Self-Care Sundays

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Through the craziness of the work week and time spent with family and friends, it is easy to just rush into the next week without batting an eye.

The older I get, the more I realize how crucial it is for me to carve out time to myself.  Self-care used to be plentiful.  But now, as a wife and a mom, my me time isn’t always mine anymore.  There’s not much I would change about that, though! 😉 But, in order to do my best in all of the roles I play in life, I make an effort to relax and recharge over the weekend.

Whether it is all rolled into one, beautiful Self-Care Sunday session, or it is taken as a few 10 minute increments throughout the week, make it a habit to recharge.

Here are a few ways to start:

Skin

Normally I wash my face with hand soap.  I have been doing so ever since I can remember and I have been fortunate that my skin is not problematic.  It kinda puts up with whatever I put it through.  (I’ll wait while you roll your eyes.)  A few times a week, though, I like to treat my face with something special.  After I do, I always feel like my face is more fresh and bright.  Here are some of my favorite pampering products:

Visanti Brighten Up!vasanti

A little bit of this stuff goes a long way!  It has a very sandy, gritty texture and I just can’t get enough of it.  Exfoliation!  Yaaaas! I squirt a bit out onto my fingertip and dot it around my face, then I take a little water and lather it up all over my face and jawline until my little heart’s content.  After rinsing it off, my face feels amazingly soft and I can almost see my pores exhaling little sighs of joy and contentment. Almost.

Deep Sea mask

mask
There’s something about the thick, clay texture that makes me feel like I’m lounging at a luxurious spa when I’m only really bent over the bathroom sink.

I love the balancing effect this mask has.  Whether my skin is seeming a little oily (summer time) or extremely dry and flaky (middle of winter), wearing this clay mask for 10-15 minutes a week seems to even out my complexion.

 

Derma Roller  
rollerI’m new to the Derma Rolling world, but after my first treatment, I was already hooked.  If you’ve never heard of a Derma Roller, no worries, let me fill you in.  The rolling device is full of tiny needles that help with a variety of skin issues when used regularly.  I use a 1.0mm needle which helps for most conditions, but there are many varying lengths that you can check out here.  Generally you’ll want to stick to .5mm or 1.0mm, go any higher and you should to consult a professional first.

I first tried the Derma Roller on my face.  Yes.  Needles.  On my face.  Think of it like acupuncture..sort of.. 😛  I won’t lie to you here: it is not comfortable.  However, I don’t think it is uncomfortable either.  It feels just like you think it would: tiny little pin-pricks rolling across the surface of your face.  But, because of the rolling motion, it also gives a tingly sensation that takes away from any discomfort the needles bring on.

After rolling the device in all directions across my face, I put on an Aloe mask that came face.jpgwith my Derma Roller kit.  I had never tried a mask like this, but like the Derma Roller, I. Am. Hooked.  The mask is so silky and cooling, and after taking it off my face just radiated.  What?  Did she really just say her face radiated?  Yes, I know, it isn’t like me to be this giddy about skincare.  Honestly though, after one Derma Roller treatment, I saw a noticeable difference.  Be cautioned, though: the Derma Roller should be used lightly, and never turned on side to side on your skin or you risk tiny tears in your skin’s surface.  Additionally, do not wear any makeup, lotion, or sunscreen for the following 24 hours after using the Derma Roller.

Because of the effects the Derma Roller had on my face, I decided to give it a try on my stomach.  The Derma Roller claims to help the appearance of stretchmarks, so I thought: well, it can’t make my stretchmarks worse!!  I took a before picture (which I will keep to myself for now), and I’m only a two treatments in, so I don’t have final results to mesmerize you with, but I will say that, similar to my face, the skin on my stomach seems a lot softer, so I have high hopes that things in that region will smooth out even more!
derma

I got my Derma Roller from http://www.dermarollersystem.com/  so head there to read more about the product if you are new to it, or ask me any questions in the comments section here.

