Friday, March 26, 2010

She Speaks Conference

Dancing in the desert has become my new motto in life over the last year. My husband lost his job January 20, 2009. My husband was one of hundreds who lost his job on Jan. 20th with the election. Having been a Bush appointee, we knew it was coming, we knew he would need a new job. It was not for a lack of trying. He had been working on lining up something about 6 months before the infamous day arrived. The economy had gone in a downward spiral and instead of having the luxury of having his pick of jobs as one might imagine after leaving a Presidential appointed position, companies were laying off people right and left and were no longer hiring.

As a mother to 3 beautiful princesses, it became my job to ration milk, to not waste any leftovers, to make every dollar go as far as possible. I remember very clearly one February day, saying to my husband, "I just need to get some milk and bread for the girls to make their lunches." That afternoon, when I went to pick up my kids from school, I was handed an envelope. That envelope contained a gift card to a local grocery store. That day marked a journey that we have continued to be of trusting God.

Over the last year, I have kept a "blessing journal," writing down EVERY blessing God has provided for our family. This includes if someone buys my coffee at Starbucks, to free furniture, to doctors writing off bills that we no longer were going to have to pay. My job as wife became to help lead our family into a faith journey of dancing in the desert. We are still in our desert, but I can dance every day knowing that I serve a living God who is taking care of my family. I don't worry about providing milk for my girls. I know and have seen God provide. I keep this blessing journal as my "Ebenezer" as those stones of remembrance the Bible talks about. Periodically, we read thru the pages to our daughters just as the Bible says to pass them on to your children. I pray that our girls will know the tangible ways that God is taking care of them and us as a family.

My husband and I have been incredibly involved at our church as Marriage Mentors. I am weekly interacting with women that are sharing their struggles in their marriages. Because of today's economy there is a unique strain on marriages that our generation has never known. I believe God is calling me to share hope and encouragement of how to walk as Godly women during these desert moments. You see your desert may look different than my desert, but we all face desert moments. I have been approached about writing a book, sharing our "story". I am taking this one step at a time. I would love the opportunity to write a book as well as doing public speaking sharing hope and encouragement during this very difficult economic time. Just this week I saw this article in the Washington Post- This is not a problem that will end this year. I personally am encountering men and women who are writing ready to call it quits!

Why She Speaks: I first learned about She Speaks about 4 weeks ago. Shortly after that, I had another friend mention She Speaks. Obviously, if I am having trouble buying my kids milk, I can't afford to pay to attend a conference However, that does not mean I don't desire to attend this conference. It looks amazing! I would LOVE the opportunity to have the skills and knowledge poured into me so that I could do pursue writing and speaking with excellence. Just as my husband had a job interview today. I do not go to bed tonight with an anxious heart wondering if this is it! I KNOW God has a plan for me, His child. I trust He has a GREAT plan. He WILL give our family a job above and beyond anything we can ask or think. Just as I have that faith about the job interview today. I have that same faith that if God desires me to attend the She Speaks conference this year at this time, it will happen. If this is not the perfect timing, I will stay connected, I will pursue gleaning what I can from these wonderful ladies online and I will have a content heart. I WILL choose to Dance in the Desert Always!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dancing in the Desert

I don't know about you, but I cannot stop running into people whose lives are in the midst of crisis. I am talking about financial crisis, job crisis, marital crisis, health crisis, etc. I know very few people right now who would not change one single thing or everything is absolutely perfect. For those who are on the mountaintop, I am thrilled for you. There is nothing wrong with that. I have been on that mountaintop experience and it is a great place to be at. I am sure though that all of us whether we are on the moutaintop or down in the valley, we can all agree on one thing. The desert is a dry, lonely place. You feel alone. You feel isolated. You don't always feel joy. Your pain is intensified if someone doesn't acknowledge you a certain way. Your frustration is magnified by little things. Not many people CHOOSE to be in the desert. Not many people beg God for troubles. Not many people ask God for health problems, for their marriage to fall to pieces, for their kids to cry themselves to sleep at night b/c they hear their parents fighting. I know we didn't ask God to go over a year with no job. It is not in our nature to request pain and suffering.

I was noticing a passage in Jeremiah that jumped off the pages at me this morning. As I was sitting and drinking a good cup of coffee, I was reading in Jer. 2:2 that said, "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown." Okay, in this passage God is saying this to Israel. Let this sink in ...God is saying to His you remember when we were young and in love? Do you remember when it didn't matter when we were in a desert land with nothing? Do you remember how you'd still follow wherever I'd lead you? You didn't complain, you were in love and that's all that mattered.

In my mind, I picture a young beautiful bride. Her face clear with a beautiful peaceful smile. I see her being giddy and full of life. I see her running barefoot thru the sand. I see her grabbing her lover's hand and looking at nature, seeing the sunset. I see her full of laughter, playing a joke, singing a song, as they walk hand in hand with sand beneath their feet. I see her throwing sand out of good natured fun to start a "sand-fight". I see a long white dress flowing in the dry air. I see two people in love. I see two people oblivious to the rest of the world. I don't see them "wondering" about what the mountains are like or what it'd be like at the beach or wondering how many flowers are blooming across the country. I see them enjoying where they are in life at that very moment in time. I see two people in love!

