My Beautiful Readers…

I’ve missed this community so much. I hope you are able to hear the sincerity in my written voice.
The last time we talked I said that I would be sharing the exciting changes that are happening. I never came back and did that. The truth is, I got busy. Really, really busy. And now, well, I’m not so busy and here I am. That sounds much like you are getting my leftovers. I realize how not cool that is.

This year, my faithful friends, I vow to meet you here more often than “every now and then.” This place, here with you, is the energy drink when reality wears me down. Selfishly I want this to be a place where I can expose my wounds in hopes of finding a comfort. That’s what my ego wants anyway, but I will not be getting away with that. The winds of change are stirring, leaving me unsettled and excited.

What is God up to?

He is changing my heart. This is not the first time. It isn’t comfortable. It goes against every ounce of my human nature. It is, however, necessary in order to fulfill His plan for my life. He is drawing me away from the place of comfort and towards the place of risk.

He is providing everything I need at the exact time I need it, not a moment too soon nor ever too late. When this happens… when He makes it so blatantly obvious that He alone provides for and sustains me, it shows me how faithful he truly is. It makes me feel closer than ever before to His plan and purpose for my life. It helps me trust His design.

This year, I want to care more about how many people know love, compassion and Jesus than how many followers I have or don’t have on Twitter. I want to be quick to help without caring who gets the credit. I want to mean it when I pray, “Thy will be done.” even when it’s hard. I don’t want to be embarrassed or hesitant when people ask me about my faith.

So what does this mean?

I’m not totally sure? I have an idea. Some things are already in the works. Things that require time, energy and resources. Things that have no monetary gain. I know God will provide. He is my Great Provider and all I have to do is look at His track record to remember His faithfulness.

I also know that I am one of the few who has been given the opportunity to pursue my passion. It’s quite sobering to think about how much Chris has sacrificed so that I can chase this dream of mine. I also know, were he not in full support it would not be possible for me to follow the path of what I believe to be my destiny.

I guess what I’m saying is, “More will be revealed.” I miss sharing my story, I miss this community, and I’m going to do better.

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Why balance is overrated

balancingI have used the phrase, more than once, “I just need to find the right balance in my life.” Whether it be with work and home, dreams and reality, me-time and mommy-time, I have defaulted back to this phrase.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t ever find myself striving for balance. I love extremes. It’s how I’m wired…I guess. If I’m going to play, I’m gonna go all out!

The definition of balance changes from person to person. It’s personal. It’s all about how you look at it and what your capacity is. Am I wrong? (Feel free to disagree in the comments. I love a healthy debate.)

I have been thinking about this so much since having a dream the other night encompassing my fear, doubt and excitement with life in my current circumstances.

I was standing on a plank no bigger than my two feet. It was supported by a metal pole and held by someone I didn’t recognize and couldn’t see from my estimated view of 200 feet in the air.

The fear was so real. I had the bitter taste in my mouth. Recalling it now makes me grateful it was a dream.

Just when I was swaying, trying to get my balance, a friend who was sitting on a wall behind me, reached her hand out and said, “Here. Take my hand. I’ll pull you back on the wall.” I glanced down and felt queasy trying to focus on the ground below.

“I can’t.” I answered. “I have to do this! I just need to get my balance.”

The thought of sitting back on that wall made me wilt. Thinking about it now, I know that’s the place I was before taking this wild leap of faith. I know the friend represents all of the relationships I cherish from the position that I left.

Change is hard and I’m pretty confident this dream was about the big life change I have made in my career. However, it could pertain to several areas of my life right now.

I have some critics who want to see me fail. Those who accost me at every turn with why something won’t work. If only they knew how much that fuels my determination. (I guess now maybe they do?) The great thing about critics is they demand that I be on my game. Their sarcasm and thoughtless remarks provoke my creativity. Don’t get me wrong, I get discouraged and introspective when criticism is presented in any way other than constructive.

I also have incredible support from people who love me and want to see me succeed. Those who speak truth into my heart and mind. When I get seemingly too close to the edge, they offer me a hang glider instead of negotiations.

So now the choice is mine. Who will I allow to influence my future? Who will I give access to my decisions? Who do I listen to?

Here is what I know…my Heavenly Father knows my name. He beckons me with His unrelenting pursuit of my heart. Though everything around me changes, He remains. My Constant…my Deliverer…my Redeemer. He cares about the decisions affecting my life. He cares about my pursuits. When I focus on this truth, the naysayers fall silent and their opinion has even less no bearing on my present and future.

Can you relate to my failed attempts at reaching that perfect balance? When did you discover that it doesn’t exist?

Resources worth sharing:
followAndy is unwrapping a series called “Follow” from North Point Community Church. It has given great insight into the things I consistently read, say and do. He made a statement in the most recent message that has been on repeat in my thoughts and prayers as I make a valiant effort to integrate it into my daily life. “When our faith intersects with His faithfulness, everything changes.” 

