Let’s be real. Life hurts. As humans it is one of our common denominators. And it is inevitable. It may happen to us in different ways; divorce, death, a broken heart, grief, loss, lack, low self-esteem, loneliness, sickness, addiction, abandonment, rejection, betrayal….. but sooner or later we experience pain.
And then God speaks.
Turns out He has actually been speaking all the time, but just as writer C.S. Lewis points out:
~God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world ~
I find that pain seems to heighten my ability to hear God speak. Distractions seem not to matter so much. What’s really important in life becomes crystal clear. It’s in these times that I turn to the Psalms. They are a source of comfort, a source of hope, a source to remind me that, “God is my refuge and my strength. A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
We can all think of a time when we wanted to isolate ourselves from the wOrLd. We believe if we didn’t have jobs, we wouldn’t have to deal with stress or deadlines. If we could disconnect ourselves with people—family, friends, strangers—we’d never have to deal with awkward moments or conflict. If we didn’t have to run errands, we could avoid being reminded of how great everyone else “has it” when we are out and about.
As the year of 2012 wrapped up, I found myself thinking a lot about all the awkward, uncomfortable, stressful and difficult moments of the year. And you know what I realized? If I was able to erase those moments of my life, I would have been missing out. If I would have quit my block business after making some stressful mistakes, I would no longer get to experience the J O Y I receive when customers send me thank you notes after their blocks arrive. I could have avoided an awkward moment by not talking to a stranger on a plane, but I would have missed out on an aMaZinG cOnVerSatiOn about his faith journey. Not to mention the moments with friends and family through the year that involved moments of frustration, confusion or discomfort. If I never had those interactions, our relationships wouldn’t be as close as they are today, let alone the sPeCiaL mEmoRieS we made together. And as you know, sharing the move of our house last summer required a major gulp of humility, but I would have missed out on the sense of FREEDOM I felt by sharing my real life…just how it is…and knowing that you accept me…just the way I am.
Wearing your heart on your sleeve, doing things out of your comfort zone (looking for a new job, trying a new hobby, meeting new people), and standing up for what you believe in are all very hard things to do. Many times they don’t even seem worth all the effort they require. But let me assure you, they are. Your life is richer, more meaningful, and above all, impacting more people, all because you are willing to face your fears, deal with hurt, and conquer challenges by moving on despite the outcome.
So what will 2013 look like for you? This year I am welcoming more embarrassing moments, uncomfortable conversations and feelings of defeat as I work toward new goals. You are going to have to deal with these weird feelings/emotions regardless (because we are human!) so why not do them while enriching your life?! I don’t want to MiSs OuT on the best life I can have….do you?
I got up this morning with a mission to help my daughter. As a homework assignment, she was asked to gather pictures of herself which capture her favorite things. As I began skimming through files of photos on my computer, you would have thought I was spending most of my time smiling and reminiscing about the past. To my surprise, recalling those days turned into feelings of discouragement as my role as MOM.
You see, after I had my first daughter, ten years ago, I did a great job taking lots of pictures and getting them into a scrapbook in a timely matter. As life got more hectic and our family grew, I didn’t capture the same moments by photograph with my other two kids—probably because I usually had one kid on my hip and a basket of laundry in the other.
The reality is, life will always be hectic and I CaN’t Do iT ALL. As soon as I had those sunken feelings this morning I could see how this day was going to pan out—feeling guilty ALL day about the numerous things I should be doing better. Like how I should plan meals ahead of time instead of pulling meat from the freezer at 4:59 every afternoon…or logging our monthly expenses in a spreadsheet every month instead of staring at a pile of receipts from the last 5 months. The list is never-ending, isn’t it?
Instead, as soon as my daughter left for school, I shut those feelings down by thinking to myself, “I’m not going there”. I’m not going to spend the entire day beating myself up about my areas of weakness as a mother. To help, I tried to imagine what our seven-month-old would say to me when he becomes an adult. If he knew how terrible I felt for not taking pictures of his sweet feet when he was only a few days old, he would say, “Mom….really? That’s what you’re worried about? It’s not a big deal. Really.” And then he would go on to remind me how I would play tractors with him on the living room floor and spontaneously make him a farmyard out of old oatmeal containers and cereal boxes. Ahh…thank you, my sweet kiddos, for loving me for my imperfect self. And Leanne, make sure you remember this if you become a Mom some day. Don’t be so hard on yourself :)
So if this is you today, pick yourself up and start focusing on the things you do well. You simply can’t do it all. Don’t let special moments (like scanning through years of pictures and reflecting on the past with your kids) pass you by because you are beating yourself up, wishing you’d done better.
From one parent to another, I think you are doing just fine ;)
Years ago when I was living in Tulsa I got an unexpected knock on my door. It was my good friend Cindy. She knew I was going through a really difficult time and so she bought me a slice of a large chocolate chip cookie and asked if I wanted to go for a walk on my favorite bike/run/walk trail along the Arkansas River.
What a simple gesture and yet close to 30 years later I am still touched by the impact of her thoughtfulness. Maybe at the time it seemed like no big deal to her, but it was a big deal to me. A really big deal. And a really big lesson.
