Thursday, November 13, 2014

Invisible Work and Other Unseen Things

"We live by believing, not by seeing." 2 Corinthians 5:7

I swept up the muffin crumbs from the kids' breakfast in the morning.
No one appreciates what I do, I thought.
While the youngest watched cartoons, and the older ones were off at school, I emptied the trash can and shined the kitchen sink.  
No one cares about this mess, my mind continued.
Next, I'll hit the grocery store for a few items we've run out of in the fridge.  
And my family will not see any of this.  My work is invisible.

But I remembered that there are many invisible things in this world that are felt nonetheless.  The business of joy, of faith, of love, and of God are mostly unseen. They move in and out of our days accomplishing much. Needed and important work.

"No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us. His love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:12

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

The list of unseen things goes on: kindness, generosity, justice... If these were absent, we would surely miss their effects.  Just as my family would feel the impact of my work left undone.

We have to care less about who notices us in the middle of soaking up a spill. God rewards our secret toil.  He blesses our faithfulness.  And our family reaps immense benefits from our willingness to care about crumbs and dishes. 

We are His hands. This is His work.

"Then your giving will be done secretly. Your Father will reward you. He sees what you do secretly." Matthew 6:4

But even how Heaven will respond to the work of our hands is a mystery.  We may not see much beyond the supernatural peace delivered to us.  But the invisible gifts are just as equally felt:

When our family is healthy;
When our hearts are content;
When our homes are in order.

Those are the results of obedient, quiet work.  

No matter how I feel, as the day moves along, and the tasks increase, I must not forget that God sees me.  

My invisible work is a product of my invisible faith. And that pleases God.

"So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. What can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Miracle of Getting My Kids to School on Time

I honestly don't know how I get three kids to school on time, every single morning, five days a week. Granted, I barely get them there before the bell rings, but they get there.

And it feels like a miracle. 

All of the directions I must spew from 7-8am is absolutely ridiculous- not to mention the stress-inducing chemicals wreaking havoc on my overall health. 

Every morning I attempt to infuse my system with caffeinated super powers and the emotional resolve required to face the chaos, but I still reach a point where I think I'm not going to make it. 

That's why it's amazing that we do.

This happens every morning. The repeating, reminding, and remembering. The fixing, feeding, and forgetting. 

Doing it all over and over again is something like insanity, and yet it's the nature of my job. And it's very important. And I keep doing it- hoping, of course, that after the last backpack walks into the last classroom, I will sink back into some quiet and finally eat some breakfast.

No matter how the day goes or how I feel about it, the truth is that I'm thankful for the supernatural help Jesus gives me to keep going. I suspect that it's more Him than the coffee that gets me through the crazy morning hustle.

Lamentations 3:22-23:
"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. "

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blue Skies on a Monday

It is Monday. I am sitting in the shade of my front porch, on a quilt an aunt made for us when we were first married. My little guy is quiet upstairs in his room now- maybe asleep? His naps are eratic these days, so when those little eyes close, I feel as if I have inherited a family fortune.

The big kids are at school, probably starting some real brain exercises, since it's the second week and introductions are largely over.  Soon there will be snacks and homework, but for now, I'm taking a break. It's what I missed all summer. 

The weather has surprised us with a taste of fall this morning, with leaves shivering and branches shaking. It's by no means cold. It's only the wind. After the extreme heat and humidity of last week, the sun isn't shouting at the earth today- just saying, "Hello." I am so thankful. I cannot get enough of these minutes. These blue skies. The absence of heavy air and clammy skin.

The house is clean, for now. 
I have fed and played with my youngest.
Sidewalk chalk. Scooters. Playground.

So now we rest.

In one hour, I will again mount my pink bicycle and its tagalong trailer to meet my oldest two under the tree at the side of the school. We'll sweat off some attitudes and worries from the day on the fifteen minute return home. We will be too fast for the mosquitoes, I hope.

It's Monday, and I adore it.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The 3 P's for Potty Training and Parenting

The dreaded potty-training started in June. I didn't have to drive the kids to school or activities, so I planned to camp out for a week or two and usher my three-year-old out of diapers. I expected the worst, having experienced this unpretty and stressful stage with two other children. 

