Monday, October 17, 2016

My Questions for the Writers of Parenthood

I know I missed the boat on watching Parenthood when everybody else was watching it on tv.  I have lots of reasons, but the biggest is that I get so easily addicted that I have to limit the things I allow myself to watch. 

BUT, I finally DID (binge) watch it on Netflix (seriously--why has it taken me this long to realize how wonderful Netflix is??).  And even though I started out skeptical, and had some issues with a few of the storylines, I genuinely loved it--especially the last few seasons. 

But I have a few questions for the writers...

  • How did baby Aida go from being so white when she was born to having a fro in the last episode?
     
  • Why didn't Julia remind Joel that he had kissed another mom in the first season when he was upset with her over the Ed thing?
  • What did Zeek and Camille do with all the $$ from the sale of the house since they didn't use it to travel?  Why didn't they give some to Crosby to help him go on his own at the Luncheonette?

  • Did nobody seriously guess that Hank had Aspergers?  After all the research they had done for Max?  Seriously?
  • What ever happened to the money issues Zeek had in the beginning when he had invested in that place out in the desert?

  • If Seth had changed, why was he not there when baby Zeek was born?

  • What did Drew end up majoring in?

  • What happened to the teacher that Adam and Kristina had asked to be the headmaster?
 
I'm sure if I think about it, I will have more.  What about you?  What questions would you add?


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My 7 year Blog-iversary

Seven years ago today, I took a big step and started a blog.  My original intention was to leave fun memories for my girls instead of writing them in books like I had been doing.  There were so many things that applied to both and I wanted to have an easier way to be consistent.

So much for that.

Looking back, I have periods of time where I was consistent--2011 was a good writing year for me.  And then, there are years when I wrote very little and felt very insecure about what I DID write.

As I have written, I have found that the blog became more for me than them. 

A few months ago, I thought I'd take my best posts and use them to write a book.  I was going to do it for ME--not because I thought anyone would even read it, but because I felt a need to tell my story.

Now, I'm not so sure.  I don't know if it's fear of failure or just a contentment that I don't need to tell my story for it to be valid.  I'm not sure this blog will ever be more than just random babblings by me. 

But, not matter what happens or doesn't happen, I don't regret starting it.  And I don't regret being courageous enough to put it out there for others to see.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Dear Airlines...

Dear Airline,

I recently had an interesting flight.  So interesting, that I thought up all kids of ground-breaking ideas I wanted to share with you. I've bullet-pointed them for your reading pleasure:

  • Why do you load the plane from the front and make everybody walking down the skinny aisle bump into those sitting?  I realize the 1st class people want to get on first (why they want to sit in seats with stale air instead of standing outside until the last minute, I do not know), but what if you moved your door to the back of the plane--or better yet--why cant the emergency exit doors be the entrance?  Then you could split people up and have the plane boarded faster (this would also save the passengers from all trying to put their huge carry-on in the first overhead compartment they pass. 
  • Another thought on loading--have you ever thought about loading the window seat people first, then middle seat, then the aisle?  You know we're not the smartest people and I watched a lady in front of me on an aisle seat, sit down and buckle her seatbelt--even though the seats next to her were empty.  Then the middle seat person arrived and she unbuckled, but as soon as she sat back down, both she and the middler buckled their belts (and 30 seconds later, had to unbuckle and move into the aisle so the window seat person could climb in).  This would also probably help your efficiency.
     
  • Have you ever thought about asking passengers to fast from certain foods before flying--just like the doctor asks you to not eat/drink before a surgery??? Here are a few suggestions of foods that should be banned: corn nuts, cabbage, beef jerky and Indian food. I'm sure there are others, but this will keep you busy for a while if you focus on these.
  • What about requiring passengers to do a breathalyzer test?  Not for alcohol, but for bad breath from eating the banned products above.  If your neighbor can smell your lunch, it's just not good.  An on that same note, since when are passengers allowed to bring food wrapped in foil on a 2 hour flight?  Seriously, I don't want to see or smell your sausage. And you might want to warn your other passengers that even seabands are no match to Indian food.
     
  • And similar to the breathalyzer, could there be a smell-detector of B.O?  You could even use canines to sniff this out.  Then you could give them some deodorant and step to the side until they think they are ready to try again.
  • Could you create a social media page for each flight?  Each passenger would submit their pic and give a few thoughts about themselves.  This would make selecting your seat so much easier.  I would not have chose to sit next to B.O. guy because he would have posted something about himself that gave me a red flag.  Or, if it's the only seat left, I would know to bring nose plugs or ear plugs if my fellow passenger likes to talk a lot.  You could even include a question like, "What food will you eat right before you board your next flight?  Just sayin'.
  • The armrest under the window should go up and down.  This could allow an extra 2" of space--and when you're trying to get as far away as possible from B.O. guy, every inch counts.
  • Can you remind the aisle seat people that if they are going to sleep so soundly that no amount of poking and saying "Excuse me" would cause them to wake up when you need to go to the bathroom and let you out.  My daughter once climbed over a man while he was sleeping because we could not wake him.  Can you imagine the lawsuit you would have been included in if he had woken up when my daughter was mid straddle???
  • Would you clean the windows before each flight?  Sitting down to nose prints on your little window--ewww, just ewwww (and they create a little blurry smudge spot in the middle of any pics you try to take of the wings of your plane flying into the sunset--because that's such an original picture that your friends just HAVE to see). 
These are just a few of my thoughts--if you want to contact me to have me in your think tank, I would be happy to rearrange my schedule to help you out further.

Sincerely, a frequent flyer


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Starting Again

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I resigned my job at the beginning of June, but I told them I would stay until they hired someone. And then, they were generous and let me overlap with her for 3 weeks, so my last day wasn't until this past Sunday. I still feel like I left her a big mess, but, she's strong and will find her way easily.

So I'm starting over. Which is weird at 44.

A few months ago, I had such confidence in this being the right thing. I still believe that, but I am also overcome with feelings of guilt several times a day. I feel bad that I'm not contributing financially to our family. I feel bad that even though I have a long list of projects I'm excited about, I'm just tired right now. I feel bad that my house is still a mess and clean laundry is sitting in baskets waiting to be folded--just like when I was working full time.

