Routine: Good or Bad?

Routine

When I first became a parent, I thought that every hour of the day should be scheduled for my child. Now, of course, I wasn’t the one at home with her. I simply put the expectation on my husband with something along the lines of the following schedule (because, you see, I had more experience with children from jobs and babysitting and clearly knew more than him . . .):

7:00 Feed
8:00 Tummy Time
8:30 Read
9:00 Snack
10:00 Gross Motor Activity
11:00 Feed
12:00 Fine Motor Activity
1:00 Nap
4:00 Snack

And of course I would provide ideas for what those times could look like for the two of them. It was basically Lily and Daddy school time . . . for a baby.

I was clearly a very realistic first-time mom.

Not.

I know many others have said something similar about their first child. They have all these crazy expectations and then realize they’re totally whacked out and need to take a chill pill. Don’t worry, I got there. My poor husband. Bless his sweet soul.

Now?  I am about to have my 4th child and am homeschooling my 5 year old for Kindergarten just this year. We started the school year out by having a pretty set schedule, thinking that would really help to make sure we got through what we needed to. I had it set for certain hours to tackle certain subjects. And let me just say that I got BORED. I’m not even the student. She was flying through the material and then I felt like I had to force her to do more until the time was up. I can be really Type A and super organized and structured at times. I like to have order and minimal chaos. And I often think that having a routine is the way to make that happen. Of course, sometimes that is definitely the case. We have instilled, from the start, a very clear eating and sleeping routine for our children. Because of that, both we and the kids have benefited greatly. They sleep great for others when we aren’t here, they know when they need to eat so they’re not constantly asking, they know not to expect dessert unless it’s a weekend or a special event, and we can form our days around this pattern.

However, what I am learning about myself, due to my own personality (and, as what Gretchen Rubin in Better than Before calls the tendency toward either Familiarity or Novelty . . . I’m Novelty), is that I can’t have too much routine or I bust at the seams. I cannot have every day look the same. I will never take a 9-5 job where I do the same thing all the time unless it’s life or death. I cannot stand knowing that today is going to be the same as tomorrow. I like to have different places to go, explore, learn something new, and talk to people who are not my children.  If every day is the same and there’s no room for that?  Then please let me meet Jesus now.

I may not like routine BUT I do like order.  Solution? I’m highly organized, I have my systems for maintaining that organization, and those parts of my life are like second-nature; they just happen. For example, everything in my house has a place. We have a sliver of a junk drawer and that’s it (and it really isn’t junk–it has some pens, sticky notes, and extra keys and that’s pretty much it).  My kids follow this as well so we don’t have random toys in random spots, nor do we have shoes and clothes scattered throughout the house. We also have set times that we tend to clean up (before nap and before we start our bedtime routine). I make sure the dishes are done/in the dishwasher and I know what tomorrow looks like before I relax for the evening because it makes for a peaceful environment when I wake up.  I wake up at least 1-1.5 hours before the kids so I can prepare for my day, read, and be ready for them at 7:00 when they come down. These are just natural things that I do that I don’t even take time to think about.

But as for how each day looks? I need variety. Novelty.

So the other day, my kids kept asking what we were going to do and I had a list of things that needed done but not necessarily in a particular order. My 5 year old is a future event organizer and so, for her sake, I wrote a numbered list on the fridge in an order that seemed reasonable for the day. It included when we would eat, read, play, do schoolwork, take turns on the iPad, make muffins, etc. This was brilliant on my part. It satisfied my daughter’s need for knowing what to expect, it stopped questions of “when is that happening” from my son, it gave me a sense of accomplishment because I love crossing things off list, and it held me accountable to make sure I followed through on what I promised them they could do that day (like letting them help me bake even though it’s easier not to with a 5 year old, 4 year old, and 20 month old all at the small counter).

This was a way for me to have enough of a routine for the day that we got what we needed accomplished and yet it didn’t have to look the same for the whole week.  No more charts that I create that I use for, oh, a week, and then pitch because it’s too mundane.  Just my cup of tea.

