You're Important

You're Important

To my fellow working wives and mommies:

Life often assigns us the thankless tasks: replacing the tissue in the bathroom (I’m convinced my family believes that it magically appears); answering the 4 a.m. call when your child cries, “Mommy, I threw up in the bed;” and working late in an effort to exceed your boss’ and your client’s expectations. 

This past week my little one reminded me of the importance of the example we are setting for our children and the role that we are playing in their lives.  The conversation with my little one went something like this:

Little one:            I’m going to be a superhero when I grow up.

Me:                        I’m going to be the President like Barack Obama when I grow up.

Little one:           Why?!  You’re already a mommy.

Me:                        Do you think being a mommy is more important than being the President.

Little one:           (without any hesitation) Yeah!

In that moment, she affirmed the importance of my role in her life.

So, to all my friends who are wives, mommies, employees, be reminded that as we approach the Thanksgiving season I, and so many others, are thankful for you.  There are people in your life who (may not say it often but) are thankful for you.  They know the tissue is going to be on the roll when they reach for it, that you’ll come running when they call, and somehow, you’ll get that report finished too.  To someone out there, you’re more important than the President, and that’s pretty darn cool.

FEAR

FEAR

Have you ever been afraid? Afraid of the dark, afraid of change, afraid of letting go? For me, the fear of failure has always crippled my progress. There are numerous occasions in my life that fear has stopped me.

One of the first occasions was around five years old and learning to ride a bike. When it was time for the training wheels to come off, I rode off with no hesitation. This attempt landed me straight into a basketball goal and onto the ground. This incident ignited the Fear of Failure inside of me, and it was several years before I dared to ride again. 

Years later, I struggled with the same apprehension when it came time to learn how to drive a car. Everyone I knew was driving well before the age of 12, but the very thought of getting in the driver’s seat terrified me. It was the same fear of not being perfect and falling to the ground that halted my progress. The written test was a breeze, so my Leaner’s permit came with ease. However, I knew like before that putting action steps and getting behind the wheel was the only way to overcome this evil. My first attempt was to enroll in Driver’s Ed the next semester. I’m still not sure how I passed this class (maybe because my instructor was asleep for most of the drive). But even after passing the class, I still wasn’t ready. Of course, I felt ashamed and guilty, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. It took years, many small steps and much encouragement before I felt free of fear. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I finally got my driver’s license. 

I once read that “fear feeds on inaction.” Sometimes it so easy to walk away instead of starting over again and again.  Our unwillingness to move may be keeping us stuck “ Being Afraid.” For me, taking one step or one drive lead to conquering the fears I had of failing. Don’t let fear win or be bigger than God. Trust in the ALL- Knowing and All Powerful One to help you conquer whatever fear that tries to trap you. 

I now know that it is far more common to start driving later in life: Ed Sheeran passed his driving test at the age of 24 and Adele at the age of 25.  I'm not sure what lead to their delay, maybe it was fear, or perhaps they were just busy making hit records; either way, it’s good to know that I am not alone. 

Certain Uncertainty

Certain Uncertainty

"What if" plays on repeat in my head. (And not that old Babyface song, although that did play on repeat for awhile.)  No, I spend hours pondering different outcomes of my life. When things are good, I wonder if they could be better. I’m the girl who chops off perfectly good hair because short hair might look better.  I'm the girl who abandons her excellent skin care regime to try a new product she saw advertised on Instagram. Good is never quite good enough for me. 

I'm in the midst of a new season in life. New people, new places, and new things. This newness has forced me out of my comfort zone and created pockets of uncertainty in mind. Life is good, yet I find myself thinking "what if this isn't the life I was meant to live."  

I've recently realized my uncertainty isn’t rooted in a desire to discern what’s best for me but is actually rooted in fear.  I'm merely trying to avoid pain, failure or mishap.  I’m prone to flight - not fight and being unsure makes me run. I run away from people, run away from opportunities, and run away from risk.  

My remedy is to reason; I try to make sense of everything. But life doesn't add up all the time, and some things will never make sense on paper. Sometimes you have to do what you think is best and trust God with the rest.  I’m learning life is full of uncertainties, but one thing is forever certain, the all-knowing God of the universe calls me his own and He is sure of everything I am unsure of. He authored the story of my life, and he has seen beyond this day, this question, and this situation. 

So when I am uncertain of the hand that life has dealt. I focus not on answering the question but in connecting to the author of the answer.  

