Saturday, January 9, 2016

My One Word/One Little Word for 2016: Transform

I cannot believe it's been a year since I wrote a blog post! Can you say BUSY? Yes, I guess life has become rather hectic with schedules and activities for four children, in addition to my jumping back into the world of speech-language pathology after thirteen years.

As I mentioned last year, I started choosing a Word of the Year in 2014, after finding lists of resolutions to come up pretty empty year after year. I do like a fresh there anything more lovely than a blank new calendar? And I am a very goal-oriented person, but let's be honest, as a mom of four busy children, my goals are focused more on my children/family than on personal goals. With the one word of the year, I found it easier to incorporate that thought or idea into my life overall. 2014's word was PRESENT. I worked hard to be PRESENT with my children, to not over-commit to everything under the sun, but to be deliberate with my time, to be purposeful with my energies. I would call it a great word did not consume or stress me. It gently reminded me to focus and plug in to what I valued.

My Word of the Year for 2015 was KIND. I had felt like I was often telling my children to be KIND, to respect one another, to get along. KIND ended up being a wonderful word for us. Are we always KIND? No, but thinking about being KIND, seeing the word KIND on the chalkboard near our dinner table, and being purposeful about KINDness helped the overall tone of our home and our relationships. Also, thinking before speaking, "is this KIND?" helped filter our speech.

My Word of the Year for 2016, after much deliberation, is TRANSFORM. I hemmed and hawed for weeks, vacillating between "change" and "TRANSFORM." My children commented, "Aren't they the same thing, though?" and as I pondered,  I realized that no, they are not exactly the same. Change can happen quickly or slowly, but TRANSFORM conjures more of a process.

So why on earth did I pick this word? Several key reasons come to mind:
            1) We are always are growing and, much as we resist it, our bodies are TRANSFORMING - aging every day. In our family, September of 2016 will see our first child head off to the big high school! I am seeing TRANSFORMATIONS with my work, as I take on more speech therapy clients, juggle my Etsy Shop, my Mary Kay business, as well as my roles as wife and mother.
            2) I am hoping to TRANSFORM my body back into the shape/condition it was in 2013 when I turned 40. Back then, I was dedicated to eating healthy, whole food. In addition, I was committed to intense workout plans. The hard work paid off, and I was in the best shape of my life as my husband and I headed off on a cruise in June 2013. So far this year, I am starting my TRANSFORMATION by eliminating grains, dairy, sugary junk and as much processed junk as possible. I have also begun 20 weeks of TurboFire, an at-home workout program that I LOVE! Stay tuned for a (hopeful) TRANSFORMATION story in a few months.
            3)  We have had a lot of changes at our church recently, including a new name, and although I tend to prefer consistency and sameness, I also see the need for TRANSFORMATION. Our new name should eliminate various barriers for guests. We have some members moving away, one pastor leaving to plant a church, church-wide life groups beginning, and a number of other TRANSFORMATIONS. I can sit alone and be upset, resisting TRANSFORMATION, or I can see that God can use all of this for something wonderful.
            4) Romans 12:2-3 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." How awesome is that? Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." How we need clean hearts! And 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." What better TRANSFORMATION could there ever be?! 

What do I expect or hope for as I focus on the word/idea of TRANSFORM in 2016? That, with God's help and grace, I will be TRANSFORMED mentally and spiritually by His Word and teaching, that with His strength, I will TRANSFORM physically, that with HIS love and guidance, our family will TRANSFORM into new seasons together. 
Resting in this comforting knowledge: "I am the Lord, I change not." - Malachi 3:6

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My One Word for 2015: KIND

I started choosing a Word of the Year last year, after finding lists of resolutions to come up pretty empty year after year. I do like a fresh there anything more lovely than a blank new calendar? And I am a very goal-oriented person, but let's be honest, as a mom of four busy children, my goals are focused more on my children/family than on personal goals. With the one word of the year, I found it easier to incorporate that thought or idea into my life overall. Last year's word was PRESENT. I worked hard to be PRESENT with my children, to not over-commit to everything under the sun, but to be deliberate with my time, to be purposeful with my energies. I would call it a great word did not consume or stress me. It gently reminded me to focus and plug in to what I valued.

Partway through 2014, I announced that our local Mom's group theme would be JOY and did I ever have fun finding, seeing and basking in JOY! Of all of the nine fruits of the spirit, I would say JOY comes to me most easily. In less favorable situations, where I am becoming a real Negative Nelly, all I have to do is think about the JOY, name the blessings, and my entire attitude shifts and Positive Polly is back. I believe JOY is share it! Discontentment robs us of be content! If I had to choose one word for the rest of my life, it would surely be JOY.