I told Brian and myself that I wouldn't take on any new activities outside our home until January. After my first day home I had big doubts. I know my tendency toward depression and even isolation, so I talked with Brian and decided to go against that original plan and join a Bible study.

I only know the leader. It's pretty far from my house. Most of them have been together in the past. But I already love it.  It's on the life of Peter. A person who started over a couple of times. And it's perfect for me right now.

I'm not sure what the next steps of this journey will be. I just know that I need to be still for a while. And, y'all--not counting the holiday, I've technically only been unemployed 2 days. I knew this would be an adjustment for me. I have kept myself entirely too busy lately and have left no margin to hear
from God. Which is a little embarrassing to admit since I was a kids pastor.

So, as you think of me, I'd appreciate your prayers. Pray that I would not feel guilty for being still. Pray that my family would not be irritated with me for not moving too fast right now. Pray that in the stillness, God shows me clearly what my next step of obedience is.

Are you in a new season right now?  How can I pray for YOU?

Friday, August 26, 2016

What I Learned from Def Leppard

 A few nights ago, my hubby and I had a real date. Without kids. To a Def Leppard concert.  On a school night.  Did I say without kids?

It was totally awesome, groovy to the max and whatever cool 80's adjective you wanna use here.  Here's what I learned:

12 Years is too Long to go Between Concert Dates
Yep.  It's been 12 years since we've been to a concert at Gexa.  We've done lots of free music in the park kind of things and even went to one at a stadium recently, but kids have been involved in those so they don't count as dates.  The last one we saw at this venue was Third Day and Caroline was a baby so I was nervous it was too loud and spent most of the night covering her ears and sitting as far back as I could.  We were definitely overdue for a concert date.

People Watching is as much Fun as the Concert
Oh my GOODNESS!!!  I have not laughed so hard in a long time.  From the early 50's preppy guy pounding his fist in the air to the music, to the group in front of us decked out in 80's gear, to the teenagers who were looking humiliated standing next to their singing and dancing parents, to the young college-aged couple beside us literally pretending to play an instrument with each other's bodies.  There was so much goodness all around!!!  And yes, I'm sure there were people looking at us thinking we were dorks, too.  I got over that before the first Tesla song was over.

If you Work for a Company that Drug Tests, Take a Vacation Day
Seriously, y'all!  It was not even dark and there were some smells wafting all over the place.  And we don't live in Colorado.  Every time I thought I pinned down who it was, I would realize I was wrong. But there was definitely more than one who was enjoying a little "medicine" that night.  It was like eating poppyseed muffins the morning before you get tested--don't do it.

Whataburger is Crowded at 11:30PM
Yes--I always knew this, but in case you didn't, be ready to sit in a line for a looooonnnnng time because your husband is hungry on the way home. 

There was more Hair Product used on Stage this one Night than I have used in my last 20 Years
Wow!  While I did perm my hair and scrunch it to make it as big as possible back in the day, I didn't realize so many people still did.  Between the 3 bands, there was probably enough hair to wrap around the stage several times.  I wonder what happens when these guys walk around in public.  Do they ever think about cutting their hair?  They would get an immediate raise--those hair products aren't cheap.  Unless they are still using Aqua Net.

REO Speedwagon Had  More Hits than "I Can't Fight this Feeling"
I was surprised at how many of their songs I didn't recognize.  And there weren't many ballads.  Huh, who knew?

Doing Something that Seems Against the Rules is Fun
We don't do things like this in the middle of the week--esp when we both have to work the next day.  I can find lots of excuses--the traffic stinks getting through Dallas, it's too late on a work/school night, it takes a lot of extra effort to figure out what to do with the kids.

But it's worth it.  Maybe part of the joy is that it reminded me of a time--before kids and work--when we were a lot more carefree.  Which, in turn, helped set the mood for the night (even if we did have a grown-up dinner of steak before the concert).


It was a good night. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Why it's Sometimes Easier to Pray for Your Kids than Mine

I've been awake since 4am thinking and praying and piddling until everyone else decided to get up.  As I was praying, I was thinking about how hard it is to sometimes pray for my girls.  There are so many things I want for them, that I like to tell God how to do it instead of just praying for wisdom, good friends, hard work ethic, wise choices, etc.  I try to tell Him to "Give Hope an easy teacher for __________ ."  "Coordinate schedules so that Caroline can sit by ____________ at lunch today." 

Instead of letting God be God, I try to orchestrate it all.

Do you do this, too or am I alone here? 

Here's the thing, though--when I pray for YOUR kids, it's much easier to be unbiased and pray for wisdom and for God to put whatever friends He would like in their life.  I let Him be God.

SO easy. 

As long as it's yours and not mine.

It's the first day of school and I LOVE seeing all the pics.  As I scroll facebook today and see all your beautiful children, I promise to pray for them--and YOU.  I will pray all the normal stuff we pray for kids on the first day of school--teachers who "get" them, excitement to do well all year and not just the 1st day, friends who lead them into good things and not bad, blah, blah, blah. 

For YOU, I will pray that God gives you wisdom to lead your people well.  For courage to let them make their own mistakes.  For grace when they make choices that are not what you want for them.  For love to cover it all and be felt and experienced. 

And I would ask you to do the same for me and mine as you see our pics!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review: Present Over Perfect

Oh my soul! I devoured this book. It was such an affirmation to me as I transition out of a role I've loved for so long into something unknown that has been calling me for longer than I've admitted.

Present-Over-Perfect is written from the vantage point I want to be at in the next year. She reminded me that our jobs--even the good ones--don't define us. That our inner circle should be the ones we are saying yes to, not the outer circle masses. That Gods love for us is unconditional and "earners" like me can rest in that hard to grasp, but simplistic thought. None of those things are rocket science, but her way of addressing them was refreshing and left me feeling hopeful rather than guilty.

I can't recommend this book enough. I am so grateful to have these beautiful words as I launch into a new season. They remind me to keep the silence as long as possible and not let the noise overtake me again. I feel more grateful and alive and just plain giddy after reading this book.


Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Remake your life form the inside out."

"Loving one's work is a gift.  And loving one's work makes it really easy to neglect the other parts of life."

"What you need along the way: a sense of God's deep, unconditional love. and a strong sense of your own purpose.  Without those two, you'll need form people what is only God's to give."

"What people think about you means nothing in comparison to what you believe about yourself."

"I can't hear the voice of love when I'm hustling.  All I can hear are my own feet pounding the pavement, and the sound of other runners about to overtake me, beat me.  But competition has not place in my life anymore.  The stillness reminds me of that."

"Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet, always ready for whatever our Lord may wish to work in you.  It is certainly a higher virtue of the soul, and a greater grace, to be able to enjoy the Lord in different times and different places than in only one. "

"This is actually my life, and it doesn't matter a bit if it would be lovely for someone else to live.  What does matter: does it feel congruent with how god made me and called me?

"You were made by hand with great love by the God of the universe, and He planted deep inside you a set of loves and dreams and idiosyncrasies, and you can ignore them for as long as you want, but they will at some point start yelling.  Worse than that, if you ignore them long enough, they will go silent, and that's the real tragedy."

"It's easy to be liked by strangers.  Its very hard to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you're always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you're giving them aren't cutting it."

"It is better to be loved than admired.  It is better to be truly known and seen and taken care of by a small tribe than adored by strangers who thing they know you in a meaningful way."

"Sometimes brave looks more like staying when you want to leave, telling the truth when all you want to do is change the subject."

"What makes you say, "Must be nice"?  What longing might your jealousy lead you to, if you're brave enough to listen to it before you push it away?"

"Let's do much more than simply please people.  Let's see them and love them and delight them, look deeply into their eyes.  Pleasing is a shallow and temporary joy, not nearly as valuable or rich as seeing or connecting or listening.  Pleasing feels like corn syrup, like cheap candy, while pleasure is homemade pie."

"Hustle is the opposite of heart."

"So much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath."

'What do you need to leave behind in order to recover that essential self that God created?  What do you need to walk away from in order to reclaim those parts of you that God designed, unique to you and for His purposes?"

"You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realizing who you are at the deepest level."

"Saying Yes means not hiding.  It means being seen in all your imperfections and insecurities.  Saying yes is doing scary things without a guarantee that they'll go perfectly,  Saying yes is telling the truth even when it's weird or sad or impossibly messy.  Saying yes is inviting chaos, and also possibility.  Saying yes is building a new future regardless of the past.,  Saying yes is jumping in anyway."

"It is only when you understand God's truly unconditional love that you begin to understand the worth of your own soul--not bc of anything you've done, but because every soul is worthy, every one of us is worthy of love, having been created by and in the image of the God of love."


Book Review - Freefall to Fly

There are no words to adequately describe how beautiful this book is. It's raw and honest and hopeful--in the midst of the unknown. I read it at a time of change and it was such an affirmation that following what God calls you to may not be easy, but it is good--even in the hard.

My favorite quote from the book:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world...We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."


Some of my other faves:

"If we ignore the yearning of our souls, we atrophy, and our dreams die.  Sadly, many of us choose this descent bc we believe it's safer.  If we don't hope, we won't be let down.  If we don't imagine, reality won't disappoint.  Either way, we avoid pain."

"Do we pressure our children to reach their potential bc we aren't living up to our own?"

"Too often, we live with our talents hidden in the desk drawer.  Just out of reach.  We've tucked them away.  Refusing to listen.  It hurts too much to hope.  So we go on with our lives, not allowing ourselves to go near that drawer." 

"Most of my adult life, I'd been searching for the wrong treasure.  As a result, I'd lost touch with who I was designed to be,  I'd abandoned my natural bent somewhere along the way due to the pressure of responsibility and pressure from others.  I traded in my desire to use the gifts God gave me and instead became the person everyone else expected me to be.  I had grasped for what the world told me was valuable.  And somewhere along the way, I'd stopped believing that true treasure--God's intended responsibility for me--even existed in the first place."

"Our bruises don't have to make us ugly.  They make us who we are.  They add texture and color to our lives.  They strengthen bonds that might otherwise break."

"When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from all the parts of our lives that don't fit with who we think we're supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving."

"For we are shaped by our pasts--our passions, struggles, joys, sorrows, pain--but we need not be defined by it."

"We often think calling comes from following our bliss, but it actually comes from following our greatest fear."

"Facing our fears opens the way forward."

"Many times our truest calling in life comes where our talents and burdens collide."

"Once we know what we're good at, we must match those things with a deep need in this world.  This need is what makes your heart break.  That memory that makes you weep on quiet nights, that creeps up on you when no one else is around.  When you discover this, you will know your deepest burden.  It's tricky to find a suitable match in a world that's broken in so many places."

"Deriving one's identity from another person is a short road to resentment."

"God intended for me to contribute my birthrights to the world."







Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Giving Advice < Telling Your Story

I had the opportunity to speak to a group of volunteers the other night.  I had all kinds of things I wanted to tell them in 20 minutes.  All good things like:
  • Your "hard" kids are not problems to be solved, they are people to be loved.
  • You gotta be consistent--not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
  • YOU are responsible for leading you--figure out the best way to get fed.
None of that is original or rocket science.  And it's all stuff we know, but need to be reminded of. 

And I felt like I was connecting to some of them. 

Then I closed with a small part of my story.

And a few cried (including myself). 

And, I had this overwhelming feeling of regret. 

Not because I told my story...but, because I talked AT them for so long before just being authentic and sharing the real stuff. 

It was a perfect picture for me of what God has been teaching me: every person's story matters--even mine.  Even if nobody reads it or comments on it.  Even if we never hear of any life change that happens to others. 

But here's the cool thing: Our stories DO change others. Not because of us, but because God works through our imperfections and redeems our "stuff" to draw people to Him. 

As a pastor, I often feel like people want advice.  And they may think that's what they want, but I think they benefit more from us being authentic and sharing our heart. 

Isn't that the case in all of life?


