Category Archives: Truly Trying

The Importance of Response

*Sometimes I write things and then realize I hit publish a little prematurely. If you are wondering why the same post is ending up in your inbox again today – this one is a little different. After reflecting, I realized I didn’t quite say things like I had wanted to. Every once in awhile we need a do-over. This is my do-over. 

Oh my heart.

It feels like whenever I turn on the television, open my Yahoo account, log in to Facebook or read a headline somewhere – it’s almost too much.

The words I read, the images I see – they break my heart.

Our country seems a little more divided and a little more angry than I remember in my lifetime.

There is political discord, racial tension, terrorism and nuclear threats – to name a few.

And to top it off, the recent natural disaster, Hurricane Harvey, has wreaked havoc on the lives of many – leaving over 30,000 people without their homes, their communities, their towns – now living in shelters. As the waters recede and they head back to their homes to assess the damage, they are left  to wonder what will happen next.

What do you do with so much wreckage?

Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel

The new statistics that come in daily are mind boggling.

The images are gut wrenching.

The stories are hard to hear and the images are painful to see, but I am watching from a place of comfort – not out my window. I see the images flash by on my television, my computer screen, my device. What about the people who are there? What about the people who watched, unable to help, as people were swept away by the water?

What about the people whose lives have been turned upside down in an instant?

And it’s not just the hurricane victims my heart breaks for.

What about the people who were at the Charlottesville rally? What about the people who stood there watching as the car drove into the crowds?

What about the people who were injured? What about the woman who lost her life?

Photo Courtesy of New York Times

Sometimes it’s just too much to take in.

I wonder how to process it all? What to make of it? What to do about it?

My life may have not been directly impacted by these recent events in our country, but they have still left a mark. My heart feels topsy-turvy and upside-downy and like I want to do something.

And so I am going to do something. Because I can.

Don’t think for one second that how we respond to these events we see on the television, or read about on our newsfeeds doesn’t matter. Don’t think that because you are just one person you can’t make a difference in this broken world. Don’t think that you aren’t able to make a dent, make a change, make an impact. Because you are.

How we respond to these things does matter.

I am learning sometimes the best response for myself is silence. Sometimes the best response is for me to say nothing at all. Especially on Facebook.

Shortly after the election, I posted an article that highlighted some of my thoughts on what had transpired. Within moments, I had responses from people. Some in favor of the post. Others in opposition. I quickly hit the delete button.

Getting into a political debate on Facebook would only create lines of division. I knew that as strongly as I felt about my opinion, there were others that felt as strongly about their own.

Posting an article wasn’t going to change those opinions.

I realized in that moment as I deleted the post, that I didn’t want to get involved with these discussions on Facebook. For myself personally, there would be no benefit.

Only frustration. Only more division. More discord. None of which I want in my life.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t engaged in political debates with people. That isn’t to say that I don’t think people should speak up for what they believe – because I do. I have just decided that Facebook is not a great platform for me to share my political views.

And sometimes the best response is for me to listen. To try to put myself in the other persons shoes. To try to see things from their perspective.

The racism that has been rearing it’s ugly head lately is like a bad breakout. You may not know how dirty your face really is, until all of the pimples appear. Then you know you have an issue that needs dealt with – pronto. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there before – you just couldn’t see it.

Now that it has bubbled to the surface, it needs to be dealt with.

All of this racial ugliness has opened my eyes to the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person I don’t want to be. It has made me realize how ignorant I have been to the sufferings and oppressions of minorities in our country.

This has been going on for a long, long, long time. Unfortunately, I was just blind to it.

The recent events in our country have made me want to listen. To learn. To open my ears and my eyes. It has made me want to build more diverse relationships. People tend to be drawn to people who are just like them. It’s what we do. I don’t want to be that way anymore.

As a white woman in our country, I honestly don’t know what the best response is to all of this, but I do know that I want to start having more conversations. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to be a part of the solution in some way.

As part of the majority, if I want to help enact change, then I have a responsibility to listen, to learn and then respond.

And I do believe that while sometimes the best response for me is silence, there are other times when the best response is for me to speak out against the injustice I see in the world.

And when I choose to not be silent, when I choose to speak for justice – I must be sure I am speaking from a place of love. I am learning if I choose to respond to hate with more hate then I am no better than the people I am speaking out against.

There is such a thing as righteous anger. When there is injustice in the world, it is likely to make your blood boil. As it should.

When I saw the images and videos of the white nationalists marching in Charlottesville it stirred up anger and sadness and frustration and the reality of how incredibly ignorant I was to the racism that exists in our country.

A fire had been ignited. And when I heard people defending the actions of the white nationalists in any way – that fire burned bright.

I was angry.

But even in if the anger is righteous, even in the face of injustice, we are not called to respond with hate. We are called to respond with love. We are called to love our enemies.

It is easy to pray for the families of victims. It is easy to pray for the people who are suffering from injustice. It is easy to pray for those who are being marginalized and mistreated. It is much harder to pray for the person who caused the pain.

What about praying for the person who drove the car into the crowd?

What about praying for the other people who were there marching?

It is counter to our natural response – it definitely wasn’t my first response. Or second. Or third even. But over time, as I have thought about this I have realized that if we are called to love our enemies, these are the people we are called to love and called to pray for.

I can make a difference in this world by choosing to respond to even the most atrocious acts in love.

I believe we are capable each and every day of making small choices that will leave large, lasting impacts.

When we hear about the division in our country, we can pray. When we hear about injustice, we can pray. When we hear about terrorist attacks and international discord, we can pray.

When we hear about the devastation happening in Texas and surrounding areas, we can pray.

We should pray.

