WDIDT: Car Care #Write31Days

#Write31Days. 1 Topic, 31 Days, Lots of Thoughts.  This year I am reflecting on one small moment a day and why it mattered (or didn’t!). What did I do today?

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Get excited. Today, I took my car for an oil change and tire alignment!  I know right, SO EXCITING!

But really, there are so many every day, life things that we just do because they have to be done. Today was one of those days.

When I was thinking about the whole experience I was struck by how much even the small every day things can have an impact:

    • I walked home from dropping off the car and walked back to pick it up. Look! Exercise!
    • I listed to a podcast on my walk to pick it up, part of some sermon prep I’m working on. Look! Productivity!
    • I enjoyed talking to the mechanic who was thrilled at my excited response to the final cost of work. Look! Supporting local business! Encouraging a business owner! Community!
    • Our van is in good shape. Look! Safety for the whole family!

I guess what I am trying to say is that the every day things may have just as much purpose as the once in awhile things. Stop, look, see the impact in the small things.

What did you do today that seemed everyday but made an impact?

Time…Is NOT running out

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Take a moment. Think of everything you need to do today. Think of everything you need to do this week. Even this month.

Now think about someone telling you to stop. For an unestablished period of time. Starting right now.

What is your gut reaction? Do you beg for 24 hours to get organized first? Do you “stop” in theory but the reality is that you are still going strong? Do you welcome the break and figure things will take care of themselves?

For most of us who are stopped dead in our tracks we panic. Sure at different levels and in different ways but underneath it all is a sense of panic. TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

This exact scenario happened to me. I am here to assure you that time is NOT running out.

This is an invitation to slow down.

Time has always been and will always be. (The theology and reality of this is long and complicated and I could be wrong…I know, but hang with me.) My personal summary is that in the beginning (time word) there was (time word). And in the end (time word) there will be (time word). In the most literal sense time itself is not running out.

This should help us feel relieved. We are not at the mercy of time.

As I have sat in this for going on 6 weeks I have gone through many feelings:

Panic: What is going to happen with _____?
Fear: If I don’t _____ who will?
Regret: If I had only done ______ then I wouldn’t have to deal with my current situation.
Numb: Whatever. ________will get done somehow.
Wondering: Well, if I can’t _______, what CAN I do?
Relief: I couldn’t do _______if I tried, glad I don’t have to try right now.
Acceptance: Just because I can’t do _____, doesn’t mean I can’t _____.

The clock is still moving. The world is still turning. And I am still a part of it.

You see, in accepting that time does not rule me I feel like I have been given the gift of perspective. If time does not rule my days what does? What ARE my priorities?

To get to this place I had to stop completely. Can you stop? Will you? Even for a moment?

Now that I am nearing the end of the stillness I start fresh. Clearer. More aware.

I am not ruled by time. I am only limited by capacity. What can I do? What can my one single person Handle? Manage? Process? Give?

I’m still sorting this out but I know my family is a big part. And the work commitments I have made. My husband matters a great deal. Our community both church and local have a piece of my heart.

If time were my ruler I would look at that list and feel defeated before I even began. I don’t feel that way. In slowing all these areas have still required attention and all have received it. Not because of time but because of who I am.

This is the place I am called to right now.

As I look at it today I don’t see a full calendar or feel overwhelmed with lacking energy or endurance. Instead, I see a list of things I have been called to love and in my heart and soul know, my God given capacity is enough.

Time is not running out. I am not chasing her and she is not chasing me. Instead, I am walking in the ever growing knowledge of who I am today and what I can do. Right here. Right now. For it is the now that matters most.

Kids, Technology and Connection: Screens & Teens Review

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My youngest daughter recently turned three. She’s petite in stature and big in personality. Since she is the third, I’m not always as aware of what she knows.

For example, she asked to watch a show and I said yes, as I walked into the family room I realized she had managed to turn on the TV and Netflix  all on her own. I had no idea she could do all that!

I began thinking about my kids and technology. We limit TV time, video game time and movies. The kids don’t have electronics in their room and all of our devices are shared among us. But is it really enough just to limit their screen time? What about learning to use technology wisely? Engaging in their interests through technology? Exploring the world in new ways?

