Take a piece of peace!

Here we are about to go into the busy season. Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukkah, Kwanza etc…) followed by New Years and the resolutions we feel obligated to make.

We are supposed to feel joyful and at peace with our families and the gift-giving season. Often times easier said than done, our lives become anything at all but peaceful. Money may be tight yet we want little Johnny to get that cool, new ______ (fill in the blank) that he wants. If your children are older you still want to gift them with something amazing and now often have to also remember to buy a gift for the boyfriend or girlfriend of your child, especially if he or she is spending the Holiday with your family.  How do you politely explain the sleeping arrangements? Is church mandatory for the non-family member? There are so many ramifications to consider.

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And the cooking. Do you make your cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies from scratch? I do. I want to put my years as a Certified Health Coach to good use, and honestly, then I am more aware of the quality of the ingredients. To complicate matters, we have a range of eaters from vegetarian (yes I make a Tofurky too and two kinds of gravy) to ketogenic, to high protein.  Thankfully, my husband eats whatever is put before him. Kudos and a shout out to this man.

 

Pumpkin pie

As we approach this season of good tidings and peace, let’s remember to grab a piece of peace along with that pumpkin pie. Here are my bullet points that should help things run smoothly and effortlessly (OK, well maybe effortlessly is a stretch)

  • Delegate some of the chores and cooking assignments to others.
  • Be honest with your husband when you want help. Most will surprise you and really want to be included.
  • Budget earlier in the year for Holiday expenses. Christmas should not be an excuse to service the credit card companies with your poor decisions.
  • Even though it may be the last thing on your mind as the days get colder and shorter, get outside for as little as 10 minutes or as long as you can afford. You won’t regret the sun and air on your face.
  • Be in the word. Take a moment to reflect on a couple of your favorite Bible verses. Here are a few about hope and peace.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Colossians 3:13 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.
   

 

 

 

West Coast Launch

What a lovely time I had reflecting on my weekend as I was traveling back from California. I did a book launch party for the birth of the book Letters to the Dead Men – Unexpected Revelations on the 11th.

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My second book

What a wonderful opportunity to expose the book to the other side of the states, but also to see the lovely sister I have not seen in three years. In the journey I took writing about the men I have lost in my life, I realized that family can no longer be blown off for such silly excuses as “I’ll miss four days of work”, “I can’t afford to travel so soon after the three day conference I just attended” and so on.

I want my only remaining sibling to know how much she is treasured and adored. I want to experience new opportunities and meet new friends. My trip to San Diego did not disappoint. We ate at various restaurants, attended a yoga and happiness workshop, enjoyed some sun and then she threw me the best party ever at her healing studio.

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Prizes for the guests

Staying home just to make four more days of a paycheck just seems so silly. The money I may have lost in taking days off (entrepreneurs don’t get paid days off in the traditional sense of the word) is rather insignificant compared to the memories made. Embrace the opportunities to travel, grow, and love. May you be blessed beyond measure with silly stories, goofy pictures, and delicious food. Live your best life.

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Living my best life with my best sister!

 

 

 

Crossing the Bridge


So many times in a relationship we are forced to cross a bridge of some sort. It may be the bridge from health to disease. From financial security to financial devastation. From being pregnant to having a miscarriage. Will you be just as eager to love and appreciate your mate when a brand new stress has been added to a perhaps already tenuous relationship? Can you two cross the bridge together holding hands?

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In an attempt to get through many of my own bridges of life, I try to think of the Bible verses that helped my dad through tough times in his early life, and I think of all of the leadership audios and books I have read throughout the years. One reoccurring theme keeps emerging. That theme is to reframe the situation and to continue to be grateful for something; anything.

What is a reframe? Simply what it sounds like. Put a new “frame” or perspective on the “picture” or situation you have been given. Could a miscarriage teach a lesson?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed”

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Could a financial difficulty draw you closer to your spouse as you learn to budget better and rely on God more?

