Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Time flies, and some other revelations

Wow - has it really been nearly two months since I last bothered to post on this blog?!?  Why, yes it has...

Someone recently asked me if I'll ever post again and it occurred to me that it's easier to stay quiet when you lose your voice for a time.  Breaking my silence of the past couple of months is hard - kinda like finding lost momentum.  But, because at least one person misses my writing, and yet another major life transition is just around the corner (after all, that is why I'm blogging in the first place!), here goes.

I suppose I should begin by catching you up to speed with the unpredictable and downright zany cluster of events that I call my life.  Along with the hustle and bustle normally accompanying the "holiday season", my family and I have had some added stressors requiring considerable processing (spoken like a true counselor - my professors would be so proud).  The processing has essentially taken over for me, hence my lack of writing (I'm pretty sure that isn't how this is supposed to work...).

Now that I feel like I have a better handle on what is going on, I can find the courage to share with you.  (Are you on the edge of your seat, yet?!?)

It seems that our time in the desert is quickly coming to an end and we will be moving to another state, another climate, and another home in June.  There.  I said it.

'What?', you say, 'another move?  Didn't you JUST move??'  Why, yes, we did.  2 moves in exactly 2 years is a lot to wrap my head around, yet that is exactly what we're being led to do.

My hubby's job is transferring him to, of all places, South Dakota.  So, in a few short months, we'll be packing up (again) and saying goodbye to the warm desert and moving to the frontier of the Black Hills.  (Is my lack of enthusiasm and otherwise poor attitude about this new adventure showing?!?  I'm working on this, for the record.) 

To say that I'm not thrilled about this new locale is quite possibly the understatement of the year.  I'm just getting my groove here in the desert - meeting great people and developing strong friendships, soaking in the weather here (I'm so totally a warm weather girl), and reveling in the shopping and amenities that come from city life... and now God has chosen to move me to a small (itsy, bitsy, teeny, tiny) town, with no Starbucks or Target stores, and where snow happens.  A lot.  (I don't even kinda like snow.)  We'll be the new kids in town (again) with no connection.  Starting over (again).  Is it just me, or are you sensing a pattern here??

And while I'm tempted (a lot) to wallow in self pity, I'm also determined to not lose sight of the fact that there must be some good reason for all of this. '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.' (Jer 29:11)  These words are as true today as they were two years ago when loss after loss after loss were being hurled in our direction at a breakneck pace.  And they will be true when things finally settle down and we can see some glimpse of His good plan.

There is great wisdom in the counsel I've recently sought that reassures me that God is doing a great work, even though it is hard for us to see just how it will all come together in the temporal.

Do you ever think, like I'm beginning to think, that He allows intense difficulty in our lives to wear us down to the point that we are forced to take a good, hard, long look at the things we're doing (or not doing) and know, beyond any doubt that we have to change?  Because we then know that there is no more justification or excuses or getting by with the status quo.  No - He has called us to something greater.  And He's patient, which means if we don't get it this time around, He'll give us another shot... 

Sometimes I just wish I could be like Jane Doe - simply flying under the radar and getting on with my life and hopes and dreams - the way I would have scripted things.  Living where I want to live, spending my days doing the work I want to do.  But, I'm keenly aware in the face of just about all that I'd planned being diverted and morphed into something unrecognizable and most definitely NOT what I would have chosen, that He knows better.

Just some things I'm pondering.  Please pray that I get it this time.  I'm ready to really get this now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This just about says it all...

I just created this collage of My FB status for the entire year of 2010 (ok, well, not the ENTIRE year - just a selection of status updates are shown).  Since FB status updates and blogging are so similar (but how obnoxious would it be if I posted one liners all the time on my blog?!?), I thought this might be fun to share here, too.  (HINT: if you click on the collage, it will open a larger image so you can actually read it without a magnifying glass)

I'm just thrilled that more of what I said over the past year on FB is positive than negative...  :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The soft X. | Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff

I just came across this post and, whether I want to admit it or not - whether I like the message and what it means, it is exactly what I needed to hear today. Today, my Father says, "I know, my daughter, I know."
The soft X. | Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff

And I cry.

