Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father’s Day!

I lost my dad to brain cancer August 17, 2010.  It’s been almost two years, but I feel like I know more about him now than when he was alive.  My stepmother gave my brother and I some of dad’s belongings earlier this week, and I went through some of them yesterday.  There were old pictures including him with his beloved Studebaker (which he named Zelda Q), his first grade report card, his US Navy momentos, etc.  Going through these things brought his spirit back alive!  I miss my dad, but it will only be a matter of time before he is holding my hands again… while I stand on his toes …and we dance….      

How about we chug on over to Mamby-Pamby Land?

Have you ever seen the Geiko commercial with the drill sergeant as a therapist?  He gets really irritated with a patient and throws a box of tissues at him – that is after he suggested that the patient chug on over to Mamby-Pamby Land for some self-confidence.  I am afraid that if I were a therapist, I may be just like that drill sergeant.

I tend to lack compassion at times.  Lots of times.  Here’s the deal though – I lack compassion when (in MY opinion) I feel the person should be emotionally stronger or simply just try harder to get over “whatever/whoever” and move on.  Who am I to make this judgement though?  We all have issues, myself included, but perhaps my expectations are too high for others in getting past their issues.  Maybe not everyone can see a way out.  Maybe there are lots of people around me whose patience has been tested because of me and some irritating behavior that I have.    

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

My sister-in-law pointed out to me that my job (sales) forces me to be a little NOT compassionate – which is very true.  If I let myself get too emotional at work about work stuff, It would be impossible to do my job.  She also reminded me that I need to turn that off for people who don’t operate like me.  I need to turn my work attitude off  when the occasion calls for it.  She is so right.  But it’s hard because I am there most of my waking hours (or so it seems). 
I need to consciously be more Christlike in my compassion.  I’m working harder on that starting NOW.    

Monday, April 9, 2012

My favorite things Monday – Sunday afternoon naps!

Ahhh..… those sweet words read by Moses along with the other nine commandments on top of Mount Sinai… “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”  (Exodus 20:8)  I think Moses was reading those words to me!

I love Sundays because it’s the only day of the week that I commit mysef to relaxing and resting.  Now, sometimes my resting involves a long bikeeride or running (literally), but I find that to be very relaxing and it sure helps make that Sunday afternoon nap just a bit sweeter.  I try really hard not to work on Sundays – no lawn mowing, not cleaning, no laundry (if I can help it).   It’s just a complete day of rest for me.  I usually go to church on Saturday nights, so most Sundays I don’t even put on makeup.  I respect the Sabbath day.

My kids and I either have a big breakfast on Sundays or a nice dinner in the dining room (depending on whether.not they are with me for the weekend).  But, regardless of our activities, I always manage a quick little happy nappy.  Sometimes I sleep for ten minutes.  Sometimes I sleep for an hour.  I just know one thing – without my nap I am grumpy!    

Sweet dreams!

Monday, March 26, 2012

My favorite things Monday – throwing away junk!

What a weird thing to make a favorite, huh!?!  But it’s sooooo liberating!  I cleaned out our garage this past weekend and pitched tons of junk.  This morning I was so tickled to haul it all to the end of the driveway; what a great way to start my Monday!  Then, as if that’s not enough, I practically sped down the street getting home tonight to see my empty driveway.  Gone!  Bye-bye junk!

I think holding on to junk is emotionally damaging.  A cluttered home signifies a cluttered mind and a cluttered life.  I believe the best way to live (besides as a Christian, of course) is to live simply.
Check this out from the Good Book: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

I am not one to get too attached to things (like collectibles, as I stated a few weeks ago), and I am a good housekeeper. The more junk I get rid of though, the clearer my life feels and the better I am able to focus on God and everything else in my crazy-busy life.  I started a list today of more stuff to get rid of or sell. 

Time to get this place under control!  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Getting God in my everyday

So after taking a brief inventory of what occupies my mind and conversations daily, I have come up with the following basic list: my kids, my work, using my time (to-do list), finances, running, the last time I called my mother, my Bible reading, encounters/conversations with friends/family, and stuff like that.   

Out of that list, I pray about: my kids, using my time (to-do list), finances, the last time I called my mother, my Bible reading, encounters with friends/family, and stuff like that.

Why, if my work and running are so important to me, do I leave these out of my discussions with God?  Because I think these are the things that I need to learn how to control and manage myself because God would not be interested.  He is listening to prayers for world peace, so why would he want me to come to him for direction and strength in my work and running??  It seems so trivial.   

My work: Every morning when I wake up, I lie in bed and talk to God about my day and what’s on my mind.  After about 15 minutes of this, I come downstairs and read my Bible and pray while I drink five cups of coffee (because six cups is half of a pot which is where true coffee addiction problems occur).  While I am getting ready for work, I listen to worship music and continue listening in my car on my way to work.  So from 5:30am until 8am I am totally focused on God.  Once I step out of my car and sit at my desk, I turn into “Headhunter Jenni” and tackle my challenges with my super-chick tactics and weaponry for the next 9 hours.  All. By. Myself.  It’s like I leave God in my car to wait patiently until I return at the end of my workday. I then get in my car and generally turn on worship music for my drive home.  Where was God those 9 hours while I was in the world working?  What if I said a little prayer at my desk for help in choosing my words and actions so that they resemble Christ likeness?  What if I prayed for every candidate before they went on an interview?  What if I prayed for my revenue instead of following my geeked-out spreadsheet?  What if I prayed for God to help me make specific wise business decisions?  How can my work glorify God?  

