Monday, May 31, 2010

Last Bit of Weed Picking

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:57 PM 0 comments
There's one last thing about getting rid of the weeds of your life that I cannot leave out: Forgiveness. It is hard, but absolutely necessary. And we all have someone to forgive.

If you don't choose to forgive those who have planted the weeds in your life, it is like planting your own.

My children love working in the garden with me. Sometimes they weed. Sometimes they water my plants. Sometimes they dig and play. One day, they decided to make their own garden in the area I hadn't planted anything yet. They dug and pulled little weeds and had a great time. Then, in the middle of their working area, they planted a tall, not too bad looking weed. They were very proud of that weed in "their" garden. That's what unforgiveness is like. It's like planting a weed that looks harmless, but produces no fruit and will steal nutrients from the things in our lives that are meant to produce fruit.

The first step to forgiveness is recognizing what forgiveness truly is. And is not. Forgiveness is not saying that the harm someone caused is okay. In our house, when an offense is committed, the offending party has to say, "I'm sorry I ...." The receiving party is not allowed to say, "It's okay." Instead, they are to say, "I forgive you." I learned this when my oldest two were very young. I don't want the offending party to think that what they did was okay. It wasn't! Instead, I wanted to teach them to forgive, letting go of the offense and not holding the other party in blame forever.

That's not to say that the offending party doesn't have consequences. Forgiving doesn't mean we act like it didn't happen. It simply means we're not going to hold on the the negative feelings associated with the offense. After all, who does that hurt? The offending party, or the offended? Not forgiving means reinjuring the one who got hurt with negative feelings and thoughts. The one who did the offense is by then off and playing and care free.

Forgiveness allows you to say that something happened, it was not right, it was hurtful, but you're not going to hold on to that hurt.

Recognizing that we too have done things wrong and hurt others will help us forgive. As we accept the forgiveness that others, and mostly God, have given us, we can more easily forgive others. "Forgiveness is... a decision; I choose to forgive. Obeying God. Taking responsibility for my actions and attitudes. Choosing ot live God's love, joy, and peace." (12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Mom: Positive and Practical Tips for Busy Moms, by Lane P. Jordan)

When we are hurt, we have a choice. We don't have a choice about being hurt, but we have a choice about holding on to that hurt or letting it go. When we choose to let it go, we relieve ourselves of "the burdens of bitterness and resentment and lay them at the feet of Jesus, one who understands and even bears our suffering and pain." (The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother, by Miriam Peskowitz)
Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Luke 4:14-21 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

1 Peter 2:24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Uprooting the Weeds of Life

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:40 PM 0 comments
So, how do we get rid of those weeds? Those hurts and scars that we carry with us from a variety of experiences. First, we shouldn't try to get rid of them all at once. When I'm gardening and try to grab a handful of weeds to pull up, it is much more difficult. I use less effort overall pulling one or two weeds at a time. There are some that are not as well rooted that I can grab a handful of, but then there are those I have to work on individually. Knowing the difference will be helpful as you tackle emotional weeds.

As a counselor, I believe in the benefit of going to a counselor for guidance and assistance in dealing with some things. Especially the more deeply rooted items. In my garden, I use a tool to help with the stubborn weeds, and the same can be done in life. But, also as a counselor, I recognize that all counselors are not equal and recommend only using one who comes from a Biblical-worldview. They will guide you to healing through God's grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. Many others will try to convince you that healing comes from getting better at getting your needs met.

I also know that many people aren't comfortable with or in a position to go to counseling. You can still heal and get rid of the weeds. You simply have to be willing to do the work.

The first step is to look around at anything that may be perpetuating the weeds. Are there relationships that encourage their growth? What thought patterns nurture them? What behaviors keep them around? You don't want to abandon good friends and you most certainly don't want to dissolve your marriage, breaking vows that are meant to be for a lifetime, but you want to surround yourself with people who will offer Godly encouragement and wisdom. They don't even necessarily have to know what your dealing with. If you have them in your life, and God has something to say through them, it will happen.

Next, thought patterns are to be tackled. What and how we think affects what we do and how we relate to people. You may not be able to recognize negative or harmful thought patterns, especially if they've been around a long time. However, as you delve into the Bible, God will begin to plant seeds of His Word that will produce fruit in your life. The Word and prayer (simply communicating with God) are an unstoppable power to transform life.

