Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dreams

Living in the midst of tremendous blessings...yet still occasionally struggling with jealousy? Yep. I go there sometimes. It's almost comical to me that - at age 42 - I can still struggle with many of the same insecurities that plagued me as a child. You know that feeling? The frustrating part of it all is that I don't ever want to be ungrateful for the MANY blessings in my life. Yet sometimes...even though I'm loving being a homeschool Mom and having my days filled with all that entails - I still have those brief moments of wondering "When do I get to pursue MY dreams?". Yuck. That sounds so immature.

I suppose this is what many of us feel when we get to be in our 40's. We remember all those dreams we had as a child and begin to feel badly for those left unfulfilled. 

Here were my biggest childhood dreams: 
  • Become a wife/mom (check!)
  • Be famous
:-) You'll notice that my "be famous" part was pretty non-specific. The mode to that "fame" has been regularly modified over the years. Most recently, I've dreamt of that fame coming via writing/speaking. And it's that unfulfilled dream that sprouts its ugly, jealous head at random moments. 

Here's the thing though: would I want to give up these years of homeschooling in order to pursue my dream full-time? That answer is a loud and boisterous "NO!". 

I LOOOOVVVVEEEE being a homeschool Mom. Some days more than others...but I love it. I know that my kids are growing up tremendously fast and that I need to work really hard to live in the moment and savor all these experiences with them while they're home. Life is full. It is busy. It is exhausting. But it's exactly where I believe I'm called to be. 

So why the jealousy? Because I see others getting to fulfill their dreams TODAY. I think (like a little child not getting their way) - "Why, Lord? Why do I have to keep my dreams on the back burner while they don't?". Then I have my two-minute pity party and hear the sweet voice of my Savior remind me - "Because now's not your time." 

And, I know that. 

And, I'm (mostly) OK with that. 

I know that life is all about phases. Not that long ago I was feeling stuck in the exhausting pre-school years phase. While I was in it, I wondered how I'd ever make it through with my sanity. Well, I did (I think). Now I'm soon to enter the teen years. I'm sure it will be rough. But it too is a phase. And one that we'll fly through all too quickly. Before I care to think about it, our three precious kids will be all grown up and moving out. I don't want that day to get here too soon.

Yet...that's the phase my dream will finally get to have its turn in the forefront. To get excited about pursuing my dream means to embrace the changes ahead. And I'm not ready for that yet. Oh sure, there are those who do it all. But, I know my limits. I know I can't be a good homeschool Mom and take care of all the responsibilities of being a wife/homemaker and also work on my dream. My plate is pretty full already - and, I'm sure, it's just not the same size plate as some of those who are making it all happen at the same time. 

So, once again, I'm reminded of how blessed I am to be right here. Right now. 

How about you? Are you where you'd imagine you'd be right now? Do you have some big dreams that you're still itching to pursue? Let's encourage one another to remember the brevity of life. The quickness of each phase. May we each live fully in the here and now...and know that (when the timing is right) ALL things are possible.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What's On My Heart ♥

I'm feeling left out. Surprisingly, what I'm "left out" of is a huge church split. Just why I'm feeling left out doesn't make total sense to me - but I think I'm figuring it out.

Let me share my heart...

Three years ago, after God opened our eyes to many things (primarily the warning signs of a manipulative/controlling pastor) we left our church home of nearly 9 years. It was a hard decision. One that we've shed many tears over. In fact - one that my heart still isn't totally healed from. It hurt on many levels - not the least of which was the ostracizing we felt from the people we used to call friends. The way we were treated was nearly identical to every other member who had chosen to leave before us - as well as nearly everyone who has chosen to leave since.The long and short of it was that if you chose to leave the church body, you were no longer allowed to be friends with anyone who was still at the church (per the pastor). None of our church friends wanted to know why we left or how we were doing. We didn't go around town telling all the people still at the church how the pastor sent us a letter that was neither kind nor truthful. We didn't try to drag everyone away from the church and try to get them on board with how we were feeling. We really tried to let God deal with the lies being told...and to only have discussions if we were asked what happened. Sadly, the only people who cared enough to check up on us were other "former members" who had been treated the same way. Not only did we have to leave a church we loved...but the people we thought were our friends no longer called. No longer seemed to care.

You can see why this hurt. You can see why I'm still healing. Maybe you can even see why I've been in NO hurry to make friends or jump into being involved with the church we're now attending. Because I WAS involved. I was an AWANA leader, a Sunday school teacher, I attended Ladies' Bible study, for years had co-led a Mom's group twice a month, our kids went to VBS (and I was a leader), I had been in the ensemble. I was involved. But no longer. I just can't bring myself to fall in love with our new church. I can't bring myself to want to put myself out there to invest in all new friendships. I've really had the wind sucked out of my sails when it comes to church. And that makes me sad. And angry.

