Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Random Wednesday Thoughts

Most of my life lately seems to be consumed by one of only a few things: either thinking about when this baby is coming (and by thinking about, I mean OBSESSING over - reading pregnancy apps on my phone, re-counting days just to be sure I didn't miss one, wondering if every little pain could be a contraction, hoping that I'm in the less than 10% that deliver early, and planning EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of getting ready to go to the hospital) Hmmm...was there something else that I do during the day? Oh yes, work and family life.

Work has been a major bummer lately. Call me crazy, but I don't feel inspired lately to reconcile anyone's checking account, pay bills or make tax payments (If you are one of my clients reading this - I LOVE working on your file - it's the others I am not inspired by ;-). Don't get me wrong, I still do it - I kinda have to - but Adam is doing most of it, and when I do feel motivated, I'm still not loving it. I don't really think that many of us just get the luxury of getting paid to do only what we absolutely love and are passionate about. Sometimes, we just have to make the most of the opportunities that we have, and be thankful for an income. I get that. I also get that I spent 4 years getting an accounting degree and really, it was my choice. Honestly, I feel like I could have any job in the world right now, and there would be some part of it I didn't want to do. So now what? Well, for one thing, I've been learning that every day there are things that don't seem that exciting. Somewhere between when summer break meant running around in the sprinkler and drinking lemonade and turning 30, it has come to my attention that being an adult means responsibility. Responsibility means everything isn't always fun. The cool thing is, as I learned a few months ago while cleaning up barf (see: The Night of Endless Vomit) that I can still CHOOSE to find things to be thankful for in the midst of my not-having-fun AND it can even be an act of worship.

{Speaking of being responsible, I just realized that it's 9:45 and I was having so much fun re-decorating my blog that I sorta forgot to finish tucking the boys in after telling them they could keep reading until 9. Oops. Ha ha.}

Anyway, when I'm not working or thinking about the baby coming, I'm hanging out with my pretty cool family. It's been really exciting to see the boys growing and learning, and even maturing. Just a couple weeks ago, Tyler was facing some peer pressure to toss his dinner and skip to dessert. Not knowing I was in the other room listening, I heard him tell the other kids "That would be lying". I wanted to run in and hand him a badge, but instead, I just treasured the moment. It's exciting to reap the benefit of building up a moral warehouse in your child's heart. On the flip-side of being encouraged by their maturing, we are also battling the new summer schedule that requires a lot more effort to create structure. It's not too hard for two boys to start bouncing off the walls if they don't have enough to do. Man, I can't wait to have a third in the mix! If anyone wants to plan some playdates with us, the weather is looking good and we're ready!

Every day has its challenges, but the bottom line is: I am thankful. I am so thankful for a husband that leads my family, puts his own needs on the back burner a lot of the time to invest in two stepsons, and really cares a lot about other people. I'm thankful for a free country, great neighbors, food in the fridge, and more than anything, for a God who loves me on my good days, and the days I'd like to have a second shot at.

Speaking of days...the countdown is 28 days to my due date. I'll be singing a children's song for the next 4 weeks "Have patience, have patience. Don't be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember, that God is patient too, and think of all the times when others have to wait for you!"

Come soon July 18th!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pregnancy Blahs & Beautiful Things

Right now, I have acid reflux burning a hole in my esophagus I'm pretty sure, even though I've eaten 14 tums and some Prilosec today. I also feel like someone is stabbing me with a letter opener where my round ligament connects to some bones down south. So....pretty much, I feel awesome.

My pregnancy is on the final more month to go, and as hard as it's been, I've found that it has been one of the most fantastic opportunities for me to grow (not just around the middle either!).

I find myself thinking most of the time that before I sit down and blog, I have to have some fantastic, inspiring story to share that ends in triumph. (I also find that I just don't think very often lately...pregnancy brain!) Then, I remember that some of my favorite times writing come out of laughing at myself in my imperfections and failures. Speaking of failures, I can think of about a hundred that I have tallied over the last few months.