As your thoughts change, so will your actions. You will no longer set yourself up for failure. You will no longer sabotage relationships. You will no longer let the weeds of your past rise up and choke the vegetable- and fruit-bearing things of your life. (Yes, we are to be fruitful, but vegetables are important produce, too.)

While I just went through the Reader's Digest version in a few paragraphs, this is an on-going process. The work you have to do will depend on the amount, size, and depth of the weeds in your life. It may look like too much as you survey the landscape, but by pulling one weed at a time, you will change the looks of it for good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rearranging Life

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:24 AM 0 comments
I like this time of year. The kids can get outside and play. We don't have the pool up, which means I can leave them outside by themselves. My garden is planted (mostly) and is beginning to be fruitful. The weeds are trying to take over my garden.

Really, I do like the last part. Most people despise weeds. You would think I would after spending hours upon hours pulling them out this week with plenty more to get to. However, gardening is very good for my blood sugars, keeps me outside with the kids, and is therapeutic in that it allows me to think as I work.

Yesterday, I was hoeing a new row for my watermelon plants. God always teaches me something through my work in my garden, and yesterday was no different. As I was building my new, elevated row, I paused here and there to take uprooted weeds and toss them aside (I pile them in the "ditches" between the rows; a big pile of dead weeds and some newspaper keep new weeds from growing back.) As I did so, I thought about how we often rearrange things in our lives without really dealing with them or submitting them to God.

That's what I was doing, after all. I was rearranging the dirt and the weeds into a pile. We often deal with the hurts, disappointments, losses, and tragedies in our lives the same way. We rearrange things. We move. We try on a new job. Or a new wardrobe. Or a new husband. Or a new church. Or a new religion. We try to move things around in our lives, not realizing that we've simply piled the dirt on top of the weeds. We can't see them and therefore think they're gone. But, just like the weeds in my garden, left long enough, they will creep back through and take over again.

We will have the same relational conflicts with new people. We will find just as many things wrong with our new job. We will need even newer clothes. We will be dissatisfied that the current church or belief system we're trying out doesn't quite do what we thought it would. Then, most likely we will try rearranging things again. Why? Because it's easier.

As I built my new row, the quickest and easiest thing to do (although it doesn't feel easy, because I was putting so much work in to rearranging things with the hoe) is to leave things moved around. It looked nice. I'd done so much work already. However, to truly deal with the weeds, I needed to spend the extra time, energy, and effort to remove them. It required squatting, digging, and pulling. It took even more work, but it will be worth it in the long run.

We need to do the same with the weeds that have grown up in our lives. We all have them. It's not an easy task, but it is worth it in the long run.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sharing a Give-Away

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:24 AM 0 comments
Wanted to share a great website and give-away opportunity. Hannah Keeley is giving away a copy of "Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake up, Take Charge, and Overcome Financial Fears Forever" by Jean Chatzky. All you have to do to enter is go to Hannah's website, register and leave a comment.

In the meantime, one of the best things to do to save money is to become organized. Don't think it makes a difference? How many times have you bought something because you couldn't find the one you already know you have at home? How many times do you pay twice as much because you didn't plan ahead and catch it on sale or use a coupon before it expired. How many times have you had to pay a late fee because you forgot to pay a bill on time?

The more organized you are, the more money you will save.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Abundant Life

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:16 AM 0 comments
I am super excited to be able to announce that registration for the Abundant Life Conference for Women is open! Working on the last details of this conference is part of the reason I've been quiet the last couple of weeks, the other was that I've been busy with life as a wife, mother, writher, and gardener. And, if I'm completely honest, also due in part to the passing of the deadline of when I would have heard from the last agent that I submitted my material to. A bit of discouragement settled in and stole my motivation to blog. However, I've pulled myself out of that slight slump and hope to be back on a roll. One of the reasons is a culmination of an idea I had about nine months ago.

That idea has developed into a conference that's scheduled to be held November 12-13. We are fortunate to have scheduled Hannah Keeley of www.totalmom.com as our keynote speaker. Several other ladies with a heart for God will be leading breakout sessions on topics such as: Parenting; Mentoring; Seeking God's Will; Healthy Living; Retired from Work, Not from Ministry; Grandparenting in the 21st Century; Overcoming Fear; Secrets to the Husband You Want; Women of Worth; Making Your Mind Mind; Powerful Prayer; Healing from Trauma, Loss, & Life Disappointments, and Living Life Together. As you can see, this conference will be packed with encouragement from God's Word in just about every area of life.

We are also excited to have Brenda Pogge as a special guest who will be addressing the conference briefly on Friday night.

