Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Before You Make Resolutions

I made a comment in a recent post about the damage of perfectionism.  I mentioned how living in the perfectionism world, kept me from getting to know myself.  I didn't realize until after I'd written the post just how profound that concept really was.  It's lingered in my mind and heart ever since.  I'm working on a book right now about the art of knowing ourselves and until I wrote that sentence I never gave much thought to the hurdle of perfectionism in the journey to self-awareness.

This perked my interest again as I thought about this next week.  By the time I write again next week, it will be a new year.  People will be hot on the trail of whatever resolutions they have set for themselves.

The thing is, come February, most people will be back to pre-resolution status quo.

Perfectionism and comparison seem to have some culpability in this quick rebound. Far too often we see the common resolutions and we see what others are aiming at and we jump on the bandwagon.  Its not just because we want to do what others are doing, in fact, I don't think that is our motivation.  We see what we hope to have, we see others going for it and we decide to join them.

So what's the problem with that?  We don't factor ourselves into the equation.

I need to lose a good 40 pounds, but honestly, that is no where on my goal list at the moment.  Its important but its taken a back seat to my zeal for mental and emotional health goals.  Being in a good head space and hitting other marks is more in my sights.

I have to take the time to look back and see what this past year's journey has been and celebrate the journey.  I can tell you I didn't always walk the path I started, wandering off course did happen for me in 2018, but not in a bad way.  I consciously decided in some places through out the year to change course.

I have to take the reality of this last year into consideration as I look to the year ahead.  If I want to aim at something big, I've got to count the cost, and decide if that is worth it.  I also have to have a plan to do what I want to do or its really just a fun conversation more than it is an actual goal.

Please don't just jump on the common resolution bandwagons.  Take some time to:

1. Take yourself into account (and if you don't know yourself that well, then maybe that should be your goal).

2. Consider what you did this year.  Do you want to stay at the same pace?

3. Count the cost - in order to change that pace you have to decide if its worth the sacrifice.

4. Plan how you will accomplish your goals.  Set benchmarks and deadlines for that so you will stay motivated.

5. Get someone to hold you accountable and do it with you.  Alone means you probably won't get it done.

Share with me something on your list.  I'd love to hear it.  My priorities are organizing my space and eliminating clutter.  I also want to get most if not all of my book done this year.  I want to be consistent and keep it simple, eliminating distractions.  Now its your turn.  Comment below or message me!!! I want to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What We Can Learn From Elf on the Shelf

I don't personally have an "Elf on the Shelf" in my house.  Its not that I am a hater of the Christmas tradition, I just don't have time for that PLUS I want there to be more of a Jesus focus in my house. Everything else seems to be so focused on the gifts under the tree and that just seems to foster materialism in my kiddos.  I can't do nothing so instead we do have the "Star From Afar" .  Its been fun and seems to help me strike the balance I'm looking for.  Santa does visit this house and my kiddos have their lists for what they want to get from us and Santa this year.  I'm letting you know all of this because as I've been scrolling through my various social media feeds I've seen a variety of perspectives:

- Friends who don't do Santa at all
- Friends, like me, who do Santa but no Elf
-Videos like this one from the (amazing) Holderness Family who have an Elf that's lazy
- Friends that do the Elf with some creativity but nothing anyone is Pinning
- Friends who go Elf crazy with creative feats every night

Here's the thing.  There isn't a right way, there is just personal preference.  Each of us can do it our way without shaming someone else for doing it differently.  We need to model this example in more areas than an Elf on the Shelf.  We all need more grace these days instead of everyone throwing things at their perceived opponent in life's opinion wars.

I definitely applaud the passion and conviction I see in my friends and family.  Heck, have you met me? I usually have an opinion and am willing to rant at the invitation (or perceived invitation - ha!)

But let's take a minute and hear each other out and realize there may be 5 variations of doing things, 5 plus opinions on each subject and we might actually learn something from a person in a different category than us.

Before you call someone a moron for thinking xy or z, stop and ask, how they see it?  Sometimes we have to put ourselves on pause and look deeper to see someone else.  Sure, it may not change our minds (I am not getting an Elf just because my friends have one and are rocking their elf morning findings), but I can appreciate others even in our differences.

Take for example the "Baby It's Cold Outside" debacle.  I read the lyrics and I can completely see rape culture in there, and yet when I read an article from the daughter of the song writer, I saw that the culture of that day meant something different and maybe instead of banning the song we just open discussion and teach our kids to dig deeper and discover the messages beyond our own framework of understanding.  Words 60, 20 and even 2 years ago don't always mean the same thing as when we encounter said words, so learning to inject culture in our understanding is a major life skill. 

I know some of you may think, "Carrie grow a backbone and pick a side." There are times when I do, do just that, but we have become too polarized and need to take a minute and find a way to work together.  Can we respect people we don't agree with?  I say yes! We need to practice respectfully disagreeing.  That might take a step away from the computer (funny as you are reading this on a screen), but finding balance in spending time with actual people versus virtual time, is important because it reestablishes an ability to see the person and not just pummel thoughts behind the protection of a screen.

Let's learn something from the Elf on the Shelf beyond that is poops Hershey kisses and takes marshmallow baths.  What areas of life do you need to check out other view points for the purpose of appreciating difference and allowing yourself to see the person and not just the issue?  You got this.  Now go out there and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Beauty of the Poop Storm

Poop is said a lot in my house with a 7 year old boy living there.  I do have a daughter but she adores her older brother so she gets on the "farts are so funny" bandwagon.  

