Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Simple Pleasures...

I cannot begin to express how much I adore spring! Everything seems enriched to me this time of year. Today I took my kids to our small-town local library, then we headed to our neighboring little town for a lunch of home-made fried chicken at the Corner Cafe and a trip to the antique and consignment stores. We had so much fun just taking our leisurly time meandering here and there, enjoying the spring air. We chatted with the locals a bit and met a few friendly people who happened to cross paths with. My son showed everyone who would listen his Spiderman web-shooter, and my little toddler daughter kept saying "hi" to everyone we met. She carried around a little plastic Goofy money bank at the anique store repeating "Goof! Goof!" as proud as can be. My son exclaimed, "Look momma! A squisher thing" when he found a bin of old wooden rolling pins. It was one of those days where you just enjoy *being*, revelling in your surroundings and in the pleasure of the company you are blessed to be accompanied by. I have determined to make more moments like these a part of my life's journey. We have to purpose to make the most of the time we've been given. After all...we may never pass this way again.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Favorite...

Don't we all love to list our favorite things? I know I do. There's just something about claiming what your favorite things are that feels like you're staking your claim on your identity. Lavender and pink are my favorite colors. I think we've all established ladybugs are a favorite of mine. Contemporary Christian music is my favorite. Romantic comedies are my favorite movies. Even if you don't know me in real life, from that listing you can get a little insight into what makes me tick. Having "favorites" is a fun way of proclaiming who we are. But there is a bad side to having favorites, especially if that information leaches itself out, either directly or indirectly. Certain favorites equal a great big "ouch". You may wonder what on earth I'm talking about at this point...

Have you or anyone you've cared about been a favorite child? Or much worse...NOT been that favorite child? I know I have been on the receiving end of this equation in my life. I have had people I care about share their experience with it as well. My husband and I were having a conversation about our life experiences recently, and it really got me thinking about how this effects who we are and who we become. More than that it made me realize how I never ever want my children to experience this in any way by any person in their lives. It just plain hurts. It stinks. I can understand feeling closer to one person than another...that's just the nature of relationships. But for one child to feel like they are not as good as another because of different characteristics they possess, that's simply heartbreaking. Whether a child is told that another is the favorite, or whether he/she perceives it based on the attitudes and treatment received by the favorite child, this dynamic changes the shape of who we are. It can damage how we see ourselves. It causes a pain, shame and resentment on the inside that is difficult to heal.

We are all created differently for a reason. We are individuals, crafted by God Himself. He gives us the characteristics we will need for our individual journey. While He gives one person a calm disposition, He may give another a boisterous personality. While one seems born to be patient and even-tempered, another may come into this world with a strong voice to assure their needs are made well known. None of these traits are "good" or "bad"...they just are what they are. They were given to each person for a reason known by the One who created them. Being a parent, you quickly learn that children are not formed with cookie cutters. What works with one child may not work with another. And while some children take more energy and seem more challenging to raise, they are not in any way "worse" than the children who some may dub the "good" ones who cooperate and make less waves. Looking at the more challenging children, I see God giving them characteristics that will serve them well later in life. Traits designed to help the parent grow and mature. When the parent can look at that child and see the potential inside them, they can help that child to flourish in unimaginable ways. If the same parent sees that child in a less desirable light, they can squelch the very things that, if nurtured, could have become greatness. They may be missing out on a valuable opportunity to hone their own character as well as that of the child's. They could be damaging the foundation of what could have been a beautifully strong relationship. How unfortunate.

My heart's desire is to parent my children creatively, with each one's individual traits and personality in mind. God blessed me with two very unique, special little people and the responsibility to shape them and help them grow to the best of my abilities. Every decision their father and I make effects them in one way or another. Every situation I expose them to has the potential to change who they will become. What an awesome responsibility! The enormity of it is overwhelming sometimes. Without God to help me I can't fathom how I could manage, but with Him to guide me I have what I need to help them find their wings in this world. What an amazing thing to be a part of! I am so blessed that God gave me two little miracles He specifically created just for my husband and I. When I asked Him for children He gave me exactly who I was supposed to have. It doesn't get much better than that. And I will let you in on a little secret...they are both my favorites.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If Only....

