Monday, December 31, 2012

Get Real...

I am not a big fan of New Year's Resolutions...but have always been a fan of making a life growth plan, an idea I stole from my friend Bill Allsion years ago.  So in the spirit of looking forward to new life growth in 2013, I am excited to share with you a challenge for this year.

I want to invite you to join me in just being real this coming year.  By "being real," I mean authentic, and by "authentic," I mean imperfect.  I have had the privilege of getting a sneak peek at Jill Savage's newest book, No More Perfect Mom, and have been reminded of how often we compare our insides to everyone else's outsides.  So often in life, we go about pretending to be okay when really our hearts are weighed down with sorrows, or we allow fear to keep us silent rather than asking for help.  The truth is there is so much freedom that comes from just being real with people, and not just freedom for you.  There is freedom for those around you also, because when you are real, it allows them to be be real.  So, I am going to spend this year blogging about real life, the trials as well as the triumphs.

Here is a quote from the introduction of Jill's book, "Have you ever wondered what is wrong with you, with your family, with your kids? Nothing is wrong with you or your family. You are normal. Your frustrations are normal. Your disappointments are normal. Your struggles are normal. In fact, that’s what this book is all about: the reassurance that you are normal."

I hope to share in this "Get Real" journey with you in 2013, here are a few ways you can get started...

1. Sign up for Jill Savage's "No More Perfect Moms" 31-Day Email Challenge. I'm sure it'll be a fantastic way to start the new year. You don't have to have the book {which doesn't release until February anyway} to be part of this. Click here to sign up so you can start receiving real-life encouragement in your inbox on Jan. 1.

2. Don't buy the book yet, but get ready to do so Feb. 4-9. Along with the release of "No More Perfect Moms," Hearts at Home and Moody Publishers will offer additional bonus resources worth more than $100 if you order/buy the book anytime Feb. 4-9. Click here to learn more about this and sign up to be reminded of the release date.

3. Visit "No More Perfect Moms" websiteThis is where you can share stories, learn more about the book, and view motherhood resources.

4. Choose one friend to get real with. Look through your facebook friends list, think about the other people in your circles, and chose one person to start being real with.  Someone who you can invite over, even if your house is a mess.  Someone you can talk to when your kids are behaving less than perfectly, or you are fighting with your spouse.  Someone you can share your struggles with.  And most importantly, someone you can encourage to also be real with you.  Romans 1:12 tells us to that we can "be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."   

 Let me know if you want to join me in this challenge, I look forward to hearing from you soon!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A few quick lessons from the little ones

Being an adult is often so humbling...I learn so much from my children and wanted to take a minute to share a few insights they have taught me lately.  Hope you enjoy them!

Yesterday my two year old was trying to get the headphones off of the computer desk.  He had gotten ahold of one end and was pulling with all his might.  No matter how hard he pulled, he could not get the headphones down.  From where I sat, I could see that there was a knot in the wire part and the harder he pulled, the tighter the knot became, and the tighter the knot got, the less likely the headphones were to be obtained.  I tried to get him to let go so I could undo the knot, but he wouldn't release his hold on them.  I couldn't help but think of how often I had been in the same predicament.  Can you relate?  Way too many times I can remember wanting something, catching a glance of it, reaching out and grabbing ahold of it and then pulling with all my might.  But no matter how hard I pulled I could not seem to obtain the object.  I wonder if God was looking from above the scene, trying to pry my fingers off of the cords so that He could free the object for me, but I refused to let go and trust God to know more than me. Hmm?  and Ouch!

My 11 month old is at that wonderful stage where he loves to play peek-a-boo.  We were enjoying some giggles while playing this game just last week.  Of course, I am a teacher at heart so I understand that play is really a secret way of learning new things.  For example, peek-a-boo, and it's older brother, hide and go seek, helps to teach the concept of "object permanence."  This concept helps babies to learn that just because they can't see something doesn't mean it is not there.  As my little guy and I were playing, it struck me that, though God never hides from us, we do need to learn the lesson of object permanence....just because we cannot see God, doesn't mean He isn't there.  Sometimes a situation is so desperate, (the Sandy Hook shootings, for example) that I struggle to see God in all the details.  Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, "“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  And yet still, when the flood waters start rising, it sometimes feels like God is nowhere to be found. I hope the next time I feel this way, I will remember that though it feels like God is playing hide and seek with me, God is not hiding, which can only mean that I have not been seeking...
Thoughts? Comments?  I always love feedback!  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happily Ever After

