Lessons Learned at 42

FullSizeRenderI am blessed to say I turned forty-two a couple of days ago.  Interestingly, a few days before my birthday, Facebook placed  “Flashback posts” from my 40th birthday celebration on my news feed.  Some of the pictures were are hard to look at for more than a few seconds.  Soooo much has changed since then.  The big FOUR OH (40) was easy, breezy, beautiful cover girl.

Turing forty-two came with battle scars and big life lessons yet more authentic love than I could ever have imagined.

I battled the war of divorce and I took a lot of body shots…disappointment, anger, rage, and embarrassment. I raised my sword to the death of my dream for my family and my life then pulled out my white towel in defeat.   I drew my firearm but choked at pulling the trigger on having to offer forgiveness for being SEVERELY hurt and the fear of being alone forever.  Even as a woman of faith, I can totally understand Mike Tyson when he said the prophetic words:  “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face”.

One major lesson I had to learn……

1. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.(Ephesians 6:12 CEV)

Boxer with cutman

Once I FINALLY realized the REAL fight happens between my two ears and in my heart, moving on became easier.  However, let me keep it real, my boxing ringside cutman went through a whole lotta vaseline for my gash…it was huge and is still healing.

I heal just a little bit more each day I choose to put down my weapons and surrender to what is (where I am in life…career, singleness, finances) through prayer.  Do I get it right every day?  I WISH! Y’all I have days sometimes several days in a row where I slide back into old behaviors and fearful thoughts.  Yet because of my journey and my healing gash, I now see people and situations through the lens of empathy.

Very recently, Andy Stanley said something that summed up my second life lesson:(I added the words in parenthesis):

2.  “You cannot consume, acquire, exercise {or run far enough away}into happiness….”

I can’t tell you how many times I have said:  “When I get ________ THEN I will be happy”, “When I stop feeling _______ THEN I will be happy”.

While I waited on the perfect circumstances for happiness to occur, God sent amazing men and women into my life who came alongside me and prayed, cooked meals, completed home projects, ran errands, you name it.

I had all the ingredients for the “happiness recipe” in my cabinet but I kept going to Wal-Mart…aimlessly walking up and down the aisles without a shopping list.

As I looked around the table at the beautiful faces at my birthday dinner and reflected on the posts, texts, gifts, and well wishes I received throughout the day, I couldn’t help but think about a quote someone emailed to me months ago:

3.  “Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.”– Mandy Hale

Family picture 2015

“Forget about what’s happened;  don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? Isaiah 43:19 (MSG)

I really gotta let it go…Thanks George.

Image Credit: MCA Nashville

Image Credit: MCA Nashville

I am a music lover.  Take a look at my Itunes library and you will find Kirk Franklin, Chris Tomlin, Jay Z, Rascal Flatts, Bob Marley and a couple of hard rock songs here and there.

On Sunday, I watched a little of the ACM Awards and I had the great opportunity to hear George Strait sing a medley of his classic “All my Ex’s Live in Texas” and his newest song, “Let It Go”. When he smoothly crooned “Let It Go”, everyone swayed side to side and seemed to listen intently to his lyrics…including me.

Here are a few lines:

Love’s great until it’s not
Hearts break but the world don’t stop
When it rains, man, it pours you can’t change the course
You can wish on a star but if it ain’t in the cards

Let it go, sometimes you gotta let it go
Let it all wash on under the bridge, blow it a kiss
Give it a rest ‘cause it is what it is

You never know
What’s waiting just up the road
Sooner or later that sun’s gonna shine
Luck will turn on a dime
And when the good times roll let ‘em roll
But when they don’t
Let it go

Let it go
You really gotta let it go
Let it go
Sometimes you gotta let it go
Let it go

As the work week began and dread reared her ugly head, I kept singing the line “and when the good times roll let ’em roll but when they don’t…let it go”.  Now as much as I love music, country songs don’t traditionally usually get stuck in my brain.  Perhaps it is the steel drum and steel guitar arrangement of “Let It Go” that remind me of the beach?

Perhaps, it was God, using one of his infinite ways (music) to speak to me?

Whatever the reason, George Strait is right….I really gotta let some stuff go.

If you are REALLY honest, I bet you have some things you need to let go of too.

And since we are being honest, I’ve tried “letting go” before and it is easier said than done.

So, how do you let  it go?

After thinking about the lyrics, I decided to ask God through prayer and Bible study how to really let go.