My running:  I research the right shoes, read about techniques, train according to the expert’s advice, ask other runners for advice, and set personal challenges.  I do pray while I run, but not about running.  I pray for all of those other things that I listed and talk to God about what is on my mind.  What if I prayed for a faster mile, or more miles, or better form?  “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.. They will run and not grow weary…” (Isaiah 40:31)  How can my running glorify God?

I pray for all of that other stuff, and how through it I want to bring glory to God – but why not everything?

If God knows every hair on my head, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume He wants to be involved in every single thing in my life that is important to me including my work and my running?  Wouldn’t He want me to talk to Him about everything like I talk to my colleagues and running buddies?

I need to start focusing on getting God involved in my everyday, boring, mundane, and typical things.

In talking to God, it will draw us closer and strengthen our relationship.  That’s what getting God in my everyday is all about!  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How can I pray for you?

I have a little black prayer book that I write down my prayers in.  I started this January 1, 2010 and let me tell you – this little black book sure has a story to tell!  I look back through it and see God’s hand in my life and how the pieces of His plan for me have fit together beautifully over the past two years.  My prayer book tells a sweet story.  Some people that I prayed for are no longer in my life for various reasons.  Some have become my closest friends.  Some situations that I prayed about seem so insignificant now, but I took them to God at some point because I needed clarity or peace.  Some prayers were answered already, and some may never be.  Some prayers are ongoing.  I pray for people who don’t even know that I pray for them.  I pray for the President of the United States, our Pastor and church staff, my boss, the homeless, and the jobless.  I pray for my wasband.  I pray for my eating, running, money, and full surrender in all of my relationships.  I pray for my MBA alumni by name, and I pray for my creativity to make our home beautiful on a tight budget.  I pray for a calm and gentle heart.  I pray for His will to be done in my life.   
When I tell you, “I will pray for you” – I really mean it.  I write it down so that I don’t forget because my memory isn’t so good these days.  (I often say, “When I pushed out my kids - I pushed out my brains!”  Moms, I am sure you can relate to some degree.  We have so much on our minds with kids, work, households, etc. that it’s just hard to remember stuff!)  Please don’t tell people that you will pray for them if you really are not going to.  In my opinion, “I’ll pray for you” is thrown around too often without sincerity.  Our Pastor suggested a prayer calendar; write down the names of people, Pastors, missionaries, etc. to be sure not to forget them.  Plan your prayers.  Whatever it takes, the important thing is to take time to pray.  Talk to God.  Often. 

I also feel that it is important to take time to kneel in prayer.  This helps me to stay focused when I pray.  I kneel with my little black prayer book and pour my heart out to God.  Sometimes I cry, but I always feel a bit closer to God with each conversation.  I look at it this way: if I received a call from a stranger, I would not know who they were and would not recognize their voice simply because we don’t know each other.  We do not have a relationship.  I want to know God’s voice when He calls me.  I want to recognize that it is Him speaking to me in His way.  I can only recognize His voice if I already know him and we have a relationship.  Make sense? 
I REALLY REALLY love to hear my kids pray!  It is like sweet music to my ears when they pour their little hearts out to God with complete confidence that God hears them.  And they will pray with their children someday.... 

So – how can I pray for you?  I promise - I'll write it in my little black prayer book so that I don't forget!  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Fever!

I have Spring Fever!  I have the itch to paint and do something fresh with my bedroom.  I want something girly because… well… I’m girly.  My bedroom is my retreat and one of my happy places.  I also find that I get sent to my bedroom more often these days when my kids have friends over so that they can use the whole house.  No stinky boy smells in my bedroom – which is one cool thing about being single!  I want something feminine and soft.  Something relaxing and serene.  I’ve been looking for ideas and nothing has quite grabbed me yet, but half of the fun in a re-decorating project is the research and imagination anyways, so I really don’t mind this part.  I have a little file with magazine clippings from over the past several years more like 20 years, but if I told you that you might think I am a weirdo or something.  Now I have Pinterest.  The funny thing is that “my style” is very consistent.  I still gravitate to the same look even after all these years.

Since I bought our house, I have not really put any effort into decorating my bedroom.  It tends to become a disaster zone from time to time too.  I need to treat myself a little better and make my space special. 
Here is a really cool website that I have fallen in love with:
Check this out for beautiful and original ideas all on a dime.  Single moms - you know what I mean?! 
Here's a bedroom that I absolutely love love love from her website:

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

I think this is the season to make my bedroom special!

Any suggestions?

Monday, February 27, 2012

My favorite things Monday – quotes!

I don’t collect anything in my home.  I don’t care for little trinkets or collectibles around my home (that I have to dust), but I keep a notebook with quotes.  Tidy and personal.  That’s what I like about them.  Words inspire me - especially those so beautifully written that touch my heart like these: 
“To have a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”

“It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” ~ Mother Theresa

Or the quotes when I need a dose of inspiration like these:

“A ship in harbor is safe - but that’s not what ships are for.”

