Date Night

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So my husband and I don’t really go out due to the whole pandemic thing and all but we still absolutely NEED date night. Work, kids, family — the release is so important so what did we do tonight. We had our own little vision board party. We started with a bunch of magazines, boards, markers, and about five different hard ciders. It was cool — cider tasting and vision board making. Nothing fancy but definitely fun. By the end of the night, we had laughs, a few new ciders to add to the rotation, and the visual plan for our life and family. God loves marriage. He created it. He wants us marrieds to enjoy this life. I know He doesn’t want COVID, the winter chill or anything else to get in the way.

During the pandemic our date night life took a backseat in 2020 and this year, whether inside or socially distanced outside, we WILL maintain our date time together in 2021. In fact, that is one of our goals for the year. So what are you and your love doing to keep the fun this year? I need all the help! We’d love to hear from you.

Masks

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Funny thing, tonight I typed in 2021 and what returned were multiple images of people wearing masks. I couldn’t help think that masks are not new to 2021 or even 2020 for that matter.

Yes, in the US physical masks seem to be a new thing in the past year but in reality most of us have been wearing masks most of our lives. Masks hide who we are, what we are thinking (since you can’t decipher most emotions through masks), they stifle our speech and often times cause us not to breath. It’s interesting that in 2020 and 2021 we are bothered by masks because they are hiding who I am (my pink lips), the lower half of my face, or incumbering my ability to breath — yet our inauthenticity — the real masks have been doing that for years.

While we think mask wearing is new — many of us have worn some type of mask for years so much so that we may not even know our fully authentic selves. This year, one of my goals is to try to uncover, re-excavate my authentic self. When I was 27, I read a great book, Excavating the Authentic Self by Sara Ban Breathnach – https://amzn.to/3ox7OcP. I think I may pick it up again. How can we live our most beautiful lives if we have lost sight of our beautiful authentic selves. Let’s together stop hiding who we are, what we need, what we like and the joys that are oxygen to our souls.

Last year, everyone was online sharing people’s posts, pics, etc. with the hashtag #Goals. Really, they were saying that their goals was what other people had. Let’s determine our goals based upon our authentic selves. Let’s live out our own goals, with our own truths and live out our own authentic lives.

Obsessive Perfection Disorder

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OPD – Obsessive Perfection Disorder. I definitely have it. I self-diagnosed myself yesterday. The house was so quiet. The kids were outside playing. My husband was running errands and I was left with the beautiful sound of my own thoughts. (I rather enjoy that sound from time to time.) While I had this precious time, I realized that I wasn’t using it. I was walking around the house incessantly picking up and obsessing over anything out of place and I moved through each room, I was noting if it were ah, finally perfect. To myself I was like, “this is weird.” The perfect areas, I smiled and quickly moved past, but the areas where things were out of place I not only focused on – I obsessed.

As I caught myself, I realized that is what we do in life. We gingerly glide by the perfect areas and obsess over areas needing our attention. We don’t enjoy the living in our accomplishments and joys, but rather we obsess over what’s still not quite right. We can have 8 perfect things, 8 perfect areas, but yet we focus on the 2 that have dust along the trim or where something that isn’t quite perfect.

Why did I not spend time in the perfect areas and bask in their beauty, enjoy some time relishing in its splendor. These were the peaceful, beautiful places where I felt most accomplished. These areas were not always so inviting and calm. Yet, I gave them a nod and moved onto something that needed to be perfected to obsess about. Obsessive Perfection Disorder is robbing me of so much. It robs me of enjoying the fruits of my labor. It robs me of appreciating my blessings. It robs me of living in my present. It steals the gift of today.

Our contentment and joy in life comes from what we focus on. I don’t want to regret that I missed the beauty of my present, because I obsessed over the areas still in process. There is so much good in our lives if only we would take the time not just to see it, but to bask in it. This week, let’s spend sometime in the beautiful rooms of our life. Let’s stand in their doorways, look around, smile, and take in their beauty.

50 More Weeks

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How did it go last week? Did you imagine your most beautiful authentic life? How did it look? What were you doing? How were you feeling? I hope you really thought about it. God wants us each to live our best life – in real life.

Each year not only in my professional life but in my personal life, I do some Annual Planning. Essentially I think about what I want to accomplish in my family life, as a mom, wife, professional and just as a woman enjoying her life. God wants us to have a vision for our life. As we move into week 2 of this great new year on the road to our great new selves, do a little annual planning of your own. If you have tried this before and it wasn’t successful, maybe try annual planning God’s way.