Here are two truths I discovered:

1. Letting Go is a choice.  It doesn’t happen spontaneously when you are no longer bothered by a situation.  Letting go is an active decision to no longer dwell on what happened all while still feeling raw because of what happened.

…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

2. To truly “let go”, I must relinquish the “right” to get even.  This means acknowledging life is not fair yet God is the judge and will right the wrongs. In practical terms…it is surrendering my will to keep defending myself, continuing to argue my point, and/or manipulating people or situations towards an outcome I am attached to. (OOOH)

Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Romans 12:19 MSG)

So, happy Hump Day!  Where do you needed to “Let It Go”?  Just like the song says:  “You never know what’s waiting up the road”.

Watch the George Strait’s performance on AMC awards 2015 HERE.  The man is amazing and touches all genres of music…the rapper Drake quoted him in his song HYFR.

Let It Go 

Courage and Kindness..the Cinderella Movie

cinderella-glass-slipper-goodAs our “girl time” activity of the weekend, my daughters and I went to see the new Cinderella movie.  Since I know the Cinderella story backwards and forwards, I was ready to huff, puff, roll my eyes and noodle neck at all the gushy “love at first site” stuff.

Surprisingly, I did NOT roll my eyes, but there must have been dust in the theater because my eyes got a little misty.  Not to mention, God used my time off my cell phone to minister to me.

The new Cinderella movie gives us a little background into the character of our princess, whose real name was Ella.  We get a glimpse of Ella’s seemingly perfect childhood and her pivotal life circumstance that changed everything, the death of her mother.

We all have pivotal life circumstances that when we reflect on them, we can see the how the trajectory of our life changed for a season or perhaps a lifetime.

When Ella’s mother was on her death bed, she asked Ella to promise her one thing:  To Have Courage and Be Kind.

When Ella’s father remarried her stepmother, Ella discovered something we in real life have known a VERY long time….having courage and being kind ain’t easy. With some folks and in some situations, it is nearly impossible.

It was refreshing to see Ella, who was given the name Cinderella by her stepsisters, desperately wanting to give up. If it had been easy for her to keep looking for the best in each situation she faced and then handling her challenges with kindness and grace-filled strength, there would be no lesson.

The lesson is in the struggle.  The lesson is in having courage and being kind, even when you are not feelin’ it.

It was Cinderella’s kindness and courage that won the Prince’s heart.  Unlike in the animated movie, their first meeting was in the forest in plain clothes, not at the ball.  However, just like in the animated movie, when the Prince saw Cinderella at the ball, he was in love!

Ok annnnnnd since we all know the story….. they all lived Happily Ever After. Right?

Yes, but not before Cinderella did the most courageous thing anyone can do…she FORGAVE.  Instead punishing her  Step Mother for mistreating her, Cinderella forgave her.

Cinderella and her Step Mother both endured pivotal life circumstances.  It was how they handled the cards life dealt them that made the difference.  Cinderella could have easily become bitter like her Step Mother but she chose to be better.

So I left the theater wondering how I can be BETTER instead of bitter about my own pivotal life circumstances.

Surprisingly, my answer came from a princess but the original idea came from the King of Kings.

Have Courage –Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

and

Be Kind-Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Have Courage and Be Kind has become a new mantra for me! I love it so much, I created a printable for my desk! Want one for yourself?  Click HERE

Have Courage Be Kind Printable

3 Buckets to a Better Week

So it’s Monday again.  I’ve got to be honest with you, Monday has traditionally been my least favorite day of the week.  Perhaps it is the obvious things like going back to work and beginning the single-working-mommy weekly shuffle that cause me to cringe when the alarm clock goes off.  Perhaps it is frustration about so many things that are out of my control right now.

I recently listened  to an amazing podcast by Mitch Matthews called Dream Think Do. The basic premise of the entire the Dream Think Do podcast is “taking small but significant steps towards living more in the moment, bringing our best game and making room to DREAM bigger, THINK better and DO more of the things we’re put on the planet to do”.  Amen right?

Mitch shared a concept on one particular episode that I LOVE.  It is called the 3 Buckets.  “The 3 Buckets” are actually a mental filing system for things that come at us in life.  Mondays are a perfect opportunity for things to come at us from all kinds of directions.

