Friday, January 29, 2016

Your Invitation Matters

I watched my tween expand her wings some this week.  I've encouraged her to go to the youth group at church for awhile now, but I don't push it.  If I've learned anything in these 40 years it's relationship over religion.  More than anything I want my kids to develop their own personal relationship with God.  That won't happen better or faster if I constantly force religious type activities.  Youth group falls under that list.

But as God would have it, a few weeks ago I dropped off our Mom Group book to a mom who has recently moved to the area and had baby #7.  We enjoyed a visit while I was there and found out our girls do somewhat know each other at their public school.  This particular mom talked about youth group and her daughter's involvement, she encouraged me to tell my daughter to try it. So of course I brought that up when I tucked her in that night.  She looked skeptically at me.  Now at least she knew someone, I suggested--she didn't agree or disagree.  As is my nature on this topic, I didn't push.

After some minor friend hurt at school this week, she told me she thought maybe she should try out that youth group thing.  I smiled and said I'd look into it so I made arrangements that she could attend.  As luck would have it, the one girl she knew happened to go home sick the day before the meeting.  She asked me if I might text her mom to see how she was feeling. . .and if she was going to youth group.  I didn't have a chance between pickups and volleyball.  So as the hour approached she nervously wavered whether or not she would go.  Ultimately she did.

God met her there.  She found a new community of peers with a similar belief system where she felt she belonged.  The drama that had dragged her down earlier in the week was forgotten as she excitedly recounted what they had learned and talked about.  She was bursting with energy and enthusiasm and I couldn't help but smile and feel my heart grow with appreciation for something that I've prayed about for a long time now.  At twelve, my daughter is on the cusp of discovering who Jesus is to her.  It is here that the foundation we've laid can deepen because of her own beliefs about who her God is.  That is both exciting and terrifying to me!

She is growing up.  The day after the meeting she accepted the girl's apology who had hurt her feelings. She forgave her.  She marked her calendar for the next youth group date.  And all I did was watch from the sidelines.  She was figuring the hard stuff out on her own.

I realized it doesn't matter if you're 5, 12, 20, or 40. . .an invitation from someone you know to do some new thing or go to a new place is softened when it starts with an invite. My tween tried something new because just the thought of a familiar face comforted and intrigued her.  She will go back because the group encouraged and asked her to.  Invitations are always nice to receive and one never knows what treasures will result from accepting the invite.  Who might you offer an invitation to today?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day Dreamer

Sometimes I'm in awe of  dreamers my age.  I'm in even more awe as I watch and listen to the dreams of my children around the dinner table or after they've been tucked in at night.  Their dreams are so big and crazy and a little bit impractical perhaps, but they voice them aloud as if they might actually take flight.  They believe in their spoken words.  They believe that the dream has the potential to be reached if they work hard and it is God's plan for their life.  Their dreams have no boundaries.  They are limitless.  Their dreams are simply magic.

Yet, here I sit seeking some kind of direction for this next phase of life.  If I allow myself to really dream big, there is this whisper called wisdom that sneaks into my reverie and pulls me out of the clouds.  There are all of these reasons why my dream might not "work."  The red tape, the season of life we're in, the lack of connections, resources, etcetera, etcetera. I just want that voice to be silenced.  I want those moments of full fletched dreaming big no matter how far fetched and out of this world dreams may be.  Because with God anything is possible.  

Isn't this the lesson we've inundated our children with?  Aren't there bible verses that support this truth?  
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."Matthew 19:26
For with God nothing shall be impossible.--Luke 1:37
And of course, Bubba's life verse: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.--Philipians 4:13

If I believe these to be true, why not allow myself to dream outside the box?  The magic of a moment will be better than not having experienced it at all.  Maybe a dream is like a seed.  It has to be planted and watered to bear a bloom or fruit.  Perhaps nothing can develop of a dream if it is simply buried in the recesses of the mind, or saved for another time in our life that might better suit it.  Perhaps the dream alone is the best part of the process.  It is in this stage that we can imagine, explore, build, design and let our imaginations run wild with possibility.  The dream might just be enough. . .even if nothing ever comes from it.  

Dreams.  I'm in the middle of living the best one I have physically ever birthed.  However, the dreams that reside in the recesses of my mind are bursting with possibility and potential.  It's time I invite them out to play, even if it's only for a day trip.  It's time.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Build it. . .

