Author Archives: trulyyoursjen

The Waiting Place

Have you ever been in the waiting place?

I have.

A few years back, my husband discovered his company would be shutting down their office in Indianapolis and relocating to Nashville, TN. I remember the moment he told me like it was yesterday. The world felt different. Instead of feeling comfortable, everything suddenly felt unsteady and uncertain. It was like the solid earth below me had been replaced with quicksand threatening to swallow me whole at any time.

When he told me, I dug my heels in the ground and boldly proclaimed I would not go. This was our home. The home we were supposed to live in forever. Remember? We loved our home. Our neighborhood. Our friends. Our church. Everything.

We loved everything.

I would not go.

He told me we had three years to make the decision. Three long years. I was mad we had so much time. That was too long to be in a place of limbo.

By the next day, I had softened a bit. And by a bit, I mean barely at all.

Okay. Maybe I would go. But if I went, I would be unhappy and possibly not talk to my husband for two years – other than the necessary communication it took to run a household of six people of course.

Yep. I actually said that. Not my finest moment.

More time passed.

And more time passed.

And more time passed.

It’s amazing what God can do to a heart over time – even a heart as stubborn as mine.

He took my feet that were deeply rooted and with slow, careful, tender, loving care – He began to lift them. One by one.

He was preparing me for transplant.

We had never been to Nashville, so I suggested to my husband that maybe we should at least visit.

During that visit, our children (who at the time still did not know about our possible move) said they could see themselves living in a place like Nashville.

He was preparing their little hearts for transplant.

The song “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns became my song. I would listen to it as the tears would fall.

Over. And over.

One day, when my husband and I were driving, the song came on and he told me how it impacted him.

It was his song, too.

I didn’t realize it until that moment – this was our song. God was using these lyrics to minister to our hearts individually, and eventually – together.

We were in the waiting place for a long time. A very long time. Answers seemed so far away. We went back and forth and back and forth and back again.

What do we do? How do we know? What if we choose poorly? The questions were relentless, like raindrops pounding on a rooftop during a tropical storm. Over and over and over they came.

We waited until the very last moment. The final day – to make up our minds.

And we made up our minds together.

Turns out the amount of time I was so mad about – three years – was exactly what I needed for my heart to change. It was what I needed to come to a place of surrender.

If you find yourself in the waiting place, whatever that may look like, it can be hard.

So very, very hard.

Maybe you are waiting for an adoption to be finalized.

Maybe you are waiting for a promotion you have been promised.

Maybe you are sitting at the bedside of a loved one waiting for a miracle – or their final breath.

Maybe you are waiting for the test results that just can’t get here soon enough, letting you know if the tumor is benign or malignant.

Maybe you are waiting in the lobby while a loved one undergoes surgery – or for the news that your grandchild has been born.

Maybe you are waiting for positive to finally show up on the pregnancy test.

Maybe you are wondering if that perfect someone, your soulmate, who you can call your own is ever going to come into your life.

If you find yourself in the waiting place, whatever that may look like –

Know God is with you.

He is holding you.

He has a plan for you.

You are not alone.

 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

“So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away, You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.” – Casting Crowns

 

Related Posts:

If Home is Where Your Heart Is

A Letter to My Children as They Head to School

Uplifted

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I Get to Do This

I have been overwhelmed to tears on multiple occasions today.

As I drove back from dropping the kids off at school, I looked the Christmas decorations on the homes and thought, “I get to do this.”

I get to experience the joy of Christmas.

As the tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over on to my cheeks, I became overwhelmed with gratitude.

I get to spend time with, and raise, my four beautiful children.

I get to live with the man I love and adore.

I get to see the beauty of snow falling. And sunrises. And leaves changing color. I have heard the sound of the ocean and have seen the majesty of mountains.

I get to eat. And to drink. And to sleep. And to wake.

I get to experience the joy and splendor of another Christmas season.

I get to see lights and bake cookies and gather with friends and decorate my home and our tree and give gifts and listen to Christmas songs and praise Jesus for the gift of His life.

I get to do this.

Each and every day.

I get to laugh. And to cry. And to sing. And to dance. And to love.

I get to build relationships. And to experience heartache.

I get to do this.

The gift of life is so very beautiful.

Thank you, Jesus. From the bottom of my heart and from the depths of my soul.

Thank you that I get to do this.

What a blessing this life is.

What a joy this life is.

I hope and pray I don’t take this beautiful gift for granted.

Thank you for each and every day that you give me. None of them are guaranteed. And each of them is precious.

Thank you that I get to do this.

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I Want to Inspire and Encourage, but Am I?

Last week I decided to take the plunge and create an Instagram account dedicated to my love of decorating. Putting together rooms brings me great joy, but I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. For some people it is daunting, overwhelming, not practical and completely unnecessary.