Registration is only $75 before August 31. This includes all conference sessions, worship, and meals. You can find the brochure with detailed information and registration form at Abundant Life Conference for Women to be held at the Holiday Inn Patriot in Williamsburg on November 12-13 is now open for registration!! We have a limited number of spaces, so register soon! Find an online brochure with registration information online at: http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf.
Space is limited, so register soon.

In the meantime, I've recommitted to sharing more on living the abundant life as a mom on a regular basis, whether I'm personally in a period of encouragement or discouragement. And, as always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lesson #2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:07 PM 0 comments
I promised yesterday to follow up with lesson number 2 that I've been learning the last 11 days. I'm feeling better day by day and got back to much of my routine today, which also meant catching up and I haven't spent a lot of time on the computer. Finally, here I am. And here it is:

The lesson God's been using my minor injury to teach me is compassion. A year ago I probably would have said that I'm a compassionate person. But, isn't it funny how God shows you were you fall short in other areas as you begin to submit to Him in some? I can be thoughtful, I can be generous, I can sympathize and sometimes even empathize. But, I have to admit, I'm not the first to be compassionate.

I'm very willing to say, "Do it anyway." Meaning, do something you don't feel like doing if you know it's the right thing to do. Do something when it's uncomfortable, or inconvenient, or you have barriers in your way. Do it even if you're afraid. I still believe that these things are true: if we wait for everything to be in place and to feel like doing something, then we may seldom do the best thing. HOWEVER, this needs to be balanced with compassion and understanding.

If someone hurts, they need that to be understood. Not everyone's situation is the same. If someone is hurt emotionally, or depressed, or anxious, it's real easy to say, "Do it anyway." It takes more character and compassion to stop, listen, love, and encourage.

This past week and a half I have been on pause and in pain. God has used that to teach me to be more understanding and less regimented in my responses to people's situations. I was very fortunate to have loving people around me to help me out as I spent the better part of a week laid on my back (not an easy task with a 7-, 5-, 3-year olds, and 11-month old.) I fought feeling guilty, because that is our tendency as mom's when we see someone else doing our jobs. I fought it because I knew the best way for me to get back on my feet and be 100% mom again, I needed to take that time to heal. And as I did, God brought to my mind others struggles that I have not heeded His call to respond in caring compassion.

I am not grateful for my pulled muscles, but I am grateful that I am learning to hear God's voice in every situation I face. I hope that I can remember and practice what I've learned during this time. I hope that compassion becomes a part of my character, as I learn to submit more and more to Him and continue to be transformed into His image.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When Life's on Pause

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:45 AM 0 comments
It's been over a week since I posted, and I apologize for that. While I realize no one's life is on hold, waiting with baited breath for my next post, I do try to be more consistent than an occasional post here and there. However, sometimes things happen in life that put in a mode of "pause." You know, you're going about your regular routine and suddenly someone hits the pause button and everything is on hold for a while. This can happen for any number of reasons, for me it happened because I did something foolish. Or rather, I didn't do something that I know I should do.

First a little back story: my youngest is 11 and 1/2 months old. I had a very difficult pregnancy and due in part to being a type 1 diabetic and having to adjust my insulin every 2 weeks during the pregnancy (and due in other part to grabbing chocolate chips instead of juice when I hit a low - almost every day) I gained a whopping 65 pounds during that pregnancy. Now, to put this in perspective, I gained a total of 65 pounds in my first three pregnancies COMBINED. Needless to say, I had no problem getting the weight off the first three times, but after losing 45 pounds the first four months, my weight loss stopped. I haven't lost a pound in the last 7 & 1/2 months (okay, I've lost a couple, gained a couple, but have generally hovered at the same place.)

About a month ago my sweet little person began sleeping through the night most nights. That is, 8-12 hours, not the 5-6 they consider through the night for newborns. That meant I was actually getting restful sleep and able to get up and exercise early in the morning. I was on a roll - exercising 3-4 days a week. I haven't lost any weight, but hey, I'm building muscle, right? I even squeezed into my "big" jeans. (Up until now, I've been in elastic-waisted pants and my hubby's jeans.) Then last Monday I went for a walk with my 2 pound weights, was feeling really good and doing curls and arm raises as I walked. I came home and proceeded with my regular routine to get ready for my one day at work.

By the time I left the house, my lower back was a little sore. By 10:00 a.m., I was in constant pain. By 1:00 p.m. I could barely walk. I had pulled a muscle walking.