Self on the Shelf. We live in a society that is all about self. Well, shoot, parenting and being self-centered just don't go together very well, and it starts with pregnancy. First of all, I miss my C cups. I miss being able to sleep at night and go for longer than an hour without having to pee. I miss being able to run. I miss pants with buttons. I miss being able to see anything below my belly button. I miss being able to eat Buffalo chicken salad without catching on fire. But, more than I miss all those things, I am thrilled that the miracle of a life is growing inside of me. It's good practice for dying to self, which God has called us to do. I've been getting lots of practice, lots and lots of practice...

Complaining. Just log on to Facebook for a few minutes, and you should get a good dose of how easy it is for our attitudes to slip into the pit of pity. I am no better. I found myself so frustrated with all the side effects of pregnancy until a devotion and a talk with a friend one day woke me up to what I was doing. I was reading from Joyce Meyer's Devotional Content one day when her words struck me: "Truly thankful people don't have time to complain. They are too busy finding things to be thankful for." The sad thing is, it's really not that hard to find things to be thankful for: on any given day, how about being thankful for the fact that we live in a free country, where we don't have to worry about famine, war or being killed for our beliefs? I know so many people that would do just about anything to take some morning sickness and discomfort to get to be pregnant. It's humbling to think that God gave me this gift, and complaining about a gift is not something I ever want to do.

Patience? What is that? My husband told me at some point when we were dating that he was attracted to how patient I was. Hahahahahahahaha. Then, we got married. He has often questioned how I deceived him so well. In my defense, it's not like I get mad over things I can't control, like traffic jams, but send me a Christmas or birthday present early, and there is no way I'm not opening it. Waiting 9 months for a child to arrive while being reminded on a minute-by-minute basis that it is inside of you is, to me, like placing a giant cookie in front of a child for an entire day & telling them not to eat it every 3 seconds. I have had to make a conscious effort to remind myself that God's timing is perfect and that I can trust Him with the timing of my son's arrival.

The good news in all of this is that God never leaves us to struggle through life on our own. He meets us where we are. Sometimes I get overwhelmed at all my imperfections and how short I fall of the person I know God wants me to be, but I know by His grace, that I don't have to stay the same. He makes beautiful things... even out of ashes, oh and pregnant women with heartburn. :-)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Someone Find me a Tent - I want to Wear It!

Just when I think I'm doing okay, God peels back another layer in my heart and reveals something else I need to work on. It's so easy to let days, weeks, months and years pass and just be good enough - after all, I'm faithful to my husband, patient with my kids most of the time, kind to my neighbors, involved at church, run a business with integrity...what else could I need to do?

This pregnancy has been challenging, to say the least, but it has also made me very aware of my shortcomings. Today was one of those days when it's starting to sink in that I don't exactly look like a supermodel. Between pregnancy breakouts and my ever-expanding belly, I'm starting to enter that "I-don't-feel-so-cute" phase. I went to several stores this afternoon looking for something that would help me feel like less of a troll, and only left feeling defeated. If you've ever been pregnant, you know that all of a sudden you are very aware that EVERYONE around you is way skinnier than you (I conveniently DON'T notice the people that aren't so slender).

I wrestled with my feelings this evening - knowing in my head that gaining weight is part of pregnancy, and there is nothing wrong with needed to buy some new clothes - but I knew it was deeper. I sat down with a new devotional book I bought written specifically for pregnant women, and opened to a page titled "Whom Do You Fear?". Now, let's just level with each other for a minute here ladies. We all compare ourselves to each other, and pregnancy is no exception. I love this story from Jenny McCarthy (yes, I am going to quote scripture & the former MTV star in the same blog! stay with me...) about comparing yourself to other pregnant women:

"Finally I found a class with an opening that was held in a church basement. So, off we went, my husband and me, to our first Lamaze class. The first thing I did - and you will too, don't kid yourself - was scope out the other pregnant women and count how many of them had bigger butts than me. Then, I relayed the tally to my husband so he could be proud sitting next to my big-but-not-the-biggest-butt."
[As a side note, if you need a good laugh, I cried and almost peed myself when I read her book. There are great chapters with titles like "Did a Sewer Tank Explode or Did You Just Fart?" It is a little crude at times, and I wouldn't take any life lessons from it, but it is quite hilarious!]

