Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just Write.

Do you remember the dreams you had as a child, then as a teenager, then as a young adult?  My own dreams have changed so much over the years, from wanting to be a veterinarian, to a singer, to a youth pastor, to a mom.  Before motherhood I was pretty ambitious, trying to continually work towards my goals, which led me to become a licensed minister and get my Master's Degree.  My life was going one direction, and then I became pregnant - a dream come true - but I knew my life was going to be forever changed.

For the past 6 years I have poured all of my energy into raising my boys, all the while knowing that I had changed and wondering what would come next.  I think it is good when dreams change - they kindof "evolve" over time, and as our seasons in life change, so do our dreams.  The last 2 years in particular I have wondered what God would have me do next. Was I called to focus solely on being a mom, or also pursue interests outside the home?

Six months ago I sensed that life was changing, but was unclear what the direction was.  I was about to turn 35, and in some ways it felt like I was having a mid-life crisis. I wondered if anything I had done up to that point had been effective. I wondered if I had made the right choices in life. I wondered if I had messed up somewhere and should have pursued other interests. I really wondered if I was a failure.  After becoming a mom, it seemed like all those accomplishments I had made meant nothing, and as though I had worked for....what?

This was my journal entry on June 19, 2011-
"Lord, show me what you created me to do.  Narrow my focus and give me a vision. Show me clearly what you have called me, specifically, to do.  Call me into a new season of ministry." 

On June 22nd -
"I've been praying that God would narrow my focus....A I write, I'm coming up with more ideas for articles....God, please show me what to do."

Then this-
"Hmmm....a thought.  If my only way to encourage people right now is through writing, I guess I better just write."

I won't go into the background of the statement "If my only way to encourage people right now is through writing..." because it would take hours.  But basically I felt like I had no ministry, no outlet, no direction, so all I knew to do was write.

Little did I know that God would answer that prayer only 4 days after I prayed it, but I didn't know He had answered it until 6 months later. Does that make sense?

It is now January...God has opened up multiple doors for writing and for speaking.  It was a dream inside that was pushed far back into a corner, and it is just now surfacing again.  For two years I heard of other people's dreams coming to fruition, and it discouraged me.  I wondered, "When will that happen for me?"  Although the doors opening for me would seem small to most people, to me they are huge, because they are an answer to that prayer I wrote on June 19, 2011.

I honestly don't know what will happen in the next year with this dream that started out as two words - "just write." Yet those two words provided me direction in the last 6 months that I needed.  I think a new dream is being born.

I say all of this because I know so many people who have dreams inside of them, and wonder if they've been forgotten. They wonder why God is not opening doors, and feel confused.  Last January I tried to get these doors to open, and not one door opened.  This January, the doors are being opened without me even trying. It's all about His timing.  When it's supposed to happen, it will happen.  If not, ask God to show you what to do in the meantime. For me, that meant "just write."  Maybe for you it means "just sing," or "just encourage," or "just be happy at home," or "just be patient."  But take heart, because He has not forgotten  you, and He will give you new dreams - or awaken the ones you had almost forgotten about.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unexpected Obstacles

Last week I wrote about unexpected joys we experienced last year, in response to Simple Mom's annual "20 Questions for a New Year's Eve Reflection."  Another one of the questions she asked was "what was an unexpected obstacle you faced?" and I wanted to share a little bit about my answer to that question.

Last year started out hard, as we were entering the 2nd half of Micah's kindergarten year.  He was doing fine in school, but I was struggling with certain aspects of it that affected my health and my emotions in a big way.  Some days I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around that situation and why God would have allowed it.  I did learn that life is not all about me, but about Him.  He put people (adults) in my life through that situation that I feel were divine appointments from Him - these were people who needed to see Jesus in someone's life, and our relationships continue to this day.  That year was also fun for Micah.  True, he did not learn a lot. But if he started out his education having fun and looking forward to each day, I can be happy about that.

We are now in a new classroom with a new teacher, and we love her.  She has been amazing for Micah and I wish we could have her every year!  Through that whole experience I also learned that many hard situations are just seasons, and things will change.

