Monday, September 30, 2013

30 Posts in 30 Days: Wrap-up

Over the last 30 days, I attempted to create 30 new blog posts.  The good news is, I created 32 posts.  The bad news is, I only published a little over half.  Between ideas that didn't pan out, and my apprehension about being ultra-transparent (I pulled some posts), I didn't finish as strong as I had hoped.  The good news is, I did do more than I had been doing.  Just this month, I have more than doubled fledgling blog readership. So growth in numbers & personal growth through the process.  I'll take it.

During this process, I've continued to think about the life changes that I have been making.  I have chronicled some of them and have been more intentional in others areas, in hopes of having something "to write home about" someday soon. I've been working on a whole life transformation and I feel like I'm gaining ground in some areas.

In other areas, I feel like I may have lost my way--but in reality, I believe you can only devote so much time to the changes you want to see, so you have to prioritize.  I'm still searching for a way to provide for my family financially and to create opportunities for other mamas that want to do the same--while prioritizing family first.  This is an area that I am a bit discouraged in, but I know that the true Omnipreneur has the power to guide me to wisdom in this area.




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Baron's Birth Story

A letter to my Baron, on your birthday:

Your pending arrival came as a welcome surprise as I awaited a more bleak prognosis after passing out and going to the ER.  You certainly made an impression from the very start.  A doctor walking in with a grin; he must have known you would bring so much joy to our lives.  I forgot about the other issues I was having and was overjoyed to know we would welcome another blessing into our home.

Your brother was so excited to find out about you.  Your sister was a little unsure, but she was small so that was to be expected.


Healthy Apple Pie

While I felt a normal sickness early on, I quickly learned tips and tricks that didn't quite work before. I guess the third time was the charm.

After my tummy-aches subsided, I started to crave veggies and healthy foods again.  I was familiar with this type of pregnancy, as your older brother brought on similar cravings.  I said from the start that I was having a boy, but I was warned that those "feelings" could be wrong...

But they weren't.  Dad found out that you were going to be a boy at 16 weeks (but I knew from the beginning remember).  We tossed around a few names.  Daddy wanted to carry on the family tradition with his full name, but I couldn't imagine you as an IV. However, I think Daddy's pretty awesome so it didn't take much convincing to name you after him.  We compromised with Montague as your middle name.

I had the name Noble picked out as a favorite a few years before, but it didn't seem to flow with your middle name, so we considered names that meant noble as a man of noble character was something we hoped to inspire.  When we read that Baron meant noble or a warrior, we knew that was the name for you.  Then someone asked if we would spell it "Barren."  At first I thought of the desolate meaning of barren; However, in my Bible reading that night, I came across a verse that reminded me that in my most "barren" times, it was Christ that met me where I fell short and filled me with the strength I needed.  I could envision you as a future warrior, times when you would be a man of great character and times where you may feel empty and desperately seeking God's strength.  This brought joy and anticipation to my heart.
This are getting a little cramped around here  

My pregnancy continued and as a family we prepared for your coming arrival which meant moving in order to have room for you.  We changed homes, zip codes, Jax changed schools just in the nick of time.  While unpacking boxes, I felt my first contractions and anxiously prayed that you would hold off just a little longer.  Strangely, I started feeling stronger contractions beginning at week 36.  By week 38, I was positive that you would not wait another week.  I had a couple of false alarms where I didn't end up going to the hospital, but I timed them and all signs indicated I was in full labor.  The reality is, you were just getting me ready to welcome you at just the right time. 

30 Weeks
On the 24th, I prayed that God would bring you that day or the next.  I was getting no sleep and I couldn't wait to meet you.  That night, I was ready for you to arrive and disappointed when you didn't.  The last few weeks are so hard for mamas anxious to meet the amazing little swimmer in their tummies.  Strangely, that night all of my contractions stopped for the first time in weeks. I woke up feeling out of sorts the next morning.  No movement at all.  Considering we thought of you as a little gymnast because you always moved so much, I panicked for a moment and woke your father up to pray.  We prayed over you and I hopped in the shower to relax.

September 20-5 days before your birthday (last pregnancy pic)
When I got out of the shower, I was feeling some serious contractions and told Daddy to get ready to leave.  I called my Doctor and your Ommy arrived.  I threw the stuff in the car and we headed out.  When we got to the hospital, I was in some serious pain.  I barely made it to the room.  The nurses were ready for shift change and my doctor was no where to be found.  They reassured me that it would be a little while (did I mention it was time for shift change). I checked in around 6:15. By 6:45, I reassured them that you would be making your way into the world in just a few short minutes.

