What do you do when the laundry, dishes, carpool and work all threaten to kill that little dream that's in your heart? I'm over at the Declare Conference blog today, sharing my thoughts.
Hop on over and visit me there!
Have a great day, Rachel
What do you do when the laundry, dishes, carpool and work all threaten to kill that little dream that's in your heart? I'm over at the Declare Conference blog today, sharing my thoughts.
Hop on over and visit me there!
Have a great day, Rachel
"Gratitude turns what you have into enough."
I don't know who said it, but it's true, isn't it? I've been consciously grateful in recent weeks - even in the midst of a brown recluse spider crisis - and it's amazing what a difference it makes.
I am calmer. I feel peaceful. I am more generous.
I washed dishes last night and found myself wishing for a nicer faucet fixture. The faucet we have is one that was going to be "temporary" until a better one would be installed. Well, that was five years ago. Because we knew it was going to be temporary, we bought the cheapest fixture we could find - hey, in a few months we'll replace it, right?
I sighed. This crappy old thing.
And then I remembered.
Running water - HOT AND COLD - water comes out of this tap. Any time I want it to. I can even have it WARM.
How many millions of people in this world wish they had a cheap, aluminum fixture that produced clean water whenever they wish? No hauling buckets, no walking a mile to a pump, no limit on how much you can consume.
And I was overcome with gratitude for the simple blessing of a faucet in my kitchen.
I love that faucet. That cheap, aluminum fixture that brings me water.
This is how I want to live. Focused on the abundance, the blessing, the provision, and the gifts that fill my life. I have so much.
Clothes to wear.
Food in the pantry.
People I love.
Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Gratitude takes what I have and makes it enough. MORE than enough.
Will you take a moment and say a prayer of thanks, today? Simply stop where you are and offer gratitude for the simple abundance that is around you. And those things you're lacking? Find a way to offer thanksgiving in the midst of it. In just the right time, and in just the right way, you'll find that God is looking out for you and will provide enough for your needs. He is the God of enough - and we experience Him when we live in gratitude.
What are you grateful for today?
Last week, Tom and I were settling into bed - he, with a scholarly book, and me, with Facebook on my phone. (No comments, please, about which of us is the brains of this operation.)
As Tom flipped the covers back, I yelped, "There's a SPIDER!"
On the bed.
A brown recluse spider.
On. The bed, y'all.
If you don't know what a brown recluse is, don't do yourself a favor by googling it. I'll just tell you . . . they are extremely reclusive, but will bite if brushed against. And the bites can cause horrid, horrid damage, and not just psychological damage.
We did not sleep well that night.
And the massive cleaning/vacuuming/spraying effort that ensued this following week has been unequaled. Every bed, piece of furniture, closet, pile of clothes, drawer and miscellaneous item in this house has been turned over, inspected and cleaned.
And while we've been at it, we've purged closets and dressers of an amazing amount of stuff.
I ask you: WHERE does stuff come from???
I dropped a Suburban-load of stuff off at a local charity, and another load will be set out for the trash pick up tomorrow.
All of this, because of one spider.
(Well, also his ten friends, two of which were behind our headboard. But let's not think about that.)
It's made me realize how small things can have huge impact for lasting change.
An encounter with a spider made us do something that should have been done long ago. "Purging and Cleaning" is perenially on my list of big goals, but somehow I never seemed to get around to it.
Apparently, I needed the proper motivation to get it accomplished.
Maybe you have a Big Goal that never gets off the "To Do" column and into the "Done" column, too? Losing weight, getting in shape, writing a book, learning a new software program, sailing around the world . . . if you're like me, you've struggled to get to the finish line.
Here are five secrets to accomplishing a big goal.
1. Be specific
In my case, I specifically wanted my house to be completely safe for my kids and grandbaby. A fuzzy goal like, "Get Organized" is too easy to put off, and too broad to make any lasting change. I needed a defined task to get me going.
Instead of "Lose Weight," try "Lose Four Pounds." Instead of "Eat Healthy," try "Make One Healthy Meal Each Week." Being specific makes you zero in on what you want to accomplish.
2. Cast a Vision
I pictured what I wanted my house to look and feel like. I imagined the joy of setting up the baby bed in the guest room, knowing it was clean and beautiful and spider-free. I let myself feel the freedom of being clutter-free . . . and when I was up to my neck in piles of stuff to sort, it helped me power through.
