Royal Wedding

I’m not awake intentionally at 2:30am. I know there are those people who are staying up tonight to watch the Royal Wedding coverage but the nuptials haven’t garnered that attention from me. Admittedly, Charles and Diana’s wedding day was a far bigger deal.

For one thing, I was 17 and most teenage girls are fascinated with the idea of what it must be like to become a princess. Secondly, there was the fairy tale ending of “…and they lived happily ever after” which is the dream of every woman, young or old.    Like most of the world, I watched Diana blossom into a proud mother to an independent woman involved in worthy causes to a heartbroken princess and when news came of her auto accident I was struck to the core with sadness.

I couldn’t tear myself away from the television, waiting for an update on her condition and it was in the wee hours of the night (probably about this time, in fact) when they officially announced her passing. I remember weeping with unexplainable anguish…in part because I, too, was a mom of young children. In part because it was too tragic for words. The demise of that fairy tale had ended with the divorce but there was a sense that, like any good novel, there would be a plot twist and all would end well in the end. Of course, that wasn’t meant to be.

Today, it’s sweet to think of William marrying a young woman who is wearing his mothers engagement ring. He resembles his mother so much and maybe we just want to see him get all of the happiness that, ultimately, she did not.

The wedding that will take place in a few hours in London does seem more interesting to me as the minutes tick by. Although I really don’t understand the overall fascination with the royal family, I’m not immune to the hype that surrounds them. All of the pomp and circumstance aside, this is a young couple who are beginning their married lives today. It’s a new chapter. It’s a new “Once Upon a Time….”

Right Here. Right Now.

There’s something about checking off tasks that is just insanely satisfying.
This week, with lots more time on my hands than I am used to having (love it!), I tackled the items I have been putting off for months. Shamefully, I wish I were exaggerating but I am not.
Does anyone else have a drawer full of paperwork that needs attention? Can I just say that I actually had an unopened electric statement from November? I located a 1098 statement that I forgot to include on our tax return, too. That, alone, is irritating ~ probably shorted myself like $1.25 on my tax return. Awesome coupons were in that drawer, long ago expired. Christmas greeting cards (oops), a running magazine (I forgot I even ran!), and a wedding card for somebody that had never been signed.
What started as a 4″ pile of randomness was reduced to a manageable 1″ pile pretty quickly. I had to ask myself why I kept throwing stuff in that drawer and the answer was twofold. One, W hates anything on the counter (oh, except his random pile of sunglasses, wallet, iPod and work ID cards). Two, I lied and told myself I’d open that drawer and go through it the next day.
Guess what happened? The more junk that was thrown in there, the more I avoided the task. I procrastinated…too bad that’s not a lucrative or marketable skill.

Anyway, this week I stared at that menacing drawer from across the room, threw back a shot (of caffeine~duh), and went in with both barrels. I attacked and conquered, I sorted and purged, and I smiled and celebrated. It was so good that I hit another task and another after that ~ there was no stopping me!  The frenzy was kind of reminiscent of my moms cleaning rampages…well, minus the drawer of randomness. She never had those.

There’s a moral to this triumphant story. Obviously, there’s something to be said for entering your kitchen without dread but, more importantly, the task wasn’t nearly as daunting as I had imagined in my head. Things we dread rarely are.  I had avoided this manageable burden to the point where it had become completely unmanageable in my head. 

There is no time like the present to do the things we don’t want to do…from household chores to apologizing to confronting to forgiving. Maybe it’s been something you’ve thought about doing for awhile and you’ve labeled it too big to deal with…chances are it’s still manageable and you can walk away feeling like you conquered something and that’s worth celebrating.

 

This Means War

My obedience to God has taken a bit of a toll on me. As a Christian, we know this walk is not easy. We know that things happen in His time and not our own and we know that continued faith will give us strength to find our way to the other side of a difficult situation.
Even so, we are flesh and our flesh can grow tired while waiting for healing, discernment, or an end to volatility, unrest or disharmony.

I am not alone, I know, when my mind begins to unravel and the white flag of surrender is poised in my hand. It is in those moments when I convince myself that my faith about certain situations improving or my faith in God to move mountains, begins to falter and the urge to be resentful about being obedient seems so easy.