I cry tears that taste of bitterness and anger and sadness and fear and pain and dreams forever lost.

But I hold tight to His enduring promise in Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." I know He keeps His promises. I have to trust He will...

Just some things I'm pondering in this valley where I'm living today.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Footprints in the sand

I'm gonna tell you a story... Don't worry - it's brief.

When I was in junior high (according to my kids, AGES ago), I took classes to learn to speak Spanish. (Oh, how I wish I had paid more attention and continued to take those classes when I was in high school and college because knowing Spanish would be oh, so helpful to me today.) But, I digress.

Anyway, I remember an assignment in my Spanish class (or maybe it was a public speaking assignment, I don't really remember) in which I had to recite a poem. In Spanish.

So, of course, I was drawn to the poem, _Footprints_.  In case you don't know this poem, here it is - in English.

One night I had a dream--
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints, one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life, there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints.
"I don't understand why in times when I needed you most, you should leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering.
"When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

~Mary Stevenson

You might imagine the dedication and perseverance it took for me to learn this long poem in Spanish and memorize it so I could recite it in front of judges.  I can almost still say it today (well, not quite).  I do vividly remember, though, the days and days and days of practicing I did.

I could have chosen a much shorter poem, but even at the age of 14, I was drawn to this one.  This poem that speaks of faith and hope and perseverance in times of trial.  This poem that makes clear the importance of relationship between God and us, and how He is there, even when we don't feel Him.

So, in honor of this poem and its importance to me, I've changed up the look of my blog.  In the background, you'll see the dry, parched sand of the desert, and a single set of footprints.  Today, even though I do not feel Him, I'm reminded that He carries me.  And His arms are big enough for you, too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Funny Candy

I came across this H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. clip from Tim Hawkins this morning and I was laughing so hard!!  I needed that.

Maybe you do too!  Happy almost Halloween!

Oh, and while I'm on a Halloween theme today - check this out!  Ghosting It Forward.  It's a neat little community building, feel-good activity - kinda like trick or treating in reverse!

The kids and I are totally gonna do this tomorrow night.  heeheehee

Can't wait to see if it catches on in our otherwise quiet and non-interactive neighborhood...  ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, monday

Ever notice how Mondays come around so much faster than Saturdays?  And how Sundays (if we're not intentional to avoid this) can become a day full of preparing for Monday, thus kinda sad and dreary? 

I have.

Happy Monday...  I guess...  ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Taste of Victory

What a difference a week makes.  What a difference some effort put into a difficult situation that has drawn on now for entirely too long makes.  What a difference a few victories that we've savored over the past several days has made in the life of our family. 

No, we haven't won the lottery or found the secret to world peace, but we have made some significant steps toward family peace and peace of mind.  Which is HUGE.

What, you ask, is the key to our recent victories?

While it may sound simple and like a no brainer to you, and not an entirely foreign concept to us (we've just not been practicing it lately), we've finally discovered that making a P-L-A-N to deal with some of our struggles goes a long way toward peace - even if the plan doesn't solve the problem immediately.

  • Victory #1:  We've committed to 13 weeks in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, and we're making an intentional plan for our financial future (and present).  What a difference it makes for two married adults to actually take the time to sit down and talk with one another to figure out a budget for today, and our individual dreams for tomorrow.  While our financial situation isn't drastically different than it was before we created our budget, our hopes for the future, our perceptions of security, and our marriage are already reaping the benefits of our financial plan still under refinement.

  • Victory #2: We've successfully eradicated the power struggles and yelling matches (no, I'm not proud of my behavior) that had everything to do with 'who left that mess on the kitchen floor', and 'how can you be so mean to your sister', and 'when will you clean your room (again!)'??  We've implemented an ingenious behavior/reward chart with our kids from a system I found called Accountable Kids.  