I am finding my happy medium. Routine that comes in the form of habit (aka I’m not thinking about it because it’s happening naturally) that creates a sense of order and peace in my life is good. Any other kind of routine can find another person to snuggle up with and they’ll be great partners.

How about you?

What are you learning about yourself in this area? Do you tend to like routine and structure down to the hour/minute because it creates a sense of calm for you? Do you like knowing exactly what’s happening each moment of your day and look forward to your planner telling you what to do?  Or do you tend to be one who doesn’t like any routine at all and fly by the seat of your pants for pretty much anything but that excites you? Are you somewhere in the middle like me? Once you’ve figured it out for yourself, if you haven’t already, how can that help you to be intentional in your every day life so that you’re really feeling a sense of thriving and not just surviving?  The more we understand our natural tendencies, the better we can function in the every day.  

Intentional Christmas Giving

Intentional Christmas Giving

 

Some of you are already done Christmas shopping (like me . . . because I had to be due to timing of seeing family).  Some of you started but have more to do.  And others haven’t begun yet (and that’s totally ok!).  Those of you who need some gift ideas still, or just want to have a resource to turn to for gifts for other times of the year (or next year), will really enjoy this!

We know this is a great time to be intentional with our money because we’re often spending more than usual (though we shouldn’t feel the need to–that’s a whole other thing altogether) so why not spend our money in places where it’ll make more of a difference?  But I’m no expert so I’m giving credit to those who have already done the work.  They’ve created some GREAT lists and I’m here to share them with you today in case it helps with your Christmas gift ideas or any gifts for that matter (birthdays, just because, you get the idea).  Enjoy!

And if I missed any good lists, please please please feel free to comment on the blog post itself or you can comment on the post on Facebook when it’s up there if you prefer.  I’m all about sharing the good stuff that helps us live more intentionally especially when it comes to our choices as consumers.  And now to the list!

5 Lists to Help You Give Intentionally

  1. Melanie Dale’s Slave-Free Christmas: She has TONS of ideas and has them all organized by what kind of gift you may be looking for.  The link will provide you with all the posts on her blog related to Slave-Free Christmas but some of the posts contain actual lists while others feature specific companies.  She posted a list of toys that give back all year long so check that out too for Christmas, birthday parties, baby showers, etc.
  2. Jen Hatmaker’s Buy Once, Give Twice:  She created a list in 2014 and and it’s sorted by the person you’d be shopping for.
  3. The Art of Simple’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Tsh updated this for this year and I LOVE it.  You click on the tab and it opens up that category.  Then you can close it and open a different one.  Super easy and clean, which I am always into.  She even has specific book title recommendations.  Tsh also has an all-year-round Ethical Shopping Guide she keeps on her site at all times.
  4. Carrie’s (Lovely Etc.) 45 Gorgeous Gifts that Give Back: This is a BEAUTIFUL list.  She has stuff you’d never see elsewhere (or at least this Pennsylvania girl wouldn’t).  She has it organized by type of gift so you can look for gifts for kids, items for the home, or accessories, among others.  Definitely check it out.
  5. Erika’s (Married in Mile Square City) Ugandan Gift Guide: This is a list of just 5 organizations that give back to those in need in Uganda specifically.  Love that it’s a short list and yet she hand-picked some stellar organizations.  I love that she chose to focus on a specific area she wanted to reach by way of her giving because that country has a special place in her heart.  Makes me want to choose one area of focus for next year’s Christmas giving (a fun challenge to be super intentional).
  6. Heidi’s (Heidi at Home) Shopping with a Purpose:  She has some that are different from the other lists so definitely check this out.  She also links up to Fair Trade Friday which is a great option either for yourself (am I allowed to promote buying gifts for yourself?) or as a neat subscription box that helps women around the world.
  7. Jamie Ivey’s (The Happy Hour) Christmas Special Shopping Guide:  Jamie Ivey and Jen Hatmaker co-hosted a podcast sharing 25 different companies that are worth buying from.  But Jamie, the awesome girl she is, put a whole list together so you don’t have to go back and listen to the whole episode every time and write it all down.  Brilliant.  But you still should listen to the podcast because Jamie + Jen Hatmaker = fun times.

