Monthly Archives: July 2012

Slowly Learning

Another summer has flown by without me. Each year is the same, you’d think I would catch on eventually. Maybe next summer. Each year as school lets out the lazy days of summer lie before us like a blank slate waiting to be filled with adventure. We make plans. We dream. We change our pace. It’s a time filled with potential and excitement.

June is packed with sports camps, mission trips, and summer fun. July 4th seems so far off. But inevitably it will sneak up on me. I rarely get decorations out for this holiday. It seems I wake up one day and realize it’s less than a week away. It’s too much work to get everything out for a week. Especially when we are gone; there is usually some kind of visit to family in Iowa around the 4th.

And then suddenly, without warning, I look at the calendar and realize we are on the downhill side of summer and picking up speed.

That’s what happened a couple of days ago. I had a weekend to myself, all the guys were gone. I had to work on Saturday and made a quick stop at Target on my way home. I don’t even remember what I went in for, but I ended up by the school supplies. And that’s when it hit me! Summer is over and we’re behind on the back-to-school prep. There is so much to do this year. We’re blazing a new path – adding college preparations to our high school routine. That’s a whole new ballgame.

Oldest son leaves for college in less than three weeks. Whoa! I’m so not ready for that. As I stood there in Target I began pelting him with texts.

What colors do you want in your dorm room?

Are you going to use your quilt or a comforter?

There were so many questions running through my mind. Thankfully I didn’t text them all to him. I may have come off as a crazy Mom! So my solution? I bought a set of sheets. Like that makes it all ok. Just one set of sheets and he’s ready for college. We can finish our summer in peace. I thought about buying more than one set. And then I remembered…I have a son. If they get washed more than once a semester I will feel like I have succeeded as a parent.

So the move out preparations have begun. {And I know the weepiness is right around the corner. I’m super excited for him. But I’m gonna miss seeing his happy face.} And the other two boys couldn’t be happier. This transition means they will no longer be sharing a bedroom. I think that might prove to be a happy thing for all of us. The silver lining in the cloud.

Maybe next year I will see it coming and not be caught by surprise…but I doubt it:)!

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Filed under Family, Parenting, School

Keeping the Faith

I got an email last week that called me out on something.

I was conflicted.

I think that’s what happens when you hear something you don’t really want to hear. Something you know is true, but don’t want to say out loud. Not everyone can confront you about those things. It has to come from the right person.

This one came from my mom. And she was right. She’s really the perfect person to point it out to me. And I would expect nothing less of her.

My mom questioned why I don’t talk more about my faith on my blog. Wondering if it’s because I thought I would lose readers or something. I can honestly say, as much as I love seeing that people are reading what I write, I wouldn’t let the desire for a following keep me from writing from the heart. It’s just not me.

No, there’s a different reason I don’t write about my faith. A less controversial reason.

My faith has become background music in my life. It’s always there, and I wouldn’t want to be without it. But I don’t pay much attention to it. I don’t dig deeper and really listen to the notes. It is a part of me, but not a valued part. At least I don’t behave like I value it.

I haven’t been in a Bible study since I went back to work full-time. Sure, I’m busy – cut me some slack. I have a lot on my plate and it would be hard to make time to prepare for a Bible study, that’s not light reading you know. And giving up one night a week?! I don’t know that I have that much time to spare. Sarcasm aside, it is a big commitment that I haven’t made time for in a long while.

We go to church…most Sundays. But there are plenty of Sundays we can make a weak excuse stick. It didn’t used to be that way. For years, the boys and I were at church and Sunday School every Sunday, without fail. (Hubby had to work most Sundays back then, he takes Sundays off now.) We made church a priority, and yes, I judged those who didn’t. It was easy to do. My faith was important to me. And I felt a compelling maternal instinct to make sure my boys grew up in the church. They went to church, Sunday School, participated in worship, catechesis, VBS, you name it. I  went thru 3 or 4 Disciple Bible Study classes and a Christian Believer class too. Pretty much, if the church was open we were there. My faith was the deepest of any time in my life.

So what happened?

I’m not sure. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, I do know where it started.

I worked at my church. And then I quit working at my church. It is a hard transition to make. I felt hurt by things that happened and I needed to take a step back. It was the right thing for me. It was not some big conspiracy or horrible secret. I just felt hurt by the way some things happened and I needed to get perspective. It took a long time for that hurt to ease. I think you expect your church to be different. Maybe we expect Christ-like behavior from mere mortals. Its tough. Even as I write this 5 + years later, it feels like I’m picking at a nearly healed scab.

