Faith · Love · Perspective

Be the Good.

What to say and how to say it? I’m not sure as I start to type.

I’m reeling from Sunday night’s events in Las Vegas. I sat at my desk this morning and listened to the first responder’s audio. Tears streamed down my face. For those experiencing this tragedy firsthand, I offer my sincere condolences. I weep with you.

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As more details become available, a slightly clearer picture of this man comes into focus. Alone. Premeditated. Succumbed to evil. Apart from love. Was he mentally ill? I don’t know. Depressed? Maybe. Angry – ABSOLUTELY.

We may never know what spurred this on. It will leave us all with a shard of fear, questions about that person living down the street or in the hotel room next to us, a hesitation about crowds and what’s on the other side of the door. That is EXACTLY what evil wants for us. To worry, hesitate, and isolate ourselves. To withdraw. To lose trust- in ourselves, in each other, and in God.

Free will. The ability to make our own choices. I’ve said it before. It is a double edged sword.

We have the CHOICE- good or evil. We have the CHOICE- help or hurt. We have the CHOICE- forgiveness or retaliation.

He CHOSE evil, hurt, and retaliation. He CHOSE to inflict pain on innocent people.

This is where we have to fight back. I CHOOSE good, to help, and to forgive. I CHOOSE to love my neighbor. I CHOOSE to shine with the love God gives me to use.

Yes, I’ve been hurt. I’ve been damaged and flat out broken at points. Some moments in life take your breath away, sink you all the way to the bottom, and suck away the life you are clinging to.

I’m also redeemed, accepted, forgiven and loved for all my low and high points. If only the shooter had felt a small portion of that, I can’t help but think he might have chosen differently.


Yesterday, on top of the sadness about Las Vegas was a bitterness that I’ve not experienced before from someone I personally know. It was directed at people who are praying.

“Frankly, if you’re still just thinking and praying, you’re an asshole.”

Ouch! Whoa buddy. Hold that rancorous, spiteful thought for just a moment…

I’m not “just thinking and praying.” I’m currently working with youth at a welcoming faith-based outreach program. I’m also active at my children’s school- not just as a PTO member, but as a caring person willing to stoop down to help tie a shoe, hold a door, and say good morning or hello to that sweet little face that is scowling on his way in or out the doors. I don’t know what they are experiencing and absorbing at home, but for the love, I am going to be a positive influence on them!

I’m doing my little piece as big and as wide as I can. And YES. I’m praying.

I challenge you if you find yourself not only sad, but also bitter and angry, to find a way to positively interact with those around you. This world is broken. It always has been. It seems that more of the pieces keep shattering. But in this, I keep seeing the good. The good surfaces where there is brokenness – in the aftermath of the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and crimes – neighbors step up, charities step in, people start looking outside themselves and praying for the benefit of others.

The GOOD rises.

Be the GOOD.

 

Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Fall Wknd Recap

Weekend recap:

Saturday- normal Saturday things like laundry, kitchen chores, puzzles before 7:45am because my kids don’t sleep in, painting art projects, cleaning family room so we can walk across it, t-ball in our yard, hauling hay and helping move my father-in-law from one field to another to drill wheat.

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Sunday- test run on injured hip (sciatica is making me a frazzled woman), Sunday school, church, homemade biscuits and gravy for lunch- both dairy and non-dairy versions, and a family trip to pick up a new trailer at the manufacturer (not enough hours in the week when you run a business!).

Then I crashed. We walked in the door at 5:30pm. I had on pajamas at 5:35pm and was asleep on the couch by 6pm. I rarely nap. This is not my normal.

I “slept” to 7:30, but only part was actual sleeping. A good portion of it was laying really still with my eyes closed so they wouldn’t know I wasn’t asleep. Thus, preventing a flood of conversation.

No school on Monday for inservice, so I’m planning on having kids at the office part of the day and when home, making treats for my kids’ classes. IMG_2285Nut free but full of sugar, acorn donut holes look fun and festive. We’ll see if they turn out anything like this… I’ve failed at previous Pinterest ideas!

And now on Monday morning, I’m having an intense debate with a 7yr old about the number of legs on the spider currently residing on our living room ceiling fan…

Have I mentioned that I love my kids? ❤️

Best wishes for a smooth week ahead!

