Fun Family Meals?

Four summers ago, James and I spent a few child free days in Miami. It was mostly wonderful! We spent a lot of time at restaurants, and I am looking to find ways to recreate that experience.

The two of us love to watch people, and there was no shortage of funny behavior in south Florida. We honestly ate every meal we were allowed to eat outside, outside. I loved all the restaurant tables lined up on sidewalks. There was an ocean breeze at most and a fun atmosphere. Plus, I am a sucker for fairy lights!

We don’t normally take so many pictures at dinner as we did that week!

Of course, as soon as we got back home, meals resumed the way they always had been. We have children and busy lives. Lingering at meals with great conversations and lots of laughter sounds like a fantastic way to end the day and bond as a family.

It is not that we don’t try. The girls help make dinner some nights. We eat on the deck when we can. So I figured that since I haven’t mastered this idea at home after four years, maybe I could use some help. If you have any ideas on creating a fun atmosphere for family dinners (without spending a lot), please let me know. Any tips are appreciated!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Wallow If You Need To Wallow

I don’t like myself much lately.

Other people seem to have it all together while I sit and wonder how they do it. (And sometimes I wonder why.) Oh sure, I tell myself they don’t really have it all together either. Or I tell myself that maybe other people are better than me at some areas but I am better at others. None of that seems to help.

Then I look around and see groups of people and couples who hang out all the time. They are all “my tribe is awesome” and I don’t have that. I have my family and a few close friends. Yes, that is enough, but I see these groups and want what they have. They go and do all this fun stuff in groups, and I feel jealous even though I am not really a group kind of girl.

Sigh.

I have this wonderful life and so many have it worse. I know that. I REALLY know that. I pray for so many people who are having a hard time and I am wallowing in a lame pit of my own silliness.

The other night the pain was so strong and I couldn’t wish it away. The idea of telling myself to get over it and move on occurred to me. Instead I let myself feel. I cried and went to sleep. I knew that the next day would come. With rest and a small amount of distance, the morning would smooth out the rough edges of my mood.

The next morning did indeed happen. Almost like clockwork. My eyes felt heavy but I was alive. My feelings weren’t completely gone. They were there but muted. Mornings bring more clarity to me than night.

Then later that morning I read one of my favorite verses in Philippians. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God is not done with me yet! Y’all I am a mess, even on good days. I don’t get many things right, but I know that I am getting more things right with each passing year. I am not who I want to be, but thanks to Jesus, I am not where I started.

If you have days like I do where you just can’t drag yourself out of that pit right then, remember that it is OK to feel your feelings. You aren’t expected to be perfect and neither am I. We just have to keep striving for better. Some days it may feel like you are taking a step back, but as long as you get up in the morning and push forward, you are making progress. Progress is good.

If you are in a pit now, remember morning is coming. It will bring you some peace and maybe answers. God’s mercies are new every morning and they will help you up. Let Him work on you and make you into who HE created YOU to be.

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

A Little Peace Goes a Long Way

Life is so much better when we trust Jesus with it. The good, the bad, the scary, the unknown. All of it is better in His hands. After all, it already belongs to Him!

For several months now, I have had a few projects going besides work and family. My goal was to be finished before school was out. It felt like a big goal and I knew going in that I couldn’t do it without God.

Yesterday was my last day of school and both projects are done! My girls still have school until Wednesday, so now I can rest and run errands before they are home and swim team takes over the summer.

As a worrier by nature, this spring could have been torture and caused a nervous breakdown. Fortunately for me, my heart has found much more peace in the last 2 years than ever before. I literally still pray every day for a peaceful spirit. Some days I cling to that like a life raft, while others the peace comes more easily.

When I decided to do these new things, I was a little scared. Even knowing God would help me, I still thought I must be crazy. But if God wants these things done, I wanted to be used. I don’t want to miss out on anything out of fear or let anxiety take over my days. Aint nobody got time for that!

Day by day, little by little, I got work done. My daily goals felt small but added up. Some days I wanted to give up. Some days I felt like a warrior. No matter how I felt, every day mattered.

When all is said and done, I want my life to revolve around my Jesus. With Him I can accomplish anything He wants me to accomplish. Without Him I can do nothing. With Him sounds much better!

Linking with Holley Gerth

It Doesn’t Always Have to be Big

Do you sometimes feel like what you do doesn’t matter? That the little bit you have to give is nothing compared to what someone else can? Yeah, me too.

Years ago, when I had just begun as a hospice volunteer, I would spend Wednesday mornings at the facility. My favorite thing to do was to go into someone’s room who didn’t have family with them and listen to them talk. They had great stories that fascinated me.

One day, literally one of my first few weeks there, the nurses asked me to sit with this woman and hold her hand. All through the night before, she had woken up screaming every fifteen minutes. EVERY fifteen minutes. The nurses on that shift would have to go in and calm her down every time as well as take care of the rest of the patients. It wore them out!

