Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In it together

Yesterday was one of "those" days. The ones where you want to call it quits on being an adult, curl up in a ball and binge watch Netflix. Keeping in mind of course that I know I have an awesome life. The two craziest parts of my life are also two of the greatest parts of my life. So I had tons of heaping mom guilt piled on top of my frustration.  

In the middle of it I had the thought, I should text my good friend and just talk it out a little. I always feel better after a little friend talk. But as soon as I thought it this crazy powerful other voice, my Darth Vader voice, said, "No. Not Miss Perfect-Never-Has-a-Bad-Mom-day friend!" And down the path I went of all the reasons no one could possibly understand me

Then it happened. My perfect mom friend text me to talk about how hard her day had been with her daughter. Suddenly I was reminded...she's human too. And she loves me and would never judge me. If I bring my struggles to her I know that she will encourage me, pray for me and I will walk away better. 

It's always been true and yet, in that previous moment, when I decided to not reach out I was buying into one of Satan's most powerful weapons..."no one could possibly understand". I am convinced that Satan will do almost anything to keep us in isolation believing no one cares much less could understand. Have you felt this?

No one understands what it's like to experience infertility.

No one understands what it's like to lose your brother/sister/mother/father.

No one gets how hard it is to be single.

No one knows what it's like to go work everyday at a job you hate.

No one understands what it's like to deal with depression.

No one else's marriage is struggling.

No one else is drowning in debt.

Everyone else is happy and perfect.


And so we hide. We turn away from authenticity and vulnerability with others because well...they couldn't possibly understand. They might make light of my struggle. They might judge my inadequacies. It would hurt too much to share and only have my greatest fear confirmed. Because that's what it all comes back to really.  

We desperately want to be understood, to share our burdens to know we are not alone. But Satan comes along and convinces us it's not possible.  And it is all so deeply personal we buy the lie that we can't risk it. We can't bring our hardship into the light, we just...can't.

We shut the doors, put on a fake smile and wander through our days, hurting and alone but never sharing. It doesn't take long for bitterness to start taking root. Hopelessness makes a home in our heart. Peace is replaced by a grinding angst. And our lives turn into an empty shell of the abundant life God promises. There we sit. Convinced everyone, God included, has abandoned us.

Perhaps this is why in Hebrews 10 we are told how to specifically care for each other.  Verses 24-25 says, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together...but encourage one another..."  The short term easy route is to be a hermit, keeping our cards close to our chest and refusing to share with those close to us. But in the long term it will hurt us deeply.

This passage is two fold you'll note.  It offers instruction for the listener and the sharer. When we are in a place of struggle we need to be willing to ask for help. To seek wisdom and encouragement from those who are in our close circle of community. We have to lay down our pride, set aside the fear Satan is selling us and risk being vulnerable.  We also have to be willing to extend grace when people mess it up and don't respond well to our hurts.

I've seen a hundred articles on Facebook that people share about the "10 things to never say to someone who...(lost a loved one, is struggling with infertility, has a sick child, is single, etc.)".  Good articles with helpful information for sure. But I think each of us should also remember that people will say hurtful things with the best of intentions. Extending grace to them, understanding their heart is not to hurt is an important part of our responsibility.  You can look around and see a mass of people out to hurt you or you can see a mass of people who love you and want to express how much they care. Your choice will greatly impact the quality of your journey.

Now, what's the instruction for the listener? "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." It's pretty easy to get wrapped up in our own world isn't it? We know our friend is going through a hard time but reaching out to them, sending a card or a text, inviting them to dinner, making a phone call take time and intentional thought. And we're busy. So we let our good intentions send a message to are not are forgotten...I don't care.

No, it's not always convenient to take a meal to a friend who has been sick. Yes, that phone call might take 30 minutes or 3 hours of your busy day. Yes, it will cost you some money to buy a card or send a bouquet of flowers. But it is the best use of your day.  God has asked us to be a representative of His great love to the people around us. We are part of his solution to the pain and hurt of this world. But we have to be intentional about it. We have to be aware. We have to be willing to be inconvenienced. 

