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Monday, January 28, 2013

Moody Monday

I had a busy weekend getting ready and then hosting a party for my birthday girl.  She chose an "artist" theme and we had lots of colorful fun.

I love being Mommy.  I had fun with my friends (the other moms), too. 

Because of the busy weekend, I'm looking forward to a slow-ish week.  School and work schedules make every week busy, but we have no extras and nice weather is in the forcast.  Yay!

The weekend wore me out and I was so tired when it was time to wake up this morning.  But I'm hopeful for a restful and predictable week.  What about you, do you use your weekends to revive or do they wear you out?  I would love to know!  Have a great Monday ~

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Decide What You Want

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If you have taken the time to consider these things and find that you are ready to venture into the world of dating, the natural question is where do I find the right kind of man?  Have you decided what you want? 

Many women have a list of "must haves" for the man with whom they want to partner, and I'm all for keeping up the standards.  I used to have a long list, focused on a lot of details.  Entering a season where I had the chance to do it all again, I realized there were a lot of things that I would like, and that would probably be helpful in creating a good relationship.  But I didn't want a long list that needed to be checked off and if it was, that I would automatically feel this was "the one." 

Instead, I decided to come up with some bottom line must-haves being in a relationship.  As I got to know I man and determine whether these qualitites existed, I would also be determining whether the lesser important issues made us compatible. 

Over the course of several months, I wrote down things I wanted.  Then I used those traits to create a list of character traits that I knew I would need.  Your list will be different from mine just like your likes and dislikes, your past is different, your needs are different.  I talked often to the Lord about what I would need and asked him to give me insight.  As He did, I formed a list of seven bottom-line traits that I would need in order to give my heart to a man.  Then I began to pray specifically for a man who -
  1. Has walked with the Lord for many years.
  2. Healthy Habits
  3. Financially stable, employed, tithes
  4. Marked by kindness
  5. Honest, honest, honest
  6. Energetic, Positive Outlook, Upbeat
  7. Emotionally available, open and desires to partner in relationship
I would encourage you to begin praying about what you like, want and need.  Then take those qualities and form must-have traits so that you can make wise choices.  For example, I desired a man who was a Christian believer.  But more than that, an active and involved one who attended church regularly and hadn't recently come to the Lord or back to Him.  I needed someone who had walked through trials with the Lord and experienced His faithfulness. 

I knew I didn't want to be with someone who smokes or recently quit (afraid to risk relapse).  I knew that because of my history, I would have a difficult time trusting someone who had been unfaithful in a previous relationship. 

I didn't want a legalized checklist like:

ü  Attends Church Weekly
ü  Christian for 10 years
ü  Tithes
ü  Never Lies
ü  Didn’t Cheat
ü  No Smoking

So I worked to get to the very core of my desires and make that list as bottom line as possible.  In this way, I felt like I kept myself open to possibility!  It felt very exciting yet I knew I would guard myself against traits that would bring me down in the long run.  I felt like I had realistic, healthy boundaries for me.

Have you thought I about what you want?  Do you think it is smart to be general or specific as you think about your needs?  Or do you think winging it is a better idea?  Do tell!

As I'm sharing, please take or toss - I'm not suggesting that what I did it what everyone should do, but it is the truth unfolding of my story.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Moody Monday - What I'm Into this January

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Downton Abbey - I stumbled upon this show during season one and got on the band wagon early!  (It's what happens when you're home alone on Sunday evenings without cable ☻).  It's been so fun to recruit my family and friends to watch along.  I'm loving the current season and look forward to it every week.  My TV faves are Downton, Parenthood and Big Bang Theory - what a combination!?!

Coffee - This winter I'm drinking more coffee than ever.  I'm not sure how I feel about that but I cannot seem to resist the heavy warmth each morning.  My favorite is Millstone Hazlenut Cream. 

Wool Socks - There is nothing more to say.  I have cold feet.  I love wool socks.

Boot Shopping - My goal is to find a pair of high quality, black boots that are discounted at the end of the season.  Of course, I fall in love with the pair that are not marked down at all.  I'm still patting myself on the back for not buying the tan leather ones that were a fantastic price but not needed.  Discipline.  Self Control.  Restraint.  It took great levels of these to refrain.

Soups - Always a soup fan, this trend fires up to fanatic during the cold winter months.  Last night I enjoyed egg drop soup.  Cream of Broccoli, Tortellini, Taco, and chili are other favorites.  Must make more!

Party Planning - My daughter turns seven this week!  She's having an art party at home over the weekend and so we are in decorting and planning mode.  Next month the little man turns five and we're already planning ahead for that.

Church Stuff - Our small group has doubled and isn't so small.  I'm enjoying getting to know new friends.  Even more exciting to me are some sweet positive prayer outcomes and the arrival of a sweet baby girl to one of our own.  We're reading the book, "Lies Women Believe," by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Vacay Dreaming - Already it seems the summer calendars are filling up.  I don't have any concrete summer plans, but I'm thinking of ways to have an economical vacation with my children.  We visited with family in 2012 and took a couple of nearby get-away days, but I'd like something more memorable this year.  We always love the beach!