Taking a break, stepping back, whatever you want to call it was the right thing for me to do. It is what I needed. The problem is, how do you get back in? I’ve always been the type of person who gets into the pool slowly. No matter how hot I am, I sit on the side and dip my feet in the water first. Then slowly, ever so gradually, I lower myself in the water. My head may not get wet for 15 minutes. I’m not the type who can just jump in. That’s kind of how it’s gone with dipping my toes back into the church. Slowly easing myself a little at a time. {Ok, not sure the two youth mission trips were dipping my toe, but they definitely stretched me!} Maybe it’s time to ease my whole body in? Maybe it’s time to find a place to study God’s word? I’ve done pretty well with the service part, not so much with the rest.

I guess it’s time to find myself a Bible study, to dig into the Word again. Time to focus on my prayer life. And time to nurture my boys’ faith. It’s never too late to get it right! After all, I’m 40-something and my mom just called me out:).

Thanks for the email, Mom. For real.

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Filed under Advice, Faith, Parenting

Living Deliberately

Today I’m excited to have my first guest post on my blog! My good friend Rhonda Hale Warren is sharing some tips in response to Monday’s post. Rhonda and I met when we worked together a few years ago. Her energy and positive attitude immediately drew me to her.  She is one of the people in my life I feel better for knowing. She stretches, encourages and teaches me with a genuine heart. What more could you want in a friend?

And I credit her with me getting into this whole blog world! So how fitting that she would be my first guest blogger:).

 In response to Judy’s reflective and incredibly honest post from earlier this week, Vacation Whiplash, I must applaud her for her awareness of the empowerment that comes from choosing how we live our lives. YES, she can choose and have control over the things that she wants to achieve each day…she can choose to live deliberately. We DO have a choice. It’s all about being aware.

 But how can YOU get this process started and stick with it (that’s always the hard part, right?). Just saying, “I have the choice!!” seems so easy and although I believe in self-affirmations, simply saying it isn’t enough.

 Awareness is key, don’t get me wrong, so proclaiming, “I have the choice” daily will be beneficial (and I dare you to do it in front of your kids or coworkers), but I firmly believe in coupling awareness with action to lead to achievement.

To simplify: Awareness + Action = Achievement (and believe me, this is really simplified)

Now that Judy is aware of her choice, she must take action in living out that choice daily to achieve the goals she truly desires, like crafting more and deliberately making more time for friends. And the same goes for you. Let’s say that you are aware that your daily schedule is wearing on your overall wellness and keeping you from your goals. To start, you must clarify your specific goals around your wellness needs, come up with an action plan to get to those goals, and finally implement the action to achieve your goals.

And this is a process, but try not to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it will come easier than other times. But if you take away nothing else from this post, know that the surest way to get started on your path to achieving your truest goals is to check the status of your awareness. In the aforementioned example, if you are blaming your lack of wellness on, say, your job, when really its due to your lack of awareness of your entire daily schedule (kids, charities, overcommitment), you will never achieve your true wellness goals. If you don’t know what needs to change, you’ll never achieve what you truly want. Judy could go on thinking that because of her chaotic schedule, she can never really achieve her daily goals. But instead, she became aware of her choice and her need to live deliberately. She can now plan action steps around that awareness and get started on her path to achieving her goals.

So how about you? What needs to change right now in your life to help you achieve your true goals? Awareness, clarification around goals and action steps can be difficult, but I’m here to help! If you are in need of some help with awareness, making action plans or need more information, please visit my site, www.rhondahw.com

My hope is that you discover some awareness this week to get you started on your path to JOY.

Be well,
Rhonda Hale Warren

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Filed under Advice, Goals, Lifestyle

Vacation Whiplash

I was on vacation all last week. We didn’t take a trip other than a visit to my parents for a couple of days. Hubby worked most of the week and the boys stayed in Iowa visiting grandparents. So essentially, I had a vacation from my mom responsibilities and my full-time, paid work. It was lovely. I made my to-do list for the week, planned some fun things, and then let the week unfold.

It’s always bittersweet when a week off work comes to an end. I love my job and I know that once I get back in the office I will hit the ground running. There is so much to do right now and being gone a week only compounds it. But I also really enjoyed being “free” all week! I did what I felt like doing each day; cleaning a couple of days, sewing one day and was even free to take friends up on offers of lounging in the pool. How could I not be a little sad at that coming to an end?? Isn’t that what we all really want – the ability to be free to choose how we want to spend each day?

