December 1st, 2015

So, it's December the FIRST . . . . . . . 



Not January the FIRST 2016. But, December the FIRST.

Resolutions. Being Introspective. Changing the course of our destiny by joining a gym and losing 25 pounds--you know, these are the things we declare on January 1st. January is rife with change. Unavoidable. What does December usher in?

CHRISTMAS.

So, why can't we treat it as if it were the FIRST day of the New Year?

Unexpected. Unusual. Unbelievable.

Why not jump on the change train? Right now? Like, right now.



I'm about to turn 41. I have three kids. Boys. Yes, all boys. And they're 3,5,7-ish.

Yes. I planned this. Sort of.

I pretty much have been there and done that.

 

Yet, I am seeking more.

I ran a half marathon last year. I'm about to run another. OK, seriously: I run/walk. Now, why would I want to subject myself to that torture? Again?

Because, I'm here. Contemplating TIME. AGE. My season/cycle in life and, yeah. Pretty much: Who am I? Where am I? If I can survive 13.1 miles I should do it AGAIN!

You know, picking up Legos and Duplo Blocks--that's a serious core workout. Especially when you do it three times a day. So. The question is: Is this all there is? Is there anybody out there?

We never keep asking. We never stop looking. What's next? Who am I? Who do I want to be?

I'm at this weird point in life. One I think everyone meets once they've been married a while, with kids. Your life is no longer about just you. It's now all of you and the people you've decided to hitch to your wagon. You do forget who you are. You have to when you SERVE in a capacity, like Motherhood. But, maybe it's time to do something only about YOU.

Where am I going with this rambling?

To the Tree.

The Christmas tree.

To the cross.

 

Before I look at myself in the mirror, I need to look outward first.

So, December the 1st--I'm on to you. I'm paying attention.

To you, Lord. To myself. To the people around me--Who am I? Who am I now?

Any day is a good day to stop and investigate.

May today be your December 1st.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.   Jeremiah 29:11-14

 

The Force

We had a neighbor.

Let's call her Sue.

Sue was friendly. She came and borrowed butter one night because she and her adult daughter wanted to make cookies. Then, she came back over and brought us some of those cookies. It was December, they had just moved in.

We formed a friendly neighbor bond. Saying hello and this and that. It was nice to have a nice neighbor. We live in a duplex--so, it was really nice to trust the person living so close.

She ran a thrift store in town. She'd spontaneously come over and give my kids things like flip flops or cool trinkets. If she saw a coat, or something my boys could use, she'd set it aside for us.

Now, I knew she had a past. I knew she was a recovering addict. Alcohol I assumed. Her store was a non profit to help send others struggling with addiction to rehab and support them in their recovery.

Well, one day I was talking to Sue in her driveway and a policeman pulled up and walked over. "You are under arrest."

I'm sure she was mortified.

I didn't ask questions. I told her to tell her her kids they could contact me if they needed anything.

I also said I'd pray for her.

Even then, I didn't judge. It didn't change my perception of her. She was a good neighbor to me--regardless of what she'd done.

After she got out of jail, Sue decided to go back to rehab. She moved out.

A month or so passed.

There was a knock on the door. She said hello. Hugged me. She looked great. Really great. Said she was moving away. Wanted to say goodbye and thank you for all the prayers.

Then, like three days later on my Facebook feed one day, there it was: WANTED. By the police department. Sue's picture. This list of offenses was long. Car theft, fraud, evading arrest, etc.

Wow.

I had no idea.

I never saw anything but the good.

I'm sure there were lots of people in Sue's life: family, friends and acquaintances that saw only the "bad" side of her. People she'd betrayed, lied to, stolen from. I'm sure there were a lot of people that hated Sue.

Yet, for some reason, I was only shown the good.

I believe God ALLOWED me to see the good in her.

Now, why would he do that?



Perception is a tricky beast.

It can be so subjective, skewed, and short-sided, but yet, so open, multifaceted and objective.

We have to consider our perception. What shapes it.

What am I seeing? Is it the whole picture? What's going on with this person? What's going on inside me?

We are all like Sue. We show people different sides of ourselves depending on where you fall in the friend chain. Am I right?

Depending on our insecurities or fears or circumstances--we show people different versions of ourselves. Work self vs. Home self. Acquaintance self vs. Best friend self. Basically we all lead double lives in a sense. . .

So, in respect to perception--we have to we evaluate what we see.

Why? When? How? Where? What?

There is an epic battle waging an on going war in our hearts and minds: The Good vs. The Bad. What we show others and how we receive others. It all depends on our perception of ourselves and the perceptions we have of others.

 

OK. Follow me, unleash your inner geek and let's examine Star Wars:

The Force. It's strong. 

But, so is the Darkside. It's pretty strong too.

Let me preface this by saying we love Star Wars in our house. We introduced our kids to the old school Star Wars (Episodes 4, 5, & 6) and immediately our three boys took to it. Our third child lives and breathes Star Wars. In fact, he won't wear anything that doesn't have Darth Vader on it.

We've been revisiting (also known as "geeking out"on) Episodes 1, 2, and 3 in our house to catch up on the back story of Anakin Skywalker, so we are prepared for The Force Awakens which opens in December. 

In The Phantom Menance (Episode 1,) Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet a nine-year-old slave boy named Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon Jinn senses a strong presence of the Force within Anakin and is convinced that he is the "chosen one" of Jedi prophecy who will bring balance to the Force.

Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Council to train Anakin as a Jedi, but the Council are concerned that Anakin is vulnerable to the dark side of the Force and decline. Undaunted, Qui-Gon vows to train Anakin himself. 

Anakin starts out good. But, like all of us--growing up is hard. It changes us. We see Anakin's heart begin to harden after his mother's death. 

We all know what eventually happened to Anakin: he was seduced by the Darkside and became Darth Vader.

When we were introduced to Star Wars back in 1977, Darth Vader was bad to the bone. Everyone in the Galaxy knew it. I'm sure we wondered how Luke in Return of the Jedi could be so sure there was still good in his father, and ultimately try to save him.

In 1999 our whole perception of Darth was blown wide open when the back story of Anakin was laid out for us again in the theater.

So, where am I going with this?

We cannot always trust our perception. Well, why not?

Because it may be skewed. Chances are it definitely is.

Check your perception.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.  (
Proverbs 3:5-6)

 

Let us lay our perceptions: about people, our circumstances, our past, the present and our future before God and ask Him to filter them. Use the Force. Ask for open hearts and minds. Seek to understand. God will grant us the truth. Luke did. And despite everything--Luke never stopped believing there was good in his dad.

Everyone--and I mean everyone--deserves the benefit of our doubt. 

