New Year Changes

best-leadership-blogs-2015What is it about January that brings such a demand for change? And not just because the year date changes over. I’ll admit I fell off of the bandwagon toward the end of last year. It’s the same excuse as anyone might have, “the holidays were crazy”, “there was just so much going on”, “I realized I am still a new mom and maybe I bit off more than I could chew”, or plain and simple “I’ve just been busy.”

But here I am! I am back! January New Year’s Resolution anyone? Yes, I have those. No, it’s not to blog more. Although, I do enjoy writing. I have a deeper challenge of purpose in doing so. The new year celebration came and went in a whirlwind. Actually, I think this may be the first time in my life (at least as an adult) that I did not stay awake until midnight. (It’s amazing what you are capable of when you are a new mom, or in my case, not capable of…keeping my eyes open past 9:30 or 10:00 pm.) Anyway, I did not take the time this year to start off a list of goals for 2019, like has been my routine for so many previous years. However, over the course of the last two weeks, I have dedicated to reading (a book I got for Christmas) and also devoting some thought to the skill of leadership. (Among other things like once again cutting out sugar, eating healthier, etc.)

Leadership has been strong on my heart as I realize every day the growing influence I now have on the tiny human that now uses my entire house as her playpen. Once upon a time I invested a lot of time and energy into the study of leadership, the practice of leadership and even my own library of books on leadership. Leadership is a skill that anyone can posses. It’s also a role that most everyone has. Yes. If there is one person that you are responsible for, you are a leader. So yes, stay at home mom, you may have one child or 10 children. You are a leader. Your child may be 1 day old, one week old, one year old or 20 years old. You are a leader. Or if you are a mom out in the work place, you lead there too. Whether you are the bottom of the corporate ladder or the CEO. You are a leader. My new year brought to me a self evaluation of my leadership and unfortunately, I realized I have not made any investment into its development in a very long time. My leadership got rusty. So part of the new year change I committed to for 2019 is to brush up on my leadership and grow in this area of my life.

I hope you will join me on this journey as I share with you what I learn and the areas I am challenged in.

Happy New Year, Mama! ❤

Finality In Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know it’s been some time since my last post; a month or so to be exact. Where does the time go? I am sharing today out of the experience of loss. It seems this year, more specifically this last month has been a season of loss. From the family pet (as shared previously), to a dear friend from an earlier chapter of my life, to most recently, my beloved grandma and last living grandparent.

My grandma passed from this life two weeks ago yesterday. My parents and I with my little one in tow, flew back west to San Francisco to spend her last few hours together and lay her to rest with my grandpa who died 9 years ago from cancer. As I sat rocking my baby girl in the spare room off the kitchen while listening to the hushed whispers of family gathering around Grandma’s hospice bed in the livingroom, my mind was flooded with so many cherished memories in that house and even in that room. I began to think about all the “never be” thoughts. And even as the funeral procession drove passed her house one final time later that week, I thought that as connected as that house makes me feel to my grandparents, the truth is grandma will never step foot in that house again. I was struck with the word “finality”. Why is death such a hard thing to deal with for us? Is it because it is so final? 

The more I thought about this, I came to the realization and the hope in this. We as humans in the physical realm only know time contraints, beginning and endings, and death. However, our spirit man/woman was created eternal. We have to calling to eternal life. God has put inside us the promise of eternal life in Him. (That is hard to wrap my head around.) I only understand beginnings and endings. Finality. But God is eternal. He always is, always has been and forever will be. He beckons us to be with Him in eternity. So I think that death creates this tension between our physical and our spiritual. It seems impossible to be so final and yet that is what our physical beings know. The truth is, it is not final (only here in the physical sense).

I realized something about myself through the process of “saying goodbye.” Maybe this is because I had a different relationship over the years with my grandparents than my cousins (who grew up in the same city/county as them). As I watched grandma take her final breath, my cousins each approached her bedside giving her a final kiss. Even at the funeral, various family members touched her hand and kissed her one last time before the casket was closed (again, a moment of finality). I stood off to the side personally. My dad came to me and asked if I had gotten a chance to get closer to her to see her one last time. I shook my head and said that I couldn’t. It’s not that I was freaked out or spooked by the idea of touching a dead body. I think it was more out of a realization that the body was now seperate from the spirit. And that body isn’t Grandma anymore. It looks like her, but the truth is, she is not here. She is in eternity already. And I trust that, when it is my turn to leave this world, I will see her again. I have this hope, that as Grandma put her faith in Christ, she will continue on in eternity with Him. And someday I will join up with her there.  So while my heart is saddened by what my flesh understands in finality, my spirit is encouraged by the promise of eternity.