What will you feel like when you can run up stairs without gasping for breath? What will a size 8 dress look like on you when you lose the weight? How will it feel to get that diploma? Take some time to envision your success! Close your eyes and savor the moment.
This is the part where you take "bites of the elephant." Break your big goal into small, manageable pieces. "Today I will accomplish _______________." Focus on today's task and don't get bogged down in thinking about tomorrow's job. I find that my goals often stall because I've failed to set up a system to reach them.
Also, invest in the proper tools you need for your daily goals, and keep them handy. Nothing halts your progress like having to look for things you need to do your job.
No one can do this for you. No one can make you reach a goal unless you decide to do it. Make a decision today. Write it down or tell someone, so that you are accountable for your actions. Then you must do it.
And you CAN do it. You WILL do it. Because you are tough and strong, and made for more than mediocre living. There is an amazing YOU in there, able to take on the world.
5. Have a sense of urgency
Every goal needs a deadline. When things are left open-ended and vague, you'll never reach your destination. Notice how quickly you can clean your house just before a party? Remember cramming for a test, when you had all semester to learn the material?
Put something on your calendar: a 5k run, an event, a party, a meeting, a conference call. Then work toward being ready for it. You will be amazed at what you can finish when a deadline looms!
Our Spider Emergency reminded me that big things can truly be accomplished when we put our minds to it. So often, we let day-to-day circumstances dictate our decisions, rather than putting ourselves in control of our goals. We wish away our time, rather than simply getting up and getting after it. These five secrets will jump-start your goals and get them into the "Done" column!
Tell me: what is one specific goal you are working toward?
P.S. If one of your goals is to create a housekeeping system, here is a great post to help you do it!
As a child, I lived in Washington State, a gorgeous part of the country where people say "roof" like "rough," and rhyme "root" with "foot." When I moved to Texas at age 17, people would look at me and say things like, "you're not from around these parts, are ya, darlin"?"
I still get asked that question from time to time, even though I've spent all of my adult life here. The funny thing is, whenever I go to a northern state, I get the same question! Or sometimes, people there will comment on my "cute" southern diction!
Today, you can decide for yourself whether or not I sound Texan. I'm the guest on The Declare Conference podcast with Heather MacFadyen (God Centered Mom), and I'm talking about "Making the Most of Waiting."
Here is what Heather says in the podcast description:
During this podcast we chat about:
Rachel’s story of patience and faith in the waiting.
Her newest book project. . .”Flash the Donkey” (and why I’m not interested in owning a donkey at this time).
Reasons why God had her wait for her book dream to come true
How “you can wish away your days for better ones ahead. But you should look for the good things while waiting. God is there.”
3 tips for using blogging & social media to support your home-based business
Realizing people buy from people they like and they know.
Finding the platform you feel most comfortable connecting with others.
Share your life not just your art/product.
Decorating a gigantic hotel conference space with well-placed vignettes.
Lastly, will Flash the Donkey make an appearance at Declare? (hee hee)
I'd LOVE for you to stop over and give a listen! It's only about 20 minutes long and I had such a blast talking with Heather. Simply click on the link above to find the download. And you can find it (and all the podcast episodes) on itunes as well. It is free, by the way.
I hope you have an awesome weekend! Or should I say, "I hope Y'ALL have an awesome weekend!"
I'll let you decide if I sound Texan or not.....
It had been a long, hot summer visiting my grandparents in Nebraska and we were headed back to our home in Washington State. It was the 70's and we were a rambunctious preacher's family in hand-me-downs, driving a '68 New Yorker and pulling a trailer across the country.
No, it wasn't a fun travel trailer, but a utilitarian box on wheels to hold all our stuff. We had proudly covered the wooden sides with silver paint, and emblazoned them with bold evangelistic messages: "Jesus Saves," "One Way," and "Jesus is Coming Soon." We figured that between that and the tracts we had on hand, we'd be sparking revival at every gas station and rest stop along the way.
I'm sure we were quite a sight: crammed to the gills with 4 kids and enough stuff to sink a battleship. With no air-conditioning, and with Coleman coolers on the floor of the back seat, we kids sat with our knees tucked up under our chins for 1,600 miles. Of course, no seat belts.
As we crossed the miles for Jesus, my dad in his chopper sideburns and my mom making sandwiches in the front seat, we tried to doze in the back by taking turns leaning our sweaty heads on each other.
