Sunday, January 31, 2016

Detours and God-Nods

Road blocks, bumps, holes, construction, you name it. My week looked a little like this...

It was trying, to say the least. At every pot hole I was looking for the big orange detour sign to take me to a smoother road. I felt like I needed something loud and clear, because the path was cluttered with signs pointing every which way. I was so confused and frustrated. 
But looking back on the week, I realized we don't always get "loud and clear". I think it's God's way of making us trust him and listen more attentively. I remember my really good teachers using tactics like that to get us to pay attention. Often, those little whispers are all we need for peace to move us along the bumpy road. You know what I'm talking about, "God-nods". So, I thought I'd share them in this little space o' mine.
Being a parent is the hardest thing. EVER. This week I felt that on my heart more than any other week so far. Then I read this article... right here.
"Across the board, mothers of only middle-school-age children reported the highest levels of stress, loneliness and emptiness, and also the lowest levels of life satisfaction and fulfillment. Mothers of infants and adults were found to be the most satisfied, Luthar said."
While that quote in particular resonated with my soul, the whole article is worth the read if you've ever raised or plan on raising a middle schooler! After reading, I suddenly didn't feel so alone, and felt more like I was surrounded by a silent support group of awesome women. We are all just trying to do and be the best we can for our middle school children. It can be physically and emotionally taxing, and sometimes it seems like the most thankless and exhausting position you'll ever hold. But for now, I'll push on, loving my little "alien", knowing I'm not alone.

Intentions. With mine, I seem to live on the road to hell these days. My intentions are always to help, advise, provide good cheer, be friendly, share, and do the right thing. It's never a good feeling to have someone perceive your best intentions negatively or as a threat. If you know me well, one thing you can say about me is that I'm chock full of ideas and suggestions. Solicited or not, they sometimes sneak out. It's a problem among creative people. I'm a team player. Always. I love to help. I want people to feel appreciated and also like they can count on me. It's just who I am.
At one point this week all those qualities about me were challenged, because they were perceived differently from my intentions. I questioned myself. I doubted the very qualities that most people love about me and it hurt my heart.
But then, a young lady who is a student where I work, came into my office to chat before she left for class. As she was walking away she shared with me that she had been extra stressed and worried, but that she has adopted the mantra "if it won't matter in 10 years, then I'm not going to worry about it." I thanked her for reminding me of that because I needed it in a BIG BAD way. I love the vessels God sends us. This time it was a 21 year-old college student. Who knew? I love and appreciate that she shared her wisdom with me.

With all the ugliness of this week, it's nice to know I have Shan for my husband. My dad told him when we got married that he couldn't have "handpicked a better man". Such a great guy! I sometimes ask him, "why do you stay married to me?" I feel like I'm a train wreck most of the time and feel like I can't get anything quite right in this stage of my life. His answer is always the same..."because I love you." That should be good enough right? But I still think one of these days I'm for sure going to send him out the door and over the edge. God love him! He truly loves me at my very best and my very worst. And this week could definitely be considered one of my worst. 
Lysa TerKeurst is my absolute favorite! She's like a ROCKSTAR of The Word. If you don't know who she is, you're missing out. She speaks life and The Truth in the most real way. She has a God-given gift for sure. Thursday, a precious life-long friend in San Fran sent me an email to check in and to share Lysa's blog post.