For me this is a big deal. Honestly it's why I do this blog.  There's definitely a cathartic element to it, I'd be lying if I said otherwise! But primarily I write because I want you, the reader, to are not alone. I've been a lot of places and seen a lot of struggles. And I've felt alone. Often because I isolated myself, I bought the lie "no one understands me". I don't want that for you in whatever you are facing. I want you to know I am with you and more importantly God is with you...He is FOR you.

If you are in that situation where the hurt is overwhelming and you feel hope slipping away, whether for the day or for a season, turn to those who love you. Open up and be vulnerable. Let them see you. And when necessary, extend grace.  If you aren't in one of those times look around you. No doubt God has placed people in your life who need your encouragement and support. Reach out, let them know they are not alone. 

We are in this together.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ugly cries and showers don't mix...

I started my day ugly crying in the shower. Ugly crying might be a bit generous. I was doing the gut wrenching sob that sounds like a dying know, snot and tears everywhere and it just won't stop? Poor Matt had his empathetic face on that always has an element of panic mixed into it. Even Ellie came to investigate and stared at me with huge eyes. Not a great moment. What sent me so far over the edge? I haven't the faintest idea.

As I'm losing it in the shower my mind keeps repeating, "I just don't understand God, why is this so hard?" What's "this"? *Sigh* Everything and nothing all at once. It's being a mom. Being a wife. Being a friend. Being a sister. It's kids and housekeeping and library trips and cooking dinner (and lunch and breakfast). It's lining up babysitters, paying for babysitters, finding time with God, doing laundry, making beds and hearing "mom? mom? momma? mommy?" twenty times in a row. It's LIFE.

Rewind 3 and half years ago. I'm pregnant with Elle Belle. I'm ecstatic to be pregnant given the almost 2 year wait to get pregnant and all the conversations with specialists telling me women with my condition don't get pregnant and even if they do they have late term miscarriages. Thrilled is an is scared.  In the midst of anticipating her arrival Matt and I begin having conversations about whether I want to continue to work or want to stay home.

I'll be honest. Until I actually was pregnant I had zero desire to stay home. I always wanted to work, always. Though I felt confident in my decision to continue working I also wanted to honor God with my life so, I decided to pray about it. Imagine my complete disbelief as, over the course of a few months, my heart went away from working and became completely sold on the idea of staying home with Ellie.

I was scared to death to stay home but I told God if that was what He wanted for my life then I would do it.  And so, I became a stay-at-home mom.  I think introducing a baby can be a pretty life-altering experience for anyone.  But when we left the hospital with that sweet little girl...I was sold on being the best mommy out there. I still remember laying her down in her crib that first night...Matt and I stared down at her and I was filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be this little girls mommy.

Those first few days of Ellie's life were perfect. Sure I had postpartum hormones and I was a normal neurotic first time mom but we had a great rhythm going. The only hiccup was her jaundice levels weren't exactly great so each day we had to take her to Paducah to get tested but they appeared to be trending in the right direction.

Then Wednesday came. We took her to the hospital for her daily stick, headed to SAM's to get some groceries while we waited for the, now, normal all-clear call so we could head home. Only it didn't come. Instead we received a call telling us to get her to the hospital immediately, they would emergency admit her to the NICU because her jaundice levels were dangerously high.

That's when everything crashed. I wasn't prepared for that. I didn't know how to handle it, what to do or what to say. After that came the colic.  Then a second pregnancy that turned out to be even higher risk than the first. The an emergency c-section and 8 week NICU stay for James.  And all the while I kept telling myself that once things calmed down it would be easier. All those mommy dreams would come true. Life would be a Hallmark movie once again.

Only it never happened. Because Hallmark movies aren't real. And all the while I kept thinking, why is this so hard? God, I was obedient to You. I stayed home. Aren't you supposed to make it easier since I was obedient? You're supposed to feel super close to me but I feel abandoned. What is going on?

Have you ever been there? You listened to God and followed Him even though it was scary and seemed impossible and instead of it being an easy path it's felt like a struggle every step.  Maybe it wasn't the journey of motherhood. Maybe it was a job you accepted (or declined). Maybe it was a relationship. Maybe it was your finances. Maybe it was your career choice.  You were obedient but rather than feeling rewarded you feel abandoned. And you can't help but wonder, "why is this so hard?".

"God, I'm trying to honor You with my finances and tithe so why does it feel like everyone else is getting all the breaks?"