Halloween in Community

  • halloween

This life is so much more fun when we live it in community with others, isn’t it?  Sure, it can be messy.  It’s easier sometimes to just sit in our homes and ignore each other.  But how often have you had good conversation over a meal with friends?  Or you’ve had an interaction with someone that made you belly laugh?  We were made to live in community, not to curl up and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.  There’s so much benefit to choosing to get to know one another.  Deep relationships.  Friends to call on when we need help.  Kids having playmates.  Shared experiences.  It can be so beautiful.

So one way that my husband and I have chosen to be more intentional about getting to know others is by taking advantage of times when we get to see our neighbors.  When the weather cools off here in Pennsylvania where we currently live, it’s not as easy to see others in our neighborhood.  Summer is easy: cookouts, sprinklers, playgrounds.  But hanging outside after dinner when it’s 40 or below just isn’t as enticing.  So we’ve decided to view times like Trick-or-Treating as an opportunity to get outside and interact with those who are living their lives around us when we otherwise might not see them.

What does this look like?  We live in a townhouse so we have a parking lot in front of our house.  While sometimes I loathe it because I’d rather have a fenced in yard, it has served us quite well for things like bike riding and random get togethers with friends.  And for Trick-or-Treating?  We get to use the space to have a small block-party style get together without a fence closing people off.

Last year, a few of us got together and each picked something to provide.  We grilled hot dogs, had warm apple cider in slow cookers, and had a fire pit with supplies to make s’mores.  We handed out glow sticks to kids and had candy of course.  As people came by, we offered up what we had as a way to get people to linger a bit and get to know them.  We told people this wasn’t just for us–it was to be enjoyed with anyone who wanted it.

This year, we’re doing it again and we hope to continue to build momentum over the years so people know to expect it.  It was wonderful for our kids to be able to meet other kids and great for us to finally get to know some of the people who live around us who we otherwise don’t get to interact with too often.  And we found that Trick-or-Treating is way more fun when there a bunch of people hanging out (even in the cold!) than just sitting waiting for the doorbell to ::maybe:: ring and hand out candy.  Why not be out where the action is?  It’s hospitality at its finest: casual, no cleaning of the house required, and people don’t have to feel obligated to linger if they don’t want to or have cranky kids.  A win-win for everyone! 🙂

How are you going to spend your Halloween?  Do you have any traditions in your own community?  

Monday Moments

Monday Moments

Most of us tend to look forward to Fridays.  It’s the end of the work week.  It begins the weekend where we have more freedom in our schedules, we get together with those we love, and many of us don’t have to work at our 9-5.  If you’re a stay-at-home-mom like myself, you may look forward to Fridays because it means your husband is going to be home for the next couple days to help with the kids and you just may be going on a date that night.  Fridays are just simply wonderful (or at least we’re conditioned to believe so).

But what about Mondays?  Oh, Mondays.  We dread them, don’t we?  It means we’re back to the daily grind . . . needing to get kids ready for school (or getting material prepped to homeschool).  It means back to our job that we may not love (though I hope you love yours!).  It means, for us SAHMs, that we are on our own to raise these littles for the next 9+ hours.  On Twitter, you’ll see the hashtag #mondaymotivation for a reason: people need a little extra encouragement on Mondays to help them get through the day on a positive note.

We tend to be a little bit more positive on Fridays and a little more pessimistic on Mondays.  Maybe that’s why our Mondays aren’t always the best–our frame of mind starts off on the wrong foot (er, wavelength?).  So let’s change that.

On Mondays, I want you to be specifically looking for what may normally be a Friday moment.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Did your kids do something funny today?
  • Did you see a random act of kindness while you were running errands?
  • Did you receive an encouraging text or email from a friend?
  • Did you tackle a project that’s been on your list for a while?
  • Did you make a killer meal for dinner that everyone loved?
  • Did you get some time to yourself that was just sweet bliss, even if it was only 15 minutes?