We can also make monetary donations. We can find out the greatest needs and send those items. And for some, you may be called to pack up your belongings and travel there to physically help in some capacity.

Whether you donate $5 or book a flight. Every little bit helps. Don’t think for one second it doesn’t.

We can all make a difference in this broken world. Our words, our actions, our response to the small things and the big things that happen in life – they matter.

The more that we choose to respond in love, the more we choose to love our neighbor as our self, the more we choose to listen and empathize, the more we choose to pray for our enemies instead of lashing out in hate – the more we will impact this world for the better.

We don’t have to be paralyzed by the headlines. We don’t have to be afraid of what we see. We can make a difference, even in the face of great disaster.

The remarkable thing is that if everyone does a little something, it becomes a whole lot of something. And that is when change happens. As we can see from the outpouring of love in our country toward the victims of Hurricane Harvey – our response matters and when we act in love, together, we can make a difference.

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Click on any of these links below to make a donation to help Hurricane Harvey victims:

The Red Cross

Americares

The Humane Society

The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

The Texas Diaper Bank

Catholic Charities

Direct Relief

Matthew 25: Ministries

The Salvation Army

Save the Children

GoFundMe

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“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
-Dr. Seuss
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
Proverbs 10:12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbori and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5: 38-48
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Simple Living

For the past 18 days we have been living in temporary housing. People ask how it’s going and my reply is instant, enthusiastic and authentic.

I love it.

It’s small. It’s uncluttered. It’s cozy. It’s simple.

It’s perfect.

I’ve been talking about decluttering for quite some time. I did 52 weeks of donations. I decluttered for our move. I’ve read about decluttering. I’ve written posts on decluttering.

The idea of living a simple, uncluttered life is alluring. It’s something I’ve been working to achieve.

But, even with all of my working, we still managed to fill an ENTIRE semi (and another small truck) with stuff.

Yep. The biggest truck possible. We filled it. And still needed another truck. (Time to drop the head in shame. I obviously still have lots work to do.)

While all of that stuff is being stored for us, we are living in our temporary space. And I am learning.

In these past 18 days I have learned more about the value of living an uncluttered, simple life than I ever have before.

I am learning because I am living it. And in living it, I am experiencing the value.

We brought few items with us into our fully furnished apartment. The kids each brought a handful of toys. We each brought a small bin of clothes. We brought a few games and a deck of cards. We brought a couple extra kitchen items. We brought gifts that were given to us at our going away party that are being used as decorations. It isn’t much. It’s the basics.

The furnished apartment came with one baking sheet, one spatula, one measuring cup and so on and so forth. Not excess, but enough.

With the stuff gone and our family living in a smaller space, we are engaging with each other more. We are playing games together. The kids are playing more with a couple of toys than they did with a house full of toys.

It’s ironic.

Our time isn’t being sucked up by the management of things. I’m not picking up things all day. I’m not cleaning things all day.

As a family, we cleaned the house together and it took roughly 20 minutes. Total.

It’s liberating.

But out there, somewhere, is our truck. Our semi truck filled to the brim with stuff. A lot of stuff that we don’t need. Some we do, but a lot we don’t.

Thankfully, we have been given this gift. This gift of experiencing simple living  (I realize this is a very First World version of simplicity.)  We have now experienced what it feels like to live in a smaller space with fewer things and we all feel the same.

We love it. Even the kids. They love it too. They are all sharing rooms – and they still love it.

I think there is something inside of most people that longs for decluttered space. Longs for simplicity.

But in our world of excess and consumerism – that is hard to achieve. What our hearts long for is in some ways countercultural. Until recently. It seems that more and more people are choosing to live smaller. Live simpler. Look at the tiny house craze. It all stems from a desire to live more freely. A desire to not be bound to as much stuff and experience more life.

So here’s what I am going to do. I am going to take the lesson learned in this temporary space and put it into practice.

In one week and one day, the truck will arrive at our new house.

Nothing (and I mean nothing) will come into our home unless we love it and have a need for it. If it’s just okay, or maybe we might use it some day – NO. No more rainy day items.

I want to unpack slowly. I want to unpack intentionally.

I want to look at this as redistribution. How can we redistribute the things we don’t need any longer? Who could really use them? I don’t want to just make a trip to Goodwill because it’s convenient. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Goodwill.) I want to redistribute intentionally.

This may be our temporary home, but I hope the result of our time here is not temporary. I hope it is long-lasting. I hope as the boxes are brought into our new home that I remember how I feel right now, in this space, typing these words.

Decluttered living. Intentional Living. Simple living. It starts here. It starts now.

Who’s with me?

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*If the idea of living a simple, decluttered life is alluring to you too, send me a message and let me know. I would love to hear from you.

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A Letter to My Children as They Head to School

To my sweet children,

You are so brave.

I know this move hasn’t been easy. I know at times you find yourself missing your friends, neighbors, classmates and school.

I would imagine life feels a little upside down right now.

It’s hard walking into a school for the first time down unfamiliar halls filled with unfamiliar faces.

It’s hard walking into the lunch room amidst the conversations and laughter. It’s hard to decide where to sit and who to sit next to – and when you finally do pick a place to sit, it can be hard to look someone in the eye and say, “hello.”

It’s hard to be in a new place you haven’t been before surrounded by people you don’t know.

It’s hard to be at recess and not know what to do, or who to play with.

It’s hard to leave the comfort of all that is familiar and enter into a sea of unknowns.

Yes, it’s hard. But do you know what?

You are brave. You are so brave. Here is how I know.