"Did you stretch?" the doctor asked.

I hung my head and answered, "No. I usually do. But I didn't this morning."

And there it was. I was injured and had a pulled muscle that wasn't happy with me doing anything other than laying down. Thankfully gratefully to good friends, moms, and a hubby with good leave, I had help every day last week. I didn't go to the computer much, and was off in a flash. Even now, 9 days later, it hurts to sit longer than an hour. Fortunately, as a mom, most of my duties are performed standing up.

I am healing, albeit slowly, and getting back into things. I don't like being on pause. But I gracefully was aware enough to pay attention to what God may be teaching me in allowing this. Lesson #1: always stretch!!! Lesson #2 will come tomorrow. For now, I'm going to get off the computer and go lay down and snuggle with my oldest blessing.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Salvaged Cake

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:04 PM 0 comments

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Crying

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:00 PM 0 comments
I cried over a cake today. Seriously. Over a cake. It was the most pitiful thing (both me and the cake.) I'm not normally an emotional person. Yes, even given that I'm a woman, I may tear up at a scene in a movie, but I can't remember the last time I had a really good cry. Maybe that's why I broke down over a cake.

You still may be wondering, "Really? A cake?" So, I'll share a little background.

For the six years that we've been celebrating birthdays of our children, my husband has made every birthday cake. And he does a fabulous job. Well, this week has been busy and he's in the middle of a huge project, so I thought to myself, "I can do that." My daughter (the just-barely 3-year-old) picked what looked to me like a pretty straightforward cake. A castle, but one with two square cakes, a few ice cream cones for turets, and some decorating. No problem.

Well, the first problem is that I also had a retirement party to go to for a friend this morning, a friend's daughter's hair to fix for prom and company coming for dinner. Oh, and by the way, two of the kids (the 3-year-old and 11-month old) were home with me. Think yet that I'm crazy? You wouldn't be wrong. But I'm an optomist and surely, surely I can whip a simple castle together.

Home from the retirement party, I mix the cake and put the pans in the oven. In the meantime I nurse the baby, pull chicken off the bone to make chicken salad and put eggs on to boil for deviled eggs. I also whip up some pink icing and coat the ice cream cones, with my 3-year-old's help with some sprinkles. At this point I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going. The baby's becoming more needy (i.e. tired) and I gratefully lay her down for her afternoon nap. The cakes come out of the oven and we proceed to finish the chicken salad and take the eggs off boil while they cool. Off to make the white icing. And things began to fall apart.

Being ultra frugal, I didn't trim the cakes to straighten them out before or when I stacked them. Even though I knew I should. I thought I could cover anything up with the icing. Big mistake. BIG mistake. I can do icing for cookies, but cake icing is a whole different creature. I've seen it done, I've done it once or twice, but I absolutely could not get it the right consistency. It dried smooth on top, but was slumping on the sides and drying with the texture of agrigate. I went over it and over it and over it. All the while my 3-year-old (who's cake it is) is sitting patiently watching and playing. It's not perfect, but I can go over it again after it's settled some.

Next comes putting on the turrets. Since the cake's not flat, it takes some pressure to get them set in place. One eventually starts sliding and I use a toothpick to hold it into place. Satisfied that it will be good enough, I start on the pink icing to go around the base of the turrets. It had hardened in the fridge and I added a tad of milk to soften it. Another big mistake. I put these pretty little puffs around the turrets and by the time I finished the last one, the first was an oozing blob. Not to be undone, I scrape it off, add more powdered sugar to my icing and start over to no avail. I wish I had taken a picture of the cake at this point, I really do. It would be proof positive that I never need to attempt cake decorating again. But I didn't, so you'll just have to visualize the pink icing running down the lopsided cake with the turrets trying to fall.

I sat down and cried. Not bawling or anything. But tears brimming and gently spilling over. And my 3-year-old looks at me and asks, "What's wrong, Mommy?"
"I've ruined your cake, honey."
Tears in her eyes, "Get me down from here, Mommy." (she was sitting on the bar.)
I get her down and she climbs up in my lap and puts her arms around me, both of us crying ever so slightly and quietly. She doesn't care if it's perfect. She was excited that Mommy was making her a cake. But I still wasn't going to present it to other people.