 

Hair

My skin treats me pretty well, but my hair, I’m convinced is out to get me.  I used to love it’s texture before I had my daughter, but post pregnancy, I just seem to get more and more frustrated by it.  And, pregnancy was almost four years ago, so you can imagine my grief!  Aside from just chopping it off a couple times over the past several years, I have decided to make a commitment to my hair by giving it some extra love on the weekends.

Dry Shampoo

I feel so gross if I don’t wash my hair.  For whatever reason, I just get so nervous about greasy hair.  Any expert would tell you, however; washing your hair just a couple times a week is plenty.  Say whaaaat?

Marie Claire and many other women’s magazines explain that washing too often can strip hair of its natural oils and moisture. And, maybe that is my problem.  Though I frequently wash my hair because I worry that it is too oily, what it really becomes is dry, frizzy, and full of tangles.

I decided to relax on all the washing in the past couple of years, and it has proven that my hair can, indeed, last longer than a day without getting too greasy.  In order to reassure myself though, I always use “dry shampoo.”  When I say “dry shampoo” I really mean baby powder!  Seriously, this stuff is great.  I put a little on my palm and rub all around my hairline, and then a little more on the top of my scalp where I part my hair.  It’s important to really scrub and rub it in so that your hair doesn’t look powdery.  What I love even more than the de-greasing effect is the added volume.  Adding powder to my hair is one of the only surefire ways I’ve found to pump up my hair’s volume and make it last all day.

Some people purchase dry shampoo, but you really don’t need to.  Baby powder is an easy option, but if you want to step it up slightly without overspending on actual dry shampoo, try my sister’s recipe and make your own:

recipe

Leave-in Conditioner

Just before a shower on Sunday night, I try my best to remember to apply leave-in conditioner.  I load the stuff on my hair, kneading it around until every strand is saturated, and then I clip it up in a bun and forget about it for a half hour or so.

I shower as usual and then after my hair is dry and styled, I just smile and nod to myself as I gaze at my majestic hair in the mirror.  Just kidding.  But after a leave-in conditioner application, my hair-game is really amped-up for the next week or two.  The ends are soft instead of dry and brittle; no static in sight–even in the dead of winter; and my hair is so much more voluminous.

Pictured here are my two favorites-but, I admit, I haven’t tried a wide variety of brands of leave-in conditioners, so if you have a favorite other than these two-leave me a note in the comments!

Body

Most times I feel like sleep and rest are the things my body needs most, but if I really think about it, that isn’t really the case.  If I’m being honest, my body feels the best when I put it to work!  Getting in an intense workout leaves me feeling fabulous.  Instead of just resting my body and forgetting about it when I do slow down, there are a couple of self-care techniques I use to

Nail Care

This school year has been pretty dull in terms of my fingernails.  I think I’ve done them twice… (maybe?) since August.  The easiest route for me is always Jamberry.  Nail wraps just last so much longer than anything else.  If I paint my fingernails, my polish chips by the end of the day-no joke- I’ve tried all types of brands and finishes, and that statement still stands.  I think I wash my hands too much or something.  Not that I’m OCD about anything… really.. 🙂 augustnail

However, a 10 minute Jamberry application leads me to not think about my nails’ appearance for at least 10 days.  There’s also no dry time like there is for regular polish, which is something that every mama will appreciate.

Toenails are a whole different story.  I’ve done many Jamberry applications on them as well-which is great because those applications last for 4+ weeks-but, there is nothing like a good salon pedicure.  I try and treat myself to a couple pedicures a year, but if I had the extra cash, I’d go every week.  They. Are. Heavenly.

Not only does polish usually last longer on your toes, (and when done at a salon it could last up to 3 months if you let it-not that I have of course 😉 ) but you also get an hour or so away from all the stresses in your life, a fabulous foot and calf massage, and just a generally more optimistic view of life when you leave a salon after a pedicure.  Being the start of sandal season, Mother’s Day is a perfect time for a gift certificate to a nail salon – so start dropping hints to your hubby now!

