Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Grace on a Thursday

Every year right about this time I think of my grandmother Rouse who used to make Thanksgiving such a special day. The following is a story I wrote a few years ago about her last Thanksgiving with us. May God bless each of you this year. Happy Thanksgiving

Grace on a Thursday

            When we feel unlovely we want to hide because we can’t imagine anyone could love us in those moments.  Let’s face it - we all have those moments, and that’s usually when God speaks the loudest.
            My Grammie was one of the loveliest women I have ever known, but one Thanksgiving she didn’t think so. Our tradition was to dress up in our Sunday best, dine at two and go to the movies. We all knew with Grammie being sick there would be no movie this year. Released from the hospital two days earlier, we were just happy she could be with us for the holiday. But now another storm was brewing.
            “Mom!”  My sister ran into the kitchen. “Grammie says she’s not coming to dinner. She says she doesn’t have anything to wear, her hair isn’t done and she is not about to come to dinner in her pajamas and robe.” Laura’s green eyes pleaded with Mom. “What are we going to do? We can’t leave her in her room all alone…not on Thanksgiving.” Nervous knots formed in my belly as I wondered what would happen.
            A few days earlier I had taken a trip to the hospital. My mind hadn’t comprehended the seriousness of Grammie’s condition until I stood in the doorway of her room and was struck by her frailty. I paused for a moment taking in the image of my sweet Grammie lying in that hospital bed looking like a small child. Without the benefit of going to the salon, her normally jet black hair had turned gray. Her milky white complexion had grown sallow and pale. Broken blood vessels from her IV etched the skin of her once smooth hand.
            The contrast to her usual self was startling.  Throughout my childhood, Grammie had come over for dinner on a Thursday after her weekly hair and nail appointment. Smelling of Estee Lauder perfume, she would sink into the sofa and beckon to me with her beautiful hands. I loved sitting next to her, and my heart would sing at the invitation to be near her. I breathed her in while listening to her soft, gentle voice tell me about the events of her day, and then she would ask me about mine. Her hands stroked my back or played with my hair.  She made me feel safe and loved.  But in the past few years the allure of college and my social life had kept me from spending Thursdays with her.  And now she was in the hospital.
            I moved closer to her hospital bed and picked up her IV pierced hand. She smiled at me and asked me about my day. It felt just like our old Thursday afternoons, only we were conversing over the starched white sheets of her hospital bed, with the scent of antiseptic lingering in the air. She couldn’t reach out and stroke my back anymore, but I could curl up beside her and stroke her hair and smell her sweet perfume. Even in the hospital she still smelled like flowers. I cradled her hand in mine while her words curled around my heart.  She loved me unconditionally and in that moment I saw Jesus.  Like Christ, she gave to me even though I hadn’t made her a priority over the past few years.
            The hospital released her for Thanksgiving and as the scent of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie filled the air, my sister and I watched our mother, wondering what to do.  Mom told us not to worry while she placed an apple pie into the oven. I could see her shoulders quietly shake as she tried to hide her emotion from us.
            “Mom, what if I fix her hair and put a little makeup on her,” Laura said. “I think that might help her feel better.”
            “Yes, I think that’s a great idea, but let’s do more than that.” She stirred the gravy and then a smile broke through the clouds that had covered her face. “I know…let’s wear our bathrobes to the table. We can surprise her!” Pausing for a moment to let the idea sink in she continued, “We can wear our normal clothes underneath and each of us can come to the table in our robes. That way she will know that she fits right in. What do you think?” Her face shone with excitement, and I knew we had our answer.
            Laura nodded her head in agreement. “I’ll go tell her that we aren’t taking no for an answer and insist that she let me fix her hair. Even though we all think she’s beautiful without being fixed up, knowing Grammie there isn’t going to be any other way to convince her.”
            We thought we would surprise her so we didn’t tell Grammie of our plan.  After a “We’re not taking no for an answer” conversation with my mother, Grammie finally let my sister Laura fix her hair and apply a little color to her cheeks.
            I will never forget how excited I felt when I stood next to my chair at the dining room table. I looked around the table at my family. We were attired in our Sunday best, our bathrobes draped over our shoulders. My little brother even had on his slippers and was grinning from ear to ear. We barely contained ourselves with the excitement of our secret and hoped that Grammie would feel a part of our family as she had on so many other Thursday afternoons.
            Dad wheeled her into the dining room, her normally robust frame wilting in the wheelchair. We stood quietly at the table until she looked up. When she did, we shouted “Surprise!” Her face went from pale gray to a soft blush, and a giant smile engulfed her face. She giggled my favorite giggle and for a moment she was my joyful, adoring Grammie again.
             Tears of relief rolled down my cheeks, she was with us again, and we were all overjoyed. Conversation bubbled across the table as we shared our Thanksgiving meal. I believe we were all thankful that our family was complete. It would not have been the same without our Grammie.
            Grammie died two days later. For her funeral we dressed once again in our Sunday best. I wished we could have worn our robes again. It seemed appropriate that in one of her final moments here on earth Grammie was more beautiful to me than ever, without the earthly adornments of hair color and makeup. Grace is God’s way of pouring out His love upon us regardless of our clothing, whether we feel lovely or not. To Him we are always lovely, a fragrant aroma and a blessing. He accepts us, offers us grace when we don’t deserve it and puts on our humanity out of love, every single day of the week.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Year in Transition