But my little guy surprised me. Maybe it was because of his sibling audience. Maybe he was just "ready." Maybe Mom here finally stomped her foot loud enough that he got the message. The little guy pulled up his undies and walked around like a professional toilet flusher in less than a week!

I couldn't believe it. Yes, there were a few accidents, but my trainee took over rather quickly on his own.

So grateful and relieved, I thought, "Wow. That's it? My job here is done."

After around 10 years of changing diapers, I was stepping out into a brand new season...

Then, a month in, my son peed on the couch three times in one day. Wet his bed nights in a row. Wouldn't tell me he had to go until it was too late. 

He tricked me! 

Frustrated and discouraged, I was back at square one- setting the potty timer, physically taking the boy to the bathroom, cleaning up messes, and washing extra loads of laundry. 

Potty-training is exhausting and demanding.
So is parenting

The hardest thing in each task is staying objective and keeping my cool. It's the same challenge I face when my kids don't listen, as well as when I'm housebreaking a preschooler.

So how can I lessen negative reactions to repeated offenses? For every aspect of parenting I'm attempting to keep the following P's in mind: 

Put on patience like you put on clothes. Count to ten. Take a deep breath and say, "It's okay." Lower your expectations. You're dealing with kids learning a new skill. It will take some time, so take your time.

Put on a good attitude. Choose a better perspective. Try to make it fun, even if you don't feel like smiling. Have a sense of humor and watch the stress dissolve. Being positive never hurt anybody.

Put your eyes on the goal and keep going until you get there! Focus. As with patience, remember that no matter how long it takes, they will learn. It will just take some longer than others, so those kids just need you to keep at it. Persevere. Don't quit until they get it!

So on the days, when you're tired of telling kids to pick up their trash, remember their manners, or clean their rooms, tell yourself, "Be patient. Stay positive. Persevere."

They will learn. Thank goodness for that! My son figured out bathroom logistics just in time for preschool :-)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

So Now That It's Summer, I Have a Plan

Okay, ya'll (that's how we say it in the south), summertime is upon us!  And as much as I love the break from hurried mornings and cram-packed afternoons, let's be real about what an 11 week school break also means.

Summer means having around 14 hours (depending on the ages and internal alarm clocks of your kids) of dead air.  There will be no other entertainment or adult supervision but us


I make no concrete commitments during summer time, but this is at least the third summer I've created a flexible family calendar of events/themes.  The point is to give me a goal every day to play with my kids.  To be intentional.  Even for an hour.  
Because it's summer!  
Because there will still be cleaning and errands but only one summer a year to make moments together. 
Because without some sort of plan, summer break can lead to CHAOS!

Granted, it's not a fool proof plan.  Kids get sick.  Friends cancel. Sometimes, all we want to do is live in our pjs. The goal is not to stress over details here.  Some weeks I have a field trip on the calendar and other days I just wing it.  The great thing about this plan is that it can be tweaked as needed.  With families, flexibility is key.  
This is my effort to beat the inevitable boredom and schedule some organized fun.  While some of my friends spend straight days at the pool, I need a little variety (and shade)!  That's why I came up with this little summer plan:

  • For craft projects, play doh, finger-painting, puppet shows, movie making, baking, or whatever you love to do or love to put off until inspiration strikes.  Check Pinterest!  Look at what you already have around you.  Sometimes, it's just fun to make something.  For this one day, let them make a mess.  It'll clean up.
  • To kick off our week (even while nursing a sick 3-year-old back to health) we glued miscellaneous beads on small canvas squares- because we already had all the supplies on hand! Easy.
  • Time to get out of the house for the morning!  Find a park, a pool, a museum, a trail...anything.  It's about exploring and getting the wiggles out :-)  And if you go before it gets so hot you can't breathe, you have the rest of the day to get things done around the house while your kids veg out on the couch.  You're welcome.
  • Pool, sprinkler, water guns, slip-n-slide, beach.  The end.
  • For trips to the library, math activities, writing stories and reading them.  This is a day for using our brains, because learning can be fun outside of school when you find things you're interested in!
  • Just in case you can't organize sleepovers and play dates on other days of the week, this one is just for that!  One day a week, I make a point to invite someone over for a visit or call my kids' friends to meet up. 
  • My weekends are for family.  They're for sleeping in and doing things together.  I don't like to map out every minute of our time.  I love both spontaneity and rest, so these are my general goals for Saturday and Sunday.  A last-minute cookout or watching the kids play from the front porch.  It doesn't matter.
It's our first official week of summer, and my kids have already been asking days in advance what we're going to do.  They know that they have something to look forward to each day, which is great. So then later, when they complain about not having anything to do (and they will), I can point to my calendar and say, "Well, I did this for you already.  You are responsible for your own fun now.  Get creative!" After all, a little boredom is the starting place for some of the best ideas, right? I'm off the hook!

How do you spend your summer?

You can find me on instagram and share your summer adventures with hashtags  #themomseason #makesomethingmonday #takeatriptuesday #waterfunwednesday #thinkathoughtthursday #findafriendfriday

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't Wait Until Next Mother's Day

This past weekend may have been the best Mother's Day ever.  It was just perfect (Thank you, Husband).  Rest, attention, family and friends were just the cure for my busy season.  I felt so taken care of and SEEN!  It was all the gift I needed.

But Mother's Day only happens once a year.  What about the other 364 days on the calendar?  That's a long time to wait for our people to celebrate this work and give us a day off!

Don't wait until next year, moms!  Make a point to give yourself breaks, as needed. It doesn't have to be a national holiday to establish periods of rest whenever the stress is adding up.

In the beginning of my motherhood, I never allowed myself to wind down.  I insisted that I could handle it and tried to muster through the workload. I felt guilty for going away for a night or a weekend and leaving my duties behind.  Handing the load over to anybody else just worried me.

Many meltdowns later, however, I learned that making time to just BE, is not a sign of weakness as a mom.  Resting helps us build up strength to keep going.  Taking care of yourself is your responsibility, and if you are finding yourself more and more edgy and impatient, that may be a sign that you haven't let yourself catch up mentally, spiritually, or physically to the busyness around you.

In Genesis, God observed his work and said, "It is good." Then, he rested.  If God thought it was important to establish time to "be," why don't we?

Moms, look around. See what you have done.  Note the clean kitchen counter or the packed school lunches.  Notice the kids' clothes that fit and the stocked refrigerator.  You did all of that!  Your family is taken care of. It's good! 

At some point, though, we have to let things wait until the next work day.  There will always be laundry to sort, wash, fold, or put away.  There will always be a dirty dish in the sink.  There will always be a paper to sign, a floor to sweep, or a pile to organize.  There is always work!  Let's set some limits on how much we take on and when it's quitting time.  Because when the alarm goes off (or the baby cries), it'll be time to work again.

Don't expect someone else to send you on a vacation!  They're not often going to remind you that you haven't eaten lunch or put your feet up for fifteen minutes!  Generally, Mommy's midday meal is hit or miss around here.  Breaks aren't scheduled for me at all- unless you count bedtime, which doesn't always work out we have to decide when to make moments for ourselves.

Rest is your choice. You can take a power nap or sit on the front porch to watch the kids play.  It doesn't matter.

God wants us to "be still."  Quiet yourself to the whirling world outside and shut out the noise. Don't apologize for sitting down to read a book or renting a sappy movie now and then.  Make a morning coffee date just for the heck of it.  

Whenever I have forced myself to get away for a bit, I have returned to my family more prepared to jump in and meet demands with renewed energy.  Because I've slowed down and separated myself from what can be regularly chaotic, I'm able to pick it back up with a little more perspective and patience. It is good.

