Wednesday, November 18, 2015


We can look at the calendar or we can look all around us. There is absolutely no denying what is coming our way.

With the Christmas decorations out as soon as Halloween passed and the Black Friday *specials* being thrown every which way at us one would have to be hiding under a bush to ignore the obvious.

If you haven't guessed what I am talking about by now it's the .....HOLIDAYS!

When you read those words you felt your heart do a jump of excitement, felt your best sarcastic eye roll or ran through your to do list and thought how will you ever get through it all.
I think my attitude has turned into a combination of all three of those emotions (plus a few more here and there) depending on what emotional roller coaster I find myself on. There are the highs and there are the lows and then there are the rides that you just seem to coast along, feel the breeze on your face and just enjoy the scenery.

If there is anything rational about those emotions it is that (for me anyway) I have found that none last for too long. (Or rather, too, too long.)

The entire month of October I think mentally I made a list or reasons as to why I was not going to be able to get into the festivities of the season. From not enough time, to too much time alone, financials, stress, grief, physical and mental ailment to grief (again, it's pretty recurring) I just found myself mentally declaring I would not be able to make it through this time with a peace and contentment.
With this self-fulfilling prophecy already in full swing and a good 2 months before the start of the season I had already fallen into deep sadness and I didn't see too many options out.

 Aaaahhh, but that is where grace comes in. Throw some mercy in with it and a little bit of determination and perseverance and the future can seem a bit brighter. Not much at first, but it can lead us to a new perspective. It can also lead us to try to incorporate new things to help us cope and that my friends is so very important. Learning to cope.

What helps me cope is totally what is different from what may help you in your journey. But through some long and quiet mediations and prayer time I have found a few of my own favorite things (in no particular order) to help me get through these next couple of weeks. They may help you. They may not. You may have your own to add. I am certainly all ears to hear about something that is positive and working in your life.

 1. YOGA - Can I just say that I have recently fall in love with yoga. The art, the technique, the benefits. It has been something enriching to me personally. I have found that I have to get up a little earlier to really get a full session in but it has been so worth it. I kind of just fell into doing it regularly first thing in the morning since I've been dealing with insomnia but now I have implemented it into my regular routine. Try it! And you don't have to go a gym. It can be done right in your own living room. You Tube has tons and tons of videos and you can find the one that fits you and then even customize to what is right for you.

2. Podcasts - I LOVE my podcasts. I have a lot on my playlists but some regularly played ones are: 
  • Timothy Keller - Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City - He has been referred to as the C.S. Lewis for the 21st Century. Being in full time ministry there is not much time for me to actually make it to the sanctuary to hear the sermon so I am thankful I can have these sermons with me on the go. He also recently came out with a book titled Prayer and you can get a free 14 day devotion here. Friends, it is SO GOOD. I can't say I line up with everything but I soak up the scripture readings and take away so much from his sermons. 
  • First Baptist Church - My own home church and workplace -  I always have these on hand to listen to throughout my week. 
  • Dave Ramsey - If your looking for practical money advice from how to get out of debt to what to do with "extra" monthly income Dave offers everyday principals that can be put into practice and help you to gain financial independence. 
3. Music - (Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, which one is best comes down to personal choice) - My preference (currently) is Apple Music. I LOVE that I can create my own music radio channel based on what I'm in the mood to listen to. Whether it be a rainy day at home, a love song to go along with a nice evening, a little jazz set in a Paris café, flashback to the 80s or (my favorite) some Dave Matthews I absolutely love to have music fill my house. It is so calming to me and helps me to channel any feelings that may be going through my mind. There is also some great music to go along with #1.