The nurses again urged me to wait, but being the stubborn mommy that I am sometimes, I asked the doctor to get ready because I couldn't wait any longer.  At this point, I was in some ridiculous, imma-kill-somebody pain and although I vowed to skip the pain relief, I begged for it.  They said it was too late.  I cried a little, but with a few short pushes, you made your way into the world with barely enough time for the on-call doctor to slip on her gloves and catch you.  It went from mega-intense to pure amazement as I got to hold you and see your little face for the first time.  You were born at 7:03 a.m. and were 7 lbs. 1 oz.


I know that God knit you together to be our wonderful little warrior and gentle nobleman.  We are so blessed to be your parents and your brother and sister adore you.  (Eden worried us when mommy was pregnant, but she was a natural adoring sister the moment you arrived--we're not sure it will last until your next birthday though).  I spent almost the entire first month of your life holding you 24/7 and I don't regret it one bit.  I was so blessed to have that time with you.  Your daddy was such a big help and friends, new and old came to welcome you and bless our new family of 5 with delicious meals and treats.


We are so blessed to bring you into a village of friends who have prayed for you and will continue to pray and guide you alongside us.  We dedicated your life to the Lord because He is your creator.  We hope that you make the decision to trust Him as your own personal savior when you understand the significance of His gift.  We promise to do all that we can to love each other the way that Christ calls us to do as your parents.  We promise to seek Christ to know how to lead you and help you discover your own unique gifts and purpose.  Baron, you are such a treat and I laugh with joy at your days to come.







Happy Birthday Baron!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Expectations & Farming

As I just begin to settle in & adjust to my new season primarily managing my home, I was ready to start making my Pinterest projects happen, enjoying a new routine and the fruits of my labor. I was not ready to paint a house I don't live in, repair a busted water line & the damage it caused, fix costly problems on two newer cars (one less than a month old with the dealer refusing to cover stuff that we hoped would be covered when you buy from a dealer.) My financial leap of faith was going to be without hurdles, right?

I wasn't ready for my daughter to respond with "I don't care!" when I bought her a gift; after all, I have been spending quality time with her and bonding and teaching her for months. Moms who put their career on hold to invest in their family realize vast rewards, right?!

In escaping a life of constant busyness and production, I was going to be able to have more time with friends and these deep meaningful relationships would happen naturally, right?

In raising our children, exercising and eating healthy in order to lose weight, getting dressed up (mostly) every day, and staying up late to make coffee, creating beauty and order in my home, surely my husband would see that I am prioritizing the things that matter to him and respond with great appreciation and gushy love, right?!

The reality is that these were all expectations. They aren't really unrealistic, but they are still my expectations for how I think others should respond to my actions. Admittedly, some days, my expectations are exceeded and I feel really blessed and full of joy. Other days, I experience disappointment. But all the days include valuable lessons in grace and humility. They include the growth and slow and steady transformation experienced when diligence is applied in our lives. These days involve a process of chiseling away at a hard surface created through busyness and worldly aspirations. They involve tearing out weeds and thorns that have prevented true life from thriving.

The reality is that life is messy & expectations do not create a harvest.

I am but a farmer preparing and planting seeds where I am. I cannot control the weather, I understand real fruit grows on its own time. I can continue to be diligent. I can follow wise instruction, I can seek guidance from the One who controls the seasons, I can humbly ask that others join in and help me till and plant and care for my pending harvest. I can experience joy in giving of my fruits generously--even if I'm not sure what the harvest will look like. I can expect that some seeds will die--never producing the fruit I wanted. And in every season, of plenty and in drought, I will thank the Creator for granting me time in the field.

Expectations are natural. Disappointment is common. We can understand it and place our hope in the God that gives and takes away.

Thank you Father for the seasons of plenty and for the knowledge that sometimes moving on to a fresh plot is what is required to grow. The plot may require starting all over again, but the farmer is wise and knows it takes time. It's not automatic. Continual diligence, hope and joy make the farmer. God controls the weather. Every farmer knows that.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?



I was sitting in an American History class in high school while tragic history was being made.  The first plane hit the tower and everyone was shocked, then the next tower was attacked and we all were scared & hurt.  I was too young to fully understand the gravity of the situation.  Transitioning from reading about wars in American's early history to the makings of a war unfolding right before our eyes was very sobering.  It was sad.  I was confused.  But as the day unfolded, I witnessed amazing courage and I was so proud to be an American!