“Communicating is a strength of our wireless world. However, there’s no guarantee this communication will lead to connection. That’s the challenge for all of us.” – Dr. Kathy Koch, Screens and Teens

I don’t have teens (yet) so I wasn’t 100% sure this book was for me but I wanted to know, what can I do right now so my kids don’t get lost in the world of technology.

Truth and lies. What our kids believe about themselves and how they live that out in all their relationships matter. What was I doing to make sure my kids knew how to live out their relationships online?

Once I picked up Screens and Teens I couldn’t put it down! The book is formed around this thought of truth and lies. What lies do our kids believe about themsleves? How is technology reenforcing those lies? What truth do I want to guide them towards instead?

When I become the truth guide for my children my fears and the many unknowns of technology begin to fade away. I lean in to the positive communication our wireless world offers but ground myself and my relationship with my kids in connection first.

Screens and Teens has provided me with a foundation to build on and tools to begin the building. For parents with children of ANY age this book should be on your shelf with highlights, underlines and dog-eared pages. We need the wisdom that Dr. Kathy Koch shares here to raise the next generation of kids well.

Not convinced? Try these quotes on for size…

“Parents and teens are both affected by the influences of our screen-saturated lives, but young people experience the effects with ferocious intensity.” Screens and Teens, pg 14

“Children who are consistently handed phones or tablets by parents who want to keep them busy are being nurtured more by technology than by their own parents.” Screens and Teens, pg 36

“They’ve been raised with technology, their brains are wired to use and depend on these technological tools. It started young for them! … But I’ll say it again: No “thing” will ever meet young people’s legitimate need for security. They should find it in us, in others who are worthy of their trust, and in themselves when they have a healthy self-awareness and behave wisely. Most importantly, they should learn to place their security in God.” Screens and Teens, pg 46

Grab your copy NOW from any of these locations and join the revolution:

AmazonBarnes and Noble, CBD or Celebrate Kids!

*Disclaimer: I was able to read the pre-release copy of this book at no cost. However, all thoughts and opinions are soley mine.

Only compared to some, on bravery

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Over the Christmas break we introduced our two oldest children to the movie The Princess Bride. It’s one of my favorites. It has such a great story told from such a creative perspective, plus it’s one of the most quotable movies ever.

There’s a scene with the princess is being stolen away on a boat. She tries to escape by jumping overboard only to be nearly attacked by screeching eels. As she’s pulled back into the boat by her captors the leader says to her “I suppose you think you’re brave, don’t you?” Princess Buttercup replies “only compared to some.”

I was thinking about what it meant to be brave when we are watching the rest of the Princess Bride. What will the next year look like for me? Is it time for me to set some new goals? How proactive should I be and how much can I just live day to day?

As we end this year and head into the next we are about to be bombarded with a lot of advice. Blogs, newspapers, magazines and more will tell us what is going to make the next year the best year. If we can just be brave and ____________. It’s all a little overwhelming sometimes.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison and the conversations about who is brave, who is conquering what and what more I can/should/could do.

I look at the mom with more kids than me and think “she’s definitely braver than me.” I look at the writer who is more consistent and transparent than I and think “that’s so brave, I could never be that.” I look at the woman who is taking greater career risks and think “she’s a risk taker, so very brave.”

And then I remember Princess Buttercup’s words… “Only compared to some.”

There are two things I take away from this…

First, there will always be someone who we perceive as being braver than ourselves. This is a good thing. We need people to motivate us, inspire us and challenge us. Those who we see as braver than ourselves are many times people who have great qualities that we would like to emulate. Seeing others as braver than ourselves keeps us humble. It reminds us we are unique in our callings and those people and their stories encourage us to keep going, keep trying.

Second, we are reminded that we are someone else’s brave. As I watched the above scene, I was reminded that no matter what, I am meant to be me. Sure, I won’t be climbing Mount Everest, curing major diseases in foreign countries or solving any large political crises, but I can be my own kind of brave.

