Wednesday, March 28

Random Ramblings in cooperation with "Becoming a Better Writer"


        A quick "disclosure"...this post is an assignment for the "31 Days to Becoming a Better Writer" challenge I've been participating in. The assignment..."Write a stream of consciousness post". What that means for those of you who are not writers or former English majors, is that you literally start writing down everything thing that comes to your mind for a given period of thought, to the next, to the next, no matter how disjointed they may seem...

     Here we go...

     Here I am sitting at Starbucks and feeling overwhelmed. I'm afraid to confess how much I've taken on in the last two months in the way of freelance and volunteer projects because those of you who know me  best (my sister, my mother, my mentor) are FOREVER warning me to not take so much simplify my life....I can hear them all now...Eyes raised, stern faced..."Lisa!"

     That's all they need to say...I know what that means.

      Alas, I've done it again. I get overwhelmed because I take too much on and then  I listen to the advice of the wise sages in my life and calm it all down for a while...kind of like being in the stormy seas and letting Jesus calm the winds by listening to my spirit and my closest human friends (Jesus with skin on as the writer Mary Karr likes to say), but then I get...bored....I have pockets of FREE time in my life (the very thing I'm longing for right now!) and I start to FILL them.

     Oh the creative, distracted mind of a momma who likes to live life to the fullest, but in her heart of hearts wants to create the most loving, stable, insightful, and engaging life for her children...and is sometimes afraid she is failing.

      In my mind failure means....that my house is TRASHED right now...clothes everywhere, dirty and clean, plastic bowls and sippy cups cascading out of my cupboards every time I open them, a mud room stacked high with winter boots, gloves, scarves AND flip flops, sunscreen and bubbles because the weather is having a bit of an identity crises here in Buffalo this week.

       And this is all after having my house cleaned last week (my sister cleans houses part-time...we call her in every 3 weeks or so...that's a whole other post all together!!!).

       It begins to equate to failure because I fear things are not as settled and stable and structured as I believe they should be for my kids and husband.

     Don't get me wrong...I'm not a perfectionist. You will NEVER find me on my knees cleaning my floorboards with a toothbrush or dusting trinkets on shelves compulsively. No way. I have WAY too many books to read, and people to see, and parks to visit and foods to try for THAT.

     But sometimes I do feel like it is my job to find a good balance for our family, to actually have time to clean the house and pick things up, to feel a little bit organized for longer than three days...

     ...that's the stuff that is a challenge for me. That is where I feel like I'm getting a D+ at best some days.

     However, here is what I KNOW and what I rest my tired, anxious head on when I get to this place...

     God created me-- wonderfully, crazy, chaotic me. He knew who I would marry, and the children He would bless me with, and how I would pine and scratch and kick to find time to write even though I'm a full time stay a home mom who feels like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz at the end of many days ("If I only had a brain!").

     He KNEW all of that...He even knew I would agree to more than I should have...right, on March 28th. And He is here with me in it all, nudging, teaching me lessons and helping me work through this crazy life of ours....

     And so I turn to gratitude, because it's the only antidote for ATTITUDE...(hehe...I like when words rhyme!)...

      I'm eternally grateful for a God who knows me WAY better than I know myself, for children who make me laugh every day, for a husband who is full of SO much grace for his crazy wife, for the sunshine, for friends, for my mom and my sister and the mentors in my life who keep reminding me not to take on more than I'm meant to.

And that's that!

Thanks for weeding through that with me!

Feel free to leave your best pieces of advice too.

Monday, March 26

Sweet Tooth, Sweet Dreams, Sweet Lovin'

     I don’t have a huge sweet tooth. If I were to overindulge in the calorie department it would be in the form of a large bowl of cheesy white pasta, or salty lays potato chips with French onion chip dip. Or a big plate of gooey nachos slathered in cheese and guacamole and sour cream. Or a big basket of French fries…

     O.k. I’ll stop there.

     Despite my lack of sweet tooth, I do find myself baking with my girls. When the days get long (can you say winter in Buffalo?!) and the natives (that would be my children) start to get restless, I open up my laptop and type in words like “low-fat muffins” or “easy cookies” or “kid-friendly recipes” into Google.

     I also keep any eye out for easy recipes when I’m reading through magazines, cut them out, and keep them all in a binder (in sheet protectors). When I bored with our meal options or looking for a recipe I flip it open to see what it inspires.