"Carrie, why are you talking about poop and farts," you may be asking? 

I will tell you.  I grew up around a lot of perfectionist influences (people, circumstances etc).  I am a recovering procrastinating perfectionist.  

My natural inclination is: 
I want everyone to like me, 
I want to do it right the first time, every time in everything.  

Guess what?! That is not reality.  You know what else?  

I didn't learn a lot about myself growing up because I was trying to be perfect instead of investing in learning and being me.  I try to celebrate my kids mistakes and failures whenever I can.  I try to help them see that every poop storm in life gives us something.  

Now I've never been completely covered in literal poop, and when I saw the opening scene in "Slumdog Millionaire" and a few other movies with excrement scenes you best believe I was gagging.  I have been pooped and pee'd on in the baby stages and even now in potty training I've cleaned up my fair share of literal poop messes, but again, I've never been covered in literal poop.  

I have been figuratively crapped on.  I have been covered in the fecal matter of life.  Lately, I've faced a few obstacles that make me want to quit, but guess what? Those obstacles, those poop storms are helping me to see my path.  

They are aiding me in seeing myself and refocusing on what matters.  They are helping me to envision possibilities and learn new skills.  Screwing up in hobbies like sewing or iron-on projects with my Cricut machine help me learn the right way to do it and before I know it - I've grown a bit.  The same is true in life disciples.

If you just focus on the poop you might miss the beauty in the lesson.  Are you done talking about poop?  Okay we can call it something else.  

The point is, life is sometimes REALLY UGLY! That is reality for all of us.  We can only take ownership of ourselves and sometimes we have to live with the poor choices and behaviors of others.  But if you can allow it to help you ask more questions, and seek new answers, then you are better for it.  

A week or so ago, I went live on my Carrie Guy public Facebook page, and in that video I discussed the "all or nothing" fallacy.  So many times we get stuck in life fitting into this box or that one, when truthfully we usually have a ton of options.  

We usually need to go out of ourselves for a moment and recognize who is around us that can help us see what we might be missing.  I am a verbal processor so having people to talk it out with is crucial for me to find my path or solutions.  I am often seen talking out loud as I often discuss life with God.  Yep, I talk to God like he's sitting right there with me.  

Its easy to see the junk around us, but have you seen the beauty?  The challenges I've recently faced have been a crash course in Carrie 101, I am learning so much about who I am, what I need and how I can set myself up for success in the midst of challenges.  

In an interview with Marie Forleo, I recently heard Seth Godin discuss his new book, This Is Marketing, and he talked about the people who expect to have a white table cloth without the red wine stain.  He then went on to discuss how unrealistic it was.  Guess what, that is me! I have unrealistic expectations and that will never do.  Lesson learned! 

Don't let life go by without picking up the lessons along the way.  Take some times to explore, what your current set of circumstances are teaching you.  Are you playing it safe?  Is it time to go outside your comfort zone to find the solutions you need?  Lean into your support network and discover the parts of you, that you might not be seeing.  You've got this, trust me! Do me a favor - comment below  a challenge that seems to be popping up in your life.  It could be a negative thought process, a bad relationship, an addiction, a personal weakness (the list goes on).  For me its letting others speak into my life without first filtering out whether they have earned that right.  I am beginning to ask questions when I have negative encounters and find what I need to improve my life and who I need to silence.  Now its your turn.  Join me in the conversation!   

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mom Love

This post will be short and sweet and it’s dedicated to all my mom friends out there.

Today, like every other alternate Wednesday morning, I gathered with a group of moms to pray.  Its a great time to share our life with each other not for the purpose of gripping or gossip but for the purpose of coming together and sharing our lives, then praying for each other.

There are some of us that come each time we meet, and sometimes there are new faces at the table.  Regardless of who is sitting by me, openly sharing, I often hear the same messages (myself included).  These messages echo the following sentiment:

I'm screwing my kids up

I'm not enough

I'm a bad mom or a bad wife

You get the picture.  I don't think that thought life is only within the women I encounter.  I think many moms (and people) out there live with a replay reel that is similar to the messages above.  Truthly, those sentences JUST AREN'T TRUE.

Truth.  Being a wife and mom is hard.  Being in a close relationship with any other person is a challenge, especially under the same roof.  We will mess up - A LOT! Its inevitable, but it doesn't mean we are screwing up our kids, and that what we offer isn't enough to make a dent for the good.  

People will always have an opinion of how we do things, but opinions aren't facts and not everyone's opinion matters.  We have to train ourselves to filter out the messages that don't come from valuable sources.  The people that speak life into your life, those people may actually have something to say, but even with that, YOU get to be you.  NO ONE ELSE ON EARTH can be you.  So fill those shoes with pride.

Seriously, you are doing a great job.  There may be areas where you can hon your skills and refine your motherhood, but go work at it knowing that all humans have work to do.  Don't let those short comings define you - its only a piece of who you are and NO ONE is perfect - no matter what their Instagram might say.

Hug another mom. Pray for her.  Listen to each other over coffee because we really just want to be heard and seen by someone else.  Let's put down our judgemental armor and pick up each other's burdens.  Give some grace to someone today because WE ALL NEED IT! I know I do.  I know that boat I'm in is probably bigger than the Titanic.  Let's not sink, okay?  Let's help each other see those ice bergs and navigate around them.  Let's share some mom love!!!

This is a later post, because well, life got a bit in the way, but Happy Wednesday, or whatever day you read this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Problem

Life happens to all of us.  Its not because God doesn't care or because He loves some more than others.  We only see our own pain with unique, close-up perspective, and that perspective can warp what we see in the lives of others.  