The Problem with Later

The Problem with Later

Can you believe it’s October? I can’t. The end of the year brings excitement and anxiety for me. The cooler weather and upcoming holidays stir excitement within my soul but the lack of check marks on my goal list brings anxiety. This is the time of year I start to wonder, where did the time go? Why haven’t I lost that 10lbs? Why haven’t I cleaned the attic? Why? Why? Why? 

Do you procrastinate? How do you overcome it?  


Newlywed(ish)

The stack of books on my nightstand tells the story of my life of procrastination. Every year I set goals of reading 3-4 books, but with each passing day I fail to make any attempt at turning those pages. My phone, social media and television are the distractions that keep me from shortening my stack. I’ve found that when I purposely fast from social media and tv, I quickly grab a book to fill the empty space. As the days fade away and year pass by so quickly, I am swiftly reminded that tomorrow is not promised and live each day with purpose. 


 Married with a Kid

Procrastination: “the action of delaying or postponing something.”

Prioritization: to “designate or treat (something) as more important than other things.”

In general, I’m not a procrastinator.  I enjoy setting and accomplishing goals, pinning and trying the projects (on Pinterest), making and checking off lists.  My life is full with work, family, church, friendships.  It is impossible for me to do everything I want to do every single day.  It’s even more impossible for me to do everything I want to do every day well – so, I want to believe that I prioritize, not procrastinate.  Sometimes some things just have to wait. 

 


Single Chick

Procrastination is based on the assumption that the door will always be open.  Dharius Daniels 

The small things get done but I delay important things because I assume I'll be able to do them later.  From calling an old friend to taking a day to visit with my grandparents or even going on an afternoon walk. After hearing that statement, I realized I assumed that friend would always be there to pick up the phone, my grandparents always there to welcome me at their front door, and these legs always healthy enough for an afternoon stroll but my assumptions are incorrect.  A recent visit with an orthopedic doctor reminded me that I'm getting older - and if I am so are the people around me.   The old saying is right; tomorrow isn't promised.   And I can't afford to continue to procrastinate.

Weather Preparedness

Weather Preparedness

A couple of weeks ago, meteorologists predicted that we would experience heavy rain and winds as a result of a hurricane heading into our area.  Schools closed and our family, along with many others in the area, prepared for the storm.  We made sure we had candles, lighters, and batteries for our flashlights in case we lost power.  We took inventory of our canned goods and purchased some bottled water. 

And, I stayed home with our little one while day care was closed for a day.  (She and I had the best day together.)  By 4:30 p.m., we had only experienced a few raindrops on our side of town and the little one asked, “Mommy, when is the storm going to come?”  I explained that it might get worse later on or it might not be as bad as we initially expected but not to worry because we were prepared.

As I reflect on that day, I’m reminded of the storms in our lives – the unexpected news for the doctor, the never-ending work assignment, the “no” that we thought was going to be “yes.”  Some of our storms are serious and life changing.  Others simply leave rain on what we thought would be a sunny day.  I wondered what it would be like to have someone who would tell us every morning what we could expect in each day: “Pack your patience because Joe is going to get on your nerves today;” or, “There’s a chance you’re going to hear some news that’s going to break your heart.”  And then, I was reminded that God’s Word may not tell us specifically what is going to happen in any given day but it equips and prepares us for whatever weather life sends our way.  As I told the little one, we don’t have to worry, because in Him, we are prepared; we are sufficient; we are enough!

Worth the Work

Worth the Work

Recently as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I stumbled upon this post:

“In my experience, there’s no quicker and more predictable route to happiness than carbohydrates. What’s more attractive than the Hot Now light of a Krispy Kreme? I defy you to answer that. I mention it because I’m afraid many of us want our destiny to work like a drive-thru, and our calling to come with all the comfort of glazed carbs. But God’s purpose requires patience, endurance, and trust. It’s not easy, and most of the time it’s uncomfortable. Don’t look for a shortcut. The harvest is work, and the reward is worth it.” -Steven Furtick

My father loves his garden (Love might be an understatement) and anyone who spends a moment of time with him will instantly hear about his passion as well. He spends countless hours planting seeds, watering the soil, keeping critters away and watching his harvest grow.  I’ve always admired the work he puts into each plant, but it wasn’t until this past summer that I realized how much more work occurs at harvest time.

Many of us are in a planting season in our lives; waiting for something to grow. Whether it’s a new job, a spouse, a baby or maybe financial breakthrough…we are all waiting on something.  Like most things, we want the blessing now, and the waiting can definitely test our patience and our faith. But I have to ask, are we really ready to receive? Often we are so focused on getting what we want that we forget about all of the work that takes place before and after. Planting and Reaping can be hard work. They both take perseverance, energy and A LOT of time.  The work may even be uncomfortable at times. 