Muscles
 During the workweek I try to get in several sweat sessions.  A lengthy neighborhood walk, a little Zumba, or weight training in the basement are all great ways to make me feel better physically and mentally.  After a workout, I stretch for a few minutes, but when crunched for time I always fit in more heart-pumping moves as opposed to a lengthy bout of deep stretches.

I know better.  Stretching your muscles is so, super important!  I’m working on allotting more time to stretch during the week, but on weekends I always leave my ‘crunched for time’ excuse at the door.   Fitness Magazine notes that each static stretch should be held for about 30 seconds.  Much less than that, and you won’t be
lengthening your muscle fibers.  After a workout during the week I pick a stretch or two for each muscle group I worked and I leave it at that.  During the weekends, though, I try and pick several stretches for all parts of my body and I really focus in on relaxing and breathing through each stretch.

Another great way to help muscle performance is by incorporating dynamic stretching into your fitness routine.  Dynamic stretches are typically done before a workout whereas static stretches (the kind mentioned in the previous two paragraphs) are performed after a workout as a cool-down.   Focused on warming up the muscles, dynamic stretching uses a rhythmic movement that you perform several times until your body starts to loosen up. Runner’s World outlines a great dynamic stretching routine, and if you’re not a runner-have no fear- dynamic stretching can work for anyone.

No matter which type of stretching you go for, the even better part of building in some extra time to give your muscles attention comes with the foam roller.  After a heart-pounding, sweat-inducing workout, rolling out my muscles is the most indulgent treatment I can give them at home.

There are several varieties of foam rollers; softer, firmer, ridged, etc.  Once your muscles loosen up, and you no longer feel any discomfort from rolling, you can advance to a firmer roller. But, at the beginning, just go for something average, like the one pictured above.

Whoa. Back up.  Did she say “when you no longer feel any discomfort?” Foam rolling will bring discomfort?

Yes.  It might even be pretty painful at first.  Do your best to just roll with it. (See what I did there? 😛 )  The pain comes from muscle tightness, to put it simply.  And, with more rolling, that tightness slowly goes away.  foam-roller-exercises1

Check out the images on the right for guidance.  Hit one of these poses on your foam roller, and start rolling side to side until you span the entire length of the muscle you’re trying to target.  You can also rotate the joints in play to hit your muscles at all angles.  Another great reason to have a foam roller around the house is that it helps rehabilitate strained or injured muscles as well.  After a Sunday night foam rolling session, I feel totally relaxed and ready to face another workweek.

Mind

If I address no other area of self-care during the weekend, I always make sure that I cleanse my mind so that I can begin the upcoming week organized and relaxed.  I’ve found that getting my mind right is the most important when it comes to self-care.  When crunched for time, other areas may slip away, but I always always always make sure to do something for my mind.

Organize

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished around the house than organization.  It could be straightening out my pantry, going through old clothes and forming a ‘donation pile,’ creating new boards on Pinterest, or meal-prepping for the week.  I love it all!

Last week I was in a teensy bit of denial that the weekend was coming to a close, and I didn’t organize myself at all for the week.  Let me just say: Never again!  I felt lost each day scrambling to make lunches and staring at piles of dirty laundry.

Two of my favorite ways to organize the food in our house are making freezer meals, and portioning out fruits, veggies, and breakfasts.  Most of my freezer meal recipes come from this website.  With so much variety and printable recipes and shopping lists, it makes freezer meal prep so simple.

I make a batch of freezer meals about every three months.  After shopping early on a Saturday morning, I fill my counter with all ingredients, and I just gooooo!  I prep 10-20 meals at a time depending on the amount of space in my freezer, and it usually takes me about two hours.  Then, during the week, I pull out a meal that I want to use the next day and place it in the fridge.  In the morning, I put it in the Crock Pot and don’t think about it again until it’s dinner time that night.  We usually eat 1-3 freezer meals a week, and if we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t eat!  Just kidding of course, but they are just so easy, why would I do anything else?