Just sharing my heart today ❤

My Ask Is Broken

Let’s talk about faith. I recently joined a lifegroup at church and we are studying this topic. We are reading through Ever Increasing Faith by Smith Wigglesworth. I will be honest, I consider myself a decently diverse reader. However, I am struggling a bit with this man’s writing as well as his passion, fervency and all out pentecostal zeal of faith. That is probably because I tend to be much more cautious in my faith steps. (I recognize I am a work in progress. LOL!)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”   -Matthew 7:7  NKJV 

This scripture has been almost a haunting in my life for several years. You see, to most people, I would assume this would be like a coupon for something free. The easy ticket. Or maybe I just make it way more complicated in my over-analytical brain than it needs to be. I have never been one to quickly ask for anything. Call it my own stubborn self-reliant pride, but I try to do everything myself first. And ask only if it is absolutely necessary.

But my journey to motherhood started here. My tiny mustard seed faith granule was in a simple “ask.” Not so simple for me. Long story short, we had been trying to start a family since we got married. I assumed it would happen quite quickly. And let’s face it, we are not getting any younger. But after a year and a half of negative pregnancy tests, I was extremely discouraged. I mean, I tried everything in my own power (i.e. change of diet, exercise, essential oils, every tip and trick on pinterest, etc…) It. Was. Not. Happening. And to be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly at a place spiritually where I felt close to God or worthy of asking Him for anything. (Not that that is relavant.) One day we were driving and talking. My husband asked me if I had prayed for a baby, if I had asked God. Candidly, I answered no. My admition of that alone pierced my own heart with conviction. But the pride held on tight. The following week I was sitting in the office of a friend in dispair that another month had come and proved that we had not conceived. I shared my heart and brokeness with her. She said, “You have to ask. You have to speak the words in faith, the desire of your heart. Ask God for a baby.” So in a sobbing and trembling voice, I finally asked. I prayed aloud in that office and asked God for the desire in my heart. I can’t even say that in that moment I believed He would do it. I just felt the relief from the pride that had held my heart captive. I think my real step of faith and belief came one month later, to the day (I believe).

My husband and I had run to Walmart one evening. He had to get razors and I had to get some feminine hygiene products knowing it would routinely be needed in the next few days. I told him I would go get what I needed, while he went the next isle over to get what he needed. As I turned down the isle I stopped in front of the pregnancy tests first. I thought for a second, contemplating the if. (I think this was my faith opportunity. I believe it with all my heart.) My husband came and joined me saying he thought I needed other items. He joked and asked if there was something I needed to tell him. I smiled and as I grabbed the pink box, said “Actually, I think I am going to get this instead. As a step of faith. So we will see.” I did not purchase what I had intended to that night. And a week later, I used that pink boxed test and it proved POSITIVE!

Obviously, now 18 months later, I have a beautiful 9 month old baby girl. I would say the rest is history, but really that was a monumental experience in my relationship with God.  And I believe a catalyst for my journey drawing closer to Him. I don’t know if my “ask” is fixed, but I do know that it took a lot for me to ask. And just a tiny step of faith proved huge in the reaping. One of the things that Wigglesworth talks about in his book is “imperfect faith.” I had to sit back and chew on this one for a minute. How do we aquire perfect faith? He goes on to talk about having intimacy with Christ builds a perfect faith. That love draws us into perfect faith. I also believe that when we feel distant from Him, our imperfect faith can draw us closer to Him. Because any faith at all requires laying down our pride. It’s in the baby steps. And they crazy amazing this is, each step we take grows our faith. I don’t think it will be as hard for me to ask the next time around. However, I am challenged by the notion that I don’t have to wait for the next time I desire a child, to ask of Him. What are things in my life that I should be asking Him for now, that I am not? I can only discover this by seeking His heart. And then asking in faith out of that love relationship with Him.

So that’s it. This is me. A midlife mom, working out her faith.

 

Marked Beyond Reason

Ok so, I think it’s obvious that my goal to post every week at the same time, just is not going to happen. (But what are you gonna do?) On the bright side, it IS still Monday. So I am at least hitting the day right this week. (Lol!)