     It was one of those magazine recipes, that made it’s way into the binder that has become a favorite for me; maybe because it’s “easy”, so I can do it with the girls, maybe because it is “salty” so it fits my cravings along with the cravings of small children and a husband with a pretty hefty sweet tooth, most possibly because there are only 5 ingredients which means the kitchen does not get as messy.

     It’s a cookie recipe; called “cracker cookies” by some and “saltine toffee cookies” by others. You can find it here if you're interested. 

 At some point tomorrow, in preparation for Bible study in the evening, the girls and I will get out the crackers, the butter, the brown sugar, the chocolate chips and the pecans and start in on our baking project together. 

     I’ll have Ava, my oldest, mixing the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan (with me right by her side of course!).

     I’ll have Ella lay crackers all over the cookie sheet.

     Ava, Ella and mommy will all hold hands together to dump the sugar mixture over the crackers, bake it for 15 minutes and then dump chocolate chips over the top. As the kitchen fills with the smell of salt and chocolate and raw sugar, I will fend the girls off for several more minutes by giving them each a spatula to smooth the melting chips over the top of the crackers.

     Here are my partners in cooking crime in the kitchen...

See how nice they are to each other while we're cooking....

     I guarantee they were fighting over a doll, or a bouncy ball, or a plastic cupcake 10 minutes after this picture was taken...At least it was sweet...for a moment. 
     While I don’t have a big sweet tooth, I do have a big spot in my heart for sweet moments with my girls. While we’re working together in the kitchen we are focused on a task together, they are separated and often do not fight for a whole 15 minutes and we all get to share in an tasty indulgence at the end.

See,  for me, baking is less about the creation and more about the communion created. to bed before all this talk about food leads me straight to the kitchen for a late-night snack...The calories I typically forgo in the sweet tooth department are easily regained by late night's my biggest dietary downfall. 

Sweet dreams! 

This post was part of ...


Friday, March 23

Dads and Daughters: A Remembrance, Book Review and Giveaway!

      They hold their place in the files of my memory like snapshots saved of my younger days, the moments that I recall between just my father and I.

     There is not an abundant number of them, I am one of four children and life was probably busier and more overwhelming for my parents than I could have ever imagined (until becoming a parent myself, of course!).  But there are enough: Enough to know that he loved me more than I probably believed during many of those tenaciously tense teenage days.

     I remember late night walks in brisk air where we talked...or tried to anyway, awkward bits of conversation seeking to create deeper connection.

     I remember an afternoon in a canoe, on a slow and small creek near home...more talk. More time together. I distinctly remember him telling me my arms looked too thin. I bristled at the accusation and became defensive. He was right. He was trying to love me. I realize that now.

     There was the morning, a real photograph to prove it, where I am wearing terrible stone washed jeans rolled at the ankles and big permed hair. We hopped into a small airplane that morning, just me and dad. He had chartered a plane ride just for us. At the time I thought it was kind of I realize the sacrificial expense, both in time and finances, that went into organizing something like that. He didn't do it because he wanted to, he did it to be with me.

     Our relationship was tumultuous at times. Not for lack of love, of this I am certain. More than likely we are too similarly stubborn about our own ideas that often did not coincide. I was quite possibly too outwardly rebellious and he was merely trying to nudge me towards the right and away from the wrong. Perhaps his own lack of father figure also left holes that I cannot fathom, holes that exhibited themselves in ways he never intended.

     Despite all of that, those moments, particularly when recalled now, made an impression. They are some of my most vivid memories, and I'm thankful for them.

     I had forgotten about some of those details until recently...with a daughter turning 5 and the desire to create a bond, to cultivate communication now so that when things do become tense in those teenage years we have something to build upon, we've been thinking more and more about how Scott, in particular, can connect with the girls.

     So it was with enthusiasm and hopeful anticipation that I opened the pages of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates: Fun, Easy & Creative Ways to Build Memories Together.

     This is a great book, and more importantly a wonderful resource for creating memories and connection between a dad and daughter.

     I have a WONDERFUL husband, who is a WONDERFUL dad to his two little girls. However, in spite of good intentions, the craziness of life sometimes gets in the way of us being intentional about spending the one on one time we would like with our girls-- especially dad spending quality one on one time with his girls (something other than throwing one of them in the car to go get gas and milk at the corner store and talking on the way!).

     When I got the book I flipped through, looked at the ideas, read the intro and thought This is great! Because Scott has been so busy with work I thought it would be easiest if I picked out one or two of the ideas, wrote down the pages and just offered it to him with the book.

     We set aside some time ( Tuesday night), created the space, made plans for Ella and I to get out of the house,  and talked about what they might want to do.

