The Center of Our Home-Where Things Change

The center of our new home is literally my great room coffee table.  Our home is a very open concept, so you walk in the front door to a large entry from which you just flow right into the dining room, great room and kitchen.  I LOVE IT.  And literally in the middle sits my coffee table.

Advent has been a part of my family Christmas off and on for most of my life.  As a pastor my dad loved to include the advent candle as part of our worship.  Some years we did the same at home, others not.  With my own children we have attempted some form of Advent each year.  When they were young it was about the Advent Calendar.  My mother-in-law purchased a wonderful nativity scene advent calendar from World Crafts years ago.  My children loved trying to figure out which pieces to put in the pockets so the story unfolded correctly.  We also used the Advent box purchased through Family Life, where the children open a new gift box each year.  As they grew it sometimes amounted to nothing more than reading the daily scripture.  Then, last year I came upon Ann Voskamp’s, “The Greatest Gift”.  We purchased an Advent Wreath and candles.  We are using the same this year and have added to it our “Gather Round” from Barbara Rainey’s Ever Thine Home and the “post-it” notes provided on Ann Voskamp’s website.  (Each morning after reading the “post it ” reminder, we place it on the Gather Round Wreath.)

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It is here our hearts are stirred.  It is here our minds are cleared.  It is here the quiet settles in and His truth permeates the stillness.  The center of my home is where things change.  Each morning the “post it” cards prompt us to new thoughts, transforming thoughts and action.  Action following love, the love He imparts through grace.  Each evening our spirits are quieted as we stop to relinquish the day, prepare for rest.  Life may get messy in between.  We will fall short of His glory.  We may even lose sight of Christmas, but this place, this centering spot, brings us back.

If Advent has not been a part of your Christmas, head over to Holly Gerth’s site (see the button over on the side).  Today is a round up of Advent Resources.  You are sure to find something.  You won’t regret adding this to your traditions.  And remember, if you miss a night, life goes on, don’t give in, just pick back up.

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Dreams Come with Faith

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As a mom over 45 I have found myself wondering where my dreams have gone?  Wondering if I have let them die, given up, or just lost my way.  Not because I lack happiness, but maybe because sometimes I focus too much on others, my family, dreaming FOR them, instead of living my own.  Sometimes my dream IS them, and it all gets mixed up.  I know I am not alone.  I hear the conversations and read the thoughts daily.  We long for so much, we get caught up in the “what should be” and can lose sight of what is, our dream, His will.

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In an unexpected moment, a sunset, He whispers to our soul, “Remember who you are.  Remember whose you are.”  Those dreams of old come spilling forth.  Like the warmth of the sun, they envelope me in a warm embrace.  I do still dream.  My dreams still live.  The more I am still, the more I ponder, the more I realize that even those dreams I thought lost, are being nurtured by all that He has called me to in this moment.  I can trust Him.  He does not give us the desires of our heart all at once.  He plants seeds of hope, visions of ministries, and through our daily living, daily obedience He grows them.

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Right now life is about this.  These three people fill my heart with joy.  They challenge me to be better, to give more, to laugh, to grow.  My best for them is to be the best of me.  It’s not to dream FOR them.  It is to set wings to my own dreams, to trust-have faith.  It is to live in such a way that they feel safe, loved, cherished and free to dream.  It is taking joy in hearing their dreams and watching as He begins to unfold those dreams.  I can hold on tight or I can release, having faith.

My dream was to be an advocate.  At age 14 I knew God was calling me to serve the forgotten child.  I had grand visions of working for UNICEF or Save the Children.  Instead I became a “Child Abuse Investigator” and later case manager.  I became an advocate and leader with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).  Then, in a moment, after 6 long years, heard the words, “You are pregnant.”  In a moment my husband and I knew everything was to be put on hold, the new call was to grant these miracles the very best, for me to be at home, being mom.  Why do we so often think that means putting dreams on hold?  Why did I let my mind go there?  Why do I even today sometimes doubt.