It is in those moments where our head convinces us to rebel. It is in those moments, the hardest moments, when we have to remain on the path. That’s not easily done for an immature Christian; when the lessons of obedience haven’t yet resonated. It isn’t always easy for those of us considered mature Christians, either.

Sometimes we wonder why we have to see pain around us and in our homes; why lessons have to be repeated, why hearts remain set in pride, and why people hurt other people. I am right in the middle of that feeling.  I am smack dab in the middle of asking God why He just doesn’t heal my wounds, exposed and raw for years now, and just grant me some peace. I am right in the middle of crying out that I don’t deserve this unrest in my heart and that I have earned respect that I’m not receiving.

I feel like jumping off the train of obedience and just admitting I’m tired. My soul is tired. My heart  is tired. It’s what I feel like, though, and I just want to be honest here. There is no shame in being worn out but there are great blessings, I believe, in staying on the right path despite how we feel.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Isaiah 58:11
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Proverbs 3:6
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

If you’re tired of a battle, know that I’m praying for you today. I’m praying for your obedience and for God to lead us both on the right path. I’m praying for renewed strength to stand firm in whatever battle is placed before me. I’m praying for you, too.

Be blessed.

Standing firm

The sermon at church last night was a particularly good one~ all about our fear of rejection; how many people want to be accepted by their friends, family, peers, and co-workers to the extent that their morals and beliefs sometimes suffer.

Maybe boundaries and beliefs are so ill-defined for some that standing on the rock is more like standing in quicksand. Hmmm…..

I am happy to report that the fear of rejection is something I’ve conquered. I am no longer a slave to that misery ~ I try to live an authentic existence and if someone doesn’t care to respect my beliefs, then I can sever any tie with them in a New York minute. I know that’s direct and I know it’s very black and white. Drastic? Maybe.

Notice that I didn’t say you have to agree with my beliefs and opinions. There are many people who disagree with me on a number of items and that’s healthy ~ we can agree to disagree or we can have a great discussion or we can be open to changing our minds on some select topics… or we can avoid some subjects altogether.  That said, I’m going to respect their viewpoints and I expect the same from them.

No respect = no relationship

Here’s a really good example of what I’m referring to. Years ago, my best friend at the time refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at a sporting event, citing her religion (of which she was a lukewarm participant, at best) forbade the honoring of our flag.  To add insult to injury, she had come to this country as a child with her family to escape communist rule. So I had this teensy little problem with her decision to not stand and pledge allegiance to the country that had afforded her amazing opportunities and a safe haven from dictatorship. She felt she couldn’t promise to be loyal (there’s the pledge) to our country…her country. It blew me away and created distance in our friendship. This was long before I even knew I had convictions!

I couldn’t respect the decision and our relationship suffered for a time. In the time since that event, I can’t even begin to the count the number of people who have eliminated me as a friend based on my beliefs or vice versa. I’m not only OK with that, I live in full peace with that. Apologies and explanations aren’t necessary ~ it just is what it is.

Last nights message was affirming to hear because I’ve questioned whether I’m “doing the right thing” by refusing to have people in my life that disrespect boundaries, beliefs or morals. I am clearly “doing the right thing”.  Good message for me~ might be a good message for you.

Be blessed!
Amy

When I grow up, I want…..

Do you remember being asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you recall being asked about your dreams and goals?

Ridiculous as it is, I remember my father saying from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper that I could be Miss America if I wanted to be. Maybe there were occasions when he mentioned I could be the President of the United States or a CEO or a Wall Street tycoon but I don’t recollect those times. Instead, I could be Miss America. Fact is, I probably had a better shot of being a brain surgeon.

I don’t hold it against my dad that he set my sights on being pretty ~ I’m sure he meant it as a compliment. The truth is, however, that he sold me short. As I reflect back, the sting is less grievous than it once was; I can accept the intent of his words and largely ignore the result of how the words affected me.

