Life is a number game

numbers1Numbers

What are these little things we see everywhere?

Numbers

They create a sense of accomplishment,

A sense of self

A sense of self worth.

Value

Place

Location

numbers8Numbers define our lives more than we realize.

Our income

Our debt

Our giving

numbers2They define our self

Our weight

Our height

Our clothing size

They define our home

How much

What area

How many rooms

numbers4They define our accomplishments

What place

What grade point average

How many followers we have

How many likes we get.

But why do we give numbers so much worth in our lives?

numbers0

Because we learn to from the moment we are born. As a mother, I can remember the first questions I would be asked about my pregnancies. What is your due date? How far along? How many weeks? How long until you know the gender? How many are there? How many will you have? All of these questions require a value, a number.

Then, once you have your child, the first things people want to know about a baby are their height and weight. (Numbers)

Then time and date (numbers)

Then weeks/months/years (numbers)

How many words? (Numbers)

We are measured by numbers from the very beginning. We learn that these numbers hold value. They define who we are. People see us as the skinny or fat baby, the tall or short child, the rich or poor person based on numbers.

numbers6

We try so hard to change these numbers. To make them different. To make them better. Being better or best means having the highest or the lowest number (depending on what you are talking about). Being better or the best means comparing yourself to others. We should always caution ourselves from being too quick to compare ourselves to others. When we do that to our children we can create a world of hurt.

As a mom, I often find myself saying that the first or the second or the third child did x, y, or z at such and such an age. Then, I find myself saying this to another parent when we compare our children. It is like a three ring circus of “well, my child was walking at 10 months old. How about yours?” And “Oh! Well, my child could read at the age of 2.” Followed quickly by an occasional, “Well, my child was playing Mozart at three.” And so on. It really makes me sad to think I have done that about and to my children. I Am trying not to do that anymore. I try to use names and their character to describe them, but sometimes that is hard in a society of numbers.

numbers7

Motherhood and life are filled with so many numbers. At one point in my own life running seemed like a good idea. How hard could it be, right? So, I signed up for a 5K. I never practiced, never warmed up, and just showed up to run. I came in last place. It took me 47 minutes to run that 5K and it was the most grueling 47 minutes of my life.

Why? Because I let that get to me. I let those numbers give me value. I have learned that those numbers only hold value in that they pushed me to run faster and farther, and to understand that it takes practice to improve my running numbers.

numbers3As parents we wanted to choose a sport for our boys that would help them find their values: hard work, dedication, teamwork, good sportsmanship, etc.. The sport we chose for them is all about the numbers : track and field.

numbers11Talk about numbers, this sport is about how fast, what place, and how far. We chose it because the one thing I did learn from that race was that I could better myself from that time. Track & Field is a sport that doesn’t compare you to someone else. Well, it doesn’t if you do it right. As coaches and parents we are constantly telling our runners to do THEIR best. Not to worry about the other runner’s best, but to focus on what they can do to beat themselves. We push them in practice to stretch, run, jump and throw better every time. This dedication has lead to personal bests for many of our runners, and even a showing at the Junior Olympics.

The numbers here show our runners that they have grown. That their hard work is paying off. That dedication and focus will lead to great rewards. This lesson is not just for running or jumping or throwing, but it will play out in life.

If they focus on the task at hand, do what they have learned to do and dedicate themselves to it, they will find that they are capable of growing at any task.

Numbers. They mean so much, but also, so little.

A number can never compare to the worth a person feels inside. The sense of accomplishment and wonder someone feels as they rise above a challenge and grow from it. No number can ever replace that feeling.

numbers5So I challenge you. Move forward with fewer numbers. Credit yourself for what you can do, and find your non-number worth. What makes you fully you? How do you find your non-number worth? For me, it is how happy my children are, what they believe they can do, the joy in my marriage, and what I know I am capable of. Numbers do not need to define any of that!

be free to love yourself for you
be free to love yourself for you

Leave a comment and help others find ways to find their worth as well!

The House is on the market!