"God, I'm trying to honor You with my dating relationships so why am I the only one still single?"

"God, I honored you with my sexuality and waited until I was married to have sex so why can't I get pregnant?"

"God, I listened to You and took this job so why am I miserable?"

"God, I picked this major because I think it's the field You want me in so why was I declined for the program?"

"God, why is this so hard?"

And do you know what I've discovered? God never promised it would be easy.  I made that part up.  Facebook and Instagram and movies and music and TV shows and magazines and books all paint a picture that is so fake.  And nothing like what God promises us.  

In fact, Jesus gives us the exact opposite picture! He doesn't say, "If you follow me, if you're obedient to me, life will be great! Easy!".  Nope. That's what culture says though.  It will infiltrate your life with ideas like, if you have this, if you do this, if you look like will be easy. But Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

My problem is that I have bought the lie of culture that says life is good if... When we stop seeing the world as the broken fallen place that it is we become surprised when life gets hard.  Then we get confused and wonder...Where's God in this?  But friends, God never said it would be easy. He said, don't miss this, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace."  

If you are looking to a job for peace, you're in trouble. If you're looking to a spouse for peace, you're in trouble. If you're looking to a baby for peace, you're in trouble. If you're looking to your retirement for peace, you're in trouble. If you're looking to motherhood for peace, you're in trouble.  Because it will not be there.  Our peace, the calm in the middle of life's storm, comes only through Him.

Then comes my favorite part!  He says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  Do you see it? In this world (in your life) you will have trouble. Sickness will come. Jobs will be frustrating. Money will be tight. Loneliness will happen. Friends will fail you. Classes will be hard (graduating...harder). Disappointment will reign. It's just a fact: Life is hard. But that's not the end.  Life is hard but take heart! Be encouraged! Don't let it take you by surprise and don't let it keep you down because, "I have overcome the world." 

What we face now, the hard part, is only a temporary place. God gives us peace (in Him) for our current situations. But He has overcome the world for the future. One day there will be no more disappointment, frustration, loneliness, sickness.  When you are, like me, feeling beaten down and having an ugly cry in the shower we just have to is hard, expect nothing else (regardless of what our culture tells us) but take heart! He is with us, He understands us and He will carry us through to the other side.

It's funny how when you remind yourself that life is supposed to be hard how suddenly all the good shines through.  When you expect an easy "perfect" life all you can see is the bad. The pieces that are keeping you from what you expected.  Your job just isn't as fulfilling as it should be. Motherhood is too hard, not enough Kodak moments. There's not enough money to get the new car, the boat, the dare you have to rent?!  Your soulmate doesn't write love sonnets and give you diamonds and flowers like they're supposed to.  On and on and on until we're screaming, "Why is this so hard?!".

But. When we heed Jesus' warning, when we know life is hard suddenly the beauty of life shines through. No, it's not your dream job. But God has given you a place of influence with the people you work with. And the privilege of getting to introduce them to Him is pretty purposeful.  No, you don't have the perfect house or the newest car but you have a roof over your head and reliable transportation. Best of all you have the freedom to move beyond things and to focus on more important things, like people.  No, motherhood isn't like what you see on TV or in movies. It's not all laughter and Disney vacations. But there is nothing more humbling and more amazing than forgiveness from a three-year-old.  Every "hard" part makes the "good" parts sweeter.

When we make this shift our question changes from, "Why is this so hard?" to "Thank You God for this gift!".  And doesn't that sound so much better?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the front porch just swingin'...

My daughter Ellie often likes to go play on the back deck while I work in the kitchen. We have a rule that she has to stay in the backyard which is relatively protected from cars and people. Traffic on our road is pretty much non-existent but I still don't want her in the front yard without a grown-up. From the kitchen window I can see almost all of the backyard and with the door open I can hear if she needed help. She doesn't realize it but in the backyard mommy is carefully watching her enjoy a little independence.

This morning as I observed her from the house she wandered off into a space I couldn't easily see. I gave her a few seconds to come back into view before heading out back to see what she was up to. A quick scan of the backyard revealed no Ellie. Hollering her name garnered no response. Mommy, pajamas and all, hoofed it around to the front of the house to find Ellie sitting on the steps to our front porch. She seemed surprised to see such an emotional mommy headed her way.