Something I do every Sunday is portion out fruits, veggies, and breakfasts.  I find that if all the healthy stuff is washed, and ready to go in containers there is really no excuse not to eat it.  We also don’t eat breakfast at home most of the time, so if that is taken care of before the morning of, it also saves a ton of hassle.  Whatever the type of organization you are into, completing it over the weekend is ideal.

Unwind

Did someone say adult coloring book?  Why, no, I didn’t.  But this is close.

I bought a planner like this one at the beginning of the school year, and I can’t get enough.  It combines my need for organization (like I mentioned above) with my need to unwind.  Every week there is a new page to color and I indulge in this relaxing pastime after a long day at work, or when I’m crabby and need to just zone out, or as a way of spending time with my daughter when she wants to color in her own coloring books.

Another unwinding activity I’ve gotten into recently is Sudoku puzzle books.  I feel kind of like a granny admitting to this hobby of mine, but I really enjoy the challenge that puzzle books bring.  A lot of times I feel stuck on my phone or the computer because, let’s face it, everything is tied to technology these days.  Even my Bible reading is accompanied by an app.  (Okay, it doesn’t have to be that way, but it helps me feel organized….)

For Christmas I asked for a puzzle book because I just wanted to get away from technology a bit and have a paper and pencil kind of thing to do.  Turns out, I really enjoy it.  I feel like I’m ‘keeping my mind young’ as those grannys probably claim as well, and I also find my puzzle book relaxing after a busy week.

Rest

The best for last.  Rest is the easiest and probably most important self-care routine.

The advice you are given after having a baby: Nap when the baby naps.  I don’t know about you, but I barely could give into this.  I always felt guilty; how would the dishes get washed if I was napping? But, I’m telling you now, just nap. Go to bed early.  Turn on a 1/2 hour cartoon for the kiddos, and shut your eyes for those 30 minutes.

For whatever reason, on Saturday night I get wild.  Around 10 p.m. I get this burst of energy and I just want to clean, and organize, and write, and dance, and eat, etc., etc., etc.!  And, as tempting as it is to stay up late and get everything accomplished, instead I make myself a list of all that is spinning around in my head and tell myself, “But first, sleep.”

There has never been a Sunday morning that I have regretted going to bed instead of staying up and giving in to my wild streak. 😉


I hope after reading through my ramblings, you find some inspiration to take with you and create your own self-care routine.

If you’re unsure of how to begin, I have created a free printable with an easy way to start a self-care routine that fits your life.  You can devote one weekend a month to each area of self-care and then start again the next month, tweaking activities as needed.

Get the free printable here — selfcareblue

selfcare-border1

Black-Eyed Peas and Other Resolutions

No. No recipe here for black-eyed peas.

More of a recipe for the new year…

 

I get giddy about January.  I love the thought of a fresh start, goals to strive for, and opportunities that await.

I’ll admit, some years I am discouraged.  Only human, I hope to achieve this or that and end up in a complete opposite space by January 3rd.

This year I was a little bit slow to make my list of resolutions.  I was {and still am (and probably always will be)} a bit unsure of where life is going.  As December slid out of my hands, I was lackluster when I considered the future.

It has always been in these times of waiting and drifting that I learn and grow the most.  But even as unconcerned as I tell myself that I am, because I know something golden will come out of this season of life, the planner and dreamer parts of me are running haywire.

I once heard the perfect analogy for my life.  Coincidentally, this piece of enlightenment came to me in one of my life’s many waiting and drifting periods.

“Be like a duck.” — Staying calm on the surface but paddling frantically underneath.

beaduck

This can mean many things to different people, but it always seems to cycle through my mind when I’m more or less “stuck.” Trying to keep my demeanor in check when really my questioning and anxiety are out of control on the inside.  The duck idea comes up other places in my life too.  I tend to want a lot of projects on my plate at once, making me, again, strive to appear cool and collected when really I bit off more than I could chew.

January 1st knocked on my door, and I still didn’t have any resolutions to hand over. What is wrong with me this year? I wondered.