A few weeks ago I told you about the work we were doing to prepare our house for putting it on the market. In that post I promised that I would show you pictures of the finished product.Home heart

Well, to be honest, it has taken me a few weeks to realize that this is a reality. We of course have our house on the market. It has been listed for two weeks as of today. We try to keep it “spotless” every day in case someone wants to see it. We are trying not to get too excited about the next house, but we do have our lists of houses we want to make our home. We use apps like Realtor.com, Redfin.com, and RI Living to keep track of houses we love, and to remember houses we want to show each other and our Realtor.

28 the homeRight now, we are in limbo. The hurry up and wait of being for sale is not an easy one to navigate. Before we can buy our next home, we have to sell this home. Dreaming can happen, but reality cannot set in until someone else calls this house their own.

28 the kitchenWe have obviously bought a house, but we have never been in a position to sell a house. We needed to pick the right Realtor. Aliesha is wonderful. She is honest, funny, and willing to tell us no when the right answer is no. Hearing that word can be hard, but I am glad we picked someone who is walking us through this step by step to be certain that we get the house we want, and that this house sells to someone who wants it. I am grateful that my best friend just went through this, and recommended her Realtor to help us make this dream of a bigger house with a bigger yard a reality for us. Consider this my recommendation to all of you that if you are looking to sell or buy, Aliesha will do amazing things for you as well.

28 the diningWe are virgins at this. Scared, unsure, and praying we made the right choice. Our house is beautiful right now, and we are falling back in love with all of the amazing details. We love this house. It still contains a lot of it’s original charm. (do I sound like a Realtor yet, or maybe just someone who watches a lot of HGTV?)

Our Realtor, Aliesha, described it best in her blog post about our home. The pictures speak for themselves,  take a virtual tour.

28 welcomeWhat was the hardest part for you about selling your home or finding your dream home? Comment below and let others know your story!

 

Keeping the fun in our house

With the process of finding a house, getting ours on the market, and just life in general. The boys have felt off balance. We are trying to find a balance for them in this crazy busy life.

a snow mamaOne thing we let them continue to do is jump up and go outside with their friends when they knock on the door. There are a few kids in the neighborhood that all play together, and this playing outside is so awesome for the boys. Playing outside is crucial to mental and emotional health in a child, and this outdoor play is so energizing for our boys!

 

 

a minecraft mamaWe also have removed most of their toys from the house right now. This means that boredom can set in easily. Each boy has a special “Treasure” box where they kept their favorite toys. a boys treasureThese boxes are now in their bedrooms, where they can dig in and find a special toy. They love that their treasures are close at hand, and safe. I love that they can play.

a star wars mamaMy boys also love to create. In the past they have created art work and adorned the walls of our house with their creative energy. For over a year our dining room was labeled “The Bat Cave” on construction paper cut in the shape of a bat.a bat cave mamaTheir bedroom was the movie theater, and there was a “Coming soon to a theater near you” poster in the hall. There was also a “Minecraft” Enderdragon a end for mamamade out of several pieces of construction paper on the wall. a stop sign mamaThey need this creative outlet. We now encourage journal writing with pictures, and origami.   They are planning out their creations for our new home.

We also managed to keep their crazy video games in the house, a video gamebut keep them from being a focal point of the entertainment area. We packed away the games they play rarely, kept the new ones from Christmas, and made sure their iPod’s and Kindle’s were accessible.

a baseball mamaAll of this is important to keeping them happy, and keeping our house looking ready at any moment for someone who may want to make it their home. We do not know what the next chapter will look like, but what I do know is that it will be filled with love, creativity, energy, a lot of video games, and boys. We are not in the market to pretend we don’t have kids, we are in the market to be certain our boys have what they need to be happy, and the tools they need to be successful! We also are looking forward to finding our future home.

So what is your story? How did you keep your children entertained while trying to make your house ready for sale or moving?

 

The house we love…making home a house again.

the homePreparing our home for sale has taken a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat equity. We have spent nights over the last few weeks spending 2-4 hours a night painting, packing, staging, organizing, and rethinking our home. This home has done so much for us.

The next family who enters here as home will have freshly painted walls, a storage system in the garage, a deck out back, and new plumbing. They will also have the beauty that this old house puts forth. The walls of this home are bright, and spacious, and have held my children’s pictures, my children’s drawings, and my children’s school work. Now they are holding art that will help people see it’s potential. I am falling in love with this home again, but for the potential it has for its next owner.