“You will always miss 100% of the shots you didn’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

Any favorite quotes that you would like to share with me?  Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I feel like Jacob

About two weeks ago I developed this weird pain in my right hip than runs to the back of my knee.  At first I thought it was ITBS, but it's not the outside of my knee so I need to figure out what this is.  I like to self diagnose by researching like crazy although I may need to make a visit to my Orthopedic doctor very soon if this doesn't go away.

At the same time, I really feel God working on me in a way that has not yet been revealed to me.  I pray everyday for Him to burden my heart with the passion to serve Him in some way, or someone to share the gospel with, or some way to glorify Him.  "Please God, lay on my heart where you want me to testify for your glory."  It's still not clear right now, but when it is - He will reveal Himself.  He is working hard on me right now, and the Holy Spirit is closeby me.  I feel like a kid at Christmas when I am going through one of these times.  I am very excited to serve!

This morning, I got on my treadmill for the first time in a week.  (I've had a yucky cold for 2 weeks.)  My hip was hurting within the first minute of my run.  I started to think about Jacob in Genesis as he wrestled with God.  I don't feel like I am resisting God right now, but rather trying to understand where He is leading me.  Regardless, as I though about my hip hurting, I though about God and where He wants to take me.  I quit running at 1.86 miles because I might have an injury that I need to address, but nonetheless - God had my full attention.

For me, this means, "Be still."  I need to consciously shut down noise wherever possible to pray and pay attention.  It's not about hearing God, it's about listening to God.       

Do you ever experience intense callings from God - sometimes stronger than other times?  Please share with me! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Not everyone reads the Bible, but they read you."

My big brother reminded me of this tonight.  I only have one sibling, but he’s more of a blessing than I could have in a million siblings.  He has a way of telling me things that go right to my heart like that. 

Yes, we all make mistakes, but shattering your testimony is hard to recover from (another big brotherism).  We are God’s hands and feet - we’re all He has on earth to grow the Kingdom.  We need to take our responsibility very seriously in our actions and in our words - when we are with non-believers and believers alike.  We are His witnesses.  What we say and do as Christians reflects Christ to those around us.

Do you ever wonder why God chose YOU?  Of everyone out there, He wants YOU to be one of His disciples.  WOW!!  Do you hear me?  That’s BIG!!

So, my challenge is - what do I need to start doing and what do I need to stop doing to be a better disciple? 


Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Things Monday - Whitesnake!

As I was thinking of what to write today, I thought to myself, “Self? When my kids think back someday about dear old mom, what will they most remember about me?”  There are certain things about me: what I do, what I wear, what I say, music that I listen to, what I eat, etc. that my kids will associate with me – and I hope that (for the most part) they are all good things.  I know without a doubt one thing they will know to be a favorite of mine – Whitesnake!  I love love love the 80’s hair band, Whitesnake, and have listened to them faithfully since 1985 (my junior year of high school).  My favorite song is “Here I Go Again” and it very well describes most of my life.  Over the past few years though, I’ve wanted to add a disclaimer that it applies to the mate part of my life – not the God part.  I know that “like a drifter I was born to walk alone” doesn’t mean God.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean a mate anymore either.  I just really like the song.  Those who know me well know that I am a Whitesnake freak.  My mom even has that song as my personal ringtone, so it plays when I call her.  (I have a cool mom like that!)  I went to see Whitesnake in concert the summer of 2005 at a Harley-Davidson parking lot party.  I was definitely the nerd of the bunch!  Anyways, that’s another one of my favorite things that I wanted to share with you.

I love hearing about your favorites too, so please share with me like Pam did last week!   

Rock on!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Energy Bars – made from home with love

Energy bars are expensive and don’t contain all of the healthy goodies that I like packed into one bar, but these have it all (in my opinion)!  I have combined a few recipes and like the results of this combination.  By making these myself, I get all of the the stuff that I like, and it saves me a little money along the way PLUS I just prefer things homemade because I can add a touch of love which just makes things taste better.  This recipe made 30 bars and the batch probably cost about $10 (give or take) to make.

Here are some of the healthy ingredients:

Here’s what you do:

In your food processor, combine:

1 c.dried fruit (I use half crannies and half raisins)

½ c. almonds (maybe a bit more)

½ c. flax seeds

2/3 c. sunflower seeds

See all the good stuff here?

Chop this to a course consistency, then add:

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

3 c. oatmeal (I use the old fashioned cook kind, not instant)

½ c. wheat germ

Give this another whirl to combine like this:

In a large bowl, mix together:

1&1/2 c. natural peanut butter

1 c. honey

(This picture turned out weird.  I mixed it in a big white bowl.)

Dump your dry ingredients into the peanut butter/honey mixture along with:

½ c. mini chocolate chips (of course, chocolate makes everything better!)

Mix all of this together with a wooden spoon or your (clean) hands.