Thankfully, my mil is very experienced in cake decorating and came and saved the day and gave me some pointers (although I'm very skeptical at this point as to whether I'll ever use them.) She didn't decorate it, but got the coat of icing smooth and even (by adding quite a bit more) after I took the turrets off. So it now sits waiting for the details, which my husband will be adding in the morning before church.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Last Bit of Weed Picking

There's one last thing about getting rid of the weeds of your life that I cannot leave out: Forgiveness. It is hard, but absolutely necessary. And we all have someone to forgive.

If you don't choose to forgive those who have planted the weeds in your life, it is like planting your own.

My children love working in the garden with me. Sometimes they weed. Sometimes they water my plants. Sometimes they dig and play. One day, they decided to make their own garden in the area I hadn't planted anything yet. They dug and pulled little weeds and had a great time. Then, in the middle of their working area, they planted a tall, not too bad looking weed. They were very proud of that weed in "their" garden. That's what unforgiveness is like. It's like planting a weed that looks harmless, but produces no fruit and will steal nutrients from the things in our lives that are meant to produce fruit.

The first step to forgiveness is recognizing what forgiveness truly is. And is not. Forgiveness is not saying that the harm someone caused is okay. In our house, when an offense is committed, the offending party has to say, "I'm sorry I ...." The receiving party is not allowed to say, "It's okay." Instead, they are to say, "I forgive you." I learned this when my oldest two were very young. I don't want the offending party to think that what they did was okay. It wasn't! Instead, I wanted to teach them to forgive, letting go of the offense and not holding the other party in blame forever.

That's not to say that the offending party doesn't have consequences. Forgiving doesn't mean we act like it didn't happen. It simply means we're not going to hold on the the negative feelings associated with the offense. After all, who does that hurt? The offending party, or the offended? Not forgiving means reinjuring the one who got hurt with negative feelings and thoughts. The one who did the offense is by then off and playing and care free.

Forgiveness allows you to say that something happened, it was not right, it was hurtful, but you're not going to hold on to that hurt.

Recognizing that we too have done things wrong and hurt others will help us forgive. As we accept the forgiveness that others, and mostly God, have given us, we can more easily forgive others. "Forgiveness is... a decision; I choose to forgive. Obeying God. Taking responsibility for my actions and attitudes. Choosing ot live God's love, joy, and peace." (12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Mom: Positive and Practical Tips for Busy Moms, by Lane P. Jordan)

When we are hurt, we have a choice. We don't have a choice about being hurt, but we have a choice about holding on to that hurt or letting it go. When we choose to let it go, we relieve ourselves of "the burdens of bitterness and resentment and lay them at the feet of Jesus, one who understands and even bears our suffering and pain." (The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother, by Miriam Peskowitz)
Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Luke 4:14-21 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

1 Peter 2:24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Uprooting the Weeds of Life

So, how do we get rid of those weeds? Those hurts and scars that we carry with us from a variety of experiences. First, we shouldn't try to get rid of them all at once. When I'm gardening and try to grab a handful of weeds to pull up, it is much more difficult. I use less effort overall pulling one or two weeds at a time. There are some that are not as well rooted that I can grab a handful of, but then there are those I have to work on individually. Knowing the difference will be helpful as you tackle emotional weeds.

As a counselor, I believe in the benefit of going to a counselor for guidance and assistance in dealing with some things. Especially the more deeply rooted items. In my garden, I use a tool to help with the stubborn weeds, and the same can be done in life. But, also as a counselor, I recognize that all counselors are not equal and recommend only using one who comes from a Biblical-worldview. They will guide you to healing through God's grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. Many others will try to convince you that healing comes from getting better at getting your needs met.

I also know that many people aren't comfortable with or in a position to go to counseling. You can still heal and get rid of the weeds. You simply have to be willing to do the work.

The first step is to look around at anything that may be perpetuating the weeds. Are there relationships that encourage their growth? What thought patterns nurture them? What behaviors keep them around? You don't want to abandon good friends and you most certainly don't want to dissolve your marriage, breaking vows that are meant to be for a lifetime, but you want to surround yourself with people who will offer Godly encouragement and wisdom. They don't even necessarily have to know what your dealing with. If you have them in your life, and God has something to say through them, it will happen.

Next, thought patterns are to be tackled. What and how we think affects what we do and how we relate to people. You may not be able to recognize negative or harmful thought patterns, especially if they've been around a long time. However, as you delve into the Bible, God will begin to plant seeds of His Word that will produce fruit in your life. The Word and prayer (simply communicating with God) are an unstoppable power to transform life.