4. Stich Fix - Sometime just the idea of going out to shop for clothes/accessories exhausts me and with so much going on around us I have come to savor the security I find in my own home. I'm also not the most creative when it comes to picking out clothes and I still struggle to find "my style." That's where Stitch Fix comes in. You sign on and tell a little about yourself, link your social media sites so they can get an idea of your look and then a personal stylist steps in and tries to pick out clothing based on the info they have. There is a $20 styling fee per order but, if you make a purchase, you can apply it to your order. Keep what you like and send back, with all postage paid, what you don't. You can set it up to recur monthly, bi-monthly or whatever fits your budget. I still love my local shopping but for those seasons I don't, Stitch Fix can come in mighty handy.

5. Book of Psalms - Friends, I love me some Psalms readings and, lately, I have found myself going back to those verses over and over. There are some beautiful words and truth to be rediscovered or, perhaps, even be discovered for the first time. Try to carve out some time to set and read through and if life is crazy there are several apps that will read your particular Bible selection to you while you do other things.

6. Realize your doing your best (if you really are trying your best.) It is so easy for us to feel pressured and strive constantly for perfection when, in reality, things will be ok if we let some things take a back seat and rearrange our priorities. Some things comes easy for some and, in the social media world we live in now, it is so easy for us to compare ourselves and feel we don't measure up. And, just maybe, there are some areas where you aren't giving all you could. Try and focus meaningful energy on the things that really matter such as keeping our emotions in check, just hanging out with those around us that we like and love and seeing where we can lend a hand to someone who needs us.

7. Rest! I know life is busy, I know there is so much to do. But we must, we absolutely MUST take some time out for rest. Rest for mental, emotion, physical and our spiritual well being. And I mean real rest. A time where we take a meaningful break from what is going on around us. It may not be as long as we need or want but take what you can and apply it to yourself. It will not only benefit you but those around you.

8. Lastly, (and this one is great to couple with #1, certain podcasts from #2, and #3) our devotion and quiet time. It is so important we spend some time with just Him. Clear our minds and our thoughts. Recognize who He is and what He has done for us and then be open about what is on your heart.

Friends, let's be in prayer for each other. There is so much strife and trouble going on in the world. Instead of adding to all the chaos let's see how we can lighten the load for ourselves and those around us.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Laundy! Laundry! Oh, the laundry.

"I feel like I never get caught up on laundry.  The basket of dirty clothes seem endless!"

All too well I remember these daily feelings from years past and I'm sure they are said a million times a day by busy parents and caregivers not only trying to stay ahead but sometimes just trying to catch up!

Perhaps before one goes too far with their complaints let me tell you about some laundry I have put off...for 2 and a half years now.

There was always the question of what to do with Noah's material things that, just like they say, he couldn't take to heaven with him.  Some have been brought back to our house. Some have been given to a few close and special friends. Some have been donated. And some remained in boxes.

Until now.

Last year it felt like the time to start on a blanket of his t-shirts, a gesture that had been offered to me a few months after Noah died.  It always stayed in the back of my mind but it seemed so daunting to actually go through clothes that would bring back so many memories of a boy who wasn't here anymore. Not only did I not want to see them I couldn't imagine actually having to pick favorites. They were all now my favorites. Everything of his has become my favorite.

Then there was the task of washing them. A task I took for granted with him for 10 years. The simple act of washing, folding and hanging his clothes. But this time...they wouldn't need putting away in anticipation for him.

I actually made the decision last year to go through his clothes but it took the boxes 4 months to move from storage to my car to my garage to my living room. Emotionally I would say this has been one of the hardest parts of his death for me to face.

There is such a finality in washing his clothes for the very last time despite being able to briefly enjoy seeing his things hung up with ours once again.

Friends, don't take the little things you "have to do" get to do for those you love for granted.  That task may not be available for you to do tomorrow.

The only way I could stay focused on getting through Noah's last loads of laundry was to pray my way through it (and have Friends playing on Netflix in the background.) What peace that brought me. If you find yourself dreading a task such as laundry try praying through it. Pray for yourself. Pray for who you are bestowing your gift upon. Pray that your eyes will be open to others that you can help.

And, most importantly, thank the One who (like a dirty load of laundry) can pick us up, sort us out and wash us clean.