     "Here babe. Here's that book I was talking about," I said as we talked on Monday night. "I jotted down a couple of suggestions for you..."

     To my surprise (and pure delight) he sat down with the book and started reading through it, introduction first, on his own!

     "Wow, this is great!" he said.

     He loved the importance of the daddy daughter relationship that the authors talked about in the Introduction. Even more than that, he loved the Godliness that the author's wove into the introduction. Thoughts like, "So may voices surrounding our daughters tell them what they're not: not thin enough, stylish enough, smart enough, athletic enough, not, not, not. A dad can communicate to his daughter who she truly is: a beautiful child of God who created her intentionally, has plans for her, and loves her with all of his heart. This message is conveyed through time spent together, where affirmation, fun experiences, meaningful conversations and prayers happen."

     Scott flipped through the ideas and settled on #59 (all on his was NOT one of my written suggestions!), "Your  Daughter's World"

     The gist of the date is that Dad picks out a small gift ahead of time, makes a snack and plans to spend some time in his daughter's room learning about all of her favorite things; dolls, stuffed animals, pictures from school. Scott improvised and started his date by taking Ava out for ice cream (that is the beauty of the book, it really serves as a springboard for you to be creative). When they came back Scott prepped some crackers and cheese while Ava was preparing her room. He had a gift for her, wrote her a note and went to her room to meet her animals, hear about their favorite foods, and listen to stories about her classmates from school.

     We told Ava about the "date" earlier in the day and she was literally giddy with excitement all day.

     The night was a hit; Scott enjoyed it, Ava felt special, I was so excited to hear about their evening after the girls went to bed, and Ella and I spent some time together (not sure if you call shopping for 3T spring clothes while your daughter tries to run away from you and climbs in and out of clothing racks quality time...but it served a purpose!).

     We are so thankful that this book made its way into our lives and know that it will be sitting on our bookshelf as a potential tool for YEARS to come (the dates range in age appropriateness... the book description says for dads and girls from ages 6-12, but I would say you could start this as early as 4 years old!).

     Even after we "outgrow" the book years from now, I know it will served as a foundational tool in having help to teach us how to create such moments for many years to come.

     In addition to the suggested dates, each chapter includes some deeper thoughts for dad to think about and a focused prayer that he can either meditate on on his own, or with his daughter.

     If you know of a dad with girls, this is a GREAT father's day gift to give him from his girls.

     And here is the exciting part, I ended up with an extra copy and am giving one away!!!

     To be in the drawing for a copy of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates leave a comment below. Comments will be open until midnight on Sunday. I will announce the winner on Monday morning. Yay!

(Note: I was offered a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review...If you know me, that's a great deal!)

Wednesday, March 21

Spring: A Chance to Notice Again


     We have had the most beautiful stretch of days here in Buffalo-- sunny, 70's, blue skies. An early spring for sure. It is a welcome change of pace to the dreary gray winters that we can tend to have, though this last year's winter was pretty mild in comparison to Buffalo winters of the past.

     One of my very favorite things about living in a part of the country that has four seasons is the time of transition in between each season. I suppose  on some levels that it is ironic, because in many areas of my life I am not a big fan of change; I don't like surprises (I hoo on me!), and can tend to get antsy about veering from my schedule in the day to day.

     That said, I suppose I have always been a person who enjoys the thrill of visiting a new city, there is something exciting about wearing new shoes, enjoying a house update, trying a new food...

     Perhaps that is the beauty of four seasons: newness. It's less about transition and more about seeing things with new eyes, experiencing them for the first time.   The first warm days, the first daffodil sprouts, the blooms on trees in spring. Later in the year I find myself eagerly anticipating  the briskness in the fall air, the need to pull out a sweater, and the inevitable first snowfall. Funny how that happens.

     I think that sometimes when we live the same lives for too long we stop noticing the beauty around us. If the daffodils were always there, I would eventually stop noticing them. If the air were warm all the time I fear I would not have experienced the joy of feeling it to newly on my face as I was jogging yesterday. With newness comes increased awareness, something we all need in our lives.

     As I was taking in the beauty of the day yesterday I wrote these words...

