The Sky Is Falling…or is it?

The world seems to be living by standards set by Chicken Little…The Sky is Falling!

It feels like we’re all on edge…no matter what your belief system, your political affiliation, your socioeconomic influence, we all seem to be living like that animated chicken who sadly mistook an acorn falling on his head for the ENTIRE sky falling.

It’s all about the extreme headlines, the ratings, who can get there (where ever ‘there’ is) first. We’re all in a panic! It’s not about whether or not you’ll reach your goal, it’s about reaching your goal FIRST!

And when things don’t go our way we immediately run to the extreme of anticipating the sky to fall. We’re absolutely sure of it! And if we can just scream louder than the next guy, then we’re convinced WE can hold up the sky one more day.

I’ve got news for you…the sky is NOT falling…at least not today. And you CAN’T hold it up ON YOUR OWN.

I’m not suggesting we don’t try to change the world. I’m a writer…it’s why I write. But I am suggesting that we don’t forget to breathe. We calm down. We don’t forget ALL of our manners. Whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice…?”

I swear there are days that I think we’ve lost our collective mind!

And I am no better than the next guy – I find myself sucked into the mania at times too. And it depresses the hell out of me. And I can’t live like that. Can you? It’s exhausting!

We’ve gotten mean-spirited. Or maybe it’s just the headlines focus on the ugly parts of our world. My soul begs for “feel good” stories most days.

So to prove the sky is NOT falling, please share a brief inspirational story below. Tell me something good, something uniting, something kind. I really need to hear it.

Let It Go…Again

Let It Go.

It’s not just an overplayed Disney song (my apologies if you’re singing it now), it should be a way of life.

I am guilty of obsessing over trying to fix things that I may not be able to fix. I spent my morning doing just that.

Ever since my husband’s employment status changed last year, our income took a hit. We were living comfortably until then. Not richly, but comfortably. Taking a vacation was not out of the equation. Paying for the unexpected car repair wasn’t a choice between eating steak or ground round. Fortunately he found work within two months, but at a significant pay cut. And we feel it.

I can easily fall into the trap of juggling numbers and stressing over bills, and trying to pay for the dentist bill, the cable bill, and our children’s college all at once. By the way, my oldest won’t start college for 4 more years, but that won’t stop me from pretending that Rush Week starts on Monday.

I could get two more jobs, reinvent myself, put the kids to work (not really), or I could keep on trucking. I mean, we aren’t poor by any measure. We get by just fine, it’s just that the budget is tight and we have to account for every penny. Mostly that’s because of my own fear. I’m the penny pincher. My husband is much more relaxed about our provisions than I am. But I think that’s the difference in our personalities.

That’s where Elsa’s song comes to mind. But before Elsa knew to sing about letting your fears go, Jesus knew it. In fact, he instructs us to do it. He wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens at His feet. So why does it take me so long to figure it out? Why do I let it go only to pick it right back up again?

I think it happens most often when I’m not walking beside Him. When I’m not seeking Him daily. When I don’t hear His voice in my ear, then I tend to fill it in with my own voice. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that my voice can NEVER replace God’s. But isn’t that exactly what I’m doing while I’m obsessing and stressing? I just need to trust, to listen, to let go and let God.

I need to work on that. What things in your life do you keep picking up that you really should let go?

I Should Be at Church

It’s a Sunday morning, and I should have gotten everyone up on time (and against their protests) and gone to church. But I didn’t. I chose sleep for the second week in a row, in a long string of sporadic attendance, over worship.

When we lived in California, we never missed a Sunday unless someone was sick. We went to a church of about 350 members. I ran a women’s group on Mondays, my husband helped with Youth Sunday school (both High School and Elementary) and at one point was an Elder. My kids were involved in AWANA and I published the church’s newsletter, not to mention the countless times we volunteered for church events. I don’t tell you all of this to brag, I tell you all of this to show the difference between then and now. To show you I’m not just complaining, that I know things should be better, and that I know they CAN be better.

Fast forward 4 years, and we’re living on the opposite coast, and we should be well established with a new church family. But we’re not, and I know I’m not alone. At least, I don’t think I am.

We’ve been to something like five churches trying to find our fit, our new church family. The churches have varied in size from nearly nonexistent to mega-church all in attempt to find the fit…not God, but the fit. God has been in every one of the churches we’ve been to. But the difference is the people, and not God.

I mean no disrespect to the Church. I love the Church. I believe in the Church. I’m just a little frustrated. The churches we’ve encountered are just different than what we are used to, or it could be a symptom of the times. They are much more corporate, especially the mega churches, which my area seems to have a lot of. I don’t think they mean to be, and I know it’s probably a symptom of trying to serve so many different people. But classes and groups meet generally in 6 week spurts or from September to May, so you never really get a chance to share in one another’s lives. I WANT MORE. I WANT the dirty, nitty-gritty that our lives hold. I WANT to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Christian brother or sister and go through their trials and celebrate their victories. And an hour on Sunday or a few hours during a class won’t get me the intimacy of those friendships that I miss.