That’s why I love this picture of my Dad so much! It reminds me that many tiny seeds yield a harvest. As Steven Furtick says; “The harvest is work, and the reward is worth it.

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What Holds You Back?

What Holds You Back?

Nothing Can Hold You Back

I don't mean that as a motivational go get 'em statement. I mean literally NOTHING can sometimes hold you back.  The very absence of something can hinder us from taking steps forward.   

The absence of a husband, kids, or feeling settled in our careers keep our dreams locked away in a safe.   There are houses we want to buy but don't because we want the next promotion before we travel that road. There are Pinterest pages created for getaways with husbands we've yet to meet. There are houses decorated with nurseries for children yet conceived.  There are business plans with partners we haven’t met.  Vision boards with no plans attached to it. 

I believe there's a time and season for everything and there is no shortage of people encouraging the waiting process. But sometimes I fear we are waiting for God to move or speak and he’s waiting on us to take a step.  After selling my home a couple of years ago I’ve been reluctant to purchase again.  I could blame the market; I could blame the inventory but the truth is a part of me felt disappointed. I thought for sure I’d be buying my second house with a husband. But here I am single and needing to move forward in life. Needing to put down roots. Needing to push forward. Needing to let nothing hold me back.

You may need someone else to help bring your dreams to pass - but that person doesn’t have to be a spouse. Speak your dreams out loud to someone, God may have laid the same business plan, trip, or goal on their heart.  Paris is great destination for a honeymoon but it could also be a memorable girls trip.  Don't wait to live. Nothing can hold you back! (used in the motivational sense this time).

I'm Fragile

I'm Fragile

We live in a world of levels, ranks, and comparison. We’ve learned to classify ourselves using standards that culture esteem valuable. The amount of money you make, the neighborhood you live in, the size of your waist, and unfortunately the color of your skin. We spend much of our lives walking around with our heads held high or low based on the total of these criteria.
 
But there are a few places that remind us that underneath all the trimmings we are nothing more than bone, muscle, and matter. For women, the salon is one of those places. There is nothing like gray hair or a fuzzy upper lip to remind you that you control NOTHING!

Personally, the waiting room of the women's diagnostic center is my great equalizer.  I'm more familiar with this place than I'd care to be. So while I am undoubtedly nervous as I sit here, for the first time I'm aware of others around me.  The women in this room are all different shapes, sizes, and colors. We probably hit every step of the socioeconomic ladder. There are stay at home moms in yoga pants who just dropped their kids off at school. There's a young, feisty business woman upset that she might miss her 10:30 conference call because of this appointment.  And there are women here, much like me, that feel too young to be sitting in a place like this.
 
To the naked eye, we may seem different but we are all here for the same reason. We want answers to one question.  Do I have cancer?
 
The answer for me today is no, and I have yet to find words that appropriately express how relieved and grateful I am for that answer. After being classified as high risk at the age of 24 these bi-annual scans have become a regular part of my life, but not a normality. I hold my breath, develop high blood pressure, grow closer to God, and examine my entire life from top to bottom during these four-hour appointments. It never gets easier. Ever.
 
There’s no big reveal or moral to this story. I’m just acknowledging the fact that we're fragile pieces of dirt and maybe it's good to be reminded of that now and then.  We spend so much of life worried about things that don’t matter in the end but LIFE and HEALTH are priceless gifts we should be more grateful for.

If you were faced with the fact that one word could change what your current reality is “what suddenly wouldn’t matter anymore?” Live today as if IT doesn’t. 

Hot Nights in Alabama

Hot Nights in Alabama

It’s 3:00 am, and I wake up sweating…I must be dreaming because I know that we turned the thermostat down before bed, plus the ceiling fan is blowing on high. As I slowly fumbled my way to the thermostat, my fear is confirmed, our air conditioner is out for the 3rd time this month. Yes, THREE times and it is mid summer in Alabama! This heat is no joke...just the thought of walking outside makes you sweat.  First thing in the morning, my hubby calls the landlord, and of course, it’s going to be a day or so before the HVAC repairman can take a look at the unit. The thought of another night in this humid house overwhelmed me. 


We both head off to work and soak up the air all day only to return to our lovely furnace that evening. As we are enjoying dinner that night, I begin to feel guilty. Guilty for what, you ask? Well, I started to look around and quickly became aware of all the things we take for granted each day. Like electricity, shelter, AIR CONDITIONER, automobiles, etc...  It's easy to go through our daily routines and never consider or recognize the gifts we've been given. This moment reminded of I Thessalonians 5:19, “ Give thanks in all circumstances; this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I realized that we are often grateful for the major events in life like a raise at work, buying our first home, or getting engaged, but we fail to be thankful for simply waking up each day (in the cold air). 