And for many it probably falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

I don’t aspire to turn decorating haters into decorating lovers. Not everyone needs to enjoy mixing and matching pieces of furniture and the beauty of colorful fabrics. What I do hope, is to show people that you can make just about anything pretty – if you so desire. I also want people to understand it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to transform a room. A lot of times what you need is already hiding somewhere in your home; it just hasn’t found the right place to maximize its potential.

I have enjoyed posting my pictures on Instagram, but had a moment the other week when I started to question if those pictures, that I had hoped were inspiring, may actually have more of a negative affect than a positive.

I know I want to inspire and encourage, but could these photos actually be doing the opposite?

What happens when we scroll through Instagram and Pinterest and see perfectly decorated homes covered in shiplap and barnwood? (neither of which I have by the way, but a girl can always dream.) What happens when we see kitchen after kitchen adorning incredible backsplashes, amazing lighting and not a dirty dish in site?

How does that affect the lens with which we view our own homes?  As we look around, instead of seeing the life and the joy that lives there – do we begin to think, “Yuck! My home will never look like that!”?

Do these pictures of perfectly decorated, well-lit rooms with everything in its proper place, make us think, “I can’t have anyone over. No way. Not until my house is way more clean, a lot more organized and resembles the house in these pictures. Until then, it’s just too embarrassing.”?

In the age of social media, we are bombarded with “perfection” like no generation prior. Consequently, we have to begin the process of learning how to filter what we see. What is truth? Is this how most people live? Or is this merely highlighting this individual’s unique gifts and talents? 

Not everyone is an incredible cook creating mouth-watering dishes that look like they could be entered in the next Chopped competition. Nor is everyone the king or queen of organization with the ability to open a closet, or drawer, and find the perfect spot for every item. Not everyone can take an old home in disrepair and turn it into the next picturesque whitewashed farmhouse. Nor is everyone a body builder or a marathon runner.

This is the lens we need to use when scrolling through our feeds. They are a reflection of that person’s unique gifts and talents, not necessarily ours.

How can we celebrate each other’s talents? How can we use our talents to inspire and encourage others without making them feel bad about themselves in the process?

I think part of the answer lies in remembering the beautiful pictures we see are what someone wants us to see. They are a celebration of something that brings that person joy – and it’s okay if we aren’t good at whatever that something is.

We aren’t meant to be good at everything.

In regards to decorating sites, even the most perfect looking kitchen still has dirty dishes in the sink and spaghetti sauce on the backsplash on occasion (or maybe even lots of the time.) Even the most inviting living room complete with roaring fire, impeccable pillows and a perfectly placed throw blanket still has stuff strewn about at one point in time or another. And the tray that is sitting caddy corner on the crisp duvet sporting a cup of coffee, open book and pastry – most definitely is not on that bed on a daily basis.

Home are meant to be lived in. Your space is a reflexion of you and your family. It tells a story about each of the people that live in it. Your home is special because it is your home and it is where your life is unfolding. Living life to the best of your ability with your people each and every day – that is really and truly what matters. Not how much your home resembles the pins on Pinterest or your Instagram feed.

Does this mean I am going to stop my newly created Instagram account? No.

What it does mean is that I am going to try to be mindful. Maybe in addition to showing the pretty stuff in my house, I will throw in a photo of the drawers in my kids rooms? Or the ring around my bathtub that I just can’t seem to get rid of? (On second thought, you probably don’t want to see that.) Or the overstuffed bins piled on top of each other in our garage? I am going to try to sprinkle in some of the not so pretty stuff with the pretty stuff.

I want the pictures in my Instagram feed to be as real as the words I write in my blog posts. Real life is clean and dirty. Messy and put together. It is loud and quiet. Happy and sad. It’s a little bit of everything mixed in one and you never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. It’s an adventure. It’s constantly changing. One day it’s an immaculate table set to feed a house full of guests and the next day it’s spaghettiOs on the kitchen island. It’s a beautifully decorated room and a well worn sofa. And that’s what makes it exciting. And that’s what makes it beautiful.

And that is what I hope to share.

 

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Truly Yours, Jen Decor

Hello friends!

After spending multiple days unpacking bins of Christmas decor, I have decided to expand my blog to include my love of decorating. It is something I love doing – so why not share that love with you?

It brings me great joy to put rooms together. After completing a room, my hope is that the end result is comfy, cozy, inviting and of course – functional. I want our house to be a place people where people enter and instantly feel at home.

We each have our own unique style and I hope this page inspires you to find yours.

I also hope to show you how to take the items you already own and use them in ways you may not have considered before.

Much of what is in our home tells a story.

In our home, many of the items have been handed down from loved ones. Some I have painted, or changed to make my own, and others look the exact same as the day they came to reside with us.

What story does your home tell?

I am excited to go on this journey with you. To share a little what I have learned along the way – and to learn from you as well.

I have created an Instagram account and, if you feel so inclined, I would love for you to follow me on this journey. https://www.instagram.com/trulyyoursjendecor/

Thanks, friends!

