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:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 

  • 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.