Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Be a Better Person

Photo Credit: jill, jellidonut ... whatever

Continuing on the idea of prayer from the last post, I have been making a concerted effort to pray more throughout the day. I have already noticed some differences. My life is better when I remember to pray for those who are really suffering. I am nicer to people when I remember to talk to the Lover of my Soul. I doubt myself less because it is about me less. I have more confidence in what I'm doing because the Creator of the Universe is doing it with me.

This morning I thought to send an encouraging email. I haven't done that in a while. I haven't been very encouraging in person or by email. I was thinking that some people might think I was being contradictory, saying one thing and doing another. I started wondering why I could be positive and encouraging by myself, but with others I tend towards negativity. I thought I'm better by myself than with people, but that makes it sound like I'm good enough. I know that isn't true. So what is the difference?

Jesus

I have been praying more. I have been spending more time with Jesus. I'm taking my cues from Him instead of other people. So it isn't that I'm better by myself. It is that I'm better with Jesus.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Missing Piece

Some seasons life comes easy. The laundry is in a manageable routine. Sleep actually comes at bedtimes. You are happy with who you are and how you are getting there.

Then some seasons life is hard. The laundry is never done. Sleep doesn't come until hours after bedtimes. You aren't happy and you don't know why. You aren't getting to a better place emotionally, spiritually, mentally, or any other way.

Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson


Lately I feel like I've been in the latter of the two. Work is going well. I have a lot to do and February is always a hard month because we can all see the end coming, but it isn't close enough to start that final hard push yet. However, I'm pushing myself to keep going forward and I'm doing my best to push my students to keep moving forward. So it's going well. Everyone around is pretty healthy and that is a huge blessing because everyone's health could be so much worse. But the other parts of life, the keeping house and raising the kids and doing church, just aren't working. It's not like things are going wrong, but they don't feel like they are going right. So if it feels not right, but isn't actually not right, then it's all in my head. And that makes it so much worse.

I look at other people and they look like they have it all together. They know who they are and where they are going. And I'm over here wandering from thing to thing, from word to word. I doubt most of what I'm doing and most of what I'm saying. I don't know how to get from where I am to where I need to be.

So in the middle of this spiral of self-doubt and general malaise, I stopped and thought about what is different now than before. Prayer. I haven't been praying enough. I haven't been spending enough time with God. I need to more time with me and God, so I can work on me and God. When I focus more on him, then I'll focus less on everyone else. I think that falls in line with my One Word of the year. I guess God knew what he was doing by giving me that word for this year.

So if you wouldn't mind, would you say a prayer for me. How can I pray for you?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Top 15 Disney Movies

The last couple weeks I have talked about some of the things I have learned in the last few difficult years. And I might come back to that topic at a later point in time, but today I want to talk about something lighter and more fun. Disney movies!

Photo Credit: Ohdearbarb
I am a bit obsessed with them and I'm super excited that I have a daughter, so I have an excuse to get all the Disney princess movies. I got others with Ben, but I couldn't in good conscience get my son princess movies. He didn't even know they were different people until recently! So now with a little girl, I have invested in some new princess movies and made myself watch a few that I missed. So in honor of my new Disney education and investment, I'm doing a top 15 countdown of my favorite Disney movies. (I couldn't narrow it down further than that.) I'm not including Pixar because that is a whole other list. I'm also not including any sequels. These are just the major motion picture releases. Now on to the countdown!

1. Beauty and the Beast

I love Belle. I love that she reads. I love that she doesn't fit in. I love that her dad is so quirky and ready to go show the world what he knows. I love the Beast. I love that he is working through his issues. I love to hate Gaston! Cogsworth is wonderfully persnickety. Lumiere loves to push Cogsworth's buttons. Madame la Gran Bouche is fabulously open. Ha!

2. Treasure Planet

Some of the creatures speak flatulence! Oh my goodness!! They fly in schooners around the universe looking for treasure and discovering that friends are the best treasure. The personalities! The history mixed with futuristic fantasy.

3. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
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This picture just might be my favorite part of the movie. Trachuna Machoitius Trachorum Saetis Dee. Angela Landsbury is in this movie and she is commanding an armor army. They go flying on a bed underneath the sea. It is absolutely fabulous.

4. Mulan

I just watched this movie this week. I don't know how I waited this long to watch this movie. Now I have and it made it to the top 5. She saves China and the emperor honors her. Then she goes home and her parents love her for being her. Oh, I just love this one.

5. Princess and the Frog

You would think a movie about frogs wouldn't be that great, but this one is. Tiana is hard working and determined.

6. Frozen
We all know that the whole world is obsessed with this movie and I am one of them. The music, the sisters, a reindeer, the subtle romance and a funny snowman. What is not to love?


7. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
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The very blustery day, the house for Eyeore, and the first appearance of Tigger are so iconic to me. I don't remember a time when I didn't know those stories. This one really makes me feel like a kid again.

8. Lilo and Stitch
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I love this one more as a mother than when it first came out. Ben is head over heels in love with this one, so I am too.

9. Alice in Wonderland
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The talking flowers, painting the roses red, the Mad Hatter, and the White Rabbit are just too perfect. They are so perfectly fantastical that I still can't wait to visit Wonderland.

10. Hocus Pocus
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The fact that I just figured out Thackery Binks and Timothy McGee are the same person just make this movie better. It is a beautiful setting and a quaint story. It is a lovely Halloween story with a great performance from Bette Midler!

11. Tangled
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The hair, the smolder, the lanterns! And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Rapunzel's talents, her frying pan, her way with horses, and The Snuggly Duckling just make this one fun and heartwarming, which are Disney specialties.

12. Mary Poppins
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The songs, the cannons, and a happy family in the end. Oh and Dick Van Dyke!

13. The Princess Diaries
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It is every little girl's dream and somehow we are happier for Mia than we would be for ourself. And Genovia is on my list of places to visit too.

14. Sleeping Beauty
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Dancing with forrest creatures that turn into the prince who is your betrothed and who slays vicious dragon enchhntresses for you is still a great story after all these years. And should you get tired of the story, watch it for the art. It is worth it.

15. Robin Hood
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Oh what a lovely man-fox. He gives to others out of the goodness of his heart and his love for the community. I think we all could learn from him.

Honorable mention:

My favorite sequel:
D2: The Mighty Ducks
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I had such a crush on these two! I saw this movie at least 25 times one school year. Yes that obsessed. I started watching hockey because of this movie. And I think it is better than the first or the third.

My favorite Disney TV show that was based on a movie:
The Legend of Tarzan
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This isn't the movie, but I like the movie because it reminds me of the TV show. It was a great show. The good guys were always good. The bad guys were always bad. And the community was of primary importance.

Almost on the list for the score alone:
The Little Mermaid
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I can't say that Ariel is one of my preferred princesses or that Eric is a preferred prince. The story isn't my favorite. But the music! Now that is special.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How to Have Faith

The last post I started talking the story I have been living. I focused on being happy. That is a big part of the story that I have been living the last few years. Another large part is faith. The definition of faith according to Merriam Webster is: a strong belief or trust in someone or something.

A STRONG belief and strong takes work. You don't get to strong by accident. You don't get to strong through an easy path. And faith sounds nice and can make a whole lot of pretty sayings for the needlepoint. But that doesn't account for the hard work of getting to a strong belief.

Lavender's Legacy by Ryan

A cancer is a hard battle even for the loved ones watching from the side. There are so many doctors appointments and tests to be run. And sometimes you hear conflicting diagnoses. And then there is the waiting. The waiting is brutal. Half of your mind is planning for after that person. The other half is preparing to assist in the fight. In the battles that my loved ones have been through, we have heard more than one death sentence. We have prayed hard and had others pray hard and we continue to pray hard. The result has been miracles. That sounds like an easy summary to the story, but living it has been hard. Hearing the worst diagnosis and waiting a week or two for more information. Getting good news only to receive more bad news at the next appointment. It is a roller coaster for the emotions, but it doesn't have to be for the faith. You can hold on to your faith even through the good and the bad news.