 

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A Letter to My Children About Growing Up in Your Generation

Dear children,

I don’t know what it’s like growing up in your generation. There are a lot of things about it that seem exciting. And a lot about it that seems hard. As your parent, I want to help you navigate through these waters.

As you sit and watch YouTube videos of children your age who have become famous making slime, opening toys, playing video games and doing food challenges – I wonder if you feel pressure to become famous yourself?

When I was a child, that pressure didn’t exist. To become famous typically meant moving to a big city with the hopes of being discovered as an actor, model or singer. You had to have a talent that would make you stand out from the others, and a willingness to relocate if need be. In other words, the possibility seemed slim at best.

But for you, it probably doesn’t feel that way.

I wonder what that’s like as a child? Do you feel that in order to be significant, you need to go viral? Do you feel like a person’s worth is directly related to the number of followers and likes they have on their social media accounts? Is this where your validation comes from? Do you feel like you need to have great wealth and fame to be special?

While those things may seem alluring – they will not satisfy your soul for long. They are like empty promises. You can have all of the wealth, fame, power, likes and followers and still not feel content. They may bring temporary satisfaction, but in the long run – will often leave you feeling dissatisfied and wanting more.

I want you to know you are special, and that’s not because of the number of people who follow you. It has nothing to do with how much money you make, or if people subscribe to your channel.

It is simply because you are – you. There is only one of you and there will never be another you.

I want you to grow up and pursue something you are passionate about because it feeds your soul, not because you feel like it will make you popular or rich.

I hope you are able to find joy in the simple pleasures of life – a good book, a warm fire, holding hands, saying “I love you”, drawing a picture, planting a garden, making a meal, watching the sun rise and set, taking a walk on a crisp autumn day, catching a fish and letting it go, playing a game, singing a song, listening to the sound of rain, dancing.

There are so many things to enjoy in this world. I hope you don’t always feel the burden or pressure to “share” these moments. I hope you are able to put your device down – and just be.

When I was a child, I would go on vacation with my family and have the ability to disconnect from everything – my friends, neighbors, school. The only way someone would be able to reach me, and I them, would be by making a long distance phone call. And that cost a lot of money. Money that my parents didn’t want to spend. There was no e-mail, texting or social media. If I really wanted to connect with someone, I would have to write them a letter and send it in the mail. That’s how ancient I am.

Now, you are constantly connected – even when on vacation. You don’t get breaks from social interaction, and I would imagine that has to be hard.

What kinds of pressure do you feel that didn’t exist for children years ago? How can I help you navigate through this world of technology? How do I teach you the value of disconnecting and being present with your surroundings and loved ones?

I don’t know what it’s like growing up in your generation, but I want to be here for you. I want to help you as best as I can. And one way is by modeling this myself. I can’t tell you these things aren’t important, and then become consumed with pursuing them myself. If I am not putting my phone down, what does that teach you? If I’m constantly checking my likes on Facebook and Instagram, what message does that send?

Believe it or not, it’s possible to have the most followers and likes – and still feel lonely. It’s possible to have more money than you could ever know what to do with – and still feel like it’s not enough.

These things will not bring you lasting contentment, but there are some things that I believe will.

Simple things.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and pursue a relationship with Him above all else. Build deep, meaningful relationships with the people in your life. Serve others. Love deeply. Discover your passions – and pursue them. Don’t worry about the future. Live in the moment. Stand up for what is right. Be true to who you are, not who you think society says you should be. Be kind. Trust in the goodness of God.

I don’t know what it’s like growing up in your generation, but I have faith in you. You’ve got this.

Just be you and always know that is enough – regardless of what the internet may tell you.

And know I am here for you.

Always.

 

 

A Letter to My Children as They Head to School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Scenario: Two Reactions

This morning, I awoke to the sound of my husband’s shoes hitting the hardwood floors. Clippity Clop. Clippity Clop. I opened my eyes, stretched my arms and slowly made my way out of bed and into the start of a brand new day. The calendar was full, but that would have to change. Our son had thrown up the night before – throwing a slight hiccup into the day’s plans. Nothing that couldn’t be remedied with a few texts and phone calls.

As I made my way to the kitchen, my husband walked over, kissed me on the head and ushered me to my piping hot cup of freshly poured coffee sitting on the kitchen island. I looked down and then back up at him. I couldn’t help but smile. My coffee looked just as I like it – a milky, toasted brown color indicating the perfect ratio of rich, flavored cream to bold coffee. If making coffee without uttering a word is a way of measuring how well you know a person, then my husband knows me leaps and bounds better than anyone on the planet. He never gets a cup wrong.

I reached down, grabbed the handle and brought the warm cup of perfection to my lips. As I took my first sip I relished in the feeling that today was going to be a good day.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by our oldest daughter yelling down the stairs from above that she wasn’t feeling well. Her stomach hurt and she didn’t think she could eat her breakfast. Any parent who has ever had a child old enough to say they aren’t hungry in the morning while simultaneously complaining of a stomachache knows this is fair warning that things may turn at any time (namely, said person’s stomach – emptying all contents hopefully into the toilet and not onto the floor.)

