Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lenten Reflections

Every year as Lent approaches I feel weary from the busy-ness of the holiday season and getting back into the grove afterward…  I find myself longing for some time for reflection, and drawing back to God.  It always seems to come just when I need a recharge….

And this year is no different.  The Fall/Winter season has left me overwhelmed and tired.  I came down with Shingles in November and it seemed to never end….  By the time I was coming out of the fog that the Shingles and the medicine for them put me in I was surrounded by loose ends and things left undone or done wrong.  As I type this I am still feeling behind in the things I usually try to stay on top of….  I’m surrounded by a mountain of laundry, and many other chores that have not gotten the attention they need…

But the household chores aren’t the only things that have not gotten the attention that they need.  My family hasn’t either.  It seems like I’ve talked for quite some time about needing to get some things off my plate, and having Shingles made that even more evident to me.  As I went through the Fall/Winter season it seemed like my whole world was falling apart.  My marriage has suffered.  My kids have suffered.  I have suffered.  Even my relationship with God has suffered.

Life has a way of passing us by.  We can be present in the moment and still miss it.  This is something that has baffled. me for a long time.  I’ve homeschooled my kids for 8 years and still feel like I have missed so much….  how???

Many days, especially recently, I’ve found myself going from day to day, just trying to make it from sun up to sun down. 

There have even been days in the last year when I have said to myself, “I hate my life”.

In reality, I don’t.  If I take a minute to step away from the pure exhaustion, I have a great life.  I have many, many things to be thankful for.  I guess this is a lot of the reason I haven’t really talked about my dark feelings.  I know there are so many others who have much less to be thankful for than I do.  But that doesn’t make the pain any less real.

Maybe you’ve felt this way.  Maybe you’ve felt this aloneness that I am talking about.

But God.

I say it all the time- it never ceases to amaze me the way our God cares for us in such a personal way in the middle of our trials.  Sometimes we’re so wrapped up we don’t see it, but He is always there.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of messages that I know came from God…  One in the form of an email from my Dad, asking me if my heart was ok…  Interesting, since it has been broken recently…..  And another from a host of mine from Pampered Chef who sent me a message on Facebook telling me she had dreamed I was depressed and she needed to talk to me about it.  Why do I know these were from God?

My dad lives in Colorado, and I haven’t been able to talk to him for a while because of the busyness, so he had no idea how I was feeling…

My host is just that- someone who I met through my business, who doesn’t know me on a personal level more than facebook and we are not in the same circle for her to know I have been struggling.  Perhaps her message touched me the most.  That she would follow through and message me, and take the risk of being vulnerable enough to share her dreams with  me.  Isn’t this the gift of Christian Sisterhood at work?

“I have told you this so that through me you may have peace. In the world you'll have trouble, but be courageous—I've overcome the world!"  John 16:33

So, yes, it’s been a very dark time for me.  Things have happened in my life that have shaken me to my core.  I’ve let go of some things and endured some hurts that no one should.  Things I have only shared with my inner core of friends.  My inner core of prayer warriors whom I knew would pray for me.  And through this I have felt the power of prayer.  I have had days when I feel like everything will be ok, and days when I haven’t.  I don’t yet know what “ok” is, but I know at this point that I will get there.  And that’s an improvement.

So, back  to Lent…  It’s fitting that I’ve been through an emotional and spiritual winter, and I am now about to head in to Spring.  As the weather warms up, and new beginnings are all around, I’m looking for my own new beginnings.  That, in fact, is exactly what Lent is about….  It’s a period of reflection, of preparing for new beginnings, of shedding off the old, clothing ourselves with the new, of cleansing our hearts, minds, and souls.  It is, essentially our Spring Cleaning as Christians.

Traditionally, something is given up for Lent.  I’ve got a couple.  One of my goals is to not yell at my kids/family/friends/insert innocent victim here…  Yes, I have had some issues with yelling.  I’m not quiet.  Never have been.  But lately, in my state of being overwhelmed, it has gotten worse, and I’m not proud of some of my behaviors.  So, I’m going to aim to keep my voice down when I get frustrated.  Second, on the evenings when I’m home, I’m going to take at least one hour where I’m not on any electronics at all.  If the kids are watching something, I will actually watch it with them.  Interact with them…  No sitting on the couch with them while they watch their thing and I do my thing on the computer/phone/ipad/insert other distraction here..  Essentially I am giving these things up, but what I’m really do is giving my presence to those I love the most….  I’ve been so busy trying to catch up with everything that I’ve forgotten the most important thing I need to catch up on--- my family.

