Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Life is Art, Paint Your Dreams" Free Printable

My squeaky shopping cart stopped in its tracks. "Life is art, paint your dreams." That's it. That's the life-giving art I've been dragging my three kids around the store trying to find. 

Someone wrote that just for me. 

I'm sure of it.

What the saying meant to me tumbled into my brain in the half-second I decide the art belonged in my cart.

The last half of the saying, "paint your dreams," urges us to create parts of our story. 
There are infinite dreams to chase; life brims with interesting things and places to use our gifts. Then motherhood reveals to us new sides of ourselves and introduces us to new passions. As we travel life, we unearth the dreams God paints on our hearts. Then we get to go for it. 

It's beautiful and amazing, but then in the midst of enjoying ourselves...hard stuff shows up. Which is annoying and trips us up. When I am in the middle of pain, sometimes I can't see past it. (Can you?)

So, that's why I'm drawn to the first part of the saying, "life is art." It creates perspective. Think about a painting. It's full of paint strokes exhibiting various colors from bright reds, soothing greens, splendid golds, to dark hues of gray. We all like to be in the red/green/gold seasons of our lives - when life sparkles with goodness. But, then there are the dark grays; the parts where struggle reigns and your problems are real. But the gray colors are an important part of the canvas. They accent the other colors in a unique way, and the beauty of the picture wouldn't be same without them.

We all hate that don't we. But the truth is: We don't grow in the same way when things are easy. We transform through pain. Betrayal, feeling disregarded, failure and hurt are all great teachers. They develop empathy, problem-solving skills, creativity, compassion, strength, resilience, and determination like nothing else can.


I see a charge for us to discover our passions and go for it. And I see an encouragement to, when we're lost in the gray hues of the strokes, to take a step back look at the big picture. If we can't see the art clearly yet, we cling to the faith that someday we might.

Y'all I felt compelled to create a free printable for you to enjoy this saying as well. Grab it here.

Or, I saw this inexpensive mug on Amazon, I thought might be a good gift from the boys to me for a holiday. 


Morning coffee and a life-giving saying? A great reminder to you and me that the world awaits - for all of us to paint our dreams!
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why Alone Time For You Is Good For Your Kids

I spent the morning at middle school orientation with my oldest son and I CAN'T EVEN BELIEVE IT. How is middle school upon us already? Yesterday, he slept in a crib, ate baby food, and refused to independently put on his shoes. I need a moment to digest this. So, when we got home, I declared two hours of "quiet time." I'm on a completely different floor than my kids - hidden. 

Mama, do you need space for yourself as well?

Here is the HuffPost Parents article I wrote about why alone time for you is GOOD FOR YOUR KIDS. Head over to THP or read it in its entirety below.

                         

The other day, I did it again.

I took time for myself.

Gasp.

When I rejoined the family, my husband asked me if I enjoyed my alone time.

Me: Yes. (Pause.) But now I feel guilty.

Husband: Why?

Me: I don’t know. It just seems like there’s so much else I really should be doing. Alone time seems like a waste of my time... and kind of selfish.

Husband: (With more passion than I would have anticipated.) So, you really think you should never take time for yourself? No. Everyone needs time to refuel. You should take time for yourself. It’s good for our kids to see you take care of yourself.



Hmm. “Good for our kids.” I didn’t think of it like that. Taking time for myself is a mental battlefield. I suspect it is for many moms. We know we need it. We know it’s good for us. But life is demanding — so it is sometimes hard to give ourselves permission to take time away. Or when we do sneak away to refuel, we might feel guilty, which makes it hard to fully enjoy our break.

But my husband is right: rejuvenating time for mothers (and fathers) is good — no, even great — for our kids. Here are eight reasons why:

1. Your kids learn to also take care of themselves.
What if your children grew up and never took time to do something they loved, like hiking, photography, gardening or reading? If my kids never saw me take time to refuel and rest, often through pursuing my hobbies and passions, would they grow up thinking they always have to be working, serving and doing?

2. Your kids learn coping strategies.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, at some point, everyone needs a time out. One of the best coping strategies we can teach our kids is to step out of a situation, breathe deep, refuel (often through doing something they enjoy) and gain a healthy perspective before they jump back into life. Let’s show our kids through our actions that a time out for adults is OK, too.

3. Your kids learn ways to unselfishly love their future spouses.

One of the biggest ways my husband loves me is by declaring it a “boys only” evening and giving me a little time off. My boys love their special time with dad and are always excited to see me when I return. My kids watch my husband consider my needs and treat me with kindness. He is teaching our children to someday do the same thing for their future spouses.