Looks like I would have two of my children home with me. It will be just like when they were little. Today is going to be even better than I had anticipated.

OR………

This morning I awoke to the sound of my husband’s shoes hitting the hardwood floor. Clippity Clop. Clippity Clop. Ugh. Why does he have to wear those shoes every morning? And in our room? Can’t he see I’m trying to sleep? What if I went around clippity clopping every time he was trying to sleep? Maybe I will try that next Saturday morning and see how well he likes it. I wish I didn’t have to get up already. It’s so cold out there and so warm under here. Maybe I’m coming down with something? Ugh. That won’t work. I’m not sick at all. Unless sick of waking up so early counts as being sick – then I’m in really bad shape. Speaking of sick, thanks to a sick kid – my whole day is completely thrown out of whack. Not only do I not feel like getting up – I definitely don’t feel like dealing with this first thing in the morning.

As I made my way into the kitchen, I was once again reminded of how much more motivated my husband is than me in the morning. Always up bright and early and the first one to the coffee pot. Is he rubbing it in my face? The cup is there every morning, waiting for me, reminding me that I don’t have what it takes to wake up as early as I want to.

I reached down, grabbed the handle and took my first sip of many. It takes a lot of coffee to get through these overbooked days.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by our oldest daughter yelling down the stairs from above that she wasn’t feeling well. You’ve got to be bleeping kidding me. Another one? Isn’t one sick kid enough? If she gets sick, she better make it to the toilet.

Looks like I would have two of my children home with me today. How am I supposed to get anything done? Maybe they aren’t really that sick and I can send them to school anyway? Who would know? Probably not a great idea. Guess today is just going to be one of those days.

One scenario. Two reactions.

It’s amazing how much our internal dialogue has the ability to affect not only our mood, but also how we relate to the world around us. It colors how we see things, how we treat our loved ones and how we cope with difficult situations when they arise.

When we are negative, we can’t help but to spread that negativity – whether we intend to, or not. And on the flip side, when we are joyful and are looking for the good, we can’t help but to spread that positivity – whether we intend to or not.

I began this post a couple of days ago when I had the idea today to take my morning and look at it through two different lenses. As I was writing the first one, I felt light and joyful. And I as I was writing the second one, I could feel my mood change. When I read back through each of the scenarios, I was amazed at the difference I felt even when reading the words.

What, and how, we think affects us. It affects our relationships. It affects our days. Ultimately, it affects our lives.

Am I implying that we walk around like Pollyanna every day? No. We need to be honest about how we are feeling, and some situations really do just plain stink – no way around it. We all have our good days, and our bad days.

What I am implying is this: in the day-to-day grind, our internal dialogue does matter. If we wake up and immediately begin complaining – I believe there is a much better chance we may experience a bad day. And if we wake up and immediately search for the good, the joy, the positive, the blessing, the thing to be grateful for – I believe there is a much better chance we may experience a great day.

Our thoughts color our world.  They motivate and inspire us, or they stifle our dreams. They encourage us, or they tear us down. They build up those around us, or they search for flaws and shortcomings. They give gratitude, or they wish for more. They find the joy in the moment, or the thing to complain about.

I pray that my thoughts are more often those of joy and positivity than not. I pray that throughout my life, regardless of my circumstances, I will leave those I encounter feeling loved and encouraged. I pray that I will not take the sound of my husband’s shoes in the morning, or the warm cup of coffee, or the fact that my children are at home with me for granted. I pray that when I wake up, I remember to give thanks to God for the gift of a brand new day. I pray that I will wake and search for the wonder, the adventure and the possibility that comes with the gift of  that new day – the gift of a fresh start.  I pray that even on days that aren’t as good as others, I still remember to be grateful – because there is so much to be grateful for. On the good days, and the bad. So much. We just need to realize it.

 

“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Unwrapping the Gifts of Fall

 

 

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Praise, Phish and Bob Weir: An Exceptional Trio

When I first started living my life for Christ, I drew a lot of lines in the sand. In many ways, my world became black and white. Yes to this and no to that. This is good and that is bad.

I remember feeling like if I quit doing some things, and replaced them with things that were more fruitful – that I would be well on my way to living the ultimate Christian lifestyle.

In my mind it was all so simple. Was I attending church and Bible study enough? What company was I keeping? Was I drinking? If so, how much? What was I reading, watching, listening to?  Was I putting in enough quiet time?

My faith was a lot about my actions and constantly teetered on the verge of legalism.

In some ways, I feel like this was necessary at that time in my life. I was in my early 20s, and let’s just say prior to living for the Lord – I was a bit of a wild child. In order for me to change some undesirable habits, my environment had to change. Consequently, I became immersed in the church culture.