The boys have packed away many of their belongings, prizes, and treasures. They have helped paint, helped pack and helped clean. They are as excited as we are about making this move. I will admit I was worried about the stress of a move on them, but they are handling it with understanding, and excitement. We have even taken them to a few open  houses. We want them to understand that we are not moving into every house we look at, but one of them may be it.

punch listLast week I broke emotionally and physically about this house. I had made a list with our Realtor of what she recommended we change to make it appeal to a large audience of buyers. The list was not crazy, just details like paint color, removing a lot of our “stuff” and setting the stage for a welcoming home.  I set a timeline for me. No one else imposed this timeline. And I was setting a super fast pace.  This punch list was consuming my life.

I needed my village.

I needed others to help me see the light at the end.

I sent a text and asked them to come over and lured them in with food.

They all responded, and Friday night I was out getting supplies. I grabbed a few extra rollers, drop cloths, paint trays, and sand paper. Saturday I fuel the bodyheaded to the super market to get food. Normally, I would grab the food whole, bring it home, and prep it. Today, I went for pre-cut fruit, veggies, and cheese. I also grabbed some guacamole, salsa, water, juice boxes for the kids, Arnold Palmer for my dad and brother (but really we all drink them) and hummus. I wanted to be sure there was plenty of filling mostly healthy food at the table so that no one would over indulge in something and feel bad. We also have a few diabetics in.the family so I needed to be sure we had protein and veggies. splurging on cut fruits and veggies and cheese meant that we could get right to work on the house. I think it was worth the little added expense! Plus, no dishes!

part fo the funWe had a busy day of fun and stress for sure! We were able to paint both of the boys bedrooms, the hallway, the stairway, part of the basement, move our packed boxes into the garage for moving to storage, and repair two sections of wall that needed to be patched. We even created a coat closet out of a linen closet that was not being used because of a new linen closet in the bathroom. We got a lot done. All I saw were the things we hadn’t finished.  I saw things we couldn’t finish. I saw a list that kept growing. I went to bed feeling overwhelmed.

I woke up with a sense of, “We can do this. Where is my list? Let’s check some things off.” I was ready to go again. I had forgotten that the most important thing for me to do is rest. I was burning the candle at both ends and unable to finish a task. I am choosing to rest a bit more, and that may mean it takes a little bit longer to get listed, but it is worth it.

We are not finished, but we are really close. stay tuned for pictures of our newly re-imagined house!Home heart

When home doesn’t feel like home anymore

Home heartWe have been contemplating moving for a long time. Our house must have shrunk. I feel like we are on top of each other, constantly stepping on toes. No one can get up from the table without someone else moving. The children are constantly fighting over space.

Two things are going on here:
1- we have way too much junk
2- we are outgrowing our house

I do love our house. It is very similar to what I grew up with. I am sentimental so I like that. We are having a hard time fitting, and the family who owned it before us had 6 children in it (I do not know how!). We kept (mostly) everything the way it was. Pulled up the carpets, painted the walls, replaced the piping, new stack pipe, renovated the bathroom, but overall, it is original. That is a good thing. It is a beautiful, and I am glad we did not do too much to change the bones of this old house.

We want a house wth more room to do things. A place for homework, a place for reading, a place to sip a cup of coffee in the morning. A place to play, watch a movie, play a video game, build a puzzle, build Legos, and a place to hide the junk of a school project or Christmas shopping when company comes over. A place to entertain where everyone can be in the same room at the same time.

I am ready for a change, and change is not easy, but we are ready for it. I am there. On the brink of change. And you know what? I am petrified!

The questions you have.
“What if we pick the wrong house?”
“What if the kids do not make friends if we change schools?”
“What will my new commute look like?”
“What if our house never sells?”
“What if we never find ‘The House’?”
“What if we are wrong?”

I remember moving as a kid, two miles from our house. A new school, new friends, and I remember not understanding how close we were to everything we already knew.