This week’s challenge has nothing to do with being a mom and all about being me (who is a mom, so I guess it all ties together in the end anyway).

My pastor has been doing a series on the Gospel of Mark, each week breaking down a chapter. We just covered Chapter 4 yesterday. And although all the chapter teaching thus far have been great. I think Chapter 2 has stood out to me the most. You could say it has “marked” me the most. (Pun intended).

A comment that he made in his message really stuck with me. He said, “Faith is not reasonable.” Now, I consider myself a reasonable person (and proud to be). That is not typically considered a negative trait to possess. I don’t necessarily consider myself an intellectual, but I believe we would be in the same boat; reasonable and rational with the ability to think our thoughts in overdrive. Or in other words, all too often overthink things.

//C O N F E S S I O N//

I over-analyze most everything! It gets me into so much trouble.

Faith, on the other hand, does not function in the realm of rationale, reasoning or neatly analyzed. Faith is not reasonable. If it were, it would not be faith.

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘ Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” —He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Mark 2:6-12 NKJV

Now there are a few things in this passage that I find interesting and convicting. The scribes (intellectuals, educated individuals, lawyers, Secretaries of State, influential… you get the picture) at witnessing what just happened (you can back up and read vs. 1-5) began to rationalize, reason in their HEARTS. Not like they were talking out loud amongst themselves! See we rationalizers? We get our wheels turning before we ever “process” out loud to someone else. (Be very afraid when we reasonable folk are quiet, lol!)

I think after reading this passage a hundred times, I read it today with a brighter light.

Scribes: “Wouldn’t it make more sense to command him to walk? Because forgiving of sins, that is irrelevant and plus only God can forgive sin. Surely, he didn’t intend this blasphemy.” See… it would be rational that a man command a magic trick, an illusion and maybe baffle them all. And if it didn’t work, they’d all just get a laugh of entertainment. But going as far as forgiving sin? That was just incomprehensible.

Here is the really cool part (remember it didn’t say that any of this was said out loud but only reasoned in their hearts). Jesus KNEW what they were thinking!

Jesus: (to the scribes) “So which is easier? To say ‘your sins are forgiven’ (because yes that was my intent… the bigger issue) or pick up your mat and walk?…….. “But so you can know that the son of man does have the power to forgive sins (watch this, if you need to see something reasonable)….. turns to the lame guy (the paralytic) “Go ahead take your bed, get up and walk.”

He baffled them! Blew them away! Showed them something they had never seen. And they gave God the glory.

What do I take from all of this? Being a reasonable analytic myself? Even when I get lost in my own head of what or how I think things should be or happen, Jesus still knows me. He knows my heart. His power in my life should not be rational or reasonable. I have to live by faith to believe for the things that don’t make sense. My faith in Christ is not rational… no matter how much I try to give it reasonable parameters or put it in black and white. It’s not something I should be able to wrap my head around. Does this mean that we as believers live in La La Land and start believing and proclaiming squirrelly stuff? No I wouldn’t i that far. One of my college leaders once said (speaking spiritually) “don’t be ten miles wide and only two inches deep.” That’s squirrelly. But there has to be a depth to our faith. In order to dig deeper we have think through faith and not reason.

//FAITH IS NOT REASONABLE//

‭‭

Regrets & Rushing A Sleepy Baby

So— I did not post last week. It was a long week. And to be honest, I just had no words. Almost three years ago I acquired a rather mangy old dog when I got married. He wasn’t a big dog and he had breath that could make a cadaver cringe. But he was extremely loyal and faithful. My husband got him as a puppy almost 13 years ago. And Toby adored his master/boss man. Being home all day, Toby often followed me around from room to room and especially when I began to prepare dinner in the kitchen. Let’s be honest it was the prospect of falling food bits that kept him at my heels, not the devotion to me. But when my husband walked in the door home from work, this little dog could hardly contain himself. I mentioned in a previous post my impatience with him though, because as good of a dog as he was, he always had a way of being so annoying. And the perfect time for this was more often than not, when I was sleep deprived and handling a fussy infant.

I speak of him in past tense, because sadly he passed away this last week week. Suddenly, I find myself filled with regret and missing his smelly, noisy presence. I should have been more patient. I should have given him more attention. I should have been more understanding that he was old.