So, have a little Mother's Day every day! You don't have to wait for someone else to give you permission. God has given us grace and freedom to find the joy in motherhood.  Rest in His care and see what He sees- a job well done.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Five Things I Said I'd Never Do When I Became a Mom...but Did Anyway

Be honest.  Have you created a mental list of things you would and wouldn't do, using other families as real life examples?  Did you find it more difficult than you thought to stick to those aspirations?

Oh, how sure we are of ourselves before we have kids of our own (or more than one child).  How easy it is to judge another mom using a safety harness to keep her toddler from getting lost in the mall, until our little Olympic-sprinter-in-training causes us to think that it's the best invention ever!  Motherhood is really humbling, isn't it?

Here is a short list of inexperienced presumptions I had about parenting, until now:

Five Things I Said I'd Never Do...but Did Anyway
  1. Wear sweatpants in public. I once thought that if I wasn't put together at the bus stop or dressed up for the grocery store, that I would appear a failure as a mother- like I couldn't handle it.  Three kids later, I don't really care.  That's not saying that I don't try to look presentable, so as not to embarrass our family name.  I do promise to brush my teeth and wash my face (at some point). But if you're a mom, I'm just going to expect you to get it.  Some days, makeup and hair is extra. (FYI: You can cheat by wearing yoga pants or a perfectly matched workout ensemble, because it makes it look like you just came back from training for a marathon.  In my mind, this makes you look awesome, because I hate exercise.  Keep it up).
  2. Bribe my kids with candy. I had a friend who packed M & M's for trips to the pool and playground, because that was the only way she could get her preschooler to go home without a complete meltdown.  She was hilarious...and smart. I thought to myself, "My kids just better listen to me and not throw tantrums, or we will have words!"  But when I have had to take a renown screamer shopping with me, I have been known to pull out the gummy snacks for my sanity.  I WILL bring out the lollipops when my children are begging me for cereal with marshmallows or need to go to the bathroom again. It allows me to think for a solid five minutes! No apologies. With some peace and quiet, and happy kids, I may actually remember everything on my list.
  3. Answer, "Because I said so." Listen, we all want to keep open lines of communications with our children, but man, they are persistent little lawyers-in-the-making sometimes, and I am just TIRED of rebuttals!  When "Yes, ma'am" becomes too difficult for them to manage, I have no patience or brainpower to continue the verbal back-and-forths (You are a CHILD, for Pete's sake). This reply will just have to do.  Because I said so.  And because I'm the mom.
  4. Let the TV babysit my kids.  Well, I don't know about you, but I am without a live-in nanny or family member to help manage the multiple requests and household operations that occur DAILY.  There are times when no amount of play-doh, crayons, or building projects will keep kids entertained without demanding my assistance. So in order to help one kid with homework or to provide a home-cooked meal each evening, I may need a "Hail, Mary."   The problem is, with so much going on, I have admittedly forgotten that my three-year-old has been upstairs watching Disney Jr. for more than an hour.  I'm not proud of it. But good gracious, look what I have accomplished!
  5. Raise my voice. "Yelling" sounds so harsh, doesn't it?  Since becoming a mom of more than one kid, I hereby confess that I have stretched my vocal chords on more than one occasion (which is funny, because my high school cheerleading coach always told me that I wasn't loud enough).  I don't like loud.  I don't like being loud.  But I cannot compete with the noise level and my kids' selective hearing on any given day!  I have wondered if there exists some kind of app with a siren or gym teacher's whistle that would get their attention. Let me know if you find one.
I hope this post reminds you that we really shouldn't take ourselves too seriously when the mom season is full of so many variables!  We always have and always will have a lot to learn...and a lot to laugh about!

What would you add to the list?  Leave a comment below.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Why I Started Blogging and Haven't Stopped

I've been blogging for ten years.
One kid. 2005.

When I say that out loud, I think people expect me to be some kind of an expert.  I'm not.  But I love encouraging others to put themselves out there, because I know what a lifeline blogging has been to me.  It was my connection to the outside world.

Everyone has a story, and those stories have a way of connecting us.

Mine started in my first year of marriage.  I started blogging when my firstborn was a baby and I was seeking an outlet, and maybe even some validation, as a new stay-at-home mom.  It was a lonely existence.  My husband was finishing his senior year of college, as well as, supporting his brand new little family (not stressful and exhausting AT ALL).

