Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School Mom Rant

Back to school BASH!

Another school year has just begun and I’m already exhausted. I spent the weekend searching for the last three items on the school supply list that are nowhere to be found in the Austin metropolitan area, all the while grumbling about those better moms who finished their school shopping in July and posted pictures on Facebook to prove their preparedness. 

Who are those women? And why didn’t God make me more like them?

What really wears me out is the wrestling match I face every year this time of year: 

  • I’m gonna be more organized vs. I’m gonna chill out this year. 
  • I’m gonna stay on top of the teacher websites vs I’m gonna allow my children to learn from failure. (Such a noble ambition.) 
  • I’m gonna get involved at their schools vs. I’m gonna relax and enjoy having older kids.
  • I’m gonna spend more time with my boys vs. I’m gonna pursue a dream of my own.

And the winner is - I’m gonna go back to bed!

We’ve gone more than a few rounds, this opponent and I. She is strong and capable and what she does always makes perfect sense. In fact she IS perfection. Her children are great achievers but they are never driven by performance. They are always dressed sharply but they don’t need to wear name brands. They respect authority but they still know how to have fun. They are confident yet humble, independent yet compliant, leaders with a servant’s heart.

Who is my back to school basher? Her name is Control.

Have you met?

She’s a double-headed giant of a gal - Passive/Aggressive.

Control gives me a little break over the summer months but come August, she is working me over. I’m convinced my children’s entire future on the planet hinges on their performance in the upcoming school year (but I felt the exact same way last year). I struggle to know how much to involve myself, so I lay back until the missing work notifications sweep into my inbox. When I do intervene I turn into MonsterMom who takes over, pushes fumbling fingers off the keyboard embellishing editing dictation of the book report, only to feel sick about it the next morning.

Something has got to change!

I am obviously NOT in control. Is Control in control?

It was much easier to control my children’s lives when they were small. The larger they become the more I feel them slipping out of my grip. I am loosing control but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

My need for control is a sneaky little form of idolatry. Mini-god me wanting to be all-present, all-powerful, all-knowing what is right and perfect for my children. The truth is - I don’t know.

....For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going, anyone groping in the dark, 
Here’s what: Trust in GOD.Lean on your God! Isaiah 50:10 MSG

In the red corner....self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-centered: The strong-arm of Control.

In the blue corner....attempting to trust and learning to lean: Me

Ladies and Gentlemen, Let’s Get Ready to RUUUMMMMBLE!

Do you battle the strong-arm of Control? How do you take her down?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Waiting For Morning

Over the course of my life, interactions with the alarm clock on my bedside table looked like this:
7:06am Wait, what? 7:06am!   AAAAAAAHHHHHH!

My college roommate nicknamed me the Snooze Queen. I remember wondering as a tired mother of preschoolers if I’d be happy when my kids were teenagers who wanted to sleep in until noon on Saturdays because then I’d finally be able to sleep in again myself. 

Not so much. My back gets tired. My to-do lists calls and I get up while the boys sleep on.

I am only an occasional insomniac, most likely attributable to hormonal fluctuations.  Thank you very much peri-menopause.  I usually don’t get up out of bed. I’ve decided that even if I’m not sleeping my body is still resting when I’m in lying down. I tell myself that surely I am dozing off between glances at the clock.
Sure, a minute is a minute.
An hour is an hour.
But some nights drag on longer, darker.
I toss and turn restless, hopeless.

On nights like those I wait for morning. I long for light to shine. I watch for reasonable waking/rising numbers to roll across the face of the clock.

I watch and I wait. I try not to think about being sleep deprived come the day, but I never wonder IF that day will come. I think about the juicy grapefruit I’m going to eat when I get up. Knowing full well, the sun will rise. This system our Creator put in place is quite dependable. I trust it completely. The Earth will turn. Gravitational forces that suspend us in space will hold. We are safely held in our corner of the universe. It’s a truck load of trust in things I’ve never seen.