The 3 Buckets concept actually prompts you to ask yourself three questions as soon as you are tempted to get worried, afraid, frustrated or angry:

1.  Can I control it?

2.  Can I influence it?

3.  Do I need to let it go?

M.Matthews-3-Buckets copy

 

WOW!

We are going to dive into the “3 bucket” concept as the week progresses.  But for today, what things do you know you need to file before you even get the day going? What things do you need to reorganize?  Meaning, what things do you need to take out of one bucket and put in another one?

So here are a few things I am filing today:

1.  My attitude—“Control it Bucket”- Although I may often hate to admit it, I have the power to CHOOSE how I view and respond to my surroundings.

2.  My children-“Influence it Bucket”-As much as I would LOVE to make them do everything I tell them to do, they are their own free will beings and can ultimately choose what to do.  My job is to influence them to make wise decisions by teaching them God’s truth, providing loving correction with consequences and being an example.     Funny how I often put my children’s behavior in the “Control it” bucket.  Then, I take my attitude and put it in the “Let It Go” bucket and  well…”Let It Go” all over them.

3.  Results-“Let it Go Bucket”-This is a doozy but so important for me.  I have had a VERY STRESSFUL YEAR and although I exercise regularly and eat a pretty healthy diet, I just can’t seem to get rid of these extra 10 pounds.  Most people say they can’t tell but I can.  In utter defiance, I have not bought any new pants.  I have turned into “Leggings Girl”. Thank God for stretchy fabric and long flowing tops.  I cannot control if I ultimately lose weight or not or how long it will take.  Sucks I know!  So I have to LET IT GO!  The results get refiled under let it go and I can focus on what is in the control bucket..my diet, exercise, managing my stress and my attitude.

“It’s God’s job to grow our careers or our families or our home business–if he wishes.  It’s his job to orchestrate the details.  It’s our job to watch them fall into place and then move when and where he tells us…”-Karen Ehman

Can you think of a few things you need to file in a bucket today?

Want to print out the three buckets to remind yourself this week?  Go here.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Happy Monday!

 

 

Are we there yet?

Well, it is Sunday night…AGAIN.  The clothes are picked out.  The lunches are packed.  We are blessed.

Still that nagging “I wanna quit” feeling is lurking in the crevices of mind.  When I get quiet….those feelings ooze out and get me all distracted.  Left un-checked, my “I wanna quit” feelings make me anxious, hopeless, irritable and out of control.

Things are gonna be like this FOREVER! When will this be over?  Are we there yet? (In my best 5-year-old whine voice.)

Are we there yet

Last week, I talked about my feelings and the Bible verse I found.  I know you are saying…”Well of course she found a Bible Verse”.  Yeah well, you didn’t read my post because if you did, you would know my eyes rolled back in my head when I read Psalm 40:1-3:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…

I huffed and puffed and then audibly asked God….”why does everything require waiting”?

I didn’t get an answer right away, but I decided to at least entertain waiting and not force my own way or quit.

When I felt anxious during the week, I reminded myself that I was waiting on God.  Then, I rolled my eyes at myself.

I didn’t quit but I also did not win an Olympic Medal for waiting well.

 

2014-olympics-medals-gold

Guess what the new sermon series was at church today? …… “Please Stand By…A series about waiting”.

Seriously God?

I really do NOT make this stuff up!

The series at church today was about waiting.  Go figure.

Oh, and I got my answer on why everything requires waiting…..Pastor Jonathan advised us…”When we are waiting, God is working”.

God working while I am waiting definitely puts a different spin things.  Knowing that God is working helps waiting not feel like such a waste of time.  But it is still HARD.

Ok God, you are working!  Now, can you speed things up?

Divas, I have a hard head!

Single-brick

David said: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned and heard my cry”. (Psalm 40:1)

Psalm 37:7 NIV says….Be still in the presence of the Lord,  and wait patiently for him to act. (Psalm 37:7 NIV)

So it is not just waiting but HOW I wait?

Yes and there rewards for those who wait……

…..but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. (Psalm 37:9 KJV)

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! (Isaiah 64:4)

Walking this waiting patiently thing out is gonna be something else!

You don’t wanna miss this journey…I am soooooooo NOT THERE YET!

Join me next week right here! Are you a good waiter?  Do you have any “waiting patiently” tips?   Tell me in the comments?

 

I Wanna Quit

I blinked and January was over.  I kept meaning to do a January post with my word for the year or my goals.  It just didn’t happen.  Lord, I need some want-to (the spiritual motivation to make lasting changes).