To my oldest:

I know it was hard on the first day when you stood alone at recess, but you didn’t let that stop you. The next day, you found someone to talk to. Each day, you will find more and more people. You will figure this out. You will make your way here. Just give yourself grace. Give yourself time.

Some days will be harder than others and that’s okay. Give yourself space to grieve when you need to. It’s okay to miss our old home. Also, give yourself permission to find joy here. That isn’t betraying our old home, or the friends we left. You haven’t lost your old friends, you are just finding more people to love.

I can see the look in your eyes when I drop you off in the morning. I know it is hard, but you’ve got this. Just be yourself, sweet girl. You are more than enough. Keep your positive attitude and before you know it, as impossible as it may seem, all that seems so foreign now will someday start to feel like home. You are so brave, 

To my second:

I know you were scared yesterday at the end of the day when you weren’t sure how to get to the pick-up line. When you walked out of the school with tears streaming down your face I wanted to scoop you up in my arms and run you back to the car, but I knew you wouldn’t like that very much. I knew you were trying to conceal your tears and all that attention would just make things worse. Even though I wanted to run to you, I resisted the urge and walked calmly instead.

That’s one of the hard parts about being a momma as your kids are growing. It’s hard to know when to give space and when to jump in, but I knew in that moment you wanted some space and I tried to give it to you as best as I could.  I’m glad that you felt safe enough to really let those tears come in buckets when we were in the safety of the car, together.

There may be times in the weeks to come when you feel lost or unsure of what you are doing or where you are going. Know that the teachers and other staff in your school are there to help you. They are for you and they want to see you succeed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. You will figure this out.

You have such a big heart and have already made a long list of friends in just a few short days. In fact, I will never forget when I picked you up from your new school on your first day – how you had to run back to give a new friend a hug. You are a little joy spreader. You’ve got this. Just keep being you. You are so brave.

To my third:

I know you miss home and your friends. I know lunch and recess have been a scary time for you. I see you trying hard to keep those tears in. Remember, it’s okay to cry. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to let those tears stream down your face and jump into the arms of someone who loves you and get lost in their cuddles and snuggles while you cry your heart out. Sometimes, the bravest thing to do is to cry. To be vulnerable. To let someone see your heart is hurting.

Before long, you will be excited to go to school. Just like you were before. It may take a little while to get there, but I believe you will. Look at what you’ve already accomplished!  In just three days at this school, you’ve already figured out how to hang upside down on the monkey bars with NO HANDS!  If you can do that in just three days, I am pretty sure you can do just about anything. You are so brave.

To my baby:

Sweet little boy. Today, when you climbed into the car with your Star Wars backpack and Super Mario lunch box you were so excited. You said you were a little nervous, but you hopped in the car with a determination and enthusiasm that made me excited for you. I hope you keep that enthusiasm and that excitement throughout life. Keep looking for the joy in the adventure. Keep facing new things head on just like you did today. You are so brave.


My sweet children, thank you for showing me what it looks like to be brave. I have been learning from you since the day you were placed in my arms. You teach me so many things about life that I never knew. I will be learning from you all of my days. I am sure of it.

It may be hard to be the new kid in a new school, but you can do this. You are doing it. Do you want to know something? This is hard for me too. I miss my friends and our old house. I miss our neighbors and the familiar streets. Do you want to know something else, even with all of that missing in my heart – there is an excitement too. It’s okay to feel both.

Just remember, regardless of what comes your way in life, always be who God made you to be. Never compromise who you are, or what you believe or know to be true in your heart, just to fit in. Be wonderful, fabulous, unique YOU.

Watching you face your fears has helped me to face mine.

We’ve got this. We can do it. One day at a time.

Together, we can be brave.

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Uplifted

Late Sunday evening, as I was driving in the dark, through the pouring rain, around the twists and bends with tears streaming down my face I thought, “Please. Just let me get there.”

The couple of weeks prior to our departure were exhausting, emotional and by far some of the best weeks of my life.

We were constantly surrounded and uplifted by friends and loved ones.

Friends who stopped by our home in the last days just to hug and talk and laugh and cry.

Friends who came to pray.


Friends who had us over for dinners and going away parties and family celebrations.

And in our final days when we needed places to stay, friends who opened their homes to our noise and chaos and plethora of bags and pillows and all that comes with opening your home to a family of six for the night.

Friends. Friends. And more friends.

Love. Love. And more love.

So much that my heart felt on the constant verge of bursting and my eyes felt on the constant verge of welling up and over into a pool of grateful tears.

We didn’t deserve all of this, but it was being poured on us in buckets. It was a picture of grace.

And then when I thought it possibly couldn’t get any better, that we couldn’t possibly feel any more love than we already had felt in the previous weeks – we walked into the home of our dear friends for our going away celebration.

We spent the next hours in the company of loved ones – laughing, crying and saying, “Hope to see you soon” – which sounds so much better than goodbye.

These days leading up to our departure and our final celebration served as a reminder for me. A reminder of what matters.

Relationships.

Relationships matter.


God is relational and He created us in His image. He created us with a desire to be loved and a desire to love. Loved for who we are in all of our imperfection. Pure, unconditional love – like the love God shows us. Gracious love.

People went out of their way time and time again to show us this kind of love. They took a moment from their own busy lives and busy schedules to pour into us.

Looking back on the last weeks spent in Indy, I needed this and my family needed this. More than we knew.

This time of love from friends and family filled my tank and also reminded me of how I want to live my life.

It reminded me of the importance of a text. A phone call. A card. A hug. A shared prayer.

It reminded me of the kind of friend I want to be and one that I oftentimes am not.

It reminded me of the importance of leaving margin, leaving space, leaving room for God to show me how He may want me to spend my day.

It reminded me of what matters.