A Year in Transition

A little over one year ago my family and I moved from our home in San Antonio to a suburb of Dallas called Rockwall. Just a quick five hour drive north on I-35 and we find ourselves at home in the country, near cows and lots and lots of country critters. It has been an adjustment for all of us, and has presented us each with our own set of challenges but, we are finding our way. In fact, it’s more than that, this move is a gift.

Don’t get me wrong, we loved living in San Antonio, loved our friends, our church, our home and Zach and Kayla enjoyed their school and sports activities. And yet, there was an itch, for lack of a better description, a pull towards something but I couldn’t put my finger on it, except to just ask God to help each one of us to be open. After everything we had been through with Grant’s illness and his recovery, it made sense to me that we had entered a season of renewal, but it hadn’t occurred to me that this would include a move.

We found out we were moving the end of April 2011. We took a few weeks to put our house in order, which included painting, purging, lots of yard work and yes much prayer.

We sold our house in one day. One day…ONE DAY! My head still spins thinking about it. We had one showing, and one offer. And here’s the kicker, we had one week to find a house here in Rockwall, and the one we now call home we found on the very last day of looking and the price was perfect!

We had a 30 day close, which meant that from the time we put the sign in the yard to the day we left San Antonio only four short weeks had passed. Enough time to pack, have a yard sale, say quick goodbyes to friends and try our hardest to help Zach and Kayla to see this as an adventure, which it most definitely has been.

Over the course of the summer and into the school months last fall I watched our new life unfold. I decided to take the year off from writing and found myself immersed in making our hew house a home. I volunteered on the PTA board again and started taking tennis lessons. We found a great church and slowly began making friends. Zach started club soccer and Kayla swimming, and they both tell me weekly that they love it here. That this feels like a little piece of heaven, and they are happy.

Now, fifteen months later I can look back and see how this was our year in transition. A year of in between, a year to establish ourselves in a new place that goes right along with our season of renewal. This move is so much more than just about geography. It’s about a new life for Grant as he is healthy and thriving. A new life for me as a mom, wife, writer and life coach (and tennis playerJ). And a new life for Zach and Kayla who never cease to amaze me with their firm grasp on the things that are most important.

 I find myself dusting off my manuscript, and am actively seeking new coaching clients. I’m excited to be here and look forward to seeing what comes next. You can be sure that I’m staying open, the adventure is just beginning.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Just my Dog and Me

He sleeps on his bed in the corner of our room. A silent presence, watching. The slightest movement and his head raises. He finds my blanket covered form and he waits. I peek from beneath my sheets, wondering how many times I need shuffle my feet, before he will be at my side. Was not feet shuffling this morning, but the simple drop of my arm that beckoned him. 

Nuzzling my hand, begging for love, he turns in endless circles reaching for me, to rub the side of his face, his ear, his back. He licks my face, an invitation.

The coffee drips as he gobbles his food, and then he presses his nose to the glass in my kitchen door. The click of the deadbolt turning in the lock, pricks his ears and his tail bangs against my leg as I try to open the door before his wiggling frame. 
Sauntering out he leaps over rocks and grass before remembering me. A simple nod and he's off, bounding across the damp morning grass, chasing the birds and smelling the morning smells. Free, he shouts with every leap! Free, with every sniff and scamper!
Free! Free! Free! 