Pack the mixture together, and shape into about 30 bars (depending on the size you prefer).  Do you notice that my energy bars look like my kitchen counter?  Trust me, they really tast better thatn my counter though. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  I bake everything on a Silpat baking sheet so that nothing ever sticks.  Without a Silpat, I would spray my baking sheet first.  These do not puff-up or expand so you can cram a bunch on your baking sheet.

Bake, cool, and package into individual little treats.  I put them in a freezer bag in my freezer for later.  YUM!!

Although these are made from “good fats,” they still contain about 275 calories and 17g fat each.  This translates to about 2.5 miles of running at a 10 minute mile pace to burn off, so eat accordingly.  They obviously contain a substantial amount of protein and carbohydrates as well, but I’ll let you figure that part out for yourself because I forgot to. :) Last summer, I ate one or two of these for my breakfast before my Sunday long runs.  They sat very well in my tummy and gave me sustained energy.  (FYI: I never tested these past a 10 mile run, so cannot make any claims beyond 10 miles.  On a side note, running 10 miles burns over 1,000 calories!  I think it’s fun seeing the calorie counter on my watch hit 4 digits; I’m a number geek like that.) 

Happy, healthy, and homeade eating!

Friday, February 3, 2012

“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman

I love this book and have found that it applies so well to my kiddos.  In this book, Gary describes five specific love languages, and how understanding your and you loved one’s language help you to receive and express love in the language that each other understands.  According to Gary, we all fall into one of the five following categories: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  There is a quiz in the back of the book that determines your love language.

As an example, my son loves for me to just be with him.  He is a quality time kind of guy in a big, big way.  He loves to watch ESPN, and he loves his momma – so to him the ultimate afternoon is for me to sit with him on the couch and watch sports.  He doesn’t care if I am reading a book, or blogging, or whatever – just so I am sitting with him.  My time with him makes him feel loved.  My daughter, on the other hand, is a huggy-lovey physical touch kind of girl.  Even as a baby, she loved to be held.  She still cuddles with me, likes to be hugged, pats my back, brushes my hair – anything that involves touching.  When we eat dinner at the kitchen counter on our respective stools, her knee is always touching my knee.  That physical touch is how she feels loved. 

I have this real passion for learning about people and understanding what makes them tick.  Maybe it’s the salesperson in me.  I’ve found that connecting with people in their unique way makes them feel noticed.  Appreciated.  Loved.  It’s really about paying attention to the other person’s needs more than your own.  Making it all about them.  It’s beautiful when, in return, the love then flows back and forth.  Love is the choice to support each other, to serve each other, and to work at a relationship together.  Even though I do not have a mate to love, I still have relationships that are very important to me.  I never want to take those relationships for granted, so work at making them the best that they can be.  Books like this help – and I think all of us could use a little help from time to time.

Above all else though, love the Lord and demonstrate the love of Christ in everyone you meet through genuine care, concern, and forgiveness.   

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:3-31

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Home repair tips & tricks

I like doing things around the house that make me feel independent and save money.  I’ve hung ceiling fans, replaced porch lights, and recently replaced a kitchen faucet.  I’ve refinished lots of furniture, painted rooms, and even ceramic-tiled a kitchen floor while pregnant with my daughter.  Girls, I actually know how to re-string my weed whacker – and those who know me well know how much I hate yard work and secretly wish for a yard boy who looks like John Travolta!

I love to go to Lowes!  Every time I go in there, I transform into this superhero fix-it-chick and buy stuff that I have no business buying, like hacksaws with extra blades, and propane torches - all on the same trip!  I have discovered a few super cool products that every single woman needs in her pretty little pink tool belt: Liquid Nails, JB Weld, Duck Tape (duh!), clamps, WD40, blue tarps, and a nice neighbor with lots of tools.  For the Liquid Nails you will also need a caulk gun to apply it.  Liquid Nails is good for replacing trim, re-gluing floor boards, fixing furniture, and other such repairs.  Now JB Weld is some really cool stuff!  It is for metal things that you would otherwise weld if you knew how to use the propane torch that you bought.  JB Weld is a 2-part epoxy type gooey concoction that dries silvery.  I used it to secure some brass couplings to the bottoms of silver trays that I used for birdbaths in my flower garden held up by 3 foot pieces of rebar.  (I’ll share that craft project this spring.)  Duck tape is handy for just about anything.  Clamps are like extra hands.  Get the kind that look like giant silver clothespins with rubber ends.   WD40 is great for squeaky door hinges, loosening things that you cannot unscrew, and to lubricate your garage door rollers.  FYI – the gunk on your garage door rollers can freeze in the winter, and it may prevent your garage door from going up and down.  WD40 will keep that gunk slippery so your door will function smoothly.  WD40 can also be used to remove dried-on bugs from your front bumper PLUS it smells really good.  Blue tarps are a must for yard work as they allow you to drag heavy things all over the yard like yard debris in the spring and leaves in the fall.  As for my nice neighbor, he loves my gingersnaps so I do try to keep him happy with those in exchange for borrowing his tools.