I can do what I was meant to do to motivate, inspire, challenge and encourage someone else.

In my parenting I can be my own kind of brave and sow seeds of peace amongst the chaos of four small children. I want them to think on these years not as rigid and crazy but as peaceful and full of exciting growth and to be that kind of brave to their own friends.

In my friendships I can be my own kind of brave by deciding to be really present and listen and respond with my whole heart. I can be the friend that I want others to be for me and maybe they can be that person to someone else.

In my marriage I can be my own kind of brave by really committing to be my husband’s best friend and greatest advocate no matter what the year might bring. I want to make my marriage work, and not just work but lots and lots of fun, trying begins with me.

In my church I can be my own kind of brave by giving what I can when I can, even if it cost me something. I can be the catalyst for small change that might change a life forever.

In my own life I can be my own kind of brave by taking the time I need to be quiet and to work and do so without guilt. If I’m going to be my kind of brave I have to commit some time to it.

So what does next your hold for you? Who knows. I have no great advice. I don’t know 10 steps for the perfect waist, the top 5 recipes to make your kids eat their veggies or how to stay cool calm and collected 100% of the time.

What I do know is that there is only one you. You have to be your kind of brave or fun or creative, the world needs you.

In the end, Princess Buttercup was exactly brave enough, she ended up where she wanted to be, happily ever after.

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The Life Right in Front of Us

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So I’ve been a bit bah-humbug lately.

It’s cold here. The weather report said “17 degrees, feels like -10”.

Sure, it could be the weather but that didn’t seem to be it.

For several days I thought about what felt like a “winter funk”. I am usually super excited for Thanksgiving , Christmas and New Years. I am that annoying friend that sees past all the potential seasonal drama and really embraces it fully and loves every moment.

I was in the car with my kids at school pickup waiting in the subzero wind and I figured it out.

Sad. I was sad. Everyone is just too busy.

Before Halloween there were Christmas decorations out at our local stores. Before Thanksgiving the radio station is playing Christmas music. Before the first snowflakes my kids are asking about Christmas gifts.

STOP. Just stop.

This is not a rant about a ‘war on Christmas’ or the freezing weather or even my own poor attitude. This is about being too busy to live the life right in front of us.

What makes this season so beautiful and joyful for me is the element of stopping and slowing. Of enjoying these once in a lifetime moments.

Yes, we have once in a lifetime moments every day but, in this season of one holiday followed by another, unique opportunities come more often.

This year, I feel like everyone around me is running towards Christmas, as if it were the finish line, and ignoring everything else. This is possibly a gross overstatement but I’m talking feelings here folks.

Our family gets busy too. Basketball practice, dance practice, Christmas Pageant rehearsal, random school breaks and the everyday work of life.

In these days it is easier to see life as a task list. Go here, do this, plan for this.  We measure our days by how much we accomplished, how prepared we were, how we gracefully navigated complicated situations because we constructed 3 back up plans, none of which we used . We pat ourselves on the back for finishing the to do list and being one step ahead.

We are too busy because we have bought into the lie that at some point we will do enough to be enough. We can’t, we won’t. Life is not about all this doing.

STOP. Please.  I’ll stop with you.

There are always 3 weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving, enjoy your fall traditions. There will always be 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to buy gifts, make time to be thankful. There is still a full week between Christmas and New Years, rest with your family and hold off on the resolutions.

Thankful tablecloths and carols. Family reunions and food. Holiday cards and faith. Celebrate. Have fun. Make time. Find those things that remind you of who you are instead of what you have to do.

There were “things to do” long before you and there will be “things to do” long after you. Work, planning, preparation will always exist but there is only one you.

Stop. Breathe. Live.

Manic Monday: Mom, mom, mom

Yep…my baby girl finally said mama! Woo (10 months, but whose counting)!

Sweet Baby N!