After another hot, restless night, the HVAC repairman came first thing the next day. He informed us that it was a little more work than he thought and he’d have to order the part, which could take a few days. What, a few days of this heat? Fortunately, he was able to patch it up until the part came in. I know, it’s a silly situation, but it taught me the valuable lesson of being grateful in all things! Now as I wake up each day, I am purposeful in giving thanks for all circumstances; whether Good or Bad.  No matter how great or small, take nothing for granted. So take a few moments today to look around you and be grateful! 

Remember to Surrender

Remember to Surrender

I’m a planner, organizer, to-do list writer.  I have lists for everything:

  • Tasks I want to accomplish today
  • Books I want to read
  • Places I want to travel 
  • People that I’m praying for
  • Stuff I want to buy  

And when a list gets messy, I re-write it (including the things I’ve already done, so I can check them off again).  I stick to some of these lists like there’s a cookies and cream milk shake waiting for me when I complete all the tasks.  And, I rarely stick some of them like the “stuff I want to buy” list– which is why I still don’t have a plant stand for my office, a nice rain jacket, or one of those pans where all of the brownies come out as end pieces.  

Every year, I set personal and professional goals.  As I look at some of the goals I set for 2017, I keep repeating to myself, “I can’t believe 2017 is halfway over.”   It’s almost over but I’ve made some good headway on my goals and there’s still half of the year left.  Half of the year left to clean out my closet and actually get rid of some stuff this time, travel somewhere else I’ve never been, make healthier food choices than I did last week, and read that book that’s been on my nightstand for months.  

In addition to setting goals each year, for the past few years, I’ve also selected a focus word. This year my word is “surrender.”  The planner, organizer, to-do list writer in me knows that this act of letting go to God is essential.  But, if I’m being completely honest, it’s easier to sing “I Surrender All” than it is to actually do it.  I’ve heard all the sayings – that my control is just an illusion, that the strongest position is complete surrender.   But, in the back of my mind, planning and list making give me a sense of control over the craziness that life can bring sometimes.  I tell myself that surrender leaves room for welcomed surprises and unanticipated blessings.  I remind myself that, for the most part, when I’ve surrendered to the unplanned phone calls, the uninvited house guests, the impromptu night out, I’m glad that I did.

I’m interested in hearing from you – Have you learned to surrender?  What helps you to surrender?

One illustration has been particularly helpful to me.  A wise man once asked me, how can God bless you with your hands closed.  He told me that if you keep your hands closed – filled with your plans, your expectations, your stuff – how can God bless you his plans, his blessings, his goodness?!  You’ve got to let go.

I’m adding to my list as a mid-year reminder: Remember to surrender.  

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

Exhale

Exhale

Aging means different things to different people, but it is defined as “the process of growing old OR the process of change over a period of time either spontaneously or by deliberate action.” Birthdays are a good excuse to celebrate and eat cake, but it’s also a time I like to pause and do a little self-refection.

I like to pull out my old journals sit and reflect. I read stories that I gather must have been important at that time, but I mostly don't remember anymore. I read about dates, exams, a summer cruise, having my heartbroken, interviewing for jobs...I mean it's all there in those faded pages. As I read I realize two things, there have been years I only got older, not wiser and definitely not better. And there have been years I have changed, I have grown and evolved. 

I’ve always been a planner, admittedly a little obsessive with it. My five- year plan wasn’t a loose idea floating around in my head. No, it was a well-written plan with Excel spreadsheets and flow charts to match (I wish this were a joke). I spent most of my 20s living in fear, playing it safe, refusing to break out of my bubble or deviate from the “plan” I had made for my life. Fear paralyzed me.  And instead of growing or changing, I just got older. 

Today, I feel the second definition of aging is most appropriate for the last couple of years of aging I’ve done. The past two years have been filled with embraced challenges and deliberate stretching. I pushed myself in ways I hadn’t before. I entertained questions and possibilities that I'd previously shrugged off. I decided that I was still young enough to take a risk, to start over, and to not have it all figured out. I am still young enough to change the story of my life. 
 
Physically stretching can be relaxing and refreshing but emotional and spiritual stretching can be quite uncomfortable. At times, stretching feels like breaking.  In yoga, my instructor will often say, "take a deep breath and as you exhale try to go deeper into the stretch." I usually roll my eyes and think, "If I could go deeper into the stretch don’t you think I would’ve done that the first time."  Yet week after week, I exhale and stretch deeper. 

