I put the Christmas Lights Back in the Box-Pour Your Heart Out

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I have traditionally NOT been a Christmas person, (especially since having children)…gasp I know.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of excitement and anticipation on my daughters’ faces but all of the things to do prior to their looks of elation on Christmas morning,  just stress me out.  I usually end up doing tons of things because I felt like that “I should”.  Since I probably really didn’t “want to” in the first place, I procrastinated every year.  Shopping, decorating…all last minute and by the time Christmas actually got here…attitude in the tank!

So I decided to be proactive this year and get started with everything early.  I soon discovered, getting started early did not help my “want-to”.  I had my husband lug all the decorations up stairs from the basement and we put up the Christmas Tree this past weekend. (I realize the weekend after Thanksgiving is not “early” for Christmas decorating but it was early for me!)  Anyway,  we have an old pre-lit artificial tree that challenges us like crazy every year to hook up correctly so the lights will come on.  This year, no matter how many times we plugged and re-plugged…the tree did not light up.  So, we had to go “old-school” and string lights around the tree.

Divas, after I strung those lights and the girls helped but the ornaments on, I had NO DESIRE to put up any more decorations.  So I put all those Christmas lights and such back in the box and took them back to the basement!  At first, I felt a little guilty…I felt that “you should ” coming on.  After a few moments, I felt empowered and down right peaceful.

I can feel it in my bones, this Christmas is going to be different.

This year, we have decided to only buy a few gifts for our girls and that is it!  Every year, we buy gifts for family, close friends, close friends’ kids, teachers, and the list goes on and exhaustively on!  Even with my daughters, …….no more buying just to be buying,

For the first time in YEARS, I am looking forward to our annual Christmas Breakfast.  Instead of doing it on Christmas day as we always have, I decided to do it on the Saturday before Christmas…at 11am instead of our traditional 9am.   Doing it on Christmas morning was just too stressful for me but that is the way it has always been.  Perhaps it is this whole turning 40 thing but…….. I put my foot down.

We are going to have a theme for the breakfast this year….”ugly Christmas Sweater”! I can’t wait to spend time together eating, laughing and poking fun at each other’s sweaters.

Ahhhhh this feels good.

“Remember, as you unbox all your decor and start penciling in the squares of your calendar, that “more” of the holiday season isn’t always better.”-Trish (Art of Simple.net)

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

Check out this interesting article on Zen Habits about NOT buying Christmas Gifts. (I know it sounds so Un-American but it is good food for thought!)

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell over at Things I can’t Say.

The Working Mama Paradox

My daughter’s field hockey team practice was cancelled yesterday due to rain.  Is it bad that I was secretly happy that I did not have to bark out orders to get all of the equipment packed up and drive all the way across town?

Wanna know something else?  I AM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO SCHOOL STARTING! Boom!

Yep, I have continued my yearly denial techniques:  no shopping on the tax-free weekend (there are NO good sales that weekend anyway) and waiting until the last-minute to purchase school supplies.

Perhaps I am not looking forward to school because we did not have a restful summer filled with “just hanging by the pool” and lazy days of nothing to do. Since I have to be at work at 8am, we still get up early just like during the school year so I can get the girls to summer camp before work.

Although summer offers a reprieve from homework and extracurricular activities, this mama is not feeling refreshed and ready to begin a new school year.

Just thinking about homework and the hurry, scurry schedule gives me a rash.

Totally not trying to be a Debbie Downer–just keeping it real.

Ladies, kids or not….are you rested and full of renewed energy?  Are you happy?

Do you feel like you can efficiently wear all of the hats your life demands you to put on AND look fresh and fashionable?

I found an interesting article and graphic on www.greatbusinessschools.org called: A Woman’s Paradox: The unique challenges facing women who “want it all”.

With studies to back up their claims, the article states: “Despite progress toward “having it all,” research shows that American women are less satisfied and burn out more quickly. And today’s economic realities mean fewer options when it comes to choosing between work and home.”

WOW…

Check it out and let me know your thoughts in the comments section! (Click on the graphic see a larger view.)

A Woman's Paradox
Source: Great Business Schools

Today’s post is part of a weekly meme called Pour Your Heart Out hosted by Shell over at Things I can’t say.

Keep Showing Up-Pour Your Heart Out

I attended a conference for aspiring Christian women speakers and writers this past weekend. To say that I felt a great multitude of ways in just a few short days would be a HUGE understatement.  As I said in my post on the last night of the conference:  I dreamed, cried, pouted, wilted and lifted desperate “Lord help me prayers”.  I even texted my husband “I suck”.