We spend so much time asking, "Why?" Instead we should be asking, "What now?"  To have a little pity party when life falls a part isn't wrong, and honestly is probably in order.  The length of the pity party is where we can find the problem.  

Do you ever feel stuck?  Like you know you want to be over there or even just somewhere else but you don't know where or how to get out of the current mess?  

The problem is we too often run from the obstacle instead of running right into it.  We have to run into it so we can understand why we are still there (sometimes under the watch of a trusted therapist).  

I've mentioned before that I have several people in my life right now that are facing addiction.  Its caused me to pause as I speak to them, hug them and pray for them.  I want to shake them and tell them to just stop, but its not that simple.  I can't do anything for them - that's called co-dependency and it doesn't yield anything beneficial. 

As I was talking to one of the people on that list recently, I asked what the issue was.  I probed into the self-talk and what they saw in themselves.  I was met with instant emotion.  I had hit a nerve because I think whether its addiction or any other life obstacle, the biggest place we get stuck is how we see ourselves.  

No amount of compliments can change the negative self-talk that is on repeat in our heads.  It can change but that change doesn't just happen, its has to be met with an action-plan that takes time and effort.  

You have to stop the lies that feed you and the only way to do that is to face them head on! 

What are those sentences you hear over an over again? 

Write them down.  

You should have them memorized because you hear them ALL.THE.TIME! 

What is the message those sentences are speaking to you?  Are they true?  Trust me when I say they aren't.  You aren't worthless, you aren't a loser, you aren't crazy, you aren't a nothing, you aren't the sum of your actions or the sum of the actions of others.  

YOU HAVE VALUE - because and only because GOD PUT IT THERE! 

You need to feed your brain the truth.  

Go check out websites like this one that tell you who you are in Christ.  Right those down and read them to yourself and if you need more on this topic - read about my, "I AM" journal.   

Start today but stopping the negative messages and replacing them with positive ones. 

Recently I was feeling abandoned.  I put on my essential oils (yep, I'm that lady) and I started searching for the antonyms to abandonment.  Then I wrote down those in "I statements" - I am supported, I am accepted, I am adopted...I went to work to reverse the lies playing in my head.  You can do the same, but know if you've been listening to the junk for awhile, it will take awhile for the positive messages to take hold and stick.  So keep at it! You've got this. 

Was there a friend that this made you think of?  Share it with them.  Everyone can use some encouragement!!!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Finding Freedom

If you've been on this blog for anytime at all, you know I had an abortion when I was 18.  To say I regretted my abortion is the biggest understatement EVER and the pain I felt, forced me to deal with it and the other junk in my past. My own healing led to helping others because when you know how bad something sucks, you have no choice but to be there for others in your shoes.

 Because of this, I'm on a group on Facebook for those who regret their abortion.  Its a group that is free from political positions and just a place of support.  A woman recently posted on the group seeking some help.  She explained her story and felt her decision was the best choice for her and yet she's really regretting it now (a story I hear ALL.THE.TIME because seriously pro-choice or pro-life has nothing to do with emotions). In her post she was wanting to know how other people managed to live without thinking about it all the time!

Truth.  You can't.  When you are dealing with any inner conflict, distracting yourself is the same as putting a band-aid on an open wound that needs stitches. 

The best way to heal from any emotional issue is to do two things no one ever wants to do...

1. Ask For Help

2. Face It

Running from our past and our pain doesn't make the problem get better, instead that pain grows and we just have more to deal with later.  We have to dive right in and face whatever crap we are afraid we will see when we examine our thoughts and feelings.  I say ask for help first because when its a big emotional issue, facing it alone can take us to a dark place and we need someone there to keep us from going there. 

This isn't just abortion.

I know friends with drug and alcohol addiction that doesn't stop because they are afraid to face themselves and they can't ask for help.  Doing those simple things takes a TON of courage!!! 
You have to be so sick of the pain that you will do anything to be better. 

So if you have something sitting in your emotional closet that has been haunting you for awhile and you want to be DONE WITH IT - start with the two steps above. 

Please note:  Dealing with your junk doesn't mean it will never affect you again.  Scars don't just apply to our physical bodies, there are emotional ones too, but there is a difference between daily being plagued by emotions and being triggered every once in awhile. 

I get emotional about my abortion because if I could find a time machine, I'd go back and do it differently, but I can't so I made peace with it, I let myself  heal from my pain, I corrected to dumb lies that played in my head and I now walk in healing. 

If you hear one thing from this let it be:


Trust me its worth it.  If you have walked something difficult - loss of a parent or child, abuse,  addiction, abortion, divorce, slavery etc, and you are free from that now, HELP SOMEONE ELSE! Don't let that pain echo in the lives around you.  Trust me there is someone out there that needs you.  Just open your eyes.

Happy Wednesday and everyone have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

What Is Your Name?

A few weeks ago my dad and stepmom were visiting.  My stepmom had some time to hang out but it was in the time frame I usually work out so she accompanied me to the gym.  What started out as one work out class, ended up being two classes back to back! What seemed like a good idea after the first class felt like a horrible one when the second class ended. By the time we were done, we were wiped out!

The second class had a fill-in instructor.  When she introduced herself she said,

"My name is Angela, but if you don't like the class its Whitney."

I thought it was funny when she said it, but as the day went on, I truly thought it was a genius idea - two names. 

I decided I needed a second name!