In reality, we have that. We just don’t always realize it. We really have a lot of control over our own destiny. Do you believe me? I think that’s hard to take in because it changes things. If I can choose my path then there is no one to blame for being miserable, but ME. That means I can’t keep doing the same thing and complain that I’m not fulfilled. If I have control over my destiny, then I also have responsibility for it.

I can decide what time to get up in the morning; early enough to run through the shower, get ready and fly to work showing up late or I can get up early enough to exercise, blog, craft or have breakfast with a friend before I go in. I can plan my evenings around the people and activities that are important to me. I can make choices that move me toward my personal goals and the things that feed my soul. Or. I can trudge through life wishing it were different. Making the same choices over and over again and wondering why I am not moving forward.

It’s really rather empowering to think about! All I have to do is decide where I want to go and make a plan to get there. When I’m working the plan daily, even though I haven’t reached my goal, I feel successful and fulfilled. I’m not just going through the motions. I’m living deliberately! What a great feeling!

Wondering how to take the steps to make that happen for you? I just happen to have a good friend, Rhonda Hale Warren, who can help you! She is a life, wellness and career coach and will be guest blogging for me this week with some tips on how to get started!

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Filed under Goals, Lifestyle

How I Know My Boys are Not Home

The boys are out of town for the week. I know this because I left them at their grandparents when I came home.
I would also know it from several clues around the house.

  • There are no underwear, clean or dirty, laying in my living room.
  • The ice-cube trays are full of strawberry daiquaries – for a little party later today.
  • I haven’t said, “You two get away from each other right now!” for more than 24 hours.
  • The dishwasher hasn’t been run in over 24 hours.
  • The clean dishes are still sitting in the dishwasher – I HATE emptying the dishwasher! I usually delegate that job.
  • I have food in the refrigerator!
  • I haven’t seen Skyrim on my TV in days.
  • I have taken the dog out and fed her!
  • No one has stayed out til 2 am and slept til noon.
  • I haven’t tripped over a tennis or soccer ball in my kitchen.
  • I had to scrape together enough clothes for one load.

I can’t imagine the house being this quiet every day. It’s kind of killer. It’s funny how I long for time to myself when I can craft, read, organize or whatever I want without interruptions. I crave the freedom to “do as I please” for a bit, without responsibility for making dinner for the family, driving kids to activities, or just managing 5 people’s lives. And then when they are gone I miss them like crazy. Maybe what I really want is just little bits of respite mixed in amongst the crazies of my life? Like so many things, we just want what we don’t have. I just want a tiny bit of a break in every day, spread throughout. Not a week without them. Or maybe this will just make me appreciate all the craziness that much more. I can add that to my to-do list for the week; figure out how to incorporate some me time in every day.

I love my crazy family!

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Filed under Family, Lifestyle, Parenting

Going Home

There is something about going home that just makes everything feel right. We’ve been at my parents’ house for a quick visit. I hate that it always seems to be a quick visit, but I’ll take what I can get.

We are trying to fit lots in like usual. And since we have become experts at building retaining walls, we tackled a rebuild on Dad’s.

We tore all the old brick out, dug a little deeper, back filled and replace all the bricks. It was quite warm outside! Which led to this.

We finished! Yay! All sunburned, hot and a little bit cranky, but it’s done.

We found this cute little guy behind the wall. We set him free by the pond in the back.

And I helped Mom with some computer stuff. Just some basics.

There may or may not have been fingernail painting going on.

Lots of sitting around the table chatting. And eating.

I love that! Just relaxing and spending time together.

And maybe some tennis for a couple of boys.

My brother and his family came for supper. I took pictures, but they were totally unflattering. And being the awesome SIL that I am, I’m not posting them here. I’ll do better next time. Promise.

There is always something silly going on. This is the bowl my brother got out for his ice cream. It’s bigger than the pie!

Love how ridiculous my family is!

The best part, for Sunday dinner my mom made my favorite Sunday dinner!

The thing that says “Sundays growing up” to me. And no one makes it like my mom.

Delish. I love going home.

Now we are back home, sans kids and I have a To-do list that will keep me quite busy all week.

Let’s get to work!

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Filed under Family, Legacy