We’re going to do something new over at the Facebook page.  Each Monday, I will post a prompt asking you to share your Monday Moment.  Comment directly on that post on Facebook.  You can comment any time during the day.  The more people who share, the better.  It’ll help us be able to better identify the Monday Moments in our own lives by seeing what’s happening in others’ lives.  It can be so easy to focus on the mishaps in our days rather than what brought us joy.  Let’s flip that around.  Sound good?  Join in this coming Monday!  Also, feel free to use Twitter for this too.  Just use the hashtag #MondayMoments and tag @naptimecoffee.  Would love to see people on both outlets joining in!

Monday Moments: making Monday the new Friday

You Are Seen

You are Seen

To the mama at the library: I saw you today with your toddler.  He was testing your patience.  Girl, I’ve been there more than I’d like to admit.  You said he’d been that way all day . . . wanting what he can’t have and being persistent at getting what he wants.  He was in true toddler fashion.  I put my hand on your arm and said, “It’s okay.  I’ve been there.”  You will find no judgment from this mama.  Maybe before I had kids you would’ve but oh has God humbled me since then.  We can only pray that the persistence and strong will of our children can be nurtured for good as they grow.  May they be the ones who aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right, to speak out against bullying, and to say no when pressured.  But for now, just know you are seen and you are doing your best and I saw that in you today.  Your job as a mom is not an easy one and yet God knew you could do it.  He sees you when you’re hitting the highs and when you’re at your lowest of lows in your parenting.  He gets it and extends so much grace.  Keep pressing on.  Tomorrow is a new day and God will give you strength each morning to handle what comes your way.  You made it through today, right? 🙂 [Read more…]

When it’s not a setback

setback

Let me set the stage for you.  We had a rough visit with my family up in New England because, while there were good and fun moments, there was little sleep in a not-so-familiar environment.  If you’re a parent or have any experience with kids, then you know how that turns out.  Oh don’t think I’m being all judgmental on my kids either–I was a total wreck myself.  Recipe for disaster that ended up in us just coming home a little earlier than expected (originally planned for a couple days, switched to a week, then ended up in the middle).

So we’re getting back into the routine of things . . . slowly (and that’s being generous).  This morning, I decided enough is enough and I’m tired of reacting rather than responding to my kids.  I’m tired of being tired and using that as an excuse for setting a bad example to my kids.  So I woke up and chose to do some yoga/stretching with some Bethel music in the background and then read from Invitations from God, a book given to me by the non-profit I do some work for/with, LiveWell!Ministries.

I’m reading a chapter on what it looks like to follow (specifically to follow Jesus).  What does it take?  What do I have to give up?  What results?  And here are some snippets that stuck out to me as I read this morning:

“In Deuteronomy 15, God said, ‘There need be no poor people among you . . . Be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need’ (Deut 15:4, 8).”

“Following Jesus means caring about more than me and my family.  It means identifying with God’s broken heart over poverty and his holy anger at injustices in our world.  It means following his lead on who and what matters.”

“God cares that his kingdom of fairness and justice comes.  He cares that I buy fair-trade commodities.  He cares that profits reach those serving at the bottom of the production process.  He cares that those who work in sweatshops in Mongolia, China, and Nepal–those who make my cashmere sweater–get a livable wage.”

“God created a world with enough for everyone.  There is enough land and water and even enough food.  The problem is not supply.  The problem is distribution.  But there is a more basic problem still: a problem of caring and sharing.”

In talking about how she sees others live these things out, the author mentioned a friend who “makes it her goal to give others the same things she buys for herself and her family.”  She continues by saying, “It’s how she has chosen to love her neighbor as herself.”

I was totally convicted by all this.  It was heavy on my heart.  As a family, we do give and we have a certain budget line item for giving specifically.  But often times we end up breaking that budget and if I’m going to break one, that’s where I want to be in the red.  But do I really give to others as though I love them as I love myself?  Really?  It kills me that there are kids in Uganda getting paralyzed by jiggers embedded in their feet simply because they don’t have shoes to protect themselves.  It burdens me that there are so many without access to clean water and yet we can use water in America to just fill up a pool or play in the sprinkler.  But more so, it makes me weep that I say I care and that my heart breaks . . . and yet I feel helpless at times, not sure that I should really spend that money on a kid’s shirt that’s going to support a small business and help them get out of poverty when I could just buy a cheap one at Walmart.