How was your weekend?  Thanksgiving? Shopping? Serving? Here are some things for you, when you have a minute to sit down and breath in life…

“I am committed to the Practice of Speaking Life. I can’t get away from the truth that is this: Words Matter. The words that we speak about ourselves, about our children, about our life matter.”  Sarah Bessey

“…because giving thanks is only this: making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God.” A Holy Experience

“You are meant for magnificence, not squalor. God marked you for his dance partner at the big finale, and God gets what God wants. Whatever dogs you, whatever whispers ruin in the cold night, whatever troubles your memory or your hope, remember this: glory is in you, and glory wins the day.” Deeper Story

Thinking of all the moms this week.  As we prepare for the holidays, live our every day lives and strive for what God has for us, live in His will for you and all will be well.

Manic Monday: 11 Things, Plus some…

A friend, fellow blogger and first time expecting mama (woo!) sent me this little blog survey to be a part of…so here are some fun, random things you may or may not know about me.  Enjoy!

Just Me!

Section 1: 11 Random Things About Myself

1. I like sports…Okay, like might be an understatement! I tried to be athletic but it never really worked out but my spirit of competition runs deep, I enjoy a good battle in baseball, soccer, college basketball and sometimes football. GO CARDS!

2. 90% of my diet is gluten free!  We switched my son to this diet and it stuck.  I feel great and it isn’t as hard as it sounds. (I still sneak a cupcake or yummy sandwich on occasion!)

3. I prefer to be barefoot.  Maybe it’s my growing up, maybe it’s because my favorite season is summer but if I can get away with bare feet I will! (Also, I enjoy pedicures so bare feet just make sense!)

4. I was born in California. People ask me where I’m from and it’s confusing. I’ve lived the longest in Illinois but my birth certificate identifies me as a west coast babe!

5. I have a not so secret love affair with Shakespeare. Something about Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing get me every time.

6. I don’t slow down well.  Sandy beaches and quiet afternoons sound great but when I get the opportunity I have a hard time sitting still and just taking it all in.

7. I don’t have cable. We do watch Netflix and we can get a channel here or there with our antenna.  I watch very little TV and don’t feel like i’m missing out.

8. I freelance write. Outside of blogging (which I wish I did more of), I take various freelance writing jobs (mostly attorney’s and CPAs).

9. My husband is a chef. Oh yes. 4 grueling years of culinary school and some considerable sacrifice was all worth it.  When he is home our house sees some of the most amazing meals around.

10. My son is on the Autism Spectrum. Something I’m still learning about and trying to understand but the one thing I have found is I know there is a plan for his life and I want to be the person to help him figure it out!

11. I’m an introvert. Most people who know me in passing see me as outgoing but on most days crowds wear me out and I’m happy to curl up with a book (or my blog reader) or a game of Scrabble and just enjoy the quiet.

My reality!

Section 2: My Answers to Samantha’s 11 Questions (since she tagged me! You can visit her questions here)

1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would take my husband and head to Paris. Europe, food, fun. A little cliche perhaps, but true!

2. If you could have a free one day shopping spree, where would it be? Chicago Neighborhoods!  I’d hit up Lincoln Square, Wicker Park/Bucktown, Roscoe Village and Chinatown to get started.

3. What is the best gift you’ve ever received? This is tough. I still get mushy when I look at my wedding rings. The stones came from my mom but they were designed by my husband. I think of him every time it catches my eye.

4. If you could be on any reality show, what would it be? I’d like to be one of the judges on Top Chef. Yes, I like eating that much!

5. If you had to live in another era, which one would you want to live in? The Regency Era (think Jane Austen) It seems a bit ridiculous but it could be fun!

6. What is your favorite book? A Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Every mom should read this book.

7. If you could trade lives for a day with any celebrity, who would it be? Tina Fey. I would just like to be funny!

8. What’s your guilty pleasure? People.com  Totally serious. When I worked a really stressful job it is what I would do during lunch to escape. I still do occasionally!

9. What’s up with the Hunger Games? Is it worth reading? I think the whole premise sounds weird… I can’t help you here Sam!  I didn’t read them and was so-so about the movie.

10. If you could change your hair color, what would it be? An attractive red color!

11. What is your dream job? Writer and/or speaker.  I have a deep, deep desire to see women grow.

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So what about you?
Any random facts you are hoping to get off your chest today?