Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 3: 2016

Today is the last day of 2016. While many people are preparing for the evening's festivities I will not be.  My middle Little asked me, just yesterday, what the big deal was about the new year and I simply told her, I don't know.  I have never really made plans for the New Year.  Well, there was the year I had just met my Mr. (2013) and he came to my friend's house just minutes before the New Year to share the holiday with me.  Otherwise, it has notoriously been a day to sit at home and do, well, nothing!

I thought of several different things I wanted to write about today - how this year has been one of constant turmoil, a few struggles, a couple exciting events, and a daily reminder of who I am and where I fit in.  You see, there is much I don't share, not because I don't want to, but because I don't know how to. It will come, the words will come and then change will follow; I trust in that. The timing of which is still up in the air.

I started this blog post almost 10 hours ago, before the day's activities really began. I had actually typed a few paragraphs which I have long since been deleted because they weren't the words I needed to share.  As I sit here thinking of 2016 I want to take this time of reflection to thank the people in my life.  Each person I have had the opportunity to come into contact with has given me something or rather taught me something, for which I am eternally grateful.  Here are but a few:

  • I have learned from my husband what faithfulness and forgiveness looks and feels like.  He has taught me that true love isn't dependent upon feelings, body type, bank account, sense of style, morning breath, or even medusa hair. It is based on unconditional love and following God's plan and direction for your marriage - TOGETHER.
  • I have learned from my Lord and Savior what a daily walk with him and obedience to his will looks and feels like, even when it means giving up on the things you think you want and need.  He really does know what is best.
  • I have learned from my children what unconditional love looks and feels like. Seriously these 5 people are some of my favorite in all the Earth.  I love being called mommy (mom by the older ones).  And hearing "I love you."
  • I have learned from the moms in my life how to be a good mom and how to grow the bonds of family.
  • I have learned from my friends what trust and support look and feels like.  And that time isn't and shouldn't be a defining factor of the bonds of friendship.  Picking up where you left off after a day, a week, a month, is just as much a blessing as that daily 7 AM messenger conversation.
  • I have learned from my bosses how not to lead people as well as the best ways of leading people and working with others.
  • I have learned from my sister's in Christ how to bow at the feet of Jesus and how not to give up when the going gets tough.  Because heaven know's it has been tough at times this year.
  • I have learned from my dear friend, who is like a mom to me, what having an adult who loves you, listens to you, and gives you Christ-centered advice can do for your broken spirit.  Not only that but just how important that bond is and how much it is needed. 
  • I have learned from watching my brother's wife what type of beauty comes from embracing a family that is not yours.  She is the epitome of a blended family matriarch.
  • I have learned from my ex-Mr.s family that kindness doesn't die the minute you are no longer a part of the family.  And I am thankful for that.
  • I have learned from my brother what turning your life around and taking care of a family that isn't yours looks like.  I have also learned from him what unsolicited help looks like; he'd literally give you the shirt off of his back.
  • I have learned from my sister how not to use a sharp kitchen knife to de-pit an avocado!  Ha!  Or more that conversation can be fun even when you are exact opposites of each other - in every way.
  • I have learned from my extended family that although miles separate us we are all still a part of a bigger whole.
  • I have learned from myself that you are never too old to stop learning, nor should you ever be.
People, as you ring in the new year in the special way that you personally do it, remember the blessings, the lessons, and the people 2016 brought to you.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Love, M

Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 2: 30 Interesting Facts

Day 2 of this 30-day challenge and I think I spent more time looking for a topic than I will have to on the writing bit!  Naturally, I went to Pinterest and after pinning several new lists, settled in on this topic: 30 interesting facts about yourself.  I got this!!!