Friday, August 12, 2016

My Shallow Prayer Request

Today is the day.  It's been anticipated by some and feared by others since school let out in May.  It's been begged for by the girls for the last several weeks.  It's the day I've put off as long as I can, hoping and praying one day will be enough if I wait til the end of summer.

Yep, you guessed it.  It's back to school shopping day.

Usually, I pass off the clothes part to my mother in law, but this year, I somehow decided to be a martyr.  Have I mentioned how much I dislike shopping?  I don't even like online shopping.  Unless it's for books.

And I've already heard in the 6th grade parents fb page that the plastic-covered yellow notebook is as elusive as Pokémon himself.  And of course it's for my rule-follower who will not let me convince her that neon green is a shade of yellow.

And so, today, we will tackle shoes, and jeans and button down shirts that don't need to be ironed, but are kinda dressy, but still look casual.  And we will hunt for red and green and blue and the elusive yellow notebooks.  And I will try to talk them into the cheap, bulk pencils, but they will look at me with "those eyes" and I will pay twice as much for the ones with the chevron (or whatever their favorite style is this year) on them. And I will have to say no to some things I wish I could say yes to.

And here's what I know.  In theory, a girls day can be a great bonding time. 

BUT, what I also know...I get stressed when I spend money.  Especially when it's not on craft supplies or books and it is more than $100.  And stressed = cranky.  And cranky means I miss out on the fun opportunity of being with my girls.

So I prayed a shallow prayer this morning.  I asked God to lead us to a great sale at the first place we go to.  Seriously, this is what I prayed.  Because I know that if we get some good deals off the bat, then it will set the tone for the day and it would be an adventure instead of a trainwreck. 

I know these times are fleeting and WANT to enjoy them.  So, I'm asking God to see through my shallow request and look at my heart.
 

What shallow prayers have you prayed lately?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tell Your Story

A few months ago, I opened the door to a different path.  I stepped through, but had no clue what was on the other side.  As I've gotten to experience new things, I have heard the same theme over and over and over.

Your story matters.  Tell your story.

Even if you feel like it's nothing big.  Even if you feel like it's too private.  Even if you feel like you're not ready to be that raw and honest.

Tell your story.  Your story matters.

Even when you are not sure why you should tell it.  Even when it makes you look really bad. Even when nobody reads it.

Your story matters.  Tell your story. 

Friends, I am praying for you and for me--that we would be brave and authentic and humble.  That we would each find our voice--not the voice we think people want to hear, not the voice we wish we had, but the voice inside us that is simply, uniquely ours. 

Because when we tell our story it brings healing--maybe not in the beginning.  It might open up a big can of worms, but I am confident eventually the healing will come and it will be worth the mess the worms made. 

When we tell our story it brings hope.  My faith is stronger when I see what God has redeemed in my sister.  My faith is more sure when I see how God healed my brother.

Your story matters.  Tell your story. 





Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mix Tapes and a Giveaway


I'm gonna date myself with this post (I know, I know--you thought I was a young, hip person, right? If you were somehow fooled, you are no longer since I used the word "hip."). 

Raise your hand if you ever made a mix tape.  Raise both hands if you made it for a boyfriend/girlfriend and there was a Whitney Houston song on there.  Wave them back and forth if you made one for a friend who was moving and "Friends are Friends Forever was on it.  Don't lie! I KNOW at least one of these applies to you!

Well, I made a few mix tapes in my day.  Actually, I remember putting a blank tape in my boom box and recording radio shows.  And my dad.  And my sister and brother fighting (this is also what I used my first camera for--can you tell I was the oldest child?). 

And even better than making mix tapes, was receiving mix tapes.  They were the best! Even in college, I received one that I played over and over and over again (Have I apologized to you for that Tonya?).  And cried.  Because, seriously, what's the point of a mix tape if it doesn't make you cry? 

I told you a few weeks ago that my car died.  This Friday, the "swagwagon" as it was dubbed by Hope's friends, gets donated to Cars for Kids because it is D-E-A-D.  There is no reviving it without a new engine.

With me making a job change and not having a guaranteed income, we decided it would be wisest to NOT incur a monthly car payment right now and instead bought a car for cash. 

And it's older than my kids.  And has probably as many miles on it as I do on me.  But, can I tell you a secret?  I really like it.  It's not the prettiest and the steering wheel burns my hands when I first get in.  But it turns awesome and I have yet to do a bad parking job in it! And the air conditioner--oh my goodness!  It blows ice cold air without me having to hit the dash (I live in Texas--these things matter in August and 9 other months of the year)!

But you know what one of my favorite parts of it is (other than the fact that I don't have to pay for it for the next 5 years)?  It has a cassette deck in it.  It has a cd player, too, but I LOVE the fact that I can play a mix tape again.  If I still had one.  Sadly, I threw away all my cassettes when we moved a few years ago.  Can you believe it?  I'm such a hoarder, but I didn't keep any mix tapes. 

So here's what I'm gonna do.  A lot of you view my blog, but never or seldom comment.  If you will comment and tell me what cassette you wore out listening to, I will enter your name into a drawing for a Cassette Tape phone case.  (Have you seen these--they are soooo stinkin fun!).  If you will post a pic of a mix tape of your own, I'll enter you twice!

And by the way--where can I buy tapes nowadays?  I'm thinking I need a new collection to embarrass my children when their friends are in "The Beast" as Brian has named my new-to-me-but-really-old car.  I might even buy one of those visor holders so I can display them.

Even more than giving away a fun phone case, I just want to hear about your cassettes and remind myself I'm not the only old one around here.  So start commenting!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Lessons from the Hotel Staff


Isn't it funny how the lessons we think we will learn are not the ones we actually do?  I just finished my first trip with my new job.  It was local so I didn't have to fly anywhere, but I still stayed overnight at the hotel. After more than 10 years at the same job, doing something different was definitely a learning experience for me.

As I was anticipating it, I thought I would learn lessons in how to be more professional and organized and accommodating.  And I DID learn all of those things (creative ways to say No without saying No made my brain work overtime).  And I have sooooo much more to learn in those areas (if y'all haven't noticed, I'm more comfortable in jeans and my converse than in a blazer and heels).  But I also learned some things I didn't expect.

