Tag Archives: refocus

Warning: This Post Will Make You Itch!

When you are young, everyday begins as an adventure. There is excitement raveled up with unknowns and interlaced with dependency on grown-ups. There are ecstatic highs and devastating lows almost every day in a young ones heart. 

After the past two weeks, I think the same can be said for an adult too!

Our family is soaking up as much summer as we can, but have thrown in a Move, an Emergency Surgery and a most unexpected Lice Epidemic in a few short days that quickly turned to long and challenging “opportunities”.

On our Blog, we love to share all the fun, warm fuzzy layers that we do, but it dawned on me after the past week that it is important to share how we do the unexpected, uncomfortable layers also.

The Move and the Surgery were manageable for our family; the realization that 5 out of 6 in our household had lice however, tried to take us down. We had never dealt with itchy heads before so the moment of crisis was a fork in the road for us. We could model hysteria to our children, or we could choose a calmer path. (Believe me when I say that I had inward panic happening, but with prayer and support was able to walk the prettier trail). 

We chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation presented to us.

We educated ourselves on what was happening and then took a stand as a family to eradicate it.

We looked at it as an opportunity to grow stronger in family teamwork as we poured hours into vacuuming, cleaning, laundry and so much laundry.

After we quarantined the majority of the house, we banded together and called several evenings a “huge family campout” as we piled all the boys in our room with borrowed bedding. 

We all know there are two sides to every story,  but as adults, we are constantly given chances to figure out the better option. Lots of little eyes watch how we deduct and choose. We couldn’t do it on our own attempts every time;  God’s mercy shows up for us when we ask Him. Thankfully He got us through the last week!! 

There were honestly Highs and Lows running the gamut, but the perspective on our situation stayed focused. We hopefully taught our kids how to weather some set-backs without being swept under. And the silver lining was new Hairbrushes for All!!!

All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.  Isaiah 54:13

Landing zones & Launch pads

In the fast shuffle of summer activities and quick transitions from one camp to the next, our landing zones tend to attract odd bits and pieces of our lives, gaining depth and dimension at warp speed.  messy desk

Graduation announcements from last month mingle with lingering Christmas cards, awaiting that elusive moment of “getting around to it” for mailing a congrats card or transferring a friend’s address from the cute family photocard into our phone contact list. Our good intentions taunt us from these leaning stacks of paper and unprocessed mail each time we pass by on our way out the door.

That workbench out in the garage for “projects?” Yep, it gets piled high with everything from replacement toilet seats and seed packets of spring flowers that didn’t get planted to athletic shoes that have to be returned because feet have grown too big for them. One season of detritus gloms on to the next and soon you have a mishmash of holiday decor and unrelated sports gear teasing you as you park your car each evening.garage workbench

These landing zones of our lives naively begin as “planned” triage centers (assess urgency, prioritize level of importance and divert onward) but sneakily become perpetual messes that overwhelm us, nudging us toward stagnation rather than action.

As moms, we often become the landing zone for our family members, too. We gather stories from our kids about their latest interactions with friends, reactions to something Coach said at practice, or quirky things that happened at youth group. We get inundated by requests for new shoes, spending money for lunch with friends, or last-minute items needed for a camp that starts tomorrow.cubbies

Requests, logistics, multiple schedules, deadlines, menu planning, and household responsibilities land on us repetitively throughout the day. Demands of family life pile up on us, little by little, until we feel bogged down.

Inertia starts to feel familiar and perhaps even a little cozy. It might be easy to succumb to frustration and exhaustion because we constantly feel like the target zone for problem-solving and distribution central.

Another way to view the chaotic landing zone in our home is to see that it also serves as a launch pad. From this dumping ground of nitty-gritty details of busy family life also springs the data resources to point our crew in the right direction. The schedules, sports agendas, camp registrations, invitations, announcements, and endless stream of college brochures are landmarks for our kids’ journey through childhood. WE are their navigators. 

As we absorb the impact of our children bouncing off of us as they hurl themselves into a variety of childhood experiences, we can empower them to launch from us in a healthy way. If we are able to provide some rallying encouragement and emotional steadiness while they are refueling in our safety zone, they will gain confidence in their own trajectory.cloud art

Sometimes it isn’t easy being the staging ground for these multi-faceted, difficult-but-necessary tasks to be completed before an impending countdown. Although you feel the pressure tangibly building for launch and feel a little clumsy with all the delicate maneuvers, the outcome can be intensely rewarding for each successful takeoff.

