Week in review

Summary of my week so far, in no particular order…

-met some super cool shop owners in Franklin, TN
-watched Sister Wives for the first time ever on the hotel TV
-remembered the many reasons why we never watch TV
-went to a water park/splashed and frolicked
-avoided a sunburn even though it was 99 degrees outside. Score!
-got blisters on the bottom of both feet from walking around barefooted on said water park’s super hot concrete. Would rather have had the sunburn.
-Had the best vegan meal of my life at a place called The Wild Cow. Irony.
-met Dave Ramsey (WHAAAATT!!?)
-um, yes, that is what I had said.
-was on a national radio show (see Dave Ramsey above)
-cried tears of joy with my husband over accomplishing an enormous goal
-felt the freedom all over again
-fell in love with my husband for the zillionth time
-watched fireworks and felt like they were just for us
-read some amazing books by talented writers
-started my master’s degree program
-wondered why in the world I need a master’s degree
-spent at least 12 hours reading and writing things because someone else decided I have to
-seriously contemplated a career change
-thought about those books I’ve written in my head and how they need to make their way onto paper soon
-had some bad dreams
-didn’t kiss my husband nearly enough
-paid a caterer for amazing food
-ordered 6 dozen mini vegan cupcakes
-made Hippie Loaf
-reworked Hippie Loaf recipe…v2 was better
-spent several hours with my diva-friends, which of course was not nearly enough
-marveled at my friend’s beautiful baby girl and super talkative 2 year old boy.They’ve grown so fast!!
-talked awesome books and life and Jesus with one of my divas on the way home
-was chauffeured : )
-prayed for many folks to receive comfort and peace
-wondered why my life is so utterly blessed and practically painless
-questioned the strength of my faith
-realized that there are more things I’ve written in my mind that need to find their way out
-wrote this list just to take the pressure off
-closed my eyes
-gave thanks

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…and Life Gets in the Way

So I noticed today how my everyday humdrum parts of life really kinda get in the way of my creative pursuits. Bummer.

Like, for instance….my job. That pesky thing is really taking time away from my writing. Rude!!

And showering, washing/drying/fen-a-g-ling with my hair, shaving my legs, and putting on makeup…those things are getting a little demanding, having to be done every stinkin’ day and all. (Don’t worry, I’m not giving those things up. You’re welcome)

And exercising. Yeah, I’m just about through with that flippin’ business altogether. (Okay, so I’m not really, but there’s no way I’m going to stop complaining about it!) I actually have fallen into a very (VERY) strange love affair with running. And now I’m signed up to run a race even. 4 whole miles (that is a marathon to me, thank you very much!) and that’s happening in about a week. WHAT!!??

[breathing into a brown bag] moving right along…..

Writing, I love you. I really, truly do. And I know I neglected you for too many years and now that we’ve just gotten back together, I hardly spend enough time with you. And now people are starting to ask what is up with us and it’s getting all awkward at dinner parties and such. But I really still do love you. I don’t want you to leave… really. I’ll change someday…I promise.

Anyhoo…. I am loving writing lately so much that I think about it a lot. Like when I shouldn’t be thinking of it. Like at work. And when I’m sleeping (yep, dreamt about submitting an article the other night…yikes!) and I’m starting to prefer it to my day job. Which is super fun and way crazy scary all at the same time.

But…what do we have here?? Another creative flame that may be fanned into existence again??? Dut-da-da-daaahhhh…

I need to get back on the jewelry-making train. And….fast. Why, you ask??

Because in [early!] December, my little bitty pieces of wearable art just might inspire someone to buy them in order to give the money to an awesome organization to fight a hideous monster.

Eyebrow raising yet??

More to come soon on that… (I’ll give you a few hints: Gallery Hop, Doma, awesome. There, that’s all you get.)

For now, let’s just say that I have to get BUSY on this project, and all that non-important mumbo-jumbo like eating and sleeping and working and showering and blow-drying and exercising (especially that!!) is SO going to get in the way of this resurrected love, I just KNOW it….. *Sigh*

Please pray for me…I need a lot of stamina in the upcoming weeks. For my job (need a little extra motivation on that one too, please,) for the upcoming race I’ll be running on Thanksgiving morning (woohoo!!) and most of all for this new project that will take a lot of time out of my schedule in the next few weeks. I’m psyched and inspired and even though I’m tired, I’m feeling very alive right now. Check back with me in a couple of weeks on that one…

Goodnight friends…thanks for listening (reading!) my rambling.