It was probably about in Idaho that the highlight of the entire summer suddenly took place.
"KIDS! DON'T LOOK!" my mom shouted, at which we immediately popped up from our slumber like prairie dogs, to look for the forbidden sight.
There, passing us in the next lane, someone was mooning us from their car window!
WOW! Talk about a shocker! A big ol' backside squished up against the glass, communicating that person's opinion ever so eloquently. The car pulled up close and hung with us for awhile to make sure we caught the view, then sped away.
While my parents sputtered about the end of civilized behavior and what the world was coming to, we kids exchanged glances and mouthed, "Did you SEE that??" to each other. Our eyes were as wide as saucers and we could hardly contain our horrified grins.
"Kids, you didn't see that, did you?" mom turned to face us, sandwich knife in hand.
"See what? Nope, nuh uh. Didn't see it. What happened, anyway?" we gave her our most convincing looks and pretended to settle back to sleep. My sister, Katherine, and I scrunched down and debriefed silently.
Yes indeed, we'd seen it all, thanks to mom's alert warning not to look.
I remember a lot of things about that summer: the community pool, the evening badminton games, the fireflies and the coke floats. My parents did their best to make it a fun time for our family and we loved the carefree days in the small midwestern town. I really appreciate now how much work it was to take a family on vacation before fast-food restaurants were invented!
But the clearest memory of the summer, the one that's been logged into sacred family lore, happened when we least expected it - along the journey, and not at our destination spot at all.
For all the planning and work and time that went into the visit with my grandparents, it was the trip itself that made the best memory.
We're all on one — and as humans, our journeys take us to many places. We keep looking at the destinations as our goals — a new job, the kids' graduations, a new house, being completely organized . . . and those are really good things to aspire to.
But along the way, there is The Journey to get there - and so much to be experienced between here and where you think you ought to be.
Will you take a moment to appreciate the journey you're on?
It might not be a "fun" one — it might be a journey through illness, or job loss, or singleness or divorce. Or maybe you're smack in the middle of a wonderful adventure. But no matter where you are at, know that God is with you, surrounding you with His love, and giving you grace for each day.
Don't miss what God has for you right now — in this moment — while you're on the path to somewhere else.
It's my prayer for you today that you will be surprised and delighted by His care when you least expect it, and that your journey, wherever it takes you, will be filled with joy.
Have you been surprised by an unexpected experience lately? Has God shown up in serendipitous ways? I'd love for you to share in the comments today!
Have you ever thought about taking a break from social media? I stepped back from blogging several weeks ago, and seriously cut back on the other forms of social media I use most often: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I didn't really mean to do it. It just sort of happened as I was finishing up my manuscript and needed extra mind-space to think. I needed a buffer between me and the emails and comments and updates that take up time and residence in my life on a regular basis.
I'm a uni-tasker by nature. And I'm not embarrassed about that anymore.
By taking a break, I learned a few things:
1. Taking a social media break feels good....eventually.
It took several weeks for the emails to slow down. I get tons of emails each day...mostly from comments on my blog that are automatically sent to my inbox. At first, it felt really strange. I felt a little lost without the daily affirmation from my blog readers. No blog post = no comments = no emails. And it made me realize how much I'd come to depend on those emails, how often I checked my inbox, and how much time it takes to respond.
I began to enjoy the freedom.
2. Life goes on without my updates.
Truth: nobody really cares what restaurant I'm eating in, what I'm having for dinner, or what I happen to be thinking about at this very moment. They might care about the robin's egg blue toenail polish I'm wearing, but do I really need to post a photo of my toes?
3. When you don't have to let people know what you're doing, you can actually enjoy things more...for yourself.
Back to the toenail polish. If I'm not planning to post a photo of my toes, would I choose blue? Or would I just enjoy pink, because that's my favorite, (but not an Instagram-worthy/comment-worthy color?) Social media makes me unnaturally conscious of what others think. I don't like that about myself.
But I do I like pink nail polish. So there's that.
4. Life is better without distractions.
Oh, the things we miss. Oh, the beauty all around us that's lost as we stare into our phones. I missed a wonderful conversation, in my own living room, with our son - because I sat on the couch and worked on editing a photo for Instagram and forgot to join in. The photo was lovely, but the conversation was even lovelier...and I missed it.
I'm trying to practice setting my phone down - away from me - so I can fully embrace the moment I'm in.