Hotel banquet staff are some of the hardest workers I've ever seen.  They arrived before me and stayed after me.  And one of my days was a 16 hour one!  They stood all day and didn't show any sign of being tired, while, I, on the other hand, was whining all day about how much my feet and back hurt. 

They served with joy.  Seriously.  Not because they were just getting a paycheck--you could tell they enjoyed what they did.  They smiled at me with every request I had.  As they got to know me, they anticipated what I wanted before I ever even had to ask.  They didn't cut corners.  They did everything with excellence.  And they liked each other. 

The other thing that struck me was how well they were led.  There has been little turnover in an industry that typically has a high one.  As I was talking to the Banquet Manager, I was struck with the similarity of his job and the one I am leaving in the church.  He "gets" it.  Different industry, but still about the people.  He found some amazing banquet captains who lead their teams well and are quick to jump in and serve right along with them. 

Being able to make note of names and know they were getting tips was the highlight of my time.  One of the servers found me after she has received her envelope to hug me and thank me.  I didn't get to see what she received, but I think for her, it was just as important that she was noticed and appreciated. 

Isn't that what most of us want? 

So, the job was good and I learned a ton, but these people who served us touched me in a way that I hope will change me forever.  I pray my path gets to cross with Pedro and Tim and Felix and Theresa and Lucio and Jenny and Paula and Ignacio again.

And even if it doesn't, I get the privilege of being able to pray for them now that I know them.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Entitled Me

I have a book on my nightstand that I've started reading.  It's by my favorite blogger and is called "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World."  It's mocking me today because I'm realizing that I'm the one who's entitled.

Last night, my car died.  Again.  It's not really a surprise, we've known it has had issues for a while now.  In fact, it's had issues since we bought it.  We got "taken" and I'm still angry over it.  It was by a friend of a friend, so that makes it even harder.

Anyway, I was on my way to the outlet mall to look for some clothes I need for my new job next week and it started acting funny so I turned around.  I was hoping I would make it all the way home, but no such luck.  It died in the middle of 380.  At least it was close to a 7-11 and there were 2 kind men who pulled over and pushed me into the parking lot.  And my friend who manages an auto repair shop came and took a look at it and took me home since Brian was out of town.

This morning, I dropped off Hope at the barn and decided to go try to start it again.  And it turned over, but had a bad knocking sound.  So Brian went back and sure enough it started, but sounded like it did a few years ago when it "threw a rod" and the engine died (don't ask me exactly what the rod does and why it shouldn't be thrown--all I know is that when it is, it's reeeeeealllly bad). 

So my emotions have been on a roller coaster.  I go from being grateful that I didn't have to sit in the middle of the road for long to "why does this always happen to me?" pity parties.  And I've been praying all morning, but I'm not really sure how I should pray.

God tells us He wants to pour out our heart to Him and be honest.  Well, I honestly want a fun car.  And if it started with J and ended with EEP, I would be over the moon.  But should I really pray for that?  Or should I just pray for a car to get me to and from where I need to be?  Should I just be grateful for 4 wheels and an engine and not worry about what kind or what it looks like? 

The entitled part of me wants the Jeep.  And even feels like I deserve it--I've worked hard and have earned the right to sit in a car that makes me happy. 

Then that small voice creeps in and I'm reminded of all the blessings I currently have.  The fact that we have one truck that runs great is more than many people have.  And that we both have flexible schedules and can share a vehicle if needed for a while.  And that my car is paid for so at least I don't have to pay anything on it while it's dead. 

But I still want to stomp my feet and cross my arms over my chest and throw the biggest tantrum you've ever seen.

So maybe I don't need to read that book for my kids.  Maybe I need to read it for me.
 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dear Fitbit

Dear Fitbit,

I never knew a piece of jewelry could change my life.  How do I love you?  Let me count the ways.

I love that you have cute covers that make me look somewhat fashionable. I have people ask me all the time if I'm wearing you and where I got you.  They don't have to know you were on sale at Target and it took me months to work up the guts to buy you.

I love that I don't get mad about the far parking spot when I'm wearing you.  It just means I get a few more steps.  I also love that I have finally found a way to look forward to shopping--I get lots of steps in when doing that activity that would otherwise make me cranky. (ok, so I still sometimes get cranky while being dragged from store to store by my teenager who has no money to buy anything anyway, but that's probably a whole book chapter there).

I love that you have provided me one more way to be competitive.  I can look at my friends list and cheer when I have more steps than my friend Barb.  Of course, I am always irritated that no matter how many I get in, Dawn and George are always at the top. One day I WILL beat them.

I love that on days when your battery dies, I can pretend that I was more active than usual.  "Oh, it hasn't been counting my steps.  I'm sure I got at least 8,000 earlier today walking from my desk to the breakroom."  Even if my friends don't see those steps, you and I know they are there.

I love that I can use you as proof to my doctor that my weight gain is a complete mystery and there MUST be something else wrong with me other than laziness and bad eating.  "I may not be exercising every day in the traditional sense, but look at my step count.  I'm VERY active.  I even raised my daily goal to 12,000 steps."

Thank you for coming into my life and for the extra "steps" I used to get when I was sitting on the boat being bumped around. 

You are a rockstar!

Love,
Me





Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dazzling Doors

I recently turned in my resignation to a job I've had for over 10 years.  That in itself is a big story for a blog post (or 12) on another day. The most amazing thing has been happening though, the last couple of weeks. 

It started with a prayer. 

I told God I would walk through every door He opened.  This hasn't been as scary for me as I thought it would be.  It's been really simple.  When I was given job leads or was connected with people/companies who were hiring, I decided to say, "Yes."  As people have crossed my mind--some while I was praying and others just while I was going about my day, I have shot them a text or email or fb message.  When I felt the prompting to write a book, I decided to start pursuing it instead of just talking about it.