The one thread I’ve found running through ALL of the churches, no matter what size, is the feeling of ISOLATION. It doesn’t matter how long we attend a church, we just never seem to connect. And we’ve tried. At the large churches, we never see the same people twice. From the time we walk in the doors and are greeted with a “hello” and a smile to the time we leave with a “goodbye, have a nice day,” sometimes those are the only words that will be spoken to us. Fortunately, my kids have managed to make friends in Sunday school, but those friendships seem to end as we leave the church doors. They seem to be reserved for “while in church only.” No one seems to linger after church is over. Most people race for the parking lot to get on with their Sunday.

As Christians we’re called to be part of the “Body of Christ” but that body has to RELY on one another and LEAN on one another to function. And it seems like a bunch of body parts not communicating, but rather working separately from one another.

I know there are other people within the church walls feeling the same as me. I know it’s up to us to get involved and reach out. But the times that I’ve tried, I’m either too late because a class has already started, or a group is already established. Not to mention that, for me, not being able to drive makes it really hard (if not impossible) to get there sometimes. And the church is just too big to make a friend that would be willing to give a girl a ride now and then.

So if you’re in a large church this Sunday or next, do me a favor and turn around and greet the person seated behind you. It may make the difference in them ever coming back again. And if you’re brave enough, go one step further and invite them to an upcoming church function, AND OFFER TO MEET THEM THERE so they won’t feel so alone. I promise you that you’re effort won’t be wasted. They may think you’re weird, but it’s a chance you should take. You may even make a friend for life.

Have you had similar experiences with church? How did you get past it?

Keeping My Head Above Water

Some days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water.

Being “Mom” and “Wife” is a varied job description for women. No one woman does the same job as her counterpart, yet we share a sisterhood that, on many days, all we need to do is look one another in the eye and nod. That nod says it all. I understand. I’m right there with you.

Some days I get too far ahead of myself. When things seem to be not going as planned, I’m the first one to want to jump in and fix them. But unfortunately, sometimes there are no quick fixes, no immediate solutions, and that drives me crazy!

The hamster wheel just doesn’t go fast enough for me and it still only goes round and round in circles. No end, no fix, just a whole lot of wasted energy.

Whether it’s the mounting price of groceries, or the stress of doing taxes, or keeping the kids in clothes or  worrying over their grades, I just can’t do it.

And then I remember what’s missing: God.

I’ve been trying to do it on my own: trying to solve problems that haven’t even happened yet, and may not ever happen, all on my own. The people around me feel my stress. I’m one of those who can’t hide my feelings…my face shows my every emotion. It’s a curse, really.

There’s a definition of “Anxiety” that I really like: trying to figure it all out at once.

That about sums it up.

The nights when I can’t sleep because I’m running numbers in my head, and no matter how I rearrange them, they just don’t add up. The nights when I wake myself up because my jaw hurts from clenching it so tightly that I might break a tooth.

All those nights could be better spent in rest and sleep if only I would let things go, and let God work it out. I know it may sound silly, but it really does help. God wants us to bring our worries to him, not so that He can fix them (though he certainly can), but so that we will rely on Him and not ourselves.

He’s already got it figured out. He really doesn’t need our help. In fact, for a lot of us, He just needs us to get out of our own way.

So I’m going to remember to breathe when things get hectic. If only I could remember to do that BEFORE the craziness starts.

Here’s to a better night’s sleep.

New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve read a lot…and I mean A LOT… of depressing blogs about how awful 2016 was. The theme seems to overwhelm the blogging world.

And I get it: we had a political climate that divided us (and still continues to); we’ve had what seems to be a significant number of celebrity deaths, especially in the last few months; there have been tragedies, unfair accusations, and a whole lot of judging going on.

But I guess that’s what happens when you put your hope in these things. #falsehope

I got sucked in too, on occasion, but it didn’t leave me feeling an overall sense of dread about the year 2016. Trust me, my family and I had our own share of difficulties in 2016.

But enough is enough!

My resolution for 2017 is to stop listening to the whining and the noise that is so distracting…even consuming.

My resolution is to put my hope in something that makes sense…my faith in Jesus.

I know, I don’t get “preachy” on here too often, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m sorry if it offends some of my followers, and I hope you don’t hold it against me.

My faith is the only thing that makes sense to me, that is never changing, that delivers over and over whether I deserve the blessings or not. #grace

My faith is not a magic trick that will make things appear out of nothing. My faith is a relationship, a genuine hope that everything is going to be okay, even if things don’t work out the way I want them to.

It’s the end of 2016 and I’m still not a published author, I’m not the perfect wife or mother, my house is still not clean, my kids still disobey me, I’m not debt free, I still have epilepsy, and world peace is still not achieved. But all that is okay, because I’m right where Jesus wants me to be.