I mean, our girls are racing in the morning to take their showers, brush their teeth, make their beds, and eat breakfast before their tired parents even get out of bed!  YES, it's really that good!  What had been averaging something hideous like 4 or more hours of tv/computer/wii time per day (again, not proud of my behavior) has now been whittled down to less than 90 minutes (most days less than that), and I no longer have excessive amounts of guilt eating me alive while I try to work from home, watch after the kids, and otherwise run our household using tv as a babysitter.  In one fell swoop, we've finally found a way to teach our kids that their presence in our family is critically important to our family unit, they have responsibilities - just like mom and dad, and quality time is more important than anything else.  I could go on for several days... but I'll let you check out their system for yourself, if you haven't already found this nirvana in your own home.

  • Victory #3: I've taken a hard look at my daily routine and work schedule and have realized that I cannot do all and be all that I want in the human form that I currently am.  My energy and time is finite, and limits have to be set.  I've begun setting them, restructuring my day, and giving myself permission to walk away from the unending work beckoning me from my computer screen for a bit to recharge.  What a concept!  As Steven Covey says about those who are highly successful, it's important to sharpen the saw.  Oh yeah, I forgot.  Too busy driving to stop and get gas...

  • Victory #4:   I'm cooking for my family again, and doing so makes all of us healthier eaters and we're saving money at the grocery store.  (Yes, we've been eating all this time, but it's been more like me staring at whatever is left in our pantry/refrigerator and saying, "what do you guys want to eat tonight?")  It's really astonishing how much difference a meal plan, a shopping plan, and a daily dinner already planned out makes!  I found an incredibly helpful meal planning service called Relish! that I'm totally in love with, and while I've subscribed since August, I'm embarrassed to admit that I've not been terribly consistent with using it.  (It's not unlike that gym membership that I pay for, but...  Hey, I can't tackle everything all at once!)  Now that I am using it, I'm so much happier, and so is my husband.  :)

So, if I seem a little cheerier than normal, or less stressed out about the little things that go wrong (and do), you'll know that it's because I've seen some victories recently.  I've missed them for way too long.  And, they are so sweet.

What victories have you claimed lately?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Like Dori in _Finding Nemo_ I've recently found myself chanting, "just keep swimming" over and over and over and over...

It seems I've gone and done it again. I'm overwhelmed. My simple life of boredom and loneliness has morphed (at my own doing) into a chaotic and BUSY craziness. I don't know how it happened! (but, then, I really do)

I'm hopelessly Type A. I'm happiest doing and committing and otherwise occupying my time and energy to the point of exhaustion. I thought I had learned this lesson, when just over a year ago, I was stripped of all of my commitments and obligations in Colorado and whisked away to the solitude of the desert.

I spent, oh, about 30 seconds licking my wounds and realizing this was God's way of getting my attention and focusing it on Him. I figured out for that brief moment in time how important it is for me to be still. Then, I got moving (naturally)!

Why, oh why do I do this? Why is it so incredibly tempting for me to fill all of my time (and then some) with stuff? Don't get me wrong - ALL of my stuff is important stuff - there is nothing that I've picked up in the last 18 months that isn't valuable. It's just that, as I sit among the ruins that have become my days, where I am finding organization and efficiency completely elusive, that I realize that I'm going to have to put something down. The problem is, what?!?

I ran across a prayer list that I wrote 18 months ago - things I wanted to be sure to pray about regularly as we were undergoing a major life transition. Some of them, happily, have long since been answered. Some, not so much, but hope endures.

One, in particular, stood out for me today. Back then, I wanted to be sure to pray that I would not pick up anything that wasn't part of God's plan for my life. I wanted to have the lessons that were hard earned just a few weeks prior to leave an indelible impression on my memory - so much so that it would change my daily life.

How quickly we return to old ways. Like a familiar old t shirt, we are drawn to old habits and long to wrap ourselves up in them so we can be comfortable.

I wonder, though, what is it going to take to get my attention this time? Instead of finding out, I'd much rather admit my weakness now and choose for myself what it is that I'll put down.

What to choose? Guess I should get back to what I know is true and be still for a moment... Anyone else have as much trouble with that as I do?

Monday, August 16, 2010

What We've Been Up To...