As scary as it is, we are here:
We have started this process.
We have a realtor who is amazing, honest, funny, and knows her stuff.
She has put us in touch with a financial agent.
She gave us a punch list for our house.
We are so excited to be on this journey.
We are also a bit scared to be on this journey.
I hope you will join us.
I hope you will love the tips and tricks I share as we go.
I hope we land where home is, although, home is right here, we are just bursting at the seams!

Time passes

What is your moving adventure?
When did it start?
How did it start?
Do you love where you landed?

How do you do it? A question I hear a lot!

a schedule to keepI often get asked, “How do you do everything you do?”

Truthfully there are times that I don’t even know how I do it.

I try as hard as I can to get everything done for everyone, and often I fall a little short. For the most part, things go smoothly, but then a business trip for my husband, or a track meet for the boys throws a monkey wrench into the mix.
Here is how I (mostly) keep it all together:

  1. a morning coffeeCoffee – I suffer from migraines. I have tried many different remedies over the years, and the easiest and most tried and true for me is two cups of caffeine in the morning. This plus a protein filled breakfast like eggs with veggies and cheese or (on a day where we are running out the door) a protein shake made with almond milk and  peanut butter. A good start to my day is imperative to everything working together.
  2. a calendar lookCalendars – Steve and I have calendars that connect to each other. My school schedule, the boys piano lessons, track practices and meets doctors appointments, even what day our dog gets her heart worm medication is all on the calendar. Without the calendar, we  would be lost. I used to use a paper calendar, but sharing that was next to impossible, and we were missing appointments. Once we shared a Google calendar it helped us to be on the same page with our commitments. Steve is the king of inserting into a calendar, and I let him because, well, I loathe it!
  3. Communication – Plain and simple. We do not schedule ANYTHING without checking with each other. we schedule our nights with friends and dates in advance. We have to because our commitments are many right now.
  4. Ignoring spam emails – I have over 2000 unread emails, 99% of them are from a store/stores I have shopped in at some point in time. I just do not take the time to delete them. so they go unread. It kills my organized everything has to be done side, but it has taught me to be okay with not getting everything done.
  5. Choosing to help the boys with their work before mine – My children need their mother. When I am home, their homework comes before mine. Even if I have a final exam to finish, they come first. I have spent hours working on a writing project with one boy and then stayed up way late writing my own paper. I have to put them first because they need me.
  6. Staying up late/waking up early – I stay up some nights until 1 or 2 in the morning to write a paper, read a text book, or plan a lesson. I also have woken up with my husband at 4 AM and while he heads to the Gym (crazy, right?) I will write a blog post or a paper, or plan a lesson for the next week. Sleep is something that alludes me, however, I get plenty of it during vacations, summer, and Saturdays (sometimes).
  7. a school scheduleChoosing a school schedule that does not interfere with the boys schedule– This is super hard. I try to pick a schedule that has me away from home for just one whole night, or online classes where I can work from home, or before I was teaching during the day. As I near the end of this degree, I am having to take classes three days a week away from home, and one of those days is Saturday from 9AM-2PM and it is a biology lab. I wish I hadn’t saved that till the end! My second degree will take place online 100% and will be one class at a time for 5 weeks at a time. so much more manageable. I start that in August.
  8. Spending one afternoon a week at school to write lesson plans (so I don’t bring them home) – This is huge. I spend usually Thursday afternoon at school cleaning up my classroom materials, planning stories and crafts, and organizing my collected work from my students. This has been instrumental in my teaching being a non-stress in my life. I enjoy teaching, and this method of planning has been key to a successful year so far! I often am willing to pay for resources from Teachers Pay Teachers to reduce my stress in planning. very helpful to not reinvent the wheel.
  9. Spending as much available time with my boys – When I do have time at home with them, I enjoy playing a video game, a board game, building Lego sets with them, and even a game of Minecraft on our tablets together. I try to meet them where they are, and spend as much time as possible building positive memories. we even enjoy 30 minute reading breaks together when things are getting crazy!