My dream is not dead.  My dream has not been completely fulfilled.  Instead, God has grown me, all while growing my dream. I am still called to serve the underserved.  I am still called to serve the forgotten child.  However, God has shown me that as He has taught me to parent, to mother, He has placed a desire on my heart to come alongside that woman, that mom who doesn’t know, doesn’t know how.  Years of advocacy, years of being at home, years of waiting.  I am beginning to see glimpses.  There are others with a similar dream.  We begin to meet.  We begin to pray.  I am reminded to have faith.

A little over a year ago I had the privilege of meeting at Family Life with the Arkansas Women Bloggers network.  We had a wonderful lunch, time of sharing and then the cherry on the cake, was hearing from Barbara Rainey.  Her words that day struck a chord and prompted me to move from discouragement to hope.  She is an extremely talented author and artist.  Her husband leads one of the most influential Family Ministries in our country.  She has children.  She reminded me “there is a season” and “nothing is wasted in developing our dreams, who we are.”  An empty nester, she has just begun a new venture, one in which her heart for family, motherhood and her talent as an artist are melded into a beautiful business-Ever Thine Home.  She reminded me to keep the dream.  Remember who I am, whose I am.  She reminded me that in His time, in the right season, He will unfold the rest of the dream.  It won’t be working for UNICEF or Save the Children, but it will be so much more, because I am now so much more.  I am reminded as Holly Gerth says in  You’re Made for A God-Sized Dream, “Your God sized dreams are not just about making his purposes and plans a reality.  They are also about revealing his character through you.  Who you are on this journey is just as important as what you do.”

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Today I will dream.  I will be the mom who cooks, cleans, plans, carpools, holds the hand, watches the girl learn to guide the horse, listens to the heartache of friendships.  I will grow.  I will need HIM, meet Him each morning seeking His grace and His wisdom for the day ahead.  I will see that not one moment is wasted.  Even my mistakes, those times I ran ahead of Him, are salvaged.  He will not let the dream die.  He will take every moment, use it to correct, teach and encourage.  I will grow.  The dream will grow.  In season, it will come to fruition.  I will have faith.  I will live faith.  Faith fuels the dream.

Organized to Party

We had quite a weekend!  In the midst of beginning to home school one of my daughters, we had the privilege of hosting a baby shower for a very special former babysitter, now considered special family friend.  Well, truth be known, we claim her and her best friend (also former babysitter) as family.  It had been a while since we had a large event at the house.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy hosting parties and celebrating life’s special moments!  To say we had fun, is truly an understatement.  It was all the more fun getting to host with girls just shy of being 20 years younger than myself!

Blue, Blue and More Blue
Blue, Blue and More Blue
Drink Station Decor
Drink Station Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I planned, I found myself once again searching Pinterest.  Not just for shower food ideas and theme decor, but some cute little printable to use for Party Planning.  I found several, but in the end, this Second Season Mom decided nothing beats my planner and a legal pad.

Trusted Legal Pad
Trusted Legal Pad

I made a list of decor for each area (food table, beverage table, seating area, gift display table, etc…).  I then listed the menu, who was to bring it and put recipe locations and grocery items on the back of the trusted yellow legal pad paper.  Last, but not least, I listed in the margin next to each item or task what day I would take care of the assignment.  Some of these got transferred to my weekly calendar pages, while others just got marked off directly on the legal pad.  Some days you just have to do the job.  I could have spent many more hours searching all of your incredible sites for the perfect planning pages, but…  Tried and true are sometimes best.  Most importantly though, what matters most is just getting it done!  Purge the mind, trust your list, and then set out to get it done.  The day of will always be more enjoyable that way.

 

 

I am ready now to begin my holiday planning.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  My girls will have the entire week off.  I love the crisp air, beauty of the fall leaves and a holiday that requires little more than some cooking.  We are loving our new edition from Ever Thine Home created by Barbara Rainey at Family Life.  Being thankful is a state of mind.  Being thankful is a by product of living in the moment.  We had much to be thankful for this weekend and trust we will continue to express our gratitude through the holiday season.

 

Gather Round from Ever Thine Home by Barbara Rainey
Gather Round from Ever Thine Home by Barbara Rainey

Can you do IMPROMPTU?

