Manna for This Day

Good griefus! I am very consistent in my inconsistent blogging, no?

I have wanted to stop here a bazillion times and tell you stuff, but I just haven't stopped long enough to tell you.

More than anything, I would think my theme for right now is: hills and valleys. (I was going to say "roller coaster" but a) it's been done and b) there are no fun loop-de-loops -yet- just the ups and downs).

Last week the Lord gave me an AMAZING week with Him: hearing from Him, drawing so near to Him, just precious time with Him. And I wanted to stop and tell you about that. But I didn't.

So... of course, this week, Satan took note. Ugh. Ready for the planet to be rid of him! Lots of discouragement... And a headache that has lingered all week. Just little stuff that adds up to annoying. And, yesterday, I claimed it: I was tired of it. Tired of living away from Troy. Tired of trying to be the big girl. Tired of waiting for an answer. Tired.

Of course, there is part of my problem, honestly -- I'm not sleeping enough. Honestly. That's a whole other story. Oh, I CAN sleep when Troy's gone, I just don't go to bed on time.

So, I asked God to send me some encouragement. I reached out to some people that I knew would encourage me, as well. And in little sprinkles of blessings, God provided exactly what I needed just for yesterday. I wish I could tell you that my house sold yesterday and God took care of it THAT way. Um... no. Because part of my amazing week with him last week was learning how much there is to learn in the waiting. But he did send me the encouragement I needed just for the day. Manna to make it through.

And today is a new day. The sun is on its way up now. I still have a headache, for which I am most annoyed (please, winter, cut me some SLACK!) but I am trusting the Lord for the Manna to get through this day, as well.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22,23


Good Things Out There

It's been a LONG time since I've done a "Good Things Out There" post... and this one will be brief.

My father has always been a big believer in learning people's names. I try to notice, but confess I'm not very religious about it. This article is a great reminder that learning someone's name not only makes that person feel good, but it can pay off for you, as well.

I have really come to enjoy reading Michael Hyatt's blog. He is the president of Thomas Nelson publishing (Christian books). He has excellent things to say about leadership, organization, productivity, and even parenting. I enjoyed this article: "44 Actions You Can Take Now to Boost Your Energy." None of them involve Hydroxy-Cut.

I thought this article entitled "The Two Sides of Responsibility" was an interesting look at obesity: political vs. personal problem. It was written by Michael Prager, author of "Fat Boy, Thin Man."

(My brief "good things" post is getting longer and longer because I keep running across good stuff!)

I'm re-stealing/ linking this from Julie. And reciting it to myself. A lot. Capable people struggle with finding balance. Right?

This is an older post of Michael Hyatt's that I came across later in the week about modesty for our girls. Some excellent guidelines to be teaching them.

I had this video on Facebook a while back... I may have even posted it here. I like this guy's attitude: even if you don't know the words, go ahead and sing out. You will probably make someone smile:

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Keepin' It Real...

As I've mentioned a bazillion times here, our house is on the market. Sunday, we had an Open House. So, I spent all week getting our house clean and spotless so that we could breeze out the door no problem on Sunday afternoon.

Uh, no.

I did a few things to declutter. I did put the Christmas tree away. What more do you want?

Ashley had a sleepover on Friday night for her birthday (post about how OLD I feel to have a 15 year old to come shortly) so by Saturday morning we were covered in blankets and pizza boxes, as well as the clutter from the previous week.

I decided to wander around the house at 5 p.m. Saturday evening to show you what my house looked like 20 hours before an Open House (this also explains why I wasn't in class Sunday morning, why I was backing out of my driveway 10 min. before it started, and why I noticed puppy footprints that should have been mopped up after the open house):

The kitchen area, where Troy has already thrown away the 4 pizza boxes, but there is still a box on the floor that contains a Christmas gift (to me), the kitchen desk has several Christmas gifts (to me) covering it, there are tennis shoes (not mine) next to Stickers' cage, who, for some reason, has 2 open bags of food. You can't see Duchess' nose prints on the French doors from here.
I should have turned on the light in the dining room for you to get a better view of the clutter. Troy already (are you noticing that all of the clutter is mine and Troy is doing all of the picking up?) picked up the newspaper and breakfast dishes, but the Sonic cup and all manner of my running gear (headband, headphones, gloves, etc.) are on the table. Beyond that on a bench in the corner is a box of Christmas decorations that still need to be put away. Good thing I only got out one box of Christmas decorations!
The bedroom. Notice there is a child in the unmade bed. I actually make my bed religiously during the week, but on the weekends, all bets are off. Troy's suitcase that he lives out of ALL THE TIME is there under the window. In front of it are my clothes that I stepped out of to change to go running, and some PJ's from the morning.
This is my favorite picture. Here is Duchess, knowing that some great calamity is going to befall her when a cleaning frenzy takes place -- either she's going to be left alone here for a very long time (we leave town), or she's going to be drug in the car to wait out an open house. She's not having it at this point.
If you would like to see pictures of my pristine house, you are welcome to view our real estate website. But where's the fun in pristine? Honestly...