I awakened on the last day much calmer than I had been the night before.  Psalm 30:5 is true, joy does come in the morning.  Although I had gotten off the emotional roller coaster, I still had my three minute video session to complete. (All of the women at the conference on the “speaker’s track” were supposed to shoot a 3 minute video that could be used on a website, for other marketing materials or simply just to assess your speaking skills.)

 I decided that I was not going to show up for my pre-arranged video session and several other ladies decided the same thing.  I am not sure of all of their reasons but my reason was simple, I did not have it all together.  What I thought was “together” before the conference was then ordinary AT BEST (in my opinion).  

Walgreens may be at the corner of healthy and happy but just giving up resides at “I am not good enough avenue”.

With quivering knees, I re-wrote my entire 3 mintue talk.  I practiced it.  I prayed, got focused and……I showed up. 

Divas I JUST showed up.

 Although my heart rate was RACING, my voice didn’t quiver.  God placed the most encouraging Godly woman (LuAnn Prater) in my video room who smiled at me and prayed for me the entire time. 

I showed up for my video session and God showed OUT!’

Was it perfect?  Probably not but, perfection was NOT the goal.

So what’s next?  I have not idea but I DO know I am gonna keep showing up.

Where do you need to keep showing up in your life? 

 “About 90% of life is about showing up, whether or not you feel inspired, prepared, brave, energized or motivated. Just show up and see what happens. Do your part and God will do His part. Your part: Just show up.” –Randy Siever

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell @ Things I Can’t Say.

Happy New Year 3 Words

It is 2013! I know it has been 2013 for nine whole days but it is still officially The New Year.  I did not make a laundry list of resolutions this year.  Perhaps it is my continued fatigue from the holidays, or the realization that most of those resolutions go unfulfilled? Who knows.  I just haven’t felt very “inspired”. 

 I did see a couple of bloggers choose 3 words for the New Year so I decided to follow suit! (Thanks Rubber Chicken Madness!)

                       Breathe

Stop my chronic over-scheduling.  Leave margin in between activities to breathe and allow things to happen naturally without me rushing them along.  Inhale then Exhale before I react!

Accept

 Truly experience life as it happens.  Be sad when I feel sad, mad when I feel mad and happy when I am happy.  Often, I try to cover up what is real with being busy. Feelings are fickle.  They are indicators NOT dictators.   Acceptance for me needs to mirror “soul integrity”—honesty that is Godly.  (Thanks Lysa Terkeurst!) 

Appreciate

Quiet my inner-impulsive voice that constantly wants more and is often discontented by taking a daily inventory of my many blessings AND thanking God for them. 

  

 Yesterday, I took my oldest daughter to a middle school open house and I thought I just might lose it.  I am not ready for her to go to middle school.  I felt nauseated just listening to our tour guide. I know what goes on in Middle School!  Uggh. 

During my nausea, I had a grand opportunity to practice my three words. 

Breathe–Inhale. Exhale.  

Accept–Lord willing, she will be entering middle school in just a few months.  I cannot keep her a baby forever. (Sigh)

Appreciate-She is a beautiful girl with a lot of spunk! God has great plans for her. 

Oh and…..Yes, middle school is coming but so is this involved-will go to the school-take your bedroom door off of the hinges-disconnect your phone indefinitely-Mama!

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell @ Things I can’t say.

 

 

A Life Changing Pedicure?

Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil. So don’t be foolish. Instead, understand what the Lord wants. Ephesians 5: 16-17

I went to have a pedicure and manicure last Sunday.  A very lovely Asian woman greeted me and began to work on my feet.  I could only imagine what she must have been thinking about my neglected feet.  My last pedicure was at the beginning of September.  I decided not to worry about it as I whipped out my O Magazine.

Just when the article about Oprah’s favorite things was getting interesting, the nail technician asked me if I worked.  Without looking up I answered, “Yes”.

“What do you do?” She asked.

I briefly looked up from the magazine and politely stated, “I am a pharmacist and I own a fitness company”.  Back down to the magazine.

“Where did you go to school?’

(Nice girl smile)–OK so my plans of relaxation were so NOT materializing.  I decided to close my magazine and answer her questions.  After she asked me what seemed like a million questions about my pharmacy career, she put her head down and then informed me that she is a pharmacist in Vietnam.  Really?