My husband and I found a church we loved, filled with like-minded individuals who were living their lives for Christ. We began attending a house church with other people our age and quickly developed some of our closest, deepest friendships that are still some of our closest friends to this day. We began to experience relationships in ways we never had before.

I vividly remember going to our first house church cookout. As we parked the car next to the curb, there was a moment before opening our doors when my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) and I looked at each other and said, “Do you really think they won’t have alcohol here? How do we get through a cookout without alcohol?”

It seemed so strange that such a cookout would even exist. Cookouts and beer went together like peanut butter and jelly. I don’t care how long these people have been going to church. They have to know this, right? It was all so foreign to us.

That night we learned a few new things – like going to a cookout without alcohol is actually a ton of fun. For those of you who have never been to one – it’s true. I’m not lying. We had a blast. That evening is forever etched in my mind. I can clearly remember conversations I had with different people that night. I even remember watching as Pat lifted up his sweatshirt to reveal his multi-colored Grateful Dead t-shirt underneath after learning that our host was also a huge Dead fan.

In that moment, I realized it was possible for our past and our present to intertwine in a way that may actually be okay. Maybe all of our past wasn’t so bad?

Fast forward to present day and I can say with confidence that it wasn’t all so bad. Over the years, I have learned that God can take some of the most difficult, challenging times in our lives and use them for good – even our poor choices. He makes beauty from ashes time and time again.

Since my early 20s, my faith has become much less legalistic. I have learned, and truly experienced, how wide and high and deep is the love of God. I have felt His grace cover me time and time again and truly believe He loves me. And He always has. Even when I was far away from Him.

I began to really embrace this truth when my children were young. Due to a lot of circumstances outside of my control, we weren’t able to attend church as often as we could when it was just the two of us. Attending Bible study regularly and prayer nights at the church became more challenging. At first, this was really hard for me. Would God love me as much if I wasn’t showing up regularly? My legalistic self was now face-to-face with the knowledge that I couldn’t perform how I once had. What did this mean for my faith? Would people think I didn’t love Jesus anymore if I wasn’t at church on Sunday?

Turns out, it doesn’t matter what people think of me. What matters is pleasing God – not man. And God knew my heart and my circumstances. I had to learn to accept the love of Christ as it was – a free gift filled with grace and love. It wasn’t about me and it wasn’t about what I was doing. It was about Him. There was nothing I could do to earn His love. And nothing I could do to make it go away.

He is the perfect Father.

The more I began to understand and accept that, the more deeply I experienced His love – and the more freely I was able to give it to others. No strings attached.

To others looking at my life now, there may be moments when I seem like a poor example of a Christian. I don’t attend church every Sunday. I want to, and try to, but sometimes life’s unexpected twists and turns get in the way. I drink alcohol on occasion. I have my nose pierced and am highly contemplating getting a tattoo – or ten. I watch the occasional R-rated movie and very possibly watch Netflix shows that can be considered crass and inappropriate. Some of the music I listen to has bad words and, if the kids aren’t around, there’s a good chance I may be found singing these songs – loudly. Like The Birthday Song by 2Chainz – the minute I’m by myself and that song shuffles through my playlist – it’s game on.

And that’s okay. I’m a work in progress. You are a work in progress. Perfection is unattainable. I will never be perfect and neither will you.

In the past couple of weeks, I have witnessed my past and present come together in a way that I can only describe as beautiful. When my husband and I were younger, we attended many a jam band concert – namely Phish. After becoming Christians, we took a long break from that scene.

Over the years, as we have loosened the reigns on our list of dos and don’ts, we have started to attend a variety of concerts again (and living in Nashville, there is definitely plenty of live music to choose from.) In the past few weeks, we attended both a Phish show and a Bob Weir concert.

During the Phish show, as the band was playing and the people around me were swaying to the sounds of the music, I looked up at the stage framed by the city we now call home and at the stars twinkling in the sky – and strongly felt the presence of God. As my body moved and my gaze fixed upward, I began to pray. I prayed for those at the show with me. I prayed for God’s angels to come to that place. I prayed for His love and mercy to cover us. And a couple of weeks later, at the Bob Weir show, I had a similar experience (only indoors.)

I am learning something that seems so basic, but I had somehow missed. God is everywhere. You don’t need to be at a Christian concert to worship. You can worship Him wherever you are. I think my 20-something self would have guffawed at the thought of worshipping God at a Phish show. You go to church and Christian concerts to worship God. Not Phish shows.

The week after my worshipping God at the Phish show moment, Chris Tomlin lead worship at our church service. As my hands were lifted to the air and my heart was once again worshipping God I was reminded of the unexpected moment I had earlier in the week. The moment when God met me at the Phish show. The moment when my past and present collided in a way that felt like a true gift of redemption.

Our pastor then got up and spoke about the seven Hebrew words for praise. He talked about a word in the Hebrew language that meant praising God through music, Zamar. He talked about joyfully making music with song and instrument. As he spoke of the seven words for praise, I was reminded we should praise Him in all things. At all times. In song. In dance. In gratitude. In prayer. In worship. In silence. Loudly with hands lifted high and quietly while on our knees. At concerts and coffee shops. On walks in nature and when driving the car.