From the trailer of The Force Awakens:

"The Force. It's calling to you. Just let it in."

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Luke 11:9)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  (Revelation 3:20)

pinkeye.

Just the title makes you go "eww."

My husband was gone for 10 days. I was solo, kid-wrangling and juggling and multi-tasking and going and blowing. And then, I had to put our oldest dog down.

I was pretty spent.

Hubby finally gets home and kid #1 starts barfing. Kid #3 barfs and has back to back to back diapers that would make your nose fall off. Kid #2 starts running fever. Hubby comes home early from his first day back at work because his stomach is in knots.

I wake up today with pinkeye.

Really?

Today, we're staying home. Groan.

It's like God said, "I'll take it from here."

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

 

It's raining.

Finally.

Living in Texas, dry times are to be expected. Long periods of dryness makes your entire soul thirsty. It's like the parched Texas soil groans--and you can't help but groan with it.

This is how I've been feeling.

The groaning.

 

I opened the door to listen to the rain. "Chloe doesn't like the rain," Pierce replied.

No baby, she doesn't, but she's not out there anymore.

"Where is she?"

It's almost been a week. He is the first one to finally notice she's gone.

The groaning.

 

I'm praying for lots of rain. There is a 70-80% chance for the next four days.

I just want the dirt outside to be flooded.

I want my soul to be quenched.

Just wash me. Make me new.

All of me: my heart, my mind, my eyes and ears.

I am in need of some serious NEWNESS.

" In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:26

 

I was sharing The Joy Dare with a friend the other day. Ann Voskamp wrote a great book called One Thousand Gifts. The premise is to write down and ponder all the things in your life that are gifts. When we do this and celebrate all the blessings in our life: found in God, in friends and family and in nature--we will be more joyful. If you can come up with just 3 things a day, in a year, you'll have documented 1,000 gifts. Ann has complied a calendar of prompts to help steer you in your joy dare. You can find the Joy Dare calendars and everything Ann Voskamp on her website: www.aholyexperince.com.

I looked up the October calendar.

Today's prompt was: 3 gifts undervalued.

Fitting.

I have been so focused on the crisis, the need, the lack thereof--that I have forgotten to see the gift.

My three gifts today?

1. Pinkeye. Yes, pinkeye. We often see sickness as such an imposition. Some terrible detour to our more important destination or task. But, sickness is very important in God's economy. It sidelines us. Makes us slow down . . . . because He wants to show us something. I got to take a sick day with my littles. Thank you, pinkeye!

2. Rain. Enough said. You can't ignore it. The smell, the sound, the nourishment. How it makes everything outside kinda come to a halt . . .

3. My salvation. Yep, Jesus is probably the most undervalued gift in my life (next to my husband.) I sink into the ordinary often. The mundaneness of life and days on end make me forget how extraordinary God is and the extraordinary gift I already possess.  (My considerate neighbor over at neds-fox.com reminded me of this today. Thank you, Zena!) 

 

For today, the groaning is over.

The rain, the pinkeye, a day to breathe and reflect--all that you can hear form my heart now is:

exhale.

 

"Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." Deuteronomy 4:39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

more of this yes.

There is an uncomfortable vacancy out in the backyard.

It's the same painful emptiness I felt when Mr. Harvey died.

I put our dog down Thursday.

Our other dog keeps going out there--looking for her. He feels the void.

It's very painful. More painful than I ever imagined.

 

Mike and I got married in the spring of 2006. After we finally moved into a little rent house with a yard, the itch to get a dog soon set in.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, with nothing to do, I twisted my husband's arm into driving out to the animal shelter.

We made several rounds, looking at all the dogs. They have mini enclosures out back where you can "test out" a canine. I think we walked two dogs. But the key ingredients of chemistry and connection were missing. Before leaving, I begged to make one more round. 

We spotted her immediately. Where did she come from? How had we missed her? She was white with light brown ears and a pink nose. She was sweet and calm.

We took her out to the enclosure. She put her front paws in my lap and settled in.

Sold.

Best $90 we ever spent.

A worker passed by and said, "Oh, are you taking that sweet pointer?"

The check-out lady then told us her story:

Chloe (that was her given name) was transferred from another shelter. They didn't know anything about her history, except it was obvious she'd had a couple of litters. She had a terrible infection in her uterus. Being an older dog (six years old) and a stray, she should have been euthanized. But the vet on call that day took a chance and fixed her up. 

We brought her home to our little bungalow and she fell right in sync. She was our first baby.

She would have been 15 in November.

 

The vet had said yes.

We said yes.

That yes led to 9 more years of a happy life.

When most would have said no--she was old, damaged. Second hand. Used.

 

Even the smallest yes . . . . 

 

Yes. Let's be friends.

Yes. I will marry you.

Yes. Let's try to have a baby.

Yes. Let's adopt.

Yes. Let's move.

Yes. I'll take the job.

Saying yes.

 

With all the opportunity that a yes can open up--our hearts open too. Open hearts, open to love--they are vulnerable. There will be pain. It's always a risk to say yes. God knows this. He's felt it. All of it.

The pain is worth it. Never let the fear of pain make you say NO.

Friendships will be betrayed.

Love will grow cold.

Divorce will happen.

Miscarriages will occur.

Rejection is evident.

Disasters will take place.

Dogs will need to be put down.

 

Love anyway. Take the risk.

Yes.

Let's just say more of that.

 

I follow Susie's Senior Dogs on Facebook. I saw the sweet story of Rusty, a 13 year old dog who was adopted finally, only to succumb to cancer 4 1/2 months later:

Rusty was originally scheduled to be euthanized at the shelter. And that was almost the way Rusty left this earth. But thanks to his mom, Lisa, who drove two hours to give this boy a different ending, Rusty left this earth as a respected and valued family member instead. We are ever grateful that for the last 4.5 months of Rusty's life, perhaps his most important months of life, he was able to know love thanks to Lisa and her family's decision to bring him home and care for him. 

"I don't for one second regret our decision to save him and bring him into our family. He had brought so much joy and happiness into our home-and that's something I'll never fully be able to repay him for. 
He has shown me what true unconditional love can be and how strong of a dog he was. He had no reasons left to love or trust-but he did it anyway and he did it willingly. I'm so thankful for the last few months with him, but I know I'll truly never be the same. For his last few hours with us, he was spoiled with steak and endless treats. Thank you for featuring his amazing story on Susie’s Senior Dogs- we tried not to let it get to his head too much." 

Rusty's original post: http://on.fb.me/1ZImfJJ
http://www.susiesseniordogs.com/
 

Yes. Love--no matter how small or short--is ALWAYS WORTH IT.