I was proud of the Americans who risked their lives to save others.  I was proud to be in a nation that came together as a family to stand up for justice & freedom.  Little did I know that several of the friends in that same school building would choose not to go to college and pursue the "American Dream." They would just to protect the American Dream by signing up to be heroes pursuing justice and defending freedom halfway across the world.


Fast forward eleven years.  Division in our nation is at an all-time high.  News of the attack at Benghazi  felt like another hard blow on an already somber day.  Surprisingly, our nation lacked the fervor for justice.  In fact, there wasn't very much coverage of the event at all & little action was taken to save lives of Americans representing diplomacy.

And this year, we're on the verge of a potential war with a nation that could involve siding with terrorists to make a point.  Have we forgotten already?

While I'll readily admit, I'm not as informed about these grave matters as I should be because I honestly question the info-tainment that our news sources have become.  With all the division in our country, I wonder if we still remember that we are still on the same team, in a nation that we're so blessed to live in.

But I do know that the same heroism in our nation exists still today.  As a wife of a first responder, I watch him don his uniform and head out in to the unknown with his team, ready to do what it takes to serve & protect.  I know soldier friends who have lost limbs and friends and would give their life if it meant keeping our country free & defending our constitutional rights.

We still live in the greatest nation on earth.  We are neighbors with some of the world's best heroes.  Remember the bravery.  Shouldn't we treat our soldiers with the utmost respect & honor.

Remember the hope in the midst of the darkness.  Remember the unity.

We are strong, we are free. We are the most blessed nation in the world!  God bless America!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life by Design: All In

Three months ago, I took a leap of faith and traded in my corporate job with wonderful benefits and a paycheck for a chance to invest time with my kids, serve as a wife and become the woman I've always wanted to be.  While I knew being an all-in, full-time mom was tough, I wasn't quite prepared for what I was getting into.  From ambitious career woman to humble home manager, suddenly I was in over my head. But I wasn't turning back, just like I had been in my career--with the decision to stay home-- I was all in.

Rewind a few years back.  When my husband and I met, I was a single mom to a 4 year old. We were married a year later and had discussed his desire to have a big family.  While I wasn't sure about how many kids we should have, I did know I didn't want to spread them out much further and that we should start trying to expand our family in the next year or so.  The first month that we decided to let nature take its course, we became pregnant.  He was finishing up school & our due date was the day that he was set to graduate.  Despite having morning sickness all day long for 6 months, I was working 60+ hour weeks with 2 jobs in real estate, renovating my own house and being very active in my community.  Our son was in school and with our opposite schedules, we shared the responsibility of caring for our son & both of us were able to put a lot of effort into school/work/community.  We hardly saw each other, but we thought that life seemed to be humming in the right direction.

But then we had a baby.  And my husband graduated (the day that I was discharged from the hospital) and entered a bleak job market.  He had to continue working his restaurant job that paid the bills while searching for a career full time, but wasn't finding the opportunities that made sense financially or strategically for a young educated man raising a family. I had to work more hours to make less money because the incentives in the real estate market went away and while I had years of RE experience I was new to the agent world in a historically difficult market. I didn't take a maternity leave, I took my 4-day old to a closing and didn't stop there,  I was nursing in between showings and I was burning out quickly.

I decided to turn in my passion for something more consistent and while my hours would be less, I knew I would lose the precious flexibility I had come to love along with the ability to bring my children along with me if I needed to & just plain old sunshine during the day.  It was a great opportunity at a wonderful company, but from clouds & clients to cube walls in a call center, it was an adjustment for me.

The job wasn't so bad, but my husband's new career path involved being on second shift and working an irregular schedule.  Often his work was understaffed & he'd have to come in with little notice and wasn't off most holidays. When I came home, he was leaving. We went almost 4 years with him working an opposite shift.  While it was nice to have a parent home with the kids, we were living parallel lives.  Both charged with carrying out the responsibilities of raising kids solo. Date nights were rare.  Talking about bills, plans, and life was crammed into sleepy late nights or hectic early mornings.  We were unable to maintain friendships with our weird schedule/(almost) single-parent lifestyle. While we both were very committed to our marriage.  It sucked.