To this day her gesture challenges me to search for ways I can give someone a little grace, show a little kindness, and spread a little love. And lest I am tempted to think my kindness is insignificant I remind myself of the power of a cookie and a walk.
I know there are always people needing kindness and a little hope. And so I’m looking for someone I can dispense a little kindness to. How about you? Who do you know who needs a little grace?
Every now and then I find myself focusing way too much on areas of my body that I don’t like. Do you ever do that? Often times it is the skin spots that keep popping up with age or the way my body has changed after having three kids. *Sigh*.
Well today I got an email that included the video I have posted below. Talk about impeccable timing. I am glad God put it on someone’s heart to pass it along, because I needed this reminder. Just in case you needed it too, I decided to share it with you!
This video is an eye-opener in more ways than one. Not only does it make me think twice about nitpicking areas of my physique, but gave me a kick in the pants for when I get down about life or complain about a task being too difficult.
Attitude is everything. Don’t deprive yourself of a good life just because everything isn’t perfect. And I love what Chris says, “If you are worried about how you look, you are cheating yourself out of opportunities.” Needed to hear that. So true.
I hope this touches your heart like it did mine. Enjoy…
Every once in a while Doug and I will catch ourselves wAsTiNg a lot of time rehashing an upsetting incident, discussing something negative, or spending way too much time on something that we shouldn’t. Do you ever do that? Recently, we have done something helpful to avoid these ongoing situations. We “make a pact” with one another to no longer waste another minute on that specific topic. When we catch ourselves in a conversation that makes us feel sour, one of us may say, “Okay…for the rest of the month we need to work on not bringing up_______.” From then on we hold each other accountable by giving “the look” or a quick reminder when conversations head the wrong direction.
Is there something that you are doing, saying or thinking about that you need to nip in the bud? By regurgitating the same negative conversations you are adding unnecessary depression to your day AND to those around you. Doug and I always have to remember…the kids are aLwAys watching and listening!! Whatever we talk a lot about, they will believe!
What conversations can you remove from your life by mAkiNg a pAcT to stop? Don’t forget, with the help of someone else, you can achieve this goal much easier and catch old habits before they creep back in your life!
Do you find yourself in a cHalleNge, trial, or adversity that seems inSurMountAble? Maybe your situation is so overwhelming and confusing you have no clue what to do next. If this describes you, I want to eNcoUrage you with a statement that I heard months ago. The moment I heard it, it grabbed me:
“If you are in it, you can win it!”
There is nothing that you are facing that you can’t oVerCome. Not sure what to do or where to begin? Just take one step – the one directly in front of you regardless how small or insignificant it may seem. Maybe that one step is reaching out for help. Maybe it is trying a different aPproAch. Whatever you do, hang on and don’t let go! You’ll win it if you just don’t quit. :)
It’s been ages since I posted and this year has been filled with twists, turns and unexpected trials and triumphs. With my son moving up to 1st grade and my daughter going into her last year of nursery school, I found myself at a crossroad with no idea of the next direction I would go. Being a stay at home mom for seven years was a gift that I am lucky to have had. I started my role as “Mommy,” “Mama,” and “MOM” after teaching 1st grade for eight years and loved my new identity. Time has flown by and I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been home almost as long as I was in the classroom and can’t imagine jumping back into a teaching career when I’ve been out of practice for so long. So…where does that leave me? I’m no longer a first grade teacher, an identity I cherished and was proud of, but I’m also not a mommy of babies and toddlers anymore which is what I came to love even more than my previous role. I felt like I was slowly becoming NOBODY.
Bigger kids means bigger financial needs and the strain of a single income was becoming apparent. The obvious solution would be going back to teaching. However, there are no words to describe the anxiety I felt when even thinking about returning to teaching. Being out of the classroom for so long makes it that much harder to imagine going back. If I had taken a maternity leave and gone back right away my kids wouldn’t know any different and neither would I. Problem is I know how much I love bringing them to school and picking them up. I love “Mommy and Abby days” when she doesn’t have school. I couldn’t imagine giving it up.
Conflicted with finding an answer that would be best for our family I had one of those MEANT TO BE experiences that has changed the path from uncertainty to determination. I have always believed that certain people come into our lives for a reason. There is no doubt in my mind that Tracy was one of those people. My husband went to high school with Tracy and we have been facebook friends for a while. She lives in Georgia and was a marine biologist, but is now a division leader with lia sophia. For those of you who are not familiar with lia sophia it is a direct sales company that offers gorgeous jewelry at affordable prices (Think Tupperware party, but with jewelry)! One day Tracy sent me a message asking me if I would be willing to host a facebook virtual jewelry party so she could show her team that it is possible to connect with friends from out of state and build your business through technology. I thought about it and mentioned it to my husband and he said to me, “Maybe you should talk to Tracy about selling lia sophia, she was a marine biologist and is now really successful doing this and is home with her kids.” That was it…I talked to Tracy once and signed up! That was two months ago and boy has my world CHANGED for the BETTER! Through friends and family who volunteered to host parties I have been able to get my business started and already recruited a customer to join my “team”! I am on my way to promoting to Unit Leader and am still in awe that this practically fell into my lap. Tracy has guided me EVERY step of the way and has been my biggest cheerleader. It is AMAZING to work for a company that encourages women to be their own boss, set goals and attain them, and live their dream. My dream has always been to be home with my kids. My fondest memories are of my mom being home with me and my sister. I completely understand that this is not an option for many and that there are many women who even if staying home was an option would choose to continue with their career. The choice we each make does not DEFINE the type of mother you are. It does not make one of us better than the other. It is simply the path that each mother takes on the road to raising their children to be the best they can be!
