What Does It Mean to Be Organized? I Say It Means Nothing

Organization.  Purging.  Margin.  White Space.  Time Management.  Minimalism.  Simplifying.  Downsizing.

Google any one of those words and thousands upon thousands of articles, blog links, advertisements pop up.  We live in a high tech, fast paced, immediate gratification world and yet it seems all are seeking a simpler life, or ways to better manage the craziness of their life.

As a young mom, I sought to learn everything I could about managing my home, managing my time.  Some came naturally to me.  I like order.  I don’t like a lot of stuff, so shopping and collecting are not big issues for me (well unless we are talking dishes or shoes).  I am also an introvert, so staying home in lieu of a jam packed schedule didn’t feel awkward.  I ran my house with my 6 month old twins like a well oiled machine and took great pride when asked ” How do you do it all?”  From the outside my life looked great.  It was a good life.  I had healthy baby girls, a beautiful home, a wonderful husband, circle of friends through my almost daily tennis and weekly church involvement…  The truth however was that I was burning the candle at both ends.  I was quick to snap at my girls, get frustrated when they didn’t sleep as the schedule dictated.  The smallest interruption always felt like a huge disruption.  I was hard on myself and hard on my husband.

One day as my frustration had mounted, frustration with myself, I was struck by the fact that I was spinning my wheels trying to be organized-be efficient.  I was juggling all the balls and squeezing it all in, but at what price.  Being efficient was not creating the life I longed for.  God took me back to Proverbs 31, that woman we love to hate and long to be like.  As I read the passages again, God invited me to really get to know the lady, to look beyond the scripture as a litany or to do list and look at the impact of one woman’s life.    In those moments my whole view of organization changed.  I no longer wanted to be the most efficient.  Efficiency was replaced with a desire to be effective.  I wanted to live an orderly life so God could use me to impact my girls, their friends, my friends, our neighbors.  I didn’t want to be known for what I could get done in a day, I wanted to be known for having time to invest in others.  I wanted to see interruptions as opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I wanted our excess to bless others, whether it was purging to pass on, or shopping for others instead of ourselves.

Organization and efficiency are the world’s ways.  There is no such thing as being organized.  There is however a way to live a disciplined life that brings order and affords you the time and space in which to serve others.  Striving to be organized leads to fatigue and frustration.  Striving to be organized means being captive to our things, our schedules, our work.  That is not God’s design.  His design is that we live free, free to serve Him, free from the confines of stuff and schedules.

I still fall prey to the world’s call to be organized.  I even make a living helping others get their stuff organized.  However, I seek to approach every day asking myself if the purging, the sorting, the stacking, the time blocking is my attempt to control an unruly life, one I no longer really manage, or is it to afford me the opportunity to bless another person, invest in another person.  I am not interested in the pursuit of efficiency unless it helps me be effective.

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Family: the Ties that Bind

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Father’s Day.  As with any holiday there are those who celebrate with great joy, but I am mindful too there are those who struggle with this holiday, having been abandoned, hurt or maybe even never knowing their father.  I thought of those yesterday, maybe because in my circle I know too many struggling there.  Maybe because it was the Spirit’s prompting as I seek this year to be mindful of joy, to be mindful of others.

My small family is pictured above.  A family my husband and I longed to have, waited to have, and fight for every single day.  As I watched my girls prepare for the day, celebrate their father, I had to pause and thank God, not just for this man of mine, but for giving me the wisdom and the discernment 26 years ago to pick this man.  26 years ago my own family was going through a difficult time.  Relationships were strained.  Somehow in the midst of it all, I was able to see this man for who he was.  He didn’t let the strained relationships of my family deter him, instead he became my rock, my encourager. He often held me accountable, reminding me time heals, and that what I did with the situation would set the course for my life, more than the situation itself.