Anyway, I digress...back to the devotional.

As I was reading, it occurred to me that in the same way that we compare ourselves to others physically (sometimes it makes us feel better, sometimes worse), we also compare ourselves to others based on our morals. We often look at people and think "Well, I'm not having an affair like that person" but are we truly serving our spouse? Or how about "I love and provide for my kids while some people abandon and neglect theirs." but are we really investing in their spiritual well-being? My point is this: we aren't to compare ourselves to each other, but to God's standard - and it's pretty high. The Bible says "ALL have sinned and FALL SHORT of the glory of God".

Today, I realized that comparing myself to others was fearing them, not God. I do care what people think about me. I LOVE being complimented. I like being told I look tiny for 24 weeks. I like feeling cute. Don't throw stuff at me - I'm just being honest. So, what does fearing God look like? Proverbs 8:13 defines it as hating evil, hating pride, hating arrogance, hating evil behavior, and hating perverse speech. These are praise-worthy qualities in a woman - not how great she looks.

Ugh. FAIL!

The great thing about God is that He brings us to our failures gently. He points out the better way. Seeking to be a woman of character is something I can achieve, because I know God always wants that for me. As for seeking to be beautiful and charming, it just needs to have it's proper place - without fear behind it. That's actually kind of a relief. It means I can get as big as a house, and still be praised - for my character, not my looks. I really want to get to the place where when people talk about me, they talk about my the kind of person I am, not the cute outfit I wore last week. Good. I'm putting on a nice, comfy tent!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How did Mary Feel?

Tonight I sat in my office and took in one of my favorite sights: the glow of a Christmas tree in a dark room. This year instead of cutting one down, we got our Christmas tree out of a box from Target. I have to admit it was pretty nice to stand it up without needles getting everywhere, and have the lights already on the tree. I put some pine-tree scented wax into my Scentsy warmer to trick my brain into thinking the tree was real.

I couldn't help but wonder tonight, as I sat in my empty office, where my sense of wonder had gone. I remember as a little girl loving the glowing tree so much that I would sleep on the hard ground in the living room just to be near it. Now, as I looked at the tree I thought about how much work it would be to put it away later.

I find myself, with a growing little child inside of me, wondering how Mary must have felt as she carried Jesus inside of her. I have felt completely debilitated over the last week. Between constant nausea and fatigue, even the most mundane tasks have been daunting. On top of the usual pregnancy symptoms, Mary was a young girl claiming she was pregnant, but a virgin - I can't imagine that being easy. I wonder how she felt when news came that they would have to travel to Bethlehem - by donkey - we're not talking first class, cozy airline seats here.

In all my wondering it occurs to me that life back then may not have been all that different from the way it is now. Mary still felt pain. She still dealt with inconvenience and discomfort. She faced rejection, possible death, shame and her life being turned upside-down. And this is how she responds:

And Mary said,

   I'm bursting with God-news;
      I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
      God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
      I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
   What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
      the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
   His mercy flows in wave after wave
      on those who are in awe before him.
   He bared his arm and showed his strength,
      scattered the bluffing braggarts.
   He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
      pulled victims out of the mud.
   The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
      the callous rich were left out in the cold.
   He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
      he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
   It's exactly what he promised,
      beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
Luke 1:46-55 The Message

Hmmm. I'm reading this thinking I could use a little attitude re-focus. I pray for a childlike sense of wonder this Christmas - to remember that Jesus came to the world for imperfect people, like me. We celebrate His birth as the best gift we ever received. That should be enough good news to get through any tough day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Night of Endless Vomit (Oh no, she didn't!)