Praise Him for where we’ve been. Praise Him for where we are going. Praise Him for this very moment.

Praise Him for the journey.

Lines that are drawn in sand aren’t meant to last for long. As the tides rise and the waves crash in, the lines vanish with the water returning to it’s source. I am grateful that so many of my lines have been erased. I am grateful that God has taken my heart that at one time may have been more bent toward judgment then I would ever care to admit – and turned it to a heart that clearly sees my imperfection and my need for a Savior. He has forgiven me for much and He continues to do so. He loves me more than I will ever fully be able to fathom. I want my life to reflect this love He has poured so graciously and freely on to me. I want my life to be a vessel. More of Him. Less of me. More of His love. More of His light.

Praise Him for where we’ve been. Praise Him for where we are going. Praise Him for this very moment.

Praise Him for the journey.

In all things. At all times. Whether at church on a Sunday morning. Whether seeing Phish on a Wednesday or Bob Weir on a Monday night. Whether at a cookout with alcohol, or one without. Wherever you may be in your journey.

Praise Him.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2: 8-10

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my 
God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my 
stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3
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Confessions of a Cruddy Sports Mom

Last week I received a text that confirmed something I have known for awhile – I’m a cruddy sports mom.

Anyone out there feeling me?

This post is for all of you who get excited when the forecast calls for rain on game night, and this post is for all of you who would rather spend your Saturday mornings in bed than on the sidelines. You know who you are. Don’t hang your head in shame.

This is a safe space to admit you would rather be at home under your nice, warm, downy duvet than freezing your booty off on the metal bleachers at 8:45 am on a Saturday morning while your kid does the floss and picks grass in the outfield.

I assume there have to be other parents like me. Maybe they are even posing as die-hard t-ball fans? Maybe all of that enthusiasm is just for show. Doubtful. But maybe?

I want to be more enthusiastic about it all. I really and truly do. But I’m just not.

This fall, three out of our four kids played ball. Parents, I don’t need to go into details here. You know what this means. It means lots of time spent at the ball field and a lot of time spent in the car. Lots.

And some nights, all four of them had activities at the same time. Figure that one out. It’s as crazy as it sounds.

I am starting to fully understand the phrase, “It takes a village”- because oh man, does it ever. All I can say is thank goodness my girls ended up on the same teams as our neighbors. And yay for grandparents who have moved to town.

There were plenty of evenings I would send one child with a neighbor, run another to wherever they needed to be, pop over to watch the game for 20 minutes and then jump back into the car to pick up another child. You get the drift.

I am sure if anyone was paying attention (and they probably weren’t), that I looked like a crazy lady. (Which makes me want to pause for a minute to point out, if you do happen to see a mom or dad running around like a chicken with their head cut off instead of enjoying the game – try not to judge. They are trying their best just like you. I am sure they would much rather be sitting on the bleacher cheering on the team – but life.)

And let’s not forget what happens prior to even getting out the door. The kids walk in from school and it’s – “Do you have homework? Hurry up. Get your uniform on. You have five minutes to eat. Where are you cleats? Do you have your water? Come on. We need to GO, people!”

As crazy as it feels to me, they don’t mind. Not one bit. Why? Because they are doing what they love – playing ball.

And the same was true for me when I was a kid. I have zero memories of the time between school and heading to the diamond, but I can remember what it felt like to swing the bat and watch the ball go flying. I can remember rounding the bases. I can remember being in the outfield and having a teammate teach me what it means to “fly the bird.” Yep. That happened.

I remember my team and my love of the game. I don’t remember the sacrifices my parents made to get me there. Sorry mom and dad.

And this is what keeps me going. Even though I consider myself a cruddy sports mom, I can still get into a game with the best of ’em. I love watching my children do what brings them joy.

I love the smiles on their faces and the sparkle in their eyes when they finally receive the prized game ball for a job well done. I love knowing they are experiencing camaraderie with their teammates and that they are learning the invaluable skills that come from playing on a team.

There is much to love about sports and what it teaches our children.

So what’s the problem?

I think it’s more about having multiple somethings that people have to be to every night. And every weekend.

It’s more about exhaustion.

In the beginning of the season, I am excited. By the end, I am looking at the forecast and hoping the 20% chance of rain moves up to 100%. And I’m really hoping we don’t have to drive all the way to Franklin only to have the game cancelled 30 minutes after we get there. If it’s supposed to rain, let’s just cancel the game already.

And I had hoped this was what most parents were secretly thinking. I knew I was a cruddy sports mom, but I couldn’t possibly be the cruddiest. Could I?

Turns out – maybe so.

