Saturday, November 30, 2013

Taking The Chance To Reveal Your Heart


Do we hide from each other? Do we tuck away our hurts, sorrows, and true feelings in order to “pose” with one another?

I think we do.

How many times has someone asked “How are you?” and you reply with…” Fine?”  But are you fine? Really? Or is your heart burdened over your marriage? Do you struggle with your children? Can you handle the emotional toll that that “issue” has been putting on your life?


We like to act like we have it all together because we fear being accepted by others.
We act like we are always happy. Together.  Successful. Even with those who think they are closest to us. It takes a lot for us to be vulnerable because then we feel exposed and exposure means….well it COULD mean rejection. And that scares all of us to our toes.

I think this is why we are often surprised when our friend’s marriage falls apart and we had no idea. Or that other friend took his life. We had no idea. It seemed so unlike them. We are stunned.

It’s because we didn’t know what was really going on in their heart. 

Maybe it’s our fault. Maybe it’s theirs. But either way – it’s getting easier and easier to not address REAL issues with each other. And it’s dangerous.

We only get one life. One life to live to the best of our ability. One life to love others. One life to make a difference. One life to BE REAL WITH.

Maybe it’s time we look at how often we get deep with those we call “friends.” Or how often we go beneath the surface with our family members?

The world has enough posers. We should be different. Authentic. Genuine. Real.

That means being flawed. And exposed.

Are you willing? Are you willing to risk rejection in order to be there for someone else? Are you willing to risk rejection in order to get the support you need FROM someone else?

No one should bear their burdens alone
. No one has it all together. Risk it. Your life is worth the chance.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On The Other Side of Grace


As I sat this morning getting ready for our little family’s Thanksgiving celebration together – my heart was overwhelmed.

OVERWHELMED.

So much has happened in my life in the past 6 months and I am feeling so deeply thankful for where I am.  I am HERE. Here in Texas. Here on the other side of my prayer requests of 3 years. Here on the other side of grace.

There is no better place to be. I’ve felt it before. When I waged a long, deeply personal spiritual battle, and one day saw God gently sweep it out of my life. When I’ve asked Him for other things and His answers were delivered. That’s the other side of grace.  That’s the side where your heart feels so thankful, so blessed, so happy and indebted; that tears come to your eyes. There are no words. The feeling runs deep.

It’s joy. It’s happiness. It’s awe. It’s humility all rolled up into one.

And it’s all about HIM. As it should be.

That’s what living on the other side of grace feels like. It’s unexplainable but delightful. Raw, and it sends you to your knees more than once out of such utter thankfulness.

That is what I’m feeling today.

I am so thankful to be here. God’s “here.” Not my “here.” I never probably would have picked San Antonio on my own. I think God picked San Antonio. And I love it so far.

I am here. Here in a warmer climate. Here with my family. Here in a house that God provided for us to rent. Here with a new church and people I will begin to get to know. Here.

I am so thankful to be here. So blessed. And it makes me love God all the more. For He was faithful. And He will continue to be faithful as our other requests slowly get unwrapped and answered.

That’s living on the other side of grace. There is no better place to be.


Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Makes You Happy?


What makes you happy?

I’m not talking about temporary happiness like buying a darling new top, or eating a great meal at a trendy restaurant.

I’m talking about happiness that lasts longer, deeper, and energizes. The kind of happiness that reminds you how wonderful it is to be alive. How wonderful it feels to be YOU. To know what you love and who you are meant to be.

Those kinds of “happy.”

There isn’t one recipe. One kind of “happy” doesn’t work for everyone. Nor does one kind of “happy” complete us. Many times, there are many things that bring us joy and make us happy.

The key is: do you know them? Do you realize them? Do you see them for what they are? Or do they slip through your fingers?

We need to be living more in our “zones.” We need to be doing, and finding what makes us happy.

It’s not selfish. It’s simply knowing who we were created to be and how to go about being that person fully.

So – I ask again, “What makes you happy?”

Do that thing more often. Don’t apologize for it. Enjoy it. Soak in those moments. Let them fuel you.

And be. Happy.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Alone Time




When our kids were young, there were days where I was simply “spent” come dinnertime. Every young mom knows what I am talking about. You can enjoy your kids and emotionally invest in them all day long and still be worn out by suppertime. Sometimes this causes you to get irritable at the littlest things.