"Finally sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, lovely and admirable-- if anything is excellent and praiseworthy-- think about THESE things."                                                     Philippians 4:8
     Today is one of those days when all that surrounds me feels right, and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and PRAISEworthy. Today is a day when I am abounding in praise. Praise for the beauty of the sun, and the  pale blue sky. Praise for the accumulations of wispy white clouds, and a silent breeze. Praise for the songs of the birds, the trees, even yet without leaves. Praise for the laughter of a 3 year old, and the curiosity of a 5 year old. Praise for my breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between.  
     Praise for a strong heart and mind, legs and lungs, which allow me to run and feel the glory of God in it.  
     I am abundantly blessed and grateful for it all.  
     I know that the true work comes when the sun is not shining. When the birds are not singing. When the days feel long, and hard and tense. Can I offer praise in those moments? 
     It is my prayer that my faith would deepen to a place in which that would come naturally; natural praise even on the dreary, hard, crazy days. Praise in the good moments and the bad, for God is good in them all. 
      For now, for today, I will be in the thankful moment. I will store all these things in the back of the mind that can tend to be anxious, I will ponder them and cultivate them in my heart.  I will have hope that they will be a fresh pool to call from when the heart needs to be filled again. 
I will observe, I will enjoy the gifts, I will give praise. 

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 15

A Pep Talk Kind of Book

Do you know how special you are? How intricately, intimately and specifically you were created to be just what you are and who you are?

When is the last time someone told you that? 

Do you ever find yourself thinking: 
      If I were more like her, I could...
      If I had more money, or a bigger house, or more resources, I could...
      If my life was easier, or my circumstances were different, I could...
      When things slow down I will finally....

If your answer to the first question is "no", and your answer to the second, "yes," you need the kind of pep talk that Holly Gerth offers in her new book  You Are Already Amazing

While these questions may not always have definitive answers, most women fall somewhere on the continum of saying "no" to the first and "yes" to the second far to often. 

Our hearts as women...they're big, and complex and often insecure. We dream big dreams and then face real life. Our big dreams and real life, when mixed together, often do not produce the outcome we were hoping for. 

The beauty is, none of this is a surprise to God and Holly offers us a well stated reminder of that.

The book starts out with Holly pulling up a proverbial chair next to us in a coffee shop. She's there to have a heart to heart, to remind us that we're created just the way you were supposed to be-- idiosyncrasies and all. 

Holly builds an intimate rapport with us, her reader, from the very first chapter. It's as if her experiences as a counselor, life coach and writer of (very good) inspirational cards for DaySpring has transcended the pages of the book to meet us right where we are.

One of my favorite moments is when she brings us to the passage in scripture where an accused woman is brought forth and about to be punished (stoned!) for her sins. 

The leaders provokingly instigate Jesus..."What would you say? How would you punish her?"

He looks at them, as everyone is watching, including the shamed and embarrassed woman and then, with his finger, leans over and writes something in the dust. Something that makes everyone stop...pause...and walk away. 
Gerth says, " What Christ wrote in the dust is a mystery. But whatever it was, I know it was truth. And now we stand as women accused. The enemy is ready to throw stones at us. In the dust of our hearts, I picture Jesus writing truth that covers those accusing words: 
                                          Loved. Accepted. Chosen. Mine 
My eyes are overflowing a bit now (as I imagine those of the woman accused did too) with happy tears of freedom and grace. Others may speak into our lives. But Jesus has the final say. He covers the lies with love. May he heal us and help us to believe." 
Whew. Are those not words that go right to the deep places of your heart? 

I have so many words, lines, well made points and moments of encouragement, underlined in this book that I will surely be returning to it. It will take it's place on the bookshelf in my office (the one I reference when I need to be encouraged or inspired!) rather than the bookshelf in the basement (the books that were just o.k., that I might refer to again, but don't have room for in my office!).

One quick confession...I wasn't sure I was ready for another "self-help" type book. You read enough of them and you begin to think I've heard it all before. I've read so many of them, and garnered truth from some, but tend to walk away thinking "that was good", and then nothing changes. 

Perhaps it's because many books tell us what we need to do.

Holly's book, on the other hand, changed my heart. She doesn't tell us we need to DO anything. In fact, she prompts us to stop doing and just BE. Simply be who God created you to be and inevitably what you do with your life will be exactly what it is supposed to be. 

Thanks Holly! I needed that. 

Holly posts regularly on her blog Heart to Heart with Holly. Head on over to website and check her out. Her post today is also linked to a great giveaway from (in) Courage and gives details about the book club that will be starting next Monday. You can join women, online, from all over the country who will also be reading You're Already Amazing. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, March 13

Middle of the Night Meanderings

Monday night I got about four hours of sleep.

Four hours of sleep? Do you have a newborn in the house? A sick child? Is that some new approach to trying to get more out of your day? 

Nope. Nope. Nope and definitely NO WAY!