February is traditionally the month where most folks quit their New Year’s Resolutions.  Well divas, it is February and I want to quit EVERYTHING.

I want to raise my white flag, declare a TKO, stick a fork in me and I am done, forfeit the game, say I did but really don’t, pull the covers over my head and roll over in the bed….

I just feel like quitting.  Not a morbid kind of quit where I need an intervention from an on call suicide team, but a regular ol’ quit.

I quit

You know the “release from all the things clamoring at me to be done” kind of quit.

The kind of quit that makes me no longer responsible.

The kind of quit where I take off my “the-strong-one-who-holds-it-all-together” name tag and all my knick-knacks have been packed up in a box.  Then…I get escorted out by security kind of quit.

Have you ever wanted to quit?

If you didn’t quit, what kept you going?

I bet it wasn’t someone telling you “everything is gonna be ok”.

Well, maybe it was for you.

“Everything is gonna be ok” just doesn’t work for me. If anything, it just makes me frustrated. It minimizes how I feel and …how can you be so sure—everything is going to be ok? What is OK anyway?

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Wanna know the truth?  I can’t quit. I can daydream about how great being a bird and flying away would feel but as a responsible mommy/wife/business owner/employee…quitting is not in the equation.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a devotional that used Psalm 40:1-3 as the focal scripture. It provided me with an answer of what to do when quitting is not an option:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…

Now before y’all stop reading ‘cause you think I am going to go all Holy Roller on you, please know….as I read this scripture, my eyes ROLLED so far back in my head they almost got stuck!

As my eyes unrolled, I folded my arms and huffed: “Why, do you always have to wait”?  I want resolution NOW! I want to feel better NOW.

My daughters and I watched the Gabby Douglas story this weekend.  If you haven’t seen it…. you should.  It was so inspiring!  I never knew Gabby considered quitting.  In the movie, her coach said something that really resonated with me:  “You can quit and the way you feel right now will be nothing in comparison to the way you will feel sitting on the couch watching someone else win your medal“.

Many “feel-good right now” decisions have painful long-term consequences. (Lysa Terkeurst)

So the journey begins.

Stay tuned….

Christmas Crunch Time-Be Flexible

Flexible-kjr

It is almost THE DAY…Christmas…the culmination of the “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.  Over the next week, families will gather, travel to gather,split their time between various households, attend church services and all other kinds of “good stuff”.

It is all of this “good stuff” ( the who, what, where and why) that often leaves people just wanting the whole holiday thing to be over or simply dreading it before it starts.  Perhaps it is just me but creating Hallmark Card or ABC Family Holiday Movie quality Christmas memories can be difficult.

I struggle with the “who, what, where, hustle-bustle and gift-buying” part Christmas every year.  Even when I thought I had the whole thing figured out and I put my foot down on some things….plans changed.

So my mantra this Christmas is to be Flexible.

Everything is NOT going to go as I planned and that is ok.  Better yet, that may be for the best. (I will have to remind myself of this over and over…because things just go better when they are done my way. Hehe!)

People’s lives change–weddings, deaths, births, sickness.  What has ALWAYS worked for years may or may not work this year or EVER again.

Top all the plan changes, gifts, and family  with the realization that somebody will probably dance on your happy and you have a recipe for the famous “Unmet-Christmas-Expectations-fruitcake”!

As the moments progress….pretend you are playing twister and remember to be flexible.Image Source: Wikipedia

“If we aren’t careful to be intentional, the joy of the holiday season can quickly be replaced with hard feelings, anger, and disappointment. More than anything, sometimes extending grace to ourselves and others is the simplest way to allow us to experience the most wonderful time of the year.”-Kelly Gordon (www.simplemom.net)

Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Five Minute Friday-Fly

Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker hosts a blog link up called Five Minute Fridays. She provides a word prompt and then participants are to set their timers for five minutes and write until the timer goes off. The word for today is Fly. Happy Friday Divas and here goes:

Sometimes life gets so hectic, I wish I was a bird so I could fly away.  Perhaps I am alone, but a quick escape always seems like utopia when life takes a trip to crazytown. Maybe it is the illusion of rising above my problems and then finding solace some place else. Or, could it be that flying is faster?  I can fly from North Carolina to California in a matter of hours, driving would take days.