Stretching for me meant letting go of the “plan” I had for my life. Humbling myself, starting over and dreaming again.  As I prepare for the next age,  I also prepare to stretch myself a little more. And I encourage you to do the same today. Maybe your birthday is also approaching, maybe you're paralyzed by fear, or maybe you're ready to give up on a dream. Please stop, take a deep breath, and as you exhale see if you can stretch a little more. Chances are, you can!  

Dreams Delayed

Dreams Delayed

Find Love - Get Married - Start A Family…all part of the American dream, right? Well for me, my dreams have all felt very delayed my entire life. I found love at 28, got married at 33 and at 36, have yet to have my first child. By the standards of many, I am a late bloomer. Sometimes, I feel like I spent my whole life waiting- waiting for love -waiting for marriage - now waiting for children. I find myself wanting to blame someone at times and then at others actually believing that everything will happen in its due time. 

This summer, I have wandered into a small group called “Finding Your Happy.” The description in the directory read: This group is for women who have ever said, I will be happy when…happens. After reading the description, I KNEW this group was for me. I attended the first week and was pleasantly surprised to find the room filled with women of all ages and different stages of life. Married, single, divorced, with babies, college age kids and without; all unified by the cat and mouse game of happiness. 

After introductions and some brief discussion, I immediately realized that my perspective on my problems was The Problem.   Charles R. Swindoll says “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Through the many years of my Dreams Delayed, I have tried to control the situation. I saw each challenge as something being wrong with me, and I had to fix the problem. I had the wrong perspective. As I sat across the table from women who had what I wanted and yet were not happy, I finally realized that I had to take my hands off of the wheel and see my situation from a different direction where God was in control, and I am following Him.  I had to stop focusing what I don’t have, but be grateful for how He has abundantly blessed me. 

Knowing this doesn’t change the fact that there are days (especially Mother’s Day) I look at my life and feel disappointed and frustrated.  In theses times, I have to remain at peace knowing that God knows best and He is in Control!  Have you ever said, I’ll be happy when…happens?” Remember, Happiness must be received; it cannot be achieved. We must find our “happy” in our current situation, not wait until…happens.

Above The Clouds

Above The Clouds

The sun is always shining somewhere. Sometimes, you just gotta get above the storm clouds to see it. - Billy Cox 

HerWords recently traveled to Washington, D.C. for a belated birthday celebration for our dear, fantastic, amazing, never aging Stephanie. (She may or may not have edited this post). Despite the absurdly early flight, we were all smiles and giggles. The check-in line was oddly long for Shuttlesworth International, but we made it to our gate with a whole five minutes to spare.  We chatted as we boarded what felt like a private jet with just two seats to the left of the aisle and only one on the other.  I mean how small can these planes get?! After take-off we each settled into our flight rituals. Kendra watched some Netflix, Stephanie finished up some work, and I tried to nap.

As we approached D.C., I took some pictures of sun smiling just over the clouds. From our perspective, the sun was shining brightly above a blanket of clouds.  It was beautiful, but we knew once we made our descent the sun would be hidden behind the wall of clouds. And isn’t that exactly how life is? We often get bogged down by the cloudiness of our challenges and sometimes forget about the things that we do not see.  Her Words challenges you to peak through the clouds of life and remember that the sun is always shining somewhere. 

Enjoy this sneak peek into our DC adventure.  We’ll be back next week to discuss our summer plans. 

 

Change of View

Change of View

Sometimes it takes someone else appreciating the beauty of your life to remind you how blessed you truly are. An early morning encounter a few weeks ago drove this point home in an unexpected way. 

I am NOT a morning person. Anyone who knows me can confirm this fact.  I'm not unpleasant; I'm just hard to wake. In fact, once my feet hit the ground I'm ready for whatever the day holds. Getting my feet out of bed and to the floor is the tricky part. So, I have no idea why I agreed to a 7:00 am meeting at my home. I hit snooze three times before I grabbed my glasses, pulled my hair into a ponytail and grabbed an outfit from my closet.  In the middle of brushing my teeth, I received a text message saying my guest was downstairs. 

I slumped down the hall to the elevator, all the while silently complaining about how inconvenient it is to “let people in.”  I made it to the first floor and retrieved my guest, and that’s when it happen. This bright-eyed stranger that had clearly been awake hours before me wrecked my somber mood. 