As your thoughts change, so will your actions. You will no longer set yourself up for failure. You will no longer sabotage relationships. You will no longer let the weeds of your past rise up and choke the vegetable- and fruit-bearing things of your life. (Yes, we are to be fruitful, but vegetables are important produce, too.)

While I just went through the Reader's Digest version in a few paragraphs, this is an on-going process. The work you have to do will depend on the amount, size, and depth of the weeds in your life. It may look like too much as you survey the landscape, but by pulling one weed at a time, you will change the looks of it for good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rearranging Life

I like this time of year. The kids can get outside and play. We don't have the pool up, which means I can leave them outside by themselves. My garden is planted (mostly) and is beginning to be fruitful. The weeds are trying to take over my garden.

Really, I do like the last part. Most people despise weeds. You would think I would after spending hours upon hours pulling them out this week with plenty more to get to. However, gardening is very good for my blood sugars, keeps me outside with the kids, and is therapeutic in that it allows me to think as I work.

Yesterday, I was hoeing a new row for my watermelon plants. God always teaches me something through my work in my garden, and yesterday was no different. As I was building my new, elevated row, I paused here and there to take uprooted weeds and toss them aside (I pile them in the "ditches" between the rows; a big pile of dead weeds and some newspaper keep new weeds from growing back.) As I did so, I thought about how we often rearrange things in our lives without really dealing with them or submitting them to God.

That's what I was doing, after all. I was rearranging the dirt and the weeds into a pile. We often deal with the hurts, disappointments, losses, and tragedies in our lives the same way. We rearrange things. We move. We try on a new job. Or a new wardrobe. Or a new husband. Or a new church. Or a new religion. We try to move things around in our lives, not realizing that we've simply piled the dirt on top of the weeds. We can't see them and therefore think they're gone. But, just like the weeds in my garden, left long enough, they will creep back through and take over again.

We will have the same relational conflicts with new people. We will find just as many things wrong with our new job. We will need even newer clothes. We will be dissatisfied that the current church or belief system we're trying out doesn't quite do what we thought it would. Then, most likely we will try rearranging things again. Why? Because it's easier.

As I built my new row, the quickest and easiest thing to do (although it doesn't feel easy, because I was putting so much work in to rearranging things with the hoe) is to leave things moved around. It looked nice. I'd done so much work already. However, to truly deal with the weeds, I needed to spend the extra time, energy, and effort to remove them. It required squatting, digging, and pulling. It took even more work, but it will be worth it in the long run.

We need to do the same with the weeds that have grown up in our lives. We all have them. It's not an easy task, but it is worth it in the long run.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sharing a Give-Away

Wanted to share a great website and give-away opportunity. Hannah Keeley is giving away a copy of "Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake up, Take Charge, and Overcome Financial Fears Forever" by Jean Chatzky. All you have to do to enter is go to Hannah's website, register and leave a comment.

In the meantime, one of the best things to do to save money is to become organized. Don't think it makes a difference? How many times have you bought something because you couldn't find the one you already know you have at home? How many times do you pay twice as much because you didn't plan ahead and catch it on sale or use a coupon before it expired. How many times have you had to pay a late fee because you forgot to pay a bill on time?

The more organized you are, the more money you will save.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Abundant Life

I am super excited to be able to announce that registration for the Abundant Life Conference for Women is open! Working on the last details of this conference is part of the reason I've been quiet the last couple of weeks, the other was that I've been busy with life as a wife, mother, writher, and gardener. And, if I'm completely honest, also due in part to the passing of the deadline of when I would have heard from the last agent that I submitted my material to. A bit of discouragement settled in and stole my motivation to blog. However, I've pulled myself out of that slight slump and hope to be back on a roll. One of the reasons is a culmination of an idea I had about nine months ago.

That idea has developed into a conference that's scheduled to be held November 12-13. We are fortunate to have scheduled Hannah Keeley of www.totalmom.com as our keynote speaker. Several other ladies with a heart for God will be leading breakout sessions on topics such as: Parenting; Mentoring; Seeking God's Will; Healthy Living; Retired from Work, Not from Ministry; Grandparenting in the 21st Century; Overcoming Fear; Secrets to the Husband You Want; Women of Worth; Making Your Mind Mind; Powerful Prayer; Healing from Trauma, Loss, & Life Disappointments, and Living Life Together. As you can see, this conference will be packed with encouragement from God's Word in just about every area of life.

We are also excited to have Brenda Pogge as a special guest who will be addressing the conference briefly on Friday night.