My husband did something wonderful for me once in awhile. He let me have a little “alone time.” I would prepare dinner for my family, then I would take mine and go into our bedroom and eat by myself. It was heavenly. Sometimes I would watch a little television set in there while I ate and other times I would eat in solitude – simply soaking up time to be by myself.  Often, I’d finish eating and just sit in there an extra 15 or 20 minutes to truly recharge my battery.

It was a simple fix on a simple budget.

We didn’t do this too often. For one thing – I really did hate to be away from my kids. I enjoyed their company. It was just that sometimes, my husband could easily tell that I needed a break…even if it was a small one. Another reason I didn’t do this too often was that I wanted to be careful that my children didn’t feel like I needed time away from them. I never wanted them to feel like I needed to get away from them for a while. On the contrary, it was more that I needed some “me” time. Time to just focus on me – even if only for a dinner meal.

I remember those evenings with fondness in my heart. I would often come out of our bedroom (for I had closed the doors to help muffle noises that might otherwise lull me out of my quiet time) and I would often look at my husband and say “thank you.” Sometimes what we need the most is often the thing we find the hardest to grab hold of.  Those little breaks rescued me many times when I would have been gruffer with my kids than I ever would have wanted to be. Nothing is worth breaking their spirits or hearts – especially when it’s just that mom is tired.

If you have little ones underfoot and you are feeling weary – why not try some alone time? Often it seems like there is no room in the house where a mom can be alone (not even the bathroom!) But if your kids and husband are eating dinner and are preoccupied – try excusing yourself to your bedroom for a quiet meal alone on occasion. Explain to your children that it’s not that you need to get away from them, but simply that you need some “me” time and that you’ll be out as soon as dinnertime is over.  You’ll be amazed at how this short span of time can help you catch your breath and refocus.  And yet it’s so simple and easy to do.

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's Ok To Be Imperfect




The older I get, the more I learn about life and myself. And I learn that there is still SO much to learn about life and myself!

I learn how others see me. I learn how I see me. I learn how I want to see me and I learn that the way I think and feel about things, affects my future choices.

You’d think those would be straightforward lessons.

I think I will always want others to like me. To understand my heart. To know where I’m coming from. Yet, I’m learning to make peace when they don’t. Not always – but more and more.

I’m learning that even if I think I came across okay to someone else; even if I think I look cute; even if I think I’m great company or that I’m charming…..it’s okay that someone else doesn’t. It’s okay that I may not measure up to their standards.

It’s ok to be imperfect in their eyes.

For I am imperfect. I have lots of flaws. Fears. Failures. And I make tons of mistakes. Daily. 

So in reality, they are simply realizing the truth about me. It just may not come in the form I think it should come in.

I think God sets certain people before us to be our friends and be involved in our lives. And other; others He doesn’t. Maybe He’s protecting us for one reason or another. Maybe they are a great person and they’d really love us, but God has someone else in mind for one of us that will impact one of our lives in a deeper way. Maybe, sometimes, He simply has lessons for us to learn.

So instead of curling up and allowing myself to wither away from someone else’s judgment of me, I am learning to be inspired in a new and different way. To learn more about myself through it. To be motivated in a new directions, at times. And to learn most importantly – that I am loveable, valuable, and embraceable not because someone else approves of me, but because God finds me so.

I am imperfect. And it’s okay. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When They Tell You To "Do It Afraid"



I hear over and over again about how we shouldn’t live life in our comfort zones. That we need to stretch ourselves. Do it ‘afraid’ or It’s not about us.

All true. In a way.

I do think there is balance that is needed in a life. I think we were created with certain bents and personalities for a reason. After all, not everyone was meant to bungee jump or skydive. Some of us not only are afraid to do those things, we weren’t meant to do those things. They are not in our make-up. They aren’t “us.”

God tells us to “come as you are.” And He made me “as I am.” So I have to deduce that certain parts of my personality are meant to be.

I’m meant to be cautious. Thoughtful. I’m meant to love to laugh. I’m not meant to be a risk-taker. Now, knowing that about myself gives me a lot of freedom. It helps me not feel so pressured to do things that aren’t who I am really about. On the other hand, knowing that, also means that I need to be careful not to let that hinder me in life. I can’t use that as an excuse to not engage or do things that maybe God is calling me to do.