So, hold steady, my friend. Reinforce those buffering systems. Let that striving child take flight in his own way. Breathe. Pray. Repeat. While awaiting his sweet return, clear your landing zone and prepare yourself for the next liftoff phase. Provide that foundation of a strong legacy of faith. Solidify his base now so as he launches farther and more independently, he is clear and focused on his ultimate flight plan. Remain steadfast in this training period so you’re both ready to launch well.

Legacy page of Bible Quilt
Legacy page in my #BibleQuit

 



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Welcome to May. Have an Apple!

 

Hey There! Alarm beeping, feet on the floor, start the coffee maker and wake up the kids. Pack the lunches, get the snacks bagged, make breakfast and check on the kids again. Let the dogs out, drink the coffee and head out the door to schools.  Sort the mental  lists that are inside the mind, prioritize the day and breathe. (Also insert, step over the laundry, kick the toys out of your path and shove the dirty dishes a little closer to the dishwasher. Smile, laugh and drink more coffee…the alternative is to cry and go sit in a dark room which is not an option).

Is any one else feeling like the month of May is on steroids? It happened last year too. Just as my heart starts to dream about the sweetness and rest of summer, my mind gets snapped back to an over scheduled routine that is trying to take me down! My coffee intake has sky-rocketed and my sleep has diminished. Sticky notes, lists, calendars and spreadsheets sprout up overnight everywhere!! Keeping up with all of the end-of-the-year school activities is not for the weak. This time around the track I decided to run the race with a focused game plan though…

May is a beautiful whirl wind of bursting flowers, colors, hopes and summer at our fingertips. May is also wrapped in amped-up routines and overly exhausted people.  It is where the end is in sight but has not been reached yet. And the last leg is the most treacherous. How do we handle it? Some days beautifully, some days tragically. But Praise God for Grace and Mercy and Fruit! I decided to fill my plate with more fruit this season and see what might happen. It is a healthy choice for many many reasons. Grab an apple and walk with me a moment…think of the Fruits of the Spirit. 

I released all of my control and asked Jesus to take it. That’s so easy to say but so hard to do. That sounds big, and it is. Not because of any pat on the back to me for praying it, but because of how incredibly hard it is to not take it back each new day. It is humbling and hard. There are topics like Trust and Pride that come up in your heart. It would probably be easier to continue to build my pack of stress and trudge on. But this time around I wanted to stop the frenzy.

This is what I prayed: “Thank You, Jesus, for THIS DAY. then I repeated it, and said those words slowly, soaking in each one. Then I prayed it all over again, and this is what happened…

I realized that there are many days behind me, and I am to move forward and not look back. And with God’s mercy, there are many days ahead of me, and I rejoice!! There is no mistaking that some days will be GREAT and some will be HORRIBLE, but I know that God will be GOOD and LOVING in all of them. He will walk beside me and give me strength for each one. I wrote out the Fruits of the Spirit and put it in plan sight so that I would continue to feast on them. As I did, my nourishment became fulfilling; whenever I cracked from stressors, my mind was renewed quicker and I was able to digest better.

And so I prayed that prayer again to thank Him for THIS DAY.  I woke up, took a breath, felt my heart beating and realized I have a full plate!! At a meal, we only have one dinner plate that we fill and eat from. When that one meal is over, we wait for the next meal to then repeat the process, we don’t carry the plate with us. I don’t want to miss the feast of each new day that the Lord sets before me. I know that the day will be messy, but filling up on the Fruits of the Spirit sustains me through the routines. I hope you will fill your plate too!

…”taste and see what the Lord has done.”

Spring Cleaning for the Soul: 4 Simple Tips

It’s that time of year when the fresh, green growth outside our windows beckons us to come out and play.  As I’m running yet another errand, I catch myself rubbernecking as I pass busy garden centers bursting with colorful potential.

Spring gets us all stirred up in ways that other seasons don’t.
delphiniums
Spring jostles us awake in some quiet inner places that we didn’t even realize were dormant.