She walked into my home and said, “Look at that view! How lucky are you!"  As she stood in my window gazing at the beauty that is Birmingham my heart sank. I realized what I was excited and appreciative of a few months earlier had turned into something I took for granted. How could that have happened so quickly?  Better yet, how could that have happened at all?

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After much prayer and planning, I sold my house in September 2015. What I thought would be a quick and seamless transition turned into me spending three months in my sister’s guest bedroom. Three months of waiting, praying and hoping to be exactly where I am today. The night I finally moved in, I vowed to never take the blessing of “my own space” for granted. I promised to sit in my window in silence at least once a day and marvel at this city, at God’s creation. And as this stranger stood in my window and did just that, I realized I couldn't remember the last time I had done the same. 

When we're in the middle of a difficult situation, it seems all consuming but after the moment passes we many times return to life as normal. Today I ask you to pause and remember the prayers that God has already answered. Survey your life and be thankful for the things you once hoped for because someone else is still praying for that very thing.  Someone else is admiring the blessing you now complain about. 

Take another look around but this time, enjoy the view.

Rejection

Rejection

Rejection-the act of not accepting, believing, or considering something:  the state of being rejected

Rejection can be felt in many avenues of life. It can be crippling and can stop many from pursuing their dreams.  I am sure most of us have felt this pain; when a college rejection letter comes in the mail, when your co-worker gets the promotion, or when your offer on the home doesn’t get accepted. The rejection leaves us wondering why and sometimes it strikes fear in us causing us to give up entirely. It is a pain that can define us. It can keep us from our destiny if we truly sit in its reality. 

A few years ago, a job opening came open for a local media company in their production kitchen…literally my DREAM JOB! I was so much excited, I immediately filled out the application, updated my resume and submitted the same day. Weeks went by with no news in my inbox. There were days that I checked several times, even the SPAM mail. I felt very qualified for the position, and at least I would get an interview, right? Well months, now years went by without any response from this company. At first, rejection filled my heart and thoughts of “I’m not good enough” ran through my mind. Shortly after I had submitted the application, I received a promotion and a significant raise in my current position. You see, I wasn’t rejected, there was just something better for me. 

Knowing who I am and not accepting rejection is the lesson that I learned. I had to be more confident in God’s plan and the gifts/talents he had given me. We should never feel ashamed of who we are or stop pursuing our dreams because of 1 or 1000 “No’s.” Some doors may never open, and you may feel rejected, but remain hopeful in knowing there is a Better plan. 

Dangers Seen and Unseen

Dangers Seen and Unseen

It was drizzling outside – just enough to make it messy outside.  I arrived at the Charlotte airport on a work trip and went directly to the rental car counter.   A nice gentleman walked me out to the available cars, showed me the Dodge Dart that I would be renting, and talked to me about insurance that I could add on – but I had to decide right then.  If I didn’t buy the coverage he was offering me but got involved in an accident after he handed me the keys, I would have to pay a million dollars a day for every day the car was out of service, pay my insurance deductible, and pay him another million just because he said so.  I’m only slightly exaggerating. 

I declined the additional coverage.  I was going to have the car for less than 24 hours.  What were the chances that I’d be involved in an accident?! 

I got in, adjusted the mirrors, found the signal lights and gear shift, found a local radio station, punched the address into my phone for directions and buckled up.  I saw the raindrops falling, I was in a car that didn’t belong to me, and I knew I was driving on unfamiliar roads, so I was driving very cautiously.  My first exit required me to literally drive in a small semi-circle.  I was driving slowly enough that I handled it just fine.  But, the car in front of me didn’t.  The car in front of me spun around in a circle.  The car didn’t hit the guard rails and didn’t hit me.  I looked in my rear view mirror, and the SUV behind me did the same thing as the car in front of me – spun around in a circle without hitting the guard rail or me.  I had never seen anything like it.  It was like something out of one of those Super Mario games when you would hit a banana in the road. I was grateful, shocked and anxious all at the same time.  I kept telling myself, “That could have been so much worse.”

When my grandmother prays, she nearly always says, “Thank you for protecting us from dangers seen and unseen.”  I am reminded that God protects us from so many figurative bananas in the road that we don’t ever see. His plan for me that day was not to be in an accident but to make it safely to my destination.  I’m grateful for the prayers of my grandmother, His “coverage” and His divine plan.

I Didn't Know At Fifteen

I Didn't Know At Fifteen

I'm listening to the radio and a song I haven't heard in years comes on. As Taylor Swift sings, the lyrics wash over me in an unexpected way. She sings, "But in your life, you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team - but I didn't know it at fifteen."  Those lyrics make me wonder what I would tell my fifteen-year-old self?  Not just about boys but about everything.  About school, spirituality, health, hair, travel, hobbies, etc. 