I often get wrapped up in my own little bubble. My own list of to-dos has the potential to rule every minute of my well planned out, perfectly orchestrated day.

There is nothing wrong with calendars, to-do lists and schedules. In fact, those are wonderfully effective tools for living an organized life.

The problem for me is when the calendar is so full that I can’t see past my plan for the day. I start my day in my bubble and forget to stop and think about what may be going on in the lives of the people God has placed around me.

This kindness we experienced had a profound impact on me and has continued in our first days here.

Prior to our move, a sweet friend from Indy introduced me to a mutual friend of hers from college who lives in the small Tennessee town we now call home. She took the time  to introduce us via email and her friend was kind enough to invite me and the kids over the day before school started for some ice cream.

Her three children are all close in age to our three oldest. She said she was just returning from a long vacation, but she would love to have us.

Again, this made me stop and think.

She made space for us. School was about to start and I had to imagine things were hectic for her. We were complete strangers and she made space for us. She invited us into her home. She fed my children ice cream and she gave me a hug.

A complete stranger.

I want to live my life like this.

I know it won’t be long before our calendars become full again, but I hope to not forget the impact that the love of others has made in my life and in the lives of my family members. I hope to remember the importance of leaving space. I hope to remember the importance of keeping my eyes open to what is happening in the lives of those around me. Neighbors. Friends. Family. Strangers.

Late Sunday evening, as I was driving in the dark, through the pouring rain, around the twists and bends with tears streaming down my face I thought, “Please. Just let me get there.”

I was exhausted. I had cried many tears in the previous weeks, days, hours and minutes.

As I followed my family to Tennessee in the rental van with the Illinois license plate that said AM I found myself looking continually at the words, “I AM.”

It was a beautiful reminder of God with us. God carrying us. God leading us.

I was exhausted, but I was ready. It was time. Time to trust. Time to let go. Time to open my eyes to the bigger picture of what God may be doing in my life. In my husband’s life. In my children’s lives. Change isn’t easy, but I have to believe it will serve a bigger purpose.

I pray that as I begin this journey here I can love a little better. I pray I can trust a little more. I pray I can be the kind of friend that others have been to me. I pray I can live with space in my life. I pray the lessons I have learned in these weeks will be embedded deep in my heart. I pray they won’t be fleeting. I pray God will use me in this new space I occupy.

Please God. Use me.

 

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What Was I Thinking?

A few weeks ago, I signed up to help tend the courtyard at my daughter’s school. Through an inspiring class project called Seeds of Change, my daughter’s triad transformed a sad looking courtyard into something beautiful and magnificient.

With the guidance and encouragement of their teachers, the children saw something that needed fixed, came up with a plan and then took the necessary steps to turn their vision into a reality.

They raised money. They met with school officials. They met with landscapers. They put their hands in the ground and helped plant flowers. They got dirty.

And they did it. The transformation was remarkable.

In order for it to remain this way and flourish over the hot, summer weeks – families were encouraged to sign up for one week to help tend the courtyard.

This was our week.

Last week, as I was looking at my calendar, I thought – “What in the world was I thinking?”

I couldn’t believe I had signed up for this week.

What. Was. I. Thinking?

I obviously was having a major brain malfunction when I signed up for this week.

This week is the last week before our house goes on the market. This week my husband is out of town all week. This week is the week I need to finish decluttering and painting and organizing.

And we are preparing to go out of town.

I know you aren’t supposed to say that in a public forum for fear that someone is going to come into your house, but I’m saying it regardless. We are going out of town. And I need to pack. And packing for an entire family takes a lot of time.

Did I mention our house goes on the market next week? Did I mention my husband is out of town ALL WEEK?

What. Was. I. Thinking?

Regardless of what I was thinking – we were doing this.

We arrived on Monday and I told the kids this would take around 20 minutes. Water. Pull a couple of weeds. Finished.

In and out.

That was the plan. Until we actually saw the courtyard. The beautiful courtyard was in a sad state of dehydration and was slowly being overtaken by a colony of weeds.

20 minutes was a pipe dream and I was feeling annoyed. Very annoyed.

But what was I going to do? Complain about it? Be a whiny baby? No. Not an option. I was trying to teach my kids the importance of volunteering with a joyful heart. My grumpster, harried, undesirable attitude could not surface.

I forced a smile and got to work.

And as my hands repeatedly went into the dirt pulling up weed after weed and as I looked around and saw my children tending to the plants and the flowers and running through the sprinkler, something in my heart began to change.

A feeling of joy began to bubble up. I was removed from my problems and my stress and my long list of this weeks to-dos.

With my hands in the dirt, my heart changed and the smile I had plastered on in an attempt to mask my true emotions changed into a genuine smile of gratitude.

For the rest of the week, the highlight of my day became tending the courtyard with my children. It was a reprieve from the daily grind. It felt good to be caring for nature and to take part in this beautiful project the kids had worked so hard on all year long.

It was a wonderful reminder that oftentimes the best medicine for my soul is to remove the focus from me and my issues and my problems and to turn it to something bigger, something better.

Serving with my children this week brought my family joy. Hopefully, as this courtyard flourishes, it will continue to bring joy to all who stop in to enjoy the flowers, have a meal at the picnic tables, or read a book under the shade of a tree.

It was medicine for my soul. I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for this week, but it worked out in the end. Better than I ever could have imagined.

God’s timing is amazing. It is perfect. He is good. This was just what I needed.

My soul, my heart, my mind really, really needed this. This was a rough week. I needed this – way more than that courtyard needed me.

I thought I was going to serve and instead – with each weed that was pulled, with each flower that was deadheaded, with each plant and flower that was watered and each time I looked up and saw my children participating in the care of this courtyard – my spirit was ministered to.