I did not blog last Friday.  It was the 31st.  If you have followed my blog at all, or know much about me, you know I try to set aside the 31st of the given month and have a mini-retreat.  It is a day of planning,  praying over the calendar, reflecting upon weeks past and looking to the future.  I didn’t get a full day this time, due to an important board meeting I needed to attend. Fortunately though I had smidgens of time leading up to the 31st to get things organized, highlight some areas of concern and list out the items I wanted to focus on.  I had some big decisions to make.  Although my time was limited, I had a good day.  I was able to pull aside during the late afternoon and do what I needed to do.  Three things emerged, each a message already on my heart.  Having them emerge again, helped me focus and make some tough decisions.

1.  I need more intimacy with Christ.

2.  Come Home.  I have felt that call on my heart for two years.  It is difficult to know what that means.  We are in financial times and in a place in life where my working would make sense, would provide more security for college etc…  I am still engaged in Real Estate.  My best friend and I have started an organizing business.  However, the refrain keeps going through my mind.

3.  I need to give the very best to my family, so that corporately we can overflow into our community and world.

Some big decisions followed.  I’ll write more about those Wednesday.  That evening, following this time of refreshment and planning, I made a special dinner for the family.  I had this planned, but at the end of my day, this particular day, it felt comforting and rewarding to do this special task for my family.

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I made cheese Polenta with Barbecue Shrimp.  I pullled out my new soup and sandwich platters from Pier One.  We had toasted garlic bread and a side salad to round out the meal.  My family was duly impressed.  We lingered a little longer at the dinner table, enjoying a special Friday night.

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Then came the challenge.  My mother decided she wanted an impromptu 69th birthday party.  Thankfully, being fairly organized, and coming out of a day of revisiting my purpose, we were able to throw it together.  My sister-in-law and her 4 youngest pitched in.  On top of that, a young married mother of two called asking us to keep her precious two year old daughter over night so she could focus some time and energy on her marriage.  What’s one more at the party!  With the help of two incredible daughters and an ever patient husband we created a taco salad bar and put together a little birthday centerpiece on the island.

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I don’t share this hoping for a pat on the back or adoration.  (although a few words of encouragement never hurt :))  No, I share it because I was challenged after a day of planning and purpose searching to live what I preach.  I was reminded yet again, that being organized, planning and knowing our purpose is not so we can do more with the same amount of time.  It is not about accomplishments.  It is not about managing time.  Being organized is about living in such a way that you can allow the interruptions (good or bad).  You can focus on people and relationships.  You can give.  You can live being EFFECTIVE, not just EFFICIENT.  There were some things that didn’t get done over the course of the weekend, but no regrets.

Then today, I got the blessing.  Sometimes we have to bless to be blessed.  I attended my first ever blog event.  Arkansas Women Bloggers hosted a get together at Family Life here in Little Rock.  I hesitated and almost didn’t go.  But I went.  And oh how glad I am I did.  It was refreshing to be around other women sharing their hearts through blogging, all with a desire to minister to other women.  The greatest blessing came though in meeting Barbara Rainey.  I have know of Barbara and read her books, but to meet her in person was true joy.  She has entered a new phase in her own life, and is doing some amazing things as an “empty nester”.  To get a glimpse go to http://www.everthinehome.com.  (I have to confess I placed an order as soon as I got home!)  While I was excited to meet her and hear about her new venture these words struck deep into my heart.  God used Barbara to confirm for me my decisions and heart desires.

“My advice to you as moms is to remember, you don’t have to do it all now, in this season.   As women we are blessed to be able to lead two lives.  We have a season where we focus on God, our husband and our families.  Then we get to have this other season, when the kids are gone, to pursue all those other things.  Don’t try to do it all now.  You have thirty to forty, maybe even 50 years to pursue other things after you children have left home.”

It was as if in that moment I could breathe.  God has been clear to me to come home.  He has blessed my husband’s business providing what we need.  He has given me opportunity to engage in real estate and a business with my best friend, but most of all He has reminded me the time for my family is now.  As Barbara said, there will be time later to pursue other things.  My girls are only home for a period.  They will navigate these teen years but once.  There are no second chances.