I sat down on the couch with a notebook, a computer, and a pen and tried to plan.  Tried to dream up some vision or goal or hope or intention for 2017.  I visited some websites with lists of ideas for the new year, you know the kind: “Get Organized in 60 Days” and “A Workout Plan That Won’t Feel Like Work.”  Normally these would be super appealing to me, but instead, I just kept scrolling.

Suddenly, on the screen in front of me I saw it– black-eyed peas.  

Gross.  If I search my mind, I cannot uncover a memory of tasting black-eyed peas ever in my life, but I have..right?  And they’re gross..right?  I mean some people like them, sure, if they have just always grown up eating them.  If you’ve had something since childhood, then yeah, you’d have to just like it.  But otherwise? Gross.

2017 just clicked.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT BLACK-EYED PEAS TASTE LIKE!!  Why don’t I know?  What else of life am I missing?  And why am I not out there?  Doing and trying and tasting and knowing?

The stars are aligning as I write this, so-to-speak.  As 2016 dwindled down, I had been praying for God to make me bolder.  Not only in my faith, but also in life.  And with this black-eyed-pea-epiphany (or, e-pea-phany if you will 😛 ), 2017 has been given direction.

I don’t know what opportunities will arise, but I will take them.

I don’t know what surprises are around the corner, but I will happily greet them.

I don’t know what foods will present themselves in front of me, but I will taste them.

I don’t know what sorrows I will face, but I will accept them.

I don’t know what lessons will be taught, but I will be sure to apply them.

I don’t know where God will lead, but I will follow Him.

I don’t know where life is going, but I will stay calm as I paddle like hell to keep up.

 

 

dear-sister

Sister Girl,

You are not ready.  You won’t be ready next year, or the year after.  In your whole lifetime, really, nothing prepares you for this.

No matter how intensely you’ve thought about it or arranged your life around it, bringing a child into this world is something that no one can ever really be ready for.

 

You will not be ready for your first glance at that tiny miracle that you now call your own.

But, you can rest in this: Whether tears, smiles, or nerves, it’s a split-second you will never forget.

 

You will not be ready to rise to your feet and make your way to your little one at all hours of the night.

But, you can rest in this:  A beckoning from your babe will fill you will a strength you’ve never known.

 

You will not be ready to see your groom change into a father before your naked eyes.

But, you can rest in this:  Transformation provides a new layer to your love.

 

You will not be ready for the advice every woman, mother or not, will spout at you.

But, you can rest in this: There are still more women who have your success as a mother in mind, and you will be thankful for that support.

 

You will not be ready to make decisions about your tiny bundle’s future.

But, you can rest in this:  Insight is only a prayer away; so pray sister, pray, pray.

 

You will not be ready to hear the sounds of your sweet babe coughing and sniffling through the night.  

But, you can rest in this:  That babe has a mother who will tend to her incessantly, how much more blessed could that sweet child be?

 

You will not be ready for the heartache that lingers long after you’ve left your little one for the first time.

But, you can rest in this: Time will reunite you both, and those moments will be even sweeter than most.

 

You will not be ready for your baby to become a toddler, nor your toddler a child, and the list goes on…

But, you can rest in this: Though we have to keep moving forward through this life, at the same time, these will be the best memories to look back on.

 

And finally, mostly, you will not be ready for the unending, inconsolable tears that will be shed.

But you can rest in this:  That sweet baby will be too young to remember you crying all the time. 😀

 

With Love,

Your Big Sis

sister

 

Growing Pains

You grew today.

I missed it.

You left this morning, and when you returned to me this evening, you were different.  Your mannerisms, your speech, forever changed.  Evolved.

Your time away filled your mind with fresh experiences, your ears with new expressions, and your heart with countless first loves.  What you were this morning is only a memory now.

This happens every now and then, and each time I’m caught off guard.  It’s no secret that you’re growing rapidly.  Changing from baby to toddler to little girl.  I can tell that you are taller now than when the summer began.  But still, occasionally, all this change happens in the span of one day.  I catch a glimpse of my grown-up-little-girl and my footsteps stagger; my breath is cut short.