Not only has this been fun, it's been almost overwhelming to see God work!  Now, I know that God does not just bless us when we are obedient and that there is nothing I can do to make Him more or less proud of me.  BUT, since telling Him I would walk through those doors, I think I've been more aware of His goodness. 

I see it everywhere!

In trying to figure out a word for it, "Dazzling" is the one that keeps coming to mind.  I've been dazzled by the beautifully worded references people have written about me.  I've been dazzled at the people who have wanted to interview me.  I was dazzled at my first job offer.  I was dazzled by the opportunity to throw my name in the hat for a another potential job--consulting on something that is right up my alley.  And I've been dazzled at the joy and excitement my friends have had for me.

When I turned in my resignation, I braced myself for hard.  And it may still come, but right now, I'm soaking in every dazzling door God has put in front of me.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Yeah, me Neither...More #Askingforafriend Posts

Have you ever based your outfit for the day on what clothes don't need to be ironed? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever realized at 8pm that you've been walking around all day with an empty fitbit band? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever put sunglasses on your head even though it was cloudy and rainy outside because you couldn't stand your limp, flat hair hanging in your face anymore? Yeah, me neither.


Have you ever been afraid of being mauled by a flock of chickens because you fed the dogs before you gave them scratch? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever honked at somebody who kinda cut you off on the highway and then felt bad about it afterward? Yeah, me neither. #thisiswhyidonthaveafishonmycar

Have you ever ended your family Christmas with your brother-in-law teaching your kids how to play blackjack? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever cried after dropping your kids at school because the radio is talking about sick kids and you are just overwhelmed with the blessing of healthy daughters? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever been worried that one of your new baby chicks wasn't gonna make it so you went to the feed store and came home with medicine AND another chick? Yeah, me neither. #Askingforahusband

Remember that time at the lake when I thought I could balance on a piece of styrofoam and a rope but I fell in and got a mouth full of debris-filled water, and lost my phone and shoes? Yeah, me neither (gurgle, gurgle)

Have you ever gotten in the shower and realized that your kids used the last of your favorite shower gel (the one you thought would last until Friday when you would have time to buy more) and the only choice left for you was to use their over-the-top, perfume-y gel? Yeah...me neither

Have you ever been so angry at your husband because he made it safely to work over an hour ago and forgot to call you, so you've been imagining all kinds of accidents (even to the point of trying to figure out how safe it would be for you to go to the hospital to visit him and whether you should tell your daughters)? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever started to panic because your Kindle won't work and you just started a road trip? Yeah...me neither. ‪#‎firstworldproblems

Have you ever rubbed your eye--even though you knew you shouldn't because you just cut a jalapeno? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever parked your car on Sunday afternoon and forgot you left your windows down when a huge stormed rolled in overnight, and came out to the interior of said car being just plain wet and making an already hard Monday morning even harder? Yeah, me neither ☔️🚘 ‪#‎mondaymorningfail

Have you ever skipped dinner and then "sampled" all the Trader Joes purchases you just made while waiting on your daughter to finish soccer practice? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever had that moment of panic when you are too far from your house to turn back around and you have no recollection of putting on deodorant that morning? Yeah, me neither.

Do you ever find that when you are alone all day, you talk out loud to yourself? Yeah...me neither

Have you ever crushed garlic in the morning and found yourself smelling your hands all day bc you like the aroma that's still lingering from it? ...asking for a friend

Have you ever talked a friend into doing a Bible study with you and then you lost your book and keep forgetting to tell her so you make it your status update on Facebook?

Does anyone else think their "To Do List" gets more stuff put on it than marked off it on some days?

Have you ever left your house in thick, warm zebra Jammie bottoms, fluffy striped socks (that don't necessarily coordinate with the zebra pants), a plaid scarf and your husbands camo coat--praying that you don't have to get out of the car when you pick your daughter up from bball practice?

If you were going to color your own hair to cover the gray, what brand would you buy? I'm obviously asking for a friend

Passive Aggressive leads to Humility?

Most days I have something rude I want to say.  I know, I know.  I'm a Christian and I should be above that.  Believe me, I tell myself that and a lot of other stuff--every time I think the mean things.

I find myself wanting to fight a facebook battle.  I want to post some obscure thing that only the person I'm frustrated with will "get."  Because, you know, that will fix everything.  They will read it, see the error in their ways and come begging me to forgive them.

Not. 

In my head, I know it won't do any good, but my flesh really wants to be right.  To feel better by making them feel as small as they made me.  But to do it in a way that doesn't make me look bad. 

So instead, I stew.  Or I call a friend I know will take my side. And I fight the urge to pray about it.

Because when I pray, things come back into perspective.  And I see things through Christ's perspective and that comment someone made isn't going to make a difference a year from now--or even an hour from now in most cases. 

But, in praying, I'm often also humbled.

And I don't like that feeling. 

But I know it's necessary.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Just Listen


A few years ago, I found myself at an impasse with a dear friend.  Neither of us saw a way to save our relationship.  As we started trying to figure out why we had such deep feelings of resentment and anger toward each other, it got even uglier.

One morning, I woke up with a heavier heart than normal.  I realized that I had been feeling so "justified" in my anger toward her for so long that I never really stopped to listen to what she was saying to me about her resentment.  I thought I was listening.  But I was really just waiting for her to finish so I could rebuttal or bring up another injustice or condemn. 

Again.

Like all the times before.

And the heaviness of not having her in my life anymore was too hard to bear.  So I went to her and apologized. 

Now when I say, "apologized" let me explain. 

I thought I had apologized in the past.  In fact, I felt like I had done that every time we talked.  But, as much as I thought I had, I had never really owned the fact that I didn't listen. I apologized for mean words I had said.  I apologized for some uncalled for actions.  I even apologized for perceived misdoings. 

But I didn't apologize for not listening.  Oh, I HEARD her.  But I didn't LISTEN.

I have felt that same heaviness as I contemplate the events of the last week in our country.  I wonder if that's our same problem.  We THINK we understand the issues.  We SAY we want to do different.  We TALK about all of the symptoms. 

But do we HEAR or do we LISTEN?