1)  I love to read non-fiction.  This is something that has only come about in the past few years as story books started losing their appeal.  I will pick one up every once in a while, but for the most part, it's true stuff only for me!
2)  I don't have TV.  Gasp!  I know.  How completely un-American can I be? LOL.  We have the Netflix and Amazon Prime so if there is something I feel I need to sit and waste an hour or so of my life watching, I have the option available to me.
3) I do not like pop music.  Never have, even in my younger years. It's all rather tired and boring.  I prefer classic rock (which in my defense was pop-culture before my time!)
4) I have an eclectic style in everything - clothes, decorating, etc.  I don't follow a set of trendy rules.  I kind of just go after what makes my heart smile.  It's so much more comfy that way and my people seem to like it too!
5) I started out my college career as an engineering major.  I quickly realized math and I are not as tight as we were before the alphabet got involved.
6) I love antiques. Old things make my heart smile.  I love to think of all the memories they have seen, what they must have looked like and been used for when they were first lovingly used.
7) I am BIG into recycling.  I think a bit too much at times; I drive my people nuts with it.  However, my oldest Little is now in the Tree-Huggers Club at school and is using her vast knowledge to teach the younger kids.
8) I love teaching.  It is the one thing that, when I think about it, makes my eyes well up with tears and I long to make my life's dream. I firmly believe teachers are a blessing and hold an honorable roll.  Hat's off to all of them - for every grade/subject level.
9) Our home is almost 120 years old.  She's drafty, creaky, not quite level in some places, temperamental when it comes to adornment (can't nail into the walls!!), but oh is she beautiful.  I have pictures from when she was first built and from how the original homeowners used the spaces - simply amazing.
10) We have a four-legged "child" who is the unofficial queen of our space.  She is so loved by everyone and spoiled rotten!  We love our Miss Clarabelle and are thankful we could give her a loving home to live in.
11) I love to tinker with crafts.  There are times I get a hair-brained idea, go after it with 100% gusto, and when I find out I'm not quite as talented as I'd hoped to be, I end up with a pile of useless things for the Littles to tinker with.  Anyone need a box of yarn?  #failedatcrochetingablanketmuch
12) My girls are getting a new step-mom today.  The ex-Mr. is getting married.  I am quite excited for them.  Their step-mom is a great person and someone with whom I have the pleasure of calling, friend.  I could be all those horrible, stereo-typey things but what is the purpose in that?  It creates a whole slew of ick that is simply not necessary nor worth it. Besides, we are both the product of someone else's choice.  It truly is all a matter of perspective. Plus she's cool and I dig that.  Oh, and she can crochet.  See # 11!
13) My favorite game in all of the world is Scrabble (or Words with Friends).  I don't have a vast vocabulary, but that is ok, the app takes care of that for me! Hehehe
14) I am hopelessly addicted to LulaRoe.  I have about a dozen pieces myself and my girls each have a couple pieces.  Yes, we are all hooked!  The colors, the patterns, the way it is ok to have an eclectic style and find things that are marketed just for that sole purpose.  It's like I found a clothing line that just gets me!  That, and they feel like you are in pajamas all day!  #idoclassywell
15) I wrote a paper during my first undergrad talking about VGA (video game addiction). Is it ok now to admit I actually love watching my Mr. play WoW?  Seriously Blizzard rocks out the graphics, story lines, and sound effects.  However, the Mists of Pandoria was a bit, um, not what I was expecting - from a spectator's point of view that is.  A couple of our Littles play too, so it is something everyone can enjoy.
16)  Coffee.  #selfexplanatory
17) I've never really liked the color yellow.  I don't know how it became my go-to favorite color.  Sure, it is cheery and bright and all of that, but honestly I am so much more fond of green.  And white.  Oh, how those two together make me smile.  #cancolorsmakeyouswoon
18)  I love pearls.  It isn't that diamonds aren't pretty, they are, but they are just so - common.  Pearls are elegant and simple, and well, like a diamond have to go through a lot of work to become what they are.
19)  I have a thing for trees.  There is just something altogether majestic about them.  I know it is strange, but I think it must be a reason why I enjoy the outdoors so much.  Forests make me feel at peace.
20) I do not like the tropics, the ocean, or anything where the air is so thick you have to drink it.  Yes, I am that person who will never willingly pay for a vacation to the south.
21) I have ran a marathon.  I think there are several posts on here about my love of running.  I haven't been able to for a really long time now because of my knee.  Everytime I try to start again it gets all wonky on me and I have to stop.  I cry about it.  I miss going out for a run every day.  I miss the feeling of freedom it gave me. I miss that quiet time with God.
22) I hate crowds.  I don't do well in a large group of people. I get completely bent out of shape, I start feeling overwhelmed and after about an hour of it I feel drained of all my life-force.  My Mr.  he is the exact opposite.  He loves it.  We make it work.
23) I love my mini-van.  I'm completely upset that Chrysler did away with the Town and Country, I've owned three of them now over the course of the years.  I can't wait to downsize to an SUV though.  However, Chrysler no longer makes the Aspen, so... #ahemmarketingguys #pullittogetherchrysler
24) I am working on a Bible study to present to the Pastor.  I'd like to teach it on a Wednesday night or something, but we shall see.  I can't take all of the credit for it, it is a collection of studies I have sat in. I am just revising and condensing them into a smaller series.  We shall see how it pans out.
25) I have not had a single drop of alcohol in 62 days.  The best part of that (besides the clarity and lack of empty calories) is that I have not even craved it.  I would like to take this moment and thank the Holy Spirit for his continued work in my life and deep desire to help me become more Christ-like. #ivetakenseveralchancestodothis
26) I am currently reading several books.  While I do love non-fiction, I find that I want to read so many different books that I start them even while reading another.   The results are still in the works, but seeing as how I've done this for at least 20 years of my life, I'm not likely to make a drastic change.  #imightbeabitlikebelle
27)  I am not good with small talk and find general conversation to be a very difficult task for me.  I try really hard to talk with others, but in the end struggle to keep it going.  I don't have the gift of gab or the desire to actually engage in it.  #itisntyouitsme
28) I would rather stay at home than go out.  No, it is true.  I'm not for going out just for the sake of going out.  I am a home body. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy the occasional vacation or weekend getaway, it just means that on a daily basis, home is where I prefer to be.  #homeiswheremyheartis #imnotthatexciting
29)  I love to help people.  I'm good with the doing.  But I am not one to insert myself into a situation.  You will have to be direct and ask.  I will then help.  Want me to come over? Ask.  I do not show up anywhere uninvited.  It is just me.  Don't take it personally.  I am not that random show-up-in-your-space-to-be-person.  I think a lot of people in my life take this character trait of mine the wrong way.  #sadly
30) I love to cook.  I would love to have a kitchen the size of my living room and dining room combined.  However, I have this adorably quaint gally kitchen that allows me to use my cooking prowess in a much more conservative manner.  I have to clean as I go, and be selective about what I actually need to own.  In a way, it may be a good thing.  However, when we downsize I will be sure to find a home with a kitchen at least half the size of the house.  #okimaybeexaggerating #ilovetocook

Is it too much to say that I could actually continue on with this list?  I know, there is already a lot to read.  Well, if you have made it this far - congrats!  You have officially used a portion of your life getting to know more about me.  Thank you for that.  Now, if you want to leave a comment I'd like that.  It will have to go under review seeing as how there are those out there who spam and I have to protect all of you from their inappropriate (read that - mean, ugly, hurtful) ways!

Have a good one!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

One Thing To Do

Years ago, before my life took a drastic turn, I wrote a blog about a 30-day challenge.  The premise of that blog was to write something different every day for, well, 30 days!  I never got there.  I did blog many times over the course of that life change, but I never got to the challenge.  Despite that, I'd wager to say it was some of my most profound writing; personal opinion, of course.  Honestly, in the last several months I have felt the urge to write but am constantly fighting for the words to say, the things to share, the thoughts to come. It is almost like there is nothing left in me worth writing about.  It isn't that I am without problems or life events, it is just that they are all rather, normal.  Gasp!  My life is normal - I'm a normal human.  Anyway, before I get too much further into this aimless rambling, I thought I would give another go at this whole 30-day challenge thing.