  1. Include the right participants. You may be thinking who else do I need but me if this is my annual plan. True, but there is always at least one other that we always need to invite. Invite God into the planning process with you. Ask him to clarify for you if your plan aligns to His will for your life. Ask for his help with what you are desiring. Without Him our plans can never be successful.
  2. Write down your plans, your vision. Make it simple. Make it plan. Type it in your phone, maybe a vision board, or a mind map. Just get it out of your head and somewhere where you can see it. (Write the vision and make it plain.) I keep mine tacked to my mom desk right off the kitchen and also in my phone. You can never have it available in too many places :).
  3. Meditate on that plan. Meditate on things that are good, lovely, honorable, pure, etc. Meditate on your dreams. If God was included in your plan — the plan should be made up of things that are good, lovely, honorable, and align to God’s word. I actually add my desires to my morning affirmations to keep me focused on them and to continually bring my heart’s petitions before God. ( I definitely want to keep Him engaged in the work of the year — all year.)
  4. Get Help. The first helper I suggest is God. Ask Him to help you. Remind Him of his promises to help you. You could even incorporate that into your daily affirmations from step 3. If your goals means that you could use a life coach, professional mentor or financial planner get one (or at least read books written by some). I love good “self-help” books.
  5. Have Faith that God will help you. Have faith in your abilities and God’s power. Yeah, sure you think you’re awesome and you believe in God but believing you can accomplish all your dreams and believing in God’s true power to help you do whatever this is maybe weak. They are not the same. Specifically, believe in God’s power to help you with your plan. Believe in your true awesomeness – not the one you may post online in pics. Belief is the quickest thing to lose in the midst of challenges but hold fast to your belief all year long. Believe even if others say its not possible. God is limitless and you are his beautiful workmanship.
  6. Do the work of the plan. If your plan includes weight loss – do the work. If it’s a great marriage – do the work. Whatever it is – Do the Work – Make the time. Faith without the work is dead. A plan without a push goes no where.
  7. Get a partner (or partners). Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another. Get with a friend, relative, spouse, or even online group. You need the encouragement and support and so do they. You also may both need the swift kick from time to time :).

Enjoy planning this week! Enjoy becoming your new you!

New Normal

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Well, 2021 is here. Expectations of newness, better-ness, and return to normalcy are things I keep hearing. But what is normalcy? It is the return to the way things were before…but is that really what we want? I am going with no. This morning I woke up with scripture about thinking on what is good. What was good for you this year? Maybe you prefer to make the good of this year and past years your new normal as opposed to yearning for the old normal. I think if 2020 taught us nothing else, it taught us that what was isn’t what has to be. This year we can all craft our own new normal. Take a little of this that I love from this period, and a little of that from another.

What worked really well last year? Did you and your family have dinner together more. Make that your new normal. Did you and your spouse make time to enjoy activities together? Keep that too. Did you work remotely this year? If so, a LOT of companies are moving into a remote workforce so there are opportunities out there. Your new normal is just that – YOURS — so make it whatever you want it to be. Imagine your most beautiful life and then determine to create it. This week I challenge you to think about, even dream about the life you want. This year I challenge you to start implementing pieces of it.

Hoarding

About 10 years ago the show Hoarders premiered.  This show really brought the concept of hoarding out to the surface.  This condition now had a name and a face; and with that we were starting to realize that these stories are not far fetched and out of reach — but rather within our own families and networks.  A few weeks ago, a friend shared with me that her grandmother is a hoarder.  At least she suspected as much.  Upon going to help move her grandmother into a better living situation, she was able to see up close just how bad the situation was.  She was really upset.  Upset at the situation. Upset that her grandmother almost seemed to want to stay in that awful situation; and was truly at her wits end.  I recall her saying to me, “but I am just trying to help her live better; why does she want to continue to live like this?” I thought, “yeah who would want to like that when they had the option for something so much better.”  Just as my own judgmental thought set in, I heard God say to me, “but I offer to do the same thing daily and how many people would rather stay in their mess?” Wow, God.  You’re right.  We are hoarders.  We are sinners offered your grace and new beginnings; the help of God to get us out of our mess, but we don’t want to pack up our old dirty, filthy lives and follow Him.  Like the grandma, this move costs us nothing.  God is doing the heavy lifting.  We just have to be ready to toss the old, pack up the good (pick up our cross), and be open to his amazing provision (follow Him).  Like the grandma who didn’t want to see the new home prepared for her, we don’t want to see the vision of the new life God has for us.  God has paid a price for us – far beyond movers, trucks, and labor.  Will we simply accept his help move into his provision for a better life or will we cling to our mess?

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What if we realized

Last week I heard from a kid from my home town. He randomly sent me a picture of a letter and said,” Mrs. Sessa wanted me to give this to you.” Let me first say, I am a 40 year old woman and Mrs. Sessa was my 5th grade homeroom and math teacher. I haven’t seen or spoken to Mrs. Sessa in 30 years so imagine how blown away I was. Mrs. Sessa, now 90 years old, had a letter that I wrote her in 5th grade essentially professing that my math class was not challenging enough, I needed more, and I needed her help to change my situation. Reading the words of my 10 years old self was an emotional experience. I could not believe the professionalism of that 10 year old girl, the confidence of that 10 year old girl, a girl who knew what she wanted, needed and who she needed to help get her there. Even moreso, I couldn’t believe that my teacher of 30 years ago kept it. Through the loss of her husband, move from her home and into assisted living, she kept the words of a little 5th grade girl. Mrs. Sessa thought more of me at that time than I knew to think of myself. I keep asking myself, why did she keep it. What did she see in me? What if I had seen what she saw when I was 10.