So here we are ringing in a new year. Many are eager to get started and leave 2014 in the past. Honestly, I had an incredible year. I am thankful for each day and I have a full heart of wonderful memories. I did not walk a path of suffering or pain. I did not bury a child, spouse or parent.  I pray that I can find a shred of JOY, WHEN (not IF) that day comes. But in the meantime, I will savor this sweet time in my life. I will make memories of the mundane. I will find JOY in the ordinary.

My Word of the Year for 2015 is KIND. I feel like I am often telling my children to be KIND, to respect one another, to get along. When I began to think about my word for this year, it became abundantly clear that we all, my children, myself, society, we all could be more KIND to one another. 

How will this look in my home? With my children, I will talk often about showing KINDness to one another, to parents, siblings, friends. KINDness goes deeper than nice. It encompasses more than respect. To be truly KIND means you are thinking about another person's feelings, you are aware of another's needs, you are seeing the world from another's point of view. Instead of saying, "Stop bothering your sister," I will try to have that child see that what he is doing is unKIND to his sister, explain how that is so, and to impart that other-centered view. 

How will this look in me? I will try to stop my terrible tongue from wagging. I will make a conscious effort to speak words of KINDness to and about others. Snobby Mommy land is full of unKINDness and judge-y-pants attitudes and comments. I want that to stop! Moms do not need more judgement, condemnation and guilt, but KINDness, support and empathy. I want to come up alongside a struggling mom of a tantruming toddler and help her, not shake my head in judgement of her. When my cart is full to the top at Aldi and a gentleman behind me has three items, I want to show KINDness and let him go ahead of me. I pray that God will give me eyes of KINDness and will give opportunities for me to show, not just tell, my children KINDness and how to be KIND.

How do I hope this ripples out into the world? I think KINDness, like JOY, is contagious. Kids all over the country are performing random acts of KINDness and I think it is wonderful! Let's all be mindful of our words, thoughts and attitudes...if we make that choice to be KIND, perhaps the KINDness will be passed on...and on...and on.

Ephesians 4:32 "Be KIND and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, KINDness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Micah 6:8 "He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you; to do justly and to love KINDness and to walk humbly with your God."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections...from stressed to blessed!

Summer is over (okay, so it's not technically over until September 23rd, but it feels like it's over when the kids go back to school!) Did it seem to go by a bit faster than usual this year? I feel like I was just cleaning out the lunch bags and sorting through end of the year paperwork, yet here I am labeling items and double-checking back packs! I should be getting into bed, setting my alarm and preparing for a whole new round of the morning whirlwind, but who am I kidding? I never sleep well the night before school starts. I'm too busy worrying, wondering and praying.
Worrying...will it be a good year? Will the bus come on time? Will the kids find their classrooms? Will they find their friends? Will their teachers like them? Will their lunches and snacks fill them? Will they have fun? Will they find the right bus home? Will the bus find our house?
Wondering..did they have a good summer? Did they have fun? What will they remember? Did I do enough with them? Did they make lasting memories? Did I miss anything? Do I regret anything?
Praying...God please protect them, please help their teachers, please keep them all safe, please let them grow this year (but not too much!), please let them make just one good friend, please remind them that You are always with them, please help them to know they are loved!
Why does mommy-guilt continue to consume me? When I stop and think about it, we DID have fun this summer. We DID make memories. I didn't miss a thing! I had the joy of watching my kids swim, both playing in the pool and swimming fast in swim meets. Yes, it was loud and busy and messy around here, but we had a good time. From ice pops and ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cones galore to swimming in our pool, the swim team pool and the lake, from riding on bikes to four-wheelers to boats and tubes and canoes, waterskiing, camping, movies, playdates, campfires, smores, VBS, a trip to Colorado for the oldest, pedicures for the girls, go kart races for two, lots of time with cousins and family...we had a blast!
As I begin to count my blessings, things become more clear: what a blessing it was to be with my babies all summer. They are growing up so fast, but I've been a part of every step along the way.
When I asked the kids tonight what their favorite summer memory of 2014 was, they said: time with cousins, camping, riding bikes, and swim team.
Instead of fretting before I fall asleep, I will be thankful for a great summer with my family.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Angry Moms: Time to Get Real