PS: speaking of inspiration: thank you to everyone who requested a topic for me to write about. One problem: The requests are split exactly 50/50 between people who want to read more marriage-related stuff and people who requested everything else! If you haven’t responded to that little survey yet, would you take a minute to break the tie for me? That would be awesome and appreciated. Thank you!!

Taking Requests

I’ve been waiting to write until something big jumps out at me, and it just hasn’t been happening. I don’t know if this is what you’d call writer’s block, because I have lots and lots of ideas. I’ve been writing things down in hopes of developing them into a coherent piece at some point when I have enough time to pound the keys for a while. I’ve had some time, I just didn’t feel like any of the ideas were quite ready to be spit out yet. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. But I’m not really getting the go-ahead for any of the things I’ve written down. So, here’s an idea…would you take a minute and tell me which of these topics you’d be interested inseeing me writing about next? I figure it’s possible that the 3 folks who have read this little blog once or twice might be thinking “I wonder what she’d have to say about _______?” So here’s a chance. Take a look at these topics (some have already been swirling around in my mind for a while and pick 2 or 3 that you’d most like to see me write about over the next several weeks. If there’s something you’re interested in that you don’t see here, just type it in the comment box. I’ll take a look at the results and start writing on the most popular one in a day or two. I’m excited (and a little scared!) to see what you’ll have in mind…I have to say this is a bit weird, putting myself out there like this with the possiblity of this idea being rejected altogether. But then again, I have a feeling that y’all will come through with at least a few things for me to think about. Thank you in advance!

Good advice

I’m always amazed at how incredibly gracious God is to us messed up ragamuffins, especially to me. . You poor folks who actually read this thing…I didn’t mean to worry you too much. I know how squirmy you people who love me can get when I have a little huge freak-out and start writing posts like this and I’m not my perky self. I understand how you worry about me because my moods swing from one end of crazy to the other, and with serious quickness. It’s really happened too many times this year. I’m chalking it up to my terribly short memory. You know, the one that always seems to forget somehow that God is completely in control of my everything and that usually when I’m freaked out it’s because I haven’t spent enough time with Him and my eyes are looking in another direction. Yeah, that short memory.

I want to thank you for your prayers…many of you mentioned that you had been praying for me, and I certainly did need it. Several of you sent me messages with encouraging words, telling me what you have experienced in times similar to this, when everything just seemed too…well, too everything. Like things were spinning out of control and you felt imbalanced and unsure of the next step. Thank you for all of that encouragement. What did I ever do to deserve friends like the ones I have? *sigh*

So as you know, all this craziness has been brought on by my workaholic personality. I’ve known about it for a long time, but in the last couple of years I’ve really been thinking about how to make it better. I haven’t exactly figured out the root cause, but it seems as if it is likely several things all together. God’s still showing me all that. But this week, Todd asked me to read a part of a book he’s reading (The Christian Atheist-I read the first few chapters then he hijacked it and I hadn’t finished yet!) because he said that it reminded him of me and my current situation. The author relates his own struggle with being a workaholic, and the process he went through to change. But this part was at the beginning of his real journey, about him basically telling his counselor, after much probing and prodding,  that he didn’t feel like he would change because this was just who he was. The counselor leaned over to him and said something like “So, basically, you’re saying that our God isn’t big enough to change you?”

THAT was his turning point. When he admitted that he really was telling God “You can’t handle this job,” that made a world of difference for him. I mean, who says that to God? Who ever could? Obviously He can handle anything.

Okay, that’s great…but I didn’t think that really related to me specifically because I wasn’t telling God that I couldn’t change. I have been telling Him for a long time that I needed Him to show me what the deal was so I could figure out how to fix it. Right there was my first hint,  but I didn’t really get it until later in the weekend.

Fast-forward to Saturday morning. I woke up, so happy that I could just reach over and grab a book and read in bed for a while before ever having to get up to do anything. I grabbed a couple of books (nerd alert!) and my bible.  I started praying and thanking God for an awesome morning, and asking Him to speak to me. I did that thing that I do sometimes where I ask God to speak to me through His word and I just let my bible fall open, then I read whatever catches my eye on that page. It’s not rocket science, I know. Maybe you have a better way, but I know He has been faithful to speak to me many times like that. I may be random, but He isn’t.