Registration is only $75 before August 31. This includes all conference sessions, worship, and meals. You can find the brochure with detailed information and registration form at Abundant Life Conference for Women to be held at the Holiday Inn Patriot in Williamsburg on November 12-13 is now open for registration!! We have a limited number of spaces, so register soon! Find an online brochure with registration information online at: http://www.smithmemorial.org/clientimages/17765/pdf/abundantlifebrochurewithmailer4.pdf.
Space is limited, so register soon.

In the meantime, I've recommitted to sharing more on living the abundant life as a mom on a regular basis, whether I'm personally in a period of encouragement or discouragement. And, as always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lesson #2

I promised yesterday to follow up with lesson number 2 that I've been learning the last 11 days. I'm feeling better day by day and got back to much of my routine today, which also meant catching up and I haven't spent a lot of time on the computer. Finally, here I am. And here it is:

The lesson God's been using my minor injury to teach me is compassion. A year ago I probably would have said that I'm a compassionate person. But, isn't it funny how God shows you were you fall short in other areas as you begin to submit to Him in some? I can be thoughtful, I can be generous, I can sympathize and sometimes even empathize. But, I have to admit, I'm not the first to be compassionate.

I'm very willing to say, "Do it anyway." Meaning, do something you don't feel like doing if you know it's the right thing to do. Do something when it's uncomfortable, or inconvenient, or you have barriers in your way. Do it even if you're afraid. I still believe that these things are true: if we wait for everything to be in place and to feel like doing something, then we may seldom do the best thing. HOWEVER, this needs to be balanced with compassion and understanding.

If someone hurts, they need that to be understood. Not everyone's situation is the same. If someone is hurt emotionally, or depressed, or anxious, it's real easy to say, "Do it anyway." It takes more character and compassion to stop, listen, love, and encourage.

This past week and a half I have been on pause and in pain. God has used that to teach me to be more understanding and less regimented in my responses to people's situations. I was very fortunate to have loving people around me to help me out as I spent the better part of a week laid on my back (not an easy task with a 7-, 5-, 3-year olds, and 11-month old.) I fought feeling guilty, because that is our tendency as mom's when we see someone else doing our jobs. I fought it because I knew the best way for me to get back on my feet and be 100% mom again, I needed to take that time to heal. And as I did, God brought to my mind others struggles that I have not heeded His call to respond in caring compassion.

I am not grateful for my pulled muscles, but I am grateful that I am learning to hear God's voice in every situation I face. I hope that I can remember and practice what I've learned during this time. I hope that compassion becomes a part of my character, as I learn to submit more and more to Him and continue to be transformed into His image.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When Life's on Pause

It's been over a week since I posted, and I apologize for that. While I realize no one's life is on hold, waiting with baited breath for my next post, I do try to be more consistent than an occasional post here and there. However, sometimes things happen in life that put in a mode of "pause." You know, you're going about your regular routine and suddenly someone hits the pause button and everything is on hold for a while. This can happen for any number of reasons, for me it happened because I did something foolish. Or rather, I didn't do something that I know I should do.

First a little back story: my youngest is 11 and 1/2 months old. I had a very difficult pregnancy and due in part to being a type 1 diabetic and having to adjust my insulin every 2 weeks during the pregnancy (and due in other part to grabbing chocolate chips instead of juice when I hit a low - almost every day) I gained a whopping 65 pounds during that pregnancy. Now, to put this in perspective, I gained a total of 65 pounds in my first three pregnancies COMBINED. Needless to say, I had no problem getting the weight off the first three times, but after losing 45 pounds the first four months, my weight loss stopped. I haven't lost a pound in the last 7 & 1/2 months (okay, I've lost a couple, gained a couple, but have generally hovered at the same place.)

About a month ago my sweet little person began sleeping through the night most nights. That is, 8-12 hours, not the 5-6 they consider through the night for newborns. That meant I was actually getting restful sleep and able to get up and exercise early in the morning. I was on a roll - exercising 3-4 days a week. I haven't lost any weight, but hey, I'm building muscle, right? I even squeezed into my "big" jeans. (Up until now, I've been in elastic-waisted pants and my hubby's jeans.) Then last Monday I went for a walk with my 2 pound weights, was feeling really good and doing curls and arm raises as I walked. I came home and proceeded with my regular routine to get ready for my one day at work.

By the time I left the house, my lower back was a little sore. By 10:00 a.m., I was in constant pain. By 1:00 p.m. I could barely walk. I had pulled a muscle walking.

