Merciful Mornings
August 30, 2015

Noah's Ark

Control is a tricky thing. Some people love to have it, while others want nothing more than to give it away. I’m one of those freaks who feels the need to be in control of all the things all the time. How can I do it right if I’m not in control? Better yet, how can you do it right if I’m not in control?? LET ME FIX IT.

So here’s a list of things I have discovered over the years that I have no control over:

1) Other People

2) Bone tumors

3) My children (similar to #1, but much more frustrating)

4) The weather

5) Anything. Seriously, it’s all an illusion.

We can make ourselves think that we’ve got it all under control, but let’s get real for a minute, friends. It’s ok – you’re safe here. Take a moment to admit to yourself that even when you think you’ve got it all together and things are going exactly as you planned them, it could all blow up in your face at any moment. And there’s not a blessed thing you can do about it. Not One. Blessed. Thing.

I see your tears. This is a sad realization for many of us. And here’s the even sadder part: Even after you have come to this truth in your own heart, you still need a reminder from time to time. For some of us, it’s more like from DAY to DAY. I’m not the only one, right?? Solidarity, sisters.

When you look at the story of Noah, that man had a crazy task and responsibility put in front of him. Everyone thought he was totally nuts, and the instructions he was given by God were insanely specific. Do you remember how he handled it?? Here’s a basic summary:

“And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.” Genesis 7:5

That’s it. Obedience. No micromanaging, back-talking, rearranging, or second-guessing. Just faith, trust, and obedience.

So today, I challenge you to let it go. That’s right. Sing yourself a little ditty from Frozen and BE FREE. Take a moment to pray over all the things, and have faith that it is resting in the hands of the One Who Made IT ALL. Because there’s no one else who can handle it better than Him.

August 25, 2015

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I was blessed by others today. It wasn’t the most amazing day, but it wasn’t a bad day. It was a Tuesday. A Tuesday that was intermittently sprinkled with people who took time to be the hands and feet of Jesus in my world. I think that’s worth sharing with the interwebs, don’t you?

The day started with Monkey #1 realizing she forgot her lunch as soon as we got to school. Oh, I packed the lunch. I even reminded her to grab the lunch as we were leaving. Such is life. So here were the options:

– Let her suffer the natural consequences and make her go without food all day (while also expecting her to be able to focus at school and have energy)

– Allow her to buy crackers and chips off the snack cart to fuel her day

– Give her the lunch I packed for myself since I teach at the same school and will also be there all blessed day.

Yeah, I’m a sucker. Girlfriend totally got my lunch. It’s much better for Mom to live off of crackers and chips, right? My brain relies more on caffeine than nutrition these days, anyway. So as I’m getting ready to munch on some “peanut butter” crackers and a chocolate covered granola bar that I scored off the school snack cart for lunch, in walks our secretary’s husband with each of their lunches. I’m not talking about Lean Cuisine, friends. This was two containers filled with homemade Italian chicken, tomatoes, onions, and broccoli – one for the secretary and one for her husband. (Because they are precious and eat lunch together when they can. Doesn’t that just make you smile?? LOVE.)

As he walks in, my lunch options are immediately questioned, and I explain why I am being sustained by the snack cart. Bless the man, he warmed his lunch in the microwave and then gave it to me. Because LOVE. He insisted he could get food for himself once he got to work, but that was his wife’s home cooked meal, friends. And I am here to tell you that it was delicious.

For those who might be thinking that I’m a bit overexcited about some chicken and broccoli, I hope you see that it’s not just about the food. There was service, sacrifice, and a loving heart that went with that meal, and I feel blessed to have been on the receiving end. I firmly believe that God sends us hugs through His people, and I felt that one today.

Gift #2 came in the form of fresh, hot coffee from the local coffeehouse right as I was finishing off the cup I had brought from home. I don’t know who brought the vat of coffee into the school office today, but I’m thankful. Coffee is a hug from the inside. Every. Time.

My 4-year-old has a cough. We had to miss karate class today. I have a to-do list that could make the most productive person want to crawl into bed for a week. There is all manner of LIFE that must be dealt with right now.

But I’m ok. I’ve been hugged – inside and out – and I am sustained. Because LOVE.

Photo: Love by Bryan Brenneman (CC BY 2.0)

August 19, 2015

As I wrap up my day and peruse The Facebooks this evening, I am blown away by the number of people who are bemoaning their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Seriously, did your FB wall look like that today?? Everybody and their dog is asking for prayers and hugs and chocolates and coffee (totally understandable under normal circumstances, FYI) and Sonic drinks and comfort foods. Get that girl a donut!!