Is it wrong for me to buy the Walmart shirt?  Not necessarily.  (I did buy a Walmart shirt for Colby this morning and leggings for Lily . . . so ya, who is feeling hypocritical now?  I’m certainly not judging anyone else).  But it’s just one example of how easy it is to not really think too much about where my money goes . . . to not think long-term and really put others before myself.

So my past week was rough.  My morning was rough.  We’re still struggling with obedience and normalcy.  And so while my morning started out great, once the kids woke up, it was back to reality where I was dealing with issue after issue.  I finally decide to try to get to Walmart to get a few things and Colby is giving me a hard time.  He had another accident (which he hasn’t had in a long time and yet this was like his 4th for today).  He then didn’t want to wear anything except pants (and it’s like 90 degrees out today).  Then he said he’d just go in his underwear (yep).  Finally I get shorts on him and he wants to go barefooted.  Totally looking for battles.  I get it.  So I finally get the kids into the van only to see that Lily’s carseat is in my husband’s car, which is at work with him 30 minutes away.  So I tell the kids we can’t go and we’ll have to go later.

Bawling.  Screaming.  It was delightful.  Why the fits?  Because I usually let them have a lollipop or something if they are decently behaved when we have to make longer trips to the store (I gotta do what I gotta do with a 5, 3, and 1 year old and another cooking in the oven).  So no Walmart meant no lollipop and it was not pretty.

My neighbor, who has grandkids, went to see if she had an extra seat still.  Nothing.  But then, as I’m about to head inside, my other neighbor (with kids my kids’ ages), came home.  And he let me borrow one of their carseats to make the trip.  Life saver.

That’s an example of caring and sharing.  Not a big deal to him but huge deal to me.

So we finally go and I’m already stressed because it’s lunch time at this point and I’m afraid it’ll be a rough trip.  Leila was crying a lot in the store.  She’s just not been herself.  And I just want to get out.  I keep thinking, “If only we had gotten out of the house earlier maybe this would be going better.”

We pull into one of the checkout lines and we see a girl who Lily met at the library (and then at summer camp).  She lives 2 towns over so we don’t see each other super often and it’s ironic that we’re seeing her at our Walmart and not the one that would be closer to her house.  Is it really ironic?  Not at all.  Here’s why.

I see her mom, who I’ve grown to just adore, and I see she’s stressed.  She apologizes for not seeing me sooner and says she’s having a breakdown.  I then realize from her talk with the cashier that she forgot her card and couldn’t pay for her stuff.  But she was just passing through town and it’s not like she was going to go home to come back to pay for the stuff.

“It’s how she has chosen to love her neighbor as herself” was on repeat in my head.

I had no idea if her cart was full or what was in it but I acted in faith and said I’d pay for her stuff.  Something simple I could do to stop her breakdown and love a woman who is in the same shoes as me as a mom of young kids.

No, this wasn’t some case of a poverty-stricken mom who needed money.  It wasn’t a case of needing to meet her needs because she couldn’t meet them herself.  But it was a reminder that we’re in this together.  We are mothers together, parenting together, trying to hold on to our sanity.  And sometimes we need to just share what we’ve got and remember that what we have isn’t our own anyway.  It’s all given to us to be used to care and share like Jesus did for us with His life.

So while I was all frazzled and frustrated this morning because my day wasn’t going as I had hoped, God knew.  He took what I saw as major setbacks (maybe even roadblocks to having a good day) and turned them into something so good.  He showed me that we need others and others need us and sometimes we need to let go of what we think and remember He really does work it all out for good.

What I’m Learning {July 2015}

What I'm Learning{July 2015}

Yes I’ve been totally MIA for way too long.  I promise to write “real” posts in the future.  But for now, I’m going to share a little of what I’ve been learning lately while I’ve been quiet on the blog.  I’d love to hear what you’ve been learning too either by way of sharing a link to your own blog or simply writing in the comments.  Enjoy and thanks for your patience and grace during this quiet season.