For Mom2Mom speech presented 1/16/14; written 1/4/14
This particular topic has been on my mind quite some time. While planning out our Mom2Mom year with my sidekick M back in the summer, I knew this was a topic that needed to be addressed. My “plan” at that time was to go through a detailed history of all of my personal issues with anger, a list of references including the library of books I have on this topic, etc. But God evidently wanted me to alter my plan, as you will soon see…

I have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to speak on the topic of Angry Moms for awhile now. As I pondered my “speech” over the last couple of months, I found that there is so much more than just an angry mom in the spotlight. She’s not “just angry.” She’s tired, worn-out, weary, at the end of her rope, helpless, jealous, discontent, bitter, envious, neglected, proud, self-centered, insecure, clueless, lacking confidence, out of control, powerless, spiteful, hateful, shameful, ashamed, broken, desperate, in need of a savior.

Before we move forward, please let it be clear: that Savior is not and can never be her child, her husband, her house, her car, her body, her clothes, her diet, her stuff, her collections, her checklists, her goals, her accomplishments, her friends, her church, her TV shows, her books, her self-help guru, her moms group. Only Jesus can fill that empty place. Only Jesus can love unconditionally, with mercy and grace, knowing EVERY UGLY SECRET – the deepest parts – and still, He loves us.

Why Saying “lean on Jesus” isn’t always enough
So what about angry moms? Just lean on Jesus and we’ll be all better? How I wish it were that simple! For some, maybe it is. But not for me. I was saved when I was four years old, but oh have I been angry a few times since then?!! An ugly, raging temper that rears its ugly head time and time again, despite my best efforts to stuff it away, despite my happy church face and my children with clean faces and pretty clothes. It’s time to get real, girls! We all stink! Those plastic facades are just another step we take that makes us exhausted and leaves us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled. Let’s get off the crazy fake cycle, ok? Let’s be honest now and admit we don’t have it all together all the time.

Why so angry?
So what are we to do about it? I think we need to first figure out WHY? Why the anger? Where is it coming from? I listed several sources earlier.
1.       Exhaustion. Being a mom is HARD! A mom of a newborn often means sleep deprivation. (I’m certainly not at my best when I am tired.)
2.       Loneliness. We may feel lonely – at 3 am, feeding a screaming baby, while the rest of the world (and likely our husband) sleeps, we may feel lonely and even resentful.
3.       Jealousy. How about jealousy? I remember coming home from playdates FURIOUS because my furniture or faucet or rugs were no longer “good enough.” My friends didn’t necessarily say so, but I felt jealous of their nice new “stuff,” became discontent which turned to bitterness and anger. We can be jealous over “stuff” or over a talent someone else has. Or how about that friend with the “kind and helpful husband.” Boy, did I put some serious strain on my marriage when I whined to my husband that he didn’t offer to do bath time like so and so’s husband did. (Sad truth: if he had offered, I would have criticized the way he did bath time!)
4.       Expectations. One major trigger for me is expectations! I spent a year in marriage counseling back in 2006. I learned that my expectations of others were extremely high, and my expectations of myself were actually unattainable.
5.       Perfection/Control. The word “perfect” has been all but eliminated from my vocabulary since it caused such angst for me. Did you know that only God is perfect? True perfection is something we can look forward to in heaven. The song “Free to Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli has a line that always jumps out at me: “Try to fit the pieces together BUT PERFECTION IS MY ENEMY.” The new song, “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen” brought me to tears when I heard it. I sure have a lot to learn to let go of! “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know, well now they know…let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go, and I’ll rise like the break of dawn. Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone!” Another song, “Perfect People” by Natalie Grant really strikes a chord with me – can you relate? (Will try to link video here.  Lyrics below.)
“Perfect People” by Natalie Grant
Never let 'em see you when you're breaking
Never let 'em see you when you fall
That's how we live and that's how we try
Tell the world you've got it all together
Never let them see what's underneath
Cover it up with a crooked smile
But it only lasts for a little while
There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God
Suddenly it's like a weight is lifted
When you hear the words that you are loved
He knows where you are and where you've been
And you never have to go there again
Who lived and died to give new life
To heal our imperfections
So look up and see out let grace be enough
By a perfect God [5x]
Be changed by a perfect God
Be changed

Exhaustion, loneliness, jealousy, discontentment, expectations, perfection/control – all of this can lead to some really angry times.

