Friday, January 27, 2012

Courage: 2012 Word of the Year

As a kid I didn't consider myself to be very brave.  I thought myself to be a bit reserved--always the one following the rules and playing it safe.  I never pushed myself, especially where academics were concerned.  I walked a (fairly) straight line and wasn't an overachiever.  I was deeply concerned with how people saw me and what their perceptions of me might be.  You might say I was obsessed with this.

Looking back on my adult life, however, I can recall events where courage emerged from me when I least expected it to.  In my 20s I found myself brave enough to break off a wedding engagement when I came to the realization that he wasn't "the one."  I then married a man whose culture is quite different from mine. In my 30s I went back to school to finish my nursing degree, I underwent infertility treatments, and I gave birth to 3 children in 5 1/2 years.  I also did 4 triathlons and a half marathon.  When I turned 40, I felt my insecurities subsiding even more, and I was filled with greater courage to just be myself, no matter now goofy or ditzy that may look at times.  I also found the courage to laugh at myself.  Often.

Last year God called me to a ministry in the church as the Christian Education Director.  It's been almost 12 months since I first sat in that office, stared at the walls, and said, "Now what?"  The last 11 months have been peppered with many soul-filling highs and several gut-wrenching lows since that first day in March, and as I look forward to celebrating my first year "on-the-job," I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the courage God has gifted me with to not only accept the position, but to keep on keepin' on in spite of the stumbles and challenges.  Isn't that what Jesus did in his ministry?

Our bible study group has been studying "The Purpose Driven Life."  It occurred to me during our most recent discussion that sometimes when searching for our purpose, we will need to be courageous for we have no idea where God will lead us when we ask Him that question, "What am I here for?"  He could lead us on a completely different path than the one we are currently on...a path that is new, untraveled, and scary.  That's where the courage comes in.

What have I learned about courage over the course of my life?  For some of us, being courageous takes...well...courage!  I believe that some people emerge from the womb without a fearful bone in their body.  I have a friend like this, and I am in awe of her boldness, her focus, and her ability to "go for it" in all aspects of her life.  Then there are others who often wake up in the morning needing to make the conscious effort to step out of the boat, take that leap of faith, and stand firm in whom and what they believe in, either because of circumstances that God has put in their lives or simply because of how God has made them.

While I'm delighted to see my courage level rising over the last few years, I still see myself as someone who needs a constant reminder to be courageous.  As a wife.  As a mom.  As a Christian Education Director.  As a sister and daughter.  As a friend.  That is why "courage" is my mantra this year, and Joshua 1:9 is my new life verse (the verse is in the sidebar).   Because who am I not to be courageous since it is what my God has commanded of me?

And believe me when I tell you that I am clinging to the fact that courage doesn't always equal success.  Sometimes courage just means taking a deep breath and going for it.  We may fall flat on our face.  It could turn out disastrously.  But if I believe I'm being guided by the Holy Spirit make a change or do something bold, then He will honor that no matter what the outcome.  Thank God we aren't called to be successful.  We are called to be faithful.

“Courage does not always roar. 
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice 
at the end of the day saying, 
'I will try again tomorrow.”
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday, January 23, 2012


I cannot believe it's been about 5 months since the last post on this blog.  There's just so much to tell that I don't know where to begin.  Really, I just don't know where to start.  The new (but not anymore) puppies?  The growth (both physical and maturity) of our kids?  The struggles-yet-intense-JOY of my new job at the church (but it's not really new because it's almost been a YEAR!)?  The profound peace-yet-disorganization that is our family's life?

Yeah, I don't have that much time.

So for now, I'll just start with last night...Sunday night.  Our pool has been completed since Christmas Eve, and the kids wanted to play in the water as the January evening was a balmy 65 degrees.  My first inclination was to say, "NO!  Go shower and get ready for bed before Dad's done with the burgers on the grill!"  Didn't they know it was a school night?  Didn't they know that bedtime was looming and that they needed to be asleep at a decent hour to ensure an easy morning for both them and for Mom?  Didn't they know that this would mean more laundry piles for me?

But, for some crazy reason (perhaps it was our pastor's sermon about keeping the Sabboth holy and not working on Sundays) I gave them the "thumbs up."  It started with the kids wading in the pool.  That turned into a full-fledged swim in their jammies.  The puppies joined in the fun and waded into the pool....only to race around the ungrassy yard in the dirt...necessitating a deep-cleaning for the both of them.  The kids ended up dining pool-side--soaking wet and shivering cold.....and declaring last night one of the "best nights ever."

Sometimes cutting loose and letting the rules bend just a tad is all it takes to make an ordinary night an extraordinary night.  Sans any electrical gadgets.

I need to remember to do that more often.  Here's to a year full of "footloose" moments and memories.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So many times in our lives the momentous occasions are those that happened for the first time.  I remember clearly my first overnight away from home (it was a 2-week Girl Scout camp when I was 10).  I remember my first first real heartbreak...the first time I drove a car first job...and so on and so on and so on.  Those firsts are forever imprinted in my brain and in my heart...and God has undoubtedly used them to shape me into the person I am today.