Here’s wishing you a Happy and Safe New Year! I’ll see you in 2017!

Sliding towards Christmas

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I know, I know…we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving means that Christmas is only a MONTH away! #dontjudge

It was only a few months ago, when my husband was laid off, that we weren’t even sure how we were going to provide Christmas presents for the kids. So shopping was the LAST thing on my list. But God provided, and my husband’s back at work, and I’m WAY behind. #Godwillprovide

My family has already started harassing me about what is on my Christmas List. My List isn’t “Christmasee” enough for them (whatever that means). You can read about last year’s List here. It’s not my fault. I never grew up making Christmas Lists…you got what you got. Somehow, Mom and Dad and Santa just knew what we wanted. Maybe because they were engaged with us, or maybe because you got what you got and you were grateful for it. If it had a bow on it, and it wasn’t clothes, you scored! #Barbiedreamhouse

I blame my husband for this whole “List” thing. It’s HIS family tradition. On Thanksgiving, every year, everyone is required to submit a Christmas List so people know what to get you. Where’s the fun in that?! Surprise…I got exactly what was on my list! No thank you. I get it…it’s practical, especially for people buying for me, because apparently I’m hard to buy for. But not for reasons you’d think. It’s not that I don’t LIKE or I am ungrateful for the gifts, it’s that I’m physically hard to buy for. You can’t buy me clothes (I’m 5’10” and 130lbs – I have to try things on), I don’t really wear jewelry (I work at home, and rarely go out – no need), quite frankly, I don’t really want for anything, at least not in the “gifty” sense.

For instance, this is my List so far:

  1. A staple gun – I don’t have one and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed one.
  2. A handheld sander – for the same reason as number 1.
  3. A cheese slicer – you know the kind that is a wire on a handle attached to a wooden base. Then the kids could make their OWN sandwiches without me worrying about them losing a finger with a knife.
  4. Wire cutters – I’m sort of crafty, and end up having to use my scissors and I cringe every time I do.
  5. My book published – okay, I know they can’t do that one, but maybe Santa has some pull.
  6. Sewing Box – mine is old and the latch and the handle are broken. I’d love one of those fancy wicker ones with the quilted top – but I’m not picky. One that stays closed would be fine.
  7. Slippers – who doesn’t need slippers?

As you can see, it’s a work in progress. I’ve been told it needs to be much longer. #whatever

Now the Kids’ Lists are fairly full. But they have listed things like iPad, phone, new 3DS and games, and that’s just the 10 year old’s list. Surprisingly, the 14 year old’s list is rather fiscally conservative, except for the digital drawing tablet, but even that’s not too bad, if you shop around.

My husband, or as I like to call him…the Instigator, hasn’t even started his list!

So what’s on your Christmas List (aside from Peace of Earth)? Does your family think your gifts are weird? Are you easy to buy for?

Best wishes to you and yours. Think I’ll make sure my husband reads this. LOL

A Wonderful Life

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When I was a child, “a wonderful life” was something out of a 1970s sitcom. I think back to shows like Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley. Shows where conflict could be resolved within a half hour, and rarely was tragic, and almost always was filled with comedy.

As I grew into adolescents, the description changed slightly, and started to veer off course from the original script. And then I was diagnosed with epilepsy, at eighteen years old, just as my adult life was beginning to take shape. Wonderful life? You’ve got to be kidding!

Days filled with doctor appointments, blood tests, brain scans, and medications didn’t fit in the script I was beginning to write for my life. What sitcom modeled a life like that? None that I could find.

But life seldom turns out to be the one we would choose, and mine was no different. During the early days of my diagnosis I fought against the path. I thought if I prayed hard enough, or could just find the right medicine, that sitcom-life would fall back into place. But it didn’t.

Over twenty years have passed, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons, as any middle-aged woman has. I’m eternally thankful that life isn’t a sitcom, it doesn’t resolve itself in 30 minutes, and you don’t always get to write the script. But the saying is true: Life is what you make of it.

Now, at 40-something years old, I am living a wonder-full life. Married, 2 kids, house in the suburbs..yeah, it’s sort of like the sitcom I always dreamed. But it’s the “wonderful” part that is so different from my childhood dream.

I never could have imagined the life God had planned for me and my family. I marvel at the blessings that each morning brings. I am in awe of the plans that have been laid before us. Even the detours have been wonder-full. It’s a script that I could have never written on my own. Left to my own resources it would have been a predictable, well-organized life that would have bored any on-looker to tears.

Who would have thought that out of the chaos, disappointments, triumphs, tragedies, monotony, and simplicity, this wonder-full life could have been created?

And so as I reflect back on my childhood, back on the sitcoms that helped shape my expectations, I can only hope that what will shape my children’s lives, and my future grandchildren’s lives, will be what epic movies are made of.

And that whatever they make of their lives, that they will learn to call it wonderful, or wonder-full, whatever the case may be.