Later as we talked about the importance of honoring our word, doing what we say we will do (ie: stay in the backyard), she looked at me with all the logic of a three year old and said, "But mommy I wanted to swing in the front yard." My sweet little girl was only too happy to obey her mother until a better idea came along. And then she couldn't understand why I wouldn't have wanted her to enjoy a little swinging. Because she didn't see or comprehend the dangers.

Obedience is a funny thing. As a parent looking at my 3 year old obedience vs disobedience seems like a very cut and dry issue. I rarely feel confused over whether she is honoring my requests or not...generally it is very blatantly obvious. And yet to her, there is always a good reason for why she couldn't obey me in that moment. I've yet to hear her say, "Mom, I just don't love you and have no desire to respect your wishes.". For sure there have been plenty of "but I don't want to do that" moments. But, to Ellie, her obedience or disobedience has little to do with her love for me. Those aren't interconnected for her.  Mommy does not share that sentiment.

I ask Ellie to stay in the backyard not because I'm being mean but because it is in her best interest at 3 years of age to stay where I can protect her. I'm asking her to obey me because I love her. For me, as her mother, obedience is directly linked to my love for her. I love her too much to let her run out in front of a car and be hurt or killed. I love her too much to let her eat cupcakes for every meal, I know it will hurt her body and create habits later in life that will hinder her life. She thinks she may be missing out by obeying but her vision is so short sighted. Yes, she might miss out in the short term but mommy sees a bigger picture. I see how the pursuit of that short term desire could negatively impact her long term future.

Obedience really is all about trust. Every time I ask Ellie to obey me she has to decide if she believes that mommy knows best, that maybe she doesn't know everything that I know, that mommy's decisions are motivated by love for her and therefore they are trustworthy.  

If only obedience were so easily dissected when not talking about 3 year olds.  And truth be told there are occasions when my decisions are impacted by selfishness.  There are times when mommy is too worn out to go outside and play and my decision to keep everyone indoors has more to do with my desires than love.  There are days when the thought of adding one more mess to the pile feels overwhelming so the paints and crayons and markers are told they must wait for another day.  I am a most imperfect parent and I will not always be acting in love with thoughtfulness toward what is best for my children. Perhaps if I was the perfect parent Ellie would never question my trustworthiness.

Ah, but we already know that's not true don't we? I often look at my heavenly Father, who has only ever demonstrated perfect love for me and I question if He really knows best. I look around at my life with my short-sighted vision completely oblivious to the dangers and perils He is trying to protect me from.  I think, "what's the big deal? I just want to go to the front yard and swing." never seeing the cars. And then when I'm blindsided by the consequence of my decisions I point to God through tears and accuse Him of not being there for me, of not protecting me.

I wonder what would happen if every time God asked me to obey Him I stopped and thanked Him for protecting me from whatever dangers I do not see?  What if I read scriptures and applied the principles He gave for life with gratitude that I don't have to wander aimlessly through these decisions alone? What if I said, "God, I don't understand why You would say this but I trust You and know You have asked this of me because You love me so I will listen and obey."?

Obedience isn't easy. Ask my 3 year old (or my two year old)! Choosing to stay in our backyard rather than going to the front to swing would have felt like she was giving up something, like she was missing out. She could have chosen to obey but become bitter with me because of all she wasn't getting to experience. After all, other kids get to be in the front yard and nothing bad happens to them! Sound familiar?

If we chose, obedience is an opportunity to draw closer to our heavenly Father.  It's a defining moment to say, "God, thank you for protecting me and loving me. I trust You know best and I will follow You, I will love You, regardless of what it feels like it cost me. Because I know the truth is I'm gaining something, not losing it.".  

In the end, obedience that is motivated solely by an outcome isn't really's manipulation.  "Okay God, I really want that job/spouse/baby/house/thing so I'm going to 'obey' You because then You have to give me what I want!".  If you are choosing to follow God's plan for sex and wait for marriage to become sexually active because you think that will guarantee you a spouse and a great marriage, you're missing it.  If you serve others and work hard because you think that will guarantee you a leadership role, you're missing it.  If you're giving a tithe and offering because you think that will guarantee you financial prosperity, you're missing it.  If you're investing in your children because you think that will guarantee they know God later, you're missing it.  If you are waiting patiently "learning the lessons God wants to teach you" because you think it will guarantee you a baby, you are missing it.