I'm a momma who needs her sleep. Eight hours a night and a cat nap during the day and I'm doing o.k., anything less than that...oh boy. Irritable. Cranky. Memory loss...Um, my cell phone number? Huh? Wait, hold on, I think it's in my phone right here. Let me just look it up. 

The problem is, the kiddos come along and all sorts of crazy things start to compete with your desire to sleep. Things like alligators trying to eat fingers, or spray paint bottles filled with colored paint ruining your party dresses.

What, no alligators at your house?! Where is the fun in that?!

 Those two examples are mere tidbits of the stories my husband and I have received in the middle of the night this week; our daughter, who is almost 5 has the craziest imagination while she is sleeping. We go through phases where all is well and peaceful and then...and then...the dreams start again.

I imagine it has to do with her growing, or changing, or transitioning in some way. At times I've thought that maybe it had to do with the amount of television she was watching or angry birds she was playing (yes, yes...I confess...though I had very little to do with it! My husband showed her how to play Angry Birds on his i-pad).

We've prayed. We recite Bible verses. We read happy stories to her before bed. Some nights, all is well. Others, not so much.

Monday night was a not so much kind of night. I had a hard time falling asleep (because I'm female and I have these things called hormones that wreak havoc on anything and everything sometimes!), and then, just about the time I started to fall asleep, the shrieks began...

"Mommy. Daddy. Mommy. Daddy. I NEEEDDD YOU!"

The next two hours were a blur. Scott tried to comfort her. I tried to comfort her. Back and forth, back and forth. Finally I stumbled back towards bed and just as I was saying, "Scott, there is no way she is going to fall asleep without one of us next to her," she was standing next to me with her pillow.

I conceded to letting her sleep in our bed with Dad (he's a heavier sleeper and more likely to be able to make it through sleeping with a wiggly 4 1/2 year old) and I took my pillow and ended up under her pink coverlet, surrounded by teddy bears on all sides.

It's easy to get irritable in the middle of the night, but I happen to know a thing or two about bad dreams, and fear and anxiety.

While no one ever addressed it with me as a child, when I look back I had all sorts of crazy things going on...fears about movies I had seen (waiting for the Blob to come and get me), fears that I would be fatally poisoned merely because I walked on the neighbor's grass which had been sprayed by ChemLawn (I wouldn't wear those sneakers for months), fears of lyme disease if a character in a book had suffered from it, wild dreams about the end of the world, and an odd assortment of other things in between.

So, here I am, with a little blond haired blue-eyed angel faced child who is full of fear in the middle of the night. I'm reliving parts of my childhood all over again, and as an adult trying to figure out what would have been most helpful.

Love. Perfect love.

1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear."

Oh my. How does an imperfect momma offer perfect 2:15 in the morning?!

Through a God who is way bigger than my imperfect love, mine and my husband's tired words, and bigger and stronger than all of my daughter's crazy dreams put together.

That's what we try to tell her in the middle of the night. That is what we will keep telling her. It is the only thing that ultimately has power to conquer her fears.

A friend recently recommended a book called Go Away, Dark Night by Liz Curtis Higgs. 

We've been reading it to her. She gets a big smile on her face when we do...she smiles because little Griffin ( the boy in the book) is feeling the same way she is. She smiles because her heart recognizes the truth that God IS bigger than the dark, her fears, her dreams (which is what Griffin comes to realize by the end of the book). I LOVE that words written on a page by an author who had them on her heart, meet my little girl in the deepest places of her heart (Is that not why those of us who love to read and write keep reading and writing!).

She smiles because she believes it during the day. Now we'll keep working on it when she wakes up at night.

I smile because even though I know I'm an imperfect parent, we have a heavenly father whose love is big enough and perfect to cover it all.

And that's all we need.

Today I'm linking up over at...


And Here...

Friday, March 9

Fun With Writing Exercises

     I've been joining the Allume Blog 31 Days to Becoming a Better Writer challenge this week. Each day a new challenge/writing exercise is posted and then we have at it to see what we can come up with. We then post our responses on a Facebook page for all to's like a low profile, work from home, no strings attached, writing group.

