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 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 28, 2015

You're Already Amazing book

I was given this book by a friend several years ago, and I wanted to share it with all of my lovely blog friends today (you’re still out there reading this, right?). It was so relevant to me at the time, and I am finding that I need to read it again. I don’t know what the deal is, but women are SO hard on themselves! What is that?! There is this constant self-doubt and thoughts of, “Am I enough?” that run through our heads. And even those who seem to have it all together will struggle with these feelings from time to time – they just might not let their crazy neurotic selves show as much as the rest of us do… Yeah, you know who you are.

Here’s a little blurb about the author from the Amazon website:

“Holley Gerth wishes she could have coffee with you.” (Side note–ANYTIME, Holley!!) “She’s the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of You’re Already Amazing as well as several other books. She’s also a licensed counselor, certified life coach and speaker who provides encouragement as well as practical insights for the thousands of people she connects with each year. Holley cofounded (in)courage.me, an online destination for women that received almost one million page views in its first six months. And her personal site, holleygerth.com, serves over 25,000 subscribers. Outside the word world, Holley is the wife of Mark and together they’re parents to Lovelle–a daughter they adopted when she was 21 years old because God is full of surprises.”

I think Holley and I could be great friends. (Call me, Holley!)

So there’s this book. It’s pretty much awesome, and I highly recommend it to every girl and woman ever in the world. It is based on scripture, and the basic idea is that you don’t have to work so hard to be amazing – you are already amazing because of the God created you and His purpose for you. I read it. I contemplate it. I logically know it to be true. Now I’m taking steps to convince my heart. Will you join me on this quest for realizing our amazingness?? I know it will be worthwhile. Blessings on your journey.

NOTE: I do not get anything from sharing this book with you. Holley Gerth has no idea who I am, and Amazon does not give a flip if I promote a product on their page. This is just me sharing the love. Because you know how I love to love.

July 26, 2015

Thumbs Up

I’ve discovered something odd about myself lately. Normally, I’m a very open and honest individual. I feel like I can share my life with other people, and I love it when others share their lives with me. I think God designed us to be this way, and it makes me sad when people close off and don’t share their lives with others. I just want to break through the hard shell and say, “It’s ok! You’re safe here! You are loved and free to be yourself!” I wish everyone could feel that way with the people around them who say they care. Which leads me to my current dilemma and realization…

Here’s the standard conversation between two people as they pass each other:
“Hey, how are you?”
“I’m good, thanks. How are you?”
“Good, thanks!”

THE END.

This is especially normal in a church setting as people pass by each other. But here’s the thing – we’re not all good all the time. It’s just not true! So why are all of these good, upstanding Christians lying to each other? (Side note: I’m not calling you all liars. I know you are “good” sometimes. Stay with me here.) I am not one to give out or accept the standard response easily. If you ask how I am, I’m probably going to be honest. (Hey, you asked! Don’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer.) And if you answer me with “good” or “fine,” there’s a good chance I’ll give you THE LOOK. You know, that look that says, “Really? Is that the truth?? SPILL IT.” It’s not because I’m nosy. I honestly care!

So now there’s all this LIFE happening. The kind that isn’t always filled with sunshine and rainbows. I want to be open with people who ask and care, but I’m feeling like a total Debbie Downer lately. It’s not that I’m sad all the time. My recent circumstances just aren’t all that fun to discuss, and it is what it is. Anyone else having a lot of LIFE lately??

So now I’m torn. There’s the old standard, “I’m good.” Or there’s the option of avoiding people altogether. Is this what happens? Is this why people resort to the standard response, regardless of what is actually happening in life? Is this why some people stop coming to church? Because that is NOT OK. But I’ve gotta tell ya, friend – I’m becoming the extrovert who wants to hide from the world.

This is not a pity party. This is a moment and place to say, I finally get it. Giving the standard answer isn’t always a lazy or cop-out response. It doesn’t mean people are being insincere. Sometimes it’s a defense mechanism. A protective barrier. Some people who say they’re good are really just that – life is good! And for others, it’s a strategic way of avoiding a meltdown or unpleasant conversation for the umpteenth time that week. And sometimes that’s ok.

Please love someone today. Actively show love. You don’t know how “good” everyone is, and the smallest act could make the whole day look brighter. Blessings, friends.

