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)

October 12, 2015

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Y’ALL. What in the world is going on with everyone?? It has been way too long since I have been able to connect with you all, and I just can’t take it any more. I miss you, friends. Should I be working on lesson plans right now? You betcha. Are there piles of laundry to be dealt with? Absolutely. The list of “do all the things immediately” is eternal, but I just need a moment to say hi.

Hi. 🙂

This has been a crazy year of LIFE for me and my monkeys, and I find myself still reeling to catch up and find some sense of normalcy for us all. God has sent the most amazing people into our little world, and for that, I am eternally grateful. It never ceases to amaze me when He reaches down to follow through with the promises that we often find ourselves doubting. He is so good.

In a moment of total honesty, I need you to know that this whole LIFE thing can be totally overwhelming right now. While I am dying to connect here and share my moments of crazy with the world, there have not been enough hours in the day to include all of the things that I love. I find myself wearing a million hats and carrying way too many labels these days, and I wonder when it will all calm down to a manageable level. First of all, this Single Mom thing is for the birds. It’s not supposed to be like this, and I am not a fan. Secondly, no one person should be doing the Single Mom thing while also attempting to juggle the Three Jobs thing. Can it be done? Sure. And when that is what has to be done, you suck it up and do it. Right?! Right. So I will continue to wear the hats and raise the kids and do ALL THE THINGS. And I will smile while I do it because God is good, life is carrying on, true friends are an amazing blessing, and I just really want people to see Jesus shining right out of my face.

Every day is different. Some days are much more manageable – they might even seem “normal” or easy. Others leave me wishing I could start the day over or add about 10 more hours so that the eternal list could actually have a dent in it before my head hits the pillow again. I am not sad, angry, or intensely grieving right now – I did that (to the highest degree), and I have graciously been walked through it to the other side. I am in a good place right now, and my current prayer is that I can find a good way to manage all the things that must fit into each day. And when the things don’t all quite fit, I hope I can grant myself the grace needed to move them to the next day or discover that they didn’t need to be there in the first place.

You might be glad to know that I do take a moment to come up for air every once in a while. Here is a recent moment I had with family at a craft fair… with my bucket of sweet tea. 🙂

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So what about you, blog friends? Are you in a season of peace right now, or do you find yourself treading water each day?? If, by some chance, I am not the only one out there attempting to keep my head above water, I would love to hear from the rest of you who can relate. Say hello, vent about your own personal craziness, or share a bit of scripture that encourages you through the rougher times. I know that this is a season that will pass, and I am encouraged by the glimpses of normalcy and peace that are starting to appear here and there.

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5

Photo credit: I miss you! by Cali4beach (CC BY 2.0)

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 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)

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)