     Today we are posting our favorite challenge from the week for the Friday link-up. Mine would be the Day 2 Challenge: Write 300 Words About Anything. I know, I's very unspecific, which is why I liked it! Here is what I came up with:

     I watch the man from far away, balding, middle aged, sincere face. His sneakers are worn, and his black Adidas pants ill fitting. I don’t want him to know that I am glancing in his direction, in this, of all settings, the gym. Such glances could be mistaken for interest of a different kind, but I am curious. Curious about the lines in his well-worn face and the life that has been hard and the hardness that has written itself in the expressions.
      I watch because I know, I know the stories that lie behind such expressions. No, not from personal experience, my own has been life privileged, despite our low income growing up. We did not have a lot, but we had a warm house, warm meals, shoes, and food—the necessities of life.
If I were someone else, someone of more affluence or polish, I fear I might look him and disregard him as a blue-collar worker with whom I have nothing in common. Instead I look at him with empathy because I see my father in his face. A face whose parents were unavailable: one a drunk the other preoccupied. A face with a history that includes a teenage suicide attempt, drunk driving accidents and a shot-gun wedding after getting a young girl pregnant.
     The face has lines, and the lines tell stories, stories that beckon to be told about why he wanted to be more, but was never encouraged. About how he had hoped to give back in a big way someday, but needed to give checks to support a family first and then became tired and weary from the steadiness of life.
      It is a face that I admire and a heart that I want to mend, but know that it is not my place to do so. I say a quick prayer that he be encouraged in some way on this day; by someone, somehow. It is all I have, my prayer and some compassion.
     Sometimes it’s all we need. 

If you enjoy writing and need a little encouragement to get you practicing hop on over and check it out (just click on the logo in my sidebar!). 

Wednesday, March 7

Permission to Sit

     When I was in grad school, working as a part of a team of teaching assistants in a large Communications 101 class with several hundred Freshman,  I vividly recall our coordinating supervisor saying something that has always stayed with me. She is a smart woman, and had many years of shepherding TA's under her belt-- TA's that were often timid, unsure and overwhelmed, especially in the beginning of the year, by the task that they had taken on.

    In one of our early training sessions she stood at the front of the classroom and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, fake it till you make it."

     I'll be honest, that was empowering at the time. I was young (in my early 20's) and was feeling a bit unsure myself. I thought, Hmmmm...I may not have all the answers, but if I can at least look like I do then the students will develop a certain level of respect for me. I can pretend that I am confident and experienced and totally know what I am doing and they will hopefully believe that that is the least until it become the reality. 

     Sometimes, you do need to do that...the faking part.  When you are teaching, when you are operating certain business transactions, when you are tired and weary from a busy family life, but still need to offer wisdom, or encouragement or confidence to a child who needs you to be strong when they are uncertain and confused.

     But sometimes...

      Sometimes it's o.k. to be transparent. To show weakness. To be honest and real and authentic. With friends, family and confidants who know you well. They support you, encourage you-- cheer you on. But even with those closest to us, we sometimes feel the need to hold back, fake strong, tell them we're o.k., even when we're not feeling super o.k. We find the need, if ever so slightly to, fake it till we make it because society teaches us to be strong.

     What I love about my Christian walk, my faith, my personal relationship with Jesus, is that it requires exactly the opposite of us. In our weakness we are made strong through Him. While we may feel like it is only sometimes o.k. to be weak with people in our physical lives, it is always o.k. to be weak, to be real, to melt, to sit and just be, at Jesus feet. Anytime. Anywhere. With anything...big or small.

      I like that place. The real, authentic, messy place at Jesus feet. I am so stinkin' thankful for that place. For you and for me. I'm thankful for it because as much as I wish to write words that would meet women where they need it the most, words that would encourage hearts, the truth is that there is nothing I can do to heal help change you...the only thing I can really do that matters is point you in the direction of  the only thing that matters.

       Jesus. His feet. The place where he takes all of the messiness and brokenness and makes it whole again. Even when I don't realize I'm broken...I just think I'm tired. Really tired. And then I sit, and in my sitting I realize just how much I needed to be there and just how much needed to be fixed and filled again.

      I suppose we're always broken. We always will be in this lifetime.

     The place, at His feet, it reminds me that I am required to do no more. Not one more task, not one more responsibility, not one more wipe of a dust rag, or rinse of a a matter of fact Jesus beckons that we put it all down...and just sit.

     Say what?!


      Me? A busy mom?

      Yes. You. Sit.
 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
    “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
      So tonight, in a quiet house, I sit.  I had plans to drive to the gym, to file papers, to tidy my desk, make beds, fold laundry, organize preschool papers and work on a freelance project. I finally sat down, with my computer and a sigh and thought..."I need to just be near Jesus for a minute." I am choosing what is better.

     I opened my computer and listened to this song...a song that beckons me to do nothing but be who I am, sit at His feet, breathe, and fill my spiritual cup.