I thought about it for awhile and thought about names I didn't like and then it hit me.  I have an almost name.  My parents almost named me Summer because Stephen King's "Carrie" was popular around the year I was born.  This would be a perfect second name.  That way, if my husband was mad at me, he could call me Summer, so that I would know where we stood.  I also would love to put off disputes by telling people, "I'm sorry, you will need to take that up with Summer.  She isn't available right now, but I can have her contact you when she's available." 

This might sound a bit insane and silly, but the truth is we sometimes need tangible ways to deal with issues we encounter in life.  All those negative thoughts we have get jumbled with our true identity.  What if you put all of that on a second name?  Separate the junk and be mentally productive. 

We run too often from conflict and its a reality of life that is never going away, so its best to address it head on.  Maybe you need a second name to have the freedom to do that.

Regardless, get creative and find your way out of your current box.  We have to do what works for us in life and understand that thinking outside the box can often offer us great solutions to overcome life's obstacles. 

So if you had a second name, what would it be? How would you use it? 

There is something else I want to share with you before we end our time together today.  You know that double class that I thought killed me?  Well as day one and day two muscle soreness approached, I discovered I wasn't as sore as I thought I would be.  The challenge of that day actually revealed to me just how far I've come in my work out.  Its good to find that nugget of joy in the midst of pain.  Want a scripture for this? Check out James 1:2-4 -

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." 

Have a great Wednesday folks and take that next step to the best you possible, the you God had in mind when he created you!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Are You Listening?

In 1999 (yes I know a million years ago) I was living in London.  I was there for a semester abroad and it was a time filled with fun memories, life lessons and moments I will never forget.  In the four months I was there, I was introduced to the term stimulus overload and soon after my move, I embodied the concept.  

At first London was overwhelming.  Everything was noisy and fast-paced and different that anything I'd lived near prior.  It was shocking how quickly my body adjusted.  The overwhelming was not something I could function with everyday, so my brain just tuned it out.  For example, the constant sirens in the neighborhood I shared with a local hospital soon became something my brain no longer recognized.  

This experience has been revisited in a new way over the past five plus years as the internet has taken over our lives.  Living online is something most of us do.  Its given us a great deal of connection in places we never had before, and its allowed us convenience, that I can't imagine living without.  The internet has also introduced us all to stimulus overload.  

The amount of messages, platforms, agendas, information, studies, life happenings, current events, perspectives, opportunities to serve and give has been beyond excess.  Mentally and emotionally we can't process all of it without tuning it all out and just becoming hardened to the issues our world faces.  Its important to ask some questions and add some intentionality to the seemingly mundane of everyday internet life.  

So here is my question: 

What speaks to you? 

What defines you and what do you give value to? 

There are many things vying for a place at the table but there isn't room for it all.  Its impossible to adequately care about all of it.  

It can all be important, but it can't all be important to you.  Giving a little to a lot means nothing is getting your undivided attention.  

Take some time today to narrow the field.  If we don't find purpose even in the messages we receive it all just becomes noise.  Noise is annoying.  

So where is your passion and how can you find more of that today?  What needs to go away from your brain space so you can focus on what matters?  

Organizing our thoughts and feelings is just as important as organizing our kitchen cabinets. 

Are you missing the important stuff because you've just shut down?   When the priorities speak, are you listening? 

Take some quiet time to take inventory and really think about how this applies to you.  I know I need this for myself.  Happy Wednesday folks!!! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Best Costume Yet!!!

I'm not the biggest Halloween fan, in fact before having kids I pretty much boycotted the holiday.  Its a combination of reasons, one of which includes I don't do scary.  I can explain all that another time, because even though I'm not a Halloween fan, I am a fan of dressing up.  I can remember having a dress up trunk when I was 7 years old.

I'm also competitive, so having a chance each year to dress up my stepdaughter, Katie, for her various contests, is fun.  My kids pretty much want the "purchase and wear" costumes at this point and aren't yet ready for the "mom's getting creative" costume, so getting to do fun stuff with Katie is a hoot! I will definitely show some of my favorite costume creations below.

But all of it got me thinking, about why dressing up is so fun.  There are a lot of different reasons, one of which includes being something other than ourselves.  Yes, we are great but its not everyday you get to be a super hero or your favorite celebrity.  So why not?

In real life sometimes we need to get dressed up mentally and be what we hope to be, not what we see ourselves as IRL.  I'm not saying you shouldn't be yourself, but actually find the courage to be the real you.

I have had way too many conversations with people lately who are refusing to give it their best because all the see in the mirror is a loser.   Its not that they don't want to give it their all, its just that they see their lack and can't imagine themselves any more than that.  Its frustrating when I can see the possibilities and I am the only one in that boat.  I know its not just an issue with a few select folks, all of us have areas where we lack foresight into the possibilities of who we were made to be. We get stuck and lost in a self-doubt funk and I say its time to get out!!!

So guess what? Its time to put on the best costume yet!  Dress up like the person you can't imagine being and just pretend you are that person.  Don't let your head game get in the way.  Be that best version of you that looks like fiction and pretend you are dressing up in a costume.  Take it out into the world and see what happens.  You may find that the possibilities others see, the ones that seems fiction in your own mind, really is a reality!

Embrace the best version of you and do what it takes to be that person.  Sure, it takes work, but so does some of those fabulous costumes out there.  You get what you give.