Settling onto the sofa, I curl my legs beneath me and sip. The sun casts a golden glow across the pillows and my heart is full. 
I hear him before I see. He bounds around the corner of the house, nudges the edge of my foot and then settles, sides heaving, tongue hanging. 
Just my Dog and Me.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


“By virtue of your very existence, you are significant."
On a really good day it’s easy to focus on the things I like about myself. It’s easy to feel like God really knew what He was doing when He created me. Especially when it’s a good hair day, no one has thrown up on me, and my outfit is cute. Those are the kinds of days that I want to say to my clients, “Somebody take my picture cuz I’m looking good.”

But we all know those days can be few and far between, especially given the season of life that motherhood brings. Most of the time it’s easier to focus on the dislikes and the things we are ashamed of; in fact, I’ve been known to have my own private pity party, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that since I’m pretty sure that you can relate.
We sometimes tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough, worthy enough, valuable enough, pretty enough, smart enough…need I go on? We wonder secretly to ourselves, “Is this all there is? Isn’t there supposed to be something more to my life?” I titled this article “Be who You Already Are” because deep inside of each one of us, we are all wondering if we really have what it takes…and are hoping to discover some magical answer to the question. But the truth is, you are already equipped with your own set of values, central beliefs, and life purpose. It’s just a matter of letting God reveal the truth and trusting Him with the results.
A few years ago I made this note to myself; it’s a good reminder for me when I feel like the world is closing in…
Be who you already are.
Stop striving, perfecting, adjusting, adapting, collapsing, hiding, fearing,
worrying, wondering, and compromising…and just be who you already are.

You may be already thinking, But who am I? I have no idea. Or, How in the world am I supposed to be who I already am when the whole world tells me I’m not good enough? Start with remembering who God is to you, how He has worked in your life, and then hold on tight to that little glimmer of light that represents the “you” you were before society, your family, and yes…before you told yourself to be someone different.
Early in my marriage I used to wonder how long it would take Grant to change his mind and leave me for someone else. I pretended to be more than I was, trying to fill the shoes that everyone else set before me. I performed and perfected my act and became someone I hardly recognized. I lost myself, not unlike many other women who have struggled with their own identity and the shame they carry from past abuse or other traumas. I lived like that for twelve years, wondering what my purpose was and questioned my reason for existing.
But all that time of questioning and wondering I felt a deep prodding in my heart. I knew the Bible, and I believed that God loved me and had a plan and purpose for my life. But I didn’t understand how I could get past my shame and really be who it seemed like He wanted me to be. I did Bible studies and led small groups and knew in my heart over the course of time that the more I sought God, the more I understood who He meant for me to be.
He was calling me out of the shadows, whispering to me almost every day how much He loved me and how He could use my sadness for His good, to encourage and support others. He helped me see the truth through all the study and counseling that I did. I was significant to Him, and He had bestowed upon me my own set of unique talents and strengths, my own set of values that no one could ever take away from me.
Regardless of our situation, each one of us has a unique design that God has given to us. You know there is no one else like you on the face of the earth. You are unique in God’s eyes. No matter what anyone else has ever said or done to you, nothing can change the core of who you were created to be. Circumstance can try…and traumatic events may seem to prevail…but beneath all of that outside stuff, you are still you: the person that God created in your mother’s womb, whom He still loves and cherishes and gave His life for.

By virtue of your very existence, you are significant.
Now, think about your daily life. All the different hats you wear, the people you come in contact with. Your family, your friends, your clients, your Facebook friends…this is your sphere of influence. And somehow every time you interact with them, you are influencing them. Therefore, you are a person of influence.
Remember how your life is built on values, the building blocks of your life, and that, by virtue of your own existence, you are significant? Apply all those ideas to your circle of influence and realize that God has placed you right where you are for His specific purpose. The people that are in your life have been put there for a reason. How do you want to influence them?
As God’s creation, you are pleasing to Him, and He takes great delight in you. Like any father, He desires to prosper you, to see you grow, and to light the way for you. He made you because He wanted a relationship with you, giving you your own characteristics and personality; there is no one else like you.
What better way to honor God—than to cast aside the voices that say we have to strive to be someone we are not. Instead, answer the call that has been placed on your heart and dive into this realm of exploration and discovery. Stretch yourself as new truths are revealed and get excited about the amazing transformation that comes as you shed false living and move into a brand new authentic way of life, being who you already are.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Larger Story

Nothing like tragedy and disaster to put our own little stories in perspective. It seems like every time I open up my computer to the news page the headlines scream and my heart lurches wondering what in the world will happen next. This summer's Colorado Fires, and now the gunmen taking innocent lives in a movie theater, really sometimes I wonder just how stretched and broken we will be. And just this week a dear friend lost one of her dear friends to a tragic, unexpected death.