How many times do we let these little words steal our joy. I know I do it more than I'd like to admit. If only I were thinner, if only I were smarter, if only we had more money, if only I were more like this person or that person, if only I could do what so and so does, if only.............
It's easy to let these thoughts pop into our heads, and it takes quite an effort to get them out. This seems to be the case with anything worthwhile. It's easy to gain weight and difficult to lose. It's easy to envy others belongings, accomplishments, abilities, but takes more effort to consentrate on our own blessings. It's easy to be critical, but can be hard sometimes to extend grace to others as well as ourselves. The list goes on and on.
One thing I am trying to focus on is being in the moment...my moment, and to let God help me through if that particular moment is getting me down. One thing I've learned is that God never let's me down. Why then, should I ever wish I was something other than what He made me to be? I can improve what He gave me to work with, but I can never become something or someone I'm not. When I stop and think about it, I really don't want to be anyone else but me. Joyce Meyer, my "Spiritual Momma", once said that we should never wish to be someone else because we may not really want to do what they did to get where they are. So true. We never truly know what other people's struggles are, what they've been through, what they're going through. They may look like they have it all together and be falling apart on the inside. They may have tremendous success, but the road it took to get there may have been long and hard. They may have lots of money, but terrible relationships or incredible lonliness.
On the flip side we see examples of people who make the most with what they have and find true happiness. They aren't successful by the world's standards but do their part to make their world a better place and are a blessing to those around them. They may not have a fancy house but they have a home filled with laughter and love. You have to ask yourself what truly makes one *rich* in life? We all want better for ourselves and our children, and there's nothing wrong with that, but if our focus is on what we don't have we miss out on the richness we already possess. For me, having a Christ-centered life and being a wife and mother to a loving family I adore is the deepest treasure of my heart. I know God has wonderful things in store for us. As long as I keep moving in His plan for me, I will experience more than I could ever hope for. And when the "if onlys" try to creep there way in when I'm sifting through bills, preparing my mom's tax return and realizing that once again I forgot to pick up a new printer cartridge while friends and family are vacationing in exotic locales, I will look down at my kids smiling, yogurt covered faces and remind myself that truly, there is no where else I'd rather be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Definition of Insanity...

is doing the same things over and over expecting different results. It's just not gonna happen. Whether it has to do with a relationship, a health issue, a physical issue or what have you, change just won't take place without...well, change.
My issue on and off my whole life has been my weight. I say on and off, but truthfully it has been mostly *on*. Even when I was wearing size 3's and 5's I thought I was fat. Now in my thirties and two kids later I look back and wonder what on earth I was complaining about. My scale has jumped up and down many a time since then, and more recently I have started to get back in a more reasonable range. I hit a slump at the holidays and put some back on, hearing that familiar whine in the back of my head...'whyyy can't I just keeep the weight offfff'...sniff sniff'.' Ugh...what a weary cycle. So I started exercising my little tail off, eating less, getting on the scale and...no change. What?!?! All that work for nothing?!?!
No, not nothing. I know that somewhere inside me towards the left side of my chest my little heart is thanking me. My blood vessels are probably plugging along a bit more smoothly. My internal systems I'm sure are shouting, "You go girl!". So with that knowledge I have what I need to not throw in the towel. My hard work isn't for nothing. I took a week off from my workouts because we had things going on where I just didn't have time. Once our schedule went back to normal my mind tried to fight me from getting back to my workout routine, but today I made myself do it. And you know what? It felt great! So I'll keep pressing on towards my goal knowing that good changes are happening whether I can see them or not. As a mom I think my perspective has matured a bit. I know my body will never look like it did back in the day...I mean face it, you can't grow human beings inside your body without some alterations in tone and texture. And as much as I want a smaller jean size, tighter buns and smoother thighs as much as the next woman, I guess as long as I'm becoming a healthier mom I'm doing what really counts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If I Could...

This song is gorgeous, and rarely can I hear it without crying...have a listen if you'd like.

For my beautiful children...please stop growing so fast my sweet babies.

If I Could by Celine Dion

If I Could
I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes
give you courage in a world of compromise
yes, I would

If I could
I would teach you all the things I never learned
and I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned
yes, I would

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
but the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow so I could let you go

If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
but I know I could never cry your tears
but I would
if I could

Yes, if I live
in a time and place that you don't want to be
you don't have to walk along this road with me
my yesterday won't have to be your way

If I knew
I would try to change the world I brought you to
and there isn't very much that I could do
but I would
if I could

Oh baby
I just want to protect you
and help my baby through the hungry years
'cause you're part of me
and if you ever ever ever need
I said a shoulder to cry on
or just someone to talk to
I'll be there, I'll be there

I didn't change your world
but I would
if I could

Monday, April 7, 2008

I Am Not Ashamed...