Philippians 4:12-13 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength”

Could a health issue force you to learn to slow down and ask your husband or wife to help more so that you can do more self-care and recover? You may be surprised that your partner really does want to see you well again.

Philippians 4:6-7 ” Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Crossing a bridge can be scary but never forget that it can take you to a whole new place where new growth and lessons learned can occur.

 

 

Confident They Come Back

I have been dealing with a somewhat snarky teen lately. I get that we were cut from the same cloth and share so many of the same personality traits that we can get on each other’s nerves. I know I am not alone. There are scores of parents with multiple teens and tweens dealing with the “I-know-it-all-and-mom-is-stupid” mentality of the adolescent mind.

It’s crazy how much we still love those kids, and what great lengths we go to make life easier for them. In my case, often I just choose not speak unless spoken to. You see if I ask a question that he had already answered two weeks ago then I am the fool for not having remembered which day he is going to Homecoming, or which classes he has on Wednesdays, right? Wrong! Still, until he has to juggle the responsibilities of career, bill paying, and the myriad of other grown-up stuff, he will just not understand that my main concern is not remembering every little facet of his life. I will often need to ask the same question again and again. Oh well.

When I grew tired of yelling at him and got bored with always trying to prove that my way is the only way, my relationship with him got tolerable. But better yet, the other day I found an old Women’s Daily Devotional and began flipping through it to see what my life was like 11 years ago. Oh, the entry I read was a sweet as it gets. The past gave me hope for the future.

6/10/2007 “After church this morning I came home and felt like doing nothing at all. Theo (not his real name) and I took pillows and a light blanket and stretched out on the swinging lounge chair in the backyard. For just over two hours we talked, dozed, talked a bit more and listened to the birds. We enjoyed the soft breeze and I felt renewed. I felt honored to have this alone time with my eight year old”

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Wow. 19 is just a season in his life. I must be content to know that we were close once and will be close again. I gave him all of me and all that I am. It is enough. It is sufficient. He still loves me and all of my annoying questions and I still love him and his impatient personality. I was just like that at 19 when my parents wanted quality time with me. I was too busy with people my own age and my own agenda. I grew and he will too.

Go and love your irascible kid.

 

The Conference

Oh my! I just came off of an author conference that was a lot about books, a lot about leadership and a lot about our creator. At times I felt as if I was attending a revival. I work in a leadership group as a side gig, and their three-day conferences are very similar in many ways. Did God do that? Did He align me with just the right groups and just the right people to fulfill my destiny and fuel my passions? I answer with a resounding “Yes!”Understanding that leaders are servants was just what I needed to be reminded of to take my next step.

Panoramic of conference

So now what? Do I come off of the event all high on life and then simply go back to doing the laundry and the dishes in the sink? How will my life now move forward? Will I really build that great website that will draw thousands of hurting people to my site to purchase my books and coaching services?

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Learned so much from author Kary Oberbrunner!

All I can tell you, readers, is that I will look only to the step that I am stepping up to, and not fret about the whole, overwhelming staircase. I will see a long-term vision and break it down into baby steps that will continually allow me to press on. Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Enjoy climbing your staircase too!

 

 

 

Prodigal Son

Most of us know the story of the prodigal son from Luke Chapter 15:11-32. If you don’t, stop right here, get a Bible and read it. Or, you can cheat and listen to the amazing Michelle Tumes song Please Come Back To Me

Now, the son I will describe was not prodigal. Not wasteful or reckless. Not extravagant or imprudent. He was just absent. He had a girlfriend.

When your teenager has a serious relationship, it is exciting and new. it is even better when you like the girl he is dating. Eventually, as the relationship blossomed I saw less and less of said son. That was rough on me in so many ways. I am not what you call a hover parent or helicopter parent, but I wanted my son back. I wanted dinner conversation and breakfast banter. I wanted to sit on the couch and watch a family movie with the last remaining child I had at home. I was sick and tired of him running through the door after work, taking a quick shower, grabbing a snack, then heading back out only to come home long after I went to bed.

