I will act now

I will act now.
I will act now.
I will act now

Henceforth, I will repeat these words
each hour, each day, everyday,
until the words become as much a habit as my breathing and
the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids.

With these words,
I can condition my mind to perform every action
necessary for my success.
I will act now.
I will repeat these words again and again and again.

I will walk where failures fear to walk.
I will work when failures seek rest.
I will act now,

for now is all I have.

Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy.
I am not lazy.
Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed.
I am not a failure.
I will act now.

Success will not wait.
If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever.
This is the time.
This is the place.
I am the person.

~ Og Mandino
Augustine “Og” Mandino II
(December 12, 1923 – September 3, 1996)
American author.
Bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World.
His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into
over twenty-five different languages.
He is an inductee of the National Speakers Association’s Hall of Fame.

3 Mistakes Moms in Recovery Make

Big HeartPeople have asked me, especially now that my daughter is 15, “How do you explain your past to your children?” My answer is, “I don’t.”

Bella has always been a curious child and I am very open and honest with her. There is no other way to be if I want her to live a life that is happy, joyous and free. The questions started when she was around age 4. Questions that most teenagers are asking their friends. At first, I was surprised. “Why is she even thinking about these things? Where would she have heard that word?” When I realized that none of that mattered, I was left with a decision. How do I respond and do I integrate lessons from my past with my answer? Nothing gets your prayer life started like unlocking a closet full of skeletons.

After 11 years of conversations with my daughter, here is what I know not to be helpful when treading through unknown territory.

1.) Too much, too soon.
Guilt is an interesting thing. It almost always goes hand in hand with fear. You can bet where there is guilt, there will be fear. I have several mama friends in recovery and we have all struggled with this. Just because your child asks, doesn’t mean they want a play by play. Only say as much as needed and speak from a place of wisdom. Reverting back to a time of rebellion will only end badly.

It’s okay to tell your child that you’re not sure how to answer their question and will have to give it a few moments of thought. Do not let them leave the conversation as you may never have the opportunity again. In that moment, ask God for clear direction.

Also, you don’t have to spill your guts in one sitting. Only address the things that pertain to the question/circumstances. If my child is talking about an eating disorder, I’m not going to focus on drug use.

2.) Not enough.
Just because you were a hellion, doesn’t mean your child will be. Don’t avoid the truth for fear of passing on the curse. You are not cursed. We all acted out to some degree. For some of us it was bringing home a B on our report card. For others…well…it was in a whole different realm of behaviors.

At some point your child is probably going to ask you, “Did you ever smoke pot? Drink before you were legal? Break curfew? Have sex? Get a tattoo? …You fill in the blank. Some many people will disagree with me, but here goes…

When my children look me in the eyes and ask me a question, I answer them truthfully. To some, lying is “protecting.” No, lying is lying and once it starts it’s difficult to stop. Honesty saved me from a miserable life. It was difficult. I once lied about everything. Even when there was no cause to lie, I lied. It made getting honest foreign and all the more difficult, but so incredibly freeing on the other side.

If there is one thing I never want to be to my children, it’s hypocritical.

3.) The shame game
Shame is contagious. Make sure it ends with you.
I get it. It sucks having to come clean to a kid, but what’s even worse is hiding. Darkness leads to relapse (no matter what your vice). It’s not possible to hide in the light so take up residency there.

You may be afraid of what people will think. “I’ll never be invited to serve on the PTA or be in a moms club or lead a girl scout troop or make cookies for bible study…” Remember, if you are still looking to someone else to prove your worth, you will never “feel” good enough. Besides, most things are highly overrated in our minds.

Worried about your image? Ask yourself whose image you are shadowing. I know that I am created in the image of a God who loves me and has a great plan and purpose for my life. When I think about His image, my confidence is restored and I no longer fear the actions of man.

I can’t tell you how much is too much or how little is not enough. Even if I knew your story, I couldn’t decide that for you. I would encourage you to pray. Ask God to guide your thinking. He gives us what we need when we need it and it works out as it should. It sounds simple, because it is, but it is far from easy. Examine your motives, asking yourself, “Why do I feel the need to share this? Is it helpful? Will it only make me feel better for the few moments I am sharing it, but lead down a path I never intended?”

Most importantly, for me at least, speak from a place of love, gratitude and hope. Be a living, breathing example that no one is beyond redemption. Do not overlook consequences or give permission. Do be authentic.

In the end, love always wins.


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)

When the Siren Sounds

Station 21 Firehouse The Atlanta Fire Department’s Station 21, offers a variety of services beyond firefighting and fire rescue. Citizens can have their blood pressure checked and obtain and learn to install child car seats, water conservation kits and fire alarms. The station also serves as a safe spot for domestic violence victims. Station 21 has a proud history, dating back to the 1940’s.

IMG_9491However, it isn’t for any of these reasons that I was first introduced to the men. For the last 3 years, they have faithfully come and shared with the Preschoolers where my son attends. There are only a few children in each class, but that doesn’t deter them. They show up and run through a demonstration of fire safety and first aid just as they would to a packed auditorium. The Chief even attends and facilitates the talk.IMG_9436

I am so grateful to each one of them for investing in the lives of these little ones. Each little IMG_9538boy now wants to “fight fire.” These guys are hero’s in our community. I would be lying if I said that I do something for them on a consistent basis. I think about it often, but rarely act on it. I plan to do better going forward.