This time, it fell open to Psalm 107, which starts out: Shout praises to the LORD!   He is good to us, and his love never fails. Everyone the LORD has rescued  from trouble should praise him… Alright. Check. Moving on…

Then it starts explaining all these different types of people and the situations they’ve gotten themselves into, and how when they finally cried out to Him, he rescued them from their circumstances and restored them back to an even better place than when they’d started out. It talked about people who were homeless wanderers, hungry and thirsty, depressed, imprisoned, distressed, foolish, rebellious, enslaved, sinful, physically ill, sailing on high seas, discouraged, etc… Do you see yourself yet? I didn’t. Not until I read the verses again, and in 10-16, I saw my face:

Some of you were prisoners  suffering in deepest darkness  and bound by chains,

    because you had rebelled  against God Most High  and refused his advice.

    You were worn out  from working like slaves,  and no one came to help.

    You were in serious trouble,  but you prayed to the LORD,  and he rescued you.

    He brought you out  of the deepest darkness  and broke your chains.

    You should praise the LORD  for his love  and for the wonderful things  he does for all of us.

    He breaks down bronze gates  and shatters iron locks.

Whoa… that’s me. I’ve been worn out from working like a slave. No one was helping me, or even able to. I was bound by my own self-made chains, suffering  with self-scorn and spiraling into a funky depression. So…all I had to do was pray to God? Well that’s weird because that’s what I have been doing and nothing is getting better.  But then my eyes fell back on to that part about refusing His advice. Then the part about calling on Him and He would rescue me.

You see it?? All this time, here I was thinking that I had called on God, but all I had really been doing was talking at Him. Remember what I said? I had been telling Him to show ME what the problem was so I could figure out how to fix it. Never once had I called on Him to fix it all for me…to swoop in and rescue me from this latest ridiculousness that I’d created for myself. Never once had I just turned it over to Him and said God, unless you come through for me on this and fix it for me, I’m not gonna make it.

So there it is, all back to trust and obedience. I saw Him just sitting back and shaking His head, with a grin on His face that said finally, you’re hearing Me. That was the key all along…not thinking that I was going to figure out a way to fix all this junk, not that I ever could have, but trusting Him to fix it for me, and to become a little more like His Son along the way somehow.

The coolest part was later when I was meditating on these verses and I couldn’t stop thinking about that word advice. That was the part that I was stuck on…okay, God, what specifically is this advice of yours that I haven’t heeded? I really sensed Him tell me that I’d find out soon enough. So I went about my morning, getting ready to just enjoy an entire day doing nothing related to work, but just loving the beautiful weather (this is my favorite time of year!) and visiting with family and spending time with the delicious man that He made for me. I was nearly giddy just thinking about it. While I was brushing my teeth, I decided to go check the Bible Gateway verse of the day on my phone, which I frequently do as a way to kick-off my day. It said simply:

Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children -Ephesians 5:1

Thank you, Abba. That’s good advice. I AM your child. I don’t need to worry about anything else.

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

un-balanced

Someone got me a little perpetual calendar that I have sitting in my classroom. It’s called something like 365 Daily Prayers for Teachers. I flipped through some days this week after forgetting to change it for a while. Here’s what I saw:

Wow…that’s interesting. I’d just been talking recently about how I’ve been needing some rest or I’m going to get burned out.

Hmmm… that’s kinda weird. Sounds a lot like the first one. And a lot like what I need. I am not relating right now to that whole “moments of peace” thing though.

Um, okay….I’m getting a little freaked out now. Yes, I am feeling overwhelmed, to say the least. Todd and I had just been talking about me asking another teacher (someone who I think is “with it” but doesn’t work 5 million extra hours every week) to help me figure out what’s going on and why I can’t seem to stop feeling like my head is barely above water.

This is what I have to keep in mind. I do love what I do. I’m good at it (usually) and I get to show love to lots of kids every day. So why am I feeling so out of sorts right now? I can’t seem to get my groove or feel like I’m doing anything right. Anything. I was praying today, asking God to let me know if I’m fretting about all this for no reason. After all, He made me to be a teacher. Of that there is no doubt. He changed my mind about what it means to be a mother, so maybe I just needed Him to change my mind about what it means to be a teacher. So I was starting to ask Him to calm my heart about all of this. I just have to work hard, because I don’t want anything less for this kids than what I give them every day. In fact I would really like a whole lot more for them. They deserve it. It’s what I was made to do, so I just need to find peace with the fact that this is what it takes to make it happen, right?