I wonder if I will remember each stage; if I have enough photos to recount the moments.  I already know the answers: I can’t and I don’t.

Sometimes I think I should take more pictures, sometimes I think I should take none.

It is a day like today that becomes an encouragement for me.  Everything can change in an instant.  Often all the change only takes an instant. You come home and everything is different. Being present everyday is the only cure for this sometimes brutal truth.

Yet even when I prepare for this battle of the heart, consciously savoring every sound and smell, dressing myself in morning cuddles, focusing carefully on individual details…I still am perpetually conquered by my emotions.

But, I know that my feeling of defeat signals this: I am doing something right.

My daughter’s youth may be slipping past me, and memories are sure to be rapidly fading away from my mind, but the pain that comes from those realizations shows me that I’m loving thoroughly.  Enjoying fully.  Caring immeasurably.  Treasuring endlessly.

And living, completely.

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Transitions

Praying the other night, there was a theme that arose: transition.

I have tried to be diligent the past few weeks, praying through the trials on our family and job changes, and for a few days this week, a friend’s request for prayer about a transition out of a job has popped up, and then rounding out my prayer the other night, I talked to God about the transition into motherhood that my sister is traveling through.  At that point it was clear to me that transitions, or maybe just the future is one of (if not the only, as I thought more about it) prayer requests that springs forth most often.

Season for everything2

The bible states there is a time for everything, and I just want to meditate on that for a second.

Some transitions hit us so abruptly, we get slapped in the face with the reality of ”things work this way now” or ”nothing will ever be as it was”… Some transitions we can almost see on the horizon and we just float, waiting for that wave of change to wash over us. In both scenarios, anxiety is present. No matter how the page turns; quick with the flick of a thumb or slowly wavering over in a breeze of wind, there is still the turmoil of saying goodbye to the last chapter.

Even in transitions of a positive nature where the days ahead seem to be in our favor, the adjustment period between each season of life provides plenty of issues to be worked out.

I presented a question to myself when I was scrambled amidst these thoughts: Which is better: a quick, bandaid-like shock that shoves us into a new phase of life? Or, a longer adjustment period where we can just about foresee what is on the other side of the mountain? Which would I rather go through? Which would amount to the least stress? When I pick one, is there a way to avoid the other?

An answer to my question formed: it doesn’t matter.  All in all, I can’t control any of these things anyway.   So, why not turn my focus elsewhere?  Why not lift my eyes to what is constant?

God will be with me in all seasons, through whatever transition-quick or lengthy. Why not flip my worry into a praise: wherever I am, he has led me, and wherever I’ll go, he will lead me. For all seasons, until the end of time. Amen.

Season for everything

After praying and thinking about transitions that night, I awoke to this verse on my phone that I had saved YEARS ago.  I love its encouragement.

Finding the GOOD in Mommy Guilt

Last night I yelled.  I have before, too.  That ugly, throaty, harsh tone that my husband had never heard before our sweet daughter came along.

But, last night, it was different.  Only two words were emphasized in this animalistic timbre.

“I’M TIRED”

It echoed throughout the walls of my mind, before striking my heart with its icy selfishness.

We had tucked the babe tightly in her bed at 8:30.  She flitted around upstairs for two more hours, wearing on my sanity.  After many minor battles, she abruptly drifted off to sleep.  Then it was my turn, so I climbed the stairs to bed and tucked myself in only to be woken up by her tiny voice about an hour and a half later.

“Mommy?”

“Can I come in your bed?”

Whatever!  Whatever at this point.  I trudged across the hall and unlatched her gate, urging her to follow me back to my bed.  She stayed put.  Yelling out to me, me -now snuggled back under my covers- yelling back to her.

Daddy stepped in to calm her down, but she would have none of it.  All she longed for were the comforts of mama.

Now boiling, steaming, and calculating the sleep I was losing by the second, I stormed over to her bed, scooped her up, along with the thousand animals she cuddles with each night, and marched back to my room as I ugly-yelled, “I’m TIRED!”