Isn’t it funny how that happens?

Thank you God that when I’m not thinking, when I don’t know what is best – You are and You do. Thank you that oftentimes medicine for the soul comes from the most unlikely places. In the most unlikely times. 

 

*click on this link to view the Seeds of Change Courtyard Dedication video and see all that went into creating this lovely courtyard – courtesy of the Crist, Franz and Robison triad (the best triad ever!)

 

 

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Life Lessons from House Staging

Part of getting ready to put our house on the market is staging it for buyers. We were told to remove anything personal, make rooms and closets look spacious and take away any reminder of work.

In other words – hide the trash cans, remove the paper towels from the countertop, move the laundry detergent out of sight and on and on.

This is what they do in model homes. They want people to feel like the house is a place where you kick off your shoes and put your feet up. A place where work is minimal, at best.

Our closets are very small, so we were told to remove about half of the stuff. This would give the illusion that they are bigger.

It feels a little like I’m selling a lie. We do have small closets! Of course we work here! There are dishes to do, clothes to wash and carpets to vacuum. We are a family of six and we live here – and living gets messy and those messes need picked up. Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

But it works. They do this in model homes because, on some subconscious level, it works.

But here is reality – you can remove the items and make people feel like the house comes with less work and less stress, but that doesn’t make it true.

You will still bring your stuff and your work and your life and your stress with you from your old space into your new space – even if you don’t see a single trash can in the house when you walk through. It still exists.

I am learning some valuable lessons from the house staging process.

Lesson #1 – Like I said before…..Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

Like with the move.

Maybe if I don’t talk about the move…..maybe if I don’t think about the move…..maybe if I avoid it all together……maybe if I do everything physically necessary for the move without really dealing with the emotion of it……maybe if I just have a glass of wine tonight to turn off my mind…..

I have been trying really hard to focus on the positives of the move and not be sad about leaving yet. I will have time to be sad about being gone once I am actually there. Why be sad now? I’m still here after all.

But sometimes, I wonder if I am just stuffing it down somewhere deep?

Yesterday, I looked at my calendar and realized how little time I really have left in our home, in our community, with our friends who have become like family. I thought of all of the people I want to hang out with and all the things I still want to do here in Indy and realized I have run out of time to do all of those things.

In an attempt to be positive, I reminded myself I can always come back and visit. Which is true, but it isn’t the same.

I really can’t imagine being gone. It all feels so surreal. I try not to think about it. I’m getting my house ready to put on the market, but it still doesn’t feel real.

But it is real. Even if I don’t talk about it. Even if I don’t think about it. Even if I avoid it.

Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away. 

But, I need to continue to think of the positives. For my children, for my husband and for myself. I know God has a plan in this and I trust in that plan. I may not be able to imagine my future there, but just 8 years ago before I moved from our home that I loved in Irvington into my home I love so much now – I couldn’t imagine my future here either.

I’m not sure if it’s healthy to try not to be sad right now? I’m not sure if that’s just avoidance?Maybe it’s just like me putting the paper towels under the counter so that it all seems less complicated than it is. Maybe it’s less work to focus on the physical aspect of moving and not the emotional.

I really don’t know how to deal with all of this. I don’t know how to say goodbye. Is there some type of protocol?

I need a manual on how to do this.

What I do know is this – I don’t want to spend my last weeks here sad, so I think I will just enjoy each day as it comes. I will take each good bye as it comes. I will try not to dwell on what’s on the horizon and not get lost in the thought of moving, but at the same time not pretend like it isn’t happening – because that’s not healthy either.

But how do I do that? Will someone please write a manual.

Some moments will be sad. Some moments will be happy. Some days will feel like a regular day in our home and others will feel like a sad reminder of our departure.

I think I just need to take each day, each moment as it arrives. That has been the nudge I have been getting from God time and time again for the past few years. Be in the moment. Take each moment as it arrives. Tomorrow is not promised. What you have is today.

I need to keep breathing that thought in and breathing it out. Daily.

Lesson #2 – Less stuff really does bring more peace

Hiding trash cans and removing all signs of work isn’t realistic in a house that is actually being lived in, but I have come to appreciate the peace that comes with simplifying.

A year and a half ago I embarked on a 52 Donations project where I donated something (time, money or material objects) every week for a year. It was a wonderful, life-changing project.

During that time, I simplified our home and got rid of a lot of clutter (or so I thought.) Getting the house ready to move has taken that to a whole new level. I have had to get rid of so much more and it feels good. Really. Really. Good.

I don’t think we were meant to live with so much.

When I walk into a room and there is more open space, I seem to breathe a little better. When drawers and closets and cupboards aren’t overflowing – it just feels good. It feels right.

Honestly, why in the world do I need multiple can openers? Or 20 coffee mugs?

I don’t. I don’t need that much.

Somebody else could probably really use some of my excess and getting rid of the clutter has felt wonderful and necessary and freeing.

I do hope when we move we can continue to keep things decluttered and organized, but…..

Lesson #3 – As it has been said before, “No matter where you go, there you are.” 

When I think of moving, I do get excited about the idea of simplifying our lives. Not just the clutter, but also our schedules. I do look forward to the idea of more time together as a family. I know there are things to look forward intertwined with the sadness of leaving.

But to keep our home and our schedules decluttered will take intentionality. If we aren’t intentional about making changes, we will slowly end up exactly where we are now.

We will still take our habits with us. A new house in a new place doesn’t make us new people. We are still us, in a new location.

If we want to make life changes, we will need to work to make those changes – just like we would have to work to make those changes here and now.