5. To live intentionally, you have to let some things go.
Let's be honest. We are all juggling a lot of balls. The responsibilities of life can be overwhelming, and sometimes it's impossible to see where we can make any adjustments at all. There have been seasons of my life in which I've yelled, "TELL ME WHAT I CAN DROP! BECAUSE I CAN'T SEE A SINGLE THING I CAN LET GO OF!"
That's not a good place to be.
But perhaps asking God for wisdom, for clarity, and for help would be a good thing. Sometimes we do need Divine Intervention in order to see how we can make some changes.
Living intentionally means making some tough choices so that we can grab ahold of what's really important.
6. Creativity takes time and space.
Creating stuff takes work. It takes commitment. It takes nurturing.
And I'm not just talking about art and writing.
Parenting requires creativity. So do most work-for-pay jobs. LIFE requires creative thinking and problem-solving. When our lives are so crammed with information and factoids and busyness and activities, we simply cannot function as creatively as we should. We end up doing bare minimums out of necessity, because we just. can't. do. another. thing.
Time and space are rarely handed out on silver platters. They must be fought for. They must be valued.
This means we must choose to sit and daydream,
which looks a whole lot like wasting time.
We must stare at clouds and quilting patterns and fireflies and pretty pictures.
We must take naps.
We must read books.
We must play.
We must listen to music.
We must take walks.
We must talk.
We must leave margin for serendipity.
We must value time and space as soul-rechargers, rather than seeing them as pockets to fill with more activities and media.
I'm still working out my relationship with social media. It is here to stay, and it will always be part of the work I've chosen. But taking a break, stepping back, letting things settle a bit.....well, it can only be a good thing.
It feels like rest.
How about you? Have you ever taken a break from social media? What did you discover when you did? Is this something you would be willing to try?
All last week, I kept meaning to write a Mother's Day post. But each day, I found ways to put it off yet again, until it was too late and the decision was made for me. Finally, there was no time to write one late Saturday night. Sometimes, procrastination pays off.
But here I am, two days past the holiday, and the post is still on my mind.
I wanted to write about the joy this year has been, watching my oldest daughter, Lauren, become a mom. She's navigated her way into a whole new role and I've been so very honored that she's invited me along in her journey. I'm so, so proud of her. She is a magnificent mother.
I wanted to write about how I can't wait for my daughter, Meghan, to embark on motherhood in July, when her first baby (also a girl) will arrive.
I thought about how I cried tears of happiness after spending the afternoon with my girls, looking at car seats and strollers and crib ensembles for a Meghan's baby registry. We'd sat at Chick-FilA, Meghan, Lauren, Ivy and I. . . and I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for them.
I had a lovely, simple Mother's Day. But I couldn't bring myself to post photos or offer glowing reviews.
Because as I scrolled through all the beautiful Facebook and Instagram photos people had put up, and read the beautiful blog tributes, I thought about all the status updates that didn't get posted. I thought about the women for whom the day was filled with ache and hurt. Yes, this one was a nice one for me, but there have been a few tough ones over the years. The "lost baby years," and the "life is too stressful" years come to mind.
For the women who didn't get a card and breakfast in bed, or a phone call or dinner at a restaurant, this post is for you.
For my friends who don't have children, and for whom Mothers Day just hurt, I offer this.
For you whose memories of your own mother are painful and this day reminded you of them, I want to tell you:
You are loved.
I have friends who walk a lonely path that they have not necessarily chosen. Single friends whose biological clock is ticking. Married friends for whom children have never arrived. Friends who have lost children, or whose kids are sick. Friends whose children have walked away from faith and family relationships. Friends whose kids struggle with addiction. Arms that are empty. Hearts that long for the picture-worthy breakfast trays and selfies with adorable offspring.
Please don't ever forget:
You are loved.
And you are beautiful.
You give and love and serve your family, whether family by blood or by choice, around you. You do hard things and face challenges and have courage. You stay hopeful and you fill your empty spaces with compassion and kindness and loyalty.
Your value is not in the number of children you've had, or by the number of cards you received. Your crown is not bejeweled by how many dinners you've cooked.
Your worth is not determined by motherhood.
Your worth is determined by the God who sets His love upon you, and calls you by name. He calls you...