What have you been up to?  What are you into?  What little things mark this season of your life?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dealing with a Bully

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I suspect that all of us have dealt with (or been) a bully during some point in our life.  We may have even been married to one.  After learning some coping skills, I feel like I'm more objective and aware of the bullies in our lives.  Oh yes, I do deal regularly with a bully.  Sometimes I watch in disbelief as the bully verbally challenges and puts roadblocks in the way of what could be simple exchanges.

I used to cower in the presence of a bully, to be frozen and paralyzed.  It worked for the bully because I was willing to give up or do almost anything to get away from the assault.  It can happen anywhere: at work, school, in families, friendships and marriages.  Bullies get their way by stealing power.

You have been entrusted with power from the Lord and to give that away is not what He requires.  There are way confront bullies without escalating the situation.  Keep the following in mind:

Bullies thrive on power and egotism.  Their goal is to win.  They do so through aggression and will act or talk in hurtful ways to make their point.  They will not back down so meeting aggression with agression will only fuel the rage and abuse.  When dealing with a bully, know your boundaries and be prepared to walk away.  I was often frozen and overwhelmed by a bully, but learning how to respond to an outburst with dignity gives me the ability to walk in freedom.
  1. Verbalize your boundaries.  "I can only talk for -- minutes."  or "I'm not ready to make that decision," are phrases that allow me to process a request or assess my needs.  It keeps me from relenting in an attempt to keep peace and then later feeling overrun.
  2. Talk with a safe person.  Find a family member, friend or counselor who can be a 'sane' filter.  Bullying became such a normal part of my existance that I didn't realize how unnatural the relationship had become.  I needed a sounding board and keeping it all to myself only enabled to bully to continue.
  3. Take confidence in small victories.  Practice saying (and practicing) the word, "No."  The power of a bully shrinks as your confidence grows.  When you act in dignity and self-respect, it highlights the faults of the bully.  Often when their behavior is revealed they do tone down the assault.  Bullies don't want to look bad, just to get their way.
You may (and me!) be succeptible to bullies, but you do not have to live as a victim.  Take small steps today by gathering support and learning to stand up to bullies.  When I fall prey to bullies in my life, I inevitably regret my actions.  Now, instead of letting that weaken me, I use the anger to fuel my resolve not to give into their control battles.  Many times I fail, but I can honestly share that practice does lead to improvement.  The patterns can change and we must be the ones to begin the process of relating differently.

Remember, if you're dealing with a bully you are dealing with an emotionally immature person.  Most likely, you will have to suck it up and endure some things that you shouldn't have to, but changing a bully isn't the goal - keeping your diginity and limiting their influence is.

Have you ever dealt with a bully?  Have you been the bully? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Consider This Before Choosing to Date Again

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Are you considering stepping out into the world of dating again?  It can sure be a daunting task but also very rewarding.  I would encourage anyone to do so with thought and intention, not just to 'test the waters.' 

It took me quite a while after my former spouse moved out and the divorce was final to feel like I was ready to date again. Initially the very thought of dating or trusting felt way too threatening.  I knew my heart would be tender and I felt too vulnerable to take the risk. I treasured the peace I gained through divorce and didn't want the drama. Then, I suddenly began to be aware of men again - everywhere! I started to long for companionship and I sensed a readiness.

Asking yourself these questions may help you decide when you're ready ~
  • What have I learned are my weaknesses from my past relationship?  Do I know how to improve these areas for the future?
  • Do I have time to invest in a healthy relationship?
  • How will I keep myself accountable and open to input from those I trust?
  • Have I reached a place where I can handle rejection without letting it destroy the healing progress that I've made?
  • Am I satisfied with myself?  Do I have fulfilling relationships or am I attempting to fill and empty place within myself? 

If you're recently divorced, widowed or out of a relationship then take your time before moving into another one.  Consider what you may have gained, even through the loss.  For me, it was peace.  I treasured the peace that I now enjoyed at home and didn't want to bring any drama into my heart, home or life.  I wasn't confident that I knew how to ward off drama or that I wouldn't jump on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs, hopes and disappointment.  I didn't want that.  I needed my energies focused on healing and parenting well through a transitional time in the lives of our family.

For more than a year, I invested in myself.  I made my home more mine.  I scheduled regular girls' nights with friends.  I focused on paying down debt, remaining healthy and healing from deep wounds through books, therapy and groups like DivorceCare. It was a necessary and healing time for me.  I had opportunity to date, but I declined politely and was cautious about sending out a mixed message.  

Some people close to me encouraged me to date right away, some tried to set me up, it was sort of a novelty and joke.  I always reiterated how opposed I was to that idea!  I think those close to me just wanted to see me happy and felt that coupledom was a sure way to that end.  But I quickly established that I wasn't interested.  I didn't even entertain the idea in my own head and heart.  So the first obstacle to overcome was to admit that I would like to date and one day have a companion again.  For a long time, I felt it was somehow admitting that what I had wasn't enough.  I falsely thought it was less godly or being discontent to want more.