Could I trust and wait for the Lord with the same doubtless faith?

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6

Imagine being a watchman on the city wall. Awake through the night, keeping an eye out for any threat to the safety of the city. I’m sure those nights were long and the waiting dragged on. Perhaps things improved for watchmen when timepieces were invented and hours were measurable, anticipation building as torchlight revealed arms circling around the face of the castle clock. 

I feel this anticipation now. It’s been a long, dark night. But I know morning is coming. I am so eager for day; I can almost see the light peaking over the horizon.

I am waiting for the Lord, holding on to his promises. I am eager to enjoy the fruit of his faithfulness. I imagine myself taking a big bite and grabbing a napkin as the juice runs down my chin. I can almost taste it.

I am praying for you. If you are in a dark season – know that morning will come. You will taste and see God’s goodness in your life. Wait and trust in him.

More on mornings & the don't want to's
More on mornings & hope rising with the sun 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Take the Long Way or Pay the Toll?

Toll roads are cropping up all over central Texas.  I love 'em and I hate 'em.
They are fast and free of traffic jams  - I love that!
But they charge a fee and the rates keep going up - I hate that!

This is how it usually ends up. I get ready in the morning with every intention of having enough time to take the long way. But my hair is a mess, my son can't find his shoes and I forget my phone. UGH!

Toll roads again today. Various combinations of $.45 +$1.02 + $.68
Day after day it really adds up.

I try to take the long way home.

But the long way is such a drag especially when shorter/faster is right beside you shouting, "IF YOU'D TAKEN ME, YOU'D BE THERE ALREADY!" (Click to Tweet)

Do you ever feel like God is taking you the long way? 
He does this:

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter....Exodus 13:17

Don't you suppose it annoyed them knowing there was a faster route to get where they were going? They sure complained about everything else! But God could see what they couldn't. There was opposition on the shorter road. And God suspected they would abandon the journey all together if they had to face the threat of war. That was too steep a price to pay.

Maybe you see other people cruising along and your journey seems to stutter, stop and go. Trust God is taking you the long way for a reason and be grateful for unknown toll it doesn't take.

What is your experience on "the long way?"
Have you paid a toll for shorter/faster?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

4 Goals for Summer

I'm one of those moms who loves summer and getting to see my boys more often. I enjoy not having to wake up early to get them to school. I won't miss keeping up with their lunch accounts and missing assignments. I really like having them around.

At the same time, summer brings with it the chaos of unscheduled lives. Extended video gaming. Friends who stay over for two, three, four nights in a row. I love it but it gets a little crazy around here. It can be hard to find a piece of quiet.

But on this sacred first Monday of summer while the boys are still sound asleep, I am enjoying the stillness and the soft tapping of finger tips on keys.

My new "daily" discipline (ha, there are very few things I do daily) is writing three pages (on a good day) of free flowing words. I ignore punctuation I disregard speling I dont backspace I just write (demonstration)

It's not easy but I'm getting the hang of it. Today I'm wrestling with the glorious freedoms of summer and wondering how I'm going to accomplish anything. My typing turns into praying. I pour my heart out, close the laptop and reach for my Bible. I'm reading The Message translation and I find this precious gift:

Where you are right now is God’s place for you. 
Live and obey and love and believe right there.  1 Corinthians 7:17 MSG

I know this is God speaking to me, answering the prayer I prayed with my fingers just minutes ago.

This place, with it's impending chaos is God's place for me. (Click to Tweet) And even as my goals for the year are vying for my attention I grab onto these four new goals:
Live, Obey, Love, Believe 

Live - Enjoy each moment. Be present. Pay attention. Smile wide. Laugh more. Listen better. Unplug. Play!

Obey - Say yes. Do what the Father tells you to do when he tells you to do it. But don't be afraid to take a break from all that doing. Remember, rest is obedience.