I hope you found encouragement in this and in some of my other posts.  This is really supposed to be a place where people can come and feed their souls. Sure I push us all to grow, but why not?  I don't know who reads these things and I can't possibly personally know each and every person, but I can say I want the very best for you.  Its true.  As promised before you leave, here are some costumes I've made for my sweet Katie, that I will share with you.  There is one or two in here of me as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My Biggest Regret

I can't remember where I was this past week, but something in life sparked a thought that resonated in my heart.  I immediately made a few notes in the notes app on my phone because I knew with my life going a million miles an hour, I would forget this heart moment when it was time to write about it.

Sure enough, I remembered I took notes on what I was thinking in that moment, but remember NOTHING about what inspired me.  

In my 40 years, I have done some stupid stuff.  

I have financial regrets,
moments I took my life in may hands and by the grace of God survived,
I have big regrets like the person I lost my virginity to and having an abortion.
I regret times I didn't go for my goal
and trust me this list goes on, but none of those are my biggest regret.  

My biggest regret is not being me.  Honestly, this regret affects some of the items above.  When I allowed someone else dictate who I should be, I made compromises far greater than the consequences to the poor choice.  I lost a piece of myself.  Public opinion of Carrie seemed to outweigh Carrie.  

That is my biggest regret!  

Carrie Guy might not be famous, trending or going viral, but Carrie is important.  I have value and being myself is so important because God made me like this for a reason.  God doesn't make mistakes.  

So many times I felt conviction about something and when met with criticism or resistance, I caved to public opinion.  What I wanted was to be a virgin when I got married.  After being molested a few times, I wanted a pure relationship built on friendship and trust, not sex.  Even with that, I wanted to be liked, so I gave in and then found myself pregnant.  I had nothing against my baby, but I wasn't in a place to get married and my idea was to have the baby in secret, but once again I was persuaded both by others and fear of public opinion to abort.  Doing what someone else wants leaves us with ammunition later to assault ourselves.

Truth is the only person we have to live with the rest of our lives, is ourselves! If we don't stand up for who we are and do what we know is right or listen to our inner voice we betray the only human who will be with us 365 days a year for every year until the day we die.

Being me is a gift.  Being you is a gift.  Don't forget that.  Each us were made to be different, unique. A world of lemmings and step ford wives is boring and unoriginal.  How are you being you right now in life?  Have you betrayed yourself?  Do you need to take some quiet time and make peace with yourself?  Do you need to connect with your maker and discover who you are?  What were you placed on earth to do, be and share?  Maybe you are trying too hard to be enough that you aren't cherishing just being you.

Stop.  Let's quit the regrets and be intentional to be you.  If you share this regret with me, you may need to take some time to contemplate who that is.  When we practice being what others want, we can lose sight of who we are in the first place.  Let's recalibrate and do it right!

Who's with me? Let hump day be a new day.  You have half a week to do it differently.  Happy Wednesday!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What Do You See?

This week I got back from a week in Arizona.  My friend and I went on a road trip for our 40th! I forgot how much I loved road trips.

As a kid, I did several with my dad and stepmom.  Military life means moving and it also means being in new, unexplored areas.  Road trips are a great way to experience different cultures see the beauty around us.  Let me say, this trip let me meet people from around the world as well as see some amazing sights! I loved having planned parts of our journey and spontaneous moments that let the road take us on a beckoning adventure.

I also had a lot of time to think, particularly about seasons.  I don't mean fall, spring, winter, summer, but instead life seasons.

I commented to my friend as we started our journey that I didn't take full advantage of the freedom I had before husband and kids.  I just didn't realize how remarkable the freedom to make decisions and be spontaneous really was when I was in my early twenties. I had a lot of fun adventures, so I don't feel I wasted that time, but I just didn't appreciate it to the fullest.

Far too often we set our focus on what we don't have, not on what we have.  In those years, I was desiring a husband and family and the uncertainty of that reality felt daunting and often distracted me from the life before me.  In contrast its easy now to see what I had then as I live life with my family.  I miss my ability to think most days and have freedom to just be, but truthfully I am sure one day I would trade my quiet thoughtfulness for the noise of my children.  Again, its easy to get caught up in what's missing.

Recognizing the value of your current season allows you to be present in life.  As my grandma Pat often said, "You can do it all, just not at the same time."  Living in the now is the best way to get all of the blessing out of life.  Now, I love the connection I share with those who live in my home.  I love seeing the joy of life through the eyes of my kids in places that have become everyday for me.  I love hearing my kids giggle and seeing them just be kids.  I love being a mom! Sure I get overwhelmed or frustrated when I'm being disobeyed, and its easy to desire the freedom that was before they were.  If I focus on what I don't have now, I will miss out on my motherhood that I can never get back.  I can also miss out on the friendship with my husband and the way we co-parent our children.

Having a vacation with my friend was an amazing blessing and break from the norm and it allowed me to remember parts of myself that have been dormant.  It also helped me to feel appreciative for my current life season.  Tomorrow it will no longer be an option, so I best enjoy today to the fullest.

What is your reality?

Are you looking at what's missing or what is there?

There are obviously things we can't control.  Sure, you see your friends with jobs able to spend more on stuff for themselves, but they miss out on the classroom time you have.  Sure, single parenthood is a challenge but maybe you get more time to yourself or alone time with your kids.  I'm not saying ignore the negatives in life and just plaster a Pollyanna face on throughout the day to day, but embrace the beauty of whatever your life is TODAY.  Tomorrow will come soon enough and moving forward is the only direction we can truly go, so if we disengage from today, we will lose it forever!