What one piece of advice do I wish I had when I was fifteen? 


Married with a Kid

One thing I’d be sure to tell my younger self is “Just keep on living!”  I can’t count the number of times that my Granny has said these words to me.  Life is sometimes hard and complicated.  And, the older we get, the harder the hard things get and the more complicated the complicated things become.  But, if we just keep on living. I remember stressing about boyfriends and band practice.  Now, there are bills and a baby.  In my life, issues that are a big deal today tend to get smaller in the rearview mirror. 


Newlywed(ish)

The advice for my younger self would be, DO NOT live your life in fear. I spent much of teens and early "adulthood" fearful of so many things - from learning to drive to dating. I missed so many opportunities because fear crippled me.

Nelson Mandela once said, " May your choices reflect your hope, not your fears." In the end, the things I feared most were so small in comparison to the trials that were to come. So to the younger me, I would say, there is no harm in taking a risk. Have hope and live life to the fullest. 


Single Chick

"The sooner you decide to love yourself, the better!" That's the advice I'd give my younger self. I wasted too many days wanting to be someone else.  Wishing my hair were longer or shorter, that I was thinner or taller, that I was smarter and quieter the list goes on and on. It took longer than I'd care to admit for me to truly embrace my body, my personality, and my life. I'd encourage my younger self to accept who you are today and make the most of what you have! 

Terminal F

Terminal F

I have five minutes until my next flight begins boarding, so I grab my laptop and start to type. My blog should be uploaded in less than twelve hours, and I have nothing. No beginning, no ending, no ideas, and most importantly no time. I have no time because I have not been “Breaking Busy” lately.  No, busy has been slowly breaking, crushing, and defeating me. 

In the past two weeks, I've been to Nashville for business meetings, had three doctor's appointments, traveled to Heflin to celebrate Easter with my family, drove to Muscle Sholas to witness my brother-in-law's hall of fame induction ceremony, completed training for an upcoming conference and I'm currently flying back from another business meeting in Philadelphia.  (Writing that made me tired all over again). I have over-committed to work demands, over indulged in fun times, neglected my body's need for rest and I now find myself with a to-do list that requires more time and energy than I currently have available. So as I sit in Terminal F hoping that something magically begins to flow from my fingers I ask myself, "how did I get here, again?" 

Breaking Busy begins by discussing capacity.  Simply put, we can't do it all. But day after day I take on more than I can handle.  I realize I overdo things for one of two reasons:
1. I don't know my limits
2. I ignore my limits 

I am most guilty of the latter. I like to tip-toe across my limits in 5inch stilettos (not really, I'm more of a flats girl but tip-toeing in Dr. Scholl's memory foam slip-on sneakers isn't the visual I wanted to create). HA!  

On the flight home, I open Beaking Busy and Jesus meets me within the pages. Alli writes, "When I spend time in self-reflection I find that pride often gets in the way of me saying no to commitments that stretch my capacity." She later continues, "We might be too focused on getting ahead. We might be operating outside of our area of giftedness. We might be caught up in perfectionism." As her list continues, I begin to form my own. I begin to recognize the why behind my constant frustration. 

It may not be busyness for you, but we all have an issue we're only dealing with on the surface level. We tend to focus our energy on behavior modification without tackling the heart that creates the situation.  Proverbs says,"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."  Addressing a full calendar is easier than addressing a heart consumed with perfectionism. For me it's time to look beyond the calendar, it's time to look deeper. 

How about you?

Drive-Thru

Drive-Thru

As I sit in the pharmacy drive-thru, I am flooded with the memories of the day that changed my life. It was the spring of 2014; I had been married for six months and just returned from our first vacation. Throughout the trip, I had noticed my more frequent trips to the bathroom, unusual fatigue and constant dry mouth. I felt awful, but I pushed through. Upon arriving home, I just could not shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. I decided to run by the “doc in a box” on my way to work and get a quick checkup. After running a few tests, the doctor walked in, and the look on her face said it all. She softly told me that my blood sugar was extremely high and I needed to head immediately to the ER. I thought, “it can't be that bad,” so I ran by my office to grab a few things to work on during my ER wait (which I knew could be hours). Still not alarmed, I drove to ER, checked in and waited for my name to be called. I figured I would get a quick prescription and be on my way, so there was no reason to call anyone.