Last week, I received a text from the coach about my daughter’s last game of the season. The text read:

“Just received word that we have won tonight’s game by forfeit! We can still use the field if the girls want to do one last mini scrimmage like we’ve done in practice (and we could get a team picture before.) Or the commissioner said she could reach out to a team with a bye this week to see if they want to play us. Please let me know your vote: (1) mini-scrimmage; (2) scrimmage another team if available; (3) no thanks – done with fall softball.”

Yes! This was the moment! We could all collectively admit what we have been feeling. Let’s be done with it all.

And then the replies came in. One two after another. 2. 2. 2. 2. All 2s.

What the?!

This is the moment when I should have owned my number-3-loving self, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t let them in on my cruddy sports mom secret. My reply was, “Staying in Nolensville would be awesome!” (because the alternative was driving 20 minutes to the field where we were supposed to play that night.) I am such a chicken. Why couldn’t I just reply with 3?

The reason? Because in my heart I know what we know as parents to be true – this isn’t about me. Is it?

I think this is what all of those sports moms are on to. Just because I was tired and ready for the season to be over, doesn’t mean my daughter didn’t want to play. Of course she wanted to play. She loves softball. Just like I loved softball when I was her age.

Yes, I am a cruddy sports mom. Yes, I hope for bad weather and cancelled games on occasion. Who am I kidding? It’s not on occasion. I’m always am hoping for that. Yes, I pull out my phone sometimes during the game to check my email. Yes, I hear the alarm go off on a Saturday morning and think “WHY?” But regardless of how I feel, I will keep doing it. I will keep signing them up and running around like a crazy woman praying for the rain to fall.

Because, as parents, this is what we do. Right? We show up. We encourage. We cheer. We wash uniforms repeatedly. We sign up for our obligatory snack duty. We run from one place to the other dropping kids off and picking them up like a free taxi service.

Whether we are incredible sports moms (and dads), or cruddy ones – we are in it together. Sharing bleachers, toting snacks and feeling an overwhelming amount of love for our little people playing the game.

Yes, we are in it together. So, the next time you see a frazzled mom running to the stands yelling for her kids to “hurry up” with bags on her arms and a baby on her hip (I’m not there anymore, but I used to be), give her a fist bump and let her know you’re glad to see her.

And if you really want to make her day – tell her she is doing am amazing job and hand her the game ball.

 

 

 

 

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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Have you ever done something that was out of your comfort zone? My guess is more than likely, at one time or another, you have.

Maybe it was traveling by yourself for the first time? Or going into your first job interview? What about having your first baby? Or the moment you realize they are actually going to send this tiny human home with you just 48 hours after birth? That was a big one for me. I vividly remember crying to the nurse as we were going through the discharge paperwork. What would we do with this precious little baby (who seemed incredibly vulnerable to the dangers of the world, might I add) when we got home? Talk about being out of your comfort zone.

Yes, I have been out of my comfort zone a time or two (or lots.) It may not have been pleasant in the moment, but the end result is usually the same – growth.

I recently experienced one of these uncomfortable growth moments. A friend of mine, Amber Sandberg, has an incredible podcast called the Mom Inspired Show, and I was scheduled to be a guest.

Ironically, I am the one who asked her about being on the show. It sounded like a lot of fun, until the day before it was scheduled. Then all of those, “What are you doing?” and “You can’t do this” monsters tried to sneak in and steal my joy.

I can write all day long, but unedited speaking that other people are going to be listening to? Gulp. When I write, I have the ability to edit. I can go back and add words, remove and rearrange sentences and even delete it all if the mood strikes. This is not the case with a podcast.

After a couple of minutes, I realized Amber was right (which shouldn’t have come as a surprise given this was her 105th episode.) It was just as she had described, two friends chatting.

The topic of conversation, friendship, is near and dear to my heart – so it was easy to talk about.

Amber and I are both midwest girls who relocated to a suburb of Nashville. She moved over a decade ago, and I moved a year ago. We met at MOPS last year and learned that our Birthdays are just one day a part, and to top it off – we were both about to turn 40. Instant connection.

In the podcast, we talk about moving, seasons of life, the challenges of developing and building relationships with the demands of motherhood, the importance of showing up, vulnerability, different personalities and self-awareness – all under the umbrella of friendship.

It was so much fun. Prior to the call, I was nervous and felt like this was completely outside of my wheelhouse, and by the time it was over – I was hungry for more. I absolutely loved being on her show and quickly asked if I could come back as a guest again.

What started as uncomfortable, ended up being an opportunity for growth and self-discovery that I’m incredibly grateful for.

Interestingly enough, the more I thought about my feelings – I realized the discomfort I felt in trying something new can be a kin to how it feels when pursuing new relationships. Finding friends means being willing to, at times, be uncomfortable.

Joining a mom’s group or a Bible study may not be comfortable. Being the first to say “hello” and introduce yourself to someone may not be comfortable. Asking a potential friend to go on a walk, or share a cup of coffee, may not be comfortable. Having 20 interrupted conversations with someone you are just getting to know at the park while you are watching your kids may not be comfortable. Opening up and beginning to share your past with someone may not be comfortable.