There is a Christian book currently making the rounds titled “Captivating” and the premise is that little girls do dream of being a princess or a Miss America; it’s simply part of who we are. Oftentimes, we grow up and then fall into a pattern of selling ourselves short, too. It’s an interesting pressure we apply to ourselves.  The authors of this book, John and Stasi Eldredge, really nailed how I’ve come to think of myself during those detached moments when I forget that I am a child of God. I hadn’t articulated the feeling until I read the following:

“Every woman I’ve ever met feels it — something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.”

We are our own worst enemy at times. The saddest thing about this passage, for me, is that I recognize this same thought pattern in my own very independent daughter and it’s not because I encouraged her to just be the pretty girl. It’s because, like so many of us, she is this fascinating creation of a complex woman. There’s so much to be said for being in fellowship with other women who can remind us of who we are and how special we are.

If you’re a woman, make a point to find some of those women today who remind you and lift you up.   If you’re a man, give those women in your life (mom, wife, girlfriend, daughters or sisters) a little word about how truly awesome they are…because they are.

It all comes down to this

Stumbleupon.com allowed me to stumble upon this little gem that was originally posted on a blog titled “Live the Charmed Life”.  Great, great stuff so sit back with a cup of coffee and drink it in.  I’ve placed my favorites in bold….

It begins…

You see, when we’re born we see the world in an uncomplicated way. We know what we need, and we ask for it. We like nice people, and we don’t like mean people. We sleep when we’re tired, we eat when we’re hungry, and we stop eating when we’re full.

As we grow older, we eat and drink to console ourselves, rather than addressing what’s bothering us. We overwork to avoid close relationships, rather than finding people we can trust to form strong bonds with. We hold grudges, play games, spend more than we make, want things we don’t need, and we get too far away from our basic human needs. In other words, we complicate things.

Today, on what would have been my grandfather’s 88th birthday, I dedicate this list to my Papa. Thank you for everything. I finally get it.

1. Don’t try to read other people’s minds

2. Get up 30 minutes earlier so that you don’t rush/get a ticket while driving too fast/have to explain why you’re late/get fired

3. Get 8 hours of sleep per night so that you think more clearly

4. Stick to your budget

5. Start saving and investing every week, no matter how little you can spare

6. Balance your checkbook

7. Don’t try to be friends with everyone. Cultivate closer relationships with fewer people.

8. Don’t try to do business with everyone. Identify your target client and take very good care of them.

9. Before getting angry, ask yourself if it will really matter in 20 years

10. Focus on being a good person, not on pleasing others

11. Stay home this Saturday, and finish off that nagging chore that you need to finish

12. Kiss and make up

13. Make a weekly menu, and shop for only those items at the market

14. Ask your grandparents the best way to uncomplicate life, and try it for a month

15. Fill up your gas tank when it’s half full

16. Don’t drink alcohol when you’re tired, sad or mad

17. Pay your bills on time

18. Get an annual physical examination

19. Say “I love you” to your significant other and to your children. Studies show that more marriages last, and fewer kids use drugs, when these words are spoken every day.

