Merciful Mornings
January 11, 2016

Monday

There are a million jokes and memes out there declaring the misery that comes with Monday. The weekend has ended, work/school is starting back, and everyone is already wishing Friday was much closer than it actually is. Gird up your loins, pull up your bootstraps, and drink all the coffee – MONDAY IS HERE.

Today has been no different for me and my crew. If anything, I have been fighting the Monday-ness of it all even more than usual. And I’m TIRED. Things keep changing, difficult situations seem to pop up every time I turn around, and I have no idea how everything will work out when it’s all said and done.

So now I will sit here. I will take a breath, I will say a prayer for all the things, and I will intentionally remember the blessings surrounding me. Life is changing, but that doesn’t mean the changes will be bad. Most of the changes are crazy exciting, and I am thrilled at how God has worked in my life over the past several months. Even when the future seems uncertain, He always knows exactly what I need next. In fact, I can look back and see ways that He was working before I even knew what was coming. He has prepared me for new relationships, and many of the people in my life now can see how God was preparing them for me as they look back on the time leading up to it. We tend to get scared and anxious when we can’t see what is coming next – especially those of us who like to plan and prepare for everything. Any other Type-A planners out there? I feel your anxiety in the unknown, friends. It can overwhelm us if we let it. But then I remember that it isn’t my job to control everything. My job is to be open to opportunities that God might throw my way and trust that He will work everything for my good. Not my happiness, necessarily. But He will give me exactly what I need. And there is great comfort in that.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Photo credit: 4/365 monday by Robert Couse-Baker (CC BY 2.0)

September 16, 2015

esther-4-14When life hits hard, it’s always interesting to see what changes and develops. Maybe “interesting” isn’t the best word. Scary? Unexpected? Exciting? I guess it’s different for everyone. However you look at it, difficult life situations bring changes – whether you like them or not. And we truly do have the option to like them or not. I’m not one to believe that your circumstances determine your attitude or demeanor for each day. The devil might have a hand in the events that occur in my life, but he does NOT have control of how I react to them. Remember that whole carrot, egg, or coffee story? That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

And sometimes the changes don’t end up being so bad. Maybe the events leading up to the changes are awful, but have you ever been in a situation where the end results almost made it all worth it? People change, life stages shift, and relationships must monitor and adjust. But as you mourn those changes and wish things could stay the same, can you also be open to the new opportunities that present themselves? Maybe you have had to move recently. There can be such grief that comes with that if you are leaving precious friends and/or family behind. But are you leaving yourself open to the potential for new relationships? What if your new best friend is just waiting for you to arrive?

God has this amazing way of turning what we see as horrible situations into blessings and opportunities. And maybe it’s not even a blessing for you – perhaps you were placed exactly where you are because someone else needs you. What if God is positioning you perfectly to bless another soul in need? This “it’s not all about me” mindset makes all the difference in the world… when I can get my thick head back into the right place. It’s hard to step outside of ourselves, especially when there is hurt or grief involved. Can you make that mental switch? If you look around outside of yourself, who do you see? How could God use you today to bless those around you – even if you don’t feel that you are in a place to serve in that way right now? God has promised to give each of us what we need for each day. If your day has been covered, how can you be used to provide that peace for someone else?

Love God. Love people. Blessings, friends.

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 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)

July 30, 2015

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It would be insanely easy to wallow right now. It’s been a rough week. No, that’s an understatement. It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, don’t-make-me-get-out-of-bed week. I guess life happens like that sometimes, but I am not a fan. So now what? Stay in bed all day and ignore the world? Oh, wait. There are two little monkeys who depend on me every day. Ok, Plan B – Suck it up. Get it done. I might not go so far as to don the apron right now, but I did manage to make my bed and get a shower this morning. We’re calling that a win for today, friends. The kids are crafting, we’re all in real clothes (except for the princess – she’s got her fancy dress and crown on today), and everyone has been fed and watered. In an effort to keep this positive trend going. we’re going to take a moment to speak life into our day. The best way I know to do that is by listing things I am grateful for. Praising God right dab smack in the middle of the storm. I’ll get it started, and I would love to hear your list in the comments. Let’s praise Him together today!

1. Family & friends who surround me and my kids with love, encouraging comments, cards, meals, and constant prayer.

2. Coffee. Always coffee.

3. My precious, crazy, funny, exhausting, fantabulous monkeys who give me a reason to get out of bed each morning.

4. Essential oils that boost my spirit & emotional well-being and support my tired immune system.

5. Music. My kids are currently obsessed with The Carpenters, and I love that. We also love the automated playlists of Christian music from iTunes and Spotify.

6. Food. All manner of food. I just really love food.

7. Quiet days at home. They will be few and far between when school starts in a couple of weeks, so I am soaking them up while we have them.

8. Being a child of God and all that this blessing means. The grace, the mercy, the hope, the love.

Ok, your turn! I could use the extra boost – what are you thankful for today?

Photo: Praise you in the storm by jubileelewis (CC BY 2.0)

July 19, 2015

Candle quote

What I LOVE about this quote:

1) The reminder to shine the light of Christ to anyone I see (or talk to, or message with, or blog to, or breathe air with… you get the idea). More lit candles = More light. I love light. Yucky stuff hangs out in dark corners so I’ll choose a bright spot over darkness any day.

2) The idea that sharing any light I might have doesn’t mean I lose that light. If I’m on fire about something, it’s easy to spread that fire and energy to others; it’s contagious! Don’t you love being around someone who is over-the-moon excited about something? It’s so much fun!

3) The knowledge that just because things feel dark and desperate doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Ok, this one is HARD for me sometimes. I hate feeling alone, but I also don’t want to ask for help. It’s not a pride thing anymore. God made sure I got over that one a long time ago. It’s more of a “I’m sure they’re already busy with their own life/stress/business/family/craziness” thing, and I don’t want to add to their overflowing plate. I’m thinking of others, right? This is me being considerate! But here’s the flaw there: No matter how busy/stressed/crazy MY life might be, I always want to know if those around me could use some help. Actually, I get frustrated when I find out that someone near me has been struggling but not telling me about it because they didn’t want to “bother” me with their problems. What?! Not acceptable. And as I come to this realization about myself, I have to consider that it might be true for others around me. When you have a heart focused on loving others, there is JOY in having the opportunity to serve.

We’re supposed to take care of each other, friends. Get out there this week and SHINE.

Find yourself in Service

Photos: Illuminating by brett jordan (CC BY 2.0)

Mahatma Gandhi The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others by BK (CC BY-SA 2.0)

*Shared at Fellowship Fridays