Saturday, February 2, 2013

On the Move

Photo Credit: Creative Commons
Well, after a couple of years of posting to two different blogs, I've decided to consolidate. From here on out, you can find all my posts here. I hope you'll stop by!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Searching For Joy

This year, our church community is celebrating the whole season of Easter. Instead of living in the joy of the resurrection for just one day, we're collectively, purposefully pursuing joy and life and laughter for 40 days (yes, I know that believers are supposed to celebrate Jesus every day, but we're all broken and life is hard, so it doesn't really happen that way).

40 days of joy. 

I absolutely love this idea. I've committed to find at least one thing per day that brings or spreads joy and post it here along with others in the Skyline community. But the thing I'm finding is that its not as easy as it sounds. It turns out that embracing joy every. single. day. is a discipline that has to be practiced with determination and perserverance.  

I don't often make a conscious decision to enjoy my life. If you asked me a week ago, I would've quickly said that my life is full of joy. But now I'm seven days into a process of identifying specific areas of joy and, to be honest, it's a daily struggle. I really have to think about it some days.

Sometimes joy is hard to find.

Most days, it eludes me. It hides away behind the muck of the daily grind and then disappears like a shadow at dusk. When circumstances are particularly difficult and my future seems fuzzy and unstable, I dig around in my heart and all I find is worry. Sometimes, my selective eyes only see the people around me who have it all together, who know what they're doing on this planet and have a steady job that pays more than enough, and all I find is envy. 

But this little exercise has been so good for my heart. I'm learning that joy has to be searched for when life seems blurry, and I may have to squint to see it. I have to dig for it in the mundane, the difficult, the gray places. When I truly search for it, I always find it, and somehow it transcends and transforms the shades of gray into the brilliant, beautiful colors of life. The life we were meant to fully experience and relish. 

Instead of waiting for joy to come to me, I have to go after it. Hunt for it. Fight for it. 

No matter what. 

Joy is what makes our lives beautiful.  

How are you finding joy?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Life Marked By Prayer

Yesterday, my middle child turned 13. I just can't even believe it. It feels like an instant ago that the doctor was yelling, "It's a nine pounder!" and handing me a brand new, squishy baby girl.

With corkscrew curls and cheeks you could squeeze and kiss for days.

And now she's a teenager. It's unfathomable how fast the time has gone.

Jacey Reid is beautiful in every way. She's gorgeous on the outside and her heart is so sweet and pure, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I'm so, so proud of her. As I've reflected on the first 13 years of Jacey's life, there is one thing that stands out to me, even more beautiful than the rest.

Her life is marked by prayer.

Before I ever got pregnant with her, I prayed that God would give me a daughter. We had already been blessed with a son and my heart longed to know the joys of having one of each, so I asked God for a girl the next time around. He said YES! And there was much rejoicing in the ultrasound room.

When they calculated my due date, they told me it was February 24th, but I knew she was due on February 8th (sometimes mommies just know these things). Plus, I am a terrible pregnant person. It's nine months of misery for me and everyone else who dares to breathe my air, so the sooner we can end the madness, the better off we all are. I (and my poor husband) prayed that she would be born on or before the 8th. She arrived at 2:09pm on the 8th.

When I was in labor, she was turned the wrong way and it was going to make the delivery long and complicated. So my friend, Kelly, put her hand on my stomach and asked God to flip that baby over. Within minutes, she was good to go.

Since she was born, I have prayed that she and her brother would have an unspeakable bond of love for each other. Most days, this is still a toss up. But yesterday, he posted this to Twitter...

"Happy Birthday to my little sister Jacey. They grow up so fast. :(" 

So, that's something, right? I'm believing God will answer this, too. It just may take a little more time. :-)

When Jacey was three, she told God she wanted a little sister. I said "Sorry, sweetie. We're not having any more babies." Her baby sister was born just before Thanksgiving the following year (I partially blame my mother's prayers for this one, too).

When Jacey was five, she began to pray that God would make a way for our family to go to Disney World. Every night for over a year, her sweet little voice would float before the throne of God, laying the desires of her heart before Him. She never gave up, never even questioned if or when He would answer, even though Ron and I knew we would never in a million years have enough money to make a trip like that. But one night, my sister and brother-in-law came over and gave us a present. SURPRISE! We're sending you to Disney World! It was so ridiculously generous and extravagant. We spent a whole week there and Jacey got to meet every princess in the land. It will forever go down in our family history as the best gift we've ever received and our favorite vacation.