Lord, protect me from the world’s wonky view of love

I have a sign displayed in my home. It reminds me, redirects me, and protects me from the world’s wonky views of love.
Our love isn’t a romantic movie where I wake up in full makeup in a pristine house and nothing on my to-do list but for my husband and I to take a little canoe ride through a pond filled with swans.
Here’s the thing about love. It’s sometimes complicated. Sometimes blissful.
Some moments are incredible. Others incredibly difficult.
Love breaks us. It makes us. It shakes out all the good and bad.
It’s the most beautifully painful sacred surprise you could ever hope to grow through.
It’s a package deal. It’s a gift that doesn’t always feel like a gift. It’s the thing that makes me less selfish. And gracious, I need to be less selfish.
I want the best version of love. So I need to bring the best version of me to my love, my man, each day.
And choose to make our love a little less complicated.
A little more sweet.
A little more inviting for the best version of him to take my hand and whisper, “Hey babe, we can do this.”
Yes. Love is a choice. One we are still making. And as a visual statement of the vows we exchanged 23 years ago, we keep this simple reminder in a place where we constantly see it. 
The “We Still Do” sign and frame are now available in the Proverbs 31 Ministries bookstore along with some of my other favorite marriage resources. Click here to find out more.
And if decorating your home with hints of your love story sounds painful because you’ve been begging God for a sign that He hears your prayers for your marriage, He does. I felt so strongly to share this with you today. He hears and He cares. I’d love to share a free 5-day devotional with you called Praying Boldly for Your Marriage. Sign up here.
Again, it's all in the timing! I needed to soak up the goodness that Lysa wrote about and that Kathleen felt on her heart to send my way. It's not always perfect, but it's always beautiful. I am so glad to have him by my side on one of my messiest weeks, because We {absolutely} still do. 
I'm so grateful for a weekend to regroup and THE TRUTH that HE always provides - even if it's only in whispers. I caught some good ones this week. So I'm going to do my best to be listening extra carefully from now on. Praying for a better week ahead and hoping we can all pick up on the God-nods sent our way.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lessons from Disney

Part 1 of 2...
So we returned from our fabulous trip to the "Happiest Place on Earth". We set out with the highest of expectations and even started our family hashtag, #DisneyBakationPart2. We each had our own punch list of things we had to do and we were armed with FastPasses and uncontainable excitement. But (Disney lovers close your eyes.) I didn't love it this time.
I think maybe we went back too soon. Shannon and I both agreed we should have waited at least another year, maybe two, before going back. I'm wondering if the boys were older and all doing the same things if it may have been better for us. When Shan and I divide and conquer I feel like I miss out on what he and the big boys are doing. Oliver was able to do a good bit more this time, but we were still limited. He just doesn't dig the characters as much anymore, so standing in line to meet them is not super fun. It makes me a little sad. And he's not quite big enough or into the flipping and twisting rollercoasters.
Any who. I'm forever grateful to Shan's parents for the 2nd opportunity to experience Disney as a parent. The boys were rock stars as they hit the ground running everyday for 4 days and didn't stop for about 14 hours. There were certainly no complaints from them.
However, this old gal was feeling like the magic was a little lackluster this go-round. There were still precious memories made. But I think I was seeing the World of Disney without my rose-colored glasses this time. I love surprises. Good ones. And there wasn't a whole lot to be surprised by since the boys had experienced everything just a couple of years ago.

So as a Disney "veteran" here are 13 Things I learned at Disney: 
  1. I'm definitely more cut out to be a boy mom. Princess-Schmincess! They're all the same. The Star Wars and Dinosaurs attractions are much more exciting. 
  2. Call it a cultural barrier or whatever, but I think I may be one of the only people to still use the two words, "excuse me".
  3. We all know I'm a sap, but the Disney parades and performances make me cry. All of them. Every time.
  4. Darth Vader is scary as hell...even if it is just a tall guy in a costume.
  5. Beer tastes better at Disney. Maybe because they're $8 each. IDK.
  6. There is no such thing as comfortable shoes when you log 10+ miles a day.
  7. I think Obama's refugees all got a weekend pass to Disney because they were representin'. 
  8. If you think about it, Disney World is a lot like Wal-Mart but with costumes and rides. 
  9. My husband has a second calling as a cruise director. Damn, Shan! You had us hoppin'! 
  10. The Star Wars fireworks show was worth the drive by itself.  
  11. The Disney crowd calendar lies. Don't trust it.
  12. Oliver needs to be a leash-child.
  13. I think I'm a one and done kinda girl. There are very few things in life that leave me coming back for more. Ride a ride, move one. Visit a theme park, move on. Life's too short to get hung up on the same stuff. 
Disney is great! It's super magical and I think it should be visited at all different stages of life...childhood, teen years, pre-kids, as a parent, as a grandparent. But I am for sure not the gal who sings zippity doo dah as I skip through the park. Nor do I like herds of rude people who don't understand right of way or basic turn taking skills. So I'm checking it off until the Baker boys are all teenagers. I love that they loved it though. So stay tuned for our trip highlights!