" 'If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory...' " ~Luke 9:26

Call me a Jesus freak, a religious fanatic, a Bible thumper, etc...it's ok, I don't mind. I'm not sure how or why being a born again Christian with a close relationship with the Savior started being painted in such a negative light. As frustrating as that is to me, it's sad, really. So many people would rather shun the One who created them than have a relationship with Him. I often wonder why, but I think they just don't know what they are missing. I grew up attending a church where I really wasn't learning much, I just went to put in my dutiful hour a week...until I became old enough to decide I didn't want to feel quite so obligated. At that point I became what my current pastor jokingly refers to as a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) Christian. I had a concept of God, but not a relationship with Him. I prayed sometimes (mostly out of need or desperation), and I knew *about* God but I didn't *know* Him. Fortunately however...He knew me. He sent a friend into my life who He had destined to be my prayer warrior pretty much from the time of my birth (she was born three months after me and lived across the street from my family). She grew up knowing her place in God from the get go. She did her best to help me find that path, but I was unable to grasp my true need for a Savior until I had tasted just a bit of the wilder side of life. Then a friend invited me to a church that was unlike any other I had heard of. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but after I agreed to go back a second time I felt something stirring in my heart that I had never felt. It is not something that can be explained in words, I just suddenly felt like I had found something I never knew was missing until that moment. There was an invitation to make Jesus the Lord of my life at the end of service, and I felt so unworthy and scared of what changes that may entail that I didn't go up front. Instead I cried in my seat and told my friend that I wanted to know Jesus the way they had invited me too, but I felt like there was no way I could change to the point that I would ever be truly acceptable to Him. We went up afterwards and I was able to share my feelings with the associate pastor, a man who helped change my life in countless ways. He told me Jesus wanted me, that I didn't have to clean myself up on the inside before I invited Him into my heart. Inviting Him in was the point at which the slate was wiped clean. From that point all I had to do was focus on getting to know Him better and allow Him to help me be the person He created me to be. Pastor helped me pray a simple prayer after giving me the encouragement I needed to have faith and believe. "Lord, I know I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus died on a cross and rose again to pay the price for me. Come into my heart, make me a new person, help me to know You. From this point forward, I'll never be the same, in Jesus name. ~Amen." My life was changed that day, and little by little He has helped me lose my desire for things that aren't His best for my life. Do I mess up? Oh...yes. But I can come to Him and tell Him when I do, and know that I am forgiven. I get to start fresh and try again. He is someone I can talk to about anything, someone I know is working on my behalf behind the scenes because my trust is in Him. Without Him I am certain I my life would be going in a far less desirable direction. It's difficult to experience that and not want it to happen for everyone you know. It hurts when people scoff and think it's just weird, silly and over the top. I pray that those who feel that way would somehow come to really know Him before they miss their chance. I am so grateful to Him and I love Him with all my heart...I am not ashamed.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home...

So, here I am. Finally taking the plunge into the blogging world after admiring and reading my friends blogs for so long. It's mildly intimidating for some reason, but I've decided I needed a place to log the miles on my journey...where I'm going, where I've been, and how I came to be who I am. It's been a long road, and yet it's only just begun. I'm still deciding if this will be for my eyes only, or if I want to open myself up enough to make it's existence known. If you are reading this right now it's because I've taken a big step...feel free to congratulate me ; )
I'm a people pleaser...always have been. I hide the parts of me that I think others will disapprove of, disagree with, be disappointed in. I'm kind of a chameleon in that way, preferring to just blend in with my current surroundings. Most people who know me, know I love ladybugs. They are so sweet just flitting around, not hurting anyone, tending to the gardens they come across and simply being all they were created to be. What's not to love about that? They may be tiny, but they don't blend in. Bright red, black spots, there for all the world to see in whatever tiny space they are taking up at the moment. I'm always one to look for a deeper meaning, and I'm wondering if maybe there's something to be said for being more like a ladybug than a chameleon. Now, face to face I'm sure my chameleon side will continue to surface...old habits are hard to break. But in the world of the written word something makes me feel free to spread my ladybug wings and fly...