Two kids. 2009.
I was enjoying my role as a mother but also struggling with feelings of unimportance.  None of my friends had started having babies yet, so I was navigating the waters of motherhood alone.  Some days I embraced it, but most days I was bored OUT OF MY MIND.

And I hated cleaning.  Loathed it.  Waited until the last possible minute to wash dishes or pick up the dirty laundry off of the floor.  Bless my husband and any other friends who witnessed that era of my existence.  I just had no experience.  No training.  Zero strategies.

Overall, I remember those first years of the mom season as me floundering.  Just splashing around like a kid who swears she can swim without arm floaties, but gagging on chlorine-flavored water and grasping for the pool wall, playing it cool.

I was trying. 
Three kids. 2012

And that's where I met you.  In all of that.  The mess and the neediness.  Life's uncertain and proud moments rolled all into one. Over time, I found other moms who could relate.  We were in this together. We became friends.  We watched our families stretch and grow! I found a community through blogging that seriously still exists today (you know who you are)!

For me, sharing my thoughts and experiences
helped me process and solidify lessons I was learning along the way.  I wasn't invisible anymore.

For you, maybe you also need to hear:
  • That you are not alone.
  • That it's okay to learn as you go.
  • That motherhood is hard but worth it.
That's why I keep blogging. For me.  For you.  And for every comment or message that says, "Me too."

Why Do You Blog or Want to Start Blogging?  Share your story!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Hip Hop Happiness

Just one of our responsibilities as moms is keeping our families healthy- choosing the right foods that the kids will eat or the right activity to burn off some energy.   What activities do your kids enjoy? Are you a soccer fam, or do you call the baseball fields "home" every weekend?

It's not just about the kids, though. We also have to de-stress and take care of ourselves. Maybe you love to run at the end of your day or hit yoga after dropping the kids off at school. I personally love walking with a friend, as well as riding bikes with the kids around the neighborhood. Do you love Zumba?  Are you into CrossFit? Do you or your kids train for the next 5K together?

It can be challenging to find the right fitness trend or sport that fits your family's tastes and schedules, but when we do it can be a lot of fun (and what mom doesn't need a little more of that?)


For our family, we're all about HIP HOP these days!

When we moved here almost a year ago, we looked for a quick way for the kids to make friends and get connected.  It turned out that there was this fun hip hop studio just opening about five minutes down the road.  My oldest two watched videos over the summer and couldn't wait for classes to start in August.  They've been hooked ever since!

My daughter decided to try the competition team and hasn't wanted to skip a single practice!  My son works on his dance moves around the clock, which of course means my 3-year-old is preparing for his own hip hop debut. Even Mom tries to hit an evening dance workout for the grownups once a week. It's become a family affair (with the exception of my 6'4" husband who's waiting for my kids to join the basketball team)! We all have a blast cranking up the beats and tearing up the family room dance floor at home (Please, no videos).

I feel so lucky to have found a place that we all love to be.  The happiness is infectious at this studio, which is why we keep going back.  Every week, the kids are inspired to work on something new and dance their cares away.  I can't count the times my daughter came home crying about some school day drama only to leave her dance class in a completely better mood.  And of course, I love that it keeps everyone active!

So this post is a shout out to our new favorite activity...and to my daughter's dance crew, who keeps bringing home first place!

What's your family's favorite activity?  SHARE!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

My New Vacuum: A Funny Thing to Get So Excited About

The other day, a mom friend and I decided to venture out to Target together. This was a genius plan, by the way, and I am really considering a repeat performance. Our little guys sat in one cart together playing on our phones, while I pushed another cart with our purchases. We chatted as we searched for items and helped one another make the best choice of non-leaking water bottles for the kids.

When my shopping partner stated that she needed to replace her mini-vacuum, I was like, "I've been wanting one of those for ages!  Will you show me which one you like?" 