Friday, January 08, 2016

First Oh hey, Friday! of 2016

I love an Oh hey, Friday! post to get my blogging mojo going again.

So here we are. Happy New Year! In my opinion, New Year's resolutions are for the birds. They just set me up for disappointment and the other F-bomb. Failure. And after the undocumented personal challenges I faced in 2015, the last thing I need is more disappointment! 
So I'm dedicating this post to the top 5 things I'm looking forward to most in 2016!

Ukulele lessons. I've been asking for a uke for a while. And this year I got one for Christmas. A red one! They're inexpensive and I've heard they're fairly easy to learn to play. My friend Mary Lynn and her hubby own a music studio locally and both of my boys have taken from them. They are starting an adult Sip & Strum class and I cannot wait!!! Contact me if you want to get in on the action.

Disney! This past November was two years since we first went to Disney as a family. We are fortunate enough to have Shan's parents treat us to a second visit to see "The Mouse" in less than a week. I think there's even greater excitement this time among my boys because they know exactly what to expect. They're already talking about what's on their lists of must-dos. 
This time we'll be going to Magic Kingdom and MGM again and adding Animal Kingdom and Universal to our agenda. I've heard great things about both and we've already started counting down the days!

Hello from the other side!!! I'm pretty sure Shan catapulted himself to "Husband of the Year" on Christmas Day. To put it mildly, I'm obsessed with Adele. Even way back when she first came out I was impressed by her effortless range and the quality of her voice. The lyrics of her songs tell wonderful stories and to top it all off, she's a classy, decent person.
Any who. When we found out about her new 25 tour in 2016, I knew we had to try to get tickets. With 6 devices between the 2 of us, trying to get tickets seemed like it wouldn't be a problem. After 15 minutes they were all sold out. I texted Shan and told him I had no such luck. He told me he didn't either and I sulked for days. Until!!! Christmas morning when he surprised with tickets! To say I fell apart is an understatement. He had a 3% chance of getting them! Unbelievable!!! So we're headed to Adele in ATL in October. Whoop!

The loo. As you've heard many times, I'm the Queen of my castle! I've always been surrounded by boys. That also means sharing bathrooms with boys. It's no secret that boys and girls treat the potty very differently. While a gas station type bathroom doesn't even phase most men, it can certainly send most women over the edge. 
We live in a vintage house with 3 vintage bathrooms. We don't even have a master bathroom. Our bathroom is the tiny  downstairs hall bathroom that we share with guests {and our boys when they're too lazy to walk upstairs to theirs}. It's been making me crazy for 12 years! I've begged Shannon to add on and he's finally agreed to get it going in 2016!   

Leadership training. I'm VERY excited about the opportunity to attend the Leadership Summit for BEAUTYCOUNTER in February. Y'all, this company is chic and cutting edge, having the highest standards and quality ingredients in the personal care industry. I have never been a fan of direct sales. They've always been a turn off to me for several reasons. But I swear! This company is different and sells itself with their amazing, non-toxic, and high performing products. Once you sample the products and learn about what's in the products you have been using, you're hooked. I seriously don't have to do a THING. I wasn't able to attend the first Summit last year, and from what I have heard, it was something I didn't want to miss out on this year. I can't wait for a rockin' weekend with my BC girls!

That concludes my first Five on Friday for 2016. Be sure to follow the Friday fun...