  10. Planning ahead – but not over-committing – We plan our family and friend events in advance, so they are set in the calendar, but we do not over-commit. we try to be fair and have time with everyone, however lately, we have focused on our nuclear family more. The boys were needing some family of 5 time, and that was important to recognize. We also keep family events low key by making them: potluck, board games, casual, and come and go as you can. With so many family members in our extended family, it can be hard to fit everyone’s schedule.  The boys commitments are minimal as well. They all take piano lessons, and run on the race team for our local youth sports league. These are manageable, and Steve is a runner (more than me) and I can read music and play piano, so I can help with those practice sessions. Simple is the key to not over-committing.
  11. a me time collageMaking time for me – This is crucial. With teaching, and being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a student, and a coach, I need to be sure I do things for me. It is always hard to take the time as I feel selfish saying, “I need some time for me.” It is necessary however to do so. How do I enjoy spending my “Me” time? I love to read and even enjoy an audiobook when my time to hold a book is limited, I used to run more but now I have a trainer so I go for a workout and sometimes a run, I love to play board/card games and these things are brain breaks for me but involve family, I like to color in my amazing coloring books I got from my best friend, I like to get a Starbucks and walk around Target looking for nothing,  I love to bake for others as we do not eat a lot of sweets here, and I love to watch a movie. I also spend time with my friends. I truthfully have one amazing friend who has been key to me staying on course. I go to her house and stay until midnight, she comes to mine and stays until late. she is the inspiration and support for me growing my blog, and really finding myself in it. Time for me often includes time with her as she is my best friend, and I need her around to keep me sane, knock me off of my pedestal, and to need me in return. being needed is a wonderful feeling, and I am glad that I have a friend who I can lean on.
  12. a moment aloneMy husbandSteve is a rock. He manages the calendar, takes the boys to the doctors, the dentist, pays the bills, grocery shops, does laundry, and cleans the house. He has picked up all of the things that I dropped. He also works full time. All the time. He is always answering an email, preparing a quote for a customer, or handling a situation with a tech or engineer. He has so much knowledge, and is so much more organized than I am, and I am fairly organized. He knows where I put my keys, where the boys need to be, and what I wore yesterday (when I can’t remember). He holds me when I cry over nothing in my closet looking right. He puts up with my clothes all over the bedroom because putting away my laundry is something I haven’t had time for. he laughs with me, makes my coffee, kisses my forehead while I am writing, and brings me snacks. He also entertains the boys, and for Christmas purchased every workout item I asked for without a blink, even though he had already purchased me the iPad I had been begging for (mine was obsolete and dying, and I was being a brat, I know this). He has been the stand holding me up while I have been barely standing up. The stress of my studies this semester was the worst, and he guided me through it with patience, understanding, and love. I am not worthy, but I openly accept it!
  13. a boy thingMy boys – My children are old enough to do a lot of things for themselves. They do laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, feed and walk the dog, sweep floors, clean mirrors and windows, make breakfast for themselves/each other, prep most of their lunches, and read, do homework and practice piano without question. They realize that mom is in school and busy, but that I love them more than anything. They know I love early morning snuggles, tickle fights, a good session of Minecraft and talking about Star Wars or Legos or both! I pray they understand that me completing my degree is as much for them as it is for me, and I hope they see my studying as a model for the hard work it takes to get good grades and work for what you want out of your education.
  14. My family – My mother and father have been supportive of me going back to school as a mom. They have helped with the boys when Steve has a business trip, read papers for errors, and been council on what my next step should be. my brother and sister have hardly seen me as I have not been around a lot with school and the boys, and they are able to communicate with me and let me know that they get it. my nieces and nephew I don’t get to spend as much time with as I like, but when I do, they are my priority, having fun, making memories. My mother and father in law have helped as well, taking turns with my parents in helping with the boys when school has kept me from being mom. It is actually amazing how a family can lean on each other and  support each other through something that should be simple. College as a mom in your 30’s is not easy, and you need a village. I have given up being the mom that can volunteer for  school events, or field trips. I have given up weeknight bible studies so I can be home or at class. I have stopped some of the things I love, but my family has supported me through it, and I love that!
  15. a end of day momentWine -I enjoy a glass (or 2) of red wine. It helps me unwind at the end of the day, reflect on all I have accomplished, and realize that I am an adult, “adulting” really hard, and I deserve a small break at the end of a long day.  I sometimes replace wine with tea, but I get the same effect.