But the longing didn't go away, and even as I got to know myself better and revisited my early-self desires and girlhood dreams, I knew that I have always believed myself to be created for partnership.  Once I felt the freedom to have the desire, the desire for companionship was there in full force.  I became hyper-aware of men all around me!  It was laughable to me at the time and even now.  But this is one of the ways in which I became sure that I was ready, I was open to possibility and not closed off by pain as in times past.

So I began to pray.  God knew my desires, but I got comfortable talking with Him about things before I was comfortable enough to share with others.  That's what I discuss next - How did I know what I would want?  

Are you in a place where you are dating again?  Open to it?  Just curious?  Do you want to hear more of my experience or is this a discouraging topic?  Are you happily married and just reading for fun - whatever your status, please say hi!  I would love to hear from you today!

Next in the dating series: Decide What You Want

As I'm sharing, please take or toss - I'm not suggesting that what I did it what everyone should do, but it is the truth unfolding of my story.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Moody Monday - Thankful


The rain is coming down steadily and is forcast to come all day and night.  I miss my fireplace in our old home, it would be a perfect day for snuggling around that.  I miss the sense of home.  But I'm thankful for the direction our lives are headed.  I'm gloriously amazed at how easily the children have transitioned into a new home and seem to just love it!  I'm so thankful for a comfortable place that meets our needs.

Our commute to and from school is longer now, but after several weeks I've perfected the optimal window for heading we missed it by five minutes and that literally put us twenty minutes later to school.  That's right, the traffic, school zones and school drop-off line traffic change drastically if I miss that window.  But they made it to their classes in just the nick of time.  Just barely.  It's not always easy getting there, but I'm thankful that my children didn't have to switch schools in the middle of the year.  I'm thankful, too, that we will not always have to drive so far.

Today I have get to go grocery shopping.  Grocery shopping is a task that I do not enjoy.  However, I still remember the weeks, months where I truly didn't have the money to go to the grocery store, where every item was meticulously considered for value.  I don't have to pinch the pennies quite so tightly these days.  So, while the chore isn't my favorite, it really does help me to be grateful for the ability to purchase our needs and a home to bring them into. 

I'm thankful for warmth and friendships, the best family and the best babies, the most amazing reltionship and the extended connections that brings.  I'm happy and I'm thankful.  I am treasuring these days because I know that changes are already in the works for our's just the way life works. 

How is your week starting out?  Can you turn something you dislike into gratefulness?  I'm sharing about deciding to date again this week, I hope you'll check back!  I'd love to hear from you today ~

Friday, January 11, 2013

Leaving the Past - Room for Change

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At church on Sunday, we were encouraged to examine what we need to burn in order to move to what God has for us (based on Elisha burning his plows and sacrificing cattle as a closure to his previous way of life).  As I mentally reviewed what I have held onto, I realized that it isn't much.  The last five years have represented a complete shift in my life trajectory.  My life is not what I thought it would be, it is not what I planned. 

I have burned so many bridges, truly let go of things like:
  • marriage
  • living near family
  • my home and neighborhood
  • continuing at our school
  • church life & history
I can only count two circumstances which have remained the same: mothering and my job.  Mothering is very important to me, but my job is not so much.  It serves to meet our needs and I'm very thankful for that. 

But, wow - everything else has changed.  Everything.  I remembered to be proud and grateful at what I have come through.  And I did ask myself, "Is there anything else I need to let go?"  Only one thing came to mind, and I'm already in transition of letting that go.  I reconfirmed that this will be okay. 

The challenge is that letting go happens before we know what we're next moving into.  It is so hard to let go, when there's nothing yet to grab...when we are left feeling empty-handed.  But rest assured and put your faith into practice, you will not be left empty.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Moody Monday

Hi, friends ~ The sun is shining now and it's so much better than when I had to leave the house at zero dark thirty (that's anytime before the sun rises) to begin the school routine once more.  We had a full two and a half weeks of vacation time and we did use them well.  But back to schedule it is.

And I'm very much okay with that. 

So, a full week into the New Year and I'm ready to start all the 'begin-again' traditions...I'm eating well, I'm parenting with gentleness, I'm reading more and organizing.  I love it!  I'm also looking back a bit.

Today I was kind of amazed at all the ways my life has changed in five years.  Our pastor challenged us to consider what needed to be completely released before we could move onto what God has for us in the future.  Honestly, I could only think of two things which remain consistent. Gone are my family in the area, my home and community network, ministry and church, my husband, marriage and all the hopes/dreams/future plans tied up in that.  It's been a lot.  A very lot.  And again, I'm okay with it.  That is a miracle.  Even though I havestill moments of frustration, disappointment, grief, even, there is more joy, hope and fun.

But I see just a blurry vision of what God is putting together for me.  There will be more letting go, I'm sure.  I'm trying to remember to hold everything loosely, submitting to God's plan and not manipulating my own.  I know that I can trust Him!

This day, I'm not moody.  I'm a bit reflective, expectant.  I'm content and happy.  I'm so very grateful.

Tomorrow may be entirely different.  There are challenges in the days ahead and I don't pretend the next year will be an easy one.  But I think I'm up for it!  What about you?