Here’s a great post by the beautiful, talented and wildly successful, Joy Phenix Joy Phenix
about “Life Blending” instead of “Life Balance.”
“So often, we mentally put our commitments on an invisible teeter-totter, hoping to distribute our obligations evenly. The theory is that balance brings calmness.  The thinking is if we distribute our work evenly, then we’ll be less tired, less stressed, less guilty about our choices, and happier.  The problem is, life isn’t even.” read more…

(credit for balancing photo at top of page goes to google)

Mixed Blessings

The word “Mixed” by definition means; containing a mixture of both favorable and negative elements. While the word “Blessing” means; a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being. I have had a bit of experience with mixed blessings. You?

I hear interesting conversations about in-laws. Sometimes I think that they were put here to make holidays stressful. When discussing this sensitive subject with several girlfriends I asked how different their lives would be if they didn’t have a mother-in-law. This brought a smile to most of their faces. (If you’re a mother-in-law who’s already feeling offended, just hang with me.)

I then asked how it would change things had they never met their husband’s mother. They agreed that they have learned a great deal about their man from talking with his mother.

The truth is, I have never met my mother-in-law. We talked on the phone when I was a teenager, but she passed away before I was able to sit down and share in conversation over a cup of coffee or give her a hug and breathe in her unique smell that would later bring her to memory when a passerby was wearing the same scent. I was not able to ask her how she survived being a full-time working single mother.

When Chris and I were apart for a time I would have dreams about Lou Ann. We would be sitting in a cafe having conversations about life. I would wake up the next morning with her on my mind and throughout the day I felt a closeness to her.

Weird, I know. Especially for someone I had never even met. Eventually the relentless persuasion of thoughts to write Christopher a letter about his mother, whom he loved dearly and I had never met, led me to a pen and paper. My hand could not move as quickly as the words formed in my mind.

Suddenly, I was speaking of this woman I had never known as if we had been in each others company on a regular basis. I explained in the letter that I knew it sounded crazy, but there were things I felt she would want him to know. I then held on to it.

The next time I was in New York Chris and I had dinner and talked about our lives over the last couple of years. I nervously gave him the letter knowingly that he would probably think I was nuts. I asked him not to read it until the day I left. It was April 17th, two years to the day that his mother had passed away. I was not aware of that at the time.

Many things have fallen into place between then and now. Things I never dreamed possible. All I have of Lou Ann are a few photos and the memories that Chris shares with me.

She was an Educator. Brilliant. Beautiful. Strong. She was a fighter. A Survivor. She is my husband’s mother. Isn’t she stunning?

I was never able to ask her about Chris’ childhood…when he cut his first tooth or if he tried to climb out of his crib the way our oldest son did.

“What was his first word?” “When was the first time he tried rice cereal?” “Did he like sweet potatoes as much as my boys did?”

“What was his favorite lullaby when he awoke afraid in the middle of the night?” “Did she rock him to sleep?” “When was his first haircut? Did she cut it or take him somewhere to have it cut? Did he scream the way our youngest does?” “Did he have a favorite blanket or toy?” “How old was he when he took his first step?” “When did he lose his first tooth?” “What was his favorite thing to do?” “Do our boys look like him?” “Do they have the same mannerisms?” “When did he skin his knee for the first time?” “What is your favorite memory from his childhood?” “Has he always loved to draw and create?”

A vital question I wish I could have asked before going into labor with our first son is,
“How big was Chris’ head when he was born?” and “How long was your labor?”

So many questions unanswered. So many moments missed that I know she would have cherished.

Our children know her as “Lulu.” And as far as they’re concerned, heaven is filled with balloons released from their little hands while blowing kisses to the sky.

It’s been some time since I have found her on the other side of sleep, waiting in a cafe, to talk about my boys and compare notes over coffee and hot tea, I can only hope that I will find her there again sometime.

I am incredibly grateful to her for taking care of the love of my life. For making sure that he was provided for and prepared to face a world of both disappointment and triumph, ugliness and beauty.

I know, in-laws can be rather challenging (to say the least.) But they can also be a wonderful resource into the things that made our spouse who they are today. They are much like, “mixed blessings.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on extended family. What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened at a “family” event or around your diner table? Do you get along with your mother-in-law?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Each one of these photos elicit different kinds of dreams for me. I am completely enamored with and drawn to the sky these days. I have always loved clouds, but have a new appreciation for them since my friend, Elliot passed away. She loved sky crosses and I find myself searching for them every time I am outside. She taught me the importance of looking up and around, taking in the magic of things that were there all along, but often go  unnoticed.

The way that nature acts as a mirror…

Or, the lime green foliage on a wooden fence adding color and life to what would otherwise be considered rather drab.The way the clouds seemingly hang in the sky against a backdrop of blue, splashed with what looks like stretched cotton. There’s no rhyme or reason…no agenda…it just is.There are things all around us. Fascinating things that give us momentary escape from what feels like an ordinary life. Dreaming is free. It’s inspiring and it’s available whenever sought.

To see more interpretations of this week’s challenge, click here