Dealing with the issues
1.       Exhaustion: Some of this, we just have to “get through the phase,” like the newborn stage or sickness. This will pass. BUT – it’s ok to ask for help! It’s ok to say, “I really need two straight hours of sleep – can someone come hold my baby please?!”
2.       Loneliness: Stop waiting for someone to call, YOU be the one to reach out! The fastest way to get over yourself is to serve someone else. Ask someone over for coffee, meet at the park, text, email, call. That person you reach out to may be feeling even lonelier than you!
3.       Jealousy and Discontentment: Truly, I stopped looking at ads and catalogs and magazines and flyers. I avoided malls. I found friends who were in similar financial situations as mine. I put my eyes back in my own space and became a better homemaker, finding joy in cleaning the space I was BLESSED with, cooking for the family I had PRAYED FOR. I literally counted my blessings and turned my complaints and my rotten attitude into gratitude. (You may see my Negative Nelly/Positive Polly posts on Facebook, for example: it’s pouring rain and I have all four kids bickering in the van with me and we have to go to the orthodontist. Boo. Poor me! Let’s turn this around – I am able to drive a car, I have a car, we’re not waiting for a cab, I have four healthy children that I desperately wanted and prayed for, we’re going to an elective appointment not something awful like a surgery or chemo, we have insurance and can afford the orthodontic appliance, and the list goes on.) That doesn’t mean I get fake: I acknowledge the hurt, complaint, frustration. Then I pray that God would show me the good things, the blessings, and HE HAS NEVER FAILED!
4&5. Expectations/Perfection/Control: Here is what I say to myself – God loves me. He is in control. He is sovereign. Only He is perfect. It’s ok to have high expectations, but it’s important to show grace to others – and to ourselves. These verses are particularly helpful to me:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
I also focus on the Fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness, self-control, goodness, faithfulness, kindness.

Strength in our weakness
I used to be embarrassed when people would quote from the Bible about a mother’s gentleness – I was not gentle much of the time!
I Thessalonians 2:7 “We were gentle among you like a nursing mother.”
I Peter 3:4 “…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”
  Then I realized that it’s ok that I am not perfect – when I am weak in my flesh, God is strong. Faking it isn’t the answer; acknowledging our imperfections and flaws, laying them bare before God and asking for His supernatural grace and strength and healing is how we not simply endure, but grow…bloom…flourish…in Him! THEN, He will continue to use our trials to draw others to Him, as I pray is happening now as I share my story. May YOU see HIS power, HIS love, and HIS grace…it’s for YOU too!
To God be all the glory.

Verses that talk about God’s Perfection:
James 1:17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
Psalm 18:30 God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
Isaiah 25:1 LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

Take Heart! There is hope…
2 Corinthians 12:9  My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Word Of The Year

This is my first time naming my “Word of the Year.” I have seen other friends post on blogs or Facebook their “word.” I have seen words like hope, dream, believe, strong, brave, and dare. I have thought long and hard about my word for 2014. After much deliberation, I have decided on the word: PRESENT.
Google tells me PRESENT can mean several different things. PRESENT can be pronounced two different ways and can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective. Its meanings include: (of a person) in a particular place, existing or occurring now, the period of time now occurring, give something to (someone) formally or ceremonially, bring about or be the cause of (a problem or difficulty), hold out or aim (a firearm) at something so as to be ready to fire, or a thing given to someone as a gift.
What do I mean when I say my word of the year is PRESENT?
I mean I want to BE PRESENT.
I want to be plugged in, aware, involved.
I want to be PRESENT with God,
PRESENT with my husband,
PRESENT in the lives of my children,
PRESENT at church,
PRESENT at school,
PRESENT in my community.
That doesn’t mean I want to be busy. Scurrying around, overscheduled, frantic busy. Rather, I want to be selective in my involvement. Purposeful with my time, my words, my actions. I want to make memories. I want to treasure special times in my heart. I want to notice the little things as my children learn and grow. I know there are many things and people that compete for my PRESENCE, and I know that it will be difficult to be PRESENT at some events and say no to others. I am leaning on the Lord to help me be discerning as I prioritize and become intentional in the ways I am PRESENT.
I am eager to begin 2014 thinking about being PRESENT and I have confidence that God will blow my mind with the way He uses circumstances to show me He is sovereign. I am grateful beyond words for His greatest PRESENT, His Son who saved my life. I look forward to the day I will dwell in His holy PRESENCE for eternity.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's Been Awhile