Before we begin, I have to admit Pinterest is a wonderful tool for finding random writing prompts and journaling ideas.  In fact, I have pinned a plethora of them!  The one I am using tonight - a topic for each day in the month of December - does not have a viable link; thankfully there is a good image to read from!  Today's topic is "One thing to do".

Isn't that rather vague?  There are many things that I want to do - so very many, but the first thing to come to mind is traveling to Europe.  I have wanted to do this since I was a teenager.  There is just something magical and mystical sounding about the countries - Scotland, Ireland, England, etc.  Oh, ok, it is because I spent the better part of my adolescence and early adulthood reading historical romance, most of which were based on characters from these locals.  Yet, I can't even remotely put all of the reasoning on those books. I mean, have you heard the accents?! SWOON!

Actually, I can remember the first time I "consciously" heard the accent spoken. I was younger, probably in the 4th or 5th grade, and my friends and I were walking about the trailer park where we grew up.  We had just left Dawn's mom, Deb's trailer and had stopped by Jenny's - another friend of ours whose parent's had a year-round camper just a few places behind her.  Both of these places were at the top of the hill from the lake and you could only get to by walking a rutted, overgrown footpath.  Ok, you could actually take the road, but that was the long way around and clearly takes away from the drama of the story!

In the spring of that year a new double wide was put in just two spaces down from Jenny's.  We were all so star-struck by the place because it looked so fancy compared to the trailers we were living in.  Come summer we would walk by every day hoping there were kids there to play with us, but alas, there were not, only an older couple who used the place for a summer home. It was one summer night, as I shared above, when we were walking from Dawn's, with a stop at Jennys', that we heard the words.  We all stopped. I mean, we hadn't heard anyone talk like that before and it sounded just as fancy as the house. Naturally, we had to investigate (a.k.a. be nosey)!

The grown-ups entertained us for a small bit, like any kind, fancy, and obviously proper adult would do.  I vaguely remember them telling us they were visiting their friends and didn't live around there, then me trying to talk like them - which I'm certain now was a rude thing for me to do, but I was just so enthralled.  (Honestly I still am.  Maybe that is why I love British television more than anything else...could be?! I digress.)  Then, in what seemed like a long while, but was more like a couple minutes, we were off again to relive our brush with "royalty".  Isn't it amazing what your childhood imagination can do for you?

Fast forward all these years and here I am, wishing I could go.  Knowing it will take a few years to save up the money to afford such a  trip, but also knowing there isn't anyone on this Earth I'd rather go there with than my Mr.   I'm quite thankful he, too, has an affinity for all things BBC and while I'm quite certain it is for vastly different reasons, it is something I wouldn't dream of sharing with anyone else.

So, there you have it, my one thing to do. So, I have to ask, what is yours?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Finding Joy

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23

Just a couple of days ago, I shared with you all how much I hate Christmas.  I know.  I went there.  It was as if all of the joy for the day had been sapped out of me and there wasn’t anything left for me to do but grin and bear it, so-to-speak. There are a few things I want to pass on now that the hustle and bustle are over and a certain level of normalcy is returning.  Before I do, I need to let you know it is only through hindsight I can see what I am about to share.  None of it was in the moment, even if I did have the faint awareness of it during the time.

On Christmas Eve I had the blessing of a good friend come and help me clean up the house and wrap the gifts Santa was leaving for the Littles.  Now this friend has many years of following and listening to God’s still small voice as she has traveled this thing called life.  (She has buried an adult child, lost another to personal choices, has suffered from cancer and chemo and is now in remission, just to name a few of the reasons I value her perspective and advice when hardships arise.) As we sat at the table and wrapped presents she shared some of her favorite Christmas memories and I shared mine (there’s a blog post about that in here somewhere – from many years ago). Then I shared with her what was going on concerning Christmas this year.

I want to sit here and share all of the words spoken, the many things she told me or directed me on, but instead all I truly remember her saying is along these lines, “the joy of Christmas is so much bigger than the circumstances we have while celebrating it.”  I know, right?!  We talked for a while more and then the girls and I went to the Christmas eve service at our old church (it is a tradition they love and they asked me if we could go months ago).  It was a wonderful service - which we were nearly 15 minutes late to, but we did get to spend 45 minutes singing, praying, and sharing in fellowship with others.  TO be honest, besides the candle lighting at the end, our favorite part of the service is the special story that is read in lieu of an official “sermon”.  Every year it is different from the year before. And wouldn’t you know, this year’s story focused on one main concept – finding true joy during Christmas. 

Fast forward to Christmas morning, a time I was dreading due to all of the things we had to get done in such a short time, and well, God worked it out.  Perfectly.  In the best way, possible. Just like he does – even when we (ok, I) don’t always think he will. It was a morning that not only was full of joy (evidenced in the eyes and reactions of our Littles) but one that I truly enjoyed.  Yes, there was still a lot of chaos and logistical craziness, but I managed and I wasn’t too late for any of it!  (Being the one driving, everyone else was somewhat dependent upon me to get them where they needed to go.)  After dropping all the Littles off at their next Christmas celebrations (blended families add new blessings) I got to have a wonderful Christmas dinner with my friend (whom I spoke of earlier) and her family while the Mr. was at work (public service personnel do not get the luxury of holidays off). 

Then today as I was reading more of the book, Crash the Chatterbox, I read this, “My joy is not determined by what happens to me but by what Christ is doing in me and through me.”  People…I think I got it!  Three times I was reminded of joy and how we can have it no matter what.  And, if I were to take a literary leap, just like Scrooge was given three views to find his Christmas spirit, I believe I was shown three times how to find the joy in mine.

I hope you all had a blessed holiday and that no matter what it looked like, felt like, smelled like (???), it was all like it was supposed to be. 