PhloxWith the renewed energy that the change of seasons brings, we often find ourselves fervently clearing our closets, deep-cleaning our kitchens or tackling those mysterious piles in our garages in an attempt to dive into warm-weather activities with a clean slate.

spring flowers

In this fervor of spring cleaning and new growth, I find myself wondering how some intentional spring cleaning for my soul would help clear my perspective, too.


a time to keep and a time to throw away” Ecclesiastes 3:6


Just as we discard worn-out clothes or reluctantly admit that those jeans really don’t fit well anymore, we can also benefit from casting aside our disappointments, any unmet expectations from last season, and the lingering irritation of minor grudges that don’t fit well on us today.
dogwood

Spring Cleaning for the Soul: 4 Simple Tips

1. Be open-handed. I realize that I have to be available for opportunities the Lord places before me each day, but I’m unable to do this if I’m carrying too many weighty burdens in my tightly clenched fists. I need to hold my daily intentions and plans loosely so that I have an open hand free to help someone God places in my path today.

2. Face forward. When my mind is rehashing what happened yesterday or my spirit feels bruised from an interaction that didn’t go so well, this keeps me from embracing the joy of what God has in store for me today. I need to lean in and face forward to see the beauty He’s about to reveal to me today.

spring rose3. Pack lightly. My husband and I joke that the hardest part of a trip is getting out the door because we’re so focused on packing all the things “just in case.”

If we allow ourselves to load up on worry and fret about what might happen with so-and-so or let our minds race about all the “what if” scenarios that could go wrong, we get bogged down. On days that I truly cast my cares into the Lord’s hands, my perspective is clearer and my spirit lighter. It’s easier to “stop and smell the roses” if our pack is light.

jonquil4. Pray for a stranger. We walk past people each day that may need a kind word or gesture. We may not know their names, but God does. A simple, brief prayer to bless someone’s day is manageable despite the “busy” in our day…and may blossom in unexpected ways for you, too.

We donate our used clothing and household goods to strangers when we’re spring cleaning our houses. Why not donate a prayer as well?

With a few minor adjustments to our daily maintenance routine, we can be proactive in cleaning up our perspectives and dusting off our attitudes.

Underneath that grimy layer of stress & worry we  may discover a bright shine in our spirits that will add a vibrant reflection to all those around us.  (That will certainly put a spring in our step!)

neighborhood pond

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Diverted

Recently I was on a flight that tried to land in heavy Dallas fog twice, the second attempt within 100 yards of the ground, then abruptly aborting due to minimal visibility.  An exuberant redheaded flight attendant provided what limited information she had available and a calm pilot reassured us the aircraft was sound,  but the weather conditions were untenable for landing.  A collective sigh of disappointment arose as the announcement came we were being diverted to another airport.

cheerful flight attendantThe full plane of early-morning passengers transformed from a sleepy bunch of travelers into nervous camaraderie as conversations erupted throughout the plane, speculations about deboarding and re-routing sprinkled throughout spirited dialogue. Perhaps the happiest person was a woman two rows back that cheerfully announced this unplanned stop was her home destination and she was getting off as soon as the doorway was clear.😊 Amidst the grumbles of frustration about the delay and forced change of flight times causing a ripple effect of inconvenience, there were also spontaneous plans to grab some Texas BBQ if everyone had to deplane.

cloudy skiesIt’s in these tricky situations that one can see the range of human emotions and observe a wide range of attitude on display. Mothers patiently tended to children, providing distraction and encouragement. Level-headed flight attendants offered additional support to some elderly passengers.

luggageProblem-solvers sprang into action, procuring snacks for sustenance and making calls to rebook flights. 

Some people bailed immediately, asserting they would not get back on the same aircraft. Others made complaints aloud and responded grumpily after each delay update, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

A 15-minute delay bloomed into a 2 1/2 hour wait. People plugged into their devices, shifting from brief anxiety to resigned waiting.

Although there was a wide variety of individual responses, it seemed like we had developed some group solidarity in our waiting. More eye contact was made and conversations were deeper within the boarding area than usual because we had a shared experience of landing someplace unexpected. None of us planned to be in this particular spot, but we were pulled together by this disruption in our schedules.

An airport therapy dog was a welcome distraction and introduced a new common focal point for some positive interactions.airport therapy dog

Then relief pushed through the boarding area as our flight was called to board. For real this time. Reboarding was surprisingly upbeat as if we were reuniting with friends rather than the strangers we all had been just a few hours ago. Our numbers had diminished yet our remaining subgroup seemed undaunted in the collective hope that our flight would make it this time.

It didn’t.