Hearts are heavy, people are broken and we wonder how we will go on.

Focus on the one who holds you in the midst of the Larger Story. You may not understand it now, but somewhere down the road explanations and understanding will come. In the midst of the tragedies, cocoon yourself into the Larger Story and trust Him to know that He is battling for you.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Share Your Value!

I get a weekly Marketing Email from Rob Eager who is simply amazing. This is a little tidbit from what he sent last week.

"I have fantastic value which can help people mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'd be selfish not to approach as many people as I can with my value."

This is true for me and for you. Go make a difference, share your value!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting on Track

What direction are you headed?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Make Time, Make Friends, Make Out

When I was writing for the Journal of Christian Coaching I had the chance to share some thoughts on spending time together as couples...this article is timeless...Make Time, Make Friends and Make Out. What are you waiting for?

“Hola, Senorita! Hola, Senor! ¿Hay algo que puedo conseguir para usted?

Is there something I can get for you today?”

We smile at him from our poolside perch, and peruse the swim up bar menu. Nachos with guacamole, chicken quesadillas, club sandwich or just plain old chips and salsa, they all sound good but what we really want isn’t listed on the menu. I close the menu and offer it back to our own personal waiter who will continue to carefully monitor our needs for the rest of the week.

“No, gracias, quizá más adelante.”

No thank you, maybe later.

He nods in understanding, and disappears into the sea of poolside umbrellas.

Grant settles onto his chaise while I pull my hat a little lower on my face. I dig into my tote and pull out my Ipod, dialing up my favorite playlist. It’s early, the sun just beginning to peek through the bands of palm trees offering a warmth that my weary soul has been craving for weeks. I mentally banish the images of my overflowing inbox and the nagging suspicion that I’ve left the freezer door open, and instead join Sade in singing Smooth Operator.

“Honey,” I whisper across the chaise, to my husband who is reclined beneath the umbrella. He opens one eye and grunts sleepily.

“This is exactly what we needed,” I say and kiss him gently on the nose. He winks at me, then covers his face with his hat and almost immediately begins to snore. Hoping for rest, reconnection and relaxation, this trip was something we had looked forward to for months.

You might be thinking, “Well, there’s no way we can get away for a whole week.” Or, “I’d just be happy with a weekend, or even an afternoon.” I can certainly relate to those sentiments, and while we waited for our treasured Mexican siesta, we found ways to break away, if only for an hour.

Make Time

For as long as Grant and I have been married, almost 19 years now, we’ve tried sometimes with success and sometimes without, to make time to be together. Before kids it was easier, but when kids arrived, our coveted “together time” became our coveted “alone time”. Honestly there were days when as much as we wanted to go on a date, we were both so exhausted that we just wanted to be left alone. I’m smiling now as I think about those days. They were crazy, but made less so by the babysitting co-op we eventually joined with three other families. That little group changed our lives. We found ourselves on three of four Friday evenings able to get a little R&R while the kids played with their friends for the evening. Did we feel like going out every single chance we could? Nope, not every time, but more often than not, making the effort always paid off. On these extra effort nights, we’d order take out and then come home to our own couch, and DVD player, and snuggle up. Making time, even when you don’t feel like it, even when maybe you would rather be irritated or angry about something, really makes all the difference. Usually at the end of those nights we’d go to bed smiling.

Make Friends

I love the term, “Favorite Friend” and use it with Grant all the time. He is my “Favorite Friend” and sometimes when we’ve been running in different directions, he with traveling and me with kid activities, we disconnect and lose the focus on our friendship. We were friends first, before we were anything else. As we endeavor to make time, it helps us to make friends with each other again.