My girls wanted to get their dad a tie this year.  Yes, the proverbial tie.  It was a stylish little Southern Tide model.  They always seek to keep their dad in the latest and greatest.  He loved it.  He really did!  As I reflected though over the course of the day the tie became symbolic.  My husband works for himself and NEVER dresses up for work.  However, he is a traditionalist when it comes to worship and every Sunday dresses in his very best-right down to the tie.  The tie for him is  a symbol of “best”, a reminder of more traditional days and times.  It is a reminder to me I married a man who values tradition, not in an “I refuse to change kind of way”, but in a traditional values and morals matter kind of way.  He believes in family.  He fights for family.  He encourages family and friends a like to value their family.  He has raised our girls to honor family, even in the difficult times, even when it hurts.  He holds firm to the biblical teaching that God created family, it is His plan for man on earth.  It was created long before the church.  Family matters, and matters more than church, work, ministry.  Family isn’t ALL that matters, but it is priority, it is the foundation on which societies are built.  I am so thankful this man has taught right priorities, has lived what he preaches.

Our family is far from perfect.  On both sides of our family we have those who have hurt us, some who have strayed from faith, others who have never known faith.  I am thankful the leader of my family says, “That’s no excuse to quit family.”  I am thankful my girls are learning grace, how to give it and how to except it through family relationships.

Families are the ties that bind.  They are the building blocks of society, they are the building blocks of the church.  How we manage our families, how we respond to crisis, hurt and disappointment in our families reflects our faith.  Who we are at home reflects our true selves.  Families are the ties that bind.

25 Years Looking Back

My husband and I celebrated 25 years of marriage this week.  We did so with little pomp and circumstance.  When we first got married I remember talking about extravagant trips when we hit the 25 year mark.  Funny how life changes.  No extravagant trips.  Instead we had a quiet week (our girls have been gone) and spent much of it reflecting on the past, making some decisions for the present and prioritizing for the future.  We celebrated with a quiet evening out, thinking how quickly time had passed.

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Our marriage is a testament to the grace of God.  By all measures, we shouldn’t have made it.  We can now laugh about it, but we seriously faced just about every stressor you could face in our first 5 years of marriage. My parents divorced about a year before I got married.  That meant lots of emotions running high during the wedding planning and day of.  It also meant VERY limited resources and I had to be creative.  Two weeks after our honeymoon a cyst was found on my cervix and we went through a “this could be cancerous” scare.  Fortunately it was not, but out-patient surgery followed.  Within our first 18 months of marriage my mother lived with us and then my brother.   Within the first 2 years of marriage Paul’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, we built a home, entered a 6 year long infertility phase, and my mother lived with us again.  Paul’s mom passed away shortly after our three year anniversary.  My brother lived with us one more time and over the course of the next 15 years my mother lived with us several more times for various lengths of time.  The firm Paul had been working for disbanded and we were faced with opening his own appraisal firm.

I won’t bore you with any more details, but as you can see, our marriage was full of stressors at the beginning.  I wish I could tell you we handled it all well, but we didn’t.  There were arguments.  I was on some occasions an emotional wreck. We were hurt, disappointed, angry and often felt alone.  So how did we survive?  By the grace of God, and a whole lot of humor.  I don’t say that tritely.  There were moments we both wanted to call it quits.  We loved each other, but boy was it hard to like each other some days.  Not to mention, we both grew weary.  Have you ever been there?  You don’t want to give up, but you just honestly don’t have the energy to keep going?  My husband, a fixer like most men, felt defeated on many a day.  I can remember evenings when we didn’t have the energy or emotional reserves to be happy or angry.  There were even moments when the only words we could speak were, “Divorce is not an option.”

Thankfully during those difficult years we also had much to celebrate.  We welcomed three nieces/nephews.  We built three homes.  We had some fabulous vacations with friends.  Paul’s business flourished.  We worked in the youth department and had lots of entertainment as we served and bonded with those students, many still dear friends.  We had a pastor who prayed for us, walked alongside us, and again, became a very special friend.  The day we finally arrived at the hospital for an emergency C-section this dear pastor immediately brought his staff and prayed over me and the staff as I was wheeled into surgery.

This week as we looked back, while the difficult times were real and are still vivid in our memories, we were able to think more of the joy, the lessons, the character building.  We are able to stand at the 25 year mark truly believing we can survive anything-by the grace of God.  We are able to see that while we made decisions to help family too much, financially gave too much, we also see that each decision was made based upon scripture, our desire to honor our mother and father, to care for family, the wounded, the desolate.  My husband is so good at staying away from the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” thoughts.  (unlike myself)  My husband is so good at looking to the future with hope, trusting God.  Throughout each decision he has always looked me in the eye and said, “He will provide.  He always has and He always will.  Not necessarily what we want, but it will be what we need and what we can handle.”  I married a rock.  Sometimes a stubborn rock, but that is another story.  I married a rock, a man of faith who gives way more than he takes, who fights for family and lives by faith. He brings laughter into our days and keeps his eye on the prize.