But I had just committed to leading an organization that I was super passionate about & had the opportunity to work with some awesome people & I had just received a new position at work with lots of potential to grow so we kept going, until I passed out at work one day from dehydration & exhaustion and at the hospital the doctor came back smiling. (Thankfully I was pumped full of fluids & feel-good meds). Surprise! we were going to be expecting again.  So we kept on trucking for nine months, then I went on my first maternity leave with my third child.

Thank goodness for maternity leave, because going from two children to three was the biggest adjustment yet. We were still in the midst of potty training & our toddler started to have nightmares so even if the baby went to sleep, she would wake up.  I maxed out my leave in order to try my hardest to get a solid 5 hours of sleep before heading back into the land of grey cubes & client visits.  Operating a car of no sleep wasn't a good idea--trust me.

I dove back in head-first, planning a major event for the community organization I lead (volunteer) & started work with a new manager intent on revamping operations.  My head was spinning, but I was honestly glad to be back in the comfortable arena of sealing deals, finding opportunities and being recognized for a job well done; at the same time, our marriage was still not a priority & over the past year we had moved to another part of town, our son started a new school & my husband began a more intense position in his career & the boiler of life grew hotter.

My friends showered me with kindness (sprinkled with encouragement to slow down) by saying "I can't believe how much you juggle," but this only made me feel guilty.  I saw pictures of them with their kids at the park & on school field trips and hated that I hadn't made one that year.  I paid sitters to enjoy time with my kids while I attended board meetings.  I had no idea what my son was learning in school, just spent my evenings making sure that he was at his desk drilling away at homework.  I downed at least 3-4 cups of coffee a day, had zero time for margin and hoped that all of this effort would pay off someday.

Then, a leader in our church--a mom to 4 precious girls and wife to our youth pastor--lost her battle to cancer at such a young age.  I missed the memorial service of her incredible life because I had a community event I had to attend, but I went to a different funeral the next day and was reminded again of how short life is.  I cried all the way back to work and prayed fervently that God would open up a door for me to jump out of the rat race.  I shared my desire to invest my most valuable resource of time in a place that would bring solid returns--in bringing up the next generation.  I prayed about having a marriage that was thriving and not barely surviving. And I wondered what it would be like to start all over and to only do things that complimented my families' needs.

Financially, it would not make sense for me to leave my job.  That's why I asked my husband to join me in praying about it, but assured him that I was wait for his leadership in making the decision.  I promised him that I would work on finding a way to use the talents God had invested in me to my best ability to meet our needs, but that God had placed a peace in my heart to just trust Him & He would provide.

After several months of prayer, he came to me and said that he had peace about me leaving.  Respecting his leadership & taking the first step in refreshing our marriage, we made this move together.  I turned in my notice, and tomorrow I'll talk more about how when God provided when we put our trust all in, God showed up in ways we didn't imagine.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Your Mom Goes to College

In efforts to cultivate a well-balanced Life By Design, I have managed to cram my schedule full again.  I decided to take my first MOOC class online after reading rave reviews on it.  As a lover of life-long learning, I have been wanting to give my brain a workout lately, but with three kiddos, it's a challenge finding a way to make it happen.  So far, the course is interesting & I am engaged.  However, I had to choose catching up on lectures versus doing my daily blog last night.

While I don't get class credit, I really love the idea of MOOCs.  Ten years after I entered college, I'm just now seeing it as more of a tool than a path to getting a certificate.  While I believe grades and diplomas are an effective way of measuring ability & commitment,  so far I believe that MOOCs are an equally effective way of learning without the high cost associated with obtaining a degree.

As I was taking my class last night, my husband glared over at the sink full of dishes, reminding me of my assignment in Momology 101.  So if my blog challenge fails, it's because this mom is going to "college" while aiming for a C+ in Momology.  Hopefully Foundations of Business Strategy will teach me how to decrease the demands of my kids while increasing my supply of energy.  Wishful thinking, huh!?!?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Empty Handed

In my random, spaghetti-brained style of internet reading, I came across an article on Andy Stanley & Charles Stanley's relationship.  While this search result had nothing to do with what I was originally intending to look up, my curiosity got the best of me and I continued to read the article, as I was unaware of the challenges & trajectory of their relationship.  I had watched Charles Stanley on tv as a child & today I have been blessed an challenged by the Andy Stanley podcasts & DVD lessons I have listened to.

