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!