For anyone who has schooled aged children, I cannot recommend this enough. They walk through each step of putting on their suit. All while talking to the children in an effort to diminish fear of the mask and oxygen tank.IMG_9544IMG_9550IMG_9553IMG_9554IMG_9556IMG_9558After he’s suited up and ready, the children are allowed to touch the mask, suit, helmet, while he continues talking to them, explaining what each piece is and why it is important.
IMG_9559IMG_9561IMG_9592IMG_9587This is so helpful in the case of an emergency. The children are learning not to be afraid of a rescue worker trying to help them.

At one point Rogers’ gear was sitting unattended by the truck.IMG_9466
Any time I see a firefighter’s helmet, a worn American flag, or hear the sound of their personal distress signal, I am instantly taken back to 9/11. All of those who were lost. The days of multiple distress signal units being heard from the rubble. It’s haunting.

To think that the same men and women who are saving people’s lives everyday would take time out to come share with us and take pictures with the children, is humbling and so incredibly appreciated.

When we took the boys to the station to deliver a thank you from the preschool children, the men were more than accommodating. They showed us around the station, let the boys take a picture with them and even slid down the pole. It is a memory that will remain at the forefront of my boys minds for a very long time.

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Who in your community is serving fearlessly to protect those you love? What can you do to appreciate them and their daily sacrifice?

Five Minute Friday: Rest

RestAhhhhh. I take a deep breath in and slowly exhale preparing for a few tranquil moments of meditation. Rest.

Last night a beautiful young friend and I were discussing this very thing. I watched as tears ran down her checks and onto her blouse. She wiped them away with the sleeve of her sweater while saying, almost in a whisper, “I just don’t feel as close to God and I’m not sure how to get back.”

One thing I’ve learned in my years of running is that when I feel distance it is not He who creates it. It is I.

For me, I can’t always reconnect without meeting Him under the circumstances of rest. Being still. Opening my hands to the heavens. “Here I am, Lord. I just want to sit here a while…in your presence…where restoration can be found.”

Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Why is being still so difficult?

I looked into the eyes of this remarkable young woman who, though just out of her teens, has played the role of mother, provider, protector and spiritual leader for her siblings since a very young age and therefore doesn’t know what it feels like or even how to be still.

I encouraged her to open emptied hands to the heavens, fully expectant of the blessings He would flood down, filling not only her hands, but her heart, mind and body. Pour out her cares to the God who formed every detail of her being in the womb of the mother who would leave her soon after. Allow someone else to bear her burden. Even if only for a while. Renouncing the illusion of control.

 Surrender, to me, is the epitome of rest.

Do you find time for rest? Is it difficult to be still? Join Lisa-Jo and a community of participants over at Five Minute Friday and tell us your story.

Our Darling Boy

The last three weeks have been filled with fevers, coughing, headaches, sleepless nights, lot’s of tissues, cough drops, and smoothies from the freezer section at Costco.

Being a parent is wonderful. There is no equivalent. However, adding sick kiddos and mama getting sick to the mix increases the difficulty significantly.

Amidst all the runny noses, sneezes and sore throats there was something to celebrate…Riley's Happy Birthday hat

Caden turned 5. Five years old! My baby. He claims he is no longer a baby and he’s right, but he will always be my baby.

The morning started with Chris’ delicious Belgian waffles. Caden was elated and smiled throughout our Happy Birthday song.

It was time for making wishes, blowing out candles and feeling the first bit of sugar entering the system as maple syrup.

Next came the gifts, of which his favorite was the Angry Bird fan filled with candy from Aunt Carrie. He also loved the Lego’s and always enjoys putting them together with his daddy.1,000 piecesNew LegosFiretruckThe highlight of his afternoon was celebrating with fro-yo from Yoforia. What better for a sore throat? The other patrons joined us in singing. It was so fun!

We enjoyed dinner backwards as after Yoforia we went for “fancy” hotdogs. Mine was veggie and it was delicious.

The next week we celebrated with school friends which properly completed the festivities of transitioning Caden into his 5th year.

I realize this has been a total “Mommy post” which is somewhat out of the norm for my writings. I’m under the weather, making me more vulnerable to the sappy side. You won’t hold it against me, will you?

And let’s be honest…I’m insanely proud of my boys and sometimes it’s therapeutic to share my adoration so that I don’t explode.

This Day

Pure JoySome days just flow.
The kids don’t whine when waked up for school.
Breakfast is on the table when they come down with sleepy eyes and bed head.
They change into their clothes without being asked.
Lunches are packed.
Clean socks are waiting by shoes.
Jackets are on.
And they’re off for another day of learning and growing.
Walking out into a day paved with faith as we release them into the impeccable care of their Heavenly Father.
The house is quiet now.
The hum of the dryer is all that is heard.
The sun peeks through the clouds as snowflakes fall, quickly melting on impact.
The house is warm.
Smells of coffee and burnt cinnamon fill the air, rising to the ceiling.
It’s another day. Filled with endless possibilities. More than can be embraced.
My lips curve into a smile with teeth.
So this is grace.
This is the undeserved and grossly underrated exuberance of God.
This is the beauty of second chances.
This is light and hope. Blessings and goodness all swirled into normal.
May I remember this moment on the not so smooth days when the children whine from dawn to dusk and the pantry isn’t stocked from my lack of grocery shopping.
When there are no clean clothes and every step is a struggle.
I want to remember this warmth and calm of a peaceful heart at home.