Yesterday commemorated another first.  It was the first time my children experienced their first day of school as a 1st/3rd/4th grader.  The night before there was some significant nervousness and reluctance in returning back to school, and those feelings lingered as I walked them to their respective classrooms yesterday.  By the grace of God, however, they each reported to me that the first day of school "rocked." 

The firsts that the 3 little Indians experienced yesterday did not go unnoticed by me.  As I sent them off to begin a new school year I was reminded that if we live an adult life that honors God, we should experience many firsts just like our children as we travel on our faith journey.  These firsts are imperative if we are to grow.

I experienced my own first this past weekend...putting myself out there in a way that made me feel uncomfortable, uncertain, and downright sick to my stomach.  It was a task necessary for me to accomplish in relation to my new church calling...but it was definitely NOT something I was looking forward to.  Just hours before it began I prayed to God to fill me with peace during this event.  He did exactly that.  God removed my fears and anxieties, and the gathering of believers proved to be more powerful than I could have ever anticipated.  The Holy Spirit showed up.  In a big way.  And it was amazing.

I recently read a wonderful book about teaching and learning.  This book uses the analogy that we are like rubber bands.  When a rubber band is stretched, it never fully returns to its original shape.  That rubber band is never the same.  The same goes for us.  Once we learn or do something for the first time...especially if it glorifies God... we are never the same.  We are forever changed.

And, that's exactly what a life of faith is all about.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

This morning I got on my bike after a nearly 2-year hiatus.  It felt awesome.  I rode those 14 miles exerting a ton of effort...I huffed and puffed more than I remember doing in the past...but it was an exhilarating feeling to be be doing something I love but that I had let slide.  Even when the bug flew into my mouth at 25 mph...I was lovin' it.

The last year has been a challenging one.  40 was difficult.  41 didn't start out so great, either.  But, I'm feeling a both my health and my attitude.  I feel as if I'm back in the saddle again in many ways, and I like it.  I like it a lot.

For starters, I'm a working girl now.  It's only part-time.  And it's an interim position.  But I think it's cool that I am employed some place that values family first.  And that they're letting me try the job on for size to see if it fits in with my life.  I love having a place to go to focus on something other than laundry and groceries.  And I love being able to leave that place in time to pick up my kids from school.

I've learned to let go.  Of potentially harmful relationships.  Of my need to be in control.  Of responsibilities that I no longer feel called to be a part of.  I'm trying to focus on doing a few things really well rather than a ton of things half-way.  It's completely liberating.

I'm making time for those things I love to do rather than things I have to do.  I'm going to bike more.  Craft more.  Play guitar more.  Spend time with friends more.  BLOG more.

I've made new friends.  Unexpected friendships have developed in the least likely places.  And it's the real deal friendships with people I feel so completely at ease wtih and who love me as I am.  I love that.

I've learned how to work through difficulties with those I love in a more healthy way.  If the relationship matters, than it's worth fighting for.  Besides, those rough patches can only serve to strengthen the bond if they're addressed with love.

I've stopped trying to be someone I'm not or live up to others' expectations.  It's so much easier to be myself.  Who else is better qualified?

My ride this morning punctuated a 2-week-long uphill swing for me.  I'm feeling stronger.  Empowered.  More clear-headed (hopefully).  More joyful.  And ready to take on not FOUR triathlons that I had so ambitiously claimed I would do...but maybe just one.

Will there be hard days?  No doubt.  Will I still struggle, doubt, question, cry, and lose my temper?  Absolutely.  Because I'm human, and I'm a chick.  But I'm hopeful that the way I'm feeling now will enable me to deal with life's stuff with more patience, grace, love, and forgiveness.

That is my prayer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February 17th: I Love.....


It doesn't matter whose.  
Anybody's birthday is cause for celebration in my book.

Today happens to be my birthday.  
I'm my 40s.

I had fun plans in store.
Really fun.
But, as life would have it...
those plans have changed.
Obligations have come up.

I was pretty bummed about it.
Honestly?  I still am.
I bought myself some tulips in an 
attempt to lift my spirits.

They worked a little.

And music from
Jason Mraz always makes me
so happy.
Lately I can't get enough of his songs.

Bottom line?
I'm super-blessed.  
And anything I spend doing on my birthday
is to be treasured.

I'll be repeating that to myself today.

Thank you, God, for giving me 
another year to celebrate.
And for giving me the 
hope and courage
to stretch my wings a bit 
as my 41st year takes flight.

Change is definitely in the air.
And it feels good.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14th: I Love.... Valentines.  
My heart swells with love for them.  

And I'm joining Brene and others as we strive to be
this Valentine's week.


Who knows?  Maybe it'll be habit-forming.
At least in someone's world.