For sometimes we ARE meant to go outside of our comfort zones. And in the process, we learn to love a new side of ourselves. A new side of our lives.

We have to carefully evaluate everything we say ‘yes’ to in life.
We have to fully understand ourselves, our limitations, and our boundaries. We need to know how we will probably respond in certain situations and times. Weigh all of that together as we seek to find our answer.

It’s not as simple as ‘do it afraid.’ Or, ‘we aren’t meant to live in our comfort zones.’ For, yes, we are to go outside of our own little worlds – but I think we’re not meant to go outside of our gifting. And we DO each have a gifting!!

You are who you are. God made you as such a unique, woven together individual. Live in your strengths the best that you can. Push yourself sometimes to grow and stretch – but don’t do things that you were never meant to do. Things you shouldn’t do. Things that are not YOU.

For God says to COME AS YOU ARE. And He made you that way.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Blank Page


Each day of our lives, we wake up. We have a fresh start. A fresh chance to be who we want to be. Act how we want to act. Dare to dream. Take care of ourselves better. Be more generous. You name it.

Sure, we have the problems of yesterday still. But we can have a fresh start at how to handle them and react to them.

Each day is like a blank page in our story of life. It’s up to us as to how we are going to fill that page. What kind of words are going to be written to describe who we were on that day – that page of life?

Were we heroic?

Selfish?

Did we do something stupid or something generous?

Did we end the day doing nothing at all and so the page is still blank with no story being written at all?

A blank page. A clean slate. Each day.

How will you fill your page today?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Everyone Loves To Find a Great New Store


I was invited to my first “blogger event” on Wednesday evening here in San Antonio. I was so excited to discover a new store since I’m unfamiliar with the area, and Apricot Lane did not disappoint.

This cute little Boutique is a franchise. There are over 80 stores, but each one is a little bit different because the owners of each store gets to do their own buying. So each one has its own personality and flair.

Our delightful little store, is owned by a mother and her two daughters. Cathy, Allison, and Lauren have the goal to encourage “mom-daughter” shopping, so they each have their own likes and clothing tastes embedded into their store.

Apricot Lane San Antonio has everything from “Miss Me” jeans, infinity scarves, and boots, to hats with a little bling, and a huge jewelry collection. It’s not a huge store, but it’s one of those shops that you see something new each time you walk through it.  You can also order online or have something delivered from another Apricot Lane to your local store.

One of my favorite things about Apricot Lane San Antonio, is that they often have photos on their facebook and instagram pages of someone wearing their merchandise. So you can see exactly how a top hangs or how a dress looks on the body. It’s terrific.

I came away from our fun shopping night with two infinity scarves for my daughters and a pair of leggings for each one of us. Let me tell you, these just aren’t any leggings – they are lined with fleece! Sooo comfortable and soft, and super affordable for both moms and daughters at $8 each! 

I also couldn’t resist this Texas-shaped necklace. I’m so excited to be making Texas my new home state and it took a lot for our family to get here. This necklace makes me smile just wearing it.

If you’re looking for a store where the people are super sweet and where you can find unique things that not every other store carries – give Apricot Lane a try.  Their prices range anywhere from the $8 leggings to $40 and $60 depending on the item. So save up those pennies and pamper yourself for a day out soon. It’s a lovely place for some “girl” time.

You can find them at: http://www.apricotlanesanantonio.com/
On facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/apricotlanesanantonio
and on instagram as: apricotlanesa


**Disclosure: I was given a gift card at this blogger event, but all opinions on the store and merchandise are solely mine.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Don't Want To Take Anything For Granted



As much as I try to be thankful for things in life, I look back and see how I’ve failed. It is so easy to take things for granted. To expect them.

When we sold our house last summer and ended up temporarily in an apartment, I saw how I missed things that I’d taken for granted. I missed having a back yard, having walls with no sounds from other people coming from behind them. I missed having a garage to park my car in and out of the sun.  I missed space. Space for an extra fridge, space for extra furniture, space to cook, space to stretch out….just space!

It’s the same with our health. When we get sick, we miss being well and realize how thankful we really are for it.  Whenever I see someone in a wheelchair, I think about how thankful I am that I can walk. Something I take for granted every day. I don’t think about it when I go up and down the stairs or hop into my car. But thankful, I am.