 Lesson #4 – Take nothing for granted.

We have limited time left in the home we love, with our friends and neighbors we love and I don’t want to take a second of the time we have left here for granted.

We have been blessed beyond measure to live in such a wonderful, loving community. I am grateful for every second we have had here. For every memory we have made. For every friendship formed.

I may not know how to deal with the move, but I do know that I am blessed. Very blessed to have experienced all of the kindness, love and depth of relationships my family and I have experienced during our time here in Indianapolis.

I do not take that for granted.

Thank you, God. Thank you.

 

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Today is my Birthday: Lessons from Another Year

Today is my Birthday.

I am one of those people who loves Birthdays. Not just my Birthday. All Birthdays.

A Birthday is a day to celebrate the gift of a person’s life. It is a day to celebrate the unique qualities that make them who they are.

A Birthday is your own special holiday. You can go around all day saying, “It’s my Birthday!” and most people will respond with a huge smile and an enthusiastic, “Happy Birthday!”

When you go out to eat – you get free stuff. When you go shopping – you get discounts. When you check your mail – you find cards. When you look at your phone – you have text alerts and voicemails. When you check Facebook – you realize why you still love Facebook after all.

A Birthday is a day filled with hugs and heart-felt well wishes. It is a day to celebrate.

A Birthday is also a reminder. It’s a reminder of another year gone and a new year beginning. It’s a reminder that time does move quickly and to treasure each passing moment. They are gifts from God.

As I begin my 39th year, I reflect on the joyful moments and lessons learned from another year behind me.

Here are some of the things I have learned in my 38th year:

It is best to live in the moment.

Seems obvious, right? But not always easy to do. I am in a season of my life where it is actually not possible for me to get too far ahead of myself. I have enough time and energy in a day to focus on what is right before me. I have come to appreciate being in this season. It is good to be fully present where I am. I have learned if I try to make too many plans, they often change anyways because there are so many unpredictable variables in life.

It’s okay to not make a bed (until later in the day.)

I had to throw that caveat in because anyone who knows me knows that I couldn’t leave a bed messy all day – but sometimes I have to walk out the door with ruffled sheets and clothes on the floor and that’s okay. I will get to it later. Again, live in the moment and if the moment calls “It’s time to go! Forget about the bed!” Then I better listen.

Sometimes big, scary, uncomfortable choices need to be made.

Choices you don’t want to make. Choices filled with unknowns. Choices that leave you on your knees praying for God to show you the way. We had to make a big, scary, uncomfortable choice this year and it was hard and is still hard and will continue to be hard for quite some time I am sure. On the edge of the unknown lies some excitement. I will try to focus on the excitement and know that God is with us. I know He has gone before us and I trust fully in His plan for our lives. Again, live in the moment and if the moment calls, “A change is on the way, but until then be present where you are, enjoying every last joyful bit of where you are – in the moment.” Then I better listen.

Sometimes the dreams you dream for all of your life do come true.

Like the dream of being able to keep a cottage on your favorite lake where you have a lifetime of memories. Or the dream of being a writer. Sometimes those dreams come true and when they do come true – you do not take one second of them for granted and you look up at the sky and you fall down on your knees and you take a deep breath and exhale with all of your might thinking, “Thank you God. Thank you.” And then you remember, that you should always be grateful. Not just for the big things, but For Everything. Always. Grateful.

Sometimes you need to let go of the future you imagined and open your heart to new possibilities.

Like when the big, scary, uncomfortable choice has been made and you know your future is about to move into a big gaping hole of unknown – then you open your heart to new possibilities and remember it was silly to presume what the future would look like anyway. You know the whole unpredictable variables and live in the moment thing.

And lastly, be kind. Always. Be kind. 

The world seems a little different in this moment then it did at the beginning of my 38th year. It seems a little more divided and a little more unsteady, but my faith is strong and my eyes remain focused on the unseen knowing all battles on earth are truly battles in the spiritual realm. No matter what my beliefs are and how they differ from my brother or my sister I must be kind. Always. Be kind. I need to listen more and try to understand the other side. I need to do more listening and less talking. I must be kind. Always. Be kind.

Today is my Birthday – the beginning of my 39th chapter. A new year with incredible opportunities. To live in the moment. To not be afraid of mess. To trust in the unknown future. To dream big dreams. To let go. And to be kind. Always. Be kind.

 

 

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Summertime Bliss

I love summer.

Weeks before the last day of school, I begin anticipating the long stretch of time when the kids and I will all be home together.

I look forward to it every year.  It is a little reprieve from the usual routine.  People can sleep in. We can wake up in the morning and decide what we are going to do that day. We are not bound by a schedule.  There are no lunches to pack and buses to catch.  There is not homework to do.  We slow down.

It is good for my soul.

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I woke up last Friday morning eagerly anticipating the first day of summer.  It was going to be a great day.  I could feel it.

I slept in a litte later than usual, because it was summer.  I poured my cup of coffee and relished in the fact that two of my children were still sleeping. The house was peaceful.  It was good.  My heart was filled with summertime bliss.

The other kids woke up and breakfast was served. We were off to a great start.  For a few seconds.  And then the demands started.  And the arguing.

And more arguing.

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I wanted to yell, “Don’t you realize this is the first day of summer?!  You are ruining this moment!  This is my time, people!!”  But, if I would have done that they would have looked at me like I was crazy. Really, this was their time wasn’t it? Their summer vacation.  They would have thought I had gone a little batty.  So, I refrained from yelling about my summertime bliss that they were destroying with each “That’s mine!”  “Don’t touch that!”  “That’s my seat!”  and so on and so forth.