Wait… I hear her now… its Helen Reddy… let's sing altogether now…., “I am woman, hear me roar – in numbers too big to ignore…if I have to, I can do anything.  I am strong.  I am invincible.  I am woman.”
I'm diggin' on her halter top!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Friend Mary Ann

Last year, on the day before Easter, I spoke at my friend Mary Ann’s funeral.  I started with, “This is very difficult.  Mary Ann was my friend, and I loved her.”  The church was packed with friends and family who also loved her.

Mary Ann was 17 years older than me.  We met in 2005 when we were paired-up in a canoe for a fundraiser for our local village’s swimming pool.  I took the front of the canoe, and she parked her petite frame in the back.  We became instant friends as we sojourned down the Portage River.  She used to call us kindred spirits.  We had a very special connection from the moment we met.

Mary Ann dabbled in real estate in addition to her full-time job.  The next summer, when wasband and I separated, Mary Ann found the home that was perfect for me and my kids.  A few months after that, another friend of Mary Ann’s separated from her husband and Mary Ann found her a home too near me.  Mary Ann introduced us two new single ladies, and the three of us became friends.  I had them over for several dinners over the following years, but looking back – not often enough.

You see, Mary Ann was hurting on the inside more than anyone realized and took her own life.  The day after her funeral, on Easater, I went to the cemetary to grieve.  It was easy to find her grave because it was covered with fresh flowers.  I noticed another grave very close by also with fresh flowers that seemed to match, so I went to that grave site to find that it was the site of Mary Ann’s parents.  I glanced over and saw yet another small bunch of flowers near Mary Ann’s gravesite.  The flowers were place purposely on a tiny grave which Mary Ann never told me about.  The tiny grave belonged to her daughter, Jennifer, that died shortly after birth.  Jennifer was born 3 months after me, but only lived a few days. 

Two days ago I finally built up the courage to reach out to Mary Ann’s daughter, Stacey, who is several years younger than me.  Stacy responded so sweetly asking me to tell her stories about her mom so that she won’t be so sad that her mom is gone.  I never met Stacey when Mary Ann was alive. (Stacey lives a few hours away with her husband and two little boys.)  I’ve gathered some notes and recipes that Mary Ann wrote for me to give to Stacey.  Stacey wants to keep her mom’s spirit alive.  I wish I reached out to Stacey sooner, but just didn’t know what to say.  Maybe Stacey and I will become friends.

I think about my friend Mary Ann so often, and wonder how I missed that she was hurting so bad inside.  I think everyone does.  I never shared Christ with her, but do hope she knew Jesus before she took her last breath.  I know many people have strong opinions about suicide, but when it happens to some you love – it’s confusing.  I try to pay closer attention now to friends who share their hurts with me, but more importantly, I try to share Christ in some way.  I miss you, my friend Mary Ann.          

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Please, God. Shut the door.

Sometimes when I am praying for this or that, instead of praying for doors to open, I pray for doors to shut.  It helps me to be more cautious and to pay more attention to the stop signs.  I don’t mean to sound like Debbie the Downer here, but by paying attention to closed doors (the negatives) I see more clearly the things that could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E in the future.  In past relationships, the closed doors have come in many forms such as: too much baby momma drama, suspicious texts, bouts of silence, unclear pasts, age differences, lifestyle differences, and identity in things other than Christ.  These things were God’s way of shutting the door.  These things told me that the relationship was just not right.  I attacked graduate school the same way.  I prayed for doors to shut when I was making my decision to go/not go, and nothing shut.  So I went.  I’ve ignored the shut doors before and/or tried to open them back up myself after God shut them.  BAM!!  Right in the nose.  I really, really try to leave the doors shut now that God has closed.  My nose likes me to do that too.                  

Monday, January 30, 2012

My favorite Things Monday – Road trips!

One of my Jesus Girls (Laura) and I went to Winterjam 2012 last night in Cleveland and had soooo much fun driving and chatting all the way down the turnpike (both ways).  PLUS, we got to see one of MY favorite bands, Sanctus Real, and one of HER favorite bands, Skillet.  We packed turkey sandwiches, fruit, chips, and water and calculated and recorded our calories to and fro.  We spent $10 each to get into the show, $10 to park, plus gas and tolls.  It was a very cheap night out and boy oh boy did we enjoy ourselves!  As I drove into Cleveland, I thought to myself, “Self. Why don’t you get out of Dodge more often?”  So I need to do this more, and more with my kids.  We need to go places more often.  We don’t have to spend much money, we just need to see new stuff every once in a while.  maybe I need to come up with a theme - like cities that start with A, B, C.... or bridges, or old schoolhouses, pizza joints, or something my kids will have fun with.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

My career leap of faith

Sometimes when I pray for this or that, I find clarity through an event, a conversation, a book, but mostly through a sense of peace when I’ve really focused on being still and listening to God.  Honestly, I’ve never heard the voice of God.  I have never really heard Him speak to me in His voice.  I have, however, felt the weight of the Holy Spirit guide me many, many times while in prayer.  The most significant time I can recall was when my son was an infant (summer of 2000) and I was at the kitchen table one morning praying about resigning from my successful and high-paying career to be a stay-at-home mom.  In a total leap of faith (and discussion with wasband), I turned in my letter of resignation that day.  My daughter came along 16 months after my son.  For almost five years, I worked part-time (very part-time) so that I could be home with Kyle and Jami.  Wasband was a brand new teacher at the time.  We were broke as a joke, but looking back I know without a doubt that God had us in his safekeeping.  We made ends meet by the grace of God because the income certainly did not justify the decision.  Let me also add that when I had my son in 2000, I was working for a very racy radio station and a big portion of my income was from selling advertising to bars and adult-oriented establishments.  I was just getting back to God at that point after being away from Him for about 15 or so years. 