 

 

 

The reality of it all is that I do not get everything done in a day. A lot of things fall between the cracks. A lot of things never happen. I forget birthdays are coming up, or a special show I was supposed to record, or a promise of a book read at night that I don’t make it home in time for. I cry a lot about that, but I cannot let it hold me back. No one can do it all. and if they tell you they can they are lying to your face. It is not easy, It sucks most days, but at the end of the day, you do the best you can, ask for forgiveness/acceptance/love, and you move forward, it is all you can do!

How do you make your busy schedule work? Do you have any tips for others about how to make a busy schedule less busy? do you need support through something? leave a comment let me know, and maybe someone else can offer support!

Blessings for a happy 2016!

Love

Melendy

Happy New Year!

Happy New year to you and yours this day!

Enjoy your new year with your family, friends, and those you choose to spend time with in the new year!

 

Remember that while you enjoy the fruits of a new year, I will be hard at work bringing you content you want to read!

Love,

Melendy

new year

Blog it Forward

cropped-mamaisonlyhuman-blog-label-1.jpgI logged into facebook tonight and was greeted by a beautiful challenge from a friend. It was not directed at me, but when Chelley posts something that touches my heart, I try to respond.

Well today’s message was striking as it was about giving back.

We try to give back often, and visibly for the boys. At Christmas time it can be hard to keep the giving spirit for them when everyone is asking them what they want. My boys always do something for their teachers every year. A gift card, a hand made present, a picture they drew.  This year we did something completely different.

The boys were asking about the children we sponsor, and how to help them. They were asking on the day we received the catalog for Christmas giving. They looked through it more vigourosly than the Toy ads. They decided on three rabbits, money for education in the US, money for education outside of the US, seeds for one family to plant a harvest, and four soccer balls. These gifts will go to children who live in places where poverty is flourishing. These gifts will be the first of many.

The boys wrote notes to their teachers letting them know the donations that were made in their honor.   To my surprise, the teachers responded happily, and with notes of true gratitude. My boys came home with  such joy that their presents made their teachers happy. They couldn’t wait to give again.

They obviously do not have such a giving spirit every day. I hope this small teaching moment, repeated often, will allow them to see the good they can do for others.

It is not just money though. reminding them to hold doors, use their manners, and be respectful are just as important. I pray that if they see someone struggling with a bag, finding change, or even with a dead battery on the side of the road, that they will use available resources to help that person.

How can you give back? Pay it forward? What will you do?

 

I am challenging Lisa who has three boys like me. We have known each other for almost 10 years, and truly live parallel lives. We even share a birthday! We both love to give to others, and I know she will be willing to blog it forward!

 

I am also challenging Paula who is someone new to me. She follows my blog, comments, and seems to be working hard to overcome her fears and struggles with working out. I am sure she will take the challenge to pay it forward!

Feel free to join me and many other bloggers in “blogging it forward”

Head Here to see how you can help!

 

Happy holiday season!

Love,

Melendy

 

when the moment to pause arrives

peace in the momentI stopped in to Target last Thursday to grab nylons for a dinner on Friday.

I of course grabbed a few other things, and I headed to the line to check out. There was a shorter line with a man as a cashier, and a longer line with a woman. I stopped and waited in the longer line. There were two women in front of me with overflowing carriages, and me with 6 items. As I stepped up, the woman in front of me was unloading her carriage, but offered to let me step in front of her.

It was sweet.

I declined.

Strange as it is, I enjoy waiting. It teaches me patience and gives me a moment to just be.

She almost insisted, and I again declined. We had a brief conversation about life (as you do in line at Target) and I expected her to turn away and put her things on the belt.

She did,for a moment. Then, like we were long lost college roommates, we kept talking. Other people came to the line. Calls for more cashiers rang out.  A few offered to help me. I declined, and asked the person behind me to go ahead.

People think I am strange when I do this.

My comment was, ” Thank you, but she and I have a relationship now.  I can’t abandon her!” Laughter from the cashier now too.

She was in our tribe now.

The conversation continued

Life

Husbands

children

work

saying “Yes” to too many things this time of year

How next year we will RSVP “NO” to everything we are invited to.

How I always forget to use Cartwheel

How she is worried about getting everything in with a sleeping family at home

How she has 1% left on her phone

We cheered as the cashier completed the order before her phone died so she could get her Cartwheel points, and then, she packed up.

