Friday, November 29, 2013

Birthday Resolutions

Today is my 36th birthday. As a mom, nothing makes me feel loved like a birthday. These sweet babies are so excited to shower me with love today.

Maybe because my birthday falls at the end of the year, I tend to think about years in terms of age. This is going to be a good year. I physically feel better than I have in years. I mentally feel healthier than I have in years. These two elements are so very important.

Last year was good but hard. I had fun and challenged myself but I also did some tough work. We took our kids to Disney and the ocean for the first time this year. I participated in the Listen To Your Mother show. I became more intentional about my priorities and the people who matter. It was good work this year.

I wanted to share two incredibly superficial goals for the upcoming year. Goals that will require hard work but not the soul wrenching kind of last year.

First, I want to be in the best physical shape of my life. I told you it was superficial! But there is a deeper element. I have young children. I have been blessed with this one body to cherish. It is all I get. And I want to honor the gift by doing my best to take care of my physical self. I want to be strong. Intentionally strong. My goal this year is not only to exercise and eat healthy but to focus on strength and endurance. I want to run and lift and play with my family and I am going to need to be fit to keep up.

Second, I want to be a published author. Listen To Your Mother opened a door to my passion. I love to write. Love it, but because I am chronically insecure I struggle to focus on being a writer. This year, I will focus on writing. And not just as a hobby but as work. How cool would it be if I wasn't just a writer but a published author? Wow! I might just explode with joy. Adding a career that is my passion to this already abundant life! Goodness me, it is a fairytale this life I am living.

My goals this year of course are to love my family well, to love God and be kind and generous. But I do desire a bit of the superficial too. Pursuing strength and passion. Ah, it is going to be a good year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks - Thanksgiving 2013

Last week I was a grumpy grump dreading the impending holidays. A November of travel and a jet lagged husband left me tired. However, a date night and decision to keep it simple this Christmas improved my mood. Not to mention a few nights of good sleep.

This year I have been counting gifts. First on this blog and then on this handy app. No doubt, I am fortunate. The story of my life reads like a fairytale. And yet, like many, I forget to recognize my abundance.

Why do we always want more even when our bodies and houses overflow with excess? We are a society of The Biggest Loser and Hoarders. My biggest issue this holiday season isn't how to feed my children or insure there is a present on Christmas morning. No, my struggle is in how to keep the holidays from being excessive. I actually have complained about all the work this privileged life brings.

Oh, silly girl. This life is a gift. Whether we are counting our blessings for the free turkey from the local food share, or we are able to buy our children whatever their hearts desire. And my biggest lesson? That even though my children can dream up a list of toys and goodies for Santa to deliver, their heart's desire is really to be together. They are just as happy bundled up and drinking hot chocolate as we walk around the neighborhood with friends looking at holiday lights. It is the time together and simple traditions they will remember.

I am giving thanks. Thanks for babies that adore me. Thanks for a warm home and a full belly. Thanks for a husband's love in spite of myself. Thanks for life. A glorious life of abundance.

Tomorrow as I eat turkey and drink wine and kiss warm babies snuggled in their beds, I will count my gifts: my breaths, my health, my loves, my fairytale.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Soul Friends Reunited

Twenty-seven years ago I hugged my best friend Andrea at the back of a third grade classroom on the last day of school. Her family was moving and she wouldn't return to our school in the fall.

I met Andrea two and a half years earlier in Mrs. Phillips' first grade class. Andrea walked up to me and asked if I wanted to be friends. And we were inseparable from that moment on.

Even after her move in third grade we stayed pen pals. We wrote letters and talked on the phone. I even spent a week at her house the summer after fifth grade.

I have two types of friends. The first are circumstantial friends. The kind you are friends with only because you work together, or have similar hobbies or because your husbands are friends. These are nice people and I enjoy their company. But through the years the friendship usually ends when circumstances change.

The second type of friends are soul friends. I have been very blessed at each stage in my life to have this type of friend. These are the people that you love like family. The people that you can be away from for years and pick up like you just talked yesterday. They are your people. They get you. These are the people you connect with on a deeper level.