I was encouraged by a story of a relationship transformed.  During one period, he left behind all that he had known and grown, to start fresh and respond to God's calling for his individual life.  Taking that leap of faith not only allowed him to grow as an individual leader, but it offered a place for resolution to take place in the strained relationship.  There's something so beautiful about being empty and alone.  Andy shared a quote that is based on the story of David & Absalom (similar father-son situation):

“Beginning empty handed and alone frightens the best of men.  It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them.” – Gene Edwards in his book The Tale of Three Kings

I am reading just ahead of what we're currently reading at church (1 Samuel 25ish--the story of David) and so this quote was timely, as I am learning so much in this chapter about relationships and God's provision.  

For a long time, I spent my days working hard, learning as much as I could and building business relationships.  While my son is quite at the age to try to overthrow the kingdom (or form his own church) yet, it did hit me that I wasn't investing in that relationship or with other members of my family the way that I felt God was calling me to do.  While the other things that I had put so much value and effort into weren't altogether bad things, I truly formed my life missions around what was constructed for me as the American dream.  In order to take a stand for my most valuable relationships & to have the opportunity to respond to God's calling for my life in this season, I found myself in a place where I had to start over.  And for a while, I felt alone & empty-handed. 

But God has shown favor & granted wisdom. It really is an opportunistic place to be.  Emptying our own "worldly" ambitions is difficult in our Americanized culture, but it allows the opportunity to grant God the ability to fill us. Standing on faith & leaning into God's truth unbridled by our own constrictions allows for an opportunity for God to give us purpose & to create healing in the waste places.  

I have just begun the process of restoring some crucial relationships (not all were broken--mostly just not lived to the fullest).  I believe that it's key to trust Him to fill our empty hands & to have the faith to put our lives in His hands. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Favorite Pair of Jeans

Some days when I'm contemplating the here and the now and where I want to be in the future, I think back to a season in my life that was free of doubt, free of guilt, full of opportunity and simply blissful.  Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of outside pressures and lots of details to nail down every day. During this season, I was a single mom to a toddler boy and day-to-day could have been a struggle, but it wasn't really.

There have been seasons in my life where I was just comfortable, like wearing my favorite pair of jeans comfortable.  You know, the ones that make you look great and are versatile enough to go with a cute pair of hills or your worn Rainbow flip flops.  I think these days, the jeans come in the form on an attitude of gratitude and wonder.

I can't go without giving credit to the Creator of life who has definitely provided an opportunity to be a steward of some resources which I am by no means entitled to.  I am so eternally grateful for blessing.  But we all have them right?

Some seasons we don't recognize it.  Sometimes we look in the mirror and see those old jeans as ratty and outdated.  Sometimes we see the new jeans and thing that's what we have to have to be fabulous.  But the reality is, we don't need someone else's blessings or a newer better blessing.  We have freakin' awesome, comfy jeans and we need to rock them!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Strategy for Winning the Mommy War



There's lots of talk of mommy wars. Whether it's "career women" vs. "SAHMs," "Tiger Moms" vs. Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding vs. Formula--at each age, at each stage, chances are, you may find yourself engaged in Mommy Wars.   I recall one of my own a few months ago where I attended a social function which was awesome partially because I was able to enjoy the evening with a couple of my favorite mom friends--and also awkward, because of an interaction I had with a new mom acquaintance with whom I found myself in the midst of a battle. This is really sparked the beginning of my strategic plotting on ways to win the Mommy Wars.  Here are my tips below (Bear with my lengthy guide and read all the way to the end in order to be fully equipped):

1.  Recognize your opponents strengths-
In my awkward situation above, my "opponent" was a pediatrician.  We weren't at her office, but rather a fun social function.  While complimenting a fellow pediatrician who saw 2 of my kids at the time, I let it slip that we also loved our second pediatrician because he empowered us to choose whether or not to vaccinate our youngest child.  As the words flowed out of my mouth, I knew I had committed one of the unforgiving offenses amongst the local pediatric community, as very few options are available for parents locally who want to delay or refuse vaccines and our primary pediatrician had asked us to find another physician for our youngest child because we weren't sure if we would vaccinate this time.

Immediately upon hearing about my transgression,  this lovely mom turned into a vigilant vixen.  I heard the same lecture about child endangerment and the other terrible effects of unvaccinated children.  I left the party feeling attacked and upset about an educated decision that I made for our family with the well-being of my children as the primary reason behind my decision.  I was mad at her, but after thinking about it further, I resolved that I encountered a passionate, intelligent mama who also happened to be an accomplished pediatrician & this was her strength.   While I am well-read on the issue and feel confident in my decision, the other mom felt compelled to share from her area of expertise & most likely saw herself being more helpful than harmful.  I resolved that I would appreciate this mama's strength & passion.