Photo: thumbs up by Sarah Reid (CC BY 2.0)

July 23, 2015

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Oh, social media. The blessing and the curse of this generation. There are SO many ways to “connect” with people now, and yet you can read article after blog post after tweet after Facebook post about how people don’t actually know how to connect anymore. Thankfully, this is not one of those posts. You’re welcome. This one is about a comment that I have seen popping up here and there on Facebook and Twitter (I’m sure it can be found other places–I’m not quite cool enough to have all of the social media platforms going.) So here’s the question I’ve seen that prompted today’s thoughts:

“What am I supposed to do when everyone’s (social media) posts make me struggle so much?”

For serious. This is a thing. And because it is a real thing, I feel compelled to address it with a few truths and suggestions. For what it’s worth, here we go.

Truth #1 – Other people’s comments/thoughts/opinions might not always align with yours. God did not make us to be carbon copies of each other who all think alike. You do not have to agree with everyone on every subject under the sun. You do, however, need to respond in love. On second thought, you don’t always have to respond at all. Just sayin’.

Truth #2 – Important conversations cannot be productive over social media platforms. Ever. Never ever ever.

Truth #3 – You will not always be in the same life situation as others. Is everyone and their dog going on vacation this year while you are stuck at home all summer? Are all of your friends celebrating anniversaries every blessed week while you struggle through a jacked up marriage/separation/divorce? Did 35 of your friends just have a baby while you’ve been struggling with infertility for the past 3 years? Is your father’s best friend’s daughter’s roommate training for a marathon while you go through chemo treatments? Life is hard sometimes. And unfair. And just plain poopy. And social media platforms are the perfect place to realize that.

So now that we have established these truths, here’s my suggestion to those who are struggling with too many feels as they peruse others’ posts.

GET OFF THE FACEBOOKS.

“What?! But if I quit all of the facebookery, I will miss ALL THE THINGS!! What a ludicrous suggestion!”

No. Stop it. If you are struggling with unpleasant emotions and thoughts as your browse the life events and ramblings of your 947 Facebook friends, you need to get the mess off of your phone and computer. Take a break, friend. Anger, jealousy, sadness, greed… ain’t nobody got time for that. Who wakes up in the morning, opens up their social media mess, and thinks, “I wonder what I can find today that will put me in a really awful mood!” Because that’s ridiculous. So why would you continue spending time each day reading stuff that puts you in a really awful mood?? Ridiculous.

I do think it’s important to note that you can be in a rough life situation or have differing opinions and still survive this social media thing. Attitude and perspective make all the difference, and it does take some work to be in the right mindset. I also refer you back to Truth #2 for those of strong opinions. If you really feel the need to make your voice heard about a certain topic, please actually USE YOUR VOICE. Pick up the phone or go get some coffee with a friend. Typing up a response to argue with someone just because they are wrong/crazy and you are absolutely right is the least productive way to handle it. We are tired of your trolling. Get it together. To wrap it all up, I’ll just leave this here:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8

Photo by Niklas Hellerstedt (CC BY 2.0)

July 22, 2015

Junk food

Sometimes I eat my feelings. They taste good. I know I can’t be the only stress eater out there, right? Right?! Please say yes so I don’t feel alone in my gluttony. When the going gets rough, my pantry gets stocked with junk… and then raided. Why is that?? I can guarantee it’s not because the extra carbs and sugar have magical healing powers. Actually, I’m pretty sure my overall inflammation and pain from previous injuries/surgeries get worse when I eat this garbage. But it tastes so gooooood.

Is it worth it? And why is it difficult to break the cycle? Is it just a matter of self-control and I’m just a total slacker? We must FIX THIS. One of the silver linings of having that bone tumor (yes, you try to find them wherever you can) was losing lots of weight. I felt like trash and hurt a lot, but I looked great! Minor trade-off. So now that I’ve done the physical therapy and gotten my general health under control (because essential oils are awesome – stay tuned for more about that later!!), the pounds are starting to creep back up as I eat all the things. Those areas that I was so thrilled to watch shrink are slowly becoming more… jiggly. It’s not that I have anything against jigglyness, mind you. (Jigglyness is now a word. Roll with it.) I’d just prefer it not be a word used to describe parts of my body. Can I get an Amen??

So here’s my cry for help – share your words of wisdom! As long as those words don’t involve anything like exercise. Or effort. Or running – NEVER running. Pretty sure I’m allergic to running. Is there hope? Do you eat your feelings, too? Please share your food/health journey or pearls of wisdom with me. Maybe the group effort of it all will inspire me to GET A GRIP.

Photo: Junk food, grocery store, Houston, TX, USA by Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0)