Fast forward to now. That church has let go of its pastor. They are going through a painful church split. We can sympathize. All the pain and hurt that they're feeling...we get it. But how could I possibly be feeling left out? Because the difference between how things were when we chose to leave and now is that we were dealing with the hurt and pain from the outside. All those still at that church are leaning on each other every Sunday. They're walking into familiar surroundings and friendly faces...and they're sharing the whole painful experience together. They're sharing hugs. Sharing tears. Sharing the whole healing process. I wish we had that. But we didn't. We don't.

Even though I probably shouldn't - I want to go back to this church. I want to walk back into those church walls and be able to be part of what we have missed out on for the last three years. I'm praying that the church can work through the hurt and remain strong. I pray that all the holes now there will be filled and restored with just the right people. God knows what that church needs. I trust that in time He'll provide it all.

But I - like many other former members/attenders - sit here on the outside wondering where to go from here. Did God take us out of there three years ago with the intention of us finding a new church home and never coming back? Or did He providentially keep my heart from jumping fully on board at where we are now so that we could return to our former church and walk with them through this time of healing? I just don't know.

The thing is, I wish we could go back to the way things were - when ALL of our friends were still there and all seemed well. But now - even if we did go back - it's not like going back in time. Many of the familiar faces are gone. Moved on to other churches in the area where they're connected and plugged in. Going back wouldn't really be going back. But I think about. I wonder what we're supposed to do.

I would love to hear God's will on this one - like just to be able to call an audible and hear what He wants us to do. But instead - I'll keep praying. Praying for healing for my heart. Praying for healing for our former church body. Praying for God's direction in the midst of it all.

Thanks for listening to my heart today.

Until next time...

Monday, July 8, 2013

This IS it!

"Extra! Extra! Hear all about it!"

This feels like one of those kinds of moments. Partially because my posts on here have become so infrequent. And, partially because this might just be something you want to know too!

Ready for it? (I'm sure you are waiting in eager anticipation.)

Here it is: Our imperfect, stress-filled lives are what life's all about - and they're the perfect time to praise God to the utmost!

Confused as to why I've just now come to this conclusion? Allow me to explain.

I've been waking up every day with this foreboding feeling in the pit of my stomach. Nothing huge is causing it - just a whole bunch of smaller things (all adding up to one big mole-ish mountain). Well, I've been mistaking this feeling for something that I need to devote energy to "overcoming." Something that I needed to ponder over, pray over, allow my mood to become sullen over - you get the idea. All in all, it's been adding up to me being in one fairly regular emotionally exhausting "funk". It comes and goes - but it's taken up residence far too frequently.

So along comes Cindy Bultema's "Red Hot Faith" July Bible study. I was excited to go to this for many reasons - but mostly (duh!) I'm ready to re-claim a Red Hot Faith!

The study is focused on the lukewarm church of Laodicea. Tonight's teaching was full of many great nuggets. (I just LOVE it when the Bible comes to life!) But it was the small group break-out session that started to get some things clicking in my brain. We briefly started talking about what kinds of things keep us from having a red, hot faith. I'm sure we all have our reasons - and many of mine probably sound like yours. But as one woman bravely shared her heartache...God hit me right square between the eyes. I have been totally missing the point!

I came home, started taking care of the dirty dishes, and continued to ponder what God was trying to get through to my thick skull.

Here's what I realized: I am currently living out the life I always wanted. Most of my dreams as a young girl involved being a wife and a mom and raising our kids in a happy, healthy home. Yet, somewhere along the way I have begun to think that the life I'm living isn't enough. I'm not where I'm supposed to be. I'm somehow lacking because of _____________ (the answer changes regularly). That pit in my stomach lately is the enemy trying to get me to believe that I'm lacking. That I'm not doing enough, or good enough or successful enough. But as I was washing my family of 5's dirty dinner dishes, God set a few things straight.

Oh sure. It's scary having aging parents and not knowing how much longer you'll have them around. It's intimidating being a homeschool mom and tutor to other homeschool kids - praying that I'm doing a good enough job teaching them what they need to know. It's sometimes worrisome making the budget and seeing the bills that just don't seem to go away fast enough (while the income seems to fly out the door faster than it should). It's hard work to make healthy-ish meals and work on exercising and losing weight so I can honor God with my body. It's mundane doing laundry, and dishes, and vacuuming, and blah blah blah. (You get the idea.) Well, I'm not sure where I started to think that I couldn't be full of praise and abundant joy in the midst of...all that. The fact is...if I'm waiting for life to be "just right" before I stop all the worrying and get on with the joy-filled living - I best start whooping it up now! 'Cuz this is it! This IS the life I've always wanted! Oh sure, the bank account isn't as high as I dreamed it would be - nor is the house as fancy as I thought I'd have.   But THIS is it!

I'm a wife to an amazing man. I'm a mom to three amazing kids. I'm a daughter of the King of Kings! This is THE life!