20. For just one day, imagine everyone’s intentions are good because most people’s are

21. Give away clothes that haven’t been worn in two years

22. Throw out clothes that are in disrepair, and can’t be mended

23. When you have a conflict with someone, talk it out. Don’t let it turn into more than it is.

24. Know what your priorities are in life, and act as if they are your priorities

25. Tell the truth

26. Don’t cheat

27. Don’t steal

28. If you’re holding on to a ridiculous grudge, let it go

29. Clean your house weekly, so that it doesn’t become too large a chore

30. Do your best at work, or at school

31. Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry

32. Eat when you are hungry

33. Be yourself

34. Say no unapologetically

35. Cook simple meals

36. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses

37. Pay off your car before buying a new one

38. Organise your desk at the office

39. Change your smoke alarm batteries when the clocks spring forward, and again when they fall back

40. Organise your important paperwork

41. Take only half the clothes that you planned to take with you on holiday

42. Help your children with their homework every night, and have an open dialogue with their teachers

43. Have white sheets and white towels in children’s rooms/bathrooms, because they’re easily bleached

44. Spend your time with nice people

45. Avoid drama

46. Don’t text or talk on the phone while driving

47. Turn off the television/video games/computer; they’re time consumers

48. Don’t engage in office politics

49. Refuse to gossip, or talk behind other people’s backs

50. Do the dishes right after dinner

51. Never go to sleep angry

52. Ask nicely for what you need and want

53. Walk 10,000 steps per day to help your heart

54. Do 20 push-ups before speaking in anger

55. Leave work at work

56. Don’t befriend anyone that isn’t trustworthy

57. Don’t envy others

58. Have your oil changed

59. Take vitamin C BEFORE you catch a cold

60. Don’t work more than 8 hours per day

61. Weed your garden weekly

62. Wash your car weekly

63. Have a spring cleaning month every year, and do one room at a time

64. You don’t need to be best friends with work colleagues, but build respectful partnerships

65. Don’t drink and drive

66. Don’t look for reasons to be angry or sad, look for reasons to be happy. You’ll always be able to find plenty of each.

67. Be friendly with your neighbours

68. Return emails and phone messages promptly

69. Schedule in free time

70. Don’t procrastinate

71. Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it

72. Be more flexible when you’re able to be

73. Forgive and forget. End of story.

74. Break the consumerism habit…put a three month moratorium in place on buying anything not deemed a necessity

75. Start your diet on September 1, rather than January 1, so that you won’t also have holiday pounds to lose

76. Take care of any health issues or concerns

77. Have your tires rotated

78. Have your brakes checked

79. Have your eyes checked

80. Don’t let your imagination run away with you

81. Let go of perfection in others

82. Let go of perfection in yourself

83. Don’t try to help those that refuse to help themselves

84. Find a way to reduce your commute to work

85. Have an alloted amount of worry time per day/week, that you strictly abide by

86. Drink more water

87. Eat more salmon

88. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill

89. Wear your hair in a classic, easy to care for style

90. Finish what you start

91. Wear classic clothes and shoes that never go out of style

92. Create a daily routine

93. Have a 1, 5, 10 and 20 year plan for your financial and life goals

94. Slow down

95. Eat out less often

96. When you ask your husband which outfit looks best, thank him for his answer and wear the one he liked rather than focusing on why he didn’t like the other one

97. Allow your children to grow up

98. Clean out your garage, and donate anything that hasn’t been used in the past year

99. Stretch every day

100. If a relationship is over, let it go

Be blessed, friends…Amy

Just another Monday

My last week working as an Assimilation Director will be spent primarily from home ~ that’s the beauty of a web-based database. I can literally do everything from my dining room table. Gather my data, follow up with people, and answer emails all in a fraction of the time I can get those same tasks completed in my office. I love that there are those who really embrace the idea of getting the job done from wherever you are!

I cleared out my office last week when only a few people were left in the hallway ~ the tears flowed freely and as I shut the door to go home with the final box overflowing with 4 years of memories, and leaving only my lamps to be retrieved this week, I had to pause before hearing the familiar sound of the door locking behind me. It is so bittersweet. Much accomplished and much I had wanted to see done but that’s for someone else now.

My focus will shift in time and I’ll be less sad than I am this morning. I’m a girl that hates good-byes; always have. There were plans made for the staff to meet in the sanctuary this Thursday to pray for me and to offer their well wishes and though I LOVE the gesture, it isn’t in the cards for me. Last Thursday was incredibly difficult and the very idea of being an emotional basket case in front of people I have come to view as my second family is just too much. More than I can do. I hate good-byes.

Back to work emails and issues for now ~ God is touching lives and it’s my job to follow up! Have a blessed week, all….and thank you for your kind words in the last several days. You have no idea what you mean to me.

Amy

Decisions

We are in the midst of an unsteady economy and I did the unthinkable. I resigned from my position on Tuesday and unless you despise your job~ which I do not~ there is a mixed bag of emotions and I have, admittedly, shed some tears.
At the same time, God is giving me peace in this decision. There are other things for me to do; the time had come. Having spent over 4 years in various positions at my home church, I will leave behind the familiarity of staff who have become close friends and volunteers who have come alongside me to serve in various ministries. I will leave behind relationships.
I pour a lot into friendships and wear my heart on my sleeve. This afternoon, as I shared the news with a few select people who happened by my office door, it became harder to say the words each time.  Finally, I just called it a day and headed to the car.