In the 140 character age we live in, things happen quickly. I have come to expect next day delivery, instant downloads to my iPad Kindle app, and the ability to purchase music with a simple double tap.DSC_6493

When trouble comes, I want OUT….like yesterday.

Let’s not even talk about when a decision needs to be made in the big Jeopardy game of life……. “I’ll take wings for $200 Alex”.

Although I know flying away is irrational, I often so desperately want to do so.

Do you ever want to just fly away?

Even King David in the Bible could relate to this whole “fly” thing–

Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.  Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! (Psalm 55:5-6)

Fly away and rest….that sounds lovely doesn’t it?

Yes….Lovely just not likely!

David must have realized that his transformation into a dove was not going to happen.  In Pslam 55:16 he listed his plan:  “But I will call on God  and the Lord will rescue me.”

Last week, my pastor said a profound sentence that I am choosing (so not there yet..still working on it) to say when my “let-me-just-fly-away” moments happen.

“God, I trust you with it and I honor you in it.”-Jonathan Robbins

As the holiday season rushes in, what are some ways you can remember to trust God and honor Him in your actions?

Five Minute Friday-Write..and I am 40

Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker hosts a blog link up called Five Minute Fridays. She provides a word prompt and then participants are to set their timers for five minutes and write until the timer goes off. The word for today is WRITE. Happy Friday Divas and here goes:

Me with hatI turned the big 4-0 on Monday.  Honestly, it was a little harder than I thought.  I don’t feel older, I guess I just began to realize that over half of my life is well…..over.  Kind of shocking to think of it that way.  However, thinking of it as half over places a sense of urgency on me to make the years that I have left REALLY count.

Have you celebrated any milestone birthdays that made you reflect on your life?

As I look back over my life and think about the things that have consistently brought me joy, the words dance and write bubble up to the top of my mind.  As I stand with over half of my life behind me, it is getting harder and harder to silence the little girl in me who wants to write and dance for a living.

The practical side of me that has always been able to push through and do what is logical, is now fighting against this 40-year-old inner spirit who will NOT be silenced.

Believe me, I have tried to not get so excited about dancing a new song in class.  I have prayed.  “God please just make me normal.”  I have longed to just love my day job and be a go-to-work-and-come-home kind of girl. (It would be so much easier.)

NO DICE:(

May I ask a birthday favor of you?  I think I have worn down the ears of my dear friends:  Keysier, Larae, Traci and Kim.  Will you pray for me, my dreams and this sassy, 40- year-old attitude?

Thank you in advance,

I need it.

What do you need prayer about?  Tell me in the comments:)

 

 

I’m a Roller Coaster Conductor

Rollercoaster

I am sooo not a daredevil.  I do NOT like roller coasters.  I just don’t like the you-are-falling-and-going-to-die feeling I get down deep in my stomach.  Just like a roller coaster, the back-to-school season of life seems to always throw me for a loop. I get that falling feeling when I am rushing in the mornings, shuffling kids to activities and desperately trying to make it to work on time.  Unlike at Disney World when I was in the eighth grade, I cannot get to the beginning of the line for Space Mountain and then change my mind.  I am Mommy and the conductor of the back-to-school roller coaster.

As the conductor, I get to decide how fast the roller coaster travels (sometimes) and I get to decide when to shut the ride down for the night.  I just need to remember to exercise my “conductor power”.

Two things that I have struggled with as “Mommy Conductor” is finding time to read God’s Word consistently and mommy guilt.

Yep, the more things that I am NOT able to do, the more I hear a little disapproving voice saying…you should have done blah blah blah……GUILTY!

I am leading a bible study with my fitness ministry called Bad Girls of the Bible.  Last week, our leading lady was Eve.  When we were in group discussion, a lovely lady name Vivian Grice said some thing that rocked my world.  She said “when you don’t know God’s plan for you, you will do ANYTHING”.  WOW.

God’s plan for us is that we bring Him glory.

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made, (Isaiah 43:6-7 NIV).

The back-to-school roller coaster or the life roller coaster can try to take us up and down and all around scurrying about so that if we are not careful, we will do just anything.  We must exercise our “conductor power” and ask ourselves, “How can I bring God glory in this situation”.  I bet it won’t be doing just anything.

I found two AWESOME reads this week that have helped me find creative ways to read the Bible and let go of Mommy Guilt!

Seven Ways for Busy Moms to Get into the Word (By Courtney Joseph)

Mom guilt.  I’m getting over it. (By Lisa Jo Baker)