I know, I know.  It's been awhile since I last posted.  The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and busyness.  Here are some photos we took on our recent trip to DisneyLand for D's 5th birthday (gulp).  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Some Lessons Of Pain

The uncanny thing about pain is that is has an unmatched ability to make a person feel alone - really alone.  I mean, someone can have compassion for another person if they've experienced something similar, like a broken bone, or a muscle injury, or a severe burn - but, ultimately, each of us must walk through the pain all by ourselves.  No matter how much a friend tries to come along side another who's in pain (either physical or emotional), and may very well know what their own experience was with the exact same affliction, pain is solitary.  (The friend coming along side thing helps, tremendously, though - don't get me wrong.) 

It's just that over the past few months I've been dealing with a debilitating and very painful joint and muscle condition (as of yet, still undiagnosed) and I've increasingly felt alone in it.  The other day, I heard the song _Lean On Me_ on the radio, and (as it has been known to do in the past) it reduced me to tears.  Music has always been particularly powerful for me, and this song has long summed up a lot of my own perspective on life and what we're doing here.

When you really think about it, all we really want in this world is to be completely understood and to not have to be alone (or maybe that is all I really want in this world).  And, when we're able, we want to be there for others in the same ways they are there for us - because we know how great it is to help and be helped in times of need.

While pain can certainly make anyone feel alone, you really never are if you reach out to others - and if they take initiative to reach out to you (a lesson I'm still trying to learn).  In the lyrics of Bill Wither's classic song, "Lean on me, when you're not strong, and I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on.  For, it won't be long till I'm gonna need somebody to lean on."  

I have no problem with being the one who others lean on - I really do love to help others out.  But when it comes to doing the leaning, I often allow my pride to win - never revealing my need, much less asking for help with it.  In that way, I've definitely increased my solitude and sorrow - creating a life out of balance.

Just some thoughts I'm pondering on a day when I'm finally pain free (because of a trial medication regime).  And I'm struck by the importance (once again) of seizing the day - because I don't know if the pain will return tomorrow, or if it's going to be gone for good - I need to savor each moment without it.

What about you?  Is there anyone you can lean on today - or do you find yourself in a place of strength with something to offer to a friend in need?

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, 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.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25: 35-40

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I wanna diet my hair

So, just now, this was the conversation had with the four (going on 21 year old):

"Mom, when I get older I want you to diet my hair"

me: "why?"


me: "what color would I dye your hair?"

"you know that girl at the concert with the pink hair with a little bit of brown?"

me (searching my memory that doesn't always work as fast as it used to - then stopping at a mental image of a woman we saw with a shockingly deep shade of fuchsia hair): "why do you want your hair pink and brown?"

"oh, because it made her hair look good and I want mine to look good too when you diet it."

Does it ever amaze you that what they say is so many years beyond the language they have to express themselves?  I'm trying not to be too concerned for the teenage years just yet...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What You Focus On Grows

My friend, Laura, posted this quote on her blog recently:

“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that.  
We may think tribute is paid in secret, in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will play out.  
 That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.  
Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.” 
~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

This, for me, has been a daily struggle - I've posted about it before - what I focus on grows.  And, what I worship, I am becoming. 

This truth was made clear to me yesterday through my daughter, who tends to ruminate and easily become consumed by her emotions.  It's often the negative ones she's feeling that do her in and can lead her even to physical sickness.  She and I had a discussion yesterday as she was complaining of not feeling well about trying to focus on "happy things" instead of how badly she was feeling.  I could see her spiraling downward in that all-to-familiar cycle that often leads to a place none of us want to go, and I was desperate to help her try to avoid going there.

And I wish I had someone to give me that pep talk whenever I'm consumed by frustration or anger or sadness and allow myself to submit to those negative feelings, influencing my entire day for the worse (and just about everyone who has contact with me).  What I focus on grows.  Whether it's how great my day is going or how tough my lot in life seems at any given moment.  

So, I had to ask my daughter yesterday the same question I should be asking myself EVERY DAY.  What do we want to grow?