We ate our breakfast and went about the day.  The arguing was not going to stop me from enjoying this much anticipated first day of summer.  No way. No how.

This day was going to be fabulous.

And then, the moment when I wished I had Take-Two happened.

You know the thing that says “scene” and “take” with the little arm that drops down to signal that was horrible and you need to start over. That thing.  I needed that thing.

I wish someone would have stepped in and yelled, “CUT! We need to start this scene over from the top!  Let’s go back to the moment before this woman lost her mind and reacted like a five-year old.”

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Honestly – calling myself a five-year old may be a little generous.

The moment began when I walked around the corner into the family room where I found my son and daughter sitting next to a pile of papers they had ripped out of a coloring book.  The papers were crumbled and covered with pencil holes.  Someone went to town on these pages.  There was not any evidence coloring had taken place.  It was more like a coloring book mutilation.

And it was my coloring book.

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My beautiful coloring book that I had received as a gift for Christmas.  The one I had taken with my daughter on our date to Starbucks. The one I had taken with my sister and my kids when we went out coloring.  My fabulous coloring book.  It was all mine.  And now it was in pieces on the floor.

They had their own coloring books! Why did they need to go Freddy Krueger on mine?!

So what did I do when I saw my beautiful coloring book mutilated on the ground?  What any reasonable mom would do I am sure.  I yelled about how you cannot destroy things, and especially things that don’t belong to you. And then I asked them how they would feel if that happened to them?  All very reasonable.

And then – it happened.

I saw one colored picture on the ground.  I picked it up and looked my kids in the eyes and ripped the picture apart.  Just like that.  Beautiful artwork destroyed.

Take that kids!  An eye for an eye.

As soon as the ripped papers hit the ground, my daughter started crying and my insides started turning.  I felt a little bit sick as I looked down and thought, “What in the world did I do that for?”

Can I please get a “CUT!”  Can someone right this wrong?  My reaction was no different than a child’s would have been.  I was mad they destroyed my book, so I was going to destroy something too.

What happened to the first day of summer I had been dreaming of?

I picked up the pieces of the coloring page and found the tape.  Piece by piece I put the picture back together.  I handed it to my daughter and told her how sorry I was.  I explained that mommies make mistakes too, and that I never should have treated her beautiful artwork that way.  I told her just because someone hurts us, it doesn’t make it ok to try to hurt them.  I told her I was wrong.

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We hugged and she told me she forgave me.  I forgave her.

We all make mistakes and there are no Take-Twos in real life.  I guess it’s how we handle those moments when we have done something that makes our insides turn that really matters.  I know I have learned my lesson and I think my daughter learned hers.

I talked to a friend that day and she said, “Well, the summer can only get better from here.”

She was right. It has gotten better. This week has been a great week. Summertime bliss is upon us.

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There is a Reason

After doing some thinking about what I wrote last time, I decided that my last post needed a follow-up.  A sequel.  I was just a tad bit judgmental, and it’s time for me to right my wrong.

I realize that the victim of my judgment was a fictional character.  I realize that writing another post about Finding Nemo may be overkill.  Even with these realizations, I am moving forward.

As a tribute to a character that I have grown to appreciate.  Marlin.

I promise this isn’t the beginning of a long string of Blog posts about my psychoanalysis of fictional Pixar characters.   There will not be a prequel, or a threequel, or anything else like that. It stops here.

With Marlin.

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Marlin is the epitome of the overprotective “helicopter parent”.  His life is ruled by his fears.  If there was ever a candidate for some anti-anxiety meds, it’s this guy.

He cannot move forward in his life because he is plagued by his past.  And consequently, he cannot let his son move forward in his life either.

The movie starts with a scene where we see a care-free Marlin having fun with a wife that he obviously adores.  They are about to have a family. They are coming up with names for their children, and dreaming of their seemingly bright future.

It is during this moment of great joy that something horrific happens.  Marlin’s wife is brutally murdered while she is trying to protect her children.  Marlin, in the process of trying to save her, is knocked unconscious.  He wakes to discover his wife and all of his children, but one, are dead.  He promises in this moment to never let anything happen to his one remaining child.

Fast forward a few years and we see a completely different Marlin.  A Marlin who is consumed with anxiety.   His son, who we learn was born with a birth defect, is grown and about to go to school for the first time. 

Fast forward a little bit more and we watch as Marlin’s son is kidnapped.  Again, Marlin is powerless and unable to stop this atrocity from happening.  He watches and can do nothing.

This fish is anxious, but it makes sense.  Doesn’t it?   He has been through an incredible amount of pain and suffering in a short period of time.  His wife and children were murdered.  His son has been stolen from him. The entire movie is about him trying to find his kidnapped son, while encountering one dangerous situation after another.  This is a petri dish for anxiety.

There is a reason he behaves the way he does.

Until we know somebody’s story, we may not know why they behave the way that they do.  Like Marlin, there is probably a reason.  A reason that they are angry.  Or scared.  Or sad.  Or anxious. Or over-protective.

It isn’t our job to judge. Judgment does not help a situation. Instead of offering judgement, offer love. Offer encouragement. Offer to meet people in their pain and suffering.  Offer to love them where they are.

That is what Dory does for Marlin.  We all need a little Dory in our lives.  Someone who helps us to move forward when we are afraid of what lies ahead.

And it always helps when we are able to recognize when somebody has been through a lot in life.  It is helpful when we can come along side them, while allowing them the time and space to heal.

I went through a period of time in my life, years ago, when it was hard for me to move forward from my past.  I was afraid that if people knew who I was, or the choices that I had made, that they could not possibly love or accept me.