Those dishes I was doing are a sign of many blessings: food on the table, healthy kids and husband who were here to eat it, the roof over our heads, and so much more. Rather than focusing on the things I've been focused on - it just takes a little shift to realize the reasons for praising are all around. I love it when God gives us a new perspective! I can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning and tell that pit in my stomach that it has no business here any longer! Remember - the causes aren't big things, they're just life! The trick is to keep looking at everything through God's eyes. Not to get bogged down by the mundane - but instead view it all as a blessing and a privilege. No one ever said the "dream life" wasn't full of its share of bah-humbug things. That's where I got confused. Life is full of all of this: the menial, the stressful, the boring. Full of the day-to-day stuff that we all deal with. The "dream life" isn't in the destination...it's in the journey. The 24/7/365. All this "stuff" that I thought I was just doing until the dream kicked in - well, this is it. It's not about waiting for the dreams of tomorrow. It's all about living in the blessings of today.

So, here's the scoop: I absolutely love studying God's Word. A perfect day might be sitting all alone, immersed in Scriptures and books helping me to dig deeper and better understand all the nuggets waiting between the pages. Whenever I seek Him - He always speaks. But, I very rarely get those kinds of days. So when I can go to a Bible study like Cindy's and get to hear the nuggets she has learned - that's the next best thing. I can already tell - this is gonna be a Red Hot month!  Would love to have you join me the next couple weeks! You can check out the details on Cindy's website.

Thanks for listening to my ah-hah moment of the day. Let me know if you can relate - it feels better to know we're not in this alone. :-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Out Our Passions

I can't believe it's been this long since I've written on here! Well, really I can. I was waiting for life to slow down &/or for me to have something to say. Life has slowed down just enough this week that I can feel it's OK to take a few minutes to write. And God has been laying a few things on my heart lately that I wanted to share - with all 3 of you who actually read this blog! So here goes...

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about following our passions in life. I'm actually reading a new book by Jon Acuff called Start.. It's about: punching fear in the face, escaping average, and doing work that matters. He probably didn't expect a stay-at-home homeschooling Mom to be reading it, but I'm here to say it's a great read. It's about going from "average" to "awesome". About living your life with such passion, that you don't look back in a few years and wonder what ever happened to your dreams. It's challenging my thinking in a few areas. Love reading such a book from a Christian author. Great stuff.

Something else that is stirring these thoughts on "following our passions" is that all the Speak Up Conference advertising is in full swing. You may remember I went there last year and took the Writer's Track. It was a great conference. It's still something I enjoy. But - at least for this season in my life - becoming a writer isn't on my top 5. That reality brings with it many emotions: relief, guilt, frustration, envy, fear, etc. All those things are being stirred up inside of me every time I see a post on Facebook or an e-mail referencing Speak Up. Sigh.

So, what about you? Do you feel like you're living your passions? Are you in love with where your life is at right now? Jon Acuff talks a lot about figuring out what you love. What you would do regardless of whether anyone noticed or paid you for it. Do you know what that is for you?

Here are some of mine:

  1. Loving on my kids/husband and making the most of these years they're with me at home!
  2. Teaching
  3. Being a student of the Bible
  4. Learning, living, and sharing Health & Wellness Principles
  5. Public Speaking
After you determine your list (and yours can be longer or shorter - just figure out what you love to do), then we need to ask ourselves how much time we spend doing those things. This is where we figure out whether we're really living our passions. If something is on our list of things we love but we never find time to do it - that might be why we're listlessly going through our daily routine. 

Here's where my awakening has come: my #1 is a really big deal. It requires a lot of time...a lot of me. Somewhere on the list (maybe 6 or 7) is writing. It's still there. But now is not it's time to be #1. But guess what - I get to do #1 and #2 on my list every single day! I get to do #3 and #4 on my list to some degree every single week! And public speaking...that happens every week at CC. That's pretty amazing. I am regularly living out my top 5 passions! 

I know that as my kids grow, this list will change. As my list changes, my hours each day will be used differently than they are now. When the twins were little, I used to use the "this is just a season of life" saying to keep my sanity some days. Now I use that saying to remind me to enjoy where I'm at right here...right now. To remember that just because I'm not living out the writer/public speaker dream right now - doesn't mean God doesn't have that in store somewhere down the road. He just gave me a few other things to take care of right now that won't be here later. Fact is: I love my life. Some days I forget that - but I really do LOVE my life. I'm so blessed. It's kind of funny to me that - at age 41 - I'm still realizing just how time works though. You know: enjoy the moment you're in, make the best of today, tomorrow will be here soon enough. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But there it is. What's been on my mind lately. Basically just a reminder to myself to love the moment I'm in - 'cuz it's going to be a memory in a blink of an eye.

Let's strive this summer to discover our passions...and live them out each day to the fullest. Deal?

Be blessed...