I don’t want to take anything for granted. I don’t want to have regrets or miss things in my life that I assumed would always be there for me. And I’m learning that NOTHING will always be there for me!  Health comes and goes. Things come and go. People come – and – they go.

We are an unthankful people. And no matter how hard we try, I think we always will be. There will be spurts of thankfulness. Spurts of gratitude and awareness of what we have and what we’ve lost. But those will fade just as everything else in life does.

It’s just the cycle.

But I’m going to try. I will strain to try and not take anything for granted. Not having a clean toilet (something I’m so thankful for after I’ve travelled!), not my eyesight or my fingers, or being able to drive my own car (which I’m always reminded of when the car needs to get fixed and I don’t have it.)

I’m going to try. For I know I’m blessed. Blessed with everything I have.  Right down to the smallest detail.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Being Forced To Give





My husband and I both have a pet peeve about some of our holidays and days designated for “celebrating” a person.

Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Valentine’s Day. Teacher’s Appreciation Week. Secretary’s Day. – Just to name a few.

Now, I hope ya’ll don’t hate me. I applaud what these days stand for. They represent and encourage us to appreciate these people in our lives. To love on them and celebrate them for a moment. But, what bothers me about them is that they kind of make us “force” the guessture. It’s not naturally done from a heart that wanted to do it – just because.

I’m a mom. I would feel really sad and hurt if my children didn’t recognize me on Mother’s Day. But I hate that they also feel like they “HAVE” to do something for me on Mother’s Day. It’s kind of pushed on them and it forces expectation on me.

I appreciate some of my children’s teachers. But not all of them. So am I forced to do something for them on Teacher Appreciation Week just because it IS teacher appreciation week? How about not having a teacher appreciation week and the parents doing something out of the blue (on their own) for a teacher simply because that teacher goes above and beyond in loving on and serving their kids?

Which would be more deeply felt?

I love my husband. I want him to show me his love. But I know that a beautiful lily or orchid (because I love them) given to me on a normal day of the week would probably be more special than a vase full of roses on Valentine’s Day because he HAD to get me something lest he be in trouble.

Do you see where I’m coming from?

We all are put in the position of having expectations on these holidays and also put in the position of giving – when the giving should be done all year long on our own anyways! Never because a holiday tells us we should! It’s like me sitting in church on Mother’s Day feeling awkward listening to a sermon about mothers and how we should be treated. I just feel uncomfortable.

My husband and I do participate in these holidays. We do it out of love. But I have to say, that we both appreciate the “extra” gestures (even if they are simple) done outside of these forced holidays as well. And it bears giving it some thought as to why we give gifts, cards, and flowers to others. Is it because we truly value them – or because we were supposed to?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The "Now" Always Becomes the "Back Then"







We can get so caught up in our “now’s.” It’s only natural to. The pain can hurt so intensely. The love can overwhelm us. All we see is the heightened emotion of what we are currently going through.

Some times the “now” is all we can see. It feels like nothing will ever change. We fail to see how we could ever fight with the man we just fell in love with. How we could ever feel alive and well again after fighting an illness or disease for so long. We don’t know how the pain of something will ever pass – for it’s so close to our heart. So deep. Strong. The tears rise up in our throats so often.

But happen it does.

Time passes. The sun comes out again and we awake to that day that turns out to be different than the rest. We turned a corner.

No longer do we feel the sting of that pain quite so harshly.

We feel the change. Of something.

And eventually, the corner of change, too, is gone.

The “now” – the “now” that overshadowed our whole world and took over everything – becomes the “back then.”

 A shadow behind us. A glimmer in the past. A piece of the whole story of our life.

We reminisce. We see in hindsight, what we couldn’t see in the “now.” We see “more” of the “whole.” And we are fuller, more complete because of what we’ve been through – good or bad.

We may still feel a touch of those deep emotions from the “back then” – but they have new meaning. New depths. For life has added to them in some way or form.

You see, “now” isn’t all we have. We have so much more. And if you just hang in there, things will change. Time will change them. For good or bad. But whichever it is, that too, will change. And  you will look in the rearview mirror of your heart and see that the “now” you never thought would change has become, somehow, the “back then.” It’s gone. Over. Completed.