I went back to work full-time in 2005 and have struggled putting my career back together for the past seven years which has been very, very humbling.  That’s why I slipped in that MBA a few years back – to add to my tool belt.  When I resigned in 2000, the economy was booming,  When I returned in 2005, it was quickly headed to a recession.  I can’t question “what if,” but rather trust God completely that I will regain the security that I once had (career/financially speaking).  Let me clarify, it’s not about the money that I used to make.  That’s not the security that I am looking for.  I am in sales, so my income is 100% commission.  The way that I am paid is stressful because now I am divorced with two kids and a mortgage.  Most people would agree that a steady paycheck is ideal - especially when it’s the only one running the household.  Again, by the grace of God I continue to make ends meet, but feel very uneasy about my paycheck from day to day since I am paid commission.  Trust me, it’s something that I am in constant prayer about daily.

So, right now I have enough.  Just enough.  I pray “thy will be done,” but sometimes get anxious about when my break will come.  So, I return to prayer.  I know it’s in God’s hands, and feel that He is using this lesson for me to rely on Him.  To draw me closer.  To be in full surrender.  Of all of the fruits of the Spirit, patience is the most difficult for me. I want to know NOW, but to God, His “now” is not even close to my definition of “now.”  My “now” is this minute, His “now” might be in 20 years.  I am, however, working hard in the meantime at my job to do my best because that’s my duty to my employer and my family.  Is this God’s ultimate plan for my career?  I don’t know that, but He does.  In the meantime, I can use it as part of my ministry in some way.  (I am very excited that one of my past co-workers is coming to my church now!)

I am very excited about my career and what God has in store for me!  I have grown a lot these past seven years while getting my career back on track personally, professionally, and most importantly Spiritually.  I am in a much better place than I was back in 2000 in every area of my life except finances.  You know what?  If that’s the price, I would pay it over and over again to feel the peace that I feel right now because when I was making all of that money I didn’t have God in my life.  I also have some amazing kids that I feel are off to a great start because I was home with them.  (Which I respect is not right or possible for everyone.) 

Take a leap!  I’m telling you  - you’ll never regret it!  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Confessions from a former fat kid – Part 1 (because something tells me there will be more)

You see, I was the fat kid in school.  I was the kid that got picked last in gym class.  Actually, I didn’t even get picked.  I was last so went to the team who got stuck with me.  I’ve never had a bit of athletic talent.  Even to this day - if everyone gathered in the yard for a game of volleyball, I would not participate because I know I’m not good at it.  I would be embarrassed. Forget that!  You know what?  Next summer, if I have the opportunity, I’m going to play volleyball in the yard.  You know why?  “Because I’m nice, and doggone it, I deserve it.” (A little Stuart Smalley SNL there for one of my readers.)  If anyone laughs at me, I will probably run home and eat cake then crawl under my bed and suck my thumb. Then eat more cake.

So now I run.  I’m not the fastest runner, but I’ve come a long way in my 43 years because I participate anyways.  I know I’m not the best, or anywhere close to it, but I still try.  I enjoy the camaraderie of the other runners too.  We cheer each other on like we’re Olympians.  I actually have two 3rd place trophies for races that I’ve participated in (and there were more than three women in my categories, so I actually did have to compete for them).  I have already signed up for a half-marathon in April and a Warrior Dash in June. ( I’m not that little girl who hides anymore.  I love to run and play now!

My sweet daughter, Jami, plays softball and loves it!  Right now she is playing basketball and likes that too.  I am really encouraging cross country in the fall because, of course, running is MY favorite.  Jami can do whatever she wants, but my only request is that she tries things.  I think Jami will be a great cross country runner and I can’t wait to cheer her on in the fall.

I wish I would have participated in sports as a kid for many reasons including the competitive aspects and learning to push through the hurt.  In my career (sales), having a little competitive edge is good.  It pushes me.  I’m not psycho about it, but in sales it goes with the job and is expected to some degree.  In other things like divorce and running, a little pain makes you a little bit tougher! Like sports, it’s good to learn to push through the hurt.  I hope that makes sense.

I love this:

Even though I’m not the fat kid anymore, I still eat cake.  Just not as often.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I love my Jesus Girls!