 

 

 

 

 

Hard love.

I work at a preschool.

Just imagine all the crazy.

The kids are cute and funny--they say the craziest things. They certainly make my life much more interesting.

I love them all.

But, I love some more than others. Favorites, you might call them. Some are just easier to love.

The ones who are cuter, funnier, compliant, cooperative, engaged and have no behavior problems are just easier to like. Let's be honest here.

That being said:

It is easier to love those easiest to love.


Read that again:

It is easier to love those easiest to love.

 

Have you ever noticed that it's sometimes easier to love complete strangers than those closest to us?

(And I mean, really love them--unobstructed love.)

I can be really loving and accepting of strangers and acquaintances and homeless people, but . . .

What about that lazy husband?

The nagging wife?

The obnoxious sibling?

The defiant child?

The co-worker who does nothing but complain?

Sure we love them, but often its a hard love.


What's easier to love?

The an angler fish or a cute hedgehog? A sticker burr or a lily? Maple syrup or cough syrup? No brainer, right?

Who's easier to love?

The baby who's colicky and cries all day or the happy baby who sleeps all day?

The kid who has ADHD and throws things and hits or the sweet, smart kid who gets along with everyone?

The sullen teenager who plays video games all day isolated or the outgoing teenager who is the quarterback of the football team?

The mom who drowned her three children or the single mom working three jobs to support her three kids?

The drunk homeless man panhandling on the corner or the disabled vet holding the sign that reads, 'Please help, God bless?"

The ISIS militant or Syrian refugee?

No brainer, huh?

 

HARD LOVE.

It's hard to love people who are rude and annoying. It's hard to love people who are ugly and mean.

Jesus calls us to the hard love.

Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Yeah, but it's really hard.

That's exactly why we need Jesus. He is our example. We will never get it right on our own.

He comes to us where we are and helps us work through our hardened hearts to the hard love.

 

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Matthew 5:43-48  The Message

 

I'm sure you've heard the saying that those who are unlovable need our love the most, right?

 

What kind of HARD LOVE is God whispering in your ear?

Who?

That person.

That one who betrayed you.

That one who hurt you.

That one who you just cannot stand.


The ex husband?

The neighbor?

The co-worker?


Haven't forgiven that person?
Are they hard to love?
That's ok. Let's work on it.--Jesus

 

I need this blog more than you do.

Writing a blog is harder than it looks.

Maybe it's just me.

I've been feeling the pressure to churn out words--knowing it has been about three weeks since I produced.

I try not to rush for fear of spewing garbage in my haste.

And then, there is this thing called LIFE and CHILDREN.

It never fails. When I get really jazzed about a topic and the thoughts are spilling out of my brain--I always have to turn it off. To get in the shower, or get the kids to eat breakfast. Or, get interrupted 2,592 times. By fighting, hunger, or bottoms needing to be wiped.

I feel the void.

I need to share, need to connect. Need to process.

Truth be told: I need this blog more than you do.

I'm learning. Still. At 40 years old. Every single day.

What I'm searching for is a pure heart.

One that sees and hears God clearly. One that sees and loves people the way they deserve.

Thank you for walking with me . . . . 

 

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  Matthew 5:8

 

#real

Let's get real.

I'm not going to sugarcoat this.

I've recently been rejected.

It's hurtful. 

It hurts when you really feel like you didn't do anything wrong. 

I was just being real.

 

I'm trained in conflict resolution. I used to teach it to middle schoolers. If someone has a legitimate beef with me, or I have done wrong, or hurt someone's feelings--I will own up to it. I will take responsibility for my actions. I will seek understanding and resolution and forgiveness and reconciliation. There are steps that have to be taken for hearts to be mended and relationships to be strengthened.

That being said, what's jarring about this?

I've been rejected by Christians. By a Christian organization.

Ouch.

And why? I have a pretty good idea.

For being too REAL. Being too transparent.

It made some people uncomfortable.

 

I've been really seeking God's opinion on this subject.

Wondering: Am I out of line? Have I said too much? Did I stick my foot in my mouth?

Trust me, it's not like I say things and skip away feeling all wonderful, I'm so great. No, instead, I walk away and the critic is there spewing in my ear all sorts of garbage. I usually feel quite ill.

I have to remember that the critic doesn't want the truth spoken. He doesn't want understanding or resolution or forgiveness or reconciliation. He thrives on discord and drama and confusion and broken relationships.

At several Conflict Management sessions I used to teach that the Chinese character for conflict is the same as the one for opportunity. (Whether that's actually true or not, I'd have to investigate.)

Conflict is an opportunity for change. If people in conflict are willing to be open, then change can happen. Change is growth. To want change, you have to be real. We all know change is hard. Some people just don't have any interest in changing. Or being real.

 

There is a difference with being real and being right. You can be real: haughty, prideful, rude, unloving, unforgiving, etc. etc. Sure, you're being "real"--those are real emotions, but are you being "right?" 

Being real requires being real with yourself (all your mess) first. It requires humility.

I'm no drama mama.

Yet, I'm not afraid of the drama.I know that being real has consequences and ramifications. 

Where injustice and untruth lies--I will call it out.

When I see that my wretchedness, my mess, my yuck, my mistakes and my sin will benefit and breathe life into others--I will divulge it.

I can't keep quiet. That's not who God made me.

 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 8:6

 

I'm getting over the hurt. I choose to forgive those who have rejected me. I have even apologized for anything I might have said that offended anyone.

I'm open to the opportunity to change. That change has been letting that organization go. Move on.

I'm not here to be liked.

I'm here to be like HIM.

I will continue to be real. Because, what's real? Jesus.

He has changed who I am and made me real.

I had a friend tell me the other day that she appreciated how real I was. She commended my transparency. She said that most people can't be real. We all have issues and struggle--but most people aren't real--they hide their "things."

I can't tell you how much it meant for me to hear this from this friend.

I'd rather be disliked for saying too much, rather than saying too little.

I will be real.

I will not hide.

 

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

EPHESIANS 4:15

 

#firstworldproblems

The boys always ask what we're going to do today.

"We're going to go to the grocery store."

"Is that it?"

"Yes."

Trust me, it takes everything I've got to get through a trip to the store with my three boys in tow. EVERYTHING. Lord, please help me.

 

First, we walk in and are assaulted by a huge display of Hot Wheels Cars and PlayDoh. That took about 20 minutes.

Then the big boys kept running off, hiding in the stacks of diapers and toilet paper and paper towels. Running to all the TVs strategically placed in the store playing DVDs like Home and Grease. The 2 year old wanted out just like his big brothers and that was a huge war in itself. 