  1. I am so much better at responding appropriately to my kids when others are around.  I know this is the truth when I’m at the grocery store and can handle my kids’ not-so-stellar-moments with supermom excellence.  But at home, I lose it.  I now have family in for my sister in law’s wedding and while I don’t put on a happy face when I’m having a rough time, I am able to keep my cool.  So what’s the lesson here?  I need someone else living in my house from 7am-8:30pm.  I’ll take applications and potential rental fee suggestions via email.  🙂
  2. Having a physical book (not on Kindle) sitting beside me means I’m more apt to pick it up and read it.  I’m cringing just knowing I typed that because I’m waiting for my husband to say that’s so typical of me to go on and on about ebooks and then say maybe a physical book is better.  However, I still like my Kindle for traveling, just to have a book on hand no matter where I am, to read outside, and the fact that unless it’s from the library, the Kindle is cheaper.  So I still stand behind my words.  But a pretty book sitting at my desk or on my bedside table that I can feel and touch?  Not much beats it.  This also goes for my devotions.  I love the ease of She Reads Truth of IF: Equip sitting in my inbox.  But I’m so easily distracted that I often just delete them or quickly read through them.  I don’t have to write anything in response to them–just read.  And that’s not good for me.  I love having less stuff in my house (fewer books=less stuff) but if I’m going to read to learn or to grow closer to my Jesus then I need something that’s going to actually work.  So that means spending the extra money and getting a book I can write answers in, something that is sitting beside my desk calling for me to open it.  I knew that but thought I’d try just the email type and have learned it’s not for me in this season.  It worked for a while and might again another time.  For now, the physical is needed.
    Pretty books
  3. Sometimes sleep wins over good intentions.  I’m in a season when I just need my sleep.  Lots of reasons for this but I’ve had to come to terms with being okay with not waking up at 5:30 anymore in order to do a lot before the kids wake up.  I still wake up earlier than them to get my shower in, read a little, and drink my coffee.  But if I don’t get enough sleep, then I’m not the best mom.  So some days that means I need a little more sleep to make sure I am replenished enough to pour myself out to my kids.  And other days it means I can get up early and do some yoga.  And both are okay.
  4. It’s okay not to blog consistently  because I’m not doing it as a job.  Because I’ve needed to prioritize and my mind has been elsewhere lately, I haven’t taken the time to write as much.  It isn’t because I don’t want to but it’s more because it’s just not what is most important right now.  And that means that sure, some people may stop following me (or so the research says) because I’m not writing regularly.  But I’m okay with not following the “rules” and just writing when I want to write because really, I’m not doing it for everyone else right now.  Would I love to be at that place in my life when I am some popular blogger and have a book deal or something and all these sponsors?  Sure, that sounds great.  But it’s not what I’m looking to do right now because I need to prioritize my time.  And for me that means working on some soul stuff, spending time with my kids, and not feeling the pressure to have to write because others are expecting it.  Some day that’ll likely change but I appreciate the grace while my blog is a little quiet.  And as they say, we should rest and then work and work from a place of rest.  So maybe that means in the future this blog will be something so fantastic because it’s doing more resting than working right now. 🙂
  5. I have been quite assuming of homeschooling when I really shouldn’t have been.  Ok so this is not something to get into in this post in great detail.  But long story short, I’m going to attempt to homeschool Lily for kindergarten and see how it goes from there.  None of the reasons for us doing this are related to trying to shield her from bad things.  That’s just not us.  And I always assumed that’s why people homeschooled.  A big apology to you homeschooling parents out there–I totally judged you because I generalized and made assumptions.  I now know that people homeschool for a variety of reasons and I think your choice in schooling is totally all about what works for your family.  For some it’s because they travel a lot (intentionally, as a family).  For others it’s because they want more flexibility in their schedule.  And still for some, their local schools aren’t stellar so they choose to homeschool unless things change.  So for us, in this season, I think homeschooling is best for our family and our child.  And again, there’s a lot of reasons behind this decision.  It’s not something I want to debate or anything.  But this process has been a good reminder to continually ask questions, do research, talk with people, and then draw conclusions . . . not the other way around.  And that goes for everything in life.  🙂
  6. I need the sun and fresh air.  We’re totally created that way but I really do need them both.  I knew that when I changed the sunroom from the kids room into my space.  But with the change from winter to spring and spring to summer, it’s become very obvious to me.  I do better emotionally when I have time outside and can take in a little sun.  It’s nothing novel or anything; there’s research to back that up.  But I didn’t realize how much it affected me personally.
  7. It’s important to know what you believe and why for yourself, not because someone else told you.  Again, not going to get into this at any length.  But I’ve come to realize that the more I read (reading=dangerous), the more my eyes are opened.  And the more my eyes are opened, the more I’m seeing how prone I have been to just blindly believing what others have told me is true, without really questioning.  For those of you who read into things, know that I’m still totally into Jesus, probably more so than ever.  ‘Nuff said on that.  Now let it go and don’t try to make assumptions. 🙂
  8. My propensity toward being merciful and erring on the side of grace is coming out more than ever.  I have known for a while that by way of spiritual gifting, I’m high on mercy and exhortation.  But I don’t think I ever realized how much that translates into my views, not just strictly my desire to want to help people.  This has come out by way of the acts of racism lately in our country, the same sex marriage ruling, and just some more local/personal stuff.  While I love that I’m this way, it’s been challenging to me to be merciful to ALL, including those who aren’t naturally merciful. 🙂
  9. Just because it’s not my plan doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan.  In other words, when my plan gets thwarted because God has something different in mind, I need to remember that it’s good.  I’m a little bit of a control freak in some areas of my life.  And it’s tough when I think I’ve got it all figured out and then BOOM God comes in and is like “PSYCH!”  I throw little hissy fits when this happens.  But after I’m over my emotional roller coaster I remember that God knows better than I do and He’s not going to leave me in my mess alone.  It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy but I always grow the most through those tough times so while it’s not delightful, I know it’s often necessary.
  10. I need to embrace the attitude that my kids are an invitation, not an interruption.  A dear friend told me this the other week and man did it hit hard but in a much-needed way.  When I feel like my kids are just constantly interrupting me, asking me questions, wanting my attention . . . it helps to view those moments as invitations to be a part of their lives rather than purely interruptions.  They want me and that’s an honor.  It may not be my preference and of course there are times I have to say no, but just the mental shift is huge.  I don’t want my kids to be 15 and not want to come to me with the big stuff because they think they’re a bother.  And that starts now.  Hard but good truth.