Take some time to think about what you have now?  How can you appreciate it more than you currently do?  Happy contemplating!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Its Okay To Cry

The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.  Tonight, I leave for a road trip with my friend as we celebrate our 40th birthday and last week I was at Disneyland.  The week before that I turned 40 and had a surprise gift in the arrival of my mom from my dad and stepmom! In that same time frame, I watched my dad preach his last sermon and then said goodbye to all three of my parents.  My mom flew back to Ohio and my dad and my step mom who have lived 2 miles or less from me the past 15 years are moving to Texas. Its been A LOT! I am an emotional girl so you bet I cried.  Its how I roll.  I feel and process emotions and that isn't changing.

The thing is I'm often embarrassed by my public displays of emotion and truthfully I don't need to be!

I was encouraged the other day in my Bible reading.  I came to John 11.  Its the story of Lazarus which I have read countless times, but in this emotional time of life, I found solace in verse 35, the shortest verse in the Bible - "Jesus wept." 

Jesus was friends with Lazarus, Jesus knew he was going to bring him back to life, but knowing he would see Lazarus in fifteen minutes didn't keep him from crying for a friend.

I hate when people tell me not to cry because at least they aren't dead or I'll see them again or whatever silver lining someone wants me to see at that moment.  I'm allowed to cry.   Guess what, so are you! Maybe you aren't a crier, but truth is you probably know one.  They will be okay.  Its okay to cry! Its more than okay, its actually good!  I've had people approach me wondering how I am and the truth is, I'm fine.   Processing emotion simply means I'm connected with my reality.  If we ignore our feelings, they don't go away, they get worse.  When we fail to process emotions they fester and come up when we least expect it emotionally and even physically.  Face reality - its a must for emotional, physical and spiritual wellness!

Thank you Jesus for the encouragement of that short verse.  Jesus loved and so he felt loss.  (Did you see the period there).  He didn't have to cry, because he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he loved his friend, so he cried.  I stated that twice so you wouldn't miss it.

We can't live in emotions but we must process them.  Those are two different things.  Are you avoiding any hard emotions that you need to face?  Maybe you can find encouragement in John 11.  I'd love to hear from you!!!

Happy Wednesday!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

4 Life Lessons from Frozen

As you read this, I am at Disneyland (well you know if you read this when I post it, otherwise who knows where I am when you read this).  For some time, I have been making note of life lessons from the Disney movie, Frozen, as it is my three-year-old's favorite and I've seen it more than I can count.

So while I wait in line for my daughter to get her picture with Anna and Elsa,  you can enjoy the deep thoughts this mom thought after her 300th time watching Frozen!

So here we go...

1. Rejection isn't always about you - 

I know you have to watch a Disney movie a lot to put yourself in the characters' shoes, but I really feel bad for Anna.  She has a best friend in her sister and then one day its gone.  Her parents die and she's alone and lonely.  She has no idea why Elsa won't engage with her and as we all do when we don't know the answers we fill in the gaps with guesses.  Obviously, Anna never guessed the truth was what it actually was, but in our own lives when we get rejected or treated badly we often ask what we have done wrong when truthfully more times that not it has NOTHING to do with us! In the case of Anna, she was asking and no one was telling her anything, but most of us never ask, we just assume.  We all know assuming makes an ass of u and me, right?!  So please get more information!!! Quality relationships that are worth it!

2. We aren't meant to do it alone - 

Even after Elsa's secret gets out and she sees what she is capable of she's still motivated by fear and hell bent on doing it alone.  So many of us are independent and that is great, but we all need others.  Some of us have more relational needs than others and I know when we are scared or ashamed of our reality our knee jerk reaction is to push everyone away, but that is NEVER the answer.  When you are in a bad place, you need to lean into trusted family and friends.  Isolation makes things worse not better.  I see it happen all the time so its not just Elsa's problem.  If you see someone in your life pulling away, reach out.  You can't make them do the right thing but you can do your part to remind them you are there.

3. Fear is never a good motivator - 

Whenever fear is motivating us to do life, we will end up in a mess - guaranteed!  Fear is a recipe for disaster.  Love is in fact the only thing that can conquer fear.  That was a fact long before Frozen came out.  In fact the Bible shares this truth over and over again!  God is love (1 John 4:8) and perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).  It is important to ask yourself what is driving your life.  If you ever answer fear, its time for a pit stop to regroup and overcome that fear before moving forward.

4.  Being Yourself Isn't Enough -

When Elsa finally shares her secret she feels a sense of freedom.  She let's it all go (well thats what the song says).  She feels a freedom to finally give into her power.  The thing is, she still isn't free.  The ice making fun ends when she realizes she's left everyone in a winter world and accidentally freezes her sister's heart.  When this happened she made herself the monster instead of realizing that freedom isn't in being whatever we are, but learning balance. She was never meant to hide it or fully give into it, but to balance it.  When she learned how to control it with love, she finally found the balance.  She had freedom to be herself and the relationships and love she needs.  Instead of making herself the enemy, she needed to make the problem the problem and find a solution.

I was able to relate to this with my own anger.  I am a passionate person and its got some great benefits and liabilities.  So instead of pushing others away and trying to be something I'm not, I have to find out what works for me and keep working on it until I get it right.  What works for me may not work for someone else and visa versa which is why comparison is so often an enemy.  We need to be us, but we also need to be in community and find a way to bring us to society.  That takes love, work and discipline, but its worth it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dear Reader

Dear Reader, 

Turning 40 this week, didn’t just start a new year, but a decade!  I took a moment to ponder the 10 years I just finished and realized I owed some gratitude toward my 30’s (I know the real gratitude is for God).   My thirties brought my long awaited kiddos.   I grew more into the woman I am in those ten years and I didn’t want to let those go by without taking a moment to look back with gratitude.  