Additionally, I try to add something during Lent that I feel will enhance my Spiritual connection to God.  For now, I’ll start with our Wednesday Soup and Study at our church, continue Bible Devotions with my husband every day, and I’m going to try to make a more conscience effort to BE STILL….

So there it is.  I have told you since the beginning this blog is about my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Today I’ve shared some of my ugly in the hopes that you won’t judge me, and that I am able to touch someone, somewhere and help them where they need it.

So, what are your thoughts on Lent?

Philemon 1:7

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2014 Resolutions/ Goals/ Etc....





It's here.  Another year has come and gone.  A new one is afoot.  There's something refreshing about that.  Something invigorating.  Something that inspires us to look inward and assess where we are, and where we intend to go.

So, I'll start with looking over my goals for 2013 to see what went right, what went wrong, and what was successful....

In the area of finances we pretty much crashed and burned at the end of the year...  We're not starting off on a happy note there, but there's plenty of room for improvement, so onward!

In the area of kids, I'm so glad that I set goals in these different areas specifically, because if I were to generalize my self with the kids I would say I'm in the tank there too, but not so!  I just looked over my goals for the kids and I actually accomplished several I had for them this past year- Auston is driving, Shea graduated therapy, and Gregory is more social.  I've monitored William for needs and he seems to be doing fine :)

In the area of my marriage, we've continued regular date nights (until the last couple months of the year when our lives spiraled out of control with me having Shingles and the finances went in the tank).  We never got a separate get away together outside of the MUD conferences, so that is on the list again.  I need to dress up for him more still...  I've convinced myself that yoga pants are ok to wear All.The.Time......  probably not so.....

In the area of friends and family, I did a fairly good job with the birthday cards this year, could use some improvement..  And I had a couple of get aways with Jess for races, so not too shabby...

In the area of health and fitness I again am thankful for specific goals.  My health has pretty much sucked the last 2 month of the year, but that doesn't paint a clear picture of where I was last year when setting my goals!  I did run several races, and even PR'd my 10K time.  I completed another Half Marathon and quit the soda!  The last 2 months have been brutal, but I'll get back up on that horse and kick butt :)

In the area of Home improvement: FAIL......

In the area of Spirituality, that has not gone great either.  I finished out Bible Study last year, but did not return in the Fall because we started at Liberty.  I'm having a struggle finding my niche now....

In the area of other personal goals, life did not slow down....  it sped up.  Still need to work on that.  I have started to read a little more, the last couple of months, but there's some definite room for improvement there too.

So- let's get to it:

Finances:
  • Create and maintain sinking funds for various projects around the house and car
  • Fully fund our family trip to Disney World in December through Pampered Chef Commissions
  • Menu plan and start a Meatless Monday habit
  • Pay down remaining debt
  • Reestablish emergency fund (got depleted this year on emergencies)
  • No more than 4 total late payments on all bills total in 2014
  • Buy a "new" car for me
  • Pay off Durango
Children:
  • Get William’s belly button fixed and circumcision done-seriously!!!
  • Start teaching Grego to drive *gasp* *ack!* *I'm not ready!*
  • Graduate Auston
  • Find the joy in my children, and see less of the work and burden
  • Figure out whether to continue homeschooling Shea, or not
  • Teach the kids how to pick up after themselves consistently
  • Institute regular kids cook nights
Marriage:
  • Continue regular date nights, but add some variety, spice
  • Carve a weekend away (In addition to MUD conventions)
  • Get dressed up for him more
  • Less nagging, more fun
Friends and Family:
  • Consistently send out Birthday and Occasion cards
  • Pray for my friends and family more specifically 
  • Do at least 3 RAK's this year to my friends/family
  • Be more present in real life instead of relying on social media
Health and Fitness:
  • PR my 5K time, (I’d like to get closer to 30 mins)
  • Run Every Day in January
  • Participate in at least one race that is longer than a 5K
  • Watch my eating, cut way back on the junk food
  • Do at least 1 14 day no sugar challenge
  • Drink more water!
  • Encourage at least one person to start running
  • Start some strength training
  • Stay off the soda....  
  • Move to a more "clean" diet
  • Lose weight.  I want to be specific, but I also want to be realistic.  So, I'm going to set quarterly goals for weight loss and assess where I am each quarter...  1st quarter- I want to lose 20 pounds.  There are 13 weeks between now and the end of March, so I think that's doable :)
Home Management:
  • Redo William’s room
  • Replace furniture (from thrift store)or recover my couch that needs recovering, but I love it so much....
  • Redo Deck (maybe a covered patio?)
  • Plant flowers
  • Get a cleaning schedule/rotation going again 
  • Get the rest of the family involved and invested in maintaining the house so it isn't all on my shoulders :) 
  • Fix garage door 
  • New Oven
Spirituality:
  • Tithe Consistently
  • Find and keep a regular quiet time to reconnect with God
  • Read at least 2 books on spiritual growth
  • Restart our home group (going to be more important than ever with getting a new pastor)
  • Be more consistent with Prayer list for DOK
  • Start a prayer journal 
Business:

  • Sell an average of $2500 each month
  • Fully fund our trip to Disney in December through commissions
  • Recruit at least 4 team members
  • Increase show average.  Current show average is around $500.  Want it to be over $600
Other Personal Goals:
  • Make sure I have the time and money for regular massages and pedicures
  • Steal away some time for myself
  • Read at least 4 books this year
  • Craft more
  • Keep my car clean
  • Take some items off my schedule to get out of the excessive busyness cycle
  • Continue with my list of 6 daily to stay on task
  • Paint my nails
  • Wear Perfume 

I think that about covers it :)  Here's to a prosperous 2014,

-May you all find your plumb line and stay true to it.

- May you all define your own "lines in the sand" and find some sense of ownership in your lives through them.

- May you all give more grace than deserved to those around you, and may you all find grace when you're not expecting it.

This past year I used Hebrews 12:15 to shape how I tried to deal with the people around me:  "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God".  I think we can ALL use an extra dose of grace...

For 2014 I want to focus on Joy....
Philemon 1:7
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

http://www.theopen-road.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2013.jpg

It’s that time!  My annual recap of the year!  I started this several years ago, and every year I really enjoy reading over previous years….  Here are the recaps for 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 if you’re interested….  It’s fun to look back and see what I had to say about those years and how much our lives have changed since then!

As I looked over 2012, some of my pictures are missing :(  I don't know what happened there.....  Makes me sad....  :(

Nothing I can do about it now....  Here's the 2013 recap:

January:
 
Shea turned 4 and got her ears pierced!  She was very, very brave.  Michael and I took her out, just the three of us to celebrate :)  And, Michael and I traveled to Austin, TX with the MUD Board for the Winter Conference ;)

February:
In February, I traveled to Dallas with Jessica to run the Hot Chocolate Run :)  It was C-O-L-D!  We had fun, but neither of us really *do* cold, so we probably won't sign up again....  LOL
  

Then, the next week our family participated in the Run 4 the Children, a race that benefits Adoption.  


Also in February, our long time Pastor retired.  It was SO hard to let him go, but he has big plans (with God), and we're excited for him.  I cried through every sermon for 3 months from the time he announced his retirement to when he actually retired....  I just really love this man of God, and his wife.  They are such a wonderful force in this world, who make the world better.

 


March:

 In March, Auston and Gregory attended the KACH Formal.  They both looked great.  Here they are with Auston's friend Kaitlyn :)


We also went camping at Lake Texana Park.  It was our first "real" camping experience with the Littles, and it didn't go *too* bad......

 

 

 

I participated in my 1st Marathon Relay- the Lucky Trails Marathon with Jessica and some other girls from my Mom's Run This Town Chapter...

 

I considered trading Michael in for a new model.....

 

AND, as if that weren't enough, Calley was baptized!

 

AND Easter....

 

 
Have I mentioned how much I love that Michelle attends church with us?????

April:

In April, Jessica, Trishia, and our family participated in the Blue Bell Fun Run in Brenham....

Shea ran her first race- 1 mile
 
All the girls got matching shirts...
 

 

That afternoon, Jessica and I traveled to Austin to participate in the Austin 10/20 the next day, a 10 mile race....  In hindsight, this might not have been the best idea...  but we still finished and it was *mostly* fun....

 

Auston's choir sang at the Lanier Theological Library...  that was pretty cool!

 

Our church had "Pizza and Praise" night, and I just had to share this picture of Shea with her friend Sarah....  this girl can catch some AIR!

 

May:

In May, Trishia, Jess, and I participated in the Esprit De She....