Standing at the 25 year mark feels good.  I would love to have taken some of the moments back.  I’d love to have NOT experienced some of the experiences.  Yet, as we stand together in this place I know we are who we are because of each moment, each experience.  I have no doubt we’ll make the next 25 years.  I also have no doubt they won’t be easy.  I have no doubt we have more trials to face, more heart ache ahead.  I also know we have much joy ahead.  By the grace of God we’ll carry on.

The Love Hate Relationship with Summer

Summer.  It is amazing to me how we as moms can have such a love hate relationship with summer.  Come about April most of us begin to long for the “lazy” days of summer.  We are tiring of the lunch making, the homework, the after-school activities, the schedules.  We dream of days filled with no schedule, moments by the pool, sleeping in a little later (if we are lucky), no back packs to check, no homework to battle through.

Then summer hits.  BAM!  Within the matter of a few days we begin to seek out activities.  What will we do with these children all summer?  The camps, birthday parties, family vacation, reunions, etc… fill the calendar and we realize that in no time at all we will back at it.  We gaze at the long list of all we thought we’d do this summer and realize there is no way!

It is a love hate relationship.  But isn’t much of life that way?  Too often we look forward to something missing the moments right in front of us.  We find ourselves in the midst of the time we anticipated and we panic, we realize we have failed to plan or the reality of our limited time hits us in the face.  In a matter of moments we can go from dreaming to being overwhelmed and panicked. The words ” I’m bored”, are uttered by a child and our emotions go through the roof.

Our family intentionally cleared our calendar this summer.  No family vacation.  No camps.  We decided instead to simply be at home, a home we just had the opportunity to build.  We decided to go with the unexpected, to spend more time with family and friends.  I decided to keep pursuing better health and engage in more of my creative pursuits.

beachseatSounds great doesn’t it.  A “lazy” summer at home.  Well, let me be honest.  Two weeks in and the above picture is where I think I want to be.  I’m missing the family vacation.  I’m doubting our decisions-even though we reached them as a family.  I see what others are doing and I feel the comparisons creeping in.  Why?  Why do we go there?

I know why I do.  I take my eye off the prize.  I look around more than I look within.  I forget that I am right where God wants me to be, with the people He has entrusted to my care for just a little while.  I forget that through prayer and seeking we made decisions we believed were best for us.  I forget to trust He will see us through, even the leaner times, the darker times.

So, while I have moments wishing I was in a chair on the beach, I am going to focus on being where I am.  I’m going to treasure the moments by my pool listening to nieces and nephews laugh, taking in the squeals of high school girls, breathing in deep the quiet moments captured sitting alone in the sun by my little space of paradise.  I’m going to be thankful for a home in which we rest, land safely.  I’m going to appreciate the fact my 16 year old daughters would rather be here than elsewhere, that they still share with their dad and I.

Summer is here.  I have anticipated it.  I’m going to rest in it-soak it up.  I’m not going to rush it.  I’m not going to fall prey to the comparisons, the regrets, the looking around.  I’m going to take today for what it is and be-be in the moment, be grateful, be content.

Being Mom Takes Time

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Being mom takes time.  I have struggled with what to write about today.  I am not one of those bloggers with weeks or months or pre-written blog posts dated and ready to post.  Some days I wish.  No, I’m a busy mom, a Christ follower just dabbling in this thing called the “blogging world”, primarily as a means of accountability.

I am a mom.  I own an organizing business and speaking ministry.  I home school and am very engaged in my church and association.  Life is full and if I am not VERY careful I can quickly allow my job, my volunteer activities to overshadow my being wife and mom.  Sadly, as I enter women’s homes or lives through my business or speaking ministry, I find far too many women have let this very thing happen.  They are well meaning women.  Most are women of faith.  Yet, being mom and wife has lost its place as a priority, second only to their relationship with Christ.  Their calendars and time are consumed with what they are DOING for their families instead of who they are BEING for their families.  They do things: buy an abundance of things; pay for an abundance of opportunities/lessons/activities; they drive from place to place keeping a schedule.  In the frantic pace of life though the stuff begins to overtake and the relationships begin to suffer, mom begins to suffer.