Love -Give freely. Love in words AND action - husband, children, family, friends old and new. While you're at it, be kind to yourself.

Believe - Stay hopeful. Trust God with your dreams and goals. Use your imagination. See yourself being the best possible version of you.

I love my summer 2014 mantra - Live, Obey, Love, Believe. Let's do this!

What is your summer mantra? What word from the list above that stands out to you?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fake it 'til You Become Her

I woke up with itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, feeling sluggish from the antihistamine I took the night before.  This is what I get for living in the allergy capital of the world. We don’t have seasonal allergies in Austin we have allergies in every season.

I’ve learned to apply certain countermeasures.  When I don’t feel well, I try harder. I put together a new outfit, spend more time on hair and makeup and put my best self forward. I do this because I know how I present myself affects how people perceive me. On one such day, I had a conversation with my boss which went something like this:

“You look great today, Lynn.”
“Thank you. I’m actually not feeling the best.  I’m compensating. “
“It works.”

Interestingly enough, it not only works for the people I may encounter, it works for me too.

We’ve all heard that how we look affects how other people feel about us. It is also true that how we look affects how we feel about ourselves.  My experiment in faking it proved positive.  I did the best I could with what I had and it helped me feel better about me. There is more at play here than just the reflection we see in the mirror. Clothes and make up are tools for boosting an attitude but we have an even better tool at hand. Actually it is our hand, our arms - our bodies!

In her fascinating TED talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy presents the results of her research on the mind body connection.  Our minds change our bodies; we’ve known that for years. Cuddy’s research shows that our bodies have the power to change our minds.

In her study, participants put their body into what she referred to as either a high power pose or a low power pose for two minutes.  Tests showed that after a high power pose, power hormone (testosterone) levels increase and stress hormone (cortisol) levels decrease.  The mind responds to the body’s posture.

In a subsequent study, high power and low power posers were placed in a job interview scenario. Inevitably the high power posers were the ones who seemed more desirable.

What does all of this mean for you and me?

As part of the Created Woman Foundation, I am helping women become who they were created to be from the inside out. We believe real life transformation happens in that direction. Change begins in the heart, with the attitude and outlook. Gradually that change is reflected on the outside and experienced in the outcomes of our lives.

 So don’t neglect the inside! Passionately pursue personal growth:
·         Read books and magazines
·         Go to church
·         Build life-giving relationships
·         Take time for reflection
·         See a counselor
·         Attend a workshop

But while you are waiting for the change to be expressed in your life, fake it.
Yes, you read right, FAKE IT!

·         Stand up tall
·         Put your shoulders back
·         Hold your head up
·         Smile
·         Shake hands with confidence
·         Dress for the job you want to have

I am reminded of a woman I met years ago. She was hired as an administrative assistant at a local hospital but dreamed of being an executive. She purchased a briefcase and started carrying it to work every day. No one knew all she had inside it was her lunch. She faked it and packed a sandwich in her briefcase for years until she became what she envisioned.

That’s what faith does!

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; 

it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT

Who are you becoming? Can you see it? Could you use your body to help your mind believe it? In an interview with Jennie Allen, Kristin Armstrong shared how she uses her body to change her mind. She said “I can act my way into a feeling better than I can feel my way into an action.”

Take some action today. Use your body to help your mind see the beautiful, whole woman you are becoming. This is not motivational mumbo jumbo, fake it ‘til you make it. This is faith at work, creating a vision for the woman you can’t quite see yet on the outside. 

Fake it ‘til you become her.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Don't Want To

I’ve never been a morning person. My roommate in college called me the Snooze Queen. But when life took a downward turn, I didn’t just hit the snooze button.  I turned the alarm off altogether. I didn’t want to get up. Getting out of bed felt like moving the Titanic. Sliding out from under the covers to carry the weight of my heavy heart was the biggest hurdle of my day.
I know someone who is experiencing a downward turn of their own. We were talking recently and like a helpful friend I offered a string of suggestions. Our conversation went something like this:

“Why don’t you get outside and go for a walk?”
“I don’t want to.”