That is called formula faith and it is a cheap copy of the relationship that God truly desires with us.  Obedience is about trust. Not the outcome. As we continue to obey and trust God we draw closer to Him. We bring glory to Him. We become more like Him...and that's the whole point.

Now don't you worry. Ellie got plenty of swing time after her time out ;)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Drag Queen

I have a small chalkboard clip that I attached to my laptop that says, "I'm living my dream".  Today as I stared at it my first thought was, "So why does it feel like a drag?".  Have you ever felt that way?  You look at your life and know that it's everything you've ever dreamed of and yet you still wish you could hole up on a deserted island somewhere. Escape. 

My conversation with God goes something like this, "Dear God. Why do I feel miserable today? I begged you for children. Begged. For almost two years I begged. Through two pregnancies I begged for my children's lives knowing their survival wasn't a given. Remember all those tears as I rocked Ellie to sleep in my arms with James in my belly? Remember all my promises? What happened?!"

I think to myself, I love the extra "jobs" I've chosen. I love teaching group fitness classes. I mean, I really do! I love preparing for them and helping others discover they're stronger than they realized. I love it! It was a dream of mine for years!  And yet...there are days when that dream feels like a drag. Know what I mean? Forget health and wellness and strength and doing the right thing. Give me a dad-gum doughnut! AND a white chocolate mocha from Fidalgo Bay!!

And good grief, Pangea. Man I love Pangea.  It has been such a big part of restoring my emotional and mental health which sounds crazy but it's true. I love the company, I am addicted to the products and I love sharing it with others. It's a dream come true! But...well even then there are still days it feels like I'm spinning my wheels. Where all my aspirations are more like indigestion.  

All dreams. Big dreams. Things and people I love that in a moment for some reason feel like a drag. So what now? I don't think it's realistic to assume we can live every day in the dream mode. We're going to have days where it's a drag. We are tired. We are stressed. We are hungry. Man, I'm grumpy when hungry. We are unfocused and scattered. Discontent. And it can all pile up until all you have is one big drag.

I think one of the best first steps we can all take is to recognize the barriers we are facing. Right now Ellie is not sleeping. James is not sleeping. I am not sleeping. Nothing kills a dream faster than fatigue!  So I can look at my dreams and say, "It's not you. It's me. I'm just tired. And tired doesn't last forever.".  That helps.

But do you know what can restore my dreams? Returning to my purpose.  See, I chose to stay home with my kids because I wanted to personally invest in them.  I had a very wise woman once tell me, "I chose to be left behind so my kids wouldn't be.". I love that. It inspires me and speaks to me and restores me.  It's why I'm living my dream.  Dirty diapers, potty training, discipline, cutting up chicken nuggets, cleaning up a thousand messes...those are the tasks of my dream but the purpose, the purpose of my dream is tickle fights and slobbery kisses.  It's discussions about God and lots of cuddles while we read books.  It's movie nights and wrestling. It's an investment in something way bigger than me. And that inspires me. That gets me out of bed when I'm dragging.

Tasks drain a dream.  When all I can think about is all the stuff I have to get done, I've lost it.  I resent all the work. I'm discouraged when it doesn't go perfectly. I forget, "I chose this".  Instead of loving every moment I dread them.  I complain. I whine. I blame. Losing the purpose of a dream will make it feel like a drag every time.    

Your dream had a purpose too. Before the tasks got overwhelming and drug you down. What was it? I teach group fitness classes and work with Pangea because I want to help women feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. I want them to know, you are loved, you are valued and you are worth every bit of it! It's why I spend hours planning routines that challenge and enable my classes.  It's why I share my passion for Pangea and caring for your skin, making time for yourself and not just others.  That matters to me! And I believe it's all part of what God's purpose is for my life.

When I come back to that, my purpose and my passion I find the dream coming back to life.  I'm energized by my kids, my classes and my conversations. I see the difference I'm making. And when that happens, I look at my little chalkboard clip that says, "I'm living my dream" and I smile. Because I am.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Getting my gloves on...