We are the Bride of Christ. Do you remember when you first asked Jesus in your heart? Do you remember your enthusiasm for Him? How did that feel? Did you feel that you would go anywhere and do anything for Him? God led HIS people, people that He chose, people that He set apart for His purposes, God LED His people in the desert in the wilderness. Why would God allow His chosen people to go in the desert? Right now, I'm not going to spend time on the "why" we go to the desert, there could be many reasons. Right now, I'd like to encourage you if you are IN the desert. The desert is not an easy place to be in. It is no ski resort in the moutains. It is no beach house on the beach. It is no rose garden. It is generally not a place of rejoicing, but what does Jeremiah say? Wow, when I read that today, it reinforced the challenge that I have been faced with and that is truly rejoicing with where God has me right now. If we are really in love with our bridegroom, Jesus Christ, we CAN have joy as we follow where He is leading us. Where is God leading you right now?

Whatever your desert in life is right now, I would encourage you to still follow Christ with the same enthusiasm as a young bride TRUSTING that He is leading you. It can be hard for some of us strong-willed women to trust our husbands to be the head of our home or to make certain decisions we may disagree with. It is hard to trust, when we feel out of control or nothing in life is going our way. It can be hard to trust His leading when you are in the desert and not sitting by the pool with a drink in your hand. But remember what He said, I remember the devotion you once had. I remember how you'd follow me (probably in blissful love) through the desert. When we are IN LOVE, nothing matters, right? We are so blissful and so care-free and nothing can get us down. When we are in love, it doesn't matter if we have fancy clothes or the biggest house on the block because we are with our soul-mate, our lover, our husband or wife. Don't you remember how you felt when you were first married, not a care in the world. You just wanted to be with your spouse. Same thing is true with Christ. If we are so in love with Jesus, it doesn't matter if we are in the desert. If that is where He leads us, then we know we can "enjoy" the desert because we are with our lover. If our focus and love is on Him, we can see the good in everything. We can rejoice in the desert. We can walk thru the desert with that blissful love because we have Him right there at our side...walking together hand in hand. I'm sure the desert has beautiful sunsets. I'd encourage you to dance in YOUR desert!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Sure Cure for Envy

How many times a day do we complain? "People drive like they are 80." "We have to wait on our food to come out timely in a restaurant." "We don't have enough money to pay our bills." "We want a bigger house." "We want a newer car." We want...We need...We envy....

I would suggest taking a notebook and writing down something you are GRATEFUL for daily. It could be anything. It could be what someone did for you. It could be that you are alive. It could be your children. It could be having a job or a roof over your head. No matter how big or how small, write it down. Then weekly, go thru and read what you have written down.

If there is something specifically that you are lacking such as finances, start writing down what IS being provided to you. If you need health, write down all the things that are healthy about you. If you need patience with your kids, write down all the wonderful things that your kids possess (being able to talk, laugh, run).

I guarantee if you look for ways to be grateful for what you do have, you will be less concerned about what you don't have. You will be grateful. You will be thankful. You will be happy despite your circumstances. I challenge you to a 30 day trial of focusing on the positive and what you ARE blessed with rather than the focus being on what you don't have! Try it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More than Sex, He needs Respect!

What does every guy want? Sex, of course! But there's more...every man wants to be respected. No man wants to feel emasculated. What can we do as women to esteem and respect our men? I think for different men, it's different things. It could be checking with them before filling their calendar. It could be asking their opinion about the kids or what color to paint the house. It could just being open to their "view" of how things should be done. Whatever it is that makes your man feel respected also makes him feel loved. When you show him that respect, it makes him feel on top of the world. It makes him feel valued. As tough as men want you to think they are, they are ultimately extremely fragile individuals. I think to some degree, women are stronger; especially when they have to be a survivor. But men, need to be stroked and loved differently; they need respect. No man wants to feel walked over. No man wants to feel talked down to or just another one of the kids. No man wants to be made to feel stupid. Do you know women who talk down to their husbands, who are critical all the time, who talk badly about their husbands behind their backs or even worse in front of them? How do you think that man feels? Lonely? Hurt? Demoralized? I'm guessing he isn't feeling on top of the world. He probably is thinking "why I am putting up with this." "If only I had a woman who loved me and respected me like everyone at work respects me." "At work, people actually think I'm a valuable player." This kind of marriage either won't last or will be a very shallow marriage as it will loose any depth to the relationship. He will shut down. He won't communicate (and every woman wants their man to communicate-to share what he is thinking or feeling). But how can he, you have made him to feel that what he thinks or feels isn't important. It's not good enough. It doesn't measure up. Why would he talk to you any longer when you have made him to feel this way?

For some women, they want the man to "step up to the plate", to "be a man", to "take charge" and yet by her critical spirit, he never has a chance. It is only when a woman is willing to take a backseat and let him lead, that she will find he CAN lead. Women, don't criticize your man! Don't emasculate him. Give him a chance to show you the kind of leader he really is. But putting him down either in private, or worse yet, in public will only feed his insecurities and his fragile nature to a point of no return. You will be risking the longevity of your marriage if you are critical.