I contemplate leaving the cart where it is and scooping them up and leaving. UNCLE. Lord, please help me.

In my head I'm trying to bargain shop and sort coupons and think of the week's dinner options. The kids are all over the place. Like 3 octopi. Touching everything. Hopping everywhere.

"Can we go to the toys? Can we get some gum? Can I have Doritos? Can I have Jello? Can we go to the toys, now? Can we get gum? Can I get in the cart? Can I get out of the cart? Can we buy some Honeybuns?"

Then, I ran into a friend. We stopped to visit and our kids started running up and down the aisle. Mid dash, my middle child ran smack dab into a woman's cart. HARD. It was embarrassing. 

We had been there for an HOUR. My brain was pretty much mush. Forget meal planning. All that was in my cart was milk, creamer and plenty of Kleenex.

We zigzag around the store as I cut the list short, only getting the bare necessities. We had a $100 gift card to spend. I really can't go over. We don't have much in the bank. What do we have to have? What can I leave until next time? Lord, please help me.

Once everyone was strapped in, I sat in the front seat, exhausted. That was the worst trip, ever. I spent all the gift card. How were we going to make it until the 15th?

As we left the parking lot, I see him. His sign read, "Disabled Vet. Please Help. God Bless."

 

My first world problems?

We are poor.

There, I said it.

 

I quit my job back in 2011 when my second child was born.  Our income was slashed in half. We have learned to manage, but man--it has made us humble. Grocery shopping has never been the same. It's become a game of Russian Roulette. Betting the dice. I have to pray before I go in . .  Lord, please help us.

It's very stressful. It's very depressing at times.

On the one hand, listening to God--navigating His will for your life--having to trust Him, even though the bank account is overdrawn. And, on the other hand--doubting Him. Why? Why do we have to struggle so much? Why can't we ever seem to catch a break? Why God?

Lord, please help us.

We have a house to live in. We have cars to drive. We have access to a grocery store. We have running water and electricity. We have good jobs. We have access to good medical care. We are all healthy. Our children have access to a good education. We have clothes to wear. We have nice things in our homes. We have family. We have friends. We have FREEDOM.

 

We still live paycheck to paycheck. Always behind. Never getting ahead.

Lord, please help us.

 

I see the couple in the WalMart parking lot, a baby in a stroller and a sign saying "Please Help. God Bless."

I see the man walking with his dog and large pack on his back walking along IH 10 headed west.

I see the news post on Facebook about Jonathan McComb,who lost his family to the flood in Wimberley, still combing the riverbanks with rescue crews to find his daughter's body.

I see the image of Aylan Kurdi. His lifeless body a huge reminder that we know NOTHING about real strife. 

My struggle pales in comparison to millions of people. People in Syria. In Africa. In Equador. In Detroit. In New Orleans. In Texas. In Boerne. In my neighborhood.

People are dying.

People are sick.

People are trying to pay the rent.

People are homeless.

People are going through a divorce.

People are hungry.

People are lost.

Lord, please help THEM.

 

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.

 

I live with ridiculous freedom. With ridiculous abundance. It's so easy to keep so focused on my empty bank account. My FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. But, I have it pretty great. I must never take that for granted. Lord, thank you.

What can I do?

I don't have much to give.

I can pray.

I can smile. 

I can genuinely pray.

Lord, please help THEM.

 

I wish, with all of my heart, that my bank account was overflowing. Yes, I admit, it would make trips to the grocery store more bearable (but I would still have my three crazy boys climbing the walls.) I wish I had more to give. To give to the church. To give to the needy. To give that woman standing on the corner with her sign, in the blazing hot sun. To give to the victims of disasters and tragedies. To give the refugees.

All I can give right now--is my prayers. That is all.

But THAT is really SOMETHING.

Lord, please help them.

Lord, please help them.

Lord, please help them.

And, my #firstworldproblems dissolve . . . . .

 

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’   Matthew 25:34-40 NIV

 

Pray for the Syrian refugees today and all those experiencing intense persecution.

Check out    http://wewelcomerefugees.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hindsight.

Have you had your vision checked lately?

I went to the eye doctor for the first time as an adult last year.

I need glasses.

I'm nearsighted. Its not terrible, but I can definitely benefit from some corrective lenses. I notice it most when I drive. That's being 40 for you.

I haven't had the prescription filled yet. 

Its not that I'm in denial about needing glasses--that's not it. I just haven't had the time or money to go get it done.

I know what I need to do, just haven't done it yet.

Isn't that what's wrong with most of us?

We see the things in front of us clearly, but far away it's fuzzy. Blurry.

We get enveloped by the now, the current, the urgency of this moment and we can't see in front of us. The distance is hidden from us. The future. 

That can be unnerving.

Depending on our point of reference, our current positioning--the distance can seem very scary. It can seem downright terrifying. What's out there? What's to come? What will happen to me?

I have a friend who is ill. 

She's been stuck there for a long time. She is unable to see the into the distance. Her current, urgent situation tried to swallow her. She couldn't see mere inches in front of her--like being surrounded by a dense, thick fog--and it left her paralyzed. Being sick for so long, she feels like she will never feel normal again. She was at the brink of wanting out--out of the foggy, fuzzy future. It was so dark.

She had to reset the settings on her lens.

We have to do that too, sometimes. We forget. But, changing our perspective often is very healthy.

Step back. Clean the lens. Change position. Check the lighting. Choose a different lens.

And ALWAYS consider looking through the lens of God.

Maybe we know what we need to do, we just haven't done it yet.

Perhaps it's time: go get your vision checked.

Go get those glasses.

1 Corinthians 2:9

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
 and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
 for those who love him.”

 

 

Instead.

Let's be real here: this was NOT the summer I signed up for.

I know there are people who just looove summer--well, I don't.

Not with three kids under age 6.

Sure, I had all the idyllic plans of what we were going to do.

Plans of what I was going to do--which speaks more of how I was going to be: energetic, motivated, driven, etc. I was going to be in control this summer!

We were going to swim,  play with friends, have lemonade stands, read books and the Bible together, go to the library, play outside in the sprinklers and sand box, go to the park, work on writing skills and practice Wyoming's Spanish, draw and paint and learn macrame and save the whales and feed the homeless.

And while I had ALL this energy to facilitate this fantastic, dreamy, creative and imaginative summer for my children, I was going to get up early and have quiet time and read the Bible. I was going to get all healthy and walk and workout and portion out all my meals and get my whole family eating better--all while I lost 10 pounds.

Yeah, no. Not even close.

INSTEAD.

Instead, I've had little to no energy.