Being a mom takes time.  Not just time for cleaning, cooking, driving, purchasing, but time to be with your kids, your family. It requires focus and planning.  Too often the home is in chaos because mom has failed to block off time to be mom, doing the stuff and being present.

What is the solution?  I believe the solution is to constantly give thought to what kind of home you want to have.

First, dream.  Write it down.  Do you envision family meals and evenings playing board games in a home that reflects order?  Do you envision Saturday mornings baking in the kitchen with your daughter?  Do you dream of a home where everything has its place and at least 75% of the time is in its place?  Not perfection, but calm and beauty?  Cut pictures out of a magazine. Create a dream board.  (I keep a notebook with me that has my “dream” snapshots pasted to the back pages.)

Second, time block.  You’ve heard me say it before.  And I don’t just write about it, I live it.  the only way you will ever be the wife and mom you want to be is if you block off time to take care of the tasks you need to take care of.  Don’t just block it off, but guard it.  Multi-tasking is NOT a good thing.  In fact there are studies out now pointing to the dangers of multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is really nothing more than being distracted.  Guard your mom time.  Drive the kids to school and lock your phone in the glove compartment.  Block off an hour when the kids get home from school or you get in from work to catch up, prep dinner.  Again, turn off the cell phone, turn off the television, put away the calendar.  If you are responsible for cleaning the home, getting the groceries, block off time to take care of those tasks.  They won’t magically happen.  You won’t “find” time to get it done.  You have to plan to get it done.

I don’t always like being mom.  I get tired of doing laundry, planning meals, running to Target.  What I do like though is knowing that at the end of the week my family and I have shared laughs around the dinner table, arguments have been minimized because we all had the clean clothes we needed.  I enjoy a less than perfect home, but one in which we are always ready to welcome friends and family.

Being mom is important.  Being mom takes time.  Don’t let life race by.  Don’t just be a doing mom.  Be a present, giving mom.  Make time to focus on your family and set the tone for your home.  It won’t be easy, you won’t succeed week in and week out, but when you get it right, you’ll be so glad you made time to be mom.

Why Does It Take a Snow Day?

I like to live life at a different pace.  Life is slower in our home than in many.  My husband and I made a commitment early on to keep the frantic pace of life at bay.  Some may call us boring.  Some say we are depriving our children of opportunities. Others I am sure think we are not social enough, and lack thereof keeps our children from future success.  We know many though who envy our choice.  We have had many ask us how we do it.  Most walk away saying they wish they could, but they’re already too invested in the frantic.

I don’t really know why we made the choice we did.  I know in part, it was a result of working with youth before we had our girls.  We listened to the kids complain about exhaustion, talk about playing sports they really didn’t want to play any more. We saw them slip away from church as athletic practices and social events took up their time.  We heard them discuss grown up topics-things they were too young to be thinking about.  Life events around us also impacted our thinking.  We watched marriages crumble.  We have seen depression set in and three different friends commit suicide.  We lost Paul’s mom early in our marriage and long before her time should have come.

We live a slower paced life.  We have made it a priority to eat meals at home.  We eat breakfast together and eat dinner together every night.  We have made it a point to have uncluttered weekends-time for just us-time just to clean cars, work in the yard, watch television.  We have made it a point to take family vacations-alone.  No extra friends.  Just us.  We have told our girls we expect them to do their very best, but we have not pushed them to be “advanced”.  In fact, we have treasured watching our girls be kids, enjoy being kids.  We want that innocence and unencumbered life to last as long as it can.  We want them to grow in wisdom, not just in knowledge.  We want them to know rest and what it means to “be still and know that I am God.”  We want them to have strength to serve.  We want them to know that home is always their safe place to fall.

We have made many mistakes along the way.  We fight.  Our girls complain.  We may have to pay a little more than others for college tuition.  I don’t know.  What I do know is it always makes me a little sad to see how many talk about or post about enjoying time with family, having a break from the hectic schedules, eating dinner all together for the first time in months… all because it snowed.  Why does it take a snow day to get us to slow down?  I fear we are addicted to the hectic.  I fear living fast paced keeps us from dealing with our realities.  Yet, the majority are exhausted.  Our children are losing faith-literally walking away from their faith.  What if we lived every day as if it were a snow day?