When was the last time you actually sat across from the dinner table and could have a conversation with your mate without being interrupted or better yet, when was the last time you actually sat at the dinner table together? How long has it been since you played together, laughed together, or just sat on your patio and held hands? These are the things we forget that connected us to begin with. Think about the activities you did together when you were first getting to know each other and then see if there is room for any of those things in your life today. Grant and I are about to learn to country dance because it sounds like fun, will help us be friends and will most definitely give us something to laugh about. It will take effort, but our friendship is worth it.

Make Out

Alright men, before you read any further you should know in a woman’s mind there isn’t a whole lot of room for “Making Out” unless you’ve “Made Time” and “Made Friends” with her first. If you’re hoping to be intimate with your sweetheart any time soon, and I’m talking about the kind of intimacy that harkens back to your early married days when every time she walked into the room you wanted to swing her over your shoulder and traipse back down the hall from whence she came, you may want to consider the order in which you go about taking a break with her. Making Time and Making Friends do certainly help lead her to Making Out, but be careful here. Before you move to the Making Out phase, please do some romancing, some pursuing and some plain old fashioned wooing.

And ladies, before you start nodding your heads thinking to yourselves, “Yep, that’s what I’m talking about,” you may want to consider a shower and a little makeup before the love of your life walks in the door. As much as he loves you in your natural state, he will definitely appreciate the time you took to clean yourself up. He’ll think you did it for him…and he’ll notice. I promise.

Grant gets home tonight after being away for an entire week. I can’t wait to make time, make friends and yes, make out.

Allison Johnson is the founder of Resurrectedgirl Personal Development Coaching and is the author of Waking Up in the Middle of Nowhere. She lives with her husband Grant and her two children in Rockwall, Texas.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Band-aids, Moving and Believe

I want to tell you a little bit about moving or at least my experience with it. You know that feeling right before you pull off a band aid that’s been stuck to your skin for a few days? You hesitate just for a minute because you know pulling it off quickly will hurt, but if you tug slowly it will hurt even more. For us this time it was fast with the pain coming in a flash. I still can’t make sense of it, except to know that it wasn’t up to me and I’m really okay with that.

A few months before we got the official announcement that we were going to move, the winds of change were already blowing through our house. For whatever reason I just had a sense that something was about to happen so when Grant came home in February last year from his sales meeting and told me his boss wanted us to move I was not surprised. We looked at each other and tried to make a decision about how and when to do it and instead decided to try and push it off. We weren’t ready, nor were we interested in yanking our kids from their home and their friends. And yet the feeling never left…I knew it was coming.

And then one Friday morning in April Grant came to me as I was typing away on my novel and all he had to do was look at me and I knew. It was time. Within a few weeks our house was listed, and within a day of the sign going in the yard it was sold. The band aid had been ripped off and I think honestly it took a little bit of my skin with it.

I won’t lie to you, even though I felt confident it was the right time and we were excited, we were also scared or maybe even a little terrified. At least I was.

We didn’t tell Zach and Kayla, not for a few weeks. They watched us toil around painting walls, fixing sprinklers and cleaning out closets and never asked a question. It was hard to keep it from them, until it wasn’t and we sat down one Sunday morning and told them we were going to have an adventure which included leaving the only home they remembered behind. Needless to say they were not initially excited about this adventure. But by the grace of God they followed our lead, listened to our prayers and trudged along with us into the unknown.

I’m happy to say that my worst fears have not come true. Within days of arriving we met some people who have become great friends, and they introduced us to their friends who are now our friends too. Zach and Kayla have been blessed with some great kids and have also gotten plugged into small discipleship groups with amazing Christian leaders. Grant is happy to see his co-workers at the office, and I just started tennis lessons with a new friend. Life is good and we are happy and incredibly thankful to the angels God sent who bought our house. They will forever be that to me…angels who God sent at the perfect time.

Looking back I wasn’t sure I wanted the band aid to be ripped off so quickly. I wondered if it would be better to linger, to think about it more, to just tug a little at a time so that we would have time to catch our breath, get our bearings and know for sure where we were headed. But in the midst of not knowing what to do, God did. When we weren’t sure what to say to Zach and Kayla somehow the words came. Even in my worst parenting moments there was a common thread that we were in this together. United, unified…a family, one. I love that.