You know, as I post this it occurs to me that I don't mind showing you this junk for many reasons. One... it really isn't THAT bad. Okay, the bedroom is pretty bad, but it has been MUCH worse. Trust me. Also, I know that we ALL let our house go on occasion, usually on the weekend.

I have really been convicted lately of my double speak. I SAY that I am "all about authenticity" but there are certain things I won't confess here. Of course, it's a difficult balance because I do have a family to protect and honor, as well (but I sure didn't mind showing their dirty house).

What I won't let you peek into is my pride, or my greed, or my judgmental heart. I don't openly talk about that. Baby steps, baby steps.

Hoping you will be kind when I find the courage...

James 5:16:
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."


The Waiting Place

"And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!"

(excerpt from Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go!")

I'm considering how much of the last year of our lives we have spent in The Waiting Place. This Waiting Place (waiting for a house to sell) is a smidgen different than the last Waiting Place (of waiting for a job), which I presume will be just a little different than the next Waiting Place.

And I'll be honest, I initially RAGE against The Waiting Place. First I organize it: there is a plan for how we will wait and how long we will wait, and the activities we will do while we wait. God usually thumps my plan over at some point.

I have to send up a praise and tell you that God has finally brought me to the peace that surpasses human understanding in my current Waiting Place. That is NOT me at all, but the work of the Spirit in my life. Sarah wants it mapped out, squared away, over and DONE, but the Spirit has brought some amazing grace AND peace into my life and led me to be still and wait.

My prayer in this time is to "redeem the time" -- may God use it for His good. Let us not squander our time of waiting twiddling our thumbs or raging at the circumstances of an unsold house (yes, you heard plenty of that last month) or spending energy beating the bushes for a buyer that simply isn't here now. I will spend this time in prayer that my life may be His, praying that I may hear His nudge of how best to honor Him in time of waiting.

I pray much for sweet Troy, too, in his new job and new town that he may be at peace since I think he's definitely got the short end of this deal without the support system that the kids and I have here.

I don't know WHY we are here: it may be for me, it may be for Troy, or the kids, or the buyer of this house, or the seller of the next house. I simply don't know. I simply know that I want to use this time to His glory.

One thing that brought me to this place is a song. I play it almost every day -- at least once if not 3 or 4 times -- in the car as my prayer. I had forgotten about it, but someone posted it on Facebook. The first time I heard this was a little over a year ago at a funeral.

Remember my friend Dana? She lost her beloved husband to cancer way too soon. I think he was 37. She spoke very eloquently at his funeral, and said that this song had allowed her to get through, then she played "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller (originally in the movie "Fireproof"). Then she sat down. Through a crowd of people, I could see Dana in her seat.

With tears streaking her gorgeous porcelain skin, she lifted her face and hands heavenward, and praised and worshipped to this song. Dana, as all people in grief, are now in a forever waiting place -- waiting to see their loved one. Remembering that moment has given me new resolve. If she, my beautiful, stubborn, strong friend can lift her hands in praise at her husband's funeral, then I can by golly buck up and lift my hands in praise waiting for a house to sell.

While I'm waiting...


Walking Through Unemployment

I came across this excellent post about how to mentally go through unemployment. It was her spouse that was unemployed, but when either of you are unemployed you are both walking that road, going through many of the same emotions and experiences.

It made me walk back through our own unemployment road a little. I didn't blog much about it at the time, for many reasons. Mainly because I was working so hard to keep my own head above water mentally, I couldn't gather my thoughts and put them down anywhere. And partly because I knew if I did put them down anywhere, I would NOT want to look at them.

If you don't click and read that whole article, one thing rang especially true for me. Quoting:

"I found I was so distracted by the tornado of job searching that it was hard for me to be around others (even at church) whose futures seemed secure. At times we felt like we were wandering through a blizzard — we could see people enjoying the warmth of their fireplaces through their picture windows while our family was out in the workplace cold."