Much love,

Friday, December 23, 2016

When Christmas Isn't Merry

Christmas is a really hard time of year for me.  Oh, it hasn't always been hard, just in the recent past few years.  For those who have followed this blog for any given amount of time, you know it was during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season that the ex-Mr. left.  I won't sit here and tell you there hasn't been some happy Christmas memories since that time, there have, but, there are also many that make this time of year hard.  I want to share straight off that this post will be raw - you don't have to read/finish beyond this point.

It is during the Christmas season that I find in my heart so much hurt, pain, and, yes, even anger. I want to tell you I can pinpoint it to one exact thing, and maybe if I look at it hard enough I really can.  Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, a time to honor and remember the birth of our Savior. Yet, I have found that I cannot, especially at this time of year, put away all of the feelings I have about how Christmas is no longer Christmas - how the choices others made have impacted the memories I have and the potential for new ones to be made.

I know I am not the only person who struggles with this holiday and it would be completely naive of me to believe it so.  However, despite this truth I cannot come to grips with the amount of turmoil inside of me.  I want to be full of the joy, hope, and peace this season is reminiscent of, but with all this raw emotion building up inside of me I cannot seem to turn off the negative thoughts in my head in order to find it. (Gosh how I sound like the Grinch...) I pray constantly for the Lord to hear the pain, not the thoughts I have.  I pray for the Lord to calm me so I will ont feel anger towards others and the situations involved.  I pray for the Lord to take away the pain brought on by the blatant actions of others who claim to be "family".  I even pray for those who are purposely hurting me and my fmaily. Yet, these - this - it is all. still. here. This ugliness inside of my heart.

You guys, I shouldn't say this, but - I hate Christmas.  Really.  I think I do.  And no matter how hard I try to say and express (empty expression) how excited I am for the day and the time, I am not.  No matter how many "perfect" gifts I get for others, how many Christmas carols I sing, Hallmark movies I watch, or strands of twinkle lights I hang, there is still that thing keeping me from enjoying the season. Oh, I don't want it to be so.  I want to love Christmas.  I want to enjoy the time and make the memories.  I want it to be a day of blessing to all.  I want it to be full of happy laughter.  Instead it is not.

Oh, I'll go on through the day with a false smile, one that will have a twinkle that will not reach my eye.  I will give the carefully selected gifts to those they were bought for, and not expect a thing in return.  I will pray without ceasing for the day to to get over so I can work my way through the pain of it all.   I will trust in the Lord to get me to the 26th physically unscathed. And finally, I will be grateful there is another years worth of days before next Christmas to work out all of the bitterness this holiday envokes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Perceived Perceptions

I don't know if I've shared this before or not, but I get caught up in perception. Not so much in how I perceive the actuality of something, but how I perceive what others are perceiving about me in the actuality of something.  I KNOW!  It is such a convoluted mess.   It is so stressful that it has my mind and my emotions all twisty -ALL. THE. TIME!  Here in lies the problem.  Allow me to explain.

When I think I know how people are seeing me, I begin to act upon those perceived perceptions.  I put those ideas into play, despite how contorted and wrong they may be.  In some ways I know them to be completely wrong, and yet I am remiss to stop myself from believing them. And you know what?  It hurts.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have done this and wish I could take it all back.  How I wish I could undo the amount of time spent acting out those perceptions.  Most especially when they involve those I love.

It's funny really.  A while back, I don't know when exactly, my ex-mother-in-law told me something I will never forget.  So you know, we still talk and have a good relationship.  She is a wonderful woman and I greatly enjoy her company and miss her cooking even more!  I'm quite thankful my Littles have her as a grandma.  To my point. She told me (and this is a paraphrase because I don't remember the exact words), "you really just need to be who you are and not try to be everyone else too".  What!  I know!  Those words continually haunt me.

That's just it too. Because I am constantly trying to live up to those perceived perceptions I don't know who I am for the most part.  Or more so, I never let who I am grow and become.  Sadly,  because of this, I have lost so much.  I have lost time. I have lost love.  I have lost relationships.  I have lost opportunities.  I have lost.  And why do I do this?  Oh, without a doubt, I do it out of fear.  Fear that if I am not some person, or can do something, then I will never be enough. I want to tell you that the identification of this fact will get me on the path of, well, not doing it, but I cannot.  I don't know what tomorrow holds any more than I do the next 5 minutes.

I often reflect on the times I let those perceptions create in me a character I do not like.  A character that doesn't even resonate with who I want to be.  For example, I want to be the cool person who is good in groups like my brother and sister, gosh even like my husband.  They can work a room like it is no one's business and be a person other's want to be around, and even like.  Me, I'm awkward. I get scared. And when I do I try all the harder because I perceive them as seeing me as someone I am not.  So I act on those perceptions.  And it is a disaster every single time. Every. Single. Time.

One would think at my age I would be passed this.  Mostly due to the fact that once you've successfully navigated and nearly completed your 3rd decade of life you should have a handle on all of this. Yet, I don't.  It is something that I try to let go, but struggle to do.  I want to be comfortable with who I am and know that who I am is ok, but I don't. I worry about those perceptions.  I worry about being liked and wanted and it eats at me.  And when it comes to this point I start to question why God made me like this.  Why he would create me to be someone that is easily forgotten or that no one wants to be around.

But I realize that isn't the truth either because I know what God says about me.  I know he doesn't make mistakes.  I know he made me on purpose, for a purpose.  I know that he has plans for me.  I know I am his because He chose me to be. And yet still, I yo-yo between the knowing and the being.

There isn't a profound purpose to this blog today. No lesson I wish to impart. No tidbit of incredible wisdom. Just the thoughts I have in my head at this time and the thing I struggle with most. This thing that feeds all other things I struggle with.  It is this that breeds all of my nuances - both right and wrong.  I want to let it go. I want to drop it at the feet of Jesus and be free from it.  I want to just be me. And I want to like the person I am.