I admit: My day was not quite so rough. It was exhausting, but it was productive. My house is a wreck, but school work got done and everyone was fed when it was all said and done. We call that success in this house. SUCCESS. I’ll take it in any little form I can get it.

So for those who are thinking it’s time to move to Australia (please tell me you’re getting the Alexander references here), I have this little token for you. I keep this image on my phone at all times. It is referenced often. By me. Because LIFE.

Rough Days(I don’t know the source of this photo, so please feel free to share if you know it’s creator.)

You’re still here. Keep going. Blessings, friends.

August 16, 2015

Bronchitis is the devil.

No, really. I’ve been sick with this mess for entirely too long. Add the illness to minimal sleep, throw in the first week of school, and shuffle in all the stresses of LIFE. Mix it all up really well, and you end up with this sad little neglected blog.

I’ve missed you, friends. How are you? Hopefully you have managed to avoid the “summer cold” that seems to be going around. Drink your liquids, use your essential oils, and get lots of sleep because I promise you do NOT want any of this mess. I did manage to get more sleep this weekend, so I’m praying it’s all uphill from here.

As I attempt to rejoin the land of the living, I just want to jump back into things with this little picture I came across the other day. It sums me up pretty well, and I was glad to see that someone else made something pretty out of these words.

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While I look at these words and think, “YES. Amen!” I also discover a twinge of guilt and regret. One of the hardest things for me when I’m sick or exhausted is that I feel guilty for not being on my A-game. If I’m too worn out – if I have allowed my body to get so tired that I’m barely holding it together – I can’t be this woman that I desire to be.

Holley Gerth had an amazing post the other day about staying strong and avoiding burnout. Confession: This is not my strongest area. I’m loading my plate, doing all the things, and finding myself totally fried at the end of the day. And where do I end up? With weeks of bronchitis. Not exactly the best position to be actively loving the people that God puts in my path, is it? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m not just dying to be loved on by someone who’s hacking up a lung all the time. So what’s the solution?

REST.

Rest in Him. Rest with His word. Rest in knowing that I am one person who must take time to recover and unwind. Jesus took time to go sit alone and pray. To recharge. Who am I to be stronger than the Son of God? It sounds completely ridiculous when you put it that way.

So as I take time to allow my body to rest and heal, I want to encourage you to do the same. You might not be struggling to breathe or hacking up a lung, but I bet there are others ways that your body and spirit are yelling at you. Stop and listen. Take time to rest. Just breathe for a minute. Blessings, friends.

August 9, 2015

Hello, blog friends! I hope it has been a wonderful weekend for everyone, and I would love to hear about it from each and everyone of you! Go ahead and leave a note of your exciting exploits in the comments so I can catch up with you over my cup of coffee. 🙂

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I’ve missed having the opportunity to share the past few days with you, but I hope to remedy that very soon. I have been attending the Young Living’s “Light the Fire” Grand Convention in Dallas, TX, over the past four days, and it has been amazing! The level of exhaustion that I am experiencing is beyond ridiculous, and I would love nothing more than to sleep for the next two straight weeks. Convention often left me looking like this:

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However, school starts this week (what?!), and there are two little monkeys who need to detox after being spoiled by their grandparents for an extended weekend. So we press on.

There will probably be multiple updates and exciting posts from my information-packed trip, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, I’ll just leave you with these little gems tonight with the hope that they can start a spark in you:

“The richest people in the world build networks. Everyone else in the world looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

“Success takes time and a massive amount of failure to get there.” – Kyle Maynard

“Leaders who can’t be questioned end up doing questionable things.” – Jon Acuff

“Bravery is a choice, not a feeling.” – Jon Acuff

There is so much more, but this tired brain must rest. Check back soon for LOTS of Young Living love and lessons! Blessings, friends.

August 5, 2015

coffee

I have read this story before, but I came across it again today and couldn’t pass the opportunity to share it will all of my blog friends. If you’re new here, you might not know about my coffee obsession. If you know me well, then this should come as no surprise to you. This is just another reason why coffee is so wonderfully awesome. Don’t just drink the coffee. BE THE COFFEE.

So here’s how the story goes…

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose. 

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The granddaughter then asked, “What does it mean, Grandmother?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, flavor, to them?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?

~Author Unknown

Photo by trophygeek (CC BY 2.0)

August 3, 2015

Post-it time!