Regret over impatience is a heavy feeling. I think impatience is a feeling that is easy to succumb to, but the regret of it in hindsight is much more swift.

love sweet face portrait

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sunday afternoons are typically family meal gatherings at our house. A chance for the grandparents to visit and spend time with baby. On this particular Sunday, my little one was just done about halfway through the afternoon. Lunch was ready and we were getting ready to sit down. She was ready for a nap and was not interested in joining the meal. So I told everyone to go ahead and get started without me. I would get her down and rejoin in a bit. I have to be honest, as I sat there rocking and nursing her, I couldn’t help but feel a bit impatient. And as tired as she was, she was not ready to fall asleep and let me put her in bed. I sat in the quiet of the nursery and could hear the laughter and conversations out in the kitchen. Suddenly there was this internal itch to get out there and do what I do….host. But in that moment, I feel like the Holy Spirit spoke something to my heart. And that is, you can’t rush a sleepy baby. And I really don’t want to. God knows that this season is short. I don’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t hold her more, or snuggle her more. Even more than that, I don’t want to regret not having more patience to focus on her and her needs, for trying to rush her to sleep so I could go about my tasks.

See as moms, I think it’s easy to think on the practical. She is fed, so I know she is not hungry. She has a dry diaper. She is rubbing her eyes so I know she is tired. Why is it taking so long for her to actually go to sleep?? Sometimes it’s not just about the physical and practical needs. Sometimes, after a weekend of events, family gatherings, meeting a bunch of new people, being held and passed around…. sometimes they just need us emotionally. We are their safe place. They need to feel us, our skin close to theirs. They need our smell. And she was definitely soaking it in, completely at rest (not sleep) in my arms nestled close to my heartbeat. I often forget that at 8 months old she has still been inside of me and attached physically longer than she has been outside and detached.

So, I have to remind myself to slow down and be patient and just embrace these moments. She will not always need me like this, so if she wants to snuggle for thirty minutes or forty-five minutes before she finally goes to sleep… I am ok with that.

Take joy in this season, whichever that one is, so you won’t regret it later.

Don’t rush, mama!

Coffee & Cutting Teeth

caffeine coffee cup drink

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Happy Monday Ya’ll!

And no, it’s not Fall ….yet. Although, after this heat advisory week, I am so ready for it!

So today, let’s talk coffee, which ironically, I have not brewed any this morning. Lol! I think my addiction began somewhere in college. I’m really not sure. Honestly, I think I started off as kind of a lightweight. My college had one of those flavored cappuccino machines in the cafeteria. You know the kind they have in gas stations. It’s more water and flavored creamer than it is any source of caffeine. Over time my taste for coffee grew as well as my need. It was this whole sub-culture of young people who “survived on coffee” and whose lives revolved around coffee. I mean who hasn’t been sucked into the allure of the cool urban coffee house with its hip music set perfect for the time of day, the endless tables with cool views, and now unlimited source of wifi? Especially living in the city, I relied on my favorite baristas and those expensive cups of java to-go with my name scribbled on them with a sharpie. And the stronger the brew the better! And somehow over the years my watered and milked down flavored cappuccino morphed to straight almost black coffee (strong enough to wake the dead) with maybe a splash of half n’ half and a packet of Splenda.

Then I moved to the Midwest, where I discovered people more often drink the commercial classic coffee grounds from a can, and nowhere near as strong! And the cool hip corner coffee house on every corner doesn’t exist here. I started brewing my own at home as a self proclaimed coffee snob. The coffee they brewed at the office was just not up to par. And most of the time tasted burnt. Now my coffee friend has become a morning splurge when needed, commonly enjoyed on the weekends when my husband is home and it’s more convenient to brew an almost half pot.

But sometimes, when you have a teething infant coffee is very much needed! EVERY DAY! Lol! So my almost 8 month old has cut four teeth now. Her two top ones came through this week. The 2-3 days leading up to their final breakthrough were pretty rough. She had a hard time sleeping and one of the nights she woke up every 45 minutes to an hour …ALL NIGHT LONG. Come morning you are desperately grabbing for the coffee pot to down as much caffeine as you can in the hopes of somewhat coming back to life. Now we are on the blissful downhill coast of relief as she slept close to 12 hours last night. Who needs coffee when you get that much sleep?! Hahahaha I haven’t slept this much in 8 months!