I said happy Holidays

And she was gone

Two lives

Never before met

Never to meet again

But for a moment

Two moms at Target had a moment to laugh, and relate, and realize we all do this. not a one of us stands alone in this motherhood game. working, stay at home, separated, divorced. we all are moms, and we all will be at the store at 10:45 to get whatever is needed because well, that is what moms do. Our lives were parallel. In that moment we realized: We are not alone.

It was 10:45 at night, and truthfully, I felt bad she was going home to a house of sleeping family. Lugging the carriage full of gifts and necessities into the house alone. I wished I could help, but that was not the plan.

I am most grateful for this moment of laughter with a stranger in the checkout line because it reminded me to pause, be still, and listen!

Too often in life we are in a hurry. We want the fastest check out. The least distraction from our day. The easiest path. But how often do we miss the moments to laugh with the PERSON in front of us in line because we both are buying control top pantyhose or push up bras? How often do we miss the chance to lament our children’s wants, that they list as needs? How often do we make the cashier feel rushed to finish our shopping, forgetting that that same cashier will do their shopping from what is left over because it is so hard to shop when you work retail?

In this season of hustle and bustle it is all too easy to rush. To make haste. To be aggravated with humanity instead of enthralled with the season of wonder and love.

merry christmas to me

What moments have you had this holiday season that have reminded you to pause?

Loved

A few weekends ago I attended a Women of Faith conference. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did not want a “mountain top” weekend that I could never live up to. I did not want a lecture about all the things I do wrong with my faith. I did not need to feel like a spotlight was on me.

loved stage and program

This being an event where Women were the speakers (with a few exceptions) and the voices of reason, this became a weekend of encouragement that I am not the only one who feels the way I feel.

I hate sermons

I hate listening to them

I hate when they are finger wagging

I hate when they take a small part of a scripture and twist it to their message (especially for stewardship)

I just sit in the Choir loft and usually read the whole chapter or book that the sermon is based on.

This weekend I listened to over 10 sermons. That is what they were. God’s message, spoken through the faithful, related to my life, and powerfully true.

the women who sharedNot once did I hate it.

Not once did I say, “ugh, here we go again!”

Not once did I say, “they just don’t get it.”

Not once did I see a finger wag

Not once was I on the mountain

I was in the valley with others in the valley looking for the best way to work this life to please God.

I was not on the mountain.

Several women spoke.

Some of my favorite lines are listed here:

“We aren’t going to be done with the hard stuff until we see the sweet feet of Jesus”

~ Patsy Clairmont

“God is a lovesick parent too…

We didn’t earn Gods love so we can’t loose it…

Loved kids with a lovesick father…

To your kids you are a Shade tree in a stormed world…”

~Jen Hatmaker

“God has a ram in the bush. Trust and he will make our paths straight”

~ Thelma Wells

“Emotions do not always give you the truth

They are reliable, but they do not tell the truth…

We have to be connected that is how God created us”

~ Marilyn Meberg (I believe!)

“Lord I want to help others!” – Lucy Swindoll

“This is it” – God

This is how I was made and I don’t think any of it was a mistake.

meeting glennon

“Crisis is a sifter letting all fall away that doesn’t matter, leaving behind treasure…

The mountain top is thin air, and you have to be still, but in the valley that is where the power is, because that is where the river runs. That is where the work is done…

Be still in the valley and let Jesus fight for you.

We are valley girls” (paraphrased as I listened in awe and tried to type)

~ Glennon Doyal Melton

These women shared life, failures, resilience, love, and hope with each of us.

I am glad I went, I am glad I stood in line, and I am glad I got to see Sandi Patti sing, with her husband and family, because her music is what I grew up singing, and loving, and helped me relate music to my faith, long before Christian radio and the popularity of “faith” in the music world.

I left feeling like I need to own my faith, love God, and trust him. Not be shamed of me or my faith or my beliefs because someone else may argue. They may be Satan trying to tempt me in my deserts of life. Or, they may be lost, and may need to see God through me to believe.

Either way… I have to be me.

That is, I have to let Him use me to do His works in this world.

and so, I did this: I had three more children.