There is a lot about friendship that has the potential to take us outside of our comfort zone, but it is so worth it. I truly believe we are made for connection and the more deep and meaningful relationships we have in our life, the more fulfilling life becomes.

Here is my podcast debut with the very talented Amber Sandberg. You should totally check it out and while you are on the site, I highly recommend listening to her other podcasts as well. They are fantastic.

Click here to listen: http://mominspiredshow.com/why-friends-are-important-and-how-to-find-them-jennifer-thompson-105/

I hope you enjoy the show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skating Toward Plan C

Have you ever set out to do something and it didn’t turn out the way you planned? I would have to imagine so. That’s just part of living. Isn’t it?

That’s why we say things like, “Go with the flow” and “Roll with the punches.”

For example, you’re getting ready to head to the gym and get a call to pick up your sick child from school. So you do a workout video instead. You plan to make meatloaf, reach for the oats in the pantry and find an empty container. So you make spaghetti. You’re on your way to an appointment and your tire goes flat. So you reschedule.

The ever reliable Plan B, C, or D is like the boy and girl standing against the wall waiting for their turn to be chosen during the Rockin’ Robin at the roller rink (yes, that was a very specific memory from my childhood that I just randomly tossed in there because it made me smile.) You might be skating toward A all sweaty-palmed and nervous when someone goes flying past you like a bolt of lightening. How do they skate so fast? They beat you to it. So what do you do? Do you pout off like a baby and spend the rest of the day at the pinball machines? No. You pull up your skate strings and adjust course. And lucky you – look at all of the other incredible, and possibly even better, options waiting for you to grab them by the hand.

This is how it is with life. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust.

Skate toward your goal and if something happens to throw you off – stay calm and make another lap until you figure out your next move. Before you know it you will be in a sweat-covered, awkward hand-holding skating session with a near stranger and all will be right with the world again.

I have made a lot of laps in my day.

And with each lap, I have learned the value of taking deep breaths, staying calm and realizing that just because something isn’t going my way – that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, it’s usually in those moments when things don’t go my way that I learn a little something about life – and myself.

Take, for example, a moment I had last week. I was standing on my back porch looking at our little yellow bistro table that resides in the corner. I love to decorate and am in a constant state of “What would look good there?” Which is exactly what was happening in my brain as I stood on the patio staring at the table. It needed something. But what?

A vase. That’s what. More specifically – a white vase.

Lucky for me, I happened to have a white vase that wasn’t being used at the time. Off I went into the closet under the stairs in search of the vase (and in search of Harry Potter – just kidding. But that would be super cool.) I retrieved the vase and took it outside where the unforgiving light of day revealed the white spray paint I had used years ago to cover the glossy light pink was slowly starting to chip off. It wasn’t a white vase anymore. It was now a white and pink speckled vase. Not at all what I was imagining when I was looking at the table and thinking, “What would look good there?” (Honestly, I don’t think the answer to that question will ever be a white and pink speckled vase.)

No worries. White spray paint worked before and it would work again. Unless we’re out. Which I quickly discovered we were. Ugh.

Now I realize in the grand scheme of life, wanting to paint a vase and not having paint isn’t really a big deal. At all. But the thing is, I had a plan. And I can be impatient. And a strange combination of extremely motivated and simultaneously lazy. Like in this instance, I was motivated enough to paint the vase, too lazy to go to the store to get paint and also too impatient to wait.

This vase was getting painted. Now.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan B. I made my way upstairs for the acrylic paint. That’ll do. Except it wouldn’t do. I tried and it just didn’t look right.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan C. I checked the garage and found some leftover chalkboard wall paint. Now this could be interesting.

I went outside and began painting, and with each stroke I remembered how much I love to paint. It had been awhile. The feeling of the brush in my hand ignited something in me. As I painted one stroke and then another, I began to notice I actually liked the way the paint looked as it went halfway down the vase. The lines from the brush reminded me of fringe on a scarf. I decided to leave the bottom half white.

After I finished, I felt very grateful we were out of white spray paint. Something that had frustrated me just moments before was now something to be grateful for. In the absence of the spray paint, I was reminded of how much I love the feeling of a brush in my hand and the creativity it sparks inside me.

I started to make plans for how to incorporate my love of art back into my life.

Plan C enriched my life way more than Plan A ever would have.

So whether you find yourself skating toward plan A without any obstacles in sight, or making your fifth lap around the rink – look for the joy. Look for the blessing. Look for the challenge. Look for the beauty. Look for the possibilities.

For me, that moment was about learning how to be okay when things don’t go my way. It’s about knowing sometimes the things that threaten to throw me off course, are exactly what I need to get me to the place I ultimately need to be. Sometimes beauty is waiting to be found in the most unexpected places. Sometimes all it takes is a house, void of spray paint, filled with unused paint brushes – waiting to be used again.

 

 

 

 

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