Tonight was LifeGroup night and let me tell you – my Jesus Girls are the absolute coolest chicks on this whole entire planet! We laugh together, cry together, pray together, but most importantly are experiencing Spiritual growth together. When I was married, I really didn’t have a network of girlfriends. I had one friend that I spoke with daily and did kid activities with, but I did not have a network of girlfriends, particularly Christian girlfriends. Now that I am single, I have come to really value my Jesus Girl friendships. I don’t have any biological sisters, so maybe that’s part of it for me.
I love this verse from Proverbs:
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~Proverbs 27:17
I love how my Jesus Girls sharpen my mind. They help me see what sometimes I cannot see on my own with completely different insight. I would like to think that I do that for them as well. That we do it all for each other like a little team. We speak to each other in love and hold each other accountable in love. Earlier in Proverbs 27, the Bible reads, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” (v.6) Unpleasant advice from a friend is better than insincere praise from an enemy. Amen, Sister!
I'll take a picture of my Jesus Girls in 2-weeks when we meet again so you can see how beautiful they are;  I just know that you will love them too!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't just "date to date"

This is wrong.  Very wrong.  You know why?  Someone will misunderstand the relationship and someone will get their feelings hurt.  You don’t want your feelings hurt, and you certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings do you?  I believe in intentional dating and will not pursue a relationship with anyone I do not see myself in a committed relationship with down the road.  I say committed relationship and not marriage simply because I live in a rural village where wasband and I have agreed to raise our kids.  I cannot move out of the school district, so likely will not get married until my kids have graduated from high school unless I marry the only single guy in the village.  He rides a 3-wheeled bike (God bless his heart) and I prefer guys who ride 2-wheelers, so I have pretty much ruled him out.  I already know what you’re thinking.  Seven and a half years is a veeeeery long time to wait to have sex again.  I’m way ahead of you there, sister, as I have already though about that like a bazillion times!    
In the book “Boy Meets Girl,” the author, Josh Harris, talks about courting versus dating.  Courting is simply intentional dating.  I really like this whole idea of courting and think God does too.  It’s a commitment from the get-go to determine if there is a possible fit or not.  Tell some hot man you want to court and watch his eyes roll to the back of his head.  Go on.  I dare you!  The word sounds scary, but the purpose is to honor God with your intentions.  Whatever word you use, make sure you and hot man have a clear understanding of your intentions.    
I always go back to the relationship that I want for my kids someday.  I would not want some boy to take my daughter out on a casual date without any feelings for her. She deserves better than that.  Likewise, I don’t want my son to take a pretty girl out just to have someone to hang with.  That’s very disrespectful to the pretty girl.  It’s just not nice to play with people’s hearts or imply that you are interested in them when you really are not.  I need to set relationship examples for my children.          
But we get lonely… and just want someone to talk to… so we go out… then we share our hearts… then next thing we know we have crossed into that area that is supposed to be reserved only for someone who deserves to be let into that area of our tender hearts.  Crossing the line emotionally is every bit wrong as crossing the line physically.  As women we get emotionally attached when we start to share our hearts.  Do you see my point here?  Are you going to share your heart only to have it broken?  Besides, sharing things that are too personal too soon is not a wise idea.  You need to know that you can trust who you are talking to.    

And, what if while you are out on this casual date and you see the most gorgeous man in the whole wide world who you would make beautiful babies with and you are sitting there with some dude you could really care less about?  That would really stink, huh!?
No casual dating, girls!  You deserve better than that!

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Favorite Things Monday. You dig?

Here’s my new Monday theme – My Favorite Things Monday!  (Please don’t tell Oprah.  This “favorite things” idea was hers first.  It can be our little secret.)  Mondays are pretty stinky, quite honestly.  I mean, it’s so hard to get back to work after a fun weekend.  Getting back to the grind is not too fun, is it?  So, on Mondays I am going to share with you a little something-something that I love.  Something that makes me happy.  I want you to give me your ideas too!  It can be anything, but just to warn you, my topics may center on girly-girl things or sweet peanut buttery deliciousness.  Just so you know - I love bling.  And peanut butter. 
I absolutely love love love short well-manicured fingernails with fresh bright polish.  OPI nail polish  is my favorite because of the cool names like “I’m Really Not a Waitress,” but I have found the Orly brand at Sally’s to be very durable and a few bucks less.  My favorite color is Bus Stop Crimson.  I trim my cuticles, buff my nails, and file my nails short so that they are all the same length before I paint my nails.  Remember to start with a good basecoat and always use a fast drying top coat.  My absolute favorite topcoat is SecheVite Dry Fast Top Coat which can also be found at Sally’s.  It’s about $7, but worth every penny.  You can paint your fingernails before bed, apply the topcoat, and then go to bed.  Your nails will dry super fast and you won’t end up with blanket marks on your nails. It also makes your polish last longer.  Plus, painted nails make my hands less dry.  I don’t know why, but it’s true.    

What are some of your favorite things? 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ants in my pants

I love the following verse where Peter was speaking to wives:

“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”  (1 Peter 3:4)  

I notice this thing about myself - when I have ants in my pants, I do not have a gentle and quiet spirit.  When I have ants in my pants, my face breaks out and I am pretty sure I make those around me uncomfortable or downright nervous.  Do you have any of those restless friends who are always goofing with their phones, or tidying around the house, or shifting conversations quickly from one topic to the next?  Do they put you at ease or make you a nervous wreck right along with them?  On the contrary, do you have friends who amidst all the chaos remain gentle and calm?  These friends seem to draw you to them.  They make you feel comfortable.  Their beauty comes from the inside out.  My dear friend, Dawn, is the latter.  She has four beautiful children (3 of which are very active boys), and she always seems so cool, calm, and collected.  She puts me at ease with just the tone of her voice and her gentle spirit.  Dawn doesn’t adorn herself with fancy hairstyles or lavish jewelry and clothes, but she is one of the most beautiful women that I know simply because she clothes herself instead with the unfading beauty that comes from within of a gentle and quiet spirit.  She’s actually the whole package because she’s a bombshell on the outside too. 