When his two-year relationship ended with this lovely girl, I was reminded of the story in Luke. He was back like the prodigal son. And like the father in the story, I wanted to kill the fatted calf and dress him in the finest robe and shoes. But I also silently ached for him. I was once young and know the sting of breaking up.

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If you are a parent faced with a similar situation, the best advice is to be there to listen only. Don’t ask a bunch of questions or find out who was at fault. Don’t say insensitive things like “There are plenty of other girls.” Take yourself out of the equation unless called upon for any advice. This is a time when silence is golden.

For the moment I have my breakfast banter, and fun conversations about school, world events, future goals and anything that he wants to bring up first. It is a joy and pleasure to hear him share with his father and me. I know he will date again. I know he will get serious again, but for now, I bask in the last bit of being the parent of a teenager.

Enjoy your children. it goes by in the blink of an eye.

 

 

For Parents of Young Kids.

I have some wonderful friends that are younger than I and they have amazing, cute, little balls of energy that they are in the thick of raising.  Although my children are grown, I remember vividly the trials and tribulations of little ones. One time my husband had gone to all of the trouble to redecorate our basement so that my job as a homeschool mom would be easier. My darling man created four desks (one was for me) with matching shelves to store all of the books, glue sticks, papers, computer programs, crayons, Science kits, and miscellaneous craft materials.

One evening he was yelling at the two younger kids for making a glitter glue mess on the new desks. I did not understand why they were getting yelled at for using the desks for their intended purpose. I understand that he went to a lot of expense and time to create such a lovely place to study, but children are messy. I often felt like taking care of small children was like weeding a garden after a rain. The weeds keep coming and coming as fast as you can pull them. With young children, the messes, the laundry, the meal preparation, the countless bedtime stories keep coming and coming and coming until you wonder if anything you do matters.

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Today I want to emphatically remind parents of young, messy, loud and active children that the glitter glue desk means they were learning how to be creative. The muddy shoes in the foyer mean that they got to play outside and were not sitting in front of the electronic babysitter (TV-computer-iPad-etc…) The story you have to read for the nineteenth time means that they are learning repetition and that is comforting to them. The laundry you have to do means that they have a clean environment to grow and learn.

 

Stick it out. Take a deep breath. They will only be young for a short period of time. If you do it right, they will grow up to be these amazing adults who are so much fun to be around. They will be your legacy. They will remind you that all of those sticky fingers, half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches, and poopy diapers were just part of the journey.

My Second Rant!

About a year ago I wrote My First Rant! about parents allowing their children to run around the playground with $600.00 phones instead of just playing, and parents that plug their kids into iPads at a restaurant instead of making eye contact with them and teaching social graces.

Well, yesterday I attended a celebration of life service for a distant relative. There was a lovely luncheon afterward, replete with pizza, pasta, fried chicken, chicken parmesan, rolls, and a salad bar to die for. My husband and I sat at a table where we knew no one. As we looked at the photos of the deceased placed on the table for us to remember her by, I saw a rather heavy set girl sit across from me. She must have been no more than 10 years old and I felt bad that she was already having such a struggle with being a healthy size.

When it was time to get in line for the buffet, I noticed that she had come back with nothing green whatsoever. She had a portion of pasta and 2 large pieces of fried chicken. I could hear myself saying, “Stacey, don’t judge. That chicken is really good!” and then “Stacey, stop looking at her. It’s her choice.” We later had an opportunity to go up for seconds, and I cannot turn down a salad if there are fun toppings to adorn it with. Indeed I feasted on nuts, seeds, mushrooms, raisins, cherry tomatoes, and shredded cheese atop of the lettuce and spinach.

Again the young lady sat across from me with her second plate of fried chicken and not a single thing to accompany it. Again, I reminded myself to make no conclusion, until I saw the mother come over and sit down too. She was so large, that I am sure she has a difficult time finding clothing to wear even in the plus size area of a typical department store. It was difficult for me at that point to feel anything but anger that this mother is teaching her child to eat in this way, instead of breaking the cycle of obesity.

