Cutest Blog Layout

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Reality of Discouragement in Everyday Life

Fall is my very favorite time of year.  Both the climate and the scenery are gorgeous in my part of the country and it is like a little glow surrounds all our activities.  Even so, hardship creeps into the scene: difficulties at school, unexpected and expensive home repairs, sickness, vocational disappointments and stress.  This is just my current, short-list!

As I was reading through my journal, I recognized a familiar sense of discouragement when I read about our broken hot water heater, destroyed cell phone, income loss, a rebellious child, another one who is discontent and TWO car wrecks that just about stole my sense of well-being.  When wave upon wave of unsettling news rolls through your life, it's easy to begin taking it personally.  Is God out to get me?

Just this week, a dear friend is experiencing debilitating health issues and a car wreck, along with added stress from a recent move.  Another is facing unexpected home expenses and multiple appliance failures.  Hardship is real, even when in our first world experience.

In each case, these strong women face the trials with grit and determination, handling the details and taking charge.  But when another, then another difficulty arises, the women become weary.  Their resolve to deal well can turn into a pity party.

I know it's draining to deal with daily trials and a constant onslaught of difficulties.  Can you change it?  If not, the only thing you can do it keep moving forward - don't let difficulties be the boss of you!  If you find yourself adopting a victim mentality, you are only setting yourself up for a spiral of negativity.  Instead, adopt an attitude that overcomes.

We live in the REAL world, where some seasons are REAL tough.  My world view also explains that we live in a fallen world, where difficulties are real. These are not the result of an "out-to-get-me" vengeful God. While I do firmly believe that there are consequences and we reap what we sow, I believe there is a difference between that concept and life simply happening.  Tires wear out.  Gutters need cleaning.  Dental issues are constant!  The mistakes of others affect us all.

How can  you keep these life challenges from affecting your overall mood?  How can you combat discouragement?

I don't have all the answers. I certainly find myself discouraged on some days.  But then I walk

myself through the reasons for hope.  I remind myself that I don't need all the answers, just to know today's answers - and those have always been there.  I spend a lot of time "living in the moment" because looking too far ahead can be overwhelming.

One of the reasons I love journaling is because I can let out my concerns on paper.  Prayer allows the same release, but when I journal, I look back at how a situation has resolved or improved.  I see so much history of the faithfulness of God who was providing all along, sometimes before I even knew I would have need.

I don't have a neat, tied up ending for this post.  Mostly, I want to share the burdens of my friends and family and let each know I see their challenges.  You are doing so much better than you think!  I'm confident you will move forward with grace and beauty.  I'm so thankful to call you friend.  Oh, and I get it.  I'm praying for you and I can't wait to hear you talk of better days.  Some days, I plan for the "less" in "Flawless."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thinking Ahead...

To all my friends with little ones - We have loved this and still get giddy over it every year!

This is a great price!


Monday, October 3, 2016

I Stopped Waiting For Perfect, And Just Did My Best

Ever since I first saw the promotions for a new Ferris Wheel in our area, I have wanted to go to and ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.  I envisioned a fun family outing including dinner at The Island and the whole gang riding The Wheel while we enjoyed the view of our favorite mountains.  It hasn't worked out.  Someone is always gone or no one feels like making the drive, or we have other plans, etc., etc. It just hasn't worked out the way I wanted.

So, I just decided to quit waiting for the perfect moment and make it happen.  I'm so glad that I did!  Mr. Wonderful wasn't in town, so I gathered my children and headed out.  The weather was great! Our view was of the entertainment lights instead of mountain vistas.  The restaurants were way too crowded and their were requests to do even more attractions, that were not in the budget.  We had to park way far, the phone battery didn't charge and we were all pretty tired since we didn't head out till around 7 pm.  But it was totally fun.  We all enjoyed ourselves immensely.

The actual Wheel was awesome, but even more so I enjoyed sitting by the synchronized fountains, just watching my three enjoying each other and the night out. We grabbed fast food on the way home and everyone collapsed happily into bed.

We spent the next afternoon in the mountains and stayed later than planned so we could enjoy the wildlife.  This week has extra commitments and it will be a busy one for every member of our family.  For this very reason, I wanted to escape to nature, where there are no screens, no demands and just enjoy being outdoors with each other.

It's not always the perfect time or perfect opportunity, but make time for memories and fun anyway!

It gets dark early in the mountains and I planned to be home by this time, but we were still enjoying ourselves.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Children Have Stepmother

Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine
Copyright 2015, Disney Cinderella
My former spouse, who is the father of my children, was remarried this summer and I haven't mentioned it because it isn't really part of my story...except, it is, because my children now have a permanent woman in their life...who isn't me!  She is "the mom" at the other house.

I don't know this woman well, though she has been present in the life of my children for quite a while. She is at the children's activities, performances and celebrations. Sometimes, we even sit next to each other.

From what I do know, she treats them with respect and they all like her.  My outside observation is that she provides a sense of stability and care for them while they spend time with their dad.  Because they spend time with her weekly, I know she will have an influence in their lives and shape part of their experience while they are apart from me.  I don't relish the idea of a woman I didn't select having a priority position in the lives of my children.  But this experience is a common aspect of life after divorce and simply part of our reality.  I can live in denial and rail against what is, but that is futile and leads to anxiety, depression and despair.  Instead, I choose to work with the factors that play in the lives of my children and find the positive (more on that another day).

As a stepmom myself, I know the challenge it is to accommodate and serve children who may or may not recognize your role in their lives.  I understand that it can be difficult to find your place.  I have to respect that a unrelated woman is choosing to share her life with my children.