 

I thought that she needed to know.  I thought that someone needed to hear it in my voice just how tired I was.  Tired of the back and forth.  Tired from the day, now behind us.  Tired from the past three years of waking up at least once a night.

Or maybe this grunt of exhaustion was spewed out because I just needed to validate my own feelings; it’s stupid-late o’clock and everyone should be asleep by now- aren’t I right about this?

 

My blood still bubbling, we settled down together into my bed.  Her little voice whispered.

“Mommy, why you yell to me?”

“I don’t like you yelling because it makes me cry.”

“Please don’t do that next time, Mommy.”

Tears of my own begin streaming down.  My heart ached for how much I love her.  I called out silently to God:  Then what, Lord?  Do I just never sleep?  There have to be boundaries, and consequences; she’s old enough to know that it is time for bed.  I can’t stay awake like this and just keep talking, telling stories, signing, entertaining, can I? 

Yes, you can.

That was the answer.  Yes I can.  Suddenly everything faded away for me.  I saw clearly.  My daughter is a gift to me.  It is my job to take care of her.  Suddenly I could see that sleep didn’t really matter, what time we woke up tomorrow, was no longer a worry.

I had all of these fears in my mind about what would happen if I did not sleep as fully as I could.   Would we be able to check off all of the items on my list of chores and activities for tomorrow?  Would we be happy with each other and not crabby from a night of wakefulness?  Would we wake up early enough to get a nap in at the right time so that bedtime the next night could go smoothly?  And the day after that?  And the night after that?  Looking back, and in my time in prayer, I discovered just how trivial they were.

But more so than that, in this messy, tear-stained jumble of mommy-guilt, God revealed my true need for a Savior.  And just how special; how teachable, this ugly moment would become.  No matter how much of me I give to my daughter, how diligent I am in serving her and caring for her, I will fail.  Though heartbreaking, it is important that she knows this, too.

This lesson is almost unbearable to learn.  It is humbling.  Putting myself aside, and accepting that I am nothing-without Christ.  Submitting to the Lord and asking Him to change my ways of thinking; to slow my responses; to stifle my anger, and fully admitting that I can not do it alone.  Asking Him to show my daughter my heart and my intentions; to shield her ears and her delicate heart from the harshness of my yelling voice; to reveal to her that only with Jesus’ example of love, and earnest prayer and reflection can we be better to each other.

 

There will be days I am tired, days I am sick, days I am selfish, days I am lazy – the list goes on.  These days I will drown in guilt knowing that I should have done better for my daughter.  These days I will remember that with guilt, comes repentance and with that, redemption.Blog7

 

I am redeemed. Thank God. Redeemed.

 

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Add Orlando to The List

The news of another mass shooting.  I try to feel, I try to hide deep in prayer and discover true emotion for people involved in this tragedy.  I worry though, that I am becoming jaded.

Time after time these attacks saturate the media, and I am starting to go numb.  I have a tough time deciphering if this numbness comes from the frequency of these horrific events and the sort of expectation of them -as brutal as that sounds- or, if because of that frequency -and the tiny bit of terror sitting in all of our hearts knowing that events like these could hit even closer to home- my brain just wants to avoid getting my feelings involved, and sort of ‘checks out’.

There is something, I think, we all can identify with however.  It is the ‘up-in-the-air-ness’ feeling.  The feeling of not knowing what you’re feeling.  I’ve described some of my battle with it here, but it goes deeper, and there is more to it than that.

A storm of emotions spills into my mind after events similar to those that happened in Orlando over the weekend.  Pile on practical thoughts:  How would I act in a situation like that?  Am I in danger of being in a situation like that?  Toss in media coverage; just when you find a sense of understanding (I use this term loosely, there really is no true understanding acts of terror such as this), a new angle of the story is released that shoots your head back up into the fog.  Put all of these components on ‘Blend’ and there you have it, a recipe for ‘up-in-the-air-ness’.