Which woman are YOU?  Which woman do you want to be?  We pack our schedules with so many activities.  We work so hard to maintain the perfect house, raise perfect kids, be recognized in our careers, volunteer at church, volunteer at our kids’ schools, do fun stuff with our kids, visit mom, Facebook, etc. that we don’t even take time to be quiet.  Ever.  How do we expect to hear God when we are never quite enough to listen?  How are we supposed to teach this to our our daughters when we are not setting good examples in this area?  I wonder if this is more difficult for women than it is for men.  I heard some insane statistic once about women using three times as many words in a day as a man.  Maybe if we cut back a few words, we could find time to be quiet.  But then again, when we are quiet, men are the first to ask what’s wrong because we’re quiet.  Forget that idea.     

Speaking of being quiet, yesterday I deactivated my Facebook.  It’s been about 36 hours and I don’t miss it one bit.  Part of deactivating my FB is so that I have time to be quiet with God.

Anywho – where was I?  Oh, yes.  Being quiet.  See how I get sometimes?  Do you see how it can be so hard to be quiet when I have a bazillion things racing through my head.  And ix-nay on the oga-yay.  (Do you speak Pig Latin?)  (Is Pig Latin a proper noun that warrants capitalization?)  Yoga is NOT where I go to be quiet and reflective.  Un uh.  Nope.  Not my dealie whopper.  So how do we be quiet and gentle?  I think it starts with beginning each day with God in prayer.  Every morning I sit and drink half of a pot of coffee while I read my Bible and pray.  I don’t start my day hurried.   

Peter is telling us girls to develop an inner spirit of Godliness so that others can see Christ in us. 

How do you work on developing a quiet and gentle spirit?  Do you already have one?  Do you think it’s even possible these days?  Do you make people a nervous wreck? 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Can men and women really be friends?

When I was married, I didn’t have guyfriends and wasband didn’t have girlfriends.  Waaaay back then (5.5 years ago), Facebook wasn’t invented and texting was barely used.  I had girlfriends and he had guyfriends.  Wasband knew who I was friends with, and I knew who wasband was friends with.  Simple.

Now I am single.  And I have Facebook.  And I text.  And I have more friends than I ever did when I was married – both girlfriends and guyfriends.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and feel blessed to have such a great support system, but to someone who doesn’t really know me – the lines might look blurry.  My guyfriend relationships (married and/or unmarried guyfriends) may appear inappropriate. 

Here are a few examples:

I have both men and women on my FB.  Some of the men are married (like old highschool friends) and I do not know their wives.  Are their wives  OK with their husbands looking at pictures and into the personal life of another woman?  Would I want my husband looking at pictures and into the life of a woman that I did not know?  Not really.  I am contemplating leaving FB altogether or un-friending men that I am not related to.  I just posted that I will be leaving FB for a while so that I can use my time more wisely - then deactivated my Facebook.  I don’t know if this will be permanent, but it will allow me more time for now to talk to God.  I see another FB blog coming in the near future.   

A few months ago, I was talking to a divorced dad of one of my kids’ friends at a school sporting event.  The conversation started out about the sporting event then somewhere shifted into him telling me that he is struggling to get over his divorce.  He followed up with a text, which I briefly responded to.  He has a girlfriend.  What would she think of he and I engaging in a personal conversation like this?  I regret that I even allowed the dialogue to occur.  I knew there was nothing to it, but would she understand?

A few weeks ago I rode to the grocery store alone with a married male colleague.  It didn’t feel right the moment we pulled out of the parking lot.  What did the people at work think when they saw us leave and return together?  What if we would have bumped into his wife?  Not a good decision.  Again, we knew it was innocent, but to everyone else it may have appeared suspicious.

I also have guyfriends that I talk about running or career stuff with.  Really.  All we discuss is running or career stuff.  As long as their wives are in the loop, are we OK?  I feel OK about it, but can this be one of those gray areas?

As a single, I have made friends with other single guyfriends mostly through church.  I will sever those relationships when/if I get into a committed relationship because it would not be fair to hot new manfriend for me to be personal with another man.  So should I end the relationships now?  What good will become of these relationships anyways?  What is the point in holding on to them? 

The bottom line is that it’s a slippery slope.  Sooner or later temptation will strike and it will probably be different for you than for guyfriend.  He may try to get close physically, and you may start to feel very close emotionally.  A small thought may cross your mind (like I wonder if…) or a conversation may turn personal into something best shared with a girlfriend.  Something will get awkward.  Someone’s feelings will likely get hurt.  Something will be misunderstood.  Most importantly, at some point, it probably will no longer be honorable to God.   

I am glad I am convicted about this right now.  God is talking to me and I’m listening.