Stepmom life isn't for the weak, so I know she makes sacrifices on behalf of children that aren't her own.  I am grateful that during the times we are together for the sake of the children, we have avoided awkward least so far.  I appreciate that she defers to me as their mom and doesn't attempt to usurp my role.  Ultimately, I do think we both desire to operate in a way that minimizes their confusion.  I can live with that.

Five Essential Stepmom Skills

Stepmother Influence Family Identity

Monday, September 19, 2016

Life Lately in Photos - Lots of Family Time!

We don't live in a town near any of our extended family, but we manage to stay close through concentrated effort and making time to be together.  This month has been so fun!  We went to Missouri for a long Labor Day weekend.

Our trip was followed by a visit to US from our Atlanta clan and we had a relaxing weekend enjoying the company of my in-laws.  I'm so grateful for them and the way they accept me and my children right into their family.  It is a rare gift. 

Now, we are once again visiting with my parents, who made the trek east to visit.  We're enjoying a few days, filled with our normal routines and soaking up some Nana & Papa time.  Finally, Mr. Wonderful will head out to Asia soon to visit our daughter with wanderlust. 

Family doesn't always get to be nearby, but we make the effort in time and money to keep the ties close!  How do you keep in touch with those you love who live far away?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Change in the Kitchen

I didn't choose the home in which I live, but I've spent the past three years making this my home.  It has been home to my husband and his girls for more than ten years, and their roots are deep here.  It's not a simple thing to walk into a place that already represents others and put my own mark on it without upsetting the balance that makes it feel comfortable to them.

I'm so excited that I was able to paint the kitchen, with plans to continue into the great room area.  Mr. Wonderful simply loves overcast days, so my inspiration was a cloudy sky.  I also took note of the stone in our fireplace and hope that the color brings out their natural beauty even more.  Green is a wonderful color.  We are surrounded by the green of the woods in which our home is found.  But the green in our home absorbed light and was very dark.  Our walls were covered with spills and splatters.  It was time for a new coat of paint and so it was the time for the change of color.  

Change doesn't come easy, and Mr. Wonderful isn't too keen on the new color yet.  I'm hoping it feels more homey with time and all our stuff spread over the counters.  I really appreciate him for encouraging my DIY endeavors!

Can you see the spatters and spills on the green paint?  The new paint with primer covered these stains in one coat.  I was thrilled!

Most things in our home become a family project, and these two were truly helpful.  Faith helped with the details (she's really good at details) and Jake filled in the space between trim.

Oh my, he looks so tall!

The room sat likes this for a while.  It was hard to find a large chunk of time to complete the task, so it was a work in progress for several days.  I tried to overlook the clutter, but I'm glad it's done!

I'm happier than expected with the way the gray looks against our counters!

The dark green is currently in our entry, living room and the rest of our kitchen.  You can see the contrast here.  What do you think?  What is the best way you can take ownership of your space?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Encouragement Dare

It seems that on the most challenging days, one of the feelings that overcomes me is the thought that I am invisible.  Isolated.  No one sees how hard I'm trying.  No one knows how much I'm working or how much I have sacrificed.  The results don't show the depth of my effort and in the moment, it just feels like none of the effort is worth it.

Then, just when I can't muster the energy to continue what I know I must do, encouragement comes like a breath of fresh air.  I am lifted by when someone notices and validates my striving.  So great is the power of encouragement, that I am determined to offer the same boost to others.  I can name the great encouragers in my life, and I want to be named in that list for others.

The joy and return of positive energy is so worth the small effort to notice and lift up others.  Some ideas that I have found to encourage others are:

Smile!  It's my favorite and it costs me nothing.  But comments from my son's third grade buddy to the frustrated woman in the grocery checkout cashier have let me know that it's uncommon and welcome, especially in difficult circumstances.

Delivery!  When our family friend experienced a life-saving kidney donation...and his wife accepted a new job within the same week...they needed support.  As working woman, wife, mother and home manager, I didn't have the extra time to prepare a gourmet meal.  Instead, I ordered take-out and spent the time I would have cooked delivering the restaurant meal with paper goods and baked goods.  Win for both of us.

Surprise!  Perhaps the best, most needed encouragement comes when we don't overthink it, but just do something.  Send a card for no reason.  It's always a bonus to have "real mail" in with all the junk. Drop off your friend's favorite drink or milkshake at their work.  Bring surprise donuts to class.  Leave a note in the mailbox or with the teacher of your child.  What we often call Random Acts of Kindness are really intentional acts of encouragement.

Join a Conspiracy! Dayspring is hosting the first ever Encouragement Dare centered around September 12.  For the next two weeks, we are reminded to look beyond ourselves and notice who might need an extra dose of inspiration and comaraderie.  Everyone benefits from encouragement, some are desperate for the soul satisfying gift of encouragement.  Who might you encourage today?

Other ways to "Join a Conspiracy" might be to get together with a friend, small group, class, etc. and decide to encourage someone: pastor, family in need, public servants or other persons.  Joining together may allow a greater impact with greater resources.

To help you spread the love, Dayspring has created free e-cards.  Of course, they offer delightful cards in real life, too, along with little gifts and pick-me-ups.  But you don't have to spend money or think overly hard.  Just take notice, use what you have and go for it!

I can immediately name the Great Encouragers in my life: Mother, Daddy. Anita, Alice and more who intentionally refresh me - It means more than you will every know.

Please share if you do, I'd love to hear how encouraging others affected you.

Called to Encourage

Disclosure: This post is done in connection with Dayspring and does contain affiliate links.  Nothing was given to me in exchange for this post, however, if you purchase through a link here, this site will receive a commission.  Your cost is not affected.