I’ve spent the last seven months watching my children navigate new school systems, new teachers, new friends, and new activities. Everything is new to them. There have been tears and words of frustration. There have been victories and challenges and yet they settle into their beds every night asking me to pray over them, seeking the very same comfort that I seek. Every morning they get up go to school, heading into this world of new, this place, and this unknown. I’m proud of them. They amaze me.

I’ve watched Grant navigate new routines at work. Create the beginnings of what I know will be an oasis in our back yard and never forget to hug me and kiss me and listen when I’m feeling sad or unsure. I’ve watched him comfort our children, talk them through their fears with wonder and continue to be amazed by this man who never, ever gives up.

And I’ve watched God bring me through heartache with relationship challenges, knowing that my focus has been on getting the family settled and He’s provided me with moments of wisdom and is teaching me to not take myself so seriously. I’m learning that in so many ways this move wasn’t just about the change in geography but so much more. We are restored, united, unified…a family, one. And so much more.

I'm wondering if you've found yourself in a situation where you never expected you'd be and yet you know even though it might be scary that it's what's right and good. Exactly where you should be. I'm wondering if you find yourself right now, looking, seeking, wondering where you're headed next and perhaps are perplexed, lost even...unsure of what to do.

If that's you I'll not simplify it or waste your time with useless tips on how to get through. But I will say this to you, for me it comes down to one simple word that carries me through, especially seasons like what we've just experienced.


What carries you?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are you safe?

This is a great post from my fellow coach and mentor Jerome Daley. He is an encourager and dear friend who does an amazing job of putting things in perspective. Take a look!

Are We Safe?

"When it rains, it pours!" Everyone knows the expression...which is typically translated to mean, "The crap has hit the fan, and I'm catching the brunt of it." Sometimes it just feels like we're hit by a run of bad luck. (Oops, Christians aren't supposed to say "luck.") You know what I mean.

Over the last week, both our cars had to be taken to the shop. During the same time, we called in a repairman to take a look at our hot water heater. The deck was stacked for it to "pour," right? But guess what? It didn't.

In fact, this unlikely scenario played out in such a way that I felt uncommonly blessed and cared for by God. I was convinced that the transmission had gone out on the old car. Again. And that it would cost me two grand to replace it. Instead, it was a bad wire that cost $100. At the same time, the new(ish) car had inexplicably stalled and wouldn't restart. The good news? It stalled safely in the mall parking lot. My neighbor just happened to be home and available to take me to pick up the other car at the shop so I could pick up Kellie and the kids. The roadside service (which I had let expire) was able to be renewed and used on the spot. And it was just a defective battery which was still under warranty. $0. Oh...and the hot water heater that I feared was kaput re-lit and was perfectly fine.

OK, so it doesn't always play out this way. I know. I get it. About the same time I was juggling all these small potatoes, I learned that cancer had returned for a relative who only has six months left to live. And the question I found myself mulling is this: How safe are we in this world really?

How Safe?

As Christ-followers, we know that God is sovereign in the world. We also know that, because sin is in the world, a lot of bad things happen. And I often watch folks try to reconcile this painful paradox in one of two ways:

  1. either they claim Psalm 91:10 that "no evil will befall you" and believe that if they do all the right stuff, they will be buffered from suffering...
  2. or, alternatively, they claim that "it's all good." Because God is good and God's in charge, everything that happens in the world is good.

If one of these mindsets is working for you, then by all means stick with it. For me, though, it's really important to acknowledge that first, everything is not good. Just because good may come through a bad event, we need to be able to be honest about something being bad in and of itself. Death is bad. Sickness is bad. Poverty is bad. Let's not pretend otherwise.

So what about all the scriptures that appear to promise safety? For me, it's important to distinguish between a principle and a promise. The Psalms (and many other places) are full of principles that help us understand the good character of God. These are not promises that we will only experience good things--just ask King David; but they do point us to what (Who) is utterly reliable.

So back to where we started--are we safe? I say yes...and no. We are not necessarily safe from cars that break and bodies that break. If circumstances are your definition of safe, then hang it up. Circumstances are fickle. But we are safe if our definition of safety is relationship. Specifically, relationship with a good and powerful God who regularly breaks into a broken world with unexpected and undeserved kindness while we wait for a place with no tears.