When you hear that you might need to replace your heating system or your water heater stops working and you wonder where the money is going to come from, there doesn't have to be despair. (Both of those things happened this week. And both of them are okay without too much money being spent. God is really very good to us.) There can be faith.

I have seen faith in action this week. Two dear families are sitting with loved who are much to young to be dying. Both of them are watching their loved ones lose the battle with cancer. And yet both families are holding on to their hope. They know their loved one will be walking the streets of Heaven with Jesus very soon and that is enough for them. I'm not saying there won't be pain. I'm not saying there won't be tears. There will be lots of both, but under all that there isn't despair. Under all of that there is hope and a knowledge that God is in control and that is good.

Faith is made of strong stuff and doesn't come easy. Trust God. Take it one day at a time. Keep walking forward with Him. Faith will come and faith will sustain you. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to be happy

When I look back at the last few years, I'm a bit amazed that I got to here. As a family, my husband and I and our kids, have been through 3 cancer diagnosis, changing churches, recovering from bad jobs, dealing with depression, and losing our dog. One would think in all of that I would have so many stories to tell that I wouldn't run out of blog posts. However so few of those stories are mine. I don't feel right telling them. So I settle for smaller stories and think maybe some day I can tell that story. After much thinking and talking, I have found a story that is mine. I see how I am living a bigger story and I can tell you about it.

Photo Credit: Britt Selvitelle


I think my story starts with the fact that I am happy. I have joy and contentment and happiness. Some moments and even some days I might forget that. I get disappointed and frustrated with myself and others in my life from time to time. But those things don't stay. What does stay is the happy. The happy hasn't been easy to achieve. I've had to deal with a lot of doubts and pain. I've had to work through things personally and with other people. I'm getting better at financial decisions and sticking up for myself. Things are better than they were a few years ago. It hasn't been easy, but it has been good.

As I deal with other people, I have come to realize that many of them are not happy. Quite frankly it is hard for me to deal with.  I really don't have patience for people that continue to remain in their unhappy frustrated state. They drag me down and I don't want to be down. There has been enough going on in my life, our lives, to bring me down. (In case you forgot, read the first paragraph again.) I have to deal with my stuff enough. I really don't want others putting their issues that they refuse to solve on to me. If you want to work on it, I will stand beside you. If you don't, then don't give them to me.

So in learning to be happy, I've had to learn how to get rid of stuff that isn't mine. I've also had to learn how to deal with what is mine. I can't pass it along to other people. I can't expect anyone to fix it for me. I have to do it myself. When I start doing it myself, then I can ask other people that I trust to work with me. Not for me, with me. When I start working on me, then I get me out of the way. I make room for God and then I can be happy.

I think there is more to tell, but I'm not sure where to go next. So we'll leave it here. Deal with your stuff and make room for God. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Becoming an Adult

I have had a blog post idea in my head for a couple weeks. The words weren't coming, but I knew it was something that needed to be written. Then earlier this week shortly before bed, I had a new angle to it. The angle was great and the words were coming. I got a few of those words down before I went to sleep. I didn't get all of them down. I didn't even get the whole idea down. But I was excited about it. It was a great idea. Surely I wouldn't forget about it. So today, I am caught up enough in other parts of my life to get to that blog post. I sat down and read over the words I had written.

Then...

NOTHING!

Nothing came to me. The previous idea was completely gone. The words that were so freely flowing earlier this week are completely gone. I started writing something and it was okay, but I don't know if it was the direction I wanted to go. So I stopped. Maybe I'll try again later. That doesn't really help me for now. I wanted something to write for today. Something to publish, so I can get back in the habit of writing. So now I'm writing about not having anything to write about. And I'm pretty sure that is a crappy idea too.