2. Train for Battle-
While parenthood doesn't come with an official instruction manual, there is an abundance of reading material, workshops, and community groups focused on helping you become a better parent.  For me, the list is almost overwhelming, but don't let that stop you from being an educated parent.  We are equipped with the innate ability to care for our children and learning more about our instincts and decisions can only help us be prepared for growing strong, healthy children--and in turn--standing our ground when we're faced with a Mommy War.

In my situation, I began researching the hot topic issue of vaccines shortly after my first child was born.  As a young mommy, I had no idea that there was speculation of harm until I was researching "side effects of vaccines" when my son had a fever (normal).  It opened my eyes to a scary new world, and although I decided to continue to follow the advice of our pediatrician, I wanted to ensure that I was well-read on both sides of the issue as well as some of the other parenting challenges & opportunities we're faced with.  While there's also bound to be bad advice & over-researching can make you go crazy,  investing some time in training for battle can help you build confidence in your decisions and/or empower you to make different decisions based on the facts you have.

3. Talk About Other Moms-
Talking about other moms is often something we do VERY well...except we do it the wrong way. Yesterday I spent time with a mom friend and we had some great discussion.  Several times in our conversation, this mom talked about several of her mom friends.  She shared about how one of them kickstarts her day with a shower, full makeup & devotional that gets her pumped to attack the rest of the day with fervor.  She talked about how another mom valued hospitality & committed to always being available for others to drop in to join dinner.  She talked about another mom who started a playground meet up to ensure that some of the new moms with young children had an outlet and adult conversation during the day.  All of the things were inspiring.  She lifted up other moms sharing their strengths instead of their weaknesses.  If we made it a habit to talk about other moms this way, we would feel so much more equipped to take on the battles we face.


4. Recognize Your Victories-

We each have our own strengths and strategies and they can appear vastly different from what the other moms in our life do that work for their families.  Don't live from a place of defeat (by comparison).  Recognize your own victories and realize that you're fighting a long battle worth conquering.  If we own our victories then we'll stop being our own worst critic.  After all, the mom that "coached" me on the vaccine issue didn't make me feel defeated--I did.  I second-guessed my decision and felt defensive when I was once confident in this family decision.  If we can quit being so hard on ourselves and see our own strengths, we can persevere through any battle.

5. Recognize Allies-
The truth is, all of us Moms face battles every day.  Many of them are with our children as we work to refine their character and simply support their lives.  Some of us are facing battles with our marriages, some of us are facing battles with health, with work, with finances, with others.  We could use a few allies.  If we do more of recognizing each others' strengths, welcoming a community of advisors and becoming the support that other mamas need, if we talk about the awesome things that we are doing instead of belittling and judging, we will see each other as a group of wonderfully diverse allies.  We can bring Peace to Motherhood & in turn, be the strong Mamas we are called to be.


Now go forth & conquer!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall Resolutions

There's something about Autumn that just makes me feel awesome.  So why not feed off of this incredible energy and take on some goals I've been wanting to conquer in order to experience a whole life.  Here's what I'm working on for the rest of the year (in no particular order):

Health: 
-Capitalize on my new running addiction & enter a 5k near the beginning of the year to actually race. (I completed my first 5k this week & didn't pass out.  It was such a great feeling that I want to challenge myself to do more.  Maybe 1/2 marathon by next Fall?)
-Workout at least 3 days a week. 
-Eat clean at home.  I'm not giving up dinners with friends and social gatherings-after 20 years of eating alternatively, I'm used to finding options, but eating clean is a whole new level of pickiness, but I want to build more real dinners for my family.  
-Continue chiropractic care. 

Mind: 
-Reading at least 1 Chapter a day.

Relationships: 
-Find a new way to serve my husband and practice it each week. 
-Spend at least 10 uninterrupted minutes one-on-one with each child each day.  
-Have at least 1 dinner guest a month. 
-Spend time with a friend at least once a week. 
-Make phone calls & visits with friends and family a priority--community is so important to a whole life

Work: 
-Continue to do market research 
-Meet with mentors to hone my skills & narrow my focus
-Pick up more consulting opportunities. 
(End goal is to develop a business that allows working parents the freedom to work part-time doing quality work).
-Blog 3-5 times a week (blogging personally 1x a day until the end of the month). 
-Learn Photoshop & work on coding. 






Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Community

Community.  One of my deepest passions.

Community is not just a place on a map.  It's much more than that.  It's the people that animate a place or a passion.  A community can be virtual.  In fact, I stumbled upon a few blogs this week created by a few people who have almost instantly changed me for the better.  This leads me to mention the obvious, the way that community looks has transformed so vastly over the past 20 years.  The ability to connect with someone across the world is phenomenal.  However, I find that much of that "connection" doesn't develop into a community as much as it ends up being more akin to consumption & contribution.  Community forces us to engage with other people.  

A rich community is one that includes people who are similar as well as diverse ideas, beliefs and methods of communication.  Being engaged in a community involves listening, contribution, action, and investment.  As a part of a good community, you will experience growth, awareness, support and a myriad of other benefits.

While I believe that so many people are drifting away from a rich community toward more isolation and voyeurism, I believe that we miss out on some of life's most significant blessings by avoiding community.  To interact, share, be open, commit, and grow deeper creates capacity to experience more and be more.  Don't just watch life, LIVE in community.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Handiwork

As I launch into a new season of life with a bit more time since my oldest is in school now, I am moving forward with some exciting new opportunities and continuing to work to create a life by design, focusing on growing in the knowledge of Christ, going deeper in relationships, returning to a healthy lifestyle, and seeking financial independence.  

I heard a verse today that served as timely encouragement. 

Ephesians 2:10 says:

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I love the image of God as the Potter, designing His children to be works of art--fully equipped to handle what life has for us to do.  I love the opportunity to simple respond to his call & serve His purpose empowered by Him. 



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Believing in the Unthinkable

Last night, my alma mater suffered a narrow defeat as the college football season began.  It was a good game, but disappointing to end up with a L at the end of the long night.  Dabo Swinney, Clemson's coach, gave parting remarks that beating Georgia, a top-ranked team, is "only unthinkable if you don't think it."  Although it stunk to lose our first game of the season, I smiled for just a moment as I have been blessed to be on this journey that I didn't think was possible just a few months ago.

When I felt led to leave my job, financially it did not make sense for me to do it.  I was fortunate to be in a position with a great company that offered solid benefits and growth opportunities.  It would be unthinkable to walk away from that in this economy.  That's what others kept telling me & our family budget simply could not work on one income due to student loans and other expenses that we could not cut or reduce; however, I couldn't help but wonder what investments of my time would yield higher-value returns for my family & future.  I prayed about the decision with my husband and after a few months, he encouraged me to take a leap of faith and explore my passions while getting other areas of my life, especially our home, in order.

 When I put my notice in, my husband graciously agreed to pursue extra jobs in order to keep us in the black.  I questioned whether that would be for the best, because I am a firm believer in having both parents share the responsibilities and rewards of raising a family together; however, I was grateful for his offer to make this sacrifice.  The week I turned in my notice, we received an email that someone was interested in possibly buying our former home that wasn't even on the market. Typically I wouldn't have put much faith in a simple inquiry as my experience in the real estate world told me that it was a far cry from a sure deal & that it could take months to close. Except this time, I was willing to be faithfully optimistic.  The following week, some clients that I had worked with for months called me out of the blue and said that they were ready to move forward.  I left work having experienced my best month in sales.  God totally blew my mind & confirmed that this was the right decision.

Fast forward three months and I still think I'm in the middle of my unthinkable.  I initially saw myself as a "career woman" and now my days are spent managing my domestic domain.   I believe that my initial "thinking"limited the scope of what I was able to accomplish at home.  Because I felt I was missing the mark at home, I began to resent my time spent doing something that may take years to pay off while missing out on precious years with my kids that I would never get back.  I believe this kind of thinking isn't just prevalent amongst moms, I believe that society boxes us in and pegs us as either domestic or "driven." (Bear with me while I work through this).  I believe that you can be both--and be top-notch at both.  I didn't find the way to do it in my former position, but it inspired me to do more to create local opportunities for other parents to have the ability to have a more full life.  I am constantly thinking of ways to make this a reality here.

So as my journey continues, I'm going to continue to pursue God's bigger purpose for my life & believe that His ways are higher and bigger than I can comprehend at times.  It's empowering to know that He can make the Unthinkable a reality!