Then it dawned on me, a verse that Todd and I speak of often when we are facilitating an FPU class. It’s a proverb that says the blessing of the Lord makes your life rich, and there is no sorrow added to it. Now that’s the KLC paraphrased version of course, but that last line is a quote. The things God blesses me with will make my life rich, and there is now sorrow added to it. The opposite of sorrow is joy. So If my circumstances are what God has blessed me with to enrich my life, then why is there a lack of joy? Why is there continual sorrow because of feeling like I’m always letting someone down or not doing anything well enough (or well at all?) Why am I exhausted and frazzled instead of refreshed and calm? I know that everyone goes through periods of unrest, but this has turned into a lifestyle for me. My overall, underlying sense of joy hasn’t surfaced in a while. Instead, those ugly cousins, discontent and confusion, have shown their nasty faces, and they’re kind of all I seem to see lately. I feel like if this is the way things keep up, I’m not going to last as a teacher. I’m just not cut out for feeling that my life is so unbalanced all the time.

Then today, although I don’t have a picture to share, my next message came in the form of a little slip of fortune-cookie paper:

Joyfulness will prolong your days.

Yeah, I kinda figured that.

I would really appreciate your prayers. I feel so imbalanced. Every time I walk out of my school after a 12 hour day and see my lone car in the parking lot, all I can hear is LOSER in my head. Especially when my car was also the first one in the parking lot that day. **SIGH**

God, search me. Show me what the problem is. Is it You convicting me or am I or my enemy just condemning myself? Please shine your light on this for me, so I can see what’s hanging out there in the dark that I can’t get in touch with. In the meantime, protect my husband and I, as this has opened up a door an invited in every manner of attack against us. Every little thing is getting to us and that’s not who we are at all.

Wisdom, please.

Hey you, fix YOUR economy

So, did that stimulus check fix all of your financial problems? Really, it didn’t?

How about Cash for Clunkers? That was a good one, right? Your whole world was changed because of that amazing, freeing financial idea wasn’t it? No???

Yeah, I didn’t really think so.

See, the truth is, Uncle Sam is not wearing bright shining armor, and he’s not riding in on a white horse to save you from your financial dilemma. If you can’t already tell that our government is not particularly adept at managing its own finances, let alone sitting down at our kitchen table with us to help out when it’s pay-the-bills night, you haven’t paid much attention to things.

But anyone can change. You can start paying attention. Not so much to CNN and the doom-and- gloom that it broadcasts about how awful things are getting and how the whole government is going to collapse if so-and-so doesn’t get off his pompous [fill-in-name-of-hated-political-party-here] butt and sign the newest quick-fix piece of paper that will allow the truly patriotic [fill-in-name-of-beloved-political-party-here]s to fix all the financial problems of the universe. That’s not what I think you should be paying more attention to.

Instead, I think all of us should turn that pointed finger around and look at ourselves. Look at your own financial sitation. Have you, like the government, overextended yourself? Have you, like the government, given into pressures of every voice under the sun spewing in your ears about what it wants, so you’ve said yes to spending on everything? What are those voices telling you to spend all you make and buy all you want,anyway? Is it your spouse? Your kids? Your workplace party-planning-committee? Is it that little brat who lives inside you and shares your name who is always hollering “but I want it!!!”

But, you say, I’m not really an overspender…I’m just the victim of bad circumstances. I got laid off and I can’t find work. I got hurt and I’m waiting for my disability check. I got tricked into a bad mortgage and I lost my house. I hate my job so I quit because I wanted to be true to myself but now I can’t find another one.

I get it. There are some crappy situations out there. Some really, really crappy ones. I am not saying that everything will be perfect tomorrow. All I’m saying is: stop expecting someone else to fix things, stop wallowing in self-pity and hopelessness, and start doing something. DO SOMETHING.

Start with these two things: Do what you can. Do better with what you have.

Do what you can. If you got hurt on the job and can’t chuck boxes anymore, I understand. Do what you can. Maybe you can sit and take orders over the phone. Got laid off and have kids to feed? I understand. You might be depressed and have lost all hope because you can’t find a great job as a computer guru right now like the one you had. That is depressing, I understand. But you have kids to feed, so you can chuck boxes in a warehouse instead. Oh, that’s not enough money? Well then maybe you chuck boxes and deliver pizzas too, until things get better. Like to stay home with your kids, but your husband’s business isn’t doing well and things are getting tight? I get it. Do what you can. Get creative…trade childcare with someone a few days a week while you launch an at-home business or you wrangle up carts or stock shelves or whatever for a while. Do what you can to make things better.