Another obstacle we faced last year was from January through March.  For two months, our family was extremely sick - we dealt with 2 bouts of pneumonia and I had strep throat twice.  For almost 6 weeks I could not talk above a whisper and was laid up in bed.  I remember just crying asking God, "Why is this happening?"  Those two months held a lot of silence for me, and a lot of listening.  They were painful, but God and I had a lot of conversations that I still hold deep in my heart.

In June of 2011, I got the devastating news that my best friend's adoption had fallen through. She and her family had driven from California to Oklahoma, held their adopted newborn baby in their arms for 11 days, and then the birth mother changed her mind and took the baby back.  This was one of the biggest shocks she had ever experienced, and I felt helpless from thousands of miles away.  My heart ached for her in the deepest way, and every thought was consumed with how she was doing.  As they made the long trek home, they were welcomed home by a group of their closest friends.  During the time they were gone, we came together and redid the baby's room, putting up a "yarn tree" with colorful leaves that had Scripture promises written for them by their family and friends.  We sat in the baby's room and cried together.  It was a precious moment that I will never forget.  Another unexpected obstacle, but rich with love and mercy.

Also in June, a young single mother came into our life and into our home.  We took care of her and her son for a little while, and I worked tirelessly to find her a job and a place to live. The situation felt completely hopeless and got worse every day.  One morning I received a phone call that a family at church wanted to take her and her baby in, and she has been living there ever since. She has an amazing full-time job now and is doing well.  During those few months that we were helping her, I truly could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once again I was challenged to trust God, and He did not fail us.

All of these obstacles seemed like impossible mountains to climb.  None of them felt like they were ever going to end.  But again, looking back I see that everything is a season, and God is faithful to carry us through! Why do we doubt Him when He proves Himself over and over again?  Even if we feel nothing good came out of a painful situation, we know that God is always working everything together for His good, even if it is a deep, dark corner of our soul that needs healing and repair.

I don't know what obstacles 2012 will hold for us. Yet looking back at last year proves to me again that even if we face trials, they are just for a season, and God is faithful.   What is an obstacle you faced last year that taught you about God's faithfulness?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Shows

Do you remember what your favorite television shows were when you were a kid, a teenager, and a young adult?  What are your favorite shows now?  I thought it would be fun to remember back, and take a look at how the shows we watch represent what is happening in our lives at the time.  To this day whenever I see one of these shows, I am transported back in time, and easily remember the feelings I had when I first watched it. It is funny how emotionally attached we become to shows, and how devastated we become when they end.  Here are my top 10 favorite shows (and believe me, there were many contenders for the top 10!)

Childhood (I was an 80's child) -

1. Little House on the Prairie - I was Laura for Halloween at least 5 times.

2. Avonlea- This was a show on the Disney Channel which was based on the Anne of Green Gables books. It was such a great show, and for years I wanted to name my future daughter Felicity.  (That was solidified even more when the actual show Felicity came out!)

3. Saved By the Bell - I had a huge crush on Zach.  Mario's turned out pretty nice though :)

4. The Wonder Years - You might assume that I chose my blog name based on the show, but really, I didn't.  Although I did love that show!  (The blog name was chosen after I took a picture of Micah and saw the wonder in his eyes looking up at the sky).

5. Felicity - I still think she should have chosen Noel!

6. Everwood - Incredible cast, incredible storylines. I seriously loved this show.

7. Alias - I never missed one episode of this show.  I lived vicariously through Sydney Bristow!

8. Lost - The third show I loved from JJ Abrams (Felicity and Alias were also his shows). Again, never missed an episode. We even visited the filming location when we went to Hawaii.  The series finale was LAME - anyone else agree?  (Can you tell I'm still bitter?)

9. Parenthood - Currently my favorite show on television.  Amazing cast, and amazing writers. If you have not seen this show yet, you MUST watch it.  I beg you. Stop what you are doing and watch episodes online. Then TIVO it.  You will love it.

10. Up All Night - Hilarious new comedy; makes me laugh until I cry.  If you like Up All Night, you'll love Parenthood :)

 Okay, what are your top 10 favorite shows?  I know that's a lot to think about, so leave me a comment with at least 1!