Since this is life and it is taken a day at a time, I want to think I'm making a successful go at it all, but I am most certain there will be lapses and relearning and struggles on the journey to get there. Without a doubt there will be pages and pages of words you will read (or not) during this time. I just hope that in my openness, some good can come.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Finding Thanks To Give

Today is Thanksgiving.  Here in our neck of the woods it is cold, damp from 24 straight hours of rainfall the day/night before, and now dark (thank you daylight savings time for that reality at such an early hour ~ ok, fair is fair, mother nature has a thing or two to do with that as well...I digress!).  I need to be honest here - I didn't wake up today ready to feel thankful.  In fact, I woke up today not ready for today to happen - at all.  Oh, it isn't because I don't love Thanksgiving, I do.  In fact, of all the holidays we celebrate this one is my absolute favorite.  (Yes, Chrismas and Easter are wonderful, but I love those for completely different reasons.) Why? You might ask.  Well, for these reasons here.  Today my Littles are off with their dad meeting their new step-family (yes, he's getting married! To a woman that I actually admire and think is a great person and will be a wonderful influence and help in the girls' life), my family had their Thanksgiving a couple weeks ago while my little sister was in town (she lives in Denver), and my Mr. had to go to work.

However, as I was sitting here alone this afternoon, several things have come to mind for which I am truly thankful for.

For these, I have so much thanks to give:

1. I am wholly and deeply loved by a God who saves, forgives and leads.  I am a broken person, but I am not beyond the grace of our Savior.  I am a child of the one true King and He is totally NOT FINISHED with me yet and I cannot WAIT to see where He takes me next.

2. I have been blessed with a husband that not only loves, cares, provides for, and protects me, but does so daily - by choice.  There is so much I could say here, but I will leave it at that.  He. Chose. Me.  He still chooses me. And I, without a doubt, believe God brought us together for a reason.

3. I have three of the most beautiful little girls, in the entirety of the world, who call me mom. Seriously, I don't know what I would do without that honor.  Yes, they can make me cry, get frustrated and angry, but oh how they make me smile and laugh.  I am so in awe of who they are and the women they are becoming.  Truly, to have the blessing of raising them and watching them grow...renders me speechless.

4. I have the privalege of being a step-mom to two rambunctious little boys.  They are not mine by blood, but I do love and care for them just the same. In fact, I believe step parents have a greater honor than biological parents, because in these relationships you not only have a choice, you get a choice.  If only everyone would look at it through those lens', I think there'd be a greater amount of joy in blended families today.

5. I was able to talk with my mom today and wish her a Happy Thanksgiving.  Since we had our family get-together on the 12th she was home watching football and decorating for Christmas.  Go team...whoever you are that is playing...LOL!

6. I called my brother and got his VM,  which I appropriately left a brilliant message displaying my awesomeness as his big sister.  A while later he did send me a text.  So, in the grand scheme of things, I scored a cool sister point - somewhere!  HA!

7. I texted my little sister and got a reply back - way later (I'm chalking it up to the 2 hour time difference and the fact she had surgery yesterday.) Then she surprised me with a phone call just a bit ago.  We talked for over an hour!  An hour!  And it was wonderful (we didn't discuss politics so I'm mostly certain that is the main reason why.  LOL)  I cannot tell you when the last time was we actually talked - like got past the obligatory conversational pleasantries and talked - and here we got to...uninterrupted...for a long time. In the end we came to the standing conclusion that I am the logical/practical one and she is the people-y one....either way, the several minutes of talking in between forming that conclusion, was priceless.

8. I got to spend the morning/early afternoon with my Mr.'s family.  Yes, he was there too, for a bit,  until work beckoned.  In that time we got to visit with others, eat some yummy food, and go through a lot of old family photos.  I have to tell you, my Mr. was an absolutely adorable kid!  I've come to the conclusion that boys don't really change their looks as they are growing as much as girls do.   Any way, we got to bring many pictures home and I can't wait to scrapbook them for him.

9. I have time to spend with myself.  If you aren't one who likes this, or even needs this, I don't expect you to understand.  But I am a person who needs time to decompress.  I can't be "on" all of the time. When I am it makes me cranky and I start to have panic/anxiety attacks and I get really out of shape. This quiet time is exactly what my soul needed.  There is no shame in needing this, and I have none for admitting it.

10. I have been blessed with a wonderful job.  I cannot begin to put into words how much I enjoy my new job.  Is it challenging and hard?  Yes.  Are the people good, kind, considerate and helpful?  Absolutely.  Am I learning new things?  Without a doubt. In all, it was the best decision I made - following God's prompting on this move.  There are many things I had to give up (benefits/pay wise), but in the grand scheme of things, I know I'm in a place where God can and will use me.

11.  I cannot even put into words how thankful I am for the material blessings God has provided for us.  We have a home, vehicles that run, clothes to wear, food to eat, and activities to enjoy.   I am, without a doubt, humbled by his graciousness.

12. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve others at church; for their confidence in me to be their Hospitality Team Coordinator.  I am so extremely excitied to see where God leads me, but more so in how He can use me to further His kingdom.  I only pray that I don't let Him or His church down.

13. This one I saved for last.  Probably because it will become a post of its own one day, but mostly because it is something that I am hesitant to share.  First, I am thankful for answers to prayer.  Second, I am doubly thankful for a God that doesn't give up and gave me the courage to have a heart of obedience. You guys, I am proud to admit that I have not had a drop of alcohol in 25 days.  While some may not recognize this for what it is, there are many who will.  I could not have done this without the support of my Mr. and the daily grace of my Savior.  There is still much road to travel, but I've got amazing people on my side.

So, while you are all out there having family time together, roasting turkeys, eating mountains of mashed potatoes with gravy flowing down into a pile of stuffing, remember the things you are thankful for.  While I could have ended the day focusing on all the things today didn't hold, I found looking on the things it did hold was such a greater joy.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  May you have a blessed start to this Holiday season and find the truest gifts life has to offer.