That is very true for me. I gravitated to a precious few people that had recently walked the unemployment road or who were a constant source of encouragement for me. To stare into the future and see... nothing ... isn't as frightening when you "know who holds your future" -- but it becomes very wearisome. Especially when two beautiful pair of blue eyes looked at you at least weekly and asked (with their eyes if not verbally), "Mom...? What's going to happen? Where will we be living? Can I stay at my school?" And you simply do not know.

We are so very thankful for Troy's new job. As hard as it was for him to lose a job, we know that God is in all of it. Troy is LOVING his new job, and we trust that God has many things for him to do there.

Even as difficult as it is to have him going back and forth, living out of a suitcase, not knowing when we will be living together again -- it STILL isn't as hard as having NO idea what the future holds. We know that EVENTUALLY we will live where he is working, and EVENTUALLY we will all live together again. God's peace that passes understanding has settled on this house.

If you are walking the road of unemployment, I have no words of comfort other than to tell you that God knows the path you are on and is leading you. Lean into His arms. If you know OF someone walking that road, I would encourage you to offer small, meaningful words of encouragement. I will tell you that the BEST encouragement I got was from a friend who would text me once or twice a week and either say: "Praying for you at this moment." or text me a scripture. How simple is that? It only required that I be thought about and a very small action taken .

That is when Romans 15:13 became my lifeline:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."


Four Words

At the beginning of every year, I hear/ read on blogs some people say, "The Lord gave me my word for the year: xxxx" (no, no one actually uses xxxx. You know.) Anyway, some people spend a year focusing on 3 words.

Last week as 'words' kept cropping up on people's blogs and statuses (stati?) I started praying (remember, I'm going to hear from the Lord?):

"Lord do you have a word for me? I think I may need a word? What about a word? Aren't you going to give ME a word? Come ON already...!! A word!"

Surprisingly enough, the word: Patience ...
came to mind.

But so many other words came to mind over the next week, too. Actually, tomorrow is when I was going to give myself to come up with A word. And I have come up with 4 words. Not because I am an over-achiever, or think I'm better. But for two reasons: a) I really like all words. The more the merrier, I always say. and b) I have many more things to work on. Even if I live to be 100 (I still need to tell you the story of my 99 year old grandmother who wants to buy a Christmas sweater for next year) only working on one word a year is too few.

My 4 words and why they are important to me at this season of my life:
1) Patience: in everything. Listening to the Lord. Waiting on my husband. Waiting for the light to turn green. Waiting on the person with a bazillion groceries to check out. Waiting for the house to sell. Waiting for answers. Waiting on my children. Patience in all things.

2) Humility: This is one of those blessings that comes with the wrinkles and gray hair. Help me to be ready, nay eager to say: "you don't have to do it my way" "but I could be wrong" "what do you think?" "as long as it makes you happy".

3) Gentleness: This will come with humility, I suppose, since my non-gentleness seems to stem from my matter-of-fact-ness: "This is the way it is. Put your happy britches on about it. Move along." Part of that is my parenting gene (and it wouldn't kill me to pour some gentleness into that, either) and part of that is my logical gene. The Spirit needs to smooth out those rough edges in me.

4) Wisdom: So thankful scripture tells us that as we pray for wisdom it will be granted. For instance, if God also grants me humility, how will I know when to stand up with a solid backbone and speak Truth into someone at a difficult time? Wisdom (and love) will have to be over all and in all of these words.

Does anyone else use words in a year? I would love to hear yours!


Time With Jesus

Jana mentioned one of her resolutions was to listen more to what God has for her. In her wise words, "I'm so busy gabbing my head off to Him (or ignoring Him entirely) that I have no idea what He has to say to me or what He wants me to do."

That made me think of this video that never fails to step on my toes AND make me laugh.

Shortly before Christmas I read a very powerful book, "The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond" by Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. (at the time, it was a free Kindle download. Sadly, it isn't anymore -- still worth a read!)

God is still speaking to each of his children today. I am finding that my untrained ear still isn't sure what is His whisper and what is my brain. That requires more prayer and practice. But He speaks through His word, through other children, and through my own thoughts. Read the book. Great read.

Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'


Resolutions? Goals? Po-tay-to? Po-tah-to?

I mentioned yesterday that I have really balked at setting goals/ resolutions because of our state of transition/ whatever. I have also, always in the past, really steered away from setting hard- and -fast resolutions only to fail and feel crummy about myself.

So. I have goals. Some are 'this-year-specific'. Some not. Some I will share with you to hold myself accountable. Some not (though I do plan to share them with SOMEONE to hold me accountable -- I think that's a great idea).