4. Your kids learn that community is important.
In order to have alone time, we sometimes need someone’s help: grandparents, an aunt, a spouse, a friend or a babysitter. When we build a community of friends and family who are willing to support each other, sometimes by taking each other’s kids, we teach our children that we all need each other.

5. Your kids learn to ask for help.
There are moments in life that can be stressful and maybe even dangerous if we do not ask for help. Our kids should grow up seeing us ask for help, so when they need to, they will also have the confidence to reach out for support.

6. Your kids learn to be brave and dream.
Sometimes, what we pursue in our alone time teaches our kids courage. For example, my favorite way to refuel is through writing and photography. It takes courage for me to let others read what I write or to look at my pictures. My kids see me being brave as I pursue my dreams. Teach your kids to be brave and dream big. They will learn if mom could do it, so can they.

7. Your kids learn a little bit about who you are.
What we choose to do in the limited time we get to ourselves often lets our children peer into our hearts and see a different side of us. They learn a little more about what interests us and what we enjoy doing. (And maybe, if we’re lucky, one of our interests might someday also interest them. At some point, it could be a place for us to connect.)

8. It gives you more quality time with your kids.
What? How is this so? If I haven’t had time alone, then during the time I spend with my kids I will sometimes be thinking of other stuff I want to do or should be doing. When I schedule my time a little better and include space for my kids and space for me, I can better focus fully on my kids when I am with them.

Mama who is reading this, are you like me? Do you need convincing to value your own needs? Know that your family works best when you are healthy. Spending time doing things you love is good for your soul. What is good for your soul is good for the whole family. I hope this helps. And I hope the next time you get a chance for some alone time you enjoy it, 100% guilt-free.


I love seeking out inspiration, encouragement and noticing the everyday sacred. What to join me on Facebook or Pinterest? Or sign up for my once-a-month inspirational newsletter and I'll send you this free printable.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Your Unique Sacred Gesture - Did You See It Today?

My normal cooking strategy is to bang pots and pans around in the kitchen until my actual-good-cook husband enters the space and says, "I'll do the main meal. You just cut the strawberries." 

"Oh, that'd be awesome. Thanks."(I'd like to cook - if it wasn't so boring.)


So I was not at all surprised when, with a living room full of lovely guests, I pulled my homemade strawberry rhubarb pie out of the oven to see it looking...well...sad. It's like the kitchen knew my husband wasn't home and in protest to this amateur trying to run the show, spit out a runny pie with an unevenly cooked crust.

I thought: I can't serve this mess!

So I secretly threw the pie away and pulled out some pre-made cookies.

Just kidding.

I was all: "Help me! Someone who knows how to cook - salvage this pie!" (Determination is my strong suit.)

So a friend granted my request (or demand?) and with much grace, fixed it all. But then she put her hand on my arm, lowered her voice and said, "The pie I'm sure will taste great, but I can't eat it."

"Why?" (I assumed she was on a health kick, so her explanation surprised me.) 

"I don't know – I always get in a funk when my kids move up a grade. It bugs me how fast time moves. It's crazy how close my kids are to launching. I hate it. It puts me in a slump. But I've found, if I avoid sugar and take lots of walks, that helps me move past this annual bout of depression." 

And there it was – my Sacred Gesture for the day. See, I think our Creator daily extends each one of us a Sacred Gesture. This just-for-us, unique gesture reminds us of both His presence and His gifts to us.

A friend with the courage to be vulnerable was that gift to me today.

Because vulnerability makes us feel SANE. When the wonderful women we know share real life and pain and struggles, it releases the grip of the illusion of perfectionism. It reminds us people have depth and want to share their heart and hear what's really on ours. Vulnerability reminds us even in our times of not being okay, we're all still "normal." And if we're not normal, then we're all a little cray-cray together, so the company is rich.

My Sacred Gesture reminded me of the beauty and power of authentic friendships.

But what about you?

Your unique Sacred Gesture - Did you see it today?


Want this free printable to remind you to notice your unique Sacred Gesture? 

Click here and I'll email it to you.

I love seeking out inspiration, encouragement and noticing the everyday sacred. What to join me on Facebook or Pinterest? 

 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Photography

We were praying for a good friend for one of our sons. Because God is good, He brought this mother, daughter and son into our lives. And because God is really good, he didn't just give my son a good friend, but me one as well. This sweet family has quickly become some of our favorite people. So taking their family photos - way fun. I had to share...