God sees you. He knows you. He knows the path you are walking is a lonely one at times. He knows the longings of your soul and the things you face. The things that are too hard to share. The cracks in your heart that threaten to burst like a dam on a day like Mothers Day. He sees your tears.
I believe that.
And I wish I could reach through the screen and wish you a "Happy Precious Day," because you are precious, absolutely precious, to Him and to me.
That's the post I didn't write.
To tend: (verb) to pay attention; to apply oneself; to watch over
I was pulling weeds and planting some flowers my neighbor gave me as the sun was slowly sinking in the west. Should I put this white penta here? Or over by the petunias? How about this gold zinnia? I paid attention to how everything would look together. I cleaned up the weeds and smoothed the mulch. I dribbled water from the hose. I stood back to ponder, to think, to admire. I picked off a wilted leaf. Straightened a bloom.
I tended my little flower bed.
I paid attention to it. I applied myself to caring for it. I watched over it.
I'm thinking about the word "tend" this week. I have a bunch of busy work to do: the usual grocery runs, the errands to Walmart and church and making deliveries. Lots of writing. I often get bogged down with my "To Do" list, even when it is just the mundane things that fill it. Do you know what I mean?
But I wonder what would happen if I made my "To Do" list my "To Tend" list?
Somehow, it feels different when I call it that.
I can tend to making those appointments. I can tend to the food situation. I will tend my house, to make it feel nice. I will tend my health. I will tend to the needs of others.
Tending feels like mindfulness. Gentle, caring looking-after. Paying attention to and watching over. It feels like love.
I like that.
What are you tending this week? Does your To Do list feel different if you call it a To Tend list?
I'm on the road for a couple of days, and blogging is a little bit tricky. No laptop, just a phone and a Kindle.
So I thought I'd just share a couple of great posts by one of the most gifted writers I've ever met: Lisa-Jo Baker. You may already be familiar with her through her blog, through (in)courage, and through her new book, Surprised by Motherhood.
Yes, THAT Lisa-Jo!
I just loved this precious prayer, and felt it echo in my heart as someone who doesn't want to miss out on what *everyone else* is doing.
...and this one....oh my heart...
Stop over and give Lisa-Jo a hug for me. And see if her words don't breathe life into your soul just a little bit.
Enjoy....I'll be back in a couple of days.
Love you, Rachel
PS Her book is perfect for a Mother's Day gift (I've ordered two, one for each of my daughters).
"I wasn't prepared for this," said every person, everywhere, for the hundredth time.
Have you said this? I have. . . . about a hundred times.
Each season of my life has had it's "what-do-I-do-now? moments. You know, the times in which you felt under-prepared and overwhelmed? Off kilter, stunned, amazed, surprised by change.
Many of my personal transitions came as a result of motherhood. I didn't seem to matter which stage of mothering I was in, or how many books I read, or how many other moms I spoke with, nothing really prepared me for the "next" stage of life.
I wasn't prepared for everything in between, either. The "life" stuff. The jobs, the bills, the health scares, the economy, the way marriage gets real stale sometimes and then suddenly explodes back into life. The way your hair texture changes over time. The cellulite. My god, the cellulite.
The beauty of figuring out what you're good at. The relief of knowing you really don't have to apologize for feelings. (I just discovered that this year.)
I guess it's one thing to read about other people's experiences and advice, and it's a whole 'nother animal to experience it yourself. Because YOUR story is unique. No one else owns it but you. And that's why, sometimes, you simply feel overwhelmed by the changes nobody could have possibly prepared you for.
I wonder: Whatever phase of life you're in right now, how would you complete this sentence?
"I wasn't prepared for __________________________."
Perhaps you weren't prepared for the physical exhaustion of parenting. Or the difficulty of a new job. Or the complexity of marriage. Or the idea of being single again.
Maybe you weren't prepared for the fierceness of love that overwhelms you when you watch your child grow. Or the loneliness of an empty nest. Or the joy of finding your creative passion. Or finding the love of your life so late.
What are you experiencing right now that has caught you off-guard? What do you wish you could have known? Maybe your comment will be just the thing that will help someone else see their season in a new light.
One of the things I love most about this blog is the diversity of women who frequent it. From college women to great-grandmothers, we share a common bond. I'd absolutely love to hear from you today!
What weren't you prepared for? Is there anything you might tell another woman facing a transition or season like yours?
Meditate on Deut. 31:8 today: "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you. he will neither fail you nor abandon you."