This definitely isn’t the first time I have felt this way, and though I pray it’s the last, the realist in me knows that is probably not the case.

 

When I was a student at Northern Illinois University, a similar situation occurred.  A gunman opened fire in a lecture hall, where I comfortably sat the previous semester, killing five people and injuring 21 more before taking his own life.

Every time I hear about another one of these mass murders, this same feeling comes back.  This ‘up-in-the-air-ness’ that was planted with Virginia Tech, but has roots as deep as the Oklahoma City Bombing.  This feeling that branched off to a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 followed closely by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

With each massacre, the feeling grows.

So, how do I reverse this?  When everything is so totally up in the air, how can I make sure I’m walking on solid ground?  What can I rely on that will remain unchanging?

I remind myself of what I know to be Truth:

Before these situations came to be, and much, much further before that, God was there.

After these situations  fizzle out, and much, much further after that, God will be there.

Revalation 22:13

The Lord is my unchanging, solid ground.

God works for our eternal good.  Because we are living it, we can’t usually see the bigger picture.  We can’t see how all the dots are connected.  And, we might never get that perspective, but, God has it covered.  In the end, His plan will be complete.  And His plan is GOOD.

But how can the outcome be GOOD when we keep witnessing these tragic, evil events?

We must know that sin is part of this life.  Things will go wrong here (sometimes unbelievably, horribly wrong); we can’t expect a flawless earth-experience.  However, what we are offered is a chance at eternal life.  Romans 6

We can not possibly prepare for the hardships the world will bring, but we can trust that through it all, God remains faithful; God remains sovereign.

 

Little by little, my up-in-the-air-ness slowly morphs into down-on-solid-ground-ness.  Thank you, Jesus.

Sometimes words are not found

All that hangs is an open mouth

A scene seen so many times before

Is left barren

After survivors burst through the door

Memories number as the hours pass

How long will this day last?

–Jordan Walz

February 2008

 

 

You just have to start.

I never have identified with being a morning person.  Or a night person.  I identify with sleeping as much as possible no matter the hour.

For as long as I remember, though, I have been a night writer.  (Not to be confused with Knight Rider.)

Sleep waits for me, I turn and tumble round and round through the sheets, but words just fly into my forehead and penetrate my brain cells.  Or maybe it is the reverse.  Thoughts zoom from deep inside the closets of my mind and burst through my forehead ready to be unleashed into the world.

With wired nerves, I have been known to scratch out a line (or 20) of poetry in the absolute black of night onto the pad of paper always available to me beside my bed.  In more recent years, I just type out my ramblings in my phone, always available to me beside my bed.  I prefer the pen to paper method, but I find that things are much more legible when I opt for the use of my cellular device.

During these dark, quiet hours, the world seems wide awake.  My mind races with ideas and poetic discoveries I swear would never come to me in broad daylight.  So, I panic to get these epiphanies documented and then I turn my body over, close my eyes once again, and wait for sleep.

Typically, the stream of words doesn’t stop.  Again, I jot down more lines, and again, I roll over intending to sleep.

Being a lover of sleep, I often get frustrated with this process  of late-night-note-taking.

I keep making promises to myself that I will start a blog; get all of these words and thoughts out of me so that I can rest easy.  However, when I sit down to actually write for an intended purpose, nothing seems worthy enough.  All of those strings of consonants and vowels and syllables perfectly aligned vanish.blog1

You just have to start.  

I give myself this advice when I have to tackle a large pile of dishes, laundry, papers, etc., etc., etc.  When I really want to get something done but just have trouble sizing up the beast.  When I am intimidated by the workload; unsure if I can muster the endurance a job will take.

There are a thousand ways this can be said.  For me, ‘just starting’ rings truest.  Who knows what will come or where things will end up, so don’t even worry about that.  Don’t skip ahead here.  There’s no need to be filled to the brim with anxiety when no one can predict the future anyway.  Just start.  Focus on that, and the next foothold will reveal itself.

Tonight, I start.

 

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