 

Faith · Family · Perspective

I will Love

In all the chaos that is the world today, this small symbol lightened my heart. Tucked into my dual purpose yearly planner/ Bible carrier is this picture on a yellow sticky-note. My daughter drew it during the church service Sunday.

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Don’t overthink it. Love.

God is LOVE. Even thru the agony of the fires, hurricanes, and threats of war, God is still LOVE. He doesn’t want these pains for us. That tricky double edged sword of free will…

I feel helpless when stacked against the content of today’s news report. But I will still LOVE those around me with service, kindness, forgiveness and mercy. I will LOVE people thru the Gospel’s truth.

I will LOVE.

Faith · Love · Perspective

Harvey

Harvey may be one of the most horrific and uniting events we’ve had in recent times. As many in the media and far-out ideologues have pursued divisive tactics and even at this extreme low point criticized politicians from every corner, the rest of the country is pulling together to assist each other. A literal pulling of each other from the water and destruction to safety is occurring as I type this. It has been happening for days.

Watch this video from the NY Times to see neighbors helping neighbors.

Are our neighbors in the south fighting each other and throwing one another from the boats? No. They are working together to save lives.

Are we selfishly turning a blind eye? No. Americans are donating their physical time, strength, money, and supplies to provide for the needs that are increasing each day.

This is who we are as Americans. We are not the hate-filled stereotypes and labels that are so carelessly being splattered around and thrown on people. We are neighborly love for every language, skin shade, origin, and economic status.

Harvey is horrific. Deadly. Heart-breaking. Devastating. It does not have to be divisive. Though the storm is almost past, let it continue to unite us in our kind attention to each other’s needs. As the storm reminds us that we can’t prevent natural disasters, we need to recognize that we are able to prevent our own national disaster.

It starts with each of us personally. Reach out and get to know one another. Say hello. Look someone in the eye. Treat them with respect. Listen. Help your neighbor. Soothe the hurt.

I have a firm faith in God. Prayer, even if you can’t see or understand, (or for some even believe it), does have an impact. So I will continue to pray humbly for those affected by the hurricane and for every person in this country. As we respectfully close our eyes and bow our heads each night before bed, my family prays for those who are sad, hungry, angry, lonely, or sick that we might be able to show God’s love to them through our actions.

Each of us can do our little or our large to help both with Harvey and with our country. Please pay it forward positively.

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Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Positive – Leftovers, Strep, & Pancake Syrup

IMG_1973This is me. I just finished the most amazing taco salad for lunch at my desk.

As I was chewing the spicy, dairy-free concoction, I realized how thankful I was that my kids weren’t interested in tacos last night.

It kind of irked me as I was standing across the kitchen island with the fixings laid out, corn on the cob boiled and ready, food all hot. Nobody wanted to eat. Even my husband only had one small taco and called it done. My 5yr old only wanted 1 ear of corn and no taco. My 7 year old couldn’t eat the corn due to his jankity mouth of missing baby teeth and asked if he could have the taco later. What the what????

But in a new light today, I’m thankful. I just devoured a delicious leftover lunch.

Always seeking the positive!

My two best girl friends pointed this out on Tuesday in a string of text messages that occurred when my 5yr old puked all over herself in the car (read: hair, pillow, blanket, dress, car seat, etc) on the way down the switchback mountain roads about 9 hours from our home on Monday. 9 vomit scent-wafted hours.

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Later, my friend sent me this.

IMG_1962This is how I try to roll. I used to be a pretty serious Debbie Downer sometimes. That was what my sisters actually called me. Then, if it was Christmas, they’d make me wear a Santa hat until I pulled out of it.

I’m not completely sure when my outlook changed, but I know I’ve thrown my life into a more positive direction post-birth of babies, upon going dairy-free, taking up running and regular exercise, my MS diagnosis, and upon learning how to say “NO” to things that aren’t my best yes.

Whew… we are talking about the last 5 years here… not an overnight mental shift.

I don’t have it all mastered. Frankly, I never will. That’s ok. It isn’t my job to do it all perfectly or have everything go according to my plan. That job belongs to God.

But let’s be real. Do I want to re-live the puking and pancakes mountain pass situation? That’s a solid NO. Do I appreciate cooking and nobody eating it? Nada. Am I happy when my child gets strep throat? Of course not. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

In the scheme of things, those are all small potatoes, or shall I say a small packet of syrup?