Instead, I've done little to foster my children's imagination or creativity.

Instead, my kids have been sick a lot.

Instead, my 6 year old started getting into trouble with the neighbor kid and had to be grounded, which kept him inside, sheltered, and overindulging in Minecraft to near obsessive levels.

Instead, there has been a lot of fighting and arguing and whining.

Instead, my children have wanted to eat every 25 minutes.

Instead, my 2 year old has been so clingy, needy, and demanding I can't even walk anywhere without him attached to my leg or underfoot.

Instead, there has been a lot of sleeping and a lot less going and doing.

Instead of reading and working on literacy skills, the TV has been on day in, day out and the iPad has been in use the entire summer.

Instead, my oldest has been broody, sullen, spoiled, and argumentative. He's 6 going on 14. Teen angst at any age isn't pretty.

Instead, I gained almost 10 pounds.

Instead, I have had children in my bed 90% of the time, leading to interrupted sleep and that has kept me from getting up early. Hence, very little working out and Bible reading has taken place.

Instead, I've done a lot of nothing. A lot of Facebooking and meandering around the house aimlessly.

Instead, pretty much NOTHING I envisioned for this summer came true.

 

Yet--for a flash--sometimes so small and quick--they happen: The good moments. Woven in between, under and on top. Silent and sudden. Fleeting.

 

Moments I will choose to savor INSTEAD:

Hours spent on the living room floor playing Legos together PEACEFULLY.

Moments when each child has been tender, sweet and compassionate toward another.

Daily quiet times where my oldest two don't sleep, but play cooperatively and creatively together--making up games like "Sleepwalking" and  "Hide the Underwear." Yes, its a thing.

Napping  or sleeping with my 2 year old in my bed and his tiny hand searching for mine to hold until he falls asleep. Or poke me in the eye, you know, whatever.

Having my oldest travel several blocks on his bike to play with school friends who speak a language different than my own. It's been good to allow him the freedom and for him to learn responsibility.

Reconnecting with a high school friend who is coaching me back on the right track to health, fitness and wellness.

Time spent watching my 2 year old. He is growing at lightening speed and talks up a storm. He is funny and witty and a mess. And--I know he is my last. He will be the last 2 year old in our house. Bittersweet.

So what if we've watched Phineas and Ferb Star Wars 5,382 times?

I am surviving summer. And my children will, too.

Instead of focusing on the torture I've been enduring these last 10 weeks, I'm going to focus and the good, INSTEAD.

 

Romans 12

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (The Message)

 

sit and stay

Mommy, sit down.

Otis often orders me around these days. And I let him. He's two and a half--he gets to. It's hard to say no to him.

I stand. All. The. Time.

Seriously.

I got a Fitbit a while back. It's all about the steps. I compete with my co-workers (the Fitbit Mafia, as my husband has deemed them) and they're always are in awe of how many steps I manage to get. How do you do that? What do you do all day?

Well, I'm certainly not running marathons.

I serve. I serve my children. I clean. I keep the house as clean as I can. I do laundry. Very exciting.

I try and sit. I really do. (My husband blames it on ADD.)

It never fails, though, the SECOND I sit down, someone is calling me to do something for them or a dog needs to be let in or out. (This is also the case when I set my tush on the potty. I sit and someone yells "Mom!")

True story 99% of the time.

So why sit? Why not always just be ready for the next request?

Why? Because sometimes, my legs are just freaking TIRED.

When we are always moving, anticipating the next move we miss the space we are IN. Miss the moment. I have to MAKE myself sit down. Take a breath. Live in the current moment.

Don't we all?

We always think we have to be doing something. Farting around and wasting time is well, just a waste of time. But is it really??? 

I think we need to look good and hard at our "rules" for rest, work and play.

I was at school walking to the playground. I spotted a small lizard hopping from rung to rung on the fence. I stopped. I marveled in him. I came close to the fence and looked up at him. He crawled down to me. He paused and he looked at me. We had a moment. I've never had a lizard come toward me like that.

I sat and I stayed.

If I had not paused, I would have missed out on that precious encounter. Yes, with a lizard.

What do you MARVEL in?

Flowers? Clouds? A sunset? Water? A kitten?

Your husband's freckled skin? Your son's eyelashes? The rolls of fat on a baby's legs? The twinkle in the elderly gentlemen's eye when he winks at you at the grocery store?

How often do YOU sit and stay?

We are headed to the beach this weekend. It's almost as if God has been preparing me this long summer, just to get there and to simply: sit and stay. Sit and stay in the presence of my family. Sit and stay in the glory that is the beach and all of God's creation there.

This weekend I am only required to sit and stay.

Isn't that nice?

We place so much on ourselves. 

Why don't you sit and stay?

What might you marvel in?

See what happens.

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord leads to life;
    then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

1 John 3:19

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.

 

 

real.

Who knew this summer was going to be so hard, yet so fruitful?

He did.

I've mostly crawled out of my dark hole, into the light and I realize: it is when I focus the lens back on Him that everything else comes back into focus as well.

Mojo. I think I've found my mojo again y'all.

It's stopping to REMEMBER. Who I am. Who I love. What I want. What I see. Where I am.

Remember that garden scene? Eve and Adam made a huge mistake. They heard God coming and they hid. God knew. Knew it all. He didn't scream or raise his voice.

"Where are you?" God calls out.

I. Am. Here.

I am here. HERE I AM.

I'm gray. Very gray. I seriously need to color my hair.

I don't brush my teeth enough. I forget. I forget to make my children do it.

I'm a neat-ish freak. I throw my husband's stuff away without asking. It's disrespectful and I should stop.

I eat too many meals standing up.

I need to play more with my kids. I could really be a better mom if I stopped what I was doing.

I'm often a spaz. I'm way too open and talk way too much. (The people I work with can vouch for that.)

I like to help strays. People in need. I'm sometimes too trusting.

I use way too many wipes. To clean everything and everybody.

I am poor.

I'm really working on truly loving and LIKING my husband. (After almost 10 years and three kids later, we need some tending to.)

I like who I am. I like what I look like. Mostly.

I love to nap.

I really love Jesus. My life changed 18 years ago when I met Him. The context of ME is different. I can't get away from Him. He is not something I'm excited about for a while and stuff in a guest room closet and happen upon Him when I'm cleaning. In anything I'm doing or anywhere I am--He is there. I consider Him. Always.

I am unafraid to say that.

It may change how people feel toward me.

That's ok.

Life is really good, y'all. Even when it isn't. People are good. Even when they are not. The world is good, even when it is not. And God is GOOD. He just IS.

 

 

 

free

Freedom.