Every day of this week has a purpose. After a summer of chaos, it feels a little weird to be making this transition. While I love the freedom of waking up with the “what will we do today?” mindset, I have also discovered that I thrive on a busy schedule and regular routine. I haven’t quite determined which lifestyle I prefer yet. I love the spontaneity that can accompany an open schedule–the world is my playground! Want to stay home in pjs all day? DO IT. Drive 2 hours to visit family and go to the zoo for the day? YOU BETCHA. Things are fun when life is footloose and fancy free!

But now there are things to be done, people to see, and places to go. My natural reaction to this would normally be to stress and freak out, but I’m discovering a peace within the busy schedule. If I just sit and stare at the craziness of it all, it becomes overwhelming. How will I get it all done?! I’m only one person! So without further delay, here are my tips and tools for making the summer break to school year transition:

1. Prioritize. I cannot emphasize this one enough. There are a million things to get done right now, but you cannot possibly do them all at once. Which items absolutely, positively must get done before your head hits the pillow tonight? Focus on that first. If you get those done, move on to the next item that needs to be completed. I know some of you are multi-taskers, but even the most talented workers have limitations.

2. Get a system. I wanted to just tell you to get a planner and some post-it notes, but not everyone functions that way. I actually have several different methods of getting my mess together, and each day looks a little different. I have the printable pages for the Passion Planner, and it has been perfect for me! (You can also get their pre-made planners if that floats your boat.) Post-it notes are a daily must-have for me, and I would recommend them to anyone. I am notorious for making to-do lists before going to bed and then attaching that post-it to my steering wheel as I run errands the next day. My lists tend to become long, so I love these lined post-its. I also occasionally use a dry erase board that hangs in my living room so the list is always in sight. Pick a method that works for you!

3. Treat yourself! Did you check something off your list? Congratulations!! Take a 5 minute break. Finish the whole list before bedtime? You’re a rock star!!! Go grab yourself a Sonic drink or some Starbucks. Read a chapter of a book you’ve been dying to pick up. Watch a quick show you’ve been missing because of your crazy schedule. Get the idea? Whatever your reward system is, allow yourself a moment to be proud of your accomplishments that day.

4. Make room for grace. There is a chance you won’t get it all done today – and THAT’S OK. This is an important concept that many people don’t quite have down, so I want to be sure we’re clear on this. No one is expected to do all the things all the time. We allow grace for others, and we know that Christ gives us grace when we mess up… so why is it that we can’t give ourselves a little grace when we disappoint… ourselves?? Do what you can. Work hard. Give it your best each day. And then take a moment to allow for some wiggle room if it doesn’t all happen the way you planned it. Is there still one more item left on that blasted post-it note? Move it to tomorrow’s post-it. Not a big deal.

I would love to know how others manage this transition and keep the to-do lists from taking over! If you could leave a comment here to share your methods and ideas, I would be ever so grateful. Blessings, friends.

Photo: Post-it time! by Ignacio Palomo Duarte (CC BY 2.0)

August 1, 2015

Budget

Some of you out there are number nerds. You know who you are. Those who secretly (or maybe not so secretly) get enjoyment from working on a zeroed-out budget each month. You crunch the numbers until they work just right, and then you know exactly where each dollar is going. I envy you people.

I admit there is some satisfaction in giving each dollar a name before the month has even started. Are there others out there doing this, or am I all alone over here?? I didn’t used to function this way. Ahhhh, the good ol’ days of credit cards and overdrawn accounts. Wasn’t that fun? The answer is NO. It was not fun, and I will never go back to that way of living. Thanks to my good friend Dave and several months of figuring out how the budget plans can work for my personal situation, I have finally perfected my method of maintaining a monthly budget. AND IT FEELS GOOD. But this post isn’t meant to be all about budgets and crunching numbers…

As I was working on my money mess tonight, I started spiraling. Some of you who live paycheck to paycheck know what I’m talking about. Those of you who aren’t on a consistent monthly income definitely know what I’m talking about. You can work on this month and try your darnedest to make it all fit. Shelter, food, gas, clothing (if there’s room for that this time), utilities… it all has to squeeze in there somewhere. And as you start adding and subtracting and erasing and changing and adjusting and screaming and wailing (get it together, man!), you start wondering if there will be enough next month. Will the income be the same? Will the bills be higher? How will that all work out???

STOP.

I’m just gonna leave this here:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

Photo: Budget by GotCredit (CC BY 2.0)