A couple of years ago, the kids were finagling for a dog. They weren't getting anywhere with me and Ron because we didn't want to have one more thing to feed every day, so Jacey went over our heads and asked God to give us a Within an hour, there was a cute little yorkie on our front porch and of course, it had no collar or microchip and we couldn't find the owner (believe me, I looked) so she became our beloved Jovi. After we had her for a year, we found out she used to belong to one of our neighbors, but they wanted us to keep her. They said they had been praying about what to do with her because they didn't have enough time to spend with her and felt like it was a God thing that our family found her and loved her so much. Poor guy didn't realize that he never had a chance of keeping his dog even if he wanted to. Jacey the pray-er was on the loose!

You only have to spend a little bit of time with Jacey to know that she has a special gifting when it comes to prayer. Our friends and family know that if they really need God to move on their behalf, Jacey's their girl. She's an intercessor. She's prayed people into jobs, orphans into families, the needy into provision. The list goes on and on.

It's such an honor to parent this precious girl. I can't wait to see what crazy thing God does next in her and through her, for His glory.

"... for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Will Wreck You

At church yesterday, we saw two videos and I wanted to share them with you. To be honest, if I come across a video on a blog, it has to be super intriguing in order for me to click play, but I promise these are worth it.

The first is about Advent Conspiracy. It's how our family is approaching Christmas this year. We're praying and talking about how we can engage more fully in the true meaning of Christmas.

Somewhere along the way, we've strayed so far from celebrating the birth of a baby.

The coming of a King.

A Rescuer.

A Deliverer.

A Healer.

The One who takes everything that's wrong and makes it right.

Somehow, we have to make our way back. This is our beginning.

[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

The second video was introduced like this: "This will wreck you."

It's true. This is not okay. This is where our excess money will go.

Love146 Overview from LOVE146 on Vimeo.

This Christmas, I want to celebrate the One who came to bring good news to the poor, to set the captives free. I think helping to rescue people from unimaginable oppression is a good start.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who Are You Trying To Impress?

The last week at our house has been focused on celebrating our baby girl's 8th birthday. After the party, special snacks at school, and her restaurant-of-choice for dinner (including dessert!), I think I have been absolved for the birthday injustice I heaped upon her last year.

Last year on Corban's birthday, we were out of town at her sister's cheer competition. We tried to make it special, but it's kinda hard to make sitting in an arena for 8 hours seem like something fantastic. After that, I kept promising we would have a party for her. And we did...

in April. (if you're keeping count, that's five whole months after her birthday)

Last year, I was stressed.

Last year, we were too busy.

Last year, the thought of having to do one more thing, much less plan and execute one more thing, made me want to eat cookies and sleep for days on end.

But this year, as I thought about celebrating Corban's birthday, I felt God whisper a significant question to me.

Who are you trying to impress?

Who are you trying to impress with the fancy themed birthday party? With the over-the-top goodie bags? With the super crafty decorations? Who are you trying to impress by implementing all the amazing party ideas you find on Pinterest? (and they are really amazing) With the adorable bakery-bought cake?

I avoided the question for a while, but after some deep digging, I finally came to terms with the fact that all this time I've been trying to impress myself. I've wanted my kids' birthday parties to reflect how wonderful and crafty and creative I am as a mom. I've wanted all the guests to be jealous. I've wanted all the moms to "ooh" and "aah" over the cuteness of the party they have just beheld. I've wanted my kids to think I'm the greatest mom in the whole world. Because of a birthday party? Really?!

It sounds ridiculous when you put it like that. So now, I'm doing things differently.

As I planned this year's party, I kept that question in mind. Once I got over myself, I realized the only one I should be trying to impress is Corban. It's her birthday and what she thinks about it is all that matters. I want her to feel loved and celebrated. I want her to enjoy the day.

So she got to make every decision about her party. She picked the place, the invitations, designed and helped decorate the cake, and even placed the candles wherever she wanted them. It turned out to be zero-stress for me, and she loved every minute of it.

My sweet birthday girl.

As it turns out, she's much easier to impress than I am. And I'm so glad.

What about you? Do you stress over making parties perfect?