We all celebrated it this weekend. We all exercised it today.

I went on a long walk on Sunday morning. Like 4 miles.

I saw a handful of people. All of them had skin that was a different shade than mine. I waved.

I smiled. Breathed. America. Freedom. Texas.

As you know, I've been trying to get back in the groove of daily exercise. It's hard with small children. I can always use them as an excuse--but, I have to ask myself, "What's REALLY keeping me from doing the thing or things I want to do?"

I walk . . .

I reach out and touch a bush. I choose which path to take. Which song to listen to on my playlist. I chose whether to walk or run. It's freedom. My free will to choose.

Why then, don't I choose what I want?

Why do I keep doing things I tell myself don't want to do anymore?

Why don't I just simply DO the thing I want?

I am not bound. No one is preventing me from doing the things I want. . . . .

Except me.

I am free. So, why the struggle?

During my walk on Sunday, I also listened to the Daily Audio Bible. It a free app you can put on your phone and listen to this guy with a soothing voice read the Bible.

It was from Chronicles. Boring. The loooooong list of names, the descendants of God's chosen lineage being read. But, I couldn't stop listening to his voice. He read, "The sons of Issac: Esau and Israel."

Israel. Do you know that story?

Well, back in Genesis, Esau and Jacob were Issac's sons. Long story short, after Jacob steals Esau's birthright and marries Leah and Rachel and has the dream about the ladder going up to heaven and he has some kids and his father in law kicks him out and he rekindles his relationship with his brother Esau, he has a WWF wrestling match with God. He prevailed. That's a VERY loose paraphrase folks.

After the wrestling match God asks Jacob his name. (But, God already knows. Right? Silly God.)

"And he said, Jacob." Then God said,"Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." Genesis 32:27-28

What struck me was when the reader read the list of names from Chronicles, he said the sons of Issac were Esau and Israel. Not Jacob.

Listed in this genealogical account the author of the book of Chronicles specifically wrote Jacob's new name. Given to him by God.

What in the world does this have to do with exercise and freedom???

A whole lot.

You see, when we are born into this world, God gives our parents the privilege to give us our names. Yet, God already knows. He has written our names down.

Elizabeth. Vlad. Sofia. Matthew. Livia. Bernardo. Zhang Li. Steve. Margaret. Jose. Stella. Rick. Taifa. Hope.

What happens when we meet God? 

When we believe--He changes our names.

Our names are then rewritten in his huge book of LIFE. They take on new meaning. New purpose.

We become free at that moment. Really free.

Many of us are free, yet, we live as though we are slaves. 

I see that even though I am totally, completely free--I live as though I am not. I don't do what I want, because I choose not to. I am a slave to my own mind. My own thinking.

I exercise because I choose to. I walk because I choose to. I run because I choose to. I sleep in, not because I am bound--I choose to. I eat pizza with lots of ranch dressing because I choose to.

Do my choices get me what I want? Where I want to be?

Why do I live as if my name has not been changed?

Are you free?

What is your name?

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  (Galatians 5:1)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  (1 Corinthians 3:17)

 

 

 

Yes.

And now for something completely different.

The blog thus far has been about me whining and being sad and dark and trying to find my mojo. Well, I'm going to put that on the shelf for a bit and focus on something good. Really good. Something that often floats on whisper . . . 

Yes or no?

What's your answer?

Think of all the times we've said YES.

Yes. To big things. The little things. The seemingly insignificant things.

Think of all the times we've said no . . . 

I have been thinking of the YESES and how much the trajectory of my life has changed because of them.

Sure, there are the obvious ones: Do you want to go on a date? Will you marry me? Do you want another kid? Should we get a dog? Should I quit my job? Should we move?

But, mostly, I'm remembering the seemingly small ones that turned out to be big ones: Will you help me? Do you see me? Am I loved? Do you care?

Our sunflowers have died already this summer. I have pulled them up and tilled the soil and I'm ready to plant new ones. The original sunflower came home with Pierce from preschool. We planted it along the fence we shared with Mr. Harvey, our neighbor, so he could enjoy it too.

Mr. Harvey will always be one of my greatest YESES.

He was our elderly neighbor. We'd chat and be cordial. He was battling cancer. He loved coming to the edge of the fence to visit with my children and pet my dogs. 

Then, his son, fearing for Harvey's health and ability to get on by himself, moved him into an assisted living center. That lasted a few months. 

I saw Harvey's car next door. It was near Christmas. I had a gift and decided to take it over. He said he was moving back into his home. He hated the center--he said, "It's where people go to die and I'm not ready to die yet. Plus, the food is horrible!" I asked him if he had plans for Christmas dinner. "No," he replied.

"Well, now you do." He came with our family to my parent's house to celebrate Christmas. And then Easter. And then another Christmas.

Harvey was a secret smoker. So kind, he never did it in where my children could see him. Before bed, I always potty the dogs. I go out into the yard with them to make sure they do their business. I could always smell that Harvey was out there and see the red light of his cigarette. We'd chat. He loved my dogs. Especially Chloe. He never got her name right--always called her Cleo.

"I love you, Meredith." "I love you too, Mr. Harvey."

Harvey turned 80 this year. He fell in his home and hit his head. I miss him terribly. Everyday.

I will plant new sunflowers this week.

I told this story last week to my friend Erica.

She didn't know she's one of my best recent yeses.

Earlier this year Erica was enduring some health issues. She needed help getting her kids to and from preschool. I got the email. I felt strongly about saying YES.

When God presents you with the question, "Will you? Yes or No?" He's never over bearing. He's quiet. He presents us with millions of these scenarios, daily. Yes, or no. He waits. Often, we say no. It's no big deal. We just didn't choose the opposite. Most of the "no's" fade away . . . But the YESES, these remain.

When I chose to take this woman's children to and from school three days a week--I had no idea where my YES would take me. I didn't know her. I didn't know her children. Yet, I could not say NO.

She has become one of my best friends. One of the people I chose to spend my time with every week. Our children play together. Our husbands are becoming friends.

Yes.

It all stems from a YES.

Yes makes me think of Yahweh. The true name of God which means: becoming or to be. I am. 

Yes. I am. Yes I am. Yes, I will.

Yes, the "no's" matter too. But, let's focus on the yeses.

Jeremiah 29:11-13. This is my FAVORITE verse and all that I hang my YES on:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

Yes. 

What will you say?

#fail

I just filed my fingernails. These days my beauty regimen is at the bottom of my to do list. Relatively non existent. This is due to the fact that I'm a somewhat stay-at-home-mom-who-teaches-preschool-three-days-a-week with three little boys 2, 4, & 6. Trying to find the time to beautify and do it without an audience and circus taking place in the bathroom is virtually impossible.