I love seeking out inspiration, encouragement and noticing the everyday sacred. What to join me on Facebook or Pinterest? Or sign up for my once-a-month inspirational newsletter and I'll send you a free printable with one of my favorite quotes.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day to three of my heroes: my husband, dad, and father-in-law. Thank you for loving us all so well! And thank you – from the bottom of my heart – for helping me with the wrestling situation. I appreciate that when I ask you to help me tame them, this is what you do… You're the best. The boys adore you. And so do I! 
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Mama, Are You Beautifully Exhausted?

I could feel the dark circles around my eyes and I hadn't even looked in the mirror yet. I woke up tired because the night before, I’d partied like it was 1999…

Doing laundry.

I executed my brilliant idea of putting the clothes through the machines then mass piling them in a tangled heap on my bed to fold and hang later. The original laundry mountain happened two days before. I’d already moved Mt. Everest to the floor once, deemed it invisible and in complete denial climbed into bed. So last night, I had to face my demons. And truth: Fairy Godmothers are NOT real. They don’t clean your home and magic wand together a pretty dress - that you’ll need to iron yourself. (Also, to be noted: I like to recycle this lesson. More fun not to learn it the first time.) 

So, I overslept and sacrificed my early morning refueling, alone time. I packed my kids’ lunches, addressed boxes to be mailed, dropped my kids off at school only to realize my oldest son was supposed to have arrived early and I forgot. (Ugh.) Then, after working all day, I picked up my three boys from school, ran to the bank, then to the store…and so on. You get it. You’ve been there, too.

At the last errand of my forever day, I waited at the gym for my son to finish basketball. I opened social media and saw a quote posted by a friend:
"There is something so holy in that moment when you fall into bed after serving your family, after working to support your family... just totally spent, poured out for others. What I like to call 'beautifully exhausted.' You have unselfishly fulfilled your God-given role and calling for that day, as your act of worship toward the One who created the uniquely gifted you. In that moment when you close your eyes, 'beautifully exhausted,' know that God sees you as altogether, wonderfully, entirely and only beautiful." (Author Unknown)

Fresh air blew through my mind as I soaked in the encouragement.

Finally, my son emerged his basketball tucked under one arm, swinging his water bottle with the other. We headed home to the bedtime routine. With the last tuck-in, stillness fell over our home

Which meant I finally had a chance to hang out alone with my husband. To unpack my thoughts, watch mindless television or read from the pile of books I’m always half way through. 

What all adults need was so close...

Time to refuel was almost at my fingertips...

...until...

Our kindergartner shakily called for me, “Mom, what do you do when you can’t get bad thoughts out of your head?” My sweet boy was convinced a crocodile was going to crawl into his bed and eat him. “Son, we don’t live near crocodiles.” Fearful eyes looked back at me. We peered out the window at the snowy tundra, but I still couldn’t convince him even if a lone crocodile made it north, it would freeze. So we snapped on the light and pulled out some books. I snuggled him close and read. And read. With each turn of the page, we pushed his scary thoughts further away. Then I kissed his sleepy head, tucked the soft covers around him, and whispered a prayer for fear to leave my precious boy alone.

My evening me-time slipped through my fingers. Finally, I crawled into bed on my very last fumes. Completely exhausted.

But…

…BEAUTIFULLY exhausted.

PS - I wrote this post in the winter, but with all the end-of-the-school-year busyness and two weeks still to go - I'm right back in this spot again.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A New Beginning Always Starts With An End

On mother’s day, I saw this post from a sweet friend and it moved me. With her permission, I'm sharing it with you:
“Amara was just a few months old in this pic, little chub. 20 years old - I was thinking my life was over for having a baby. That makes me laugh just typing it - she ended up being the best thing to ever happen to us! Jordan and I had no idea the ride we were in for, but it's been a good one! God puts us through experiences and challenges for good reason. It's funny - now almost 8 years later, I can't imagine my life without my Lil’ Mama. She's my purpose, my why, and the best friend I never knew I needed! It also makes me appreciate my mom even more...” (Then she goes on to wish everyone a happy mother's day…)
Nicolle just turned 20 when she found out she was pregnant. She felt a loss of freedom, life-style, being in the same season as her friends, and feelings of "approval." It was an end she didn't want. And yet – her daughter as she put it, “gave her the greatest job in the world and didn’t even know it.”

Funny how we can cling so tightly to the past, not realizing blessings beyond our wildest imagination are just around the corner.

Honor the past, enjoy the memories, be grateful for the experiences - but then, look forward.

If things never ended, we’d never get these kind of wonderful new beginnings.

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