Home Matters

If you follow my blog, you know I love home.  Having grown up moving a lot (and I mean a lot-like 24 times before I was 30) there was always a part of me that wanted to “settle down”.  However, in all honesty there is still a bit of wander lust in me and I do like a change of scenery every now and then!  Any way, back to my point.  I love home.  As a Christian woman and mother, I have always felt like home was a critical part of my role, my purpose.  Early on I spent time studying about how to care for home. Fortunately I went into marriage and motherhood pretty well prepared thanks to parents who taught and expected a lot.  I remember reading Emilie Barnes’ books and her statement that “wives set the tone for the home” impacted me, stayed with me. I have always wanted my home to be a safe haven, a quiet place for my family to refresh, regroup, share, rest.  I have worked hard at trying to create the right atmosphere-sometimes too hard, sometimes too focused on the material contents and keeping order.  These days, as a mom of teens and quickly approaching 50, I have found myself settling into a bit more balance, lowering some of my expectations, and really focusing on the tone of my home.  Tone of home is a feeling. It is that “home sweet home” sense you get when you walk in that familiar space that makes you feel safe, important, valued, loved.

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I want that tone to extend beyond my immediate family.  I want everyone who enters to feel that sense of welcome, to know they can stop and take a deep breath.

As I was reading through Home Life magazine from Lifeway, I came across some word art in the front of the magazine.  It resonated with me.  It reminded me of how very important home is.  It made me stop and voice a prayer of gratitude for these days I am able to be at home, home school, raise my family.  It made me ask forgiveness for those nights I awaken worried about our finances, wondering if I will ever have a job of any substance once the girls leave home and I venture out to help pay for college and all the associated expenses.  It reminded me that while others may seem to have it all, be more together, have less worries, I would not exchange my life for theirs.  Our finances aren’t easy.  I walked away from a career I may never have again.  We have to make choices and our girls are a part of those conversations.  But it is worth it.  Every moment home with them has been worth it.  Home’s importance drew me to my Mary & Martha business, where I have opportunity to equip and encourage women to engage in hospitality.  (www.mymaryandmartha.com/shana).  Home’s importance is why one of my best friends and I run an organizing business.

I have posted the words above my desk-a daily reminder.  Not my words, but words that encourage and remind.  I wanted to share them with you.

We believe in the home. It’s the place where ministry starts and ends day in and day out.  We stand for dynamic marriages that beat the odds and practice commitment.  We believe in family meals and talking about your day.  We believe that your corner of the earth, whatever it looks like, is an extension of the church, a place where community is grown and nurtured.  We believe that if you change the home you change the world.  There’s a lot of life between Sundays. (January Home Life magazine/Lifeway)

I hope those words encourage you and challenge you.  Be grateful for home.  Remember it is a high calling.  The lives I impact in my home will forever impact the world.  Home matters.  It matters enough to give up some other things.  It matters enough to set aside time to invite your friends in.  It matters.  The church does not create godly families.  Godly families create the church.

A House That Breathes

If you have been following my blog, you know we built a home this past summer.  The process was exciting, fun, fulfilling.  It came at just the right time.  I was coming out of a two year process of some real life changes.  The kind of life changes that come with living past the age of 40.  Coming to terms with who I was, no longer trying to do.  Coming to terms with a family relationship I couldn’t fix, that would never change.  Healing.  Healing the empty places I had allowed to grow trying to be for others, for society, for family.  Coming to terms with my spiritual self, understanding who God is in new ways, ways only made possible by the hurts, the struggles, the disappointments, the losses of this life.  Celebrating.  Celebrating surviving young motherhood.  Celebrating the young women my daughters are becoming.  Celebrating making it past 20 years with my best friend and husband.  Celebrating friendships, the authentic ones.  The friendships of women who bare their souls, are strong enough to cry, to admit weakness, to ask for help.  Celebrating being that friend to a few, the special ones.  Celebrating family, embracing family.  In the midst of it all I learned to breathe.