What have you been learning?  Share by commenting below or including a link to your own post.

Friendship 101

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Want a little TMI? I thought so.  I was a bit of an emotional wreck recently.  Like maybe my one-ovary self is going through a bit of premature menopause.  It exists, you know.  I’m going with that as the explanation because it sounds so much more out of my control than just simply, “I’m a 5 year old trapped in a 29 year old’s body and can’t control my emotions.”  Much more palatable, ya?

So my husband, who knows me better than I know myself and has grown tremendously over the years with being sensitive to my needs, decided to take action.  He knew I could use a little friend TLC.  So when he saw one of my friends, he let her know I’m a little emotional and could probably use a chat.  When I’ve seen her in passing, she let me know she’s having a rough time with one of her kids.  But we hadn’t had time to sit down and chat.  She called me unexpectedly and asked how I was doing.  She listened.  And then I asked for more details on what’s going on with her one child and she shared.  And I felt so guilty that she called me and my emotional self when she has way more stuff going on than I do.  Yet she reached out.  She made an awesome friend move.e to sit down and chat.  She called me unexpectedly and asked how I was doing.  She listened.  And then I asked for more details on what’s going on with her one child and she shared.  And I felt so guilty that she called me and my emotional self when she has way more stuff going on than I do.  Yet she reached out.  She made an awesome friend move. [Read more…]

To Be Known

When you want to be known

Not too long ago, I wrote about knowing ourselves and how important it is so we can make choices that align with how we were created.  But at the time, I didn’t think about what it means to be known by others and how important that is to me.

The thing is, no one is going to know us inside and out in our entirety.  And yet don’t we innately long for someone to know us so well that they can finish our sentences, sense when something is wrong without us saying a word, buy us the perfect gift that we never even hinted at?  Maybe some of you have had that kind of a relationship with a family member or best friend.  It’s one of those rare, beautiful gifts.  To be known.  I think as women we just so yearn for that.