Next time you want to criticize, bite your tongue. Let him lead. If he messes up, he will know it. You don't have to let him and the whole world know about it. Chances are, if you give him a chance to lead, he will not want to fail you. He will take that role very seriously. They want you to be proud of them. They want to measure up to you. Men want you to think they are tough, and you should let them think they are. But remember on the inside, you as their wife, are the ones who can wound them the most. Their pride, their ego are in your control. More than sex, he needs your respect! "Men: Handle with Care!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's a Purchase Not a Lease! (title-credit to Tatum Liguori)

Unlike a 5+ year old car that has paint chipping, a CD player that doesn't work all the time, and definitely not all the luxuries of a newer model; marriage is to be a purchase not a lease! Hollywood now has the coined phrase "starter marriages" which is essentially a lease on marriage. We have all become so obsessed with the newest, the best, that we do that even with our marriages. All marriages go thru some type of struggles at some point. I would even go so far as to say that at least one if not both parties in marriage at some point have this thought run through their head: "is this as good as it's going to get" or "if I had it all to do over again, would I still have chosen to marry her/him". This of course is evident by the fact, that after about the "5 year lease agreement" marriages end. This could be from anything from being bored, just sampling marriage to get good at it for the next partner. It could also occur from maybe a marriage that has lasted longer and the warranty has expired: hair is lost, weight is kept on, make-up isn't applied everyday, and you know they just aren't looking as good as they use to. (Thankfully, some get better with age!) And then there are deeper issues that go unresolved and it's just not worth the fight any longer. You add to this spending about 3-7 years having children, job changes, buying/selling a house, the economy tanking and you can't get a job, moves, all those BIG issues that really do affect a marriage. These are real issues. Marriage is a purchase not a lease. Through my education, as a Child & Family Studies major and licensed Administrator and my husband's and my time walking with multiple couples, officially and unofficially, through their peaks and valleys in a marriage; I know those struggles are real. They are constant and they need "routine maintenance" to remain committed. I'd challenge each of us to look at our own marriages and realize that although the "mileage" is there, although we have hit some really "rough spots in the road of life", marriage is a purchase not a lease. We can't give up so easily out of boredom or neglect. Keep that spark alive in your marriage. Be committed to making it last. No one really likes buying a used car!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wine or Whine

Before you think that I only have the joyful thrills as a reason to laugh, I'll let you in on my current roller coaster ride. My dear sweet hubby has been without a job for now 6 1/2 months. God has been faithful and has provided him with some great temp work, but it doesn't have the comforts of knowing you have a job to provide a steady income, it doesn't have any benefits, it doesn't have all those things you take for granted when you do have a job. Why do I share this? Because in today's economy, I know I (we) are not alone. There are thousands of people in our situation. I am one among many who are having to make milk last a little longer, eating the crust on the bread because that is a little more food, counting the pennies to buy that loaf of bread to make sandwiches. We are not in a 3rd world country, we still have it good, but it is a new way of life for more of us than ever before. Our current economy does not help with finding a job quickly. For those who are still enjoying wine with dinner at night and are not affected by the economic tragedy we are in, I say rejoice and count your blessings. I love a good glass of wine! We aren't technically in a depression like the 1930s but we do have more moms at home trying to figure out how to cut costs. Even those families who have "job security" have made a more concerted effort to not spend as much at the local grocery store, to cut back on birthday parties, or to shop at discount stores that don't have a huge mark-up because of the brand name.

However, for those of you in my situation, and can't have a glass of wine with dinner, I will not whine. Just because I don't have all the luxuries I would like to have and like to offer my children, does not give you or me room to whine. I am choosing to, once again, laugh on my roller coaster ride. I am choosing to laugh and not cry. You know I could sit around and feel sorry for myself, but again life is too short. What is your "wine" that you are not getting to enjoy right now? Are you going to whine because you don't have life going your way? This too shall pass and yes, my husband will get a job. My hope is not in President Obama's economic stimulus plan. My hope is not in the housing market rising again and our house actually being worth something again. What is your hope in? Why do people lose hope? Why does suicide become the only alternative? Can we really live life without wine and not whine about it?

My first blog post!

Laughing thru Life is my goal realizing life is short, life is precious, life is FUN! As a wife to the most amazing, loving husband ever for 12 years and counting, we laugh! Being a mother to 3 most amazing precious, tender-hearted daughters...I teach them to laugh! Having the role of sister, the laughs are endless! Sharing friendships thru life, making memories, living life to the fullest, come with me and let's share a good laugh. Life on a merry-go-round is boring and mundane; instead living life on a roller coaster has it's challenges, it's fears, it's good, it's bad; but the ride is worth all the laughs and joys that it brings. I am wearing that smile that you have when you ride your favorite ride at your favorite amusement park...I am laughing with every fear anticipation brings or fear of what is next....I am laughing with every joy when life gives the thrill of joy and happiness...I am living my dream!