I witnessed a dad tonight who deserved a medal. I was sitting in Starbucks with my laptop when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw his 3 or 4 year old daughter start to throw up all over the floor. He calmly came to her side, tried to comfort her and then walked up to the counter and asked for a mop.

The girls that work at this particular Starbucks happen to think that anyone who walks in to their store is seriously interrupting their opportunities to catch up on "so-and-so did such-and-such with what's-his-face the other night - OMG" - and this scenario was no exception. They were right in the middle of a juicy story when the barfing went down. They didn't even attempt to help him clean up, or offer any shred of sympathy.

On my way home, I was reflecting on how much parenting requires of us. I opened the garage door, walked into my house and was greeted by an awful stench. Vomit appearance #2 of the night.

Our dog was in his kennel surrounded by barf. All over his bed. All over the floor. All over his blanket. I cleaned up the bed, cleaned up the kennel, only to discover that it was all over his fur too. I hauled him upstairs to throw him in the tub. I finally had everything cleaned, dinner started, and the laundry going when I heard him start to gag again. I yelled. He ran. Vomit followed.

I called Adam for help, and to make him feel bad that he was at work missing out on all this excitement. As I was cleaning up vomit appearance #3, I heard Joren down the hallway say "Mom, I accidentally pooped a little". The timing was incredible.

I spent the rest of the evening scrubbing floors, children's butts, doing laundry, dishes, and trying not to yell at the dog anymore. I could see him cower every time I got close.

As I was covering every surface with bleach spray or Resolve, a Steven Curtis Chapman popped into my head that is based on Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Can it be possible? Can cleaning up vomit be an act of worship? I realized in that moment that I could CHOOSE to be joyful, find some humor in the situation, and open my heart to what God was teaching me. Could I use a little more patience? Yep. Point taken.

This is a great video and a fantastic way to start the week. "Do everything you do to the glory of the one who made you!'

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Bible's Next Top Model...?

Last week I was at the gym when a woman looked at me and said:

"You always look cute. I hate you."

I was slightly offended. Call me crazy, but I actually don't like it when people hate me. Now, I realize she may not actually hate me, but the feeling also wasn't warm and kind. What is it with us women that we think everything is a contest and we want to trip all the other girls running alongside us?

This week I've been working on a Bible study on Esther by Beth Moore. It's not your typical Bible study. Let's just say this book of the Bible could be set in modern-day America and make an excellent soap opera. There are wild parties, banished queens, a beauty contest, harems, plots to assassinate the king - and that's only in the first two chapters! I was having so much fun working on my homework that I sat for two hours and did all five days of work in one sitting. I imagine that part of that motivation was due to the fact that the topic really hits home with me: this week all centered around beauty treatments.

Did you know that Esther was basically picked by the king in an ancient version of "The Bachelor". Yep, king Xerxes sent scouts looking all over Persia for the prettiest girls. They were then brought to the palace for a year's worth of beauty treatments. A WHOLE YEAR! Maybe that sounds fun to you, but I also learned that the girls who weren't chosen to be queen joined the king's harem where they would sit their whole lives unless the king called for them by name. Talk about some pressure! Either look good, or spend your life competing with a group of other women for one man's attention! No thanks.

I spent some time thinking about how I would handle a situation like the one Esther was in. The Bible says that all these "Bachelor candidates" had anything they wanted at their disposal. I'm talking spray tans, gel nails, the most expensive make-up, jewelry from Tiffany's, anything you wanted off the rack at Nordstrom's...whatever that ancient equivalent was, of course. The odd thing is, Esther asked for nothing. Here is an excerpt from my study:

"The girls could request any extravagance to make themselves more appealing, but Esther asked for nothing. Esther does not reject all beauty aids, but only avoids asking for more than she is offered. Her virtue is not abstinence from heathen luxuries but self-effacing receptivity and passivity. Somehow I'm relieved. Please tell me I can still be a godly woman who can walk acceptably before her exalted King without abstaining from some well-earned beauty aids! The point is not that Esther abstained, but rather was restrained."