This birthday was amazing.  I got so much love over the course of three days it was overwhelming.  Sometimes I think we all forget just how loved we are!  Maybe that means we also need to let those around us know we love them, because I think we spend far too much time on the negative than the encouragement.  

The next day switched gears quick! This is my parents’ last week here.  My dad’s last day of work as our pastor and my boss is September 30th.  He and my stepmom then drive down to Los Angeles Monday.  I fortunately get to see them for a few days at Disney before they fly to Israel for the month of October, but its a bit of emotional whiplash if I’m being honest. 

I know I am beyond blessed to still have my parents (all three of them) and Ohio and Texas aren’t as far as heaven, so thank you Jesus for that!  

This week has also had a unique gift in it - my dad and step mom’s birthday gift was a visit from my mom so that she could be here for my birthday and it was great to have all three parents together for my 40th.  

All of this just means that this week is not typical, and quite frankly I am a mess.  Tuesday, I wore make-up then began to work on the farewell slideshow for my parents and lets just say I figured out this is a no-makeup week.  Tears they just keep coming.  My favorite is when they come in public or in front of people I don’t know (I hope you can read sarcasm).  

So this week I don’t have much for you except to say that life happens and we must be present.  I literally have ALL the feels this week.  I may blubber like I’ve just binged watched, “This Is Us,” but I promise I am okay.  I will be okay, I just figure living in the moment means allowing yourself to go there.  

Please be present in your lives no matter what is going on.  Sometimes we get as much from the everyday as we do from the monumentous moments. 

We only get one shot at it! So go big because one day you are going home.  Heaven is my home so for now, I am doing life here and trying to give it my all.  

Happy Wednesday folks!


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Facing The Suck

Tonight, I watched the documentary on Fred Rogers, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" I watched it with a mixed group of teens and residents of a local Senior Living facility.  Yes, that mixed group is an odd couple, but its is one that has bonded over the past few years as we've hung out quite a bit.  Its fun to see opposites generations have fun together, but that is a different topic for a different post.

I finished the movie inspired as I truly feel it is my movie mothership! I was most inspired by Mr. Roger's life work as a response to the areas of hurt in his own childhood.  This is a goal I've attempted to live out as well.  Each of us face challenges in life and it was remarkable to see how those challenges shaped this man's work.

While watching the documentary the title to this blog post, "Facing The Suck," just came at me with an epiphany moment.

Its the suckiest parts of life that often birth the sweetest treasures in life.  Mr. Rogers didn't set out to become famous, he merely understood a need through his own experience and that experienced birth empathy that compelled him to meet a need in children pervasive over the generations.

When I see this in my own life, I see examples of the suck becoming the sweet like in my lack of finances as a child that lead to an amazing ability to problem solve and create something wonderful out of whatever is before me.  I learned to use what I had through those years of lean.  Those moments I was mocked, bullied and at times even tortured, grew an empathy for others and an ability to spot those alienated.

The thing is if we ignore or run from those moments or seasons of suck we miss out on the sweet flip side that can find us later in life.  Its in facing the suck that blessing is found.  Living from your place of suck helps you to embrace reality while not settling for the mess.

Look at the non-profit M.A.D.D. for example.  You know you started it? Moms who lost their babies to drunk drivers.  They could have let that pain destroy them (and I'm sure it did in the beginning), but instead of remaining paralyzed by the pain, it motivated them to stand in the gap for others and do something about the problem of drunk driving.  It doesn't mean the pain goes away.  Grieving a life or pain from childhood isn't wrong, in fact its necessary.  I'm not sure pain from loss ever goes away, but we can choose to let it make us better or bitter.

Local friends lost a child to a blood disease and every year at her birthday, they celebrate by asking folks to donate blood.  That is an excellent example of facing the suck.

Its hard to think the crap storm we are in could be a gold mine but it definitely can be! Fertilizer does grow rich, nutritious produce, after all!  Life crap grows character, passion and purpose.

Our world changes so quickly and yet human emotions pretty much stay the same.  Life is hard and each of us have a choice to make.  We can let life take us down or grow from the our place of suck.

Again, let me state that this is not saying avoid painful emotion and skip grieving because that is a part of the process. We must own our emotions and walk that out, but there comes a time when we can become stuck in a bad place or choose to change the world through our own experiences.

Mr. Rogers is an amazing example and if you haven't see the documentary about him, I highly recommend it.  I also recommend you ask yourself what your own past junk has birthed in you.  Are you following your passions and maximizing your positive impact in the world?  The thing is the darker the world becomes, the further your light can reach.  Now is the time to make a difference! Happy Wednesday!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

You Can

Recently, I sat across from a woman I've known since before she was a woman.  We met under duress, as she has honestly, been avoiding me.  Her life isn't what it should be right now, and even though we live in the valley, the life before her is a figurative Mt. Everest and she hasn't been training, so to climb it seems impossible!

As I sat across from her and gave her a mix of straight talk, love and boundary-filled support, I realized her overwhelming reality, is something so many understand because life can be overwhelming. Even if our struggles are different the battle always seems to be the same. 

 The biggest battle isn't the challenges we face, its actually the one in our minds.  Our thoughts direct our path and following lies and negative self-talk only leads us down a dangerous path.  