"Did you stretch?" the doctor asked.

I hung my head and answered, "No. I usually do. But I didn't this morning."

And there it was. I was injured and had a pulled muscle that wasn't happy with me doing anything other than laying down. Thankfully gratefully to good friends, moms, and a hubby with good leave, I had help every day last week. I didn't go to the computer much, and was off in a flash. Even now, 9 days later, it hurts to sit longer than an hour. Fortunately, as a mom, most of my duties are performed standing up.

I am healing, albeit slowly, and getting back into things. I don't like being on pause. But I gracefully was aware enough to pay attention to what God may be teaching me in allowing this. Lesson #1: always stretch!!! Lesson #2 will come tomorrow. For now, I'm going to get off the computer and go lay down and snuggle with my oldest blessing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Crying

I cried over a cake today. Seriously. Over a cake. It was the most pitiful thing (both me and the cake.) I'm not normally an emotional person. Yes, even given that I'm a woman, I may tear up at a scene in a movie, but I can't remember the last time I had a really good cry. Maybe that's why I broke down over a cake.

You still may be wondering, "Really? A cake?" So, I'll share a little background.

For the six years that we've been celebrating birthdays of our children, my husband has made every birthday cake. And he does a fabulous job. Well, this week has been busy and he's in the middle of a huge project, so I thought to myself, "I can do that." My daughter (the just-barely 3-year-old) picked what looked to me like a pretty straightforward cake. A castle, but one with two square cakes, a few ice cream cones for turets, and some decorating. No problem.

Well, the first problem is that I also had a retirement party to go to for a friend this morning, a friend's daughter's hair to fix for prom and company coming for dinner. Oh, and by the way, two of the kids (the 3-year-old and 11-month old) were home with me. Think yet that I'm crazy? You wouldn't be wrong. But I'm an optomist and surely, surely I can whip a simple castle together.

Home from the retirement party, I mix the cake and put the pans in the oven. In the meantime I nurse the baby, pull chicken off the bone to make chicken salad and put eggs on to boil for deviled eggs. I also whip up some pink icing and coat the ice cream cones, with my 3-year-old's help with some sprinkles. At this point I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going. The baby's becoming more needy (i.e. tired) and I gratefully lay her down for her afternoon nap. The cakes come out of the oven and we proceed to finish the chicken salad and take the eggs off boil while they cool. Off to make the white icing. And things began to fall apart.

Being ultra frugal, I didn't trim the cakes to straighten them out before or when I stacked them. Even though I knew I should. I thought I could cover anything up with the icing. Big mistake. BIG mistake. I can do icing for cookies, but cake icing is a whole different creature. I've seen it done, I've done it once or twice, but I absolutely could not get it the right consistency. It dried smooth on top, but was slumping on the sides and drying with the texture of agrigate. I went over it and over it and over it. All the while my 3-year-old (who's cake it is) is sitting patiently watching and playing. It's not perfect, but I can go over it again after it's settled some.

Next comes putting on the turrets. Since the cake's not flat, it takes some pressure to get them set in place. One eventually starts sliding and I use a toothpick to hold it into place. Satisfied that it will be good enough, I start on the pink icing to go around the base of the turrets. It had hardened in the fridge and I added a tad of milk to soften it. Another big mistake. I put these pretty little puffs around the turrets and by the time I finished the last one, the first was an oozing blob. Not to be undone, I scrape it off, add more powdered sugar to my icing and start over to no avail. I wish I had taken a picture of the cake at this point, I really do. It would be proof positive that I never need to attempt cake decorating again. But I didn't, so you'll just have to visualize the pink icing running down the lopsided cake with the turrets trying to fall.

I sat down and cried. Not bawling or anything. But tears brimming and gently spilling over. And my 3-year-old looks at me and asks, "What's wrong, Mommy?"
"I've ruined your cake, honey."
Tears in her eyes, "Get me down from here, Mommy." (she was sitting on the bar.)
I get her down and she climbs up in my lap and puts her arms around me, both of us crying ever so slightly and quietly. She doesn't care if it's perfect. She was excited that Mommy was making her a cake. But I still wasn't going to present it to other people.

Thankfully, my mil is very experienced in cake decorating and came and saved the day and gave me some pointers (although I'm very skeptical at this point as to whether I'll ever use them.) She didn't decorate it, but got the coat of icing smooth and even (by adding quite a bit more) after I took the turrets off. So it now sits waiting for the details, which my husband will be adding in the morning before church.
 

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