       I pray that you would read this and feel like you too can just sit for a while. Let go and breathe for a few minutes. Go ahead, it's o.k....really...nothing more is required of you today. Choose what is better. I give you permission to not have all the answers, to not have any answers. I give you permission to be confident in nothing, yet have everything you need.

Tuesday, March 6

Pre-School Pre-Nuptials...

Hi Friends,

Hope you are all well and enjoying your weeks! It's gray (as usual) here in Buffalo, but it's starting to get warmer and so I'm thankful for that. There are green shoots coming up from the dirt in front of the house, always a welcome and hopeful sign of spring.

I posted some thoughts about my daughter's "boy" friends over at A Little Monkey Business yesterday. It's a definite must read, especially if you have little girls.

And, if you have words of consolation for my husband who did not seem to find the whole thing funny as I read the post to him yesterday, well, that would be helpful too!

Check out the post here!

The Do What You Can Plan

It seems I revisit this question at least once a year...

Why am I blogging? Should I keep blogging? Does God want me to be blogging?

I suppose the last question is the only one that really matters...though answers come slowly, and through the noise of life sometimes. They are hard to hear and to decipher.

And so I keep blogging.

When I started blogging in November 2010, I was ecstatic. It was the writing outlet I had been longing for. I wrote haphazardly about odd movies I had seen, hair pulling moments at the grocery store with my children, the giving up of pacifiers and anything else that came to mind in a given day. 

While I feel enormously blessed to be home with my girls, there has always been an itch to find a way to manage both motherhood and some component of my former professional life, no matter how small that piece might be. I've strived to find that balance in part because I enjoy the work; editorial projects, researching topics, creating streams of words. In part, because I wanted to keep that part of my life relevant and engaged so that once the girls are in school I can more easily slip back into these things when the time is right. 

Blogging scratched the itch. For a while anyway. 

And then I started to read about blogging. I started to check out other blogs. Lots of them (there's lots to be checked out, if you haven't already noticed!)  And I thought, Oh my, I'm doing this all wrong. My design needs work. What is my focus? My niche? Who am I trying to reach? Who is my audience? How do I grow my audience? 

Statistics. Suggestions. Marketing. Twitter. Social Media Presence. 

I wasn't ready for all of that

I started thinking, a lot, about what I should be writing about, who I should be trying to reach, what my blog should look like. I've attempted to put editorial calendars together, filled with interesting topics and ideas. 

And then the rubber meets the road, so to speak. 

It's kind of like saying I'd love to go on a long journey, meet some interesting people, and explore some amazing places along the way. I start to write lists of what I would take, where I would go, how the trip might actually come to fruition...and then I go to hop in the car and realize...

Whoa...wait a minute...I've got two little ones here. Either they come along for the ride with me or there isn't a ride! 

I stick the kids in the car and look at my list and realize it is WAY too ambitious of a plan with I look at their smiling faces and we drive to the zoo and grab some chicken nuggets for lunch. 

It's a great day. We have fun. We even meet some interesting people and see some very cool animals along the way. It's just not the "big" epic thing I thought I wanted to persue. And that's o.k. Because I LOVE these little faces...and the big journey can wait. 

But then the kiddos go to bed and I log onto my computer and enter into the Neverland of the upon, blog, upon Moms! With big impact, and great design and far reaching messages and a widespread audience. 

Oh my. Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my....I won't tell you what goes on in my insecure, comparison trapping, non-focused on God mind at those moments. 

I'll just say that's when I have to take a BIG deep breath. And refocus on the master of the universe who has plans for my life, and my children, and our family, and how it will all work the palm of his hand. All. Figured. Out. 



That is why I really appreciated what Holley Gerth had to say in her book, You're Already Amazing. (The one that arrived unexpectedly in the mail several weeks ago when I was having a really disorganized kind of day!). 

She starts to think about her "goals" to get to the gym more and says,
"One day I was driving to work and telling myself once again "When things slow down, I will go tto the gym and work out all the time. I'll get in shape. It will be great." Then I thought, "I've been telling myself this for five years. Things are never going to slow down. I've got to do what I can." That was the beginning of a revolution." 
She then proposes the "Do What You Can Plan".

I like the do what you can plan. Why? Because in my life, in this season, right now, I can't go on some big epic journey in my writing "career". 

But I am doing what I can. 

I'm blogging when I can, which keeps my mind moving and engaged. I've been creating our MOPS newsletter for the past two years. I'm trying to figure out ways to engage women in our church to express their own stories...through words. I'm writing a freelance article here and there (mostly for a local 50+ magazine, which is funny to me, but it's good and keeps me researching and writing).