So I have a quick little story for you that was prompted by a question someone asked me. The question: "What is your favorite restaurant?" This time when I was asked that question my mind started sifting through all of the restaurants I have ever been to. I thought about the beachy restaurants in Florida. I thought about the fancy restaurants I have been to in various cities. I thought about childhood favorites. I thought about the places that have made me feel welcome. And then there was one that stood out. Quite honestly, I don't even remember the name of this restaurant. I didn't remember the name of the hotel. Google fixed that problem.(I think)

Hotel Mocambo, Veracruz, Mexico














In 2004 just a few weeks before I was set to get married, I took a group of students to Mexico. It was an amazing group of kids. We were travelling with 2 teachers from Kansas. We went to Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Veracruz. Veracruz is a beach town and a port city. It was a pretty great last stop. I was so blessed to be travelling with another amazing group of kids from Kansas. We had been blessed with a wonderful trip and amazing experiences thus far. Then we saw the hotel in Veracruz. It was amazing! There were 2 or 3 pools, a gym, a spa, a couple places to eat, and a gift shop in the hotel. I'm not certain what constitutes luxury, but this was it to me. The best part of the hotel in my opinion was the terrace where breakfast was served. One night the other two teachers and I had dinner there. I think it was the last night. The students had eaten and were enjoying each others company before they had to go home to separate states the next day.

I remember sitting there looking out at the amazing patio thinking of how lucky I was. I remember the ocean breeze and the soft lighting. I don't remember what I ate. I don't remember what I drank. I do remember sitting with one of the teachers after our food was gone. Her teenage daughter and student was on the trip with us. I wasn't that much older than her daughter, so she was obviously quite a bit older than me. I don't remember anything in particular that she said. I just remember sitting and talking about life. I remember her talking to me as an adult. I remember feeling like an adult, a successful adult.

My life was about to change in huge ways. I got married a few short weeks after that. I moved across the country and back and back again. I would go on to have two kids and teach lots more. But that night I sat there talking to that wonderful woman who knew  how much was about to change for me because she had gone through that. She talked to me like an adult and had confidence in me that I was going to be okay. More than okay, I was going to be successful. She imparted some of the wisdom she had gained as a teacher, wife, and mother on to me. She shared life with me. And for that I am forever grateful.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Holding On To It All: One Word 2015

Today I'm announcing my word for this year, but I haven't written a wrap up post for last year's word. I'm okay with that, which is actually a fairly good summary of what I learned with rest. The flip side of that word however is laziness. I flirted with that more than once and called it rest. It wasn't. It was lazy. It seems odd that I struggle with laziness when I am so busy. I find that I attempt to combat that laziness with things to do. That's a good thing mostly. Sometimes it isn't laziness though, it is rest and that is important for this introvert.

I briefly thought about rest being my word for this year as well. It didn't seem quite right though. I wanted a word that would challenge me, a word that was different, a word that would make people ask questions. 2014 was coming to a close and I still didn't have a word. Then the last Sunday morning of 2014 we sang a hymn and a word caught my eye. I searched the word in my Bible app. I wrote down several verses. I reread the verses and eliminated all but two. I then found myself in a dilemma. Are two verses allowed for my one word? Then I realized there were no rules except the ones I have made up. So if I want 2 verses, then I can have two. With that decision, my word had been chosen.




KEEPING

I like that it is in the progressive form because it indicates that some stuff is already going on. I want to keep that up. I will be keeping traditions. I will be keeping the faith through all of our challenges this year. I will be keeping my promises to God. And He will be keeping me.

Luke 12:35 - "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning."
Numbers 6:24 - "The LORD bless your and keep you."

These verses are about the keeping I will be doing and the keeping He will be doing. I feel like I have grown and learned and gained so much from last year. I don't want to lose those things, but I also don't want to lose what I have here. I want to try to hold on to it all. I can't say that I am ready for it because I'm a bit scared of this word. It is a word that requires a lot from me.  I'm challenged by it, but I know it is the right word at the right time to move me in the right direction.

Do you have a word or a resolution for this year? What do you expect out of 2015?