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It may sound trite, but it’s not an easy thing to do.  And yet, breath is the very sustenance of life.  We rush through life taking shallow breaths, breathing in quickly, exhaling too quickly.  We rush.  We find ourselves holding our breaths in an attempt to hold our anger, our sorrow, our excitement.  It requires yoga class or meditation therapy or a doctor to remind us to breathe-really breathe.

I have learned to breathe and as we set out to build I wanted to create a home that would breathe.  We purged.  Being an organizer, that wasn’t terribly difficult, but it still required thought, discipline and action.  I kept only what we loved and used.  I set out to paint the home in an array of neutrals-shades of white.  I set out for there to be open spaces, empty spaces.  Week before last I had my first “gathering” of those outside the family.  As the guests arrived, more than one commented on the house.  There were the usual compliments, but the greatest of them all were these words, “I love it.  I walk in and I take a deep breath and feel myself relaxing.  There is space.  There is calm.”  Not just once did I hear these words, but three times. Satisfaction.  The years of struggle.  The years of battling my “demons” within, were all worth it.  In those moments I knew I was living, living the life of abundance, peace, contentment.  I was breathing.  My home was breathing.

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Possibility is not in the stuff.  It is not in the structure of the home.  It is not in the activity.  It is not in doing.  Possibility is in the stillness, the knowing, the being.  My life is lived in shades of white.  My calendar is filled with white space.  Not by chance, but by choice, by discipline, by intention.  My walls are filled with white space.  Not by chance, but by choice.  My thoughts are focused on what is most important.  My eyes rest on art and pieces of furniture most important.  And in the in-between, in the shades of white, I can breathe.  I can sit and listen.  I can hear the still small voice of God speak clearly regarding who I need to be, who He is.  My home rests, it breathes.  It holds room for life, for guests to enter, to take a breath and rest.

I challenge you to create a home that breathes.  As you enter the holidays and think towards the year ahead, what can you eliminate?  What areas cause you stress?  What rushes you each day?  Find your shades of white, breathe and live.

A few of the rooms I used as inspiration:

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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.

Don’t Do a Thing-Just Be Thankful

“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.”  Ann Voskamp, “One Thousand Gifts”.  I read those words back in November.  At the time I found those words thought provoking, but it wasn’t until today I began to grasp them.  As I have continued in my journey to intently search for lessons on PEACE and incorporate specific new behaviors/actions this year, I continue to read His word from new perspective, making myself open to conviction, wisdom, encouragement.  I have felt compelled to be more grateful, yet too often it is a rote list of items/things.  Today, as I sat reading a passage in Ephesians 5 (verses 1-14) I was struck by the directive regarding what should take the place of our sinful nature or sin behaviors-those listed being sexual immorality, coarse joking, foolish talk …  “but rather thanksgiving.”  For a moment I thought, “But how can simply being thankful, be the answer?”  My mind went immediately to words read in “One Thousand Gifts” and I pulled back out my notes and began to thumb through the highlighted pages.  The sentence above with the scripture I had just read began to do a work in my heart and mind.   Being thankful alters our mindset.  When our mind is altered we behave differently, we speak differently.  As our mind changes, we are compelled to act.  When I am grateful for my family, I mean really grateful-not the “Thank you God for my family,” kind of grateful, but sincere, deeply felt gratitude for my family compels me to want to do things for them.  Cleaning the house becomes an act of service, of LOVE, not a chore or obligation.  When I am really thankful for the support of a true friend I want to tell them, again I am compelled to act with love.  Why haven’t I really gotten this before?  Does it matter?  Need I dwell there?  No.  I need to rid my mind of the foolish talk (that is so my issue-negative self-talk).  I need to be thankful.  It is going to take some practice, but the spirit filled life is just that-a life of discipline.

I wrote a list identifying what Thankfulness does:

1.  Builds trust/faith

2.  Forces us to reign in the clutter/chaos/negative mind chatter and move forward believing God is who He says He is and that His promises are true

3.  Replaces other thoughts-when I seek to be grateful the other thoughts are pushed out.

4.  Prompts me to do good, speak good, think good.

All of the above move me to a life of PEACE.  More importantly, the entire lesson today reminds me that God is much more interested in my “being” than in my “doing”.  Hard lesson for a Type A person with innate desires to make a list and check it twice.