Despite our best intentions, our lunches together will become sparse and when I attend service on Saturday or Sunday, I  will no longer be privy to the items discussed in staff meetings or the plans for future projects.
My workplace will become my place of worship. Period.

Life is made up of transitions and this is the beginning of a beautiful transition. I made a difference where I was and I intend to make a difference where I am going ~ this isn’t anything more than putting on another hat and finding a new passion…and there are many in my head. I sit in anticipation of what God has in store and what doors will be flung open.  In any case, there is peace in the decision. I will draw closer and wait.

While I wait, I will write. I will paint the guest room that I bought paint for 9 months ago and never had the time to execute the task. I will cook! I will play with the dogs and I will take an occasional afternoon nap. I will read! I will spend much more time in quiet devotion and reflection and I will browse B&N book shelves while sipping on a Starbucks chai tea latte. I will refresh my soul and renew my spirit.

I will become a more devoted wife who isn’t too tired to discuss daily events or walk the dogs after dinner. I will have time to focus on home projects and eliminating clutter…in the cabinets and on the calendar.

This is a transition I wasn’t expecting until God’s promptings made it so clear that even I could no longer deny the push. There are no regrets and no misgivings…His peace is all over this decision… but the rest is still unwritten.

Blessings!!
Amy

Happy Birthday? Yes, it was!

Oh my….another birthday come and gone. Thankfully, I’m not one of those people who gets all caught up in numbers. Far more important is

  • who am I surrounded by this year? Who did I not know last year? Who will be brought into my life in the coming year?
  • what things have I done right in the last year? What have I done wrong? What can I do to become better?
  • has my relationship with God grown? Are there things I need to be doing to stretch myself?
  • How is my health? Do I remember to be thankful for the health and happiness of those closest to me?
  • Are my basic necessities covered? Food, shelter? Can I remember, daily, to be grateful because that puts me in a ridiculously small percentage of the worlds population.
  • Am I helping others? Can I do more to help others?

My day was spent with my husband of many, many years. It was perfect from beginning to end. My daughter sent me a beautiful flower arrangement. My son texted me that my age means nothing….that I don’t really need to worry for a few more years. 🙂  Dozens of friends wished me a Happy Birthday.

I’m blessed…and even with the “bad” days…I am thankful. It was a happy birthday and it is going to be a beautiful year.

Have a blessed day, friends!

Amy

Storms!

On Thursday, there were 9 tornadoes that touched down here in Tampa Bay. It was one of those days that wreaked havoc in this area. As I was driving to work, the rain was intermittent and on one road, there was actually a break in the clouds off in the distance so I was hopeful we were in the clear. It was not to be. Just as I was about 2 miles from work I made my last turn and, literally, was face to face with an enormous black wall of the angriest clouds I’ve seen in recent memory. The lightning was so rapid that counting the strikes would have been futile and I had a little pang of fear as I wondered if 2 miles was close enough for me to get indoors.

As it turned out, I barely got out of my car and in the church prior to this wind sheer coming through and the electricity going out in the sanctuary I was cutting through. The sanctuary is enormous and I found myself in the middle of a pitch black room with howling winds and torrential downpouring. It wasn’t my finest moment. Add to that the text I happened to get right as this is all going on from my boss….”Hey, you may want to stay home and work from there today. Weather is pretty bad.” Not the best timing. 🙂

This storm did some pretty substantial damage. Tornadoes are crazy~ popping in, popping out, indiscreet in where they touch down, unpredictable and leaving behind the most bizarre things. This is a picture of a home where the roof was ripped off and yet the chairs and curtains look pretty untouched….how does that even happen?

It’s kind of like the storms in life.    Things are going relatively well, your  head is above water, and then~ out of  nowhere ~ disaster strikes.

In the midst of our “life” disasters, it seems at first glance that we’ve lost everything. It seems as though the devastation is more than we can bear, doesn’t it?

When we have had time to recover, though, we are able to reflect and see that some things were left in tact despite the disaster. The human spirit then kicks in and we pick up what’s left and begin to rebuild. That’s how life works.

The day after the storms, the day was brilliant. Perfect; not a cloud in the sky. That’s how life works.