We are 14 days into 2015 and already it's been a big year. Matt and I made the decision for me to join the Pangea Organics team as an Independent Pangeian. I started using the Pangea skin care line in December and had such an amazing experience that we decided it was a great fit for me and our family. As Matt said, "You're already selling it by talking about it non-stop...might as well get paid for it!". That's my husband :)

It's funny though. I've really struggled with how to get the word out about this new role. On one hand, I'm beyond excited because the products have been such a great fit for me and I have struggled to find the right products for my skin since I was a teenager. In that way sharing my experience has been easy. After all, everyone I've introduced the skin care to has been blown away and loved them! Easy, right?

Then there's the other side. Am I annoying people? Are they frustrated with me? What if no one buys anything from me? Why would anyone listen to my input on skincare? I'm so stupid for thinking anyone would ever care about my opinion. I. Am. Going. To. FAIL.

Ever been there? Ever passed up opportunities because you might fail? Ever kept your mouth shut because you weren't sure how others would receive your opinion. Yup, me too. It's my fatal flaw. Fear of failure and fear of losing the approval of others. Boy, that's a hard combination, isn't it?

I like to be liked. And I like to succeed. I have a hard time looking at what others might call "setbacks" or "learning opportunities", all I see are failures. And it's always personal. Bless my sensitive heart, I get told, "I'm not interested." and I hear, "I'm not interested in you.". Fatal flaw.

Now, thankfully as time as passed I've let go of the taking things personal stuff. Some people just won't like me (and I just won't click with some people). That's okay. Keep being kind and keep moving forward. As long as I'm not exhausted or having a bad day I can shrug off almost anything. That's taken a lot of intentional thought control and truly all credit goes to God and the work He's done. He's shown me time and time again that the only approval that matters is His and guess what? He always loves me so I can always feel confident, secure and at peace. That's awesome!

The fear of failure? Ugh. Still working on that one! A lot of days I feel confident in my abilities. And then's there's the Alice-in-a-rabbit-hole know, the one where your thoughts just spiral out of control and before you know it the floor drops out? That one.  The reality is though, we are all going to fail. And we can't let it define us. All great truths that I know but have a hard time applying to my heart.

Which bring us back to Pangea. I was petrified to start this. Excited but petrified. All of my old fears and insecurities resurfaced. I am going to fail. No one will support you, but they will totally be laughing at you. Fear always rears it's head when you take a step away from it. I took that first step (amidst heart palpitations!) and joined Pangea.  Then came the next step...asking people to come to a workshop to try the products and learn more about organic skincare. I was dying! I sent out around 70 individual invites. I got 4 replies for my first workshop. FOUR.

You want to talk about ready to give up?! I was ready to quit and I hadn't even started! LOL!  But then I did something different than normal. I wanted to quit...and I didn't. I looked in the mirror and told myself, You can do this. You can do this. You can do this! And as I gave myself the pep talk of all pep talks (complete with Sara Bareilles "BRAVE" in my head) I realized some important things:

1. My opinion matters. Because I matter. And I love these products! You don't have to love them.  See? Your opinion matters too! You don't have to try them, you don't have to attend a workshop. But I'm going to share my experience.

2. It's not personal.  Saying "no" to the products is not the same as saying "no" to me. So go ahead, tell me no.  I can take it ;)

3. I need this. What's this? This step. This blatant refusal to roll over and play dead every time an opportunity arises that involves risk. And let's be real. All true opportunity takes risk. I am going to take risks. I am going to fail. And I am going to get back up and try again. I am done quitting! I am done being afraid! I will not be perfect but I will try.

So what does this have to do with you? Everything. I don't know what opportunity is ahead of you that has you scared. It might be a work opportunity. It might be something more personal like the opportunity to start a family. Maybe there's too much hurt from your past so you've been passing on relationships, opening up just feels too risky. Maybe your finances have you scared to death and you can't imagine being debt free. Maybe you want to start a non-profit to feed hungry kids and you can't figure the numbers out, or stay home with your kids and the finances are tight.  

We've all got something that scares us and leaves us wanting to bury our head in the sand rather than taking the challenge head on. And whatever yours is, it's time to take that step.