After about an hour, I was taken to the back, and the labs/tests began. I was immediately hooked up to an IV; after which, the doctor came in and told me that my blood sugar was 400 mg/dl (normal is 80-130mg/dl), and my AIC was 12% (normal is 7%). She quickly confirmed that I had Diabetes, which had been undiagnosed for a long time.  I was speechless and numb. You see, for years I had taught diabetes education classes to numerous clients, family, and friends but had failed to follow my own advice. I had ignored my health, made bad choices, and those decisions landed me in the hospital for the next three days! 

After reading Breaking Busy last year, I was reminded of this life-changing season.  My “busyness” had distracted me from purpose; therefore leading me to make choices that were not advantageous to my health. 

Here are the three valuable lessons that helped me break busy in this season of my life:

  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY- If something doesn’t feel right, DO NOT ignore it. Your body may need a quick nap, a walk around the block or just drinking more water. Pay attention to the signals. 
  • ENJOY LIFE, BUT DON’T OVERINDULGE- Too much of anything (good or bad) can leave you unbalanced.  Desserts are my weakness (and I work around food ALL DAY), but I realized I could not indulge every day.
  • TAKE TIME TO CARE FOR YOURSELF- Go ahead and schedule that overdue dentist appointment, pamper yourself with a foot massage or set aside 20 minutes for a bubble bath. Create time in “your” schedule just for YOU!

As I stated last week: Daily I am challenged to make decisions and choices that are connected to my purpose. It may mean saying no to a lot of things, but ultimately I’m saying Yes to living a life full of purpose and using my time wisely. 

Your Direction Determines Your Destination

Your Direction Determines Your Destination

One spring morning I was driving the little person to daycare.  She was buckled securely in her front-facing car seat.  The music wasn’t on.  She didn’t have any toys.  We weren’t talking about anything.  And, then, I heard her giggling to herself.  

Curious about what I had missed, I asked her, “What’s going on back there?” 

While still giggling, she responded in the most sincere two-year-old voice, “I’m just trying to be happy.” 

“Well, dang!”  I said and started giggling too.  

My child had started laughing because she wanted to be happy.  Her laughter was propelling her in the direction of the emotion she wanted to experience in that moment.  This moment reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Breaking Busy: “Direction – not intention, hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, or education – determines destination. . . .   [E]very single decision we make takes us down the road closer to the destination that is our future.” 

How many times have I prayed for a change but continued to go through the same motions?

How many times have I believed that I could accomplish something but took no action as though the thought had never crossed my mind?

How often have I dreamed big dreams but settled for my current reality?

The answers to these questions are among the many reasons that this passage spoke to me. I can pray, believe, dream all day and all night, but when I don’t move, chances are good that when I open my eyes I’m still in the same place as I was when I closed them.  

For me, one struggle has been slowing down enough to determine the right direction.  I’ve had to realize that being busy doesn’t mean that I’m moving in the right direction, fulfilling my purpose, or even being productive.  As a lawyer, I can tell you about how I spend my day in point one (0.1) increments.   Those of you who bill time know what I’m talking about.  You’re also probably well acquainted with the “busy bragging phenomenon” Alli talks about in the book.  You ask someone how they’re doing and they feel compelled to tell you about how busy they are, every case they are working on, every call they’ve participated in that day, and their ever-growing to-do list.  It’s a miracle they find time to breathe.  Busyness, for them, is a status symbol.  And, if I’m being honest, I must confess that I’ve caught myself participating in the phenomenon – especially when I first started practicing.  When I started billing time, I felt like time became more precious, because a value, an actual dollar amount, was placed on the time that I spent on work-related tasks.   By being busy and talking about how busy I was, I was, in essence, letting people know how valuable I was.   And, who doesn’t want to be valuable?! 

Breaking Busy helped me to realize that “fruitful is way more effective than busy” and to appreciate the value of taking time to determine the right direction.  Practically speaking, for me, breaking busy hasn’t meant that long days disappeared from my schedule.  It hasn’t meant that I’m never tired or that I’m always doing exactly what I want to do.  What it has meant is that in addition to prioritizing my work, I make time for the activities and the people that make me happy.  I have daily quiet time.  Sometimes (but not every day) I go to lunch with friends, refinish old furniture, put puzzles together, read books, use my new camera and blog.   And, I often reevaluate how I spend my time.  I ask myself: Am I being efficient?  Am I spending enough time on the things that matter and with the people who matter most?  Am I using my time in a way that glorifies God?  When the answers to those questions are “no,” I know I need to move in a different direction (because my beliefs, hopes and dreams aren’t going to get me to “yes”).  

I certainly don’t have it all figured out which is why I’m so grateful for the lessons in this book – especially the one reiterated by my little one – our direction determines our destination.