And here's another issue.  I believe real listening is active.  We can't just go back to our lives when we truly listen to a person's fears.  We may not understand them, but if we listen to them, we are at the very least--aware. 

It's been said before, but bears repeating.  Yes, we have a racism issue in our country.  But instead of trying to fix things on the world level, what if we all looked at the relationships in our lives and asked ourselves to LISTEN to them the next time they spoke instead of just hearing them. What if we just made things right with those closest to us?

For me, that's my husband.  And daughters.  And co-workers.  And friends. 

I can tell you right now that there are a few that I have closed myself off to because I don't want to listen to their side of things.  And worse than closing myself off? 

I have done that on purpose. And have been unwilling to take the step to listen because then I would have to forgive and I like feeling superior.

I wish I could say I'm moved to call that person and have a conversation.  But I'm not yet. 

And so, I am part of the problem our country is facing right now. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Rebels aren't all bad

It's the 4th of July and I'm sitting in my room, listening to all the illegal fireworks going off around me.  I find myself going back and forth between cheering the people on and hoping they get in trouble with the police. 

Kinda weird, I know.

It's really loud and I know it will continue through the night--the last couple of years, I've heard them up until 2am.  And there are some big ones right behind my house so I'm a little worried about sparks falling this way.  So that's why I want them caught and stopped.

But, on the other hand, I LOVE fireworks.  If the mosquitos weren't so bad tonight, I would be sitting out there watching them.  I also love people who rebel.  Not in a let's rob stores and run from the cops kind of way, but in the stand up for something you love sort of way. 

As I think back to how our country started, I'm reminded of the people who went against the current system and stood up against King George.  They stood up for what was right and fair.  And they didn't back down--even though it seemed insane that colonies as small as they were would win freedom from the big and powerful Great Britain.

They stood against laws that didn't make sense.  Not because they were in it for themselves, but because they wanted better for their families and friends.

I, for one, am so very grateful that they did. 

And they inspire me to be brave and make me want to stand up against the wrongs I see instead of just going along with the status quo.  Not because I want to cause a ruckus or draw attention to myself, but because there are people coming behind me.  Some can't stand up for themselves and some need to see bravery in order to have some of their own. 

"Lord, give me wisdom to know when to stand and fight and discernment to know when to submit to authority.  Purify my motives and show me when I am doing things out of selfishness/pride."


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Writing a Book

For most of my life I have wanted to write a book.  The problem is that I am so random I've never been able to narrow down what I want to write about. 

And then I read Jen Hatmaker.  And JK Rowling.  And Jennie Allen.  And Sue Miller.  And  Annie Downs. And I think, what do I have to say that hasn't already been said?  Is my point of view that different?

I don't consider myself an entrepreneur.  In fact, I get irritated when people start something new and there are already several organizations doing the same thing.  Or when we create a "Christian" version of something.  Don't even get me started--this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.

So, I'm struggling with the idea of writing a book without a clear direction.  A friend encouraged me to do short chapters that were old blog posts and that's actually what I had been thinking.  But I want it to flow and have a purpose and selfishly, I want people to read it and it change them.

But maybe that's not the purpose.  Maybe the purpose is for me to get words out there for myself.  Not for life change in others, but for the change that will happen in me. 

Lots to think about...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Why Saying Yes Matters

Sometimes as a parent you feel like your main job is to say, "No."  Seriously, some of the things my kids ask me make me a little bit scared for the future.  And even worse are the things they DON'T ask  ("Hey--lets tie a couple of boogie boards together and slide down a hill of ice and take out a few dogs and ram into the brick house on the way down--it'll be so fun!)

Moving to Aubrey has been a rough transition for Caroline.  She had a great group of friends at our old house and we didn't even think to worry about her when we moved. She's one of those kids that you just want as your friend because she's loyal and loves well.  Aubrey is a small town where many of the people have roots that go back generations here.  They don't mean to exclude, but part of the small town feel is that people stick together and don't always go out of their way to include newbies. 

Add the fact that she was diagnosed as dyslexic her first year here and you have a perfect storm. 

I've worried and manipulated and prayed about what to do.  I still feel at the end of most days, that I am failing her because I can't fix it.  (I know, I know--that's not my job, but I'm good at fixing things so I turn her stuff into my own identity crisis.  Narcissists are good that way.)

Caroline is our animal whisperer.  She can get chickens to fall asleep in her arms and turtles to calm down.  And she knows how to use the internet.  So she is always bringing us screenshots of animals that she wants.  Always.  Every. Single. Day. 

About a week ago, Brian approached me and somehow made me agree that a puppy for her was the best thing to teach her responsibility and give her something of her own.  So she upped her search and had him calling on several little "puffball" kinds of puppies--little bitties that won't grow bigger than your two hands and can fit in a bag.

Then, I'm on my way home from getting a haircut and I get a call from Hope.  "Mom, you gotta get home quick.  First of all, Dad got a call back about a dog and we are going to get it when you get here.  Secondly, dad put salt in the bb gun and is shooting flies." 

I don't make this stuff up.

After telling her to let him know he was cleaning up any mess he made (to which he shouted in the background "Make me!" I asked Hope which dog.  Somehow, Caroline fell in love with a Brittany spaniel and THAT was the dog we were going to get.

Ummm...what happened to the puffball?  Brian insists he had nothing to do with the change of heart, but I still think he secretly showed her a few and whispered things to her when she was sleeping. 

So, I found myself in the back yard of a lady in Gainesville, holding a sweet little puppy.  And laughing at her on the way home as she chewed Caroline's hair.  And feeling that exhaustion that comes from being woken up all night by cries and barking. And sighing at how sweet she looked when she finally fell asleep.

We will probably have many regrets.  I KNOW she will be work.  I also know that helping Caroline "parent" her will not be a piece of cake.  But it's one more step to raising daughters who can enter the world and know how to take care of themselves. 

And I *might* have already used it to tell her how having a baby is even harder--just to throw the abstinence reminder out there. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#Askingforafriend

These situations may or may not have happened to me...