I looked down later that day and I'd forgotten to file one of them. 

That's pretty much the picture reel of my life right now: brain mush.

Now, I'm no dummy. I cannot blame all my life's problems and stress and  bad luck and tough seasons on my kids. Nor will I. But, I just have to tell the truth here: they are huge contributors of my brain mushiness. That, combined with a lost mojo plus the "epic three months of torture"--I mean summer--equals a  RECIPE FOR INNER DESTRUCTION.

It's perfectly alright to be a little less than enthused about your particular position in the space time continuum. Label it what you want: depression, loss of mojo, the blues, losing your groove, etc. But, being that I believe in Jesus Christ and I have heartfelt knowledge of the past, present, and my future--I know I won't be here long. And, I know I'm not alone. I'm more than likely in this position for a reason.

I'm really not trying to be whiny. Although, I'm not doing a very good job of it. I'm going for more of a BRAIN DUMP OF MY BRAIN MUSH. Unless you unload the contents of your purse, you won't know why its getting so heavy and weighing you down.

I was going through old videos of my kids a few days ago. So little. How sweet they were. My mind went back to the time when it was just my husband and me. Pause. When there was just the one baby. Pause. When there were just two little ones. Pause. Now three. We both turned 40 this year and celebrated 9 years of marriage. In about ten years, that's a lot of change. Having children changes you.Having three makes you a little crazy.

We are tired. I'm tired. Truth be told, we live each day just to squeeze out the bare minimum: Did we feed them? Check. Are they relatively clean? Check. Are they alive? Check. Success! Its 8:00 pm, now we can throw the kids in bed and do it all over againtomorrow! Cue Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. 

In the beginning of this parenting voyage I flirted with the idea of homeschooling and teaching my children all about art and painting and knitting and sculpting everyday (I'm a former art teacher) and reading the Bible everyday and doing all this Pinterest-y stuff and being so happy all the time and having all this energy and . . . well, I don't think I ever stopped to think about the kind of human being I would become after all that endless pouring into my children each minute, day in, day out, year after year . . . what kind of ME would I become? Would there be any of ME left? 

Would there be any of ME left for my husband? (That is a whole OTHER blog post.)

Something legendary I've realized this summer: I HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO REALLY LIVE WHILE MY KIDS ARE AWAKE.

I have completely put myself and the things that interest me and enrich me on pause for basically the last six years. I have always felt if they were up, I had to be at their beckoned call to get them a snack or a drink or change the channel or the DVD, or keep a baby from destroying their LEGO tower, change the millionth diaper, find the binky, wipe the snot and clean up after every disaster.I still to this day never watch adult TV when they are awake.( Ok. Just kidding, I never watch adult TV because I'm too freaking tired and just go to bed. Just ask my husband.)

I was an artist remember? I have a lot stuffed in this brain that's never made it to canvas because, KIDS. I have a lot on a to-do list somewhere that never got done because, KIDS.

Yes. I became THAT kind of mom. I didn't mean to, and it didn't happen over night.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

I feel God is watching me. Just observing from afar as I get a clue. It's time for this mama to wake up and start LIVING again. Can I get an AMEN?

I remember Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

With that being said, I gave myself a pedicure.

And Piecre looked down at my toe-spacers and said, "Whats that?" and proceeded to stick his big ole finger into the paint on my big toe.

 

Fat

I probably think about my weight at least 25 times a day. It's a girl thing, I think. I doubt men think about it like we do.

And, to be honest, I think I have a pretty healthy perspective of my body. I don't consider myself obsessed. 

But, seriously, who doesn't want to lose 10, 15, or 20 pounds? I'd say, probably every adult on the planet. Or just most women.

The problem comes when most of our clothes--especially our favorite ones--start fitting rather tight. That makes us realize the cold, hard truth that the scale has been screaming at us. I'm fat. There's proof in my waistband. Mine is tight. I've gained about 5 pounds this summer. It isn't pretty. (I'm secretly thankful it's been so rainy here in Texas and I haven't had to wear my swimsuit.)

As I've stated in my earlier blogs--I kinda lost my mojo. It began back in March. March 22nd to be exact. That was the day I ran (and mostly walked) my first half marathon. I was beyond tired and exhausted. I knew I was going to take a full week off to recuperate. Well, that one week turned into two and then into a month and then into two.

And here we are again. The 22nd. Of June. 

Unknowingly, I dropped my mojo like a hot potato that day back in March. I had made a tremendously lofty goal, and I accomplished it.  Good for me! Pat on the back. But, with anything we experience--like: getting married, having a baby, running a marathon, Christmas--when the climax ends, sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in the blue. When the presents have all been opened, then what?

Now that it's summer and I'm taking the time to examine the road I've been on and how I lost my mojo, I'm reminded of a little thing I wrote to my friends about WEIGHT. 

I know a major ingredient missing from my world right now is excersize. Somehow, for me, my weight seems to weigh less on my psyche when I'm doing something about it. Taking control of the reigns.

This week, I am going to attempt to make an attempt.

I'll let you know how it goes. . . . 

Until then, I will leave you with this that I wrote back on Good Friday:

185.

That's how much I weigh.

Really.

That's been pretty much my norm most my life. When I had Otis I was 179. Not bad since ditching breastfeeding. But not great, right?

I'm 40 years old. I have three kids. I try and workout and eat healthy and all but it's hard. Let's face it: FITNESS is hard with littles who only want to eat pizza and powdered donuts. And parents who drink lots of coffee and wine to survive.

Now.

WHY IN THE WORLD AM I TALKING ABOUT THIS ON A DAY LIKE THIS!?!?!?!?!?!

I mean, how rude. How selfish. How tacky. How self centered and self absorbed. How narcissistic!?

Dude. It's Good Friday. Today is about Jesus!

And so it is.

That voice. It followed me into the bathroom and possessed me to get on the scale. That voice is with me everyday. Pestering me. Small. Convicting. Always present. "You need to lose 20-30 pounds. Let's face it, you're fat. You need to workout more. You need to eat less. Like a bird. Just seeds. No more pizza. No more wine. No more chocolate. No more fun and no more Ranch dressing FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!"

That voice has a name. His name is satan.

So what does this have to do with Jesus? EVERYTHING. 

Jesus died today for all the "bad" people: The murderers. The thieves. The liars and cheaters. The people who kick puppies.

Jesus died today for all the "good" people: The philanthropists. The nurses and doctors. The Nobel Peace Prize winners. Those who are nice to their neighbors and save the whales.