After we found our new cordless cleaning devices, I couldn't contain my excitement (is this how guys feel about their tools?).  I told her that I couldn't wait to charge my handheld vac and start cleaning out the snack crumbs in my van!  

My fellow mom laughingly replied, "I know!  Me too!  How lame are we?"

And for a second, I paused.  I considered her statement.

At the end of the checkout line, we ventured to the in-store Starbucks for a rainy afternoon treat, and I thought, We aren't lame.  

I wondered how many times I too have uttered similar self-deprecating words- making fun of myself?  As if all the small things I experience in the life of a stay-at-home mom are not things to be grateful for. While having a sense of humor is imperative in the life of a mom, hearing the joke come out of someone else's mouth made me realize that we may be looking at our present circumstances all wrong. 

I get it.  I do.  It seems silly to revel in such ordinary things.  Who in the world does cartwheels over a new vacuum? Not many, I'm sure. But finding a spark of joy in our day is not something to belittle.

Do you know what motherhood has taught me?  Of the many lessons, I have learned to appreciate minute moments and unexpected gifts.  I am so thankful for breaks in the mundane and appliances that make my life easier. Being a mom has changed me and how I view so many things: what hard work it is raising children and managing a household.  You have to be positive and grateful as often as possible in order to maintain a good attitude.  Because let's be honest, the other residents in your family circle can be downright grumps and leave trails of clutter wherever they roam.

Let's be proud of every day we DO this!  And keep noticing the things that add value to our lives. When we find ourselves laughing away a simple pleasure, let's remember that God has given us this season to really SEE what is good and noteworthy.

A thankful heart is a happy heart. -VeggieTales

For people who can't understand my excitement over a lightweight, portable vacuum, it's probable that they've done very little lugging around of cleaning equipment, or haven't spent much of their existence riding in a vehicle whose inhabitants treat it like a trash can.

My van is going to be so CLEAN.

What simple thing do you appreciate today?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When You Feel Like You're Not Doing Enough

I read the email too late.  After I parked the van at my son's preschool, I quickly scrolled my messages before walking him in.  My inbox held a request for more parents to volunteer at the music fundraiser before school.  Immediately, I felt that all too familiar drop in my spirit.  I hadn't been able to help out with that yet.

The lie I too often believe whispered, "You are not a good mom.  You don't help at the school enough.  What are the other moms going to think of you? You're failing."

Thankfully, with some practice, I've learned to shut down those negative thoughts when they arise (It seems like they never leave me alone). Because the truth is, I am not failing.

I just fed three kids breakfast, helped pick out all of their outfits, made sure teeth were brushed, hair was fixed, shoes were tied, and backpacks were zipped. Then, I buckled us in the car with enough time to pray for our days and walk them to the door, complete with hugs and goodbyes.  I did all of this before I read the email asking for more parental involvement.

I am doing enough, and I have to care less what other moms think of me.  I just have to. The measure of my success is the well-being of my family, not the tally marks for my community involvement.

So if you're with me in that place today, where you're still home with a little guy, and taking him anywhere is a slight risk to your sanity, please know that you are doing just fine.  You are taking care of your family.  You do not need to run yourself ragged proving your worth to anyone else in this world. 

And for yourself, remember that you are doing HUGE things!  It doesn't matter who sees them.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The One Thing I Know I'm Doing Right

My kids have been giving me a run for my money lately.  The bickering, talking back and arguing can really wear this girl down. I'm not sure if I'm handling misbehavior the right way.  I don't know if my speeches are getting through.  I wonder a lot of times if anything I do is working at all.

There are always question marks in the mom season. I know I'm doing one thing right though.  I'm here...being Mom.  

I haven't checked out yet, even when my thoughts are screaming, "Run away!  Let someone else deal with the hard stuff!"  I mean, I've definitely put in some time- ten years of lessons in manners and picking up your messes. It is tempting to take a much-deserved vacation, like every week! Some people would possibly understand if I escaped into a hobby, another job, a good book, or a few extra nights out with the girls to distract me from my children's endless requests and demands.  Those are all positive outlets and certainly provide a break when needed.  But they can't replace the reward of a race well run.