This morning, as my little girl awoke, she came out to the kitchen to announce to me that she was feeling better and she believes that she "kept the sickness away with happy thoughts".  One battle won.

I want to win today, too.  How about you? 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day - Patriotism is Not Dead!

We are a country of innovators and achievers.  We aren't afraid to take the path least traveled, and understand that often comes with hard work (which we're not afraid of, either).  We speak freely, and sometimes forget that not everyone has that right.  We take up after our own, and we try to take up for others who no one else will bother with.  We're not perfect, but, for the most part, we're trying to make the world a little better than we found it.

Today, as you're celebrating with your family and friends, eating good BBQ, swimming at the pool, and watching fireworks, don't forget the reason why today is significant.  Fly your United States flag proudly, and remember that being a United States citizen is a gift and a privilege.

Happy Independence Day, and may God bless the USA!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hey - I love you!!

This is my new favorite feel good song.  I LOVE it.

I first heard it in the best spin class ever known to man (or woman), and ever since, I've been hooked.  It just makes me happy and when I hear it I cannot help but break out dancing, much to the horror of my children.  :)

And, at the risk of sharing TMI, I created a ringtone from it for when my husband calls. The only problem is, I don't want to cut the song off when he calls, so I don't answer quickly...

I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You know you live in Vegas when...

The latest inspiration for this post hit me recently.  But first, I must tell you a story.

I have a very lovely friend here in Vegas who I met in an, um, well, unconventional way.  She actually met my SIL first, and it was through their chance encounter at a pet store where my daughter and her aunt went for some afternoon time together and a conversation was struck up.  My name was mentioned (as the actual mother of the child my SIL had with her), as was my struggle to get to know people in my new city (I'd been here all of two months and was frustrated and lonely and telling everyone all about it).  So my soon-to-be friend boldly asked my SIL for my phone number and shared her own, no doubt thinking she could help me out and score another play mate for her darling then-three year old. 

(I really think, had it been me, I might have not been so willing to put myself out there with a total stranger, to yet another total stranger, and when I think of that, I am ashamed and sad to think that, because of my insecurities, I would have missed out on a really great friendship.)

Anyway, when my SIL brought my youngest home and handed me a phone number of a woman I'd never met, I truly thought she was crazy.  I then began running through all the possible scenarios that would prove this was a scam or some equally mischievous plot to...  well, I dunno - do something to harm me or my family (not that I'm suspicious, or paranoid, or anything) - but I came up with none.

A few days later, I got a text from my future friend asking me if I'd want to have "a cuppa", and I immediately had a sense this was someone I was going to like (her British accent and random English phrases were endearing, too).  We've been getting together every few weeks for a cuppa (and maybe some good cookies, muffins, or anything chocolate) since.  (If you're reading this, C, it's been awhile!  Let's get together soon!!)

None of this is really a "you know you live in Vegas when...," except for:
  • where else would a mom be so willing to reach out to another because she understood the difficulties inherent in trying to meet friends in Las Vegas (which really does have a certain level of difficulty all its own here)?
  • where else, but an international community, would I make a friend from "across the pond", who charms me with her British ways and makes me feel so intimidated to make a cup of tea?
Anyway, the point for telling you all that, was to tell you that we were invited to a bowling birthday party for my friend's little one who is turning 4.  And, that day, as I was traversing an insanely huge casino with my two kids in tow - complete with the not-so-fresh aroma of chain smokers, the nauseatingly busy carpet, the overstimulation of dinging and clanging and flashing lights, multiple buffet lines, and not a single clock or window or other way to connect with reality in sight, it hit me.

You know you live in Vegas when you drag your kids through the sights, sounds, and smells of local casinos to take them to a birthday party for one of their friends in the casino's bowling alley.  (Where they have a blast for two hours, life is as normal as it gets, and you meet some really nice people who you've never met before.)  But still, you should have seen some of the looks I got from those who were there to gamble, as if they were saying, "lady, you brought your kids here?"

Next time, I'll know to park right outside the doors that go straight into the bowling alley...