Much love,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Buried Talent

I have a lot on my mind - things which may seem disconnected, but I am fairly certain are not. I need to be upfront and honest here; I am controlled by fear. It not only grips me but takes away any semblance of self-confidence I have.  I read a short article the other day on (one of my absolute favorite on-line magazines, by the way) about traits of unsuccessful people.  Why I felt compelled, I do not know.  Yes, actually I do - mostly because I see myself as an unsuccessful person. Anyhow, to my point.  It said, and I paraphrase, "unsuccessful people use misplaced aggressiveness to mask a confidence that is wrapped in insecurity." The WHAT you say?!?!  I know.  As if that wasn't profound enough to get the brain spinning, just last night the Mr. and I were watching an absolutely adorable British movie (another thing about me - I love British TV and movies, perhaps it is their unrequited desire to push all social envelopes and still meet the needs of all demographics?  Who knows but I am getting off task.) about family and bonds and time travel and, well, you get the picture.  In this movie, the Patriarch said to his son, and again I paraphrase, "a man who is so easily led will never have men to lead." People!

Then today as I was doing my devotions, I read this:
"Not only does the chatterbox spin endless tales about the awful things that might happen to us. It also creates infinite illusions about the terrible way God will respond to us if we fail." (By the way, my biggest fear is the fear of failure.) ... "Now, instead of turning fear out of doors, we have let fear shut us out of opportunities to use the resources and gifts we've been given to honor the God who gave them." (My spiritual gifts are teaching and knowledge.) ... "In order to walk past your what-ifs and into God's plan for your life, you can't just count what it might cost you if you do attempt to obey God and fail. You must consider the cost of playing it safe in an attempt to avoid what God is calling you to do - and succeeding." (I have been asked to lead the Hospitality Team at church. But I am wrought with the fear of failing, of not doing it right, of people not coming anymore because of me, of not being accepted or even liked you see what I deal with in this head of mine?!)

Now, while I may not be "doing" my dream job on a professional level - yet, I am still super scared to try.  What if I fail?  And this team at church?  What if I fail at that too? I have asked God for years to show me a ministry that I can get into, that I can help with. (I always wanted to do Women's Ministry, and co-teach with my spouse a couples know all things teaching.) Instead, this is the opportunity that has presented itself and I think I know why.  (Here is where God is probably smirking because I'm trying to define a known...His known!) I'm not good at all with hospitality.  Don't get me wrong, I want people to come over and I will do everything in my power to make the house look good, buy the snacks, food, beverages, decorations, etc in an effort to keep them from having to worry or spend a dime...BUT...I constantly fear they do not really want to be here or even come for that matter, which causes me to fixate on the "doing" all that much more.  So much so, to the point, I do not enjoy being hospitable.

The root cause?  FEAR!  It is just like the parable of the talents.  You know, where the servants were given money (talents) to work with while the master was away and 2 of the 3 did, but the last dude, in his fear, buried the money and didn't expand upon it for his master.  The master gave props to the first two, "Well done my good and faithful servant"; while the fearful one was turned out and chastised for his inaction.  You see, I resonate with him.  He was scared.  Like I am.  He did what he thought was right, which was to do nothing at all.  This stopped him from receiving a blessing and growing personally.  I am constantly doing what I think is right, out of fear.  I don't do bold things.  I don't try to do what is in my heart, that which I have the passion for doing, (help at church, teaching, etc) because I'm so incredibly scared that I will fail at it. So I just keep on, keeping on.  And in that keeping on, where I am, I substitute the confidence of my actions with aggressiveness because I want to be strong, I want to show I can lead, that I know what to do - because I want to be successful at it. In the end, I am really just being led by my fears.

It is going to take much effort to work through the *gasp* nearly 40 years of learnt behavior that formed the person I am, but I know with the strength of the Lord and His ever so patient (and understanding) nature, He will guide me (even when I stop letting Him at times) towards the place He wants me to be.  Until then, I will work my talents, not for me, but because they are the ones He gave me and they should not be buried.  Beware, people, this will be messy, it will be broken, and it will most definitely not look like progress while it is happening.  Not to say God can't make beautiful happen from broken, but that broken is a natural progression and progression of this nature is messy.  That is a long way of saying - we're going to be revisiting this lesson a few times before we succeed! :)

I encourage you to work yours....

Much love,

Friday, October 21, 2016

Today Just Was

I know life is about change.  I also know that life is going to be wrought with ups and downs, victories and defeats, joy and sadness, and so on.  I know, too, how we think plays a huge role in the outcome of each day. You see, today I could tell was going to be a rough day.  You know, one of those days where you wake up and you just "feel" it?!  That is when it happened.  Instead of thanking the Lord for giving me another day, I woke up, looked at myself, and felt instant disgust.  This feeling trailed me out the door and into the van.  Then at Starbucks this morning they messed up my drink, seriously who on earth forgets the double shot of espresso?  Sadly I didn't catch it until I was already on the interstate and took a big swig of my caramel flavored frothed milk...YUMMO...NOT!  But that wasn't even the clincher.  Here I was, finally going to get to work BEFORE 8 am and no...that coffee-less drink I just mentioned...took them over 15 minutes to make and I sadly arrived at my normal time.  This, of course, left me with feelings of failure.  But wait, there is more!  No, really, there is.  I started talking to the Mr. through text, and you know when you are having a conversation with someone and it is most definitely one-sided?  How can one tell?  Well, your multiple sentence texts are replied to with a single word and there is no sharing from the other side.  And this was the final blow, the one that left me feeling unimportant, unloved, unnecessary, and forgotten. 

So, naturally I did what any sane woman would do, I buried myself in my work.  But wait, I'm only three weeks into this gig and there isn't much I can bury myself in - I. AM. STILL. LEARNING!  Oh, the things that can take a day and turn it on its end.  To add the final insult to this injury laden day, I flitted around on Facebook, you know that place where people ONLY post their highlights?  Heaven's I couldn't even find a good political debate to throw myself into.  Instead, I got to see all these fun, loving, caring, things others were doing, how they were being treated by the ones they love, how they had someone to show them attention, how their dreams were coming true, etc. Yep, I did!  Just yesterday, I chose to praise instead of pout...see...human-ness! Right. Here.  All of it.  In two paragraphs.  Sigh...feelings and guck.  But it came to a screeching halt.  Here's why.