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I am not trying to be self-righteous in any way. I too struggle with my weight each and every day. As an adult woman, my weight has fluctuated over 50 pounds up and down, down and up over the last 30 years. While raising my children, however, I always encouraged, forced and bribed my children to eat some vegetables until it became a habit to have a healthy variety. My favorite story is that of my son when he was about 4 years old.  He was crying because his Grandma forgot to buy the ” spare-gus” (asparagus).

We all have our demons that we fight. But when you are raising the next generation of humanity, please consider the multiple ramifications of the choices you make as well as the way you are guiding the people in your care. God bless you and go enjoy that fried chicken. But eat your salad fist!

 

Waiting it out

What a grand vacation my husband and I had last month. We had four days of primitive camping and sunny days that seemed to be made just for us. The day we left, it began to drizzle just as my husband returned from the take out of the river he had been kayaking on. He needed three or four minutes to properly strap the boat to the top of the van before heading into a three-hour drive on the freeway.

Suddenly the drizzle became a deluge. He hopped in the van and we had to wait it out before strapping the kayak down. Things got tense quickly as it was our last day of fun in the sun before returning to jobs and commitments at home. The van was a mess with wet swimsuits, 2 bicycles, a stove, a cooler, all of our clothes that reeked of the campfire,  our sleeping bags, and pillows.

When the rain stopped, my husband stepped out of the van and into a large puddle. He went to turn the kayak upside down and the water it had just taken in from the rain poured down him like a waterfall. Furious now, he mumbled a few expletives and off we went, now noticing every car in front of us that was driving too slow or doing something asinine like putting on the brakes to go up a hill.

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The beauty of the day came moments later when he calmed down and asked if I wanted to stop at the cemetery to pay respects to my Mother’s side of the family that was from that part of the state. I rarely get three hours from home so I readily took him up on the opportunity to stop and pray at the graves of my Grandparents, and one brother who was also buried there.

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The rain had stopped, just for us as we reflected on the fragility of life. Suddenly a puddle stepped in, a rain-soaked shirt or a few swear words meant nothing of consequence. The real marrow of life comes from all of the other moments that create lasting memories. Forgive the tension that arises when we have to wait out the storms of life. Know that the sun does come back and shines abundantly on those that choose to see it. #LettersToTheDeadMen

Getting Rid of Clutter

While sitting poolside with a friend one afternoon, we both lamented about how much stuff clutters our lives. It creates stress because we are always in the maintenance mode of all that we possess. Even the best neatnik most likely has a few magazines she still hopes to have time to read, or has some clothing she thinks she may still fit into.

I had a wake-up moment earlier in the year when I needed to have a clean space to finish writing my second book in a timely manner. No longer could I write two paragraphs and then be distracted by the pile on my desk. There were coupons I wanted to cut, articles I wanted to read, unopened mail, a jacket that needed a button sewn back on, some miscellaneous earrings that had no mate, a box for recycled paper and so on. My desk had become a catch-all for things yet to do.

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As I cleaned off the desk, it made the surrounding area look messy. So I attacked the futon next. I stored all of the extra blankets, put away the laundry and fluffed the pillows. But next to the futon was a plastic bin filled with who knows what! The point is that I went around and around that office space cleaning area by area. In the end, I just put a bunch of stuff back into the bin and onto my desk.

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When in doubt, throw out! When I realized that I was just shuffling stuff from one box to the next, or one zone to the other, I knew I had a problem. It was my burning desire to finish writing my book that became the catalyst for change. As I looked at expired coupons, old newspapers, earrings I would never find the match to, and more, I asked myself a simple question, “Is this getting me closer to finishing the book?” If not, I reluctantly put it in the garbage or the recycle bin.

As my room got cleaner and less cluttered, so did my mind. As the room looked more spacious, my creativity had space to grow. The best part of this story is that I finished my manuscript ahead of my schedule and am anxiously awaiting the last proof from the designer. What shall I do while I am waiting? Perhaps declutter the next room.