Much love,
Jen

Faith · Fitness · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

2 Steps Back and 5 Forward

5F2B2 Steps Back and 5 Forward: An effort to get to know yourself and who you are made to be, deeper than the outward reflection shown in the mirror.

A local women’s group did a short exercise with the ladies who were present. It is a Christian non-denominational group for new, seasoned, young, and older. A lovely mix of women.

*I follow online because although it is God-centered, it still isn’t a Best Yes for my time when I add in the driving to town and back and how it disrupts my family’s schedule.*

The exercise asked the women to say or describe two things about themselves that are negative.

  1. I overshare details and stories… then spend anxiety-ridden time mentally re-hashing all the oversharing moments that just spewed forth from my lips. Ugh. Thank goodness I don’t publish on here every thought I actually say out loud. Awkward!
  2. I get extremely frustrated during transition times with my kids. Daycare pickup is the absolute WORST. I’m overwhelmed. They’re talking and arguing over each other for my attention. We all end up with our feelings hurt when I have to SHUT IT DOWN.

^^^ It honestly didn’t take much to come up with those. ^^^

The exercise then asked the women to say or describe five positives. I’ll take this one step further, in honor of the book I’m currently reading – Walking with Purpose, and say it can’t be about my job or my duties as a mother or wife.

giphy4Ummmm…. Hmmmm… Maybe…. ?

  1. I am compassionate for ALL things. I catch spiders and release them outside. I don’t want anyone to suffer. If it has to be the end for a living creature, I want it to be quick and painless. Hungry? I want to feed you. Confused? Let’s figure this out.
  2. I very rarely rush to judgement. I like to gather my own research before forming an opinion. I have friends from all sides of the political, geographical, and faith spectrum. Discussions, when respectful, are thought-provoking and enlightening, even if I disagree with the other parties.
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  3. I am determined. Four years and two babies ago, I decided if I ever wanted to get in shape and feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally, I had to make it happen. No one else could do that for me. It was MY job to exercise; MY job to make devotion time; MY job to figure out where my life was going. Yes, I have a husband, two littles, a job, a pet, family, friends, etc… but what was my path? my goal? Was I just supposed to feed small people and handle advertising from my computer? No.

    I have a bigger purpose. It is one that is constantly evolving and coming into focus as I make another trip around the sun.

  4. Honesty. I told my children that if they ever ask me a question (which they do 3:1 for every statement – truly, I counted), I will ALWAYS tell them the truth. Don’t want to know about Santa? Don’t ask unless you want the truth and history behind Ol’ Saint Nicholas. What happened to Nana & Papa’s old dog? It died because a body gets old and unable to heal. NOT that it went to live on another farm with other old dogs…. Right Mom and Dad?

    I really think honesty is key here. We sugar coat too much to the point where the next generation won’t understand reality.
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  5. Love. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for people I don’t even know. I am unconditionally loved by God and want to share that love with those around me.

    I separate love from “like” and “enjoy” and “happiness.” Sure, those are comfortable feelings, but in the uncomfortable is where we grow, support, and care for one another. It’s easy to give a high-five or a smile at the end of a game. It isn’t as easy to sit with a bestie after her engagement ends or know what to say when a friend miscarries, but those are the places that love illustrates beauty. Spending time volunteering to give a hand up to the less physically fortunate or going to an elder care facility and touching a frail, lonely hand, that’s love. Parenting with grace (so hard sometimes!) is another form of love.

    We don’t all “do” love the same way, but think of the world if we all “did” real uncomfortable love in SOME way for somebody.

So there it is. My five positives and my two negatives are out there. Time well spent looking a little deeper into myself.

Much love — Jen

Faith · Perspective

Energy

*sigh*

Some people just suck the energy right out of you. Physical, emotional, and social energy is siphoned off like taking a big draw of iced tea thru a straw.

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Instead of drowning in the bottomless void these people leave in their aftermath, I’ve chosen to earnestly pray for them. I pray for their heart, mental and physical health, and our interactions going forward. And it takes work.

Work on my heart. Work on my thoughts. Work on myself. God can change anyone.

A person in this category is still God’s creation and has His love if he/she accepts it. It is of this that I remind myself.

I approach with caution, guard myself, pray before going into these encounters, and carry on. Not always successful at this, but we’ll call it my game plan. Psalm 5:8-12.

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Looking forward to a more positive post on my next entry!