Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Secret, Part II

Last night was one of those nights I wish I could bottle up and keep forever. My kids had taken their showers and were warm and snuggled in their pj's, and they were sitting down at their desk drawing while they waited for me to finish up a few last minute things. My daughter was doodling little hearts and words, and then she wrote the words that would melt any mother's heart: I love my mommy. Then we all headed downstairs, turned on the fire, and made big cups of hot chocolate. There I was, my son snuggled in on one side and my daughter on the other, wishing that I could make it last forever.



A few weeks ago, my son wrote me a similar note: I love you to the moon and back.



The most
beautiful things
cannot be seen or even touched--
they must be
felt with the
heart.
{helen keller}

A few years ago, I didn't want to feel anything with my heart. There were some circumstances in my life that were heartbreaking for me, and they, combined with the messages written on my heart from the time I was little, were too much. I had finally had enough. Life seemed too painful, too hard, and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't have to feel the future painful stuff as acutely as I had the past. You know that old song Harden My Heart by the one-hit wonder band Quarter Flash? I'm gonna harden my heart, I'm gonna swallow my tears...that's what I wanted to do. Be strong, be brave, not let anything be too painful. What I didn't fully understand is that when a person chooses to harden her heart against all the painful stuff in life, she doesn't feel or enjoy the joyful, happy times, either. I just felt like I was in an emotional coma. Of course, I laughed when I was having fun and cried when I was sad, but inside I felt dead. The joy of life was missing. Eventually, I tried to "fix" my depressed state with a cocktail of prescribed medications, and I counted on them (as well as their beneficial side effects) to keep me going.

Until that day my daughter asked my husband why I was so sad all the time.

2012 was a tough year. I've talked about this before, so I won't go into all the details, but it was tough because I decided (after much prayer and talking to my doctor, who fully supported my decision) to go off all my medications. My body was in a state of shock and recovery, as were my emotions.  Tuesday I talked about the bible study I went to where I had a light-bulb moment of clarity, where I could see how my negative thinking had contributed to a life of depression and dependence.

So you think, therefore you act.

Sometimes I wonder if God is really there, if He really hears my prayers, if what my pastor talks about on Sunday morning is really true, and if what I'm reading in the Bible everyday has any truth to it at all. The whole concept of an all-knowing, all-present God is sometimes hard to believe.

But here is what I know: that I am a changed person because of Him. So no matter what doubts may come up, I know that my faith is stronger than my doubts.

He is restoring my life, giving me joy where there was once sorrow, gladness where there was depression, a positive outlook where I once saw only negativity and fear.

I'm no longer behind those prison cell bars. God has shown compassion on me, and He has shown me that a joy-filled life can be mine. It means feeling the downs as much as I feel the ups, but now I have a solid rock that I can stand on to help me deal with those painful life circumstances.

He has restored my relationship with my beautiful children and my husband. I know I have a long way to go, but I am so thankful to be on the road to compassion, forgiveness, understanding, mercy and grace. The true secret to life has one source: Him.

For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you
where you have known only devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow.
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise
in exchange for your resignation and despair.
{isaiah 61:3, in the words of John Eldredge}



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Secret

"Everything that's coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it's attracted to you by virtue of the images you're holding in your mind. It's what you're thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you."
{Bob Proctor in The Secret by Rhonda Byrne}

I am currently reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, a book that claims to know the secret to life, bringing any individual anything they want, including health, wealth and happiness. This is an interesting concept, but it is not one that I whole-heartedly buy into, although it has some very good points. Right now, it's better than J.K. Rowling's new-ish book A Casual Vacancy (which I was trying to read right before I picked up The Secret), which uses the F-word more times on one page than I have in my whole life. And if that's not bad enough, she also uses the 3-letter f-word, which is even worse. Anyhow, I don't appreciate it when writers assume that the written word is somehow less impactful that the spoken word. Perhaps J.K. goes around bellowing all sorts of expletives, including the 3-letter and 4-letter variety of the F-word, but somehow I doubt it.

But I digress.

I think that this book that I am reading does have a point: when you think positively, you tend to act in a more positive manner. And when you think negatively, you tend to act in a more negative manner.

When I stop and really ponder, I can see how my thoughts are generally negative. I don't know why, I guess I just don't always see that proverbial glass as half-full. I used to think negatively all the time, and got in such a habit of it that it seemed natural to think that way. Everything from the way I dressed to the way I kept house to the way my children behaved was negative. This thought pattern (among other things) really affected my mood, and one day my daughter asked my husband why I was so sad all the time. Oh, yes, that was like a knife through the heart. Even my 6-year-old was picking up on my negativity!

Then I went to a bible study that changed my whole perspective.

See, for me it's all about perspective. That bible study gave me one piece of advice that I will never forget:

So you think, therefore you act.

It was like a light-bulb moment for me, and I never want to slip back into those old habits again. Of course, there are times when I have to really concentrate on not thinking negatively, but with lots of prayer, I have been able to think more positively overall, which has improved my quality of life.

Thinking positively is a small step, but it's not an easy one. I know first-hand how hard it is to break old habits and get used to a change in perspective. The effects of a change in perspective are far-reaching, though, and can change your life. It changed mine.

Definitely a secret worth telling!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rehearsing
your troubles
results in experiencing them many times,
whereas
you are meant to go through them
only when they
actually occur.
{Sarah Young, Jesus Calling}

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Novel Idea

Drama was getting ready to unfold, I could feel it in my bones. Or, rather, I could hear the argument between my son and his friend escalating, my son's voice rising with every syllable. "I. Can't. DO IT!" he exploded, then ran up the stairs, tears in his eyes. I debated whether to pull the mom card and diffuse the situation right away, but decided against it, waiting to see what happened.

A few minutes later, my daughter and her friend appeared at the top of the steps, Peer Mediator hats on, ready to spring into action (just to help, as I'm sure the drama wasn't drawing them in in the least.).  Apparently, in his anger, my son had tackled his friend.

A few minutes later, my son emerged, sour look on his face. I took the opportunity while he was alone to go over some basic rules (we do not tackle our friends when we are angry), discussed a healthier way to express anger, and sent him back downstairs to apologize to his friend. A few minutes after that, they came up together, all smiles, and asked for a snack.

Mug shot? Or irritated I'm taking his picture when he's irritated?


I rarely get over anything that quickly. I tend to get mad, then over-analyze, get mad some more, talk to my husband, my sister, and my friends, think through every comeback that I wish I had said but didn't, then hold a grudge for at least 10 days. And even at that point, I may or may not be over the infraction.

And the sad truth is, after all that self-imposed show business, I'm still as fired-up as I was before.

But what if I could forgive as easily as those boys did today?

It's not as easy as they make it look, but I think they just might be onto something. Instead of doing all of the above and ruining their afternoon, they decided to get over it as quickly as possible so they could enjoy the rest of their playdate. A novel idea.

When I choose to forgive, it's not saying that the infraction was okay. But I am choosing to let go so that I can go ahead and enjoy the rest of my afternoon, my day (and the next 10 days I would have originally spent holding a grudge). My own soul is off the hook. I'm not letting bitterness take root in my heart. I'm free. Free to live-joyfully--instead of remaining