Goodness it sure has been awhile since I've dusted off the old blog. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. It's not that I haven't thought about posts. Perhaps I've even written a few DOZEN posts in my head! But life has been been wonderfully, deliciously, amazingly busy around here. My beautiful babies are growing like crazy, now ages 5 1/2, 7 1/2, a week from 9, and 11. Maybe it was reading  a terrific article about being "in the sweet spot" that prompted me to post today. Or maybe it's the fallish breeze blowing through my open windows. Or the fact that half of my herd is off adventuring. Or that the kiddos head back to school in less than five weeks. Whatever the reason, here I am.
This summer has been like no other. I'm still a mom of four busy children. But they are no longer babies. With my youngest being five, we have a new mobility. We were able to see a water ski show and fireworks at Jumpin' Jacks. We were able to go to parks without a diaper bag. We were able to swim without floaties or swim diapers. It's amazing. Of course I miss the baby phase, but I am really enjoying the "people" my children are becoming. They are funny, witty, helpful and smart. They are capable and confident. They keep me honest and humble. Often, they are my mirror...reflecting the good as well as the bad.
I was shopping for school supplies and a few gifts today and stumbled upon a book called, "If I Could Keep You Little..." by Marianne Richmond. I truly burst into tears in the store right then and there. Here are the words to this wonderful tribute to children growing:

If I could keep you little, I’d hum you lullabies. But then I’d miss you singing your concert’s big surprise.
If I could keep you little, I’d hold your hand everywhere. But then I’d miss you knowing, “I can go…you stay there.”
If I could keep you little, I’d kiss your cuts and scrapes. But then I’d miss you learning from your own mistakes.
If I could keep you little, I’d strap you in real tight. But then I’d miss you swinging from your treetop height.
If I could keep you little, I’d decide on matching clothes. But then I’d miss you choosing dots on top and stripes below.
If I could keep you little, I’d cut your bread into shapes. But then I’d miss you finding, “Hey! I like ketchup with my grapes!”
If I could keep you little, I’d tell you stories every night. But then I’d miss you reading the words you’ve learned by sight.
If I could keep you little, I’d pick for you a friend or two. But then I’d miss you finding friends you like who like you, too!
If I could keep you little, I’d push your ducky float. But then I’d miss you feeling the wind behind summer’s boat.
If I could keep you little, we’d nap in our fort midday. But then I’d miss you sharing adventures from camp away.
If I could keep you little, I’d fly you with my feet. But then I’d miss you seeing sky and clouds from your seat.
If I could keep you little, I’d keep you close to me. But then I’d miss you growing into who you’re meant to be!

My goodness how those words capture what my heart is feeling! In just a month, my oldest will enter middle school and my baby will go to kindergarten! How can it be?! Wasn't I just nursing my first, looking out the window as the big yellow bus came to pick up the neighborhood kids?! As I sat there holding my fussy little one, it felt like decades before I would be sending him to school. And now he is 11! "The days are long but the years are short." How true it is.
I don't want to be sad for the time gone by. Instead, I will hold on to the memories while enjoying today. Truly being in the moment with my "little" ones.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On Repeat

Do you ever stumble upon a song you HAVE TO hear OVER and OVER? That happens to me every now and then. A month or so ago, it was "Forever Reign". I sang it at the top of my lungs while driving to pick up my youngest from preschool. I sang it until I cried...the words were (still are) so powerful!
Today I've been listening to a variety of Christmas albums. "Glorious Impossible" (as performed by FFH) really touched me...I think I'm on my 10th repeat of the song (ok, so I found several other arrangements, one done by the Gaither Vocal Band, another by Carl Cartree, the writer of the song). I absolutely LOVE this song!!! Give it a listen, read the lyrics, see if you agree with me...
this is one beautiful song! 

**side note...i just discovered another beautiful arrangement of this song, done by new-to-me duo, The Wiebes...gorgeous!
Here is their arrangement. 

See the Virgin is delivered 
In a cold and crowded stall
Mirror of the Father's glory 
Lies beside her in the straw
He is Mercy's incarnation 

Marvel at this miracle! 
For the Virgin gently holds 
The Glorious Impossible
Love has come to walk on water 

Turn the water into wine 
Touch the leper,
bless the children 
Love both human and divine
Praise the wisdom of the Father 

Who has spoken through His Son 
Speaking still, He calls us to 
The Glorious Impossible

Glorious Impossible
He was bruised for our transgressions 

And He bears eternal scars 
He was raised for our salvation 
And His righteousness is ours
Praise, oh praise Him, praise the glory 

Of this lavish grace so full 
Lift your souls now and receive
the Glorious Impossible!

Glorious Impossible

Glorious Impossible 
Glorious Impossible
Praise, oh praise Him, praise the glory 

Of this lavish grace so full 
Lift your souls now and receive 
The Glorious Impossible