Without sharing the personal details, one of the people I love most in this world, and outside of family have actually known the longest in my entire life, experienced something today.  Something that made all the petty little things I felt the right to fixate on fall to the wayside.  She had such an epic level of hurt and pain and sadness present itself and all I could do was cry. So I did.  I cried for her.  And her family.  I expressed my sincere condolences and offered up my words of prayer and then left the conversation at that.  Does something with this much pain have an end?  We aren't to dwell and I didn't want to.  For her sake, but here I am and all I really want to do is call her and cry with her some more.  I want to question God even when I know the answers.  In a situation like this, how do you show love to them without overstepping your place?  And that is it. My friend needs love and prayers and comfort and I'm a 17-hour car ride from her.

And there you have it.  Today. Just. Was.

- M

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Choosing to Praise Instead of Pout

A few months back I made a really big decision. (I shared this in my last post.) It was a decision that was many years in the making.  One that was not easy in the least but was most certainly bathed in prayer.  I submitted my resignation.  After nearly 20 years in automotive and nearly 16 years in the same facility, it was time to move on.  I did this with the sole focus in mind to grow myself professionally once I completed my MBA. I would also like to share I have accepted a position with a company which prides itself on growing people and this is evidenced by the sheer number who work for them who have 20+ years of service and still love what they do!  I can not wait to see what the future holds for me with them. 

That said.  My passion was, and still is, with education and teaching.  It is truly my heart's desire and what I long to do.  I want to teach so badly that when I do something as simple as to think about it I get all teary-eyed.  People, I know in my heart of hearts, with all that I am, I was designed to be a teacher.  Ever since I was a little girl I knew this is what I wanted to do. I can remember playing school with my cousins, my siblings, heavens even with the neighbor kids.  Yes!  I would play school in the summer, on the weekends, during the was my absolute favorite thing to play.  I couldn't wait to share what I learned in school with those around me so they could learn too.  Fast forward to my professional career and in it, I can find the beautifully woven strands of teaching opportunities I had over the years.  It almost seems like I gravitate towards all the opportunities I can find.  It is also why I have no question in my mind on how, or even why, my Spiritual gifts are Teaching and Knowledge.

Then today happened.  You see, when I was in the transition period of my previous job I applied for a substitute teaching position with a rather large school district not too far from here.  I paid all the fees and did all the things I was supposed to do and for three months never heard a word. Until today. Today I finally got the answer. My application was Denied. I wish I could share with you this didn't upset me, but it did - A LOT.  Yes, even though I have a great job, I still cried. Then I started down the path of thinking I was not good enough (I mean, I couldn't even get a job as a substitute teacher, what makes me think I could get one as an actual teacher?) and that I was never going to reach my lifelong dream of teaching.  As I wavered in between self-doubt, self-loathing, acceptance, and sadness I attempted to talk it over with God, but I couldn't keep my focus.  I'd like to blame it on the fact I was still driving, that there was a lot of traffic and some construction, but in truth, it was because I was too caught up in what was the matter that I didn't give the conversation the time it needed.

But...oh how there is always a "but" in the lessons of life. As I approached my exit I got my phone out of my purse and when I pulled up to the stop, I opened my email. There in the queue was today's devotional.  I had overlooked it a few times today because I didn't have time to read it.  I clicked on the email and opened up the words that were meant for me to read. (No I didn't read while driving! I got stopped by a train and began to read.)  People, I have to tell you, God knows what he is doing.  He knows all about timing and perfection and all the details that go into each. As I read I was reminded that sometimes things don't go as we want them to and that sometimes when we stop fighting what has happened and praise God for the opportunity instead, we find the true blessing. And I did.  You see, if they had accepted it, then I would have had to turn them down because I found something else.  And I don't think the door that opened for me was altogether the wrong door.

I think I am where I am supposed to be, for now.  I have a job that takes care of me and mine and doesn't require the crazy hours, the constant on call, the disruption to my family time, and/or the sacrifice of vacation and holidays.  I have a job where I get to learn and grow and even, by chance, make a difference. Better yet, in this job I am being taught things I never knew about things I have always done!  Yes, I am growing my understanding and comprehension and this is the best possible thing for me right now.  After all, aren't all teachers required to continue their education to keep them at the forefront of knowledge in their field of study?

So, while today had the opportunity to become a day where I chose to become sad and depressed (basically pout), God reminded me of Paul and Silas and Acts chapter 16. Here they chose to praise instead of pout and they had so very much more to be sad about.  I guess I say all that to say this:  days are going to have downfalls, dreams are going to take time, steps are going to happen - sometimes in a forward motion, sometimes in a backward one, but through it all, if you look at it from a different perspective there is always an opportunity to praise the outcome.

Much love, M

PS...I will definitely forget this lesson, I am not perfect.  But the great thing is, I serve a perfect God who understands my shortcomings and yet, he still chose me.

PSS (or is it PPS?!)...I am still pursuing teaching positions!  Specifically to start, as an adjunct professor for evening, weekend, and/or online courses.  Don't fret this girl has a plan :)

Monday, September 26, 2016

What If?

The hardest thing about having a blog, besides ensuring  you actually write something, is knowing what to write.  There are many different seasons in life, things that seem so important at the time, but end up being just normal everyday stuff.  There are moments that are so insanely funny that you can't wait to share them but don't get to it straight away and then you forget what made them so funny, to begin with.  There are moments that are so bitterly painful that you can't help but want to share the experience in hopes that others know they too can get through it, or more likely the sharing is a part of the therapy. And I wonder, of all these things, which is the most successful?  Which is it that brings in the most readers?  Which is it that becomes the essential part of the author?