What if we realized how awesome we are instead of focusing on how we just might not be enough? What if we realized how courageous, independent, and amazing we really are? What if we helped someone realize this about themselves. This year, I challenge each of us to see ourselves as wonderfully Christ sees us – as beautiful, blessed, gifted, talented, deserving of love and respect, valuable, strong and more than enough. Then I challenge us to pay that forward to someone else. #ApplyingGodin2021

The Beauty of Slow Motion

I remember last year’s NYE so well. I was exhausted from a year of running, plans, to-dos and fulfilling family, personal and societal expectations. Last year, I sipped coffee just to get over the finish line of 2019 and I remarked to myself that I was glad I made it. I couldn’t wait for 2020 to rescue me from my fatigue, exhaustion and just the hardships of the year. Well, in came 2020 with its own hardships, losses, and definitely some emotional exhaustion, yet tonight I do not enter 2021 with the fatigue that I ended 2020 with. This year, I am not sipping coffee trying to make it to the end of the year physically tired. This year I am rested in my body, mind and spirit. This year, in spite of the challenges, concerns, and uncertainty, I enter the new year thankful for what I noticed in 2020. Thankful that my fast paced life was replaced with a life in slow motion. Slow motion is a pace used to demonstrate how an event unfolds. Not sure about you but I am usually moving so fast that I don’t know if I have time or take time to see and appreciate how life is unfolding — the details — the beauty of my kids’ minds at work each day, the absolutely peaceful surroundings of my own backyard, the laughter of an at-home wine tasting for two, and dinner conversations with the musings and random thoughts of a 5 and 11 year old. During my fast paced life, I was missing out on so much — the details, the vibrancy and color of the beautiful life that I had created because I was so busy being busy with my “exciting” life of to-dos, outings, jam packed calendars, and rushing here and there.

Each year, it often feels like I am running a race that I can barely keep pace with but the hardships of 2020 allowed me to see life from a different vantage point. My once hurried life slowed way down. The things that were once passing me by, were now still enough that I could enjoy them as I passed by at a reasonable pace. When the world shuts down, you can sometimes focus on what is right in front of you and enjoy watching it unfold. Regardless of the challenges we have all faced, I think this year has allowed us all to enjoy life in slow motion and reap the meaningful benefits of its view.

As I move into 2021, I know just from 2020 that life is beautiful in spite of how it looks. I know that blessings can be found in the least likely circumstances, surrounded by the biggest piles of mess. I pray that in the midst of these crazy circumstances and challenges of epic proportions, that you too have found beauty in some of these ashes, joy at the edge of any mourning experienced and blessings tucked in the creases of your burdens.

Cheers to all God has for you in 2021! Happy New Year!

Defense

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You may not yet realize this about me but I am one of the least sportive people I know. I don’t really follow sports too much….although I did do a little assistant coaching with my Dad in 8th grade for a basketball youth league. Funny thing is that I find myself a mom of two boys, I find myself engaged to some degree or another in quite a few sports. My oldest’s favorite sport is basketball. (One I am at least knowledgeable about.) When I was at his game, I remember hearing the coach tell the boys to get their hands up and play a little defense. You see the coach wanted to boys to block the attack of their opponent. Every day, Satan, our opponent is on the court with us. From the moment we step out of bed, he is right there trying to knock us off our game, trying make a steal, or foul us out.

How can we play the best defense against such an experienced opponent? We start each day on the attack. We defend our goals, our plans, our life. We go against Satan before he has a chance to make his first play. Playing defense against Satan includes:

Morning Worship

Morning Prayer

Continuous Words of Defense

Have you established a defense routine? Are you inviting God into your day? Are you asking for His covering, His support, His blessing, and His direction. Are you saying your affirmations? I sure hope so! Hands up!

Rover

My three year old wanted a pet – a dog in fact. He asked and asked for a dog to no avail but he doesn’t seem at all bothered by what he has not received. You see my son got a dog. His name was Rover. No one ever saw Rover but Rover was real to him. He named Rover. He considered Rover. He even asked me in the grocery store if we have enough food for Rover. Rover was my baby’s prayer. The other day I was reading about how God creates things before we can actually see them and I thought of Rover. Not saying my son will realize his dream of Rover — God’s still working on his mama — but I was so impressed how he has already at 3 learned to do what many of us adults can not. He could see what he was asking for, even though it was not before him. He has named it, made it real and even lived life as if Rover was present. It may sound like a silly kid and his silly imaginary pet but what if God wants us to have that same heart and mind. What if God wants us to not only come to Him and ask Him for something and regardless of whether or not it has come to fruition we named it, believed that we had act, walked in the confidence and belief of its existence, and considered it in our daily life and decisions. What if we really believed that God has already done what we are asking him for. What if we made our petitions real to us. What if we had faith that God was setting us up with our dreams. I always say that we can learn so much through our kids. I suppose that is why God says come to me as little children. Little children can believe in what they hope for as if it is, even though they do not yet see it.

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This year become like a little child. Walk in the confidence that God is meeting your request, your need, your dreams. What’s your Rover? Ask for it, name it, live like you already have it.