 

Our church did their annual Hat day for Mother's Day...  here I am with Danielle in one of my Grandma's old hats :)

 

And Gregory turned 14...  but I have no pictures?????   

June:
We started cutting William's hair at home....  not bad, huh?

 

We also went camping with the Joneses....  Here is Shea with her first fish and a very proud Uncle Roycey...

 

 
I just love this picture of the Littles in front of Lake Meridian

Jayden Graduated from Sealy High...
 

Michael and I traveled to Corpus Christi with the MUD Board for the Summer Conference.  Here we are at a dinner that was held on the USS Lexington...

 

They had a Sea Turtle release while we were there, so we got up before the sun to watch them go....  It was COOL.....

 

Michael was promoted to Sergeant...  I am SO proud of him!

 

We won't talk about the Littles tearing apart the Constable's office and jumping on his couch......  

 

July:

The Boys and I headed out to Oklahoma again for Boy Scout Summer Camp...

 

 

Camp is so boring....

 

Also in June, I became a Pampered Chef Consultant....  I had NO idea what I was getting in to! Why did I wait so long?????

Michelle and I took the kids to Sea Center Texas....

 

July:

In July, William got his first stiches....

 

Trishia, Jess, and I participated in the Summer Virtual for MRTT- Running Mad...  Trishia and I did the 10K (I'd been sick) and Jess did the Half...

 

 

We also celebrated Gwenn's 40th Birthday and got to hook up old with old friends....  like from when our kids were toddlers....  It was  a Mom's Group reunion....

 
Pictured: Jodi Crum, Jennifer Butler, Gwenn Townsend, Me, and Danielle Regensburger :)

Also in July, Michael and I celebrated 17 years of marriage, but we had pretty much celebrated already while we were in Corpus Christi, so we just went to dinner ;)

And, Michael and the boys went on a Mission Trip to Galveston with our Troop and did work for Galveston Urban Ministries :)

August:

We tried to institute a Family Game Night.....

 
Yeah....  we'll try again in another few months LOL 

Auston, Jessica, and I participated in the Watermelon Run for the Fallen

 

And Back to School happened...  
Auston is finishing up at HIS Classes, with Worldview III and taking Dual Credit Classes at Lone Star College and is in Choir again for his Senior year *gasp*.
Gregory, Shea and William started attending Liberty Classical Academy, a homeschool program here close to the house :)


 




September:

In September, Auston, Jessica, and I started the Bridge Series with a 10K over the Kemah Bridge...


I ran the Texas 10 Katy, and Jessica volunteered instead of running this one...

 

Michael traveled to St. Louis for the COPS Coworker's Retreat again and we were VERY busy with the "stuff" of life...

October:

We participated in our neighborhood's Annual National Night Out Party

 

 

Sandy and I, who have been on the HOA Board together for several years now...

 

The kids and I went to Dewberry Farm again...

 

Auston turned 17....  I'M NOT READY!

 

Another race in the Bridge Series down..

 

Fancy Day at Liberty Classical Academy...

 

And Halloween....

 
Zeny was a Gypsy, Shea a witch, and William a Sock Monkey.  We later decided to say William was Shea's "Flying monkey"  ;)

 

 

 And we blinked and it was November!

Our Church held their annual International Festival, and Auston manned the Sri Lanka Table (since our pastor retired, and he loves Sri Lanka SO much)

 

Nerd Day at Liberty Classical..

 

 

William turned 4....

 

The final race in the Bridge series...  the Half Marathon, which was Auston's first *official* Half, Trishia's first half, and Semalee completed it while coming down with Shingles....  For the Win!  LOL

 

Thanksgiving in Conroe for the first time in several years....

 
 He still likes me <3 p="">

 
Mom and Jim

 
Da Boyzzzzz

 
Da Littlezzzzzz

 

December:
And, before we knew it, it was almost over....
We went to Spring Creek Growers for our tree..

 

Michael continued to torment me.....

 

 

 

 

Auston survived another Ministry Season with Joyful Sound Choir

 

Michelle and I made Gingerbread houses with the kids...

 

And Shea participated in the Christmas Pageant at church...

 

And in a snap...  Christmas was here...

 

In a word, 2013 was busy.  Too busy.  We had a lot of fun, but, I hope in 2014 to slow down a little.  Auston will graduate, and time is only speeding up....  I hope you had a wonderful year in 2013 as well.

 

"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God"  Hebrews 12:15