P.S. I have a sneaking suspicion that I've been treating Christmas at our house the same way I've treated birthday parties, so this question will be staying with me through the holiday season.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Very Princess-y Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day has come and gone, and I'm happy to report that I survived with my dignity and self-esteem intact...mostly. (Check out last year's Mother's Day post for more info on that).  I did receive the ever unpredictable Mother's Day card/poem from school, but it painted me in a fairly positive light this year (if fairly positive light = not a total flake). So that was good.

I also got a very special gift.

About a week ago, my 7 year-old started talking about the gift she was making for me at school, ramping up the excitement and anticipation (aka anxiety) each day.  Her comments started on Monday with a little grin and twinkling eyes saying, "I can't wait to give you your Mother's Day present." And by Friday, we had progressed to squeals and clapping and jumping from the furniture with declarations of, "You are going to LOVE your Mother's Day present! It's going to make you feel just like a princess!"

Oh. snap.

Cue heart palpitations and scaly fingers of dread constricting my throat. (Dramatic much?)

What in the world could she have made at school that would make me feel just like a princess? I had no idea.  I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter and the general consensus among my friends was that...

1.) I should, in fact, be very nervous about this gift.

2.) There was a strong likelihood that at some point on Mother's Day, I would end up in an adult-sized tutu. A tiara was not completely out of the question, either.

The one ray of hope I clung to was that surely an adult-sized tutu couldn't fit in her little backpack. Right? It couldn't, could it?! Please, God, don't let it fit in her backpack.

Looking back, there were a couple of hints that should have clued me in on this princess-inducing gift, but my muddled mommy brain didn't put it all together until afterwards.  One was when she said, "Mom, have you ever had tea in a pouch?" 

"Uh, not that I recall.  Is that like a CapriSun or something?"

"Yeah, I guess. But I think you mix it with water first."

Hmmm. Tea in a pouch?* 
That sounds as though it would make me feel like the exact opposite of a princess, but ok.

Well, Sunday finally arrived and I woke up to Corban's sweet, freckled face beaming with pride as she delivered this to my bedside table...

Breakfast in a Bag! And tea in a pouch! *Turns out, I've completely failed Parenting 101 since my kid has never heard of a tea bag (my English friends are going to be so ashamed of me).

I have never felt closer to being royalty in all my life. I've also never been more relieved to receive a brown paper bag as a gift.

I love that little girl. She's just one of my three amazing reasons to celebrate being a mom.

If you're a mom, I hope you had a beautiful Mother's Day and were treated like a princess, too.

What's your favorite (or most shameful) Mother's Day gift story? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Foundational Success Factor

I ended yesterday's post with a cliff hanger (I'm surprised any of you were able to sleep last night from the suspense of it) and a question: What is the biggest factor of success?

I think there are a few key factors, but I believe there is one that is absolutely foundational. I'm convinced that we could have 47 other success factors nailed and still fail because we lack this one thing.

What is it?


It doesn't matter what job we're doing, if we display strength and depth of character, we will set ourselves apart from everyone else because good character is rare.  

Here are three ways to exhibit the kind of character that's necessary for success:
  • Be Reliable -- We need to do what we say we'll do, be where we say we'll be, and be there on time.  I see the impact of this characteristic (or lack thereof) in my business when I talk to people who are looking for a new cleaning service. The most common reason they give for wanting to find someone new is that their previous service was unreliable. The cleaning lady was supposed to be there every other Tuesday at 9:00am, but they never knew if she'd really show up.  Customers won't put up with that kind of performance for long. Neither will employers. If we prove our reliability, we'll quickly find ourselves gaining favor with the people who matter in our business.
  • Do Every Task With Excellence -- Excellence is accomplished in the details, so we can't cut corners or take short-cuts. No job is insignificant. Every little thing counts, so it's necessary to give our best to every task, no matter how small or unimportant it seems. A guy named John W. Gardner said, "Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well." (I'll bet he had all kinds of excellent accomplishments). When we give the extra effort to do things well, we set a standard for excellence that shows in everything we do. 
  • Be Faithful in the Little Things -- At Bloom, when we interview new people, we always tell them that we're looking for people who are faithful in the little things. We want people who are willing to work hard and prove themselves over time. People who are humble, have a willingness to learn, and can be trusted with really big things because they've shown themselves to be consistently trustworthy with really small things. (Jesus tells a pretty good story about this in Matthew 25).
These are just a few ways we can show ourselves to be people of strong character in the workplace, but I really believe living these things will set us apart and help us move forward.  

Do you agree that character is foundational to success?