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 Pok√©mon 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.