I asked her a few questions and learned that to work as a pharmacist in the US she would need to pass an equivalency exam to prove her pharmacy knowledge and be proficient in English (reading, writing, and speaking).    It is the proficient in English part that would be the most difficult for her.   Her most probable option to ever realize her dream of working as a pharmacist int the US is to start all over.  Uggggh.

Just thinking about starting all over made me ache for her.

I sat back and listened to her talk.  Although her name tag says “Kelly”, that is not her real name.  “Kelly” does nails for survival. She came to the US six months ago not speaking a lick of English with the hope of making a better life for her two boys ages six and eight.  The boys are still in Vietnam with her mother.  Double uggh.  She attends a  local community college during the morning and does nails every evening and on weekends.

She doesn’t drive so her husband has to take her everywhere.  He does not work.  They argue a lot.  She looked me right in the eyes and said, ” I am so tired”.

My eyes welled up with tears.

She saw the compassion in my eyes and she said:  “I felt really sad earlier but I am so thankful to have met you.  No one here has ever treated me like you have”.  Y’all, I came completely unglued in the pedicure chair. I felt so convicted.   I was already having to pump myself up about going to work the next day.  This woman would give ANYTHING to be in my shoes and she feels thankful to have met ME? I didn’t feel like I did anything except listen.

That is when it hit me.  My purpose for coming to the salon was to have a relaxing pedicure.  God’s purpose was me to be “PRESENT” and encourage one of his hurting daughters by just listening.

We hugged when it was time for me to leave.   I wanted to take her home with me, talk to whatever immigration people I needed to and then fly her back to Vietnam to get her children. Somehow we both knew that was an unrealistic expectation.  I pressed twenty dollars and my business card into her palm.  She walked me to the door and watched me as I got into my car.  I waved to her as I pulled away.

Dear God,

Please watch over this beautiful woman as she continues to persevere for her family.  As the Christmas season rushes towards me with all of the parties, presents, and meals, help me to remember to be PRESENT.  I cannot do what you need me to do if I am distracted.  It makes me sad to think of all of the opportunities I may have missed to show your love to someone.  Keep my mind focused on what is the best use of my time that aligns with your will.

Amen.

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell @ Things I can’t say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

31 Days to Clean-Days 27-28 Who are You Trying to Please?

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Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving?  If you are hosting dinner at your house this year or have quite a few things to cook, you are probably well aware!  Along with the cooking usually comes getting your house ready for guests.  Holiday cleaning often means a mad dash around our house.  We stuff things wherever they will go to get the appearance of ALL clean! It’s crazy.  We clean only to mess everything up when we cook and entertain guests. 

As most of you know, we have been imperfectly progressing through the ebook, 31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae.  After chugging along, we are finally on days 27 and 28 of the challenge.  The ebook, 31 Days to Clean, is about the why and vision for maintaining our homes.

Around the holidays my “why” is often different from what it is normally.  “Why” do you go through the extra cleaning around the holidays?  Is it for the people who live in your home?
 
While we are on this whole “why” thing, why DO we stress ourselves out so much during the holiday season?
 
The lesson for day 28 really hit home for me.  Day 28 is entitled “Who Are You Trying to Please?”. 
 
Good question, especially this time of year. 
 
Perhaps it is just me, but I feel a ton of pressure to go all out for the holidays.  I have friends who love to cook and Martha Stewart probaby consults with them for her recipies.  I am happy for them but I am NOT that chick.  It is not just the cooking and making of plans.  My father passed ten years ago and holidays have not been the same without him–even the little ones. 
 
Every year, I try to ra-ra myself into a cooking, perky, house all decorated by Thanksgiving person and it just doesn’t happen.  One of my girlfirends asked me “Don’t you want a great tradition for your girls?”  Well of course I do. The million dollar question is how to acheive the “ABC Family Special” holidays without stressing myself completely out?
 
I think I found the answer inside our little ol cleaning challenge:  Who am I trying to Please? 
 
I have decided to sit down with my family and decide TOGETHER what our priorities will be this year.  We cannot make every party and this mama cannot make cookies, fudge, pound cake, shop, work full time,  AND make hand made teacher gifts–just sayin’.
 
The “ABC Family Special” is totally unrealistic–for me anyway.
 
Are you trying to please others for the holidays or in any other area of your life?
 
The Cleaning challenge for Days 27-28  (you knew there wrould be one now didn’t you?):  Utility room-wash windows, dust ceilings, scrub sink.
 