When I came in, I guess I was the perfect person to keep her company. I sat there all morning holding her hand. She would wake up every fifteen minutes and look over at me and go back to sleep. Even in sleep, she had a tight grip on my hand.

The whole time I was there, I felt bad for this poor woman. She was alone and dying. She was afraid of being alone and maybe of dying. Even just having a stranger holding her hand was enough to ease her fear and keep her calm. I can’t imagine feeling so afraid and so lonely. While she was asleep, I tried to keep praying for her because I felt like that was all I could do.

When I was leaving at lunch time, the nurses were so appreciative. At the time, I felt like I was useless. Anyone could have done what I did. Literally any person could sit with that woman and hold her hand. But I was the one who was there. Sometimes, God just needs us to show up and do what is in front of us. It may not feel valuable or big. It may just be something anyone could do. But God chose me that morning.

I may have felt useless that day, but over time God began to show me that my actions mattered. My presence allowed the nurses to work with the other patients without being interrupted four times an hour. With me there, they didn’t have to constantly run in the room and soothe an agitated woman. And I think most of all, my smile comforted this woman and kept her peaceful. She wasn’t alone.

What you are doing today or are about to start may feel small and unnecessary. Don’t let that feeling stop you from doing it. It may seem like no one will care about it. Someone will definitely see you, and God will see you being faithful. That is enough.

Linking with Holley Gerth

All Women Are Moms

When you encourage a child to dream big, you are a mom.

When you tell a child how special they are, you are a mom.

When you spend time listening to a child, you are a mom.

When you give advice to a prickly teen, you are a mom.

When you pick up a toddler who has fallen and comfort them, you are a mom.

When you help instill a love of reading into a child, you are a mom.

When you help a child find their passion in life, you are a mom.

When you have dedicated your life to working with children, you are a mom.

When a child’s successes are your successes and their failures are your failures, you are a mom.

When you tell a child how proud you are of them, you are a mom.

When you can’t imagine your life without the children in it, you are a mom.

When you help a 20-something find their way in life, you are a mom.

When a child runs to you with open arms to give you the biggest hug they can, you are a mom.

When a child draws a picture for you and you hang it on your fridge, you are a mom.

When you try your best to cheer up a sad child, you are a mom.

When you come to every sporting event for a child, you are a mom.

When you would give up your life for a child, you are a mom.

Whether or not you gave birth to children is not what is important. What is important is you are here. You matter and your contributions to children’s lives are priceless. The world needs you. You are a Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Treat yourself like all the children you know would treat you on this special day.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Stop Being Easily Offended!

Another day, another chance to be offended. Why do we let people bother us so easily? Lately I have come to see this issue as a distraction.

This world seems to have gotten crazier with each passing day. We are in each other’s business way too much. I don’t blame social media but I blame us for getting sucked into social media. We see what it is doing to us and don’t try to extract ourselves from the mess. We wallow in it instead. Each of us has a brain and a will of our own. Besides, people have been judging others since the beginning of time.

People are offended by the silliest things too. Why does it matter if a person misuses a word or too in the English language. (Yes that was done on purpose!) What will change in our lives if someone implies we aren’t the best cook and they have had better? The shirt someone is wearing isn’t up to us either. These are all merely distractions.

The problem is that being all in someone else’s life means we are neglecting our own affairs. We are so focused on the major thing we see in their world that we miss the actual gaping hole in our own. I can be doing something so much worse than the next person, but they offended me so badly that I don’t care to correct myself.

I want to be sensitive to right and wrong. No doubt about it. But I can’t change what someone else does. I can only set a good example for them and for my children. I have to choose to show love and forgiveness. I need to be more focused on doing what I can to help others than on a perceived slight.

Feel free to be offended by racism, sexism or any other way a group of people is being put down. But when we are offended by literally everything around us, nothing stands out. If I act upset over every little thing, no one will pay attention to the times it really matters. If I twist someones words to make them sound other than they were intended, I am going to sound ridiculous, not them.

Our words have weight, but only when we use them wisely and sparingly. We have to discern the issues worth fighting for and drop the rest. Something can only offend us if we let it. When we are offended by the person next to us, our rage tends to blind us to anything else. Let’s learn to live in peace and set the example for others.

And please, if you are offended by my words today, go back and reread from the top. This was written for you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

You Are Here

When it is raining, You are preparing flowers that will grow.

When it is dark, You are preparing for light.

When it is cold, You remind me of Your warmth.

When I don’t know what is in front of me, You do.

When the sun shines on me, You are showing me Your joy.

When I see the cutest baby, You remind me of Your creativity.

When I laugh, You laugh with me.

When I cry, You cry then too.

On my saddest days, I couldn’t escape You if I tried.

When someone does me wrong, You help me see my own flaws.

When I see a brilliant blue sky, I marvel at Your vastness.

When I see a beautiful sunset, I feel like You put it there just for me.

You like to show up.

You like to show off.

You like to show me Your glory.

Here, and one day I will see You face to face.

On that day, this life will pale in comparison.

Your presence alone is and will be all I need.

You are here.

Linking with Holley Gerth