We begin to follow thoughts like:

You've tried so long and haven't done it yet, you never will 

You aren't worth the effort 

You will never do it 

Don't even try 

No one cares if you just quit

Everyone is better off without you

Those thoughts are dangerous roads and they don't lead to anywhere good.

Trust me when I say, if you have a mountain to climb - you can!  You can't wait until you feel you can, because feelings lie! You have to decide what you need and make the plan to get there.  The feelings will come later.  

The reality is, if you are facing a life mountain, you might need some help.  Don't try to do alone what was meant for a team.  Those ideas that you have to do it alone only lead to failure.  Ask for help from trusted sources and let them help you.  

I believe in Jesus.  I have since the day I was 4.  I have come to know that the Bible is full of encouragement for us as we go down the road.  So here are few verses to help you, whether you believe in God or not, as you climb your mountain.

Matthew 19:26 - With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

I John 4:4 - Greater is He that is in YOU, than He that is in the world. (Paraphrase)

I Thessalonians 5:11 - Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

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.

Isaiah 43:2 -  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.

God has got this!  Yes, you do have to do some work and retrain your thoughts and be intentional in all you do, but God will carry you.  In that I am confident!  

Start with the sentence - I can! See the victory in your thoughts and that will lead to victory in life.  If you quit in your thoughts, its already done, just put a fork in it!  So change that mindset, ask God for help, create a plan, lean into friends and start that journey! Don't quit - trust me, it will be worth it in the end!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

My Bathroom Project

When Kevin and I moved into our current home, we were still newlyweds living with his two girls.  Stephanie, the younger one, was 14 at the time.  She decided to decorate the bathroom in a ducky theme.  

Now, Stephanie is 27, married and expecting her first baby this next February.  I figured it was time to change the bathroom! Let's be real - it was beyond time to change the bathroom!!!  

Katie, my oldest stepdaughter, who is special needs, still lives with us, but she now shares the bathroom with her 7-year-old brother and 3-year-old sister. Because of this mixed group, I wanted a look that wasn't too feminine or masculine but had some fun kid character to it.  

I really wanted to do a bit more than just paint and change pictures on the wall.  I actually wanted a new vanity as the current one is awkward, but there just wasn't money in the budget or time in my schedule to make that happen.  

Truth: I'd been collecting items for the room for about a year, and part of the motivation to do it now was the need for the space those items were taking up.  

My first item was to pick a paint color and I selected black and white.  Next I decided to find some mirrors to replace the original full wall mirrors attached to the walls.  I also grabbed some floating shelves.  

I wasn't sure how to remove the wall mirrors, but I found this youtube video and thought I could do it myself. I when I went to Lowe's to get my paint, I also got some wood shims.  Thankfully a friend came over and was able to help me grab the mirror as it came loose so it wouldn't break.  I admit, I felt very accomplished having done this just from watching the video.  Our mirror unlike the one in the video did also have clips so I had to remove those first up top, then once I had used the shims, we had to slide it out of the bottom bar and then remove those.  I also removed the towel rack and took all the ducky themed pictures on the wall.  I was able to sell it all to someone through a Facebook resale group I'm a part of - so its getting more use somewhere else! 

The mirrors were off!!! 

Then I wiped down the walls and taped it for painting.  This is where I made my first mistake.

Painting tip:  Painting Semi-Gloss on Semi-Gloss (the paint needed in the bathroom because of moisture) is not easy to do because the paint won't adhere.  You either need to sand down the walls or purchase a product called TSP at Lowe's or Home Depot to help the process.  The people in the paint department can easily get it for you.  I did neither so that meant that when I pulled that tape off all of the painting I'd done came off with the tape so I had to do a lot of touch up! 

Once the painting was done, I put up the mirrors.  We discovered the light fixtures we had kept had been put on crooked on the back wall, and later discovered we had a bigger issue with that wall - it wasn't straight! The drywall was put in and instead of being straight was beveled in the center.  We really couldn't fix the issues with the wall or the fixture right now so my husband helped me put the mirrors up and replace the towel rack with the floating shelves that took 4 hours to put up because of the curvature in the wall.  We had to screw in the shelves in the center just so that would go up against the wall.  

I then used my Cricut machine to make stencils with freezer paper.  I painted "Rise and Shine" on the back wall above the shower and then repainted a framed wood piece with a heart pattern I found online.  Originally, the wood piece had lyrics to the song, "Bushel And A Peck," but my husband had also cut out the song lyrics in metal from a design I sent him.  We decided we liked that best.  The song has significance with my kids because its the tickle song.  I sing it and tickle and hug them along with the lyrics and we also end up laughing.  

As far as the little touches. The shower curtain came from Target and I got the hooks from Home Goods.  The clock came from TJMaxx.  The hanging art were the homemade pieces I'd already talked about (even though we thought the metal sign needed a frame, so my husband made one).  I got the bathmat and colorful washcloths from Target and grabbed the colorful knobs from Hobby Lobby.  I got my silver switch plates at Lowes.  The items on the shelves came from a variety of places the sand art box with the G, I made (Hobby Lobby) and I made both the framed saying (something significant as it was on the basement door growing up) as well as the wood box saying.  I had the glass piece that houses cotton balls, and the two succulent holders (one with q-tips and one with a fake plant from Target) are available in a set of 4 on Amazon, (note: I couldn't find them but found some other cute ones with link)  but I got them from the same resale group I sold my ducky art on.  

I do want to paint the vanity base, but for now I'm really happy with the room and doing little projects like this one bring me joy as creative endeavors are one of my outlets.  What activities help you find your inner calm?  I'd love to hear about it!