Guest Post

Check out my guest post today over at Personal Fitness Coach about Creating a Healthy Breakfast for Your Kids!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Unexpected Joys

Earlier today I sat down and typed up a blog post, and after 30 minutes of re-writing and editing, hit "publish."  But something happened and the entire post was deleted.  It was about some answers I had written to SimpleMom's "20 Questions for a New Year's Eve Reflection" (which I highly recommend you download and complete - awesome stuff).

Anyway, one of her questions was "What was an unexpected joy this past year?"  I thought long and hard about this one.  What kept coming to the forefront of my mind, however, was this one Saturday morning in July.  We were on vacation in Morro Bay with our close friends, and found out that some mutual friends of ours were camping right down the street. Morro Bay is about 5-6 hours from where we live, so the fact we were all there at the same time was just awesome. One morning I was able to sneak out with two of my closest friends, Anna and April.  We had coffee, chatted about life, and went thrift store shopping.  Those 3 hours were one of the best "unexpected joys" that I had all year.

Why did that moment stick out in my mind so much?   I think it's because friendship revives the soul, brings encouragement when we are weary, and comforts us in the deepest way.  To laugh with friends has to be one of the greatest gifts.  To connect with people who have known you for over 15 years is a special treat.  You know you can be yourself, flaws and all, and be loved.

Then I thought about the other unexpected joys this past year, and they all involved friends or family...

My best friend Heather's 35th surprise birthday party...

My sister's engagement and surprise engagement party...

And even coffee dates, phone calls, letters in the mail, and even Facebook posts were all little moments - unexpected joys.

There were unexpected obstacles as well (which I'll write about later), but these unexpected joys are things that we need to hold on to, especially to carry us through dark times.  Friendship is hard work; it takes time, energy, investment.  But when we work at it, it reaps us the most amazing rewards.

This year, I'll be seeking more ways that I can be an unexpected joy in someone else's life.  Whether through a word of encouragement, a card in the mail, a phone call, or just spending time together, I know how much it blesses my own life, and I hope to bless others in this way as well!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


January 1st came and went, and I've barely had time to stop and reflect on 2011 yet.  These past 2 weeks flew by so fast, and we had so much activity going on, that all my free time was just spent catching up on much-needed sleep!  I'm so thankful for the time we had together as a family and with friends.

These past 3 days have been the hardest; getting back into the daily schedule and starting school again.

In the midst of all of that, yesterday I started a new job!  I'd been looking for something for over a month, and just the right opportunity came along. I'll be working as an administrative assistant for a counseling center, part-time there and part-time at home, and only about 10 hours a week.

It has been an exciting week, but also draining, and I feel those familiar body aches and sore throat that signal I have been a bit stressed and need to recoop for a few days.

Today I was thinking about change, and how even when change is good, it can be hard.

In December our church consolidated with another church - a huge change. We are now meeting at a new building, have different service times, different responsibilities, and are meeting a lot of new people.  Good, but hard.

Yesterday I went to work and felt good about it, but today felt more emotional.  I realize that this is my last "semester" with Jaden at home before he enters Kindergarten.  I cherish my times with him. Although I need to work (and want to), there is a little twinge of guilt every time I leave him.  Sure, he's in school on the mornings I work, but I've always been the one to drop him off and pick him up, and I won't always be able to do that now.  Again, good change, but hard.

The past two weeks we cleaned up a lot and got rid of Jaden's old car seats. We officially bumped him up into a booster seat, and he loves it.  Just a small change, but it reminds us that he is growing up and leaving the baby stage behind.

As my boys are leaving my side a little more these days, I see that we are entering a brand new stage.  A stage that is good, but hard.  It is always hard to watch your babies grow up and need you a little bit less.

The next two months I'll be focused on working and preparing for the Re:Write Conference in March.  I'm finishing a book proposal and entering a writing contest, and it is taking a ton of energy and focus.  Good, but hard!

We are only 3 days into 2012 and I see that this is already a year of change and growth.  This is really interesting, because last December I wrote about how I saw 2011 as a year of change.  It was a year of change, but 2012 might be even more of that!

What change are you currently going through and how are you feeling about it?