Happy Thanksgiving Divas!  I thank each of you for reading, commenting and encouraging me the way you do!
 
Then I think to myself……………………….what a wonderful world.

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell @ Things I can’t say.

Wreck it Ralph…Really?-Pour Your Heart Out

 

My girls were out of school last Monday and since we get all the newest movies at our local movie theater for $3.00, we took the girls to see Wreck It Ralph. Yes, I know. My husband and I both rolled our eyes as we walked through the theater doors. We didn’t expect much and were pleasantly surprised!

Perhaps hubby and I were entertained because we are 80’s arcade kids. The set of the movie is a hidden world of video game characters and what they do at night, after the children have all left the arcade. It kind of reminded me of Toy Story.

“Ralph” is the heel in a video game called Fix-It Felix Jr. His job in the game is to destroy buildings and try to keep Felix from repairing the damage. Felix fixes everything, so the game always ends with Felix getting a metal. As the resident “bad guy”, Ralph NEVER gets a medal. He does his best as a “bad guy” but no one EVER notices.  He even attends “BAD-ANON”–hilarious!

Ralph decides to take charge of his life and get some glory for himself.  So, he leaves his game to get a medal.  After some really funny twists and turns, Ralph finds himself in the kart racing game Sugar Rush. Sugar Rush is where he meets a fellow outcast – a glitched character named Vanellope Von Schweetz who is not allowed to race.

Ralph and Vanellope develop a true friendship. The banter between Ralph and Vanellope kept me laughing.  It is through their friendship that Ralph learns what being a real hero is all about and it has nothing to do with medals. Finally he says and means “There’s no one else I’d rather be than me”.

Proverbs 19:21  Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

There is no showmanship in heroism. There is just the next thing. Sometimes that thing might feel small – like helping your kid with his math homework. And sometimes it might feel big…” Lisa Jo Baker

Did you know that you are hero material?  Medals are not required.

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell over at Things I can’t say
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Pour Your Heart Out-Peace Faker

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Hello, My name is Katina and I am a Peace FAKER.  I came in contact with the term “Peace Faker” while reading the book Unglued (Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions) by Lysa Terkerust.

If you haven’t read Unglued, I STRONGLY suggest it.  In the book, Lysa gives four categories that describe the ways we come “unglued”:

Exploders who shame themselves (Yell first, feel horrible later)

  • Exploders who blame others (Yell and then blame the other person for your behavior)
  • Stuffers who build barriers (Say everything is fine but then get distant)
  • Stuffers who collect retaliation rocks ( Silent record keeping of every wrong doing only to be brought up later)

Call me crazy but depending on my audience, I can react in all of these ways.  Don’t let someone close to me like my husband or children dance on one of my nerves, I can explode and blame, stuff and build a barrier while collecting my retaliation rocks, and shame myself for it ALL  in record time.

However, I am a people pleaser who loves to help which means I am a champion STUFFER!  It just seems easier to PRETEND that everything is OK instead of having a hard conversation. I don’t want to make things worse, so I try to convince myself that I can just let it go.  That sounds good but the reality is….I don’t just “let it go”.  I build a barrier or distance myself from the person who has hurt me. Or I take, and take, and take and then BOOOOOM.. I let them have it for old and new!

I think most women stuff in some shape or fashion.  It just seems like the “good Christian girl”, or “best Mommy of the Year” thing to do.  It is ironic.  We stuff in an effort to be peacemakers when in reality we are what Lysa calls “peace-fakers”.  Lysa says, “True peacekeeping is about properly processing the emotions before they get stuffed and ROT into something horribly toxic”.

The point is to have something Lysa calls “Soul Integrity”.  “Soul Integrity” is honesty that is godly.  Soul Integrity brings balance to unglued situations.  It makes us true peacemakers–people who aren’t stuffing or exploding but rather honestly demonstrating what they are experiencing in a godly manner.” WOW, what a wonderful thing to model for our children!

A passage in the book of James speaks about Soul Integrity:

James 3: 14-15, 17 (NIV) (I added the words in parentheses)

14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast (explode) about it or deny the truth (stuff). 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic….But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

How can you respond in ways that are:peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere this week?

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell over at Thing’s I can’t Say

Cleaning Challenge Day 11 and Pour Your Heart Out

 Hello Divas and welcome to day 11 of our 31 days to clean challenge and our weekly post for Pour Your Heart Out hosted by Shell over at Things I Can’t Say!  Want more information on our cleaning challenge and the ebook 31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae?  Go Here

The Day 11 lesson is all about limitations.  I must be the queen of limitations when it comes to cleaning!  Life happens and then plans go out the window! 