Other ways I have seen folks go about goal setting recently:

Rob has a very ambitious 101 Things in 1,001 days (almost 3 years) list.

Erin Doland of Unclutterer plans to have monthly goals (but she also plans to plan each day to the hour. Wow.). I have tried a variation of monthly goals before.

Michael Hyatt (I have no idea if he also does New Year's Resolutions on top of this) creates an overall Life Plan, working toward the end result of the person he would like to be. He reviews this each quarter.

I started and created myself a Life Plan, as well. I have always LOVED the word 'intentionality'. If there is someplace you want to end up (being a good parent and spouse, skilled writer/ basket weaver, certain level of fitness, etc.) you need to PLAN to end up there on purpose. It rarely happens on accident. So I have a life plan -- I have a few areas I still need to work toward writing out (blech -- who wants to face a plan for their finances? We just want LOTS of money, right??)

These are a few of the things I am working toward this year (and I think most of these are on my Life Plan):

*Read more books. At least 2 fiction, 1 non-fiction per month. I know for you big readers that isn't a lot, but I just get sucked into blogs and facebook and my own stuff and let it get away from me. I have gotten a running start on this by using the library and the Kindle on my iPhone and my laptop (you can get Kindle software on almost any electronic device now). This page will help you find some good deals on Kindle, but between Amazon 1-click and iTunes, I can drain my bank account $1.29 at a time!

*Complete 2 half-marathons this year. I am already registered for the Dallas Rock -n - Roll in March. So, Lord willin' and barring injury, that will be #1. My 2nd will be in the fall and I'm not sure which that will be. My overall goals for running is to continually better my time (I would almost have to stand still to make it worse than it was last fall!)

*Memorize 52 verses of scripture. I am participating in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Team which only requires that you memorize 24 (2 per month). I knew that wasn't enough of a challenge for me, considering how much scripture I want to be rolling through my head. 52 is an ambitious goal, no doubt. But I know I can do it. (and you can totally do 24 -- it's not too late to start if you want!)

*Consistently be in the word and in prayer. Because I always have my time in the word first thing in the morning, it's also the first thing to get dropped off when life gets crazy. I have been catching my Bible reading here, and "praying without ceasing", but I miss the structured time. This is one of the reasons I have made myself have monthly goals -- to get back to this.(Y'all, I found this "Bible Reading Plan for Slackers and Shirkers". Can NOT tell you how much I love it!!)

*No Diet Cokes. Again. I was off of Diet Cokes for almost a year because of my migraines and for some crazy reason, started ooching back onto them this summer. When one didn't bother me, I had one or two more. Then a LOT more. However, now that winter has hit, the combination of my migraine preventative and the Diet Cokes keep my fingers and toes miserably cold, and the carbonation affects my running (as in, my breathing). Why do I drink that junk? Because it is yummy. But I will not put one to my lips for 2011. About to take the last of a 12-pack over to a friend's house now.

These are all I can think of right now. What about you? Goals? Plans? Resolutions?


A New Year, Same Old Junk

So. 2011. *sniff, sniff* Still smells like 2010 to me...

Remember how before the holidays I wrote (quite a bit) about not moving, etc.? Yeah, still not moving. Still tired of people asking when we are moving.

Resolutions? Plans? Goals?

See, I don't want to do ANY of that because it isn't neat and tidy. You see, it should all be color- coded on my calendar in my goal-setting and checking off and how to go about it. Yet, when I don't know when I'll be moving or my forwarding address, or any of that, I balk at planning ahead very much.

Yes, yes, grinchity, grinch. However, I have come to see the blessing in facing the black hole that is my 2011.

You see, I thought I had my 2010 all mapped out for me last year. I had goals and plans. I had ideas. I had thoughts. I boxed up my Christmas decorations having NO idea what 2010 would hold for me. And what a blessing that was. Sure, I was blindsided when tough times came, but I'm glad I didn't spend the first 6 months of the year dreading that moment.

And now? Now I'm glad that I know that 2011 will be a year of change, upheaval and transition for us. Obviously, I can't lie: I loathe the blackness stretching in front of us. The Unknown of when and where and how long. I LIKE having my calendar squared away and filled in. But I do know that God is here, through it all. God has ordained every day of my life before it ever dared to get written on a calendar. I don't HAVE to see the road ahead, because God is in it. I am thankful that I have that reminder through this time.

I have claimed Joshua 3:5 as a verse for our family for this year:
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

We are living expectantly that this road we are on will take us amazing places with the Lord.
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