Heavy topic. Real life. Peace and purpose to you this day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Believing, Anything is Possible

When I was 14 I loved reading Teen Magazine. Like any young teenage girl who grew up in the 80's I loved reading about The Bay City Rollers, Lief Garrett and Sean Cassidy. It was a girl obsession of mine to try and figure out how to apply blue eye shadow and red lipstick and I could count on Teen Magazine to instruct me.

One afternoon I discovered a contest called Win A Week In Beauty Paradise. All I had to do was send in a photo and write in 25 words or less why I should win the trip to Rancho La Puerta Mexico and stay in a spa for an entire week of pampering and fun. It wasn't hard to make up my mind and so I sat for awhile trying to pen all the reasons why I should win. I can't remember exactly what I wrote but I think it was something about how exciting it would be to meet new people and to have a fun adventure. I had no misgivings about any chances I had at being a super model. I stand about 5'4 and photo shop is definitely my friend. But it was exciting to believe that maybe, anything was possible. Without telling a soul I sent off my letter with my 8th grade photo, heavy on the blue eye shadow, my hair in a bouffy bob and complete with red Izod polo shirt. And forgot about it for the next six months until the afternoon I came home from school and my mom handed me a turquoise envelope addressed to me. The return address said Teen Magazine.

Yep, you guessed it. I won. I ran around the house whooping it up for about fifteen minutes while my mom stood with her arms crossed and her toe tapping. She didn't believe it, thought it was a scam and proceeded to ignore the flurry of phone calls that came from the magazine editor who tried to convince her it was for real. She did come around pretty quickly, and I think it helped that she got to come along, but I understand her hesitation, especially in this day and age. A few weeks later me and my mom and two other girls with their parents traveled to Tecate, Mexico where we enjoyed a very fun time at the spa and got to have our picture placed in the magazine. For any 8th grade girl it was a dream come true. Heck, it still makes me smile almost 30 years later.

I still believe anything is possible and sometimes that's what gets me through the day.'s a simple thing and yet oh so powerful.

What are you believing for today?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Making room for you

I've been a stay at home mom for a lot of years, almost 15 to be exact if you count the time I was on bed rest before my son was born. I've lost track of the number of diapers I changed, loads of laundry completed, lunches packed and how many hours of carpool I've logged. Now that my son and my daughter are in the 8th grade I can see that they don't need me in quite the same way. The baby cry signaling hunger has changed to the teenage cry of, "Mom I don't have any clean underwear," or "Mom I need five bucks for lunch."'s been hard to realize it but it's true, my babies are growing up. Next year they will be in high school and I'll wave to them from the line of cars on the first day and wonder if I'll be able to compete with new friends and activities. The truth is, I know they will always be my sweet babies, even though they both tower over me in height. I'll still think of them as infants, or toddlers, or little kids. Isn't that impossible not to do? Even though my son reminds me almost every day that he's (imagine tired, annoyed voice that only a teenager can deliver) "Got it covered."

So I step back, give them enough room to let their wings open and watch in wonder as they dive into whatever new situation it is that's been presented and I laugh and clap when they experience victory and I cry and scowl when they don't. That's the nature of being a Mom, our children are our heartbeats.

But, not to the exclusion of entertaining what our own dreams and desires are. As we begin to let go, and even when we have diaper cloaked toddlers and infants, it is possible to engage our own dreams and visions. It is possible to carve out time for ourselves and enjoy a little bit of adult time, girl time, friend time or whatever you want to call it. In fact it's imperative for our own balance and well being as a Mom. When we are empty from giving and giving it's easy to feel like we can't do one more thing. But the truth is, it's in that moment that it's often best to entertain our own hearts desire, to read, to watch tv, to have time with a friend. It's these simple interactions that help us as Mom's recharge so that we can get back to doing for our kids.

I hear from my friends all the time that there is a definite struggle to find fulfillment outside of our Mom role. It's a question we all ask ourselves, "How do I know what to do?" or "What is fulfilling to me, since I've spent so much time in this role I have no idea who I am or what I want to do?" As I watch Zach and Kayla spread their wings and embrace their independence I wonder too.
We may not know right away, but as I say to my kids and they often repeat back to me, "What's holding you back? You've got nothing to lose."

Why not make room for yourself this year? Why not take that art class, tennis class, read a good book, start a Bible Study, or a playgroup? Why not start singing, dancing, acting, writing...?"
Why not? You've got nothing to lose.