Do better with what you have. Maybe you have a good job already and you’re fine and able to pay your bills right now and spend whatever you want. Good for you. I bet that’s what a lot of people thought a few years ago who are now out of a job. Do better with what you have so that if things change in the future (and what’s the likelihood that will happen, right!?) you’ll be better prepared. Make a budget so you have a clue. (Oh, stop whining…it’s a freakin’ budget, not a straight-jacket) Don’t spend every dime you make. Plan for emergencies by putting back money for them because they will happen. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and your husband does all the financial stuff, help ease the stress by becoming a home economist. Figure out ways to make things go further by clipping coupons, bulk shopping with a friend, sharing meal prep with another family, freezing leftovers…whatever. Just do better with what you have.

All of us have to deal with the lovely mess the government is getting us into, and if not, our grandchildren sure will. But we don’t have to add to it. We don’t have to throw up our hands and just say “oh well, the government’s out of control so why bother…I’ll  just do whatever I want too.” 

Do what you can, and do better with what you have right now.

One thing I can do is to help other people get started in doing better with what they have. Years ago I learned the revolutionary ways to get financially fit… wanna hear the secrets?

Well too bad, there aren’t any dang secrets. It’s just common sense stuff. Spend less than you make. Quit borrowing money. Pay back the money you already borrowed. Save some money. Get it? Common sense stuff. And I can teach you the steps to take to put that common sense into action with your finances. No scam, no get rich quick junk, and no I’m not making money at it. Just learning the same way I did, and applying what you learned with diligence will do the job. It works. So if any of you reading this need help getting started, let me know. Really. I will help you. I coach people all the time who need help making a budget or paying off debt or whatever. I can help you too, even if you live somewhere far away. You can read, can’t you? Well then I can recommend what to read to get started and I can coach you from anywhere. Seriously.

That is how this economy will get fixed…that is how we will fight off all the doom and gloom. We’ll do what we can and do better with what we have. We’ll help each other one person at a time. Then that person can help another person. Then they can help one more…are you getting the picture here?

The government isn’t going to save you from your crappy financial situation. YOU are the only one who can change YOUR situation. So…get started already. One little step leads to another…do something today to fix your own economy.  

 

Only 100,800 Heartbeats to Spend Today…

 

Wow. Just read a comment this article by Dan Miller, author of 48 Days To the Work You Love  about living your best life now. The person leaving the comment suggested focusing on “Heartbeat Management” instead of “Time Management” to improve your quality of life.

“Heartbeat Management??” Uhhhh… what??

 

 

He goes on to say that Heartbeat Management is a new way of thinking: measuring your day in heartbeats instead of minutes to show just how valuable each second really is. He says that the average # of heartbeats in a day is about 100,800.

 The commenter said:

“So, out of the roughly 100,800 heartbeats that will expire today, how many of my heartbeats will I give to my children? How many will I give to my spouse? How many will I give to a job that doesn’t align with my purpose? How many will I give to television? How many will I give to worry? How many heartbeats will I let slip through my fingers with idle time? How many heartbeats will I give to myself?”

Whoa. My heartbeats are expiring as I’m sitting here writing this. How have I spent them so far today? I spent some brushing my teeth and getting dressed. (not really optional!) I spent some making a quick breakfast for my incredible husband and then about three heartbeats kissing him goodbye as he left for work (hmm…does it still count as three since my heart skipped a beat during that kiss?) Then I spent some of them watering and fixing up the garden. I spent several of them baking vegan cupcakes and granola bars. I spent some of them reading the article I’m referencing right now. I spent a few of them getting the mail. I spent some checking email and Facebook (why, exactly!?) and a few more texting back and forth with some friends. I spent a few of them downloading an app to my iPhone.

Have I spent any of today’s heartbeats very well so far? *squirm*

On my to-do list in front of me, it says I need to spend some of the ones I’m not even 100% guaranteed to get later today on buying tickets, making phone calls to my insurance company, (kill me now)  jogging,  and mowing the grass. Later tonight, if I get to live out the rest of this day, I’ll spend a good chunk of my heartbeats hanging out with some friends celebrating a birthday. Those will be worth it.

Right now I’m spending some of my finite heartbeats on writing this so hopefully some other folks can start thinking of their moments as heartbeats too. Understanding that as each one pounds, it’s another one we will never get back. Like the one that just thumped in my chest. It’s gone. Yep, there goes another one…never to be replaced. And another one. And another…

Suddenly I feel like I have better things to do.