with blessings.

I have spent more years than I can count, and really that I would like to admit, worrying about trying to be the perfect person.

As far back as I can remember, I wanted what I didn’t have. I wanted the Strawberry Shortcake dolls that the girl down the street had, or the cute red Esprit jeans with the white hearts on them. (Oh how I coveted those pants and don’t even get me started on the matching heart sweater!!) Maybe it was the name brand jeans or a place on the cheerleading squad…there was always something missing.

I found myself wanting, lacking, and it wasn’t a place that I wanted to be.

So I studied hard so I would be the smart one and do something amazing with my life. Then I went off to college and couldn’t hack the career that I was certain was for me. And once again I knew that when someone looked at me, they just saw someone who was lacking.

For a perfectionist like myself, this is a terrible place to be. Because when you looked at me I wanted you to see beauty and grace and maybe the least bit of fashion sense.

But I was certain that what you saw was the opposite.

Have you ever found yourself there, on the merry-go-round of striving to be something, someone better than you feel you are? (<====Click To Tweet)

And yet it seems that no matter how hard you try, you come up short.

The past few years have been growing ones for me.

Yes I may have added a few pounds towards my waistline, ahem ;) that comes with the aging I am told but I am not talking about that today. No, even more than that I am discovering who I am. What I love and where my passions are. I have reconnected with my love of writing and that alone has brought me so many gifts.

This refinement process hasn’t always been easy either. Dominic and I are learning how to work well with one another in our business, as we also try to manage a reasonable balance between work and home life. We have big kids, and middle kids and little kids…and raising them isn’t always a cake walk.

I yell too much, and get frustrated about little messes. I often forget to take time to count my blessings.

But despite all of that, all of my shortcomings, I am filled with the overwhelming peace that God will use it all for His glory. (<====Click to Tweet)

I have seen Him do it in my life already. How He took all the messy and the ugly parts of me and healed them and then gave me a story to share. He gave me a heart for others, for loving them and sharing the hope that is found in Him.

I don’t head into the Big 4-0 wanting you to see me and how put together I am or what a wonderful wife and mother I am.

More than anything, I hope that when you look at me you see Him.

You see a woman who loves Jesus. A woman who is admittedly a hot mess most days, but even on the worst of them can see the potential for God to use it for good.

Yes Lord, it is my prayer for year 40 and beyond…as long as you have planned for me here, that when people see me, they see You in me. Fashion or no, good hair days and bad, muffin tops and veiny legs….none of it perfect Lord, but through You I have the faith that I will be perfected for Your glory.

And that is all that matters.

Photo Credit: Great Beyond

We All Need a Little of That!

Community

As many of you know just a little over a week ago I was surprised with a getaway birthday weekend to Houston. It was a weekend filled with love from my friends and family.

While Gindi and I shared a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (which by the way was YUM!!), we talked about this idea of community. On FB the night I found out about my surprise I posted a picture of my letter and this comment “To say that I am floored and overwhelmed and crazy excited all at once is an understatement….not exactly sure where I am headed on Saturday but the “three birthday bandits” have completely surprised me!”

130 people liked that post and I had over 40 comments…

I don’t say that to brag, it is a reflection of how much something like this would mean to so many people.

“Best present ever!!”, “I want to get kidnapped”, So fun, can’t wait to hear about it”…and on and on.

People, women especially, long for this type of community.

Maybe we don’t say it or admit it…but it is true. We love to feel loved. (<====Click to Tweet)

I think it is in our nature, it is how we were made. I know so many women who love big and love well. But this experience for me was proof that we all have a secret wish that someone would love on us in a HUGE way like I was.

And I don’t want it to end with me.

I realize that many of us might not be able to plan such an elaborate surprise like I received…but as Gindi and I talked I was challenged to think of ways that I might be able to love on others well, here in my own front yard.

Because we all need a little more of that, don’t we?

Of community, friendship, lavish and unconditional love?

This may mean that we have to step out in faith…and what if it isn’t well received? What if we put a Turquoise Table in the front yard in April, invite our neighbors over, and no one comes?

It could happen.

It probably won’t, but there is that risk.

But you know, I have found that by being willing to take the risk, the crazy leaps of faith…that I have been given back so much in return.

If I hadn’t been willing to open my heart to the idea of online friendships…well last weekend would have never happened. And what a blessing that was in my life.

I hope you can understand that I face these challenges with the same fear that I expect many of you are facing. We are in this together!!

That is why I felt like it was so important to write about this today. I often make decisions based on fear, especially fear of the unknown.

But when we see a need – how can we NOT respond?! Maybe your response isn’t with a surprise trip, but instead a call to a friend for a lunch date. A card in the mail to a neighbor or introducing yourself to a “stranger” at church.

The act itself doesn’t have to be monumental, but I am seeing that the small things can become monumental if we are invested in and working at community. (<====Click to Tweet)

So I come here willing. Prayerfully considering how this looks in my own life and open to being pushed to where I may feel uncomfortable…because if I can be the hands and feet of Christ here…who knows what might happen!

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...