In the past two months I have gained a new level of confidence and am proud of the work I have done to build my business. Dressing up my “Mommy” clothes with all of my new jewelry has added an element of fun to my days. I LOVE being my own boss, making my own hours, and helping our family out with finances. People do come into our lives for a reason…Tracy came into mine to be the light on this exciting new journey that I am on.
Visit my business Website!
~Robyn (Jersey Girl)
Filed under Dream Big, Finances, Good Life, Hard Reality, Inspire, Life, Marriage, New Jersey Robyn, Relationships, Self Image, SelfImprovement, You
As I’m sure many of you can relate, shopping with kids in NoT exactly my favorite thing to do. There is always the fighting over who sits where in the cart, then the whining that I’m taking too long, and of course the dreaded tantrum over the desperately needed toy they just HaVe to HaVe! My kids can turn a 5 minute trip to Home Depot for light bulbs into a disaster. They will manage to find something they need…such as the Tinker Bell and Lightning McQueen flashlights that are placed just at their eye level so they can pull the, “Oh wait, we need this!”
Thanks to the ease of online shopping and the availability of coupon codes, (read our post on how to get coupon codes) and free shipping, I try to avoid going out to the stores as much as possible. I was recently introduced to an online shopping opportunity even better than coupon codes! EBATES! Ebates is a company that gives you cash back if you shop through the links listed on their site. They advertise for the stores and you make money back by shopping through their link. It is a WIN WIN for everyone! At first I thought it was too good to be true, but I did my research and have been a member and shopping with them for a month now and earned over $30 back on purchases I would have made whether I ordered them through the Ebates site or not. You can track sales, coupons, and percentages that stores are giving back on their site. The money you earn from shopping is either mailed to you in check form or can be deposited directly into your paypal account. You can still use coupon codes and free shipping codes and get whatever percentage that particular store is offering back on the day you are shopping.
Here’s a link to get you started!
Happy Stress Free Shopping!
~Robyn (Jersey Girl)
Tis’ the season for trying to capture that PeRfEcT photo for the annual Christmas card! You know the one I’m referring to that gives the illusion that your kids never fight, don’t play in the mud, and wear matching outfits daily. First there is the decision over whether to go to a portrait studio, hire a photographer and do an outdoor family photo shoot, or take the pictures yourself. Once that is decided the planning of the outfits can begin. The ridiculous part about this is that stores start putting out their holiday lines in October so if your kids wear a popular size you better be thinking ahead. Ok, now you know who is taking the picture and what everyone is wearing, but here is the hardest part…getting everyone to cooperate!
I am sure many of you moms are going through this torture over the next few weeks so let me share my Christmas card 2013 attempt with all of you. Before I start getting all sorts of complaints from dads, I chose to write moms because maybe there are one or two dads out there who break the mold and take the kids for the Christmas photos, but in MY experience, there is NO dad who wants to be anywhere near this unprecedented madness EVER!
This year I was going to have a friend who is a professional photographer take photos in our yard. Well that idea went down the toilet when I had to cancel the session because it had rained the night before and the grass was soaking wet. I know my kids would never have cooperated if their feet were soaking wet from the grass and we wouldn’t have gotten the photos that I wanted to get. My second attempt pictured above was yesterday. I thought I could take the bull by the horns and take the photos myself. I’ve done it before so why not? Here’s why not…apparently I bought my son “handsome” clothes instead of “cool” clothes and he refused to put them on. In a desperate attempt to move forward with my plan I decorated a tree with candy canes and figured I would at least get my daughter’s picture done since she was all dressed and loves getting her picture taken. I figured my son would get jealous and cave once he saw her getting all the attention and put the cute plaid shirt and sweater on, but boy was I wrong. What erupted was like a scene out of a Christmas horror show. While my daughter was standing on a chair smiling my son took one of my giant candy cane props and started chopping down the candy canes one by one out of the tree faster than I could grab him. Candy was flying all over the place, my daughter was wobbling in a chair in her Christmas dress, and all I was thinking was, don’t react like Clark Griswold when his lights don’t light up in Christmas Vacation!
Needless to say, we marched back in the house after picking up all of the broken candy canes and I am left with this fantastic picture that I share with all of you. Please keep it in mind when you are stressed to the max this Christmas season. As you receive your mail full of smiling faces each day remember a lot more goes into those cards than you think and don’t be too hard on yourself if your journey to whatever your PeRfEcT card is isn’t so PeRfEcT!
~Robyn (Jersey Girl)