Just in case you got lost in that paragraph, what it says it that Esther didn't make herself plain - but she didn't look like Snookie either.

I'm not sure if I had to stand before a king that I would have the confidence to restrain myself from doing everything possible to look better. Esther really makes herself stand out by doing so. The Bible says she "won the favor of everyone who saw her" (Est. 2:15). Beth Moore says "Brace yourself for a shock: that included the other women! You and I both know that a rare woman indeed is beautiful from a male perspective and favored by other women."

I've really been trying to think of what makes a woman attractive to men, yet liked by other women. I can think of a few women I know that are certainly beautiful, but never make me feel like I'm not. It all comes from the inside: they are kind, warm, friendly, and secure. Not perfect, but healthy. Attractive, but not showy. Eye-catching, but not attention-stealing. That's the kind of woman I want to be.

Obviously, the woman I saw at the gym wasn't a friend of mine. Most of my friends know I'd give them a good jab-cross combo to the boob if they told me they hated me. Plus, my friends also know that I wake up with scary hair, breakouts, and wish I didn't have love handles and jock thighs on some days. I'm thankful we have make-up, and I'm even more thankful to know that having inner beauty can be a force capable of  capturing even the attention of a king. I don't need to attract myself a king, but I love finding ancient stories that have principles for modern-day life. Where can I exercise restraint in my life, and how can I work on being a woman that is favored by other women? I'm inspired to find out...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Work Minus Motivation = Monday?

I really don't feel like writing tonight.What I feel like doing is grabbing a key lime pie martini & sitting in a bubble bath.

Don't you love doing things when you lack motivation? How many times have you been to the gym where you were far more interested in making conversation with people than getting on the treadmill? How about preparing dinner after a long day - "Yep. Taco Bell it is." Maybe you've had to sit at work late and miss out on being somewhere you really wanted to be. Regardless of the reason, mustering up motivation when it's AWOL isn't an easy task!

I found an article in Women's Health magazine that provided some fantastic points for time-management - which doesn't magically provide motivation - but it was just what I needed as Monday rolls around and I have a stack of things on my desk a mile high. Even when you lack motivation, I think it's easier to tackle something with a plan.

1. LOG OFF FACEBOOK - Women's Health says that "people average seven hours a month on the social site." Seven hours a month? That has to be accounting for people like my grandpa and brother who get on once every two months - I'm willing to bet it's even higher than that for many people. I made it a new goal not to dink around on Facebook unless I had already had some quiet time & gotten in a workout for the day.

2. SAY NO! - I am terrible at this. As soon as the word "yes" has escaped my mouth, I wonder why I have agreed to something I know I don't have time for! Exercise your "no muscle"!

3. PLAN YOUR DAY - "Schedule your biggest task of the day for when you're most focused and productive. You'll get it done more quickly than if you try to tackle it during a natural low point."(For example, two in the afternoon - I can do nothing productive at 2pm unless someone gives me a red bull and some candy!)

4. PUT IT IN INK - "You find time for everything on your calendar because it's there in black & white." Block out time for things like workouts & quiet time like you would for any other appointments.

5. SET A TIMER - Set a kitchen timer for tasks that tend to eat up more time than they need to - like surfing the internet or sorting through old pictures - and when the timer goes off, stop!

6. TOUCH IT ONCE - "When a paper comes across your desk or an email hits your inbox, deal with it right away. Piled-up paper and messages create distracting clutter, and you waste time revisiting each issue again (and again)."

7. GET UP 15 MINUTES EARLIER - Ugh. Seriously? "The most nocturnal of night owls can roll out of the sack just 15 minutes earlier. Even if you don't use that extra time for your workout (or quiet time) you'll get to the office sooner than usual, so you'll be more likely to take that 15 minutes for yourself later in the day."

Those were just a few of my favorite points, but I'm glad to have some tools headed into the workweek that will help me be more productive, balanced and focused. Maybe I'll even make it through a few days with only ONE latte!

Now, for that bubble bath...