Have you ever talked to your daughter on the phone and she insisted you hurry and get home because your husband had put salt in the bb gun and was shooting flies?  Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever asked your husband to give your chicken a haircut? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever made your daughter listen to a song from the first concert you went to and then realized as you're singing at the top of your lungs how totally inappropriate it was for a 12-year-old? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever stooped to paying your older child to help her sister with her homework?

Have you ever burned a bag of popcorn and 2 hours later still smell it on your hands? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever gotten a call from your teenager at 9pm, asking if you would come pick up her and her 4 friends from a camp out because it's raining and lightning and oh--can they all just spend the night at your house that isn't clean and smells like a wet dog?

Have you ever had your daughter bring a chicken into the house who keeps falling asleep in her arms? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever run off to the lake with your hubby on a weeknight, leaving a sick kid and her sister at home??

Have you ever waited Til your bladder was more than full and on your way to the restroom gotten behind the guy who stops to pick out a toothpick (blocking your way around him) and then proceeds to walk in the middle of the hallway, slowly picking his teeth the whole way? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever laughed at someone who said his arms were sore from taking pictures and 6 hrs later--after doing the same thing-- regretted it? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been scrolling FB and realized you almost missed opening day for the Snowcone Lady so you told your girls to jump in the car and you raced to Frisco? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting in your backyard, minding your own business reading, and looked down to find a chicken staring up at you? Yeah, me neither

Have your kids ever popped balloons with a blow dart? Yeah, mine neither

Have you ever gotten everything you needed ready for work--even packed up blankets, sweatshirts, coats for a track meet after work and patted yourself on the back for being on top of everything...then you realize you left your purse at home...an hour away...with all your money, work keys, etc in it..and you are headed into a lunch? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever found yourself in the car heading to the mall with 3 teenagers who are going to help you pick out an outfit? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever been afraid of being mauled by a flock of chickens because you fed the dogs before you gave them scratch? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever gotten home from church and realized your fitbit battery died at some point during the morning and the one day that you actually get your steps in so you that you don't feel as much like a loser didn't even get counted??? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting in traffic on 380 and accidentally blocked an entrance? Yeah me neither. (In your defense, you probably didn't know not 1, but 2 cars would want to turn into the liquor store at 7am)

Have you ever clicked on a cute video of a dad and daughter singing "Let it Go" before bed and woke up the next day with it playing over and over in your head? And over and over again? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever gone to heat up a bowl of BEEF stew, only to realize, someone ate all of the beef and just left you with the stew? Yeah, me neither.

Which is worse...the smell of dirty dogs in the back seat or corn nuts in the front?

Have you ever bribed your kid with a ChickFilA peppermint choc chip milkshake? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever been sitting with your 97 yr old Granny and she keeps changing the channel to a Spanish show that nobody--including herself--can understand but she doesn't hear you ask her to change it bc it's so loud? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever fed your chickens watermelon and a seed got left behind and decided to grow in your backyard? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever had to stop for gas 4 times in 1 week bc you kept just putting a little bit in to hold you over to the place that has it 10 cents cheaper but you kept forgetting to stop there and your low fuel light came on when you were nowhere near the cheap station? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever eaten a slice of the dessert pizza before you took it to your friend's house for dinner?

Have you ever gotten your kids out the door and let out a deep sigh of relief that it's the last dress-up day for red ribbon week...and then you remember Halloween is tomorrow and your oldest still doesn't have her costume?

Have you ever asked your daughter to move her tutu off the kitchen island and she moves it to the kitchen table? Obviously I haven't.

Have you ever agreed to let your daughter and her friends tie-dye a bunch of stuff, and then hid in your room so you didn't get dragged into the mess? Yeah, me neither.

Have you ever borrowed your co-worker's stapler only to find that he doesn't have any stinkin staples in it?

Have you ever sat around watching old episodes of Undercover Boss all afternoon and become such a sappy mess you aren't good for anything the rest of the night? Ummm....yeah, me neither

Have you ever cracked yourself up using the Bitmoji app to send your kids weird texts that freak them out?

Have you ever walked in your daughters bathroom and found her puke bucket...from the night before...with "stuff" still in it?

Remember that time when your hubby didn't like the way you parked so he re-parked after you got out? Yeah, me neither

Have you ever walked into a room that you could see had just been mopped, you could smell had just been mopped, but you still fall on your knees and slide all the way across on your booty? Yeah, me neither.


Have you ever written a blog post entirely copied from facebook #askingforafriend posts? 

Yeah, me neither. 



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Finding your Passions

One of my favorite things about parenting is watching my girls discover a new talent or love. 

Caroline has tried lots of different things.  And she likes them for a year or two, but has not found something that she is just plain passionate about for longer than that; however, she's always enjoyed baking. 

Last summer, I asked the girls to each plan and cook dinner one night a week.  With our crazy schedule, we only did it a few times, but Caroline loved it.  Over the last year, she has looked up recipes on Pinterest and baked several different items, but hasn't really cooked a meal.  Except for grilled cheese.  Let me tell you, she makes UH-mazing grilled cheese sandwiches.  I seriously beg her to make me one every so often. 

Brian and I decided to ask them to each take a night a week to plan, cook and clean up again this summer.  Caroline was excited.  I tried to tell her that it didn't have to be fancy, sandwiches are fine--she just had to coordinate the whole meal.  She scoffed at me.  "I'm not going to make something as easy as sandwiches!" 

So she went to Pinterest and created a shopping list for me as well as menus for us.  She decided to make baked potato casserole and wanted to make cupcake sundaes for dessert.  Ummmmm....how awesome is that?  And let me tell you, it was really good! 

I called her on my way home from work to find out what kind of cupcake mix she wanted.

"Oh, I don't need a mix.  I already made them today.  I did them from scratch.  Dad had to help me with the icing, though."

Seriously?  How did she even know to make them this way?  I'm all about starting with a mix for everything and adding to it.  She is definitely her father's daughter.

Anyway, it's such a fun thing to watch her discover her passions and to encourage her creativity! 

It's such a good reminder that creativity can take all kinds of forms.   Anytime we step out and embrace the gifts we've been given, we are courageous.