I was reflecting on this while away on a retreat with some phenomenal women.  We were each pouring our hearts out in the context of this beautiful, safe community.  And as I listened to others share, I broke down in tears, hearing of how they felt so known by a loved one.  I had no idea where my tears stemmed from.  I went to the bathroom and reflected for a moment and realized that it was because I longed to be understood in the deeper parts of myself.  I had a lot of processing afterward and it’s all too counseling-office to get into now.  But then today I was able to read an email from one of the women who was at the retreat who wanted to encourage the rest of us that we are known.  And she said:

“Just wanted to pass on today the truth that you ARE seen and you ARE known. Every crack and crevice is noted and loved.”

When I was coming off of Mother’s Day weekend, I was overwhelmed and exhausted.  I needed some breathing room . . . some white space.  And part of me was feeling like I wasn’t known.  The truth is, my husband knows me probably better than anyone else and he has studied me (whether intentionally or not) over the past 7 or so years.  He knows me so well that he now can tell when I need alone time even before I verbalize it.  He jumps in and starts decluttering the house when we are hosting people overnight so that I can focus on loving people.  He picks up chores around the house and sends me to take a nap, even though he’s just as busy as I am, if not more.

And it’s a gift to be known by him.  And maybe he’s the only one in my life I’ve ever felt truly known by.  And that was a difficult thing for me to digest.  But then today, when I read the email from my dear friend (and I’d venture to say, mentor, whether she realizes it or not), I was reminded that I have been known all along.  And oh what peace that poured into me today.  When my nerves were rattled and my heart was pounding and my emotions were out of control, I read the verses she shared and felt such calm rush through me.  And so, I’m sharing them with you today because I think we all need to know that we are known . . . always have been, always will be.

(I’m sharing in The Message version because I think it captures some really beautiful imagery but any version is honestly still great).

Psalm 139:1-24 (MSG)

1-6 God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
    And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
    all the men and women who belittle you, God,
    infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
    see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
    Your enemies are my enemies!

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

The Power of Story

The Power of Story (1)

Think about your favorite novel.  Regardless of the genre, it grabbed your attention and kept you wanting more.  It shared a story with you and you felt a part of it.  Maybe you became one of the characters and felt what that character felt. Or maybe you played the part of an outsider looking in, invisible and helpless but involved emotionally.  What resulted was you being fully immersed in a story, whether fiction or true to life, that kept you yearning for the next piece to be unveiled.  Sometimes when we finish a story, we are disappointed by the outcome and, other times, we feel at peace with what was handed to us in the conclusion.  But we hold on til the end.

Is this any different from our own lives?

There is power in story.  Sharing our story with another has tremendous impact on the person sharing.  But it also has the power to influence the person hearing (and, often times, feeling as a result of sharing the experience emotionally).  When an individual shares, what results is this connection that can be made.  We can either choose to lean in and desire more, to be fully immersed.  Or we can choose to close the book and give up on it because it’s too raw . . . scary . . . real.

Sometimes the story has the potential to sit with us and we can’t shake it.  It lingers.  And it takes a lot of bravery to allow it to stay there . . . to embrace it in all its ugliness and beauty . . . to become a character in the story.

It’s a risk, for sure.

But aren’t we drawn to experiencing the story firsthand, rather than hearing someone else tell us about it?  Don’t we love when we become so entrapped in the story that we can’t put it down, just dying to know the end?

Oh how true it is for our own stories.  We can choose to hear, close the book, and then wait until later when the conclusion may have been revealed.  But how much more powerful it is to listen, become a part of the journey, and then experience what results.  We have become so involved that we can’t help but stick it out, even when it’s difficult and gut-wrenching, and raw.  And oh the beauty that results from the potential healing that takes place even for us coming into the story . . . from the grassroots connection that was formed.  Do we not feel so utterly intertwined with someone when we’ve had a shared experience, whether we’re the main or supporting character?  It may not always be pretty but it’s oh so worth it, yes?

Ask someone their story.

Share yours.

Jump into the journey together and get so enthralled in each other’s stories that you can’t help but walk it out together to see what happens.