Over the course of time, God has taken away those fears.  I have come to realize that His love for me never changes.  I have also come to realize that not everyone will like me. Some people may judge me for past choices I have made, and that is Ok. I am not ruled by the fear of what people may think of me.  I am no longer consumed by my past. It is a part of me. It is a part of my story.  It does not define me.

We all have a story.

We all have bad things happen in our lives. We all make bad choices.  It is part of living in this fallen world.

The next time I encounter someone who seems a little bunched up and Marlin-like, I hope I remember to offer them a smile and a word of encouragement.  I hope I remember to say a little prayer for them.  I hope I remember that I have not walked a day in their shoes and have no idea what they have been through, or may be going through.  I hope I can be like Dory and encourage them to just keep swimming. I hope I can remember that there is often a reason that people behave the way that they do.  I hope I will always love people in their Marlin-moments. Because that is how I would want to be treated.  And my next one may be right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Keep Swimming

 

I believe that Dory, from Finding Nemo, is one of the most endearing characters of all time.  She is eternally optimistic.   Repeatedly, she finds herself in very difficult situations.  She suffers from short-term memory loss and her traveling companion, who she is with 24/7, is a pessimistic fish named Marlin who suffers from severe anxiety.

What she endures would cause many fish to throw in the towel, but she does not.  She keeps moving forward.

One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when Dory is faced with another seemingly impossible situation, and her response is to sing.  She sings as she swims into the darkness.  She sings and believes.  She believes that everything will be Ok.

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim. Swim.”

She does not know what is ahead of her, and cannot remember what is behind her.  Unlike Marlin who is paralyzed with fear because of the memories from his past, she is fully present in the moment. She does not move with fear. She moves with confidence. With faith. With joy.

I feel like I can learn a lot from Dory.

The past couple months of my life have been busy, to say the least.  I have felt like I was moving from one thing to the next at warp speed with no time to breathe in between.  I was getting a little bunched up and Marlin-like.  It was hard for me to be in the moment because I was consumed by what was ahead of me, and a long list of what-ifs.  What if I can’t get this all done? What if it doesn’t work out as I had planned?

When someone would say, “how are you?” I would inevitably list off all of the things that were going on.  I would list off the things that I needed to accomplish in that day.   I’m not sure how that answers the question, “how are you?” Other than tired and maybe a bit over my head in commitments.

I often say that I feel like, with four young children and all that comes with raising a family, I cannot think past “the next big thing.”

When I say “the next big thing” I mean the next vacation, or Birthday, or holiday.  I cannot be working on too many things at once. There is just not a whole lot of extra time and energy left at the end of the day.  Just the regular events that happen on a daily basis are enough in and of themselves.  I have learned it is best for me to stay present in the moment focusing on the tasks at hand, while also working on “the next big thing.”

But what happens when each weekend is filled with “the next big thing?”

It seems that what happens is I rattle off lists to every person who makes the mistake of saying “how are you?”

And I break out in hives.  Yep. Hives.

I actually am still breaking out in the occasional hive.  I’m not sure if I was just so stressed that my immune system went haywire, or if I am actually allergic to something.  I will find out next week when I have my allergy testing done.

What I found in the past months of being all hivey, stress-bally, and overly-listy, is that this seems to be a predicament that many people find themselves in.  As soon as I was finished rattling off my to-dos, many of my friends would list off their to-dos.  It seemed that myself, and many people I knew, were drowning in piles of to-do lists.

So, what do we do in these moments of being pulled in too many directions?

I can choose to either be like Dory’s traveling companion Marlin who is constantly in a state of freaked-out panic, or I can be like Dory who sings her way through life.

When I do as Dory says and “just keep swimming,” I will often find a wonderful gift from God awaiting.  When I stay in the moment without fretting about what is ahead, or focusing on what is behind, then I am at peace.  During the painful times in life, and the busy times in life, and the times when it feels like I am drowning in my to-dos, there is always something wonderful happening too. Something to be grateful for.  Every day is filled with wonderful gifts from God.  It is just a matter of what I choose to focus on.

For me, during this busy time, the gifts came in the form of people that I love.

It was the joy of celebrating a friend’s upcoming marriage.

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It was the joy in seeing my daughter’s face during her Birthday party.

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It was the joy of watching our daughter play a sport she had been wanting to try for a long time.

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It was the joy of having family at our house on Easter Sunday.

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It was the joy of being with family on a short vacation over Spring Break.

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It was joy of making the trip to our college town to spend the day with great friends.

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It was the joy in standing next to a dear friend as she said her vows.

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It was the joy in seeing the look on my daughter’s faces when they saw their new rooms.

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The many nights of staying up late to complete tasks ultimately ended with great joy. It was worth it.

Now, I don’t recommend moving at this pace often.  It would not be healthy to be that busy all of the time. But sometimes, because of life’s circumstances, it is inevitable.  Sometimes you get life on steroids.

Slowly, over the past couple of weeks, things have started to calm down at our house.  We are slowly getting back to normal.  And at the end of the craziness, God gave Pat and I an unexpected gift. We were able to take a short trip to Florida together.  It was a time of rest and relaxation.  A rainbow after a storm of frenzy.   It was exactly what we both needed.  We were able to push the reset button.

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Oftentimes, if we “just keep swimming” we will swim into something completely beautiful, and unexpected.  We may get a little Marlin-like along the way, but that’s Ok.  That is where grace comes in. We are all works in progress.  I hope as I grow older, and wiser, that I will become a little more like Dory and a little less like Marlin.  A little more able to trust. And believe. And move forward with joyful confidence.  In my experience, some of the roughest waters I have swam through have lead me to the most wonderful places.  I always need to “just keep swimming.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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