New hurdles and joys will always await us. That’s the beauty of navigating life. So enjoy your “now.” Hang in there and grit your teeth in your “now.” For before you know it, it will turn into your “back then” and you will reach out to touch it with your heart and see how it made you into who you are today.

Someone more complete. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

There Will Always Be a Brighter Day


Sometimes the “today” we are in, isn’t the best. It’s full of hassles, worries, and pains. We hurt inside and outside and it’s easy to feel “blue” and frustrated. Lonely.

Thank goodness, today isn’t all we have.

We have tomorrow.

There is always dark before the dawn. Rain before the rainbow. Hunger before satisfaction.  But it doesn’t stay that way.

It changes. Evolves. Grows.

Your life is about more than one moment. One day. One trial or challenge. The sun WILL come out again. You WILL smile.

There will always be a brighter day headed your way.

Do you see it coming? It’s just over the horizon.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Unpopular Opinion


Our voices. I think sometimes we forget that there is power in a voice. We forget that we have a duty and a right to stand up for injustices in life. We grow afraid.

What is happening to our world?

It seems to me that we’ve gotten to a point where we’d much rather stay quiet and keep our opinions to ourselves, than voice them on “hot” subjects or topics because of our fear of being laughed at, or ostracized.

I wonder if Abe Lincoln had those fears? Martin Luther King? Or was their belief in human rights and dignity stronger? Did they know they had to fight for what was right regardless of whether or not the masses approved?

Sometimes we have to just simply do the right thing – SAY the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. You can break it down as simply as that.

As children of God, we have a duty to speak up and to get involved if the situation calls for it. We are warriors. GOD’S warriors. We aren’t here to protect our image and grow popular. We are here to fight for a kingdom. GOD’S kingdom.

I think we’ve forgotten that.

It’s easier to be liked. Welcomed. Adored. Accepted. It’s easier to fit in.

The only way we’d ever want to stand out is if it’s in a good way and everyone else wants to be like us. We certainly don’t want to stand out because our opinion or voice doesn’t match everyone else’s!

We are too quiet. Too accepting of compromise, apathy, injustice, and moral depravity. We look at it as “them” and simply remove ourselves from the equation. But we ARE part of the equation. This is OUR society. Not THEIR society. This is OUR world. We live in it. And if we think the political, moral, and social decisions that are made won’t ever affect us we are sadly mistaken.

We have a voice. We need to stand up for the unborn children who are killed. We need to make our voices heard on behalf of all of the Christians being massacred, kidnapped, brutalized, and killed for their faith. We need to speak up about God’s stance and view on marriage and purity. We need to reach out and take care of the widows and the orphans. Not just across the world – but our own people in our own churches.

We need to. We have to. Don’t you want to? Is your heart stirred? Is it broken for what breaks God’s?

Why do we believe in a God…in a faith that we aren’t willing to take a stand for? I’m sure Queen Esther was challenged with that question when she had to risk her position, image, and LIFE for her people.

I’d like to see God come through and show His glory like He did for Esther because I stood for what was morally right and true. Wouldn’t you? But in order to do that, we must first speak up.

And use the voice that He has given us.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why Would God Not Part The Seas For Me?




Some things seem so impossible. So “it won’t happen for me.”

Some things, some dreams, just feel so far off.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt like we will never have a boyfriend. Never get married. Never have a child. Never get that good paying job. Never find a church. Never have a friend.

The “never’s” go on and on. Different situations but the same feelings of “never.”

The things is, they will. And they do. That boyfriend DOES come around. That new house IS purchased. That baby DOES arrive.

And in those moments, we feel blessed. We praise God.  We see Him in hindsight as the details unfold before our eyes. And we understand.

But we need to believe as it’s happening. Not just when it’s ending. We know and we understand when all is said and done. But we need to know and believe as well, when it’s not.

We need to believe in God’s faithfulness. In His deep love for us.

Why would God not part the seas for me? Why would He not send the rescuers? What reason could there be, for God to not make the walls of my Jericho tumble before me?

There is none. No reason.

He can. He wants to.

He wants to part the seas for us. He wants us to call on Him. In belief.

Let’s do it BEFORE the “never” actually comes to pass. For even though it’s great to praise Him when our prayers are answered, it’s even greater to believe Him fearing they won’t.

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