For now we enjoy the break (and the coffee) until the next round of teeth come through.

MY PERSONAL COFFEE RECOMENDATIONS (For home brew)

I keep Seattle’s Best in my cupboard. It’s just as good as my favorite Starbucks beans (Breakfast Blend or House Blend or Sumatra) but $2 – $3 cheaper. I usually buy Portside Fair Trade Organic or the Henry’s Blend is good as well. Not too acidic in my opinion. As a treat once in a while I will get the Toasted Hazelnut. My husband and I are not big “flavored coffee” people but we both love Hazelnut Coffee. And Seattle’s Best has a delicious one! And you can buy SB at Walmart or Target. Hey, I’m also not made of money to spend a ton on coffee. A splurge for me would be Peet’s Major Dickison’s Blend, strong bold and delicious!

Reach

child-reachingOne of the amazing and humbling things about being a (new) parent is the lessons you suddenly begin learning from watching your child grow.

// C O N F E S S I O N // #1

I am about to be very transparent on a personal and spiritual level. Yes, I had one of those convicting moments recently. God showed me something that I learned years ago, but I got the real life image of it yesterday. 

My little one is now almost 8 months old, and my husband and I have been working with her to reach out to us when she wants to be picked up or when she is done in her bouncer or highchair. We hold our hands out to her and say “reach” or “out please” in an attempt to coax her into reaching for us.  (There is just something so precious about a tiny human that reaches out to you!)

// C O N F E S S I O N // #2

I am admittedly jealous that she has reached out for her daddy on several ocassions, but when I say “reach” she just stares at my hands and kicks her feet in excitement. (What does that mean???)

Years ago, I completed an internship in which I studied worship for 2 years among other things. One of the things we learned was the why’s of a variety of expressions of worship in the church (i.e. singing, clapping, raising hands, dancing, shouting, playing music, waving banners, etc). Now, I am not by nature a loud or highly expressive individual, but most of these expressions I have been comfortable with in my worship experience to a certain degree. However, for the sake of the length of this post I am going to cut to the chase. And this is the hardest part for me to share as it’s real and a raw part of me. Somewhere in the last few years, my worship experience has shifted or grown stagnant, for reasons I am not going to explain here. But to give you a picture for understanding, I was the one hiding in the shadows unable to even sing along with the songs let alone express any other way. This has been my wrestling with my God on personal issues that (in all honesty) I should humble myself in and get over. I may join in song now (woohoo! progress for me) but I still struggle to connect and express beyond that. And I know it’s my own pride! I’ve allowed it all to get in me head. Fear. Shame. You name it, it’s there freezing me up every time.

So— you might be asking, what’s the big deal? Not everyone is a Holy Ghost rolling, dancing in the isles, whoopin’ and hollering church goer. Plenty of people go to church every sunday and sing the songs and pray quietly. Do they love God any less?

I am not writing to share about “everyone else” or the “plenty of others out there.” I know bettter. I have experienced. I have stopped experiencing. And God desires it. And this is why….

As parents it is natural for us to want our babies to reach for us, clearly as my husband and I have been working with our 7 month old. Now I cannot speak to being a father having that experience, but as a mom I desire for the moment when those little arms reach for me! Oh I know she wants ME (I’m her food source). And it is obvious that at her age, she is dependent upon me. But there is something about seeing her express that. That visual expression of surrender, desire and need of me.

So yesterday when my husband was playfully bragging that she had reached out to him to pick her up, I pouted and said “She won’t reach for me!” In that moment though, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and say, “Now you know. This is my desire of you…. REACH. Reach out to me. It is my desire as your heavenly Father for you not just to surrender to me, be dependent on me, or desire me but to express it. Reach Lucy!”

Let me just let that sit with you a moment….

Because it hit me pretty heavy. So what does that mean for me now? It means I am being called to grow… grow in my spiritual walk, grow in my worship, grow in my relationship with God. I have sat stagnant and in the same place for too long. And it still might take awhile, some baby steps. It will definitely require overcoming fear, insecurity and myself. Humility. I’m thankful that we have a patient heavenly Father who is there to love on me like I do my baby girl waiting for the reach.

(Next step is to hear her say “mama”! But that will be another post)

So, mama, as much as you love your little ones reaching out for you to snuggle you, know that we have a Father in heaven who desires your love an affection in the same way!

Reach for Him, mama! ❤