Oh I love a happy ending, don't you?  After all, every fairy tale I have ever read ends with, "and they lived happily ever after."  But, I suppose the key word there is "fairy" in not real life, because if I have learned anything in these 40 plus years I have walked here on earth, it is that life does not always have a "happily ever after" ending.  oh there may be a chapter or two, even more for some of us, but not every chapter ends that way.  I was reminded of this once again last February when my dad turned the last page of his book and passed away.

As a little girl, my daddy had always been my hero, and though he wasn't perfect, you wouldn't have been able to convince me that he was anything but wonderful.  When my nephew was killed back in 1998, I began to see a different person take over where my dad had been.  We still had a decent relationship, but my dad began to change, and then in July of 2007 our relationship took a terrible turn.  That is when my niece came to live with us and things between dad and I got pretty choppy.  My dad blamed me for the things that were happening with my brother, and eventually he stopped talking to me all together.

Of course, I hoped and prayed for reconciliation.  I offered to meet with him and the pastor of his choosing more times than I can even count, but always he refused.  He had a heart attack in 2008 and I thought that this may be our chance for the "happily ever after," but it only deepened the ever growing canyon between us.  Many nights I spent restless and broken at the distance that had come between us, and as I lay awake I began to paint a "happily ever after" picture in my head.  I knew that God desires reconciliation, I knew that I was willing, and that my dad was a professing Christian, so I was convinced that it would happen.  (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

In February of this year, I received news that my dad had been rushed to the hospital.  Once again the hope of reconciliation rose up in me.  Jerry and I went to the hospital, and spent the next week traveling back and forth there.  I sat beside my dad's bed and held his hand, closer than I had been to him in 5 years.  As I sat there I prayed that he would wake up and we could talk through all of the things that had driven a wedge between us.  I played out the conversations in my head, what I would say, what he would say...I was well on my way to that "happily ever after" ending.

As I went to the hospital each day I was faced with many reminders of how unsettled things had become between Dad and I.  Several of my dad's family members treated me unkindly, and one of my dad's friends from his church spoke very unkind words to me, making an already painful situation even more difficult.  (For the full story you can read my March 2012 blog,"I Can't Find My Big Girl Panties..."

Sadly, my dad never did wake up, we never had our chance to talk through the trouble that had grown up between us, and I never got to hear the words I so desperately wanted to hear, "I love you Marla."  The happily ever after never came, and even as I type this almost one year later, my heart is still heavy with the reality of it all.  The visitation and funeral only served as reminders of just how permanent the distance between my dad and I would remain.  I was filled with conflicting emotions of love, anger, and regret.  This was not the way the story was suppose to end!  What happened to "happily ever after?"

As the story unfolded I couldn't help but question, is God a God of "happily ever after" endings or isn't He?  I mean He is in the business of reconciliation, right?  It is why He sent His son to die on the cross for us, so that we could be reconciled to Him.  (Again See 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)  Well, in truth, God is all for "happily ever after" I have read the end of His book, and for those who choose to believe and become followers of Him, the story does indeed end well.  The key is, that God is a gentleman, and He allows us to choose for ourselves.  We will all have to live with the choices we make, and for those of us who choose well, the ending is very happy. The ending to my dad and I's story, may not have been the ending I had hoped for, but the choices we each made resulted in the story being written as it was.

Though I am sad at how the last chapter of our story together ended, I am reminded again of the truth of God's word in Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  I am reminded that what I can hope and count on is the Lord.  So often I want to hope in other people, I want to be able to count on this person or that person to fulfill a need I have, but the truth is that people will disappoint us. But God, now that is a different story!  He will NEVER disappoint us, NEVER leave us, NEVER forsake us!

He wants to be the author of our everyday story, and I promise, if we trust in Him, we will indeed live happily ever after!

Comments or Questions?  I would love to hear them!