"Build it and they will come," found its way into my thoughts on my run this morning. It could have been the high school baseball field that I was running by that triggered that line from Costner's famous, "Field of Dreams," from years ago, but really it was such an odd line to ruminate on during the remainder of my miles. I'm not sure what exactly I'm in the process of building, but I feel it: kingdom kids, this blog, a more intentional future? Books recently causing me to take pause and let their words marinate in the depths of my soul include: Hands Free Life, Breaking BusyThe Fringe Hours, accompanied by a journal of sorts to discover a more fulfilled and more creative life, and The Abundant Moms Guide to Savoring Slow.

All of these books have a recurring theme: prioritizing life. What better time to do it than the start of a new year and decade of my life?  I'm not exactly sure how all these books came to be bedside, but I'm noticing the timing could not be better.  For too long, I've been trying to help my kids figure out their talents, and my husband follow his dream. . .it's my turn to put pen to paper, to dream, to be inspired, to learn something new, to be who God has created me to be.  I'm forty.  It's the perfect time to start digging deep and digging in.  Join me.  Let's do this dream work together.  I have this feeling. . ."If we build it they will come."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dream a Big Dream 2016

These days, my dreams have been revealing themselves to me, sometimes subtle. Sometimes full force, there is no denying they are there.  It seems as if the more I stepped out in faith, in quitting my job, taking in Ernie's brother, and co-leading MOMS at church, the more my eyes have been opened to unlimited possibilities that exist in my future.

When I was a young girl I enjoyed playing house, school, and Barbies.  It doesn't surprise me that eventually I wound up a teacher and then a work at home mom.  However, there were in between years where I dreamed of being a marine biologist. Unfortunately, in high school I realized the math and science that were involved and quickly changed my course.

Next on my dream list was to become a journalist.  I remember vividly, Communications Day, which was offered to Seniors at the college I would be attending that fall.  I breezed through my workshops, I took notes from speakers and by nightfall, I began to waver.  My self esteem battled with thoughts of: how many people really make it in this field?  You enjoy writing, but are you good enough?  And just like that, I changed course again and settled on teaching.  Because I knew what I wanted I was done in three and a half years, had a teaching job lined up at the age of twenty-one, and I never looked back.  I enjoyed what I did: four years at elementary, adult school, six at the high school, and six at middle school.  I was good at what I did.  Once upon a long time ago, my friend and I even told the Superintendent and Assistant Super that one day we would be doing what they were doing. And I probably would too, if I hadn't had kids.  For me, kids changed everything. . .for the best.

And so began my dream changing. . .I dreamed of working part time, and God answered my prayer.  Even though I didn't love the middle school level, I was still able to do what I was so good at, as well as be more present with my kids.  Four years into it, after a series of events, I dreamed of life at home with my kids.  It seemed like a pretty big dream to dream with a husband settling into a new career, but I dreamed and prayed about it anyways.  And again, God answered my prayer.  I would now only work one day a week for the next two years. It was the best of both worlds for awhile, but when they needed me to go back full time I decided to walk away. Seventeen years and I was ready for change. Dare I say, even excited about it!

The next year home would be me pouring into our youngest with homeschool, along with starting up my own writing business.  I would teach around the kitchen table for two hours a week with a hand full of students.  It has been very good for me to do what I enjoy, with kids who I enjoy, but I've recently been asking myself what do I want from this experience?  Is this experience preparing me for something else around the bend? Could I revisit my childhood dream of becoming a journalist.  Would my words written down on paper eventually become something more if I poured into that dream as much as I had poured into my education and the raising of our children?

I have no idea.
None.  I've been seeing and hearing from multiple sources all over social media that my story matters.  I am the author of it.  So today I will write.  Today I will dream about the impact of my words, even if it's only in the lives of my own family. May they always know they are the best stories I have ever written. They are enough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Facing Forty

Back in the beginning of November, a new decade of my life was just beginning, yet I felt as if my blogging days might soon come to an end.  As much as I enjoyed having a completed book of memories come the end of December, the process was becoming tedious.

Then a couple of days before my Papa's death, two struggled, whispered words ignited a stirring in me. 
"Still here," is what my Papa said.  I believe these were the final words I ever heard from my last living grandparent after I asked how he was doing.  He had said these words often the last year of his life.  But on this day, November 4, 2015 my brain kicked into high gear and I was excited as thoughts seemed to swirl and connect.  His familiar answer had taken on a meaning all its own.

He may have passed two days later, from this life into the next one, but I was still here.  This was a personal invitation:
  • to love
  • to live
  • to inspire
  • to serve
His last words unexpectedly created in me a longing:  to pursue a place where I was free to be me.  His words reminded me of the legacy I will one day leave behind and gave me inspiration for a blog that is different from my family's adventures.  This is your invitation to join me on a journey of exploration, self-discovery, and anything else we might uncover along the way.  

Peace. . .