“You could watch a funny movie.”
“I don’t want to.”

What about taking a bubble bath?
“I don’t want to.”

I gave up and left our conversation feeling frustrated.
And then I remembered how much I appreciate perky people with helpful suggestions when I have the “don’t-want-to’s.”

I always groan whenever someone tells me to turn to Proverbs 31. Seriously, that woman is so annoying.  And here’s the reality - King Solomon waded through 700 wives and 300 concubines looking for that girl.  I’m not sure she exists. Verse 15 is particularly irritating when you have serious sleeping-in skills like mine.

She rises while it is still night…..”

I’ll admit, I’ve made some assumptions about this overachiever. I assume she wants to get up. She’s a morning person. But what if my assumption is wrong? What if she rises not because she wants to but because she knows it’s the right thing to do? What if she gets up even though she doesn’t want to get up at all?

I’ve learned a few things about desire through the don’t-want-to episodes of my life:
  • Desire is nice but not necessary.
  • If I wait until I want to, I may never take action.
  • Doing what I know is good and right to do regardless of how I feel is actually quite satisfying. 
  • Sometimes the “want to” comes AFTER I take the first step.

I’m still not a morning person. Sometimes I leave the blinds open so sunlight will seep in. Nature’s alarm clock is the best. Sometimes I lie in bed and think about rhubarb strawberry yogurt, hoping thoughts of a yummy breakfast will rouse me. Sometimes I let myself linger and read a devotional before getting out of bed.

I won’t let the “don’t-want-to’s” keep me under the covers for long.
She rises. She gets up. She moves forward with or without the “want-to” and so do I.

What helps you overcome the don’t-want-tos?

Originally published at A Bundle of THYME

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hope Paints the Sky

As I watch the sunrise transform the night sky, I remember my darkness.  I remember days when it seemed unlikely light would ever shine again. It’s not easy to remember.

Rummaging through old notes and journals, I found an entry that shocked me. I had honestly forgotten the depth of darkness I once lived in. Our family had taken a trip to the Texas coast. I got up early one morning, sat on the balcony and wrestled with grabbing my flip flops for a walk on the beach.  That wasn’t a safe place for me.

“….the thought crossed my mind to walk out into the waves and never turn back…..”

 I was already drowning in pain. It seemed fitting.

Maybe you find yourself surrounded by darkness. You can’t see a way out. You can’t see your own hand in front of your face. I’ve been there and I remember.

Before the light ever broke through, God was with me in the dark.      
One of the tenets of faith is our God’s omnipresence. He is all-present, with us in darkness just as much as light. It can be hard to feel his nearness in the dark. Jesus called out from the cross, My God, my God why have you forsaken me.”  Jesus felt all alone, forsaken in the darkness of that moment. 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us that Jesus was not alone. God the Father was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. God was there, with Jesus all along and he is with you right now no matter how dark your situation may seem.

The danger in forgetting our times of darkness is we trivialize coming into the light. We forget how slowly darkness relinquishes its hold on the night. Hope paints a very thin pink line. If you are not watching closely you may miss its initial glow.

Hope rises in our hearts at different tempos.  Sometimes it pops right up.  A one, and a two, and a three and BOOM. Brilliance!  And other times, darkness shrouds hope like thick black molasses and the sun rise drags on like a funeral dirge. It took two years for the sun to rise glorious in my life, for hope to revive my heart.

I have lived in darkness.  But I know without a doubt that light shines. Every morning we see this truth on display. My challenge for those of you surrounded in darkness – wake up early tomorrow and watch the sun rise.  I am praying for you to see light breaking through.

Hope paints the sky in thin pink lines
blooming orange
bursting yellow
The heavens declare it
clear in phosphorus hue
today and each new day