After 45 minutes, we disembarked from the same plane again and started another round of problem-solving…and more people-watching in the process.

flight towerLife often unfolds this way, nudging us off our familiar paths and throwing us into a tailspin, doesn’t it?

We all encounter delays at one time or another. We each get diverted from our original plans. All of us receive unwanted news that changes our course. It may be relocating for a job, dealing with a medical crisis, or experiencing  the loss of a loved one.

How we face these challenges is a reflection of our personality and character. And, oh, how one person’s demeanor can impact the rest! We saw both positive and negative extremes of this during our 8-hour flight delay. 

The perspective we choose to cling to can make a huge difference when we are re-routed unexpectedly in life. Waiting for clarity requires tenacity.  Seeking guidance from those in our trusted watch tower requires humility. Sitting amidst uncertainty requires patience and perseverance.

(And don’t even get me started on lost luggage! )

However your life may be diverted, how will you choose to wait?

 

Proverbs 16:9

 

 

 

Blending

Crater Lake picToday was one of those mornings that I found myself hunting for cold-weather running layers for my son’s first winter cross country practice, rounding up loose change for a fundraiser this evening, and helping my youngest print out last-minute pictures of Crater Lake for a poster project. During the typical breakfast hustle, I found myself searching for this random mix of items reminiscent of a junior high scavenger hunt, trying to beat the clock before the bus came.
Next, in a clean-up pass through the house, I dropped a water bottle which rolled under my son’s bed. On my knees peering warily underneath his bed, I discovered some books, a camping chair, several balled-up socks, pages of sheet music, lego bits, a broken pencil, a soccer ball, multiple candy wrappers from a Halloween stash, a sleeping bag, a couple charger cords, and two dimes amidst all the dust jackrabbits (mysterious fluff too big to be labeled mere dust bunnies). Between a sigh of exasperation and a sudden gouge in my knee from a sharp Lego, I tried to remind myself that this was just the hodgepodge of boyhood.
Our lives are a blend of things, experiences and people, intersecting all the time in a tangle of unique ways. Sometimes we get a glimpse of how these daily artifacts blend together by facing what’s under the bed, clearing out a closet, or sorting through what’s landed in our garage.
Blending traditions can be tricky. As young married couples put up their first Christmas trees, they may find themselves negotiating all-white lights  vs. colored lights, opening presents Christmas Eve vs. Christmas morning, turkey vs. ham, etc. None of this is in the wedding vows, folks. Tread lightly and listen wisely.

mixing coffee cake batterAs I start my holiday baking season, I add ingredients into my mixer and watch it all blend together into golden batter. I pour it into pans and sprinkle it with a sugared pecan mix, remembering how my mother-in-law’s hands did this for so many years. Her handwritten recipe is the one I follow now, a tradition I treasure. My husband’s memories of Christmas coffee cake now blend into my children’s taste of Christmas morning.

Holidays are a time of blending…families from her side and his; families from in-town and out-of-state; recipes from generations past and new ones beckoning from Pinterest; traditions old and spontaneously new. Each year the blending may have a different flavor depending on who is gathered around your table or who may no longer be in  pictures with you Christmas morning. A natural blending over time allows things to settle in gradually, highlighting what experiences are important to the family storyline and are carving deeply into tradition.

coffee cake overflowingSome holiday activities we’ve  incorporated over time in an intentional way, such as an evening family advent activity.

Other traditions have erupted from spontaneous fun, like marshmallow tag that leaves us all giggling and breathless, overflowing with a sense of family connectedness.

Blending all of our usual family activities in with those of the holiday can be a challenge. I have to remind myself of a few things to navigate this season well:

Proceed at a moderate pace. (maintain own pace, not others’)

Enjoy the distinct parts of the season.

Cherish the beautiful outcomes; laugh at the jumbled messes that also come along naturally.

Treasure the history that has gotten us to this point.

Allow dreams of the future to unfold under the golden lights of the Christmas tree.

Savor slowness.

Loosen grudges; tighten hugs.

Encourage others in their way of celebrating; leave competition on the sports field.

Reach out.  (Repeat often.)

Hum with the Christmas music; sparkle with the lights.

Take a brisk walk to re-energize and re-focus.

Surprise someone with an act of kindness.

Make more eye contact in the hustle.

Let the to-do list marinate overnight.

And, always, always save room for coffee cake.

coffee cake