When my life “happens” a mess around the house is usually part of the deal. Sometimes, I just can’t get to what I had planned to do.  I want to but often, I just can’t.

Do you ever have things to do that you just cannot get to?  Are you ever just too tired to push through to completion?

Sarah Mae made a suggestion in lesson 11 that makes a lot of sense.  She urged us to do ONE SMALL THING to bring life to our homes even when we don’t don’t feel full of life. 

I am an all or nothing girl.  If you don’t complete it, it doesn’t count…Right? 

Who says? 

How freeing to do one small thing when we have met our limit and be ok with not getting it all done! 

 2 Corinthians 12:9 …”My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 After each day’s reading, Sara Mae gives two challenges:

For today’s lesson, The Mary Challenge is:  Let grace cover the areas you cannot change.  Do not beat yourself up or thing you aren’t doing enough.  God knows where you are and His grace is sufficient.

The Martha Challenge: Living Room-wash your walls and dust the ceilings.  HA! My walls have flat paint on them so washing them was out of the question.  Most importantly… I have been uber tired and I cannot even reach my ceilings! So….truly in the spirit of doing ONE SMALL THING…I lit a candle and straightend up the living room.

An older lady that I used to work with named “Mrs. Cle”, often hummed the song Ordinary People while she worked.  Even though we worked together many years ago and she has gone on to be with the Lord, her faith and the way she lived still impacts me today. 

Here is the Chorus of the song:

Just ordinary people,
God uses ordinary people.
He chooses people just like me and you,
who are willing to do as He commands.
God uses people that will give Him all,
no matter how small your all may seem to you;
because little becomes much
as you place it in the Master’s hand.  (By Dannibelle Hall)

As you go about your day and responsibilities begin to mound, remember: Little becomes MUCH when you place it in the Master’s Hands.

31 Days to Clean-Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of the 31 day to clean challenge!!! To catch you up:

I downloaded the book 31 Days to Clean a couple of months ago with very good intentions to read it and follow the challenge.  Yea, those intentions took me NO WHERE! So, I am singing the Barney clean up song and really buckling down!

31 Days to Clean is about the “why”, the vision and the heart for taking care of our homes. Each day, the author, Sara Mae, encourages you with some thoughts and ideas, and then she encourages you  put those ideas to action.

After each day’s reading, Sara Mae gives two challenges:

  • The Mary Challenge -Something you do that encourages/engages your heart
  • The Martha Challenge – Specific cleaning tasks

 

Come on and take the challege with me!

The lesson for Day 2 is entitled, Created to Give Life.  During this quick one pager, Sara Mae lists several ways that women give life!   Women give life physically but also spiritually.  Here are just a few ways that stuck out to me:

Women give life through:

Our words (Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) The tongue has the power of life and death.)

Our home (Proverbs 14:1 (NIV) The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.)

Socially (Proverbs 22:9 Happy are generous people, because they give some of their food to the poor.)

The Mary challenge for day two is to do something to bring life to your home, children, husband and/or sphere of influence.

My girls love for me to snuggle on the couch with them and watch one of their television programs.  So, last night after dinner, instead of swirling around doing my nightly “busy” stuff, I got out the blanket and we all snuggled on the couch just before bedtime!  They squealed with delight, a perfect sign of liveliness!

The Martha challenge for day two is to clean out and scrub down the fridge and freezer.  Hmmmm, my schedule just did NOT allow for a hour long freezer fridge clean out.  That will probably have to wait until the weekend.  But, I did straighten the living room and vacuum the steps!

In the past, I would have seen my inability to get today’s task done as a failure.  I am one of those people who think  it only counts if you get everything done.  Well, my dear divas, I am learning about a thing called Imperfect Progress.

I am reading the book Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst and one amazing term that she uses is, Imperfect Progress “slow steps of changes wrapped in grace.  I kinda think keeping a clean house is all about Imperfect Progress.

Perfect people put everything away ALL the time and have energy to cook gourmet meals and interact with their children without ever yelling!

Real people get busy, have great intentions and then forget, clean up only to have little people come in and mess up, put clothes in the washer and remember two days later to put them in the dyer when they keep smelling mildew, and have schedules that don’t allow for everything but if they are careful they can make time for the best things.

How can you give life to your home, family, or work environment today?

This post is part of a weekly meme hosted by Shell over at Things I can’t Say