The one thing all mothers can be sure of is that we are doing a good thing when we invest our time and energy in the business of raising our kids. It's hard and not all that fun, but it's important.  And that keeps me going.

 Now is not the time to quit.  When the parenting gets tough, the tough get parenting!
And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.
So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers]. -Galatians 6.9-10 (AMP)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Be Brave and See What Happens

I'm going to admit a fear I've been battling lately.  Actually, there's more than one dragon I'm swinging a sword at, but it comes down to the fact that I've just been scared.  It really isn't anything major except that, any sort of fear (rational or irrational) always holds us back.  It limits our potential and impact on the world. So if I'm going to make my mark, I have to face the enemies.
  1. I have been afraid of failing. So I don't try.
  2. I worry about what others think. So I withdraw.
I told you these weren't gigantic monsters. Possibly, you've had the same insecurities as well (which  would come as a relief to me).  Living in fear, isolates you and I.  It causes us to close the curtains and hide. Just sharing your worries with someone else, can weaken the scary stuff and build yourself a team of support.

For a writer, fears limit my willingness to say what I want to say.  I'm a wiz at over-analyzing the outcome.  Will the words make sense?   Did that sound stupid?  Does anyone hear me? Quickly following, are the self-doubting thoughts: Why would anyone read this?  Hasn't everything that needs to be said, been said already?

Mom friends, have you feared that your current method of parenting isn't the right one?  I too have worried about that.  Are you also afraid of making your kids mad at you or not measuring up in the eyes of other moms?  Me too, sometimes. The danger is falling into the "forget-it-I-can't-win" mentality. This is a terrible loss for our families and for ourselves!

In everyday interactions, fears can effect our relationships too.  I may not speak up when I have a good idea. You may not reply when someone offends you.  Opportunities are missed when we stay silent and friendships suffer when we aren't vulnerable. Tucking away seems safer, but it's the opposite of living an awesome life.

So, in my quest to BE this year, the first challenge I accept is to BE BRAVE! I hereby choose to no longer be afraid of what MAY happen and let the fear of unknown possibilities paralyze me.  Doing nothing will accomplish...nothing. 

I hope you can muster up some courage to take down a few of your own insecurities. Who cares what others think? Be your wonderful self and attempt your very best at what lies in front of you.  It may take a few whacks, but beating fear itself is always a win!

I'm praying for me and for you.  I can't wait to see what happens :-)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Just BE.

I'm still alive. I am.

As always, this era of motherhood, this life of a mom, swirls in, out, with, and around me like the seasons- with change and comfort, busy and rest, new and old.  The holidays of back-to-back hosting and list-checking kept me from writing for a spell.  But I maintained a sense of peace throughout by inwardly processing all the things I was thankful for.  Making mental blog titles and journal entries to re-start when I felt ready. When I could sit down again.

To prepare myself for another new season, I have been praying and thinking on what I will look like in the coming months. What will my work accomplish?  How will I grow?  What does God want to teach me?

In recent conversations with two friends, I was spurred on in my quest to establish a theme for myself this year.  In one word, how could I begin 2014 with purpose? Was it PEACE I craved?  Sure, but that wasn't the heart of my prayers.  Was it JOY or HEALTH or SUCCESS?  All of those things would be wonderfully welcome, but I couldn't settle on the one thing I longed to meditate on.

As I journaled one morning, the pen established my thoughts, "I need to be..."  And then it stopped.  There.  In cursive lowercase letters, I found it.  I wrote it again, but this time in capitals, "BE."  With punctuation.

I texted my friend with this new revelation, "I just want to BE.  Not strive. Not stress.  Not whine or wish.  Just BE!  Be present. Be in the Spirit.  Be me..."

And so I continue reflecting on that single verb.  It will probably appear in future posts and status updates as I ponder more on what it means to BE. I'm looking up verses like, "Be still and know..." or "Be strong and courageous..."

And now that my fingertips are back to hitting the keys, I know also that it's good to be back. :-)

What is your word for the year?