Jesus died for people who spend way too much time focusing on the number on that scale when people in Syria, the Ukraine, Kenya and Mexico and all over the world who just try to stay alive today.

Jesus died for me. I killed him. And he still loves me.

Jesus dies so that we can be free. Free from all the stuff that doesn't matter. Especially that number on the scale.

So. Today.

It's Friday. And it's good. REAL GOOD.

Forget the number. Remember Jesus.
 

Brody

I just had a little epiphany.

I love those. Sometimes they are big, often very small and suttle.

This morning I was just inspired by Brody. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I was completely blessed by a little guy with Down syndrome.

"They like me," he told his mother.

You see, we started VBS yesterday and all was crazy. There were about 200 kids. Brody came to a brand new place, with brand new people and he left knowing he was liked. Loved. I want his assurance!

Looking back over the last few months, trying to figure out where I lost my mojo--I'm starting to see some key places where things went south.

One of them was a whirlpool of negativity.

I love living in a small town. It's amazing. I love knowing so many people. Seeing people most everywhere I go. But, in typical small town fashion--drama and gossip ensue.

Well, back around March a whirlpool of negativity and gossip all around me started to pull me under. I began to question how I saw people. I began to question how I saw myself. Doubt and insecurity followed. "Do they like me?" "Do I like me?"-- were questions that welled deep in my soul. And then "Do I like them?"

Brody reminded me today of the TRUTH. No matter what whirlpool may be swirling around us, we can put on God's lifejacket of truth. As Ms. Dawn often teaches the kids at church: "Love God. Love others. Love yourself." Do that and you will never sink.

I sank a little.

And that's ok.

Today, I'm going to remember God. Love Him. I'm going to love myself and LIKE ME. I'm going to find Brody and I'm going to hug him and tell him I love him. 

Then I'm going to find a whole bunch of other people and tell them how much I like them.

I love you. I really like you!

 

Sunday Sober Sunday

Sunday.

So, about that mojo thing . . 

You know how like in January, or the start of summer, or the first day of a new week where you're all gung ho with fresh resolve to do things differently and be new and different. That's me today. 

Why do feel the need to have it all together in an instant when the timer starts? 

Like in January. We expect to be a completely changed person when we wake up on the 1st. Skinny, successful and happy. The first day of summer we expect rainbows without rain and sunshine without sunburns and swimming without bloody toes and ice cream and all things wonderful and no mosquitoes and no kids fighting EVER. 

We forget that change is incredibly hard.

It's not so much arriving to the place of perceived completion as it is the journey. We all know this. Its the journey, the getting there that matters. The long hard journey of detours and adventures and lot and lots of failures. That's what really forces us to change.

We forget. But, God doesn't. He KNOWS how dense we are.

We are the ones who expect instant perfection and feel like failures and inept when we trip over our own feet. That's pretty much me. Right now.

Summer hit me like a ton of bricks. Sure, I had ideas about how to make it good, being a better me for my kids and a better us as a family and yada, yada, yada. But, being a preschool teacher this year, I had no time to switch gears.

Y'all. let me just interject here: teachers are saints. I don't even place myself in a category with public school teachers who teach full time and are under all the stress and crazy of state education. I was there once. It's hard. Thank God for all the teachers out there.

Ok. With new resolve and one full insane week of summer under my belt, I'm ready to tackle the rest of this summer thing and get my mojo back.

Step one is forgiving myself for being so tired and blindsided by summer. Step two is taking today to plug into God and my family and do mostly nothing today.

We have VBS this week and I'm leading a group of 2 year olds. I need to get my game face on.

I'm praying today to be SOBER in mind, spirit and body today. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you and I want to see ME. Thinking about Psalm 51:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Have a great week y'all.

 

 

The worst time to start a blog.

Erica made me. Like lightning fast. BOOM. Blog.

Just do it.

I've been pondering this blog thing for a long time. I've written some things and sent them to people and they all support me. But, let's be honest: this is the worst time to start a blog.

Sure, I'm a mom to three very insane little boys and I teach preschool and I'm a wife and a mediocre one at that and have to keep the house up and laundry clean and pantry stocked and feed all my people and love on my aging dogs and shave my legs and try and brush my teeth and basically just keep everyone alive and blah, blah, blah. I'm like every mother trying to just survive today. I'm not unique. Life is hard y'all.

This, though, among all my excuses--this would be the most viable: I have lost my mojo.

I have lost all my mojo and I know it. I'm desperately trying to find it, knowing full well it's MIA.

We all have those times in our lives when we feel off. Maybe it's our job. Maybe it's our relationships. The kids. The finances. The weather. Allergies. Hormones. Maybe it's because you aren't praying enough. Maybe it's because you're not exercising. Weight gain. Lack of sleep. Eating too much crap. Not enough coffee. The color purple. I don't know--maybe it's ALL OF THE ABOVE.

The problem is that we just hit summertime. This is NOT the time to have lost your mojo. Seriously. Or to have gained 5 pounds.

I need my mojo, and I need it now. Like right now.

I know exactly where I need to go to find it (and I'm pretty sure I know why I lost it in the first place. But, that's another blog entry.) I need to head straight to God.

Jesus.I need to just start with Jesus.

But, it's not that easy. I've got no mojo y'all, remember? Mojo meaning: energy, motivation, a strong will, confidence, that strong sense of who you are and what you're doing is right.

It's hard to get back to Jesus when you have little people. I have three. 6, 4 and 2. Boys. THEY'RE A MAKIN' ME A CRAZY Y'ALL. I have no time for myself. Barely time to think complete sentences. My attempts to get up early and have some "quiet time" are always thwarted by some creature living in my home, human or canine.

I'm not writing this for sympathy. And certainly not pity. 

You see, I'm earnestly asking for prayer. I don't seem to have the will to do it for myself right now. I'm like Paul in Romans 7:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Yes, I KNOW what I NEED to do. There are several of them. But wanting to do them and actually doing them and being consistent in them to see results is a completely different ballgame.

I am one tired mama who has lost her mojo. 

Have you been there? Do you see why this is a completely ridiculous time to start a blog?

Lord Jesus, I know you and I love you. I know you are there. I know you see me. But, you know how weary I am. I want to do all the things I need to do--for myself and my family--to be a better wife and mother. I'm just so tired. Grant me the motivation. Give me your will. Help me to get my life back in order and climb out of this season. Help me find my mojo, Lord! And lose 10 pounds.

Lord, help me to remember Galatians 6:9:

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

I'm going to just keep breathing and praying and I know the fog will lift.

Pray for me? Like ALL summer long? I am so going to need it.

Thanks, Meredith

 

* all scriptures are taken from Bible Gateway, the NIV version.