This summer my mother-in-law left a voicemail that she worked with someone who knew me. I must confess that I cringed a little until she said her name. My dear friend from early elementary school. The friend I only really lost touch with when I went to college.

A few weeks ago I took a quick visit to my mother-in-law's house and saw Andrea for the first time in over twenty years. And she is most definitely a soul friend. It felt like no time had passed. She was the same ole Andrea. In spite of our separate paths and years without contact. Even though there has been loss and pain and growth, it felt comfortable.

I found my friend again. What a gift! Life is good y'all. As Andrea wrote in an email, "I really believe this is a God thing." Yes! His timing is always right.

Thank you sweet, soul friend for finding me again. Here is wishing you all the gift of a soul friend.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Intentional Christmas

Ah, isn't it interesting how when our heart changes our thoughts change too. This has been a year of heart change. If that sounds all warm and fluffy, believe me it was not. This was a year of soul work. Heart wrenching work. A year of healing and modification. Work I continue each day.

Thank heaven God sent Jesus to love the broken. We don't need to be perfect in order to have faith. Isn't that the best gift? These are the thoughts on my heart as the days grow shorter and the weather colder. How do I celebrate Christmas now that my heart is new?

If you follow this blog, you may remember last year when I talked about Santa and shared my thoughts on his importance in a child's Christmas experience. Well, a year can sure make a difference because I am rethinking Santa and gifts and decorations. Not because I believe any of those things are inherently bad. No, I like Santa and gifts and decorations. But, I don't like when Christmas becomes only about the surface things. When the reason for the celebration becomes about stress to satisfy the demands of meeting the expectations of "doing" Christmas right.

Maybe it is because the first holiday items were in stores right after the back-to-school season or maybe it is anticipated exhaustion from all the work of buying and wrapping and sending and worrying about whether it will all be enough. I just want to check out of the roller coaster this year.

My question is not how to avoid Christmas but instead how to create a celebration about the reason behind it. If you are a Christian that reason should be the gift of Christ to our world. A gift to teach us how we are to love each other. A gift of forgiveness offered and salvation given regardless of the wretchedness of our past.

And if you are not a believer, I still think the holiday season should be about family and generosity and loving each other. What is the point if it is only about new stuff and high calorie food? Why even bother?

I prayerfully ask what is it I should do to lead my family in a celebration about loving Jesus and each other. How do I set the example? What traditions are important? Will it be Santa and parties and new toys? Or will it be slowing down and taking the time to quietly worship? A time to reflect on our family and our dedication to each other? A time to give of ourselves? A time to share in our good fortune?

My goal for this season starting next week with Thanksgiving and moving through December into the new year, my goal is to keep it slow and simple. I want to decide what is important and what is not. And you know what? What is important for me may not be important for you.

My list of important things are food with family, a tree for my children, sharing the story of Christ's birth, giving to the compromised, snuggle time with my three greatest loves and a few presents on Christmas morning for Jack and Grace. Everything else doesn't really matter to me.

I want an intentional Christmas. One where I choose how my time and energy will be spent to honor God, love my family and serve the community. It isn't about a picture with Santa or the perfect gift for an in-law. I am going to try and fight the urge to look pulled together. Instead I want my focus not to be on impressing others but on enjoying the moments.

Will you join me? Can we let go of party favors and perfectly wrapped gifts and instead slow down and spend time with the ones we love? Can we let go of the stress and focus on the true gifts of the season?

I am praying for an intentional Christmas. How about you?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Halloween

Wow guys, October kicked my tail! Time is flying. In spite of being crazy busy and overwhelmed, we managed to celebrate Halloween and have a blast.

Christian and I got all Gatsby for an adult only Halloween party. Plus we snuck a date in there since the kids were away for the night.

On Halloween; Jack, Grace and I attended his school party. Then we headed home for pizza and trick-or-treating with Goofy Grandpa.

Have I told you lately how much I love these sweet babies? Even when they are hyped up on sugar, I love seeing the magic in their eyes.