Oh, how I long to write copious words full of insight, humor, raw emotion, but I lack it.  I lack it all. I feel like a painter with a pallet and canvas, but no paint.  Like an architect with hammer and wood, but no nails.  Like a - well, I think you get the picture. Today is Monday.  It has just stopped raining, there is a slight chill in the air, and that crisp scent floating through the windows that only the promise of cooler, fall days can bring. I can hear the sounds of the street crew moving to and fro, the birds chirping outside my bedroom window, and the fan whirling in the background dulling all the sounds in its calming way. Today is ordinary.

But it is not.  You see, in exactly one week I will embark on a brand new adventure. In a week, I will be sitting in a new place.  I will meet new people and undoubtedly become overwhelmed by the enormity of the decision and the fact it came to fruition.  What will I be doing?  I will be starting a new job!  For the first time in almost 20 years, I will be working for a new company. The decision to make this move was not easy, but it also was not that hard.  It is a decision I attempted to make many times since the company I had worked for was bought out and the new company wasn't the right place to be any longer.  Many people told me to suck it up and ride it out, after all, I'll be done  with my MBA in 19 days, but it was so much more than that.  So, very, much more.  I'm not big on change. I fear the unknown.  I lack that part of myself that has the confidence to do so.  I stepped out in faith and trusted the Lord with my schooling, and then took and an even bigger step of faith and trusted him with my career.

And he got me there.  He did!  I had several interviews with many different companies.  I had offers I declined.  I had places that didn't want me.  But in all honesty, I learned so much through this process that I couldn't even begin to put a price tag on the experience.  While my long-term goal is teaching, and Lord willing I will get there, I know that I have taken the first of many steps in the right direction.  But most importantly, I have followed God's lead.  I have done what I know, through lots of prayer and council, was the right decision for me at the right time. While I am eagerly anticipating next Monday I am also a little scared. What if I mess up?  What if my personality doesn't mesh well with my new coworkers?  What if I have a bad idea and they write me off straight away?  What if my nearly 20 years in automotive hinders my ability to grasp the concepts in this completely new manufacturing arena?

And that is just it, isn't it?!  What if?  What if keeps many of us from taking the next step - that giant step of faith and trust.  And you want to know something?  I looked that what if in the face this time (after many failed attempts) and went for it.  The result?  Peace.  I was at peace.  I gave a month's notice to my previous employer.  And at the end of that month, they asked me to stay on as a contract employee to assist with my accounts until a replacement was up to speed.  I am happy to say that we are now in week 3 of me being a contract employee and it hasn't been a bad gig.  I think the thing I love most is teaching and mentoring my replacement and I know that in this entire transition I have done the right thing.

All that said, I will leave you with one last thought on this damp, chilly fall day - trust in the Lord.  Trust doesn't mean that I don't have to do my part, it just means that I will let him do his part and believe in faith.  I will work at this with all that I am and do the best that I can do. I so cannot wait to see where he leads me next.

By the way, click here and listen to this amazing song!

Much Love,

Friday, September 23, 2016

One Goal at a Time

Image result for quotes about dreams coming trueIt's been a while.  Oh, I've been here behind this monitor pounding away fervently at this well worn keyboard, but the words I've been bringing to life haven't been the ones meant for you.  I am happy to report I am three weeks away from completing a life-long goal.  I don't know when I last shared it or if I've shared it at all, but my dream, the one I've had since I was a little girl - a little girl who was so full of hope and wonder and belief in dreams and them coming true - is to become a teacher. Sure I've had opportunities over the years to teach and train and grow and inform others, but never as a career. Never in a school.  Never in a way that I've wanted to for as long as I can remember.  We'll start there.

I have so many friends that still, at our ages, don't know what they want to be when they "grow" up.  They don't know what kind of work would make their hearts soar, that would bring joy to their hearts. Are you like that?  Do you know what you want to do more than anything in the whole wide world?  I do. I've known.  I've known since kindergarten.  I've known ever since I was old enough to understand what it meant to teach someone something. I didn't share it too much, after all my mom had other plans for me - she wanted me to go into the medical field so she chose all of my classes in school to coincide with her dream for me and when I graduated high school I dutifully went off to study medicine, but it wasn't in me and I quit.  And then I worked and became a mom and had life really begin (it does that you know, and it is messy and beautiful and hurtful and kind and funny and brilliant and full of wonder and lessons and love, and...).  But in the midst of all of this I went back to school and learned those things that could help me in my career.  I read and studied and wrote and cried and wanted to quit again and, well, this time I didn't.  I didn't because now it was for so much more than me.  Now it was to show my Littles that reaching goals and dreams can happen, yes even when we get older.  Yes, even when they take years and years to complete.
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And here I am.  I am almost there.  Where completing something hard brings you a step closer to making dreams come true. To some it is just a piece of paper.  To others it is a huge undertaking and not for them.  To me, it was a mountain that God had to show me and urge me to climb and he did.  And I have. And I am almost off of it.  You guys, I will have my MBA and while that in and of itself doesn't seem like much it is one thing I need to get me where I always wanted to be.  I want to be a teacher. I want to see the look in the eyes of those who learn and understand something for the first time. I want to watch them get the knowledge they need to pursue and reach the goals and dreams they have for themselves.  Because watching people use their talents and excel and grow and be who they dream to be is so big.  It is so beautiful. It is such a blessing.

Image result for quotes about teaching othersAnd I wonder, for all those teachers out there I have had over the years, from kindergarten through my graduate degree, if they have felt that.  That moment when they see the look in a person's (student's) eye that affirms they are in the place they need to be because they helped them get there. I've seen it.  I've seen it in the conference room, on the shop floor, in my own children's eyes and there is nothing that can beat it.  It is a look of growth and personal pride and satisfaction.

However, I will not get ahead of myself.  I know there are still a few weeks, applications, resumes, interviews, and well, just plain work to be done before I actually get there.  And I'll keep working at it because this is my dream and the one thing I want to spend my life doing.  But bigger than that even - I know this is a passion that God has given me.  It is a desire he planted in me before I was born and I trust his will in this process. And I will not give up.
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