More importantly than all of that...I'm reading to my girls as much as I can. We're spending time together. We memorize Bible verses (when we remember!). We go to the zoo. And to the grocery store. And for walks. We plant vegetables together and bake muffins. 

The very next section in Holly's book is titled, "Small Can Be Really Big"...
"We often get caught up in thinking we have to do something really big to achieve our goals, but sometimes the little things really can make a difference. someone once told me that coming to the point where change happens is like adding one drop of water to a bucket every day."  
So why do I keep blogging? 

Well, here are a few reasons: 

1. I find joy in it. When I lay down the comparisons and just do it to do it...I enjoy it. 

2. As Scott says, you're keeping things "warm"

3. I've met some awesome women. Truly. There are people I've met and connected with way more deeply simply because we're bloggers. Bethi. Mindy. Amelia. Cindy B. (my newest bloggy friend), just to name a few! 

4. In the words of Ann Voskamp, who I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with at a conference back in October, "Blogging is like a net that catches all the moments of our lives. Things we might otherwise forget." 

That has been SO incredibly true for me! 

So, if you're a mom, or a woman, with a blog or thinking about starting a blog and you find yourself asking "Why bother? There are so many out there? Why add one more?"

If it is something that brings you joy, a way to connect with other women, and an opportunity for you to capture the starts and stops and moments of this crazy, busy life you are in...

Then it's worth it and you should do what you can. 

Sunday, March 4

Sacred Sundays: Prayer Time Ponderings

It's 8:45 and I'm sitting on the couch nestled between my two favorite girls. They're watching Jake and Neverland and I'm trying to read through the Old Testament in my "Chronological Bible in a Year".

An ideal set up for Bible reading, the kids, the cartoons? Maybe not, but it works for this season of life and that makes me o.k. with it.

I had intended to get up earlier, to snatch a few quiet moments early. But, alas, I woke with a startle as the light shone through the cracks of my blinds...What time is it?!

8:00 a.m.



Quick prayer:

Dear Lord, So sorry! Please let the girls sleep for 20 more minutes...I'm going to sneak downstairs and read my Bible.

That's called a momma's hail mary prayer.

God loves me....but he pretty much laughed at that one. In the kindest way, of course.

I ran downstairs, sat on the couch and Ella greeted me 30 seconds later.

So here I am...girls nestled on either side, fleece blankets spread across the couch,  Bible on my lap, the television is on and we're doing what we can.

We had a  discussion in my moms group recently, sharing around the table how often we tried to have quiet Bible reading and prayer time, etc. The girls looked at me a little quizzically when I said "Almost everyday."

It's true. I'd say over the last six months I've tried to read my Bible just about every day. It doesn't always happen, of course, but I would say more days then not, it does.

I'm not a saint. Believe me! I don't have it all together. Oh wait, you know read my blog! I am not uber organized, nor do I get up at crazy hours (I'd like to, but my undisciplined, tired, self allows the warm down comforter get the best of me on a lot of days!), but I do know that if there is one thing that is important  for me to do every day it is to focus myself, find some peace and center my thoughts by reading some scripture if only for 10 minutes, on the couch, between children!

It used to be that I thought I needed to have a solid 1/2 hour carved out, a structured reading plan in front of me, my journal, pens, music...

Um...yup...not happening these days.

Now I keep my One Year Bible downstairs, on the coffee table with my spiral notebook tucked into it. I wake up, grab it and just start reading wherever I left off the day before.

This is what I like about the Bible in a Year edition that I'm using...I stick my bookmark in and read where I'm supposed to for the day. It leaves emotion out of it, What should I read this morning? Where should I start? What am I in the mood for? 

I just open and read. Even while my kids are on the couch.

You should also know I'm not following it day by day. My New Year's Resolution for 2011, yes did you catch that? 2011!  Was to read through the Bible in a year. I didn't make it super far last year (I didn't stop having quiet time, I just got derailed from the daily readings). So I picked up this year, where I left off (I figured a head start was a good thing!) in Leviticus and am moving onward.

I should also add that I do try to get up early several times a week to spend some more focused time in prayer...I know some moms who do that during their kids naptime, others who do it before bed at have to find whatever works for you.

It has been a sweet morning. Scott had made juice, cut fruit, had my coffee ready to go and set the girls plates out before he left for church this morning (he leaves early to set up with the band).

What a great guy!

I'm a lucky gal.

Bible reading. Check.
Healthy Breakfast. Check.
Happy kids. Check.
Happy momma. Check.

I'd say it looks like it's been a great day.