Now. I didn't just go out and find any and every opportunity I could! I spent a lot of time talking with God about whether or not I should join Pangea. Matt and I discussed if it was a good fit for our family. I'm passionate about the products and love the mission and vision of the company. I wasn't foolish in my risks and you shouldn't be either. But if you've done your homework, you sought the wise council of those around you, you've prayed about it and the only hold up is your's time. Pull the trigger. Just do it. You might fail. You will have bad days. The fear will come back. And when it does, tell it to get lost. You've got work to do.

God did not give us a spirit of fear. We can do this. All of us can. 

And if, if you need some amazing skincare that's affordable and won't harm you or the environment...I might just know a girl who can help you ;) 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The missing piece...

Well, the past 2 days I've walked you through my personal strategy for goal setting in the new year and shared two very important questions you need to ask when determining your goals. Today, I want to give you one last piece of the puzzle that will hopefully make it all come together.

One of the things I love about a new year is that it feels like a fresh start. I'm one of those people who feels very attached to natural boundaries. What I mean is I love the naturally occuring start/stop points that exist. For example: Monday is the start of the week, so Monday is usually when I implement a larger change like starting a new exercise plan or routine for the kiddos. The same is true for the first of the month or the start of a new season. I don't know why but I love the feeling of starting new on those dates. So naturally the start of a new year is my favorite!

Here's the problem with a new year though. We all have a tendency to focus on the new things we want to do and forget that a huge part of our new year should include asking the question:


At the end of the day you can't just keep adding more and more stuff. You'll be miserable. Maybe your 2015 goals need to be about dropping the good stuff so you can pick up the best stuff. Maybe your focus should be clearing out room for you to breathe and enjoy life a little more. Start by listing your priorities and then look at your calendar. Mark off the things that are preventing you from living the values you claim are important to you.  

Sure that book club is fun but is it keeping you from saying yes to something better? The money is nice but is the overtime at work really worth more than the family time you're sacrificing to get it?  I know having all the new technology and gadgets is fun but is it worth the strain it puts on you financially? 

What do you look back on in 2014 and think, "That was dumb. Why did I do that?"?  Why not make 2015 the year you don't do that again. You don't get into more debt. You don't invest in the wrong relationship. You don't treat work like the most important thing. You don't continue to be jealous. 

What do you need to stop doing in 2015? In order to accomplish what God wants for you this year you need to start by stopping.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The questions worth asking!

Yesterday I shared with you about goals for the new year and later I was telling Matt about how easy it is for me to get on a roll and just set a million goals. I like dreaming what can I say ;) It was then that I realized that I hadn't shared with all of you how I determine what goals to pursue and what goals to put aside. So that's what I want to do today.

I've heard some people say that they don't want to set any goals for the future because they just want to see God's plan come to fruition in their lives. On the front end that sounds like a really "mature" thing to say. But I think when you look at scripture you'll see that God is all about the organization and planning. So how do we balance God's clear example of order and planning with our desire for control (which can often be what all our planning is about)? Great question!

I think there is absolutely a way to set goals that is God honoring and productive at the same time. For me I simply ask two questions:

1. What will bring me closer to God?

2. What will bring me closer to my family?

I filter all of my dreams through these two questions. Then I spend time asking God what he wants me to pursue for this next year. Each of my final goals answers one of these two questions. Continuing to pursue a healthy lifestyle answers both: Choosing to turn to God for strength or comfort instead of food absolutely pulls me closer to him. Taking care of my body allows me to be there for my family in the future and be more fully present with them now. The same is true to continuing to exercise and trying to take care of myself more. These three things will ultimately bring me closer to God and closer to my family.  So I know it's safe, and wise to pursue them.

Now, that being said all goals or dreams or plans are made in sand. What I mean is that I can't rely on these goals to be my guarantee for the next year. Only God knows what the future holds so I can't ignore an opportunity from him simply because it doesn't fit into my strategy for this year! So I set goals that I believe God wants me to pursue and I continue to look to him throughout the year. If he says let 'em go guess what? I let 'em go! Only you know if your goals are an attempt to honor God or an attempt to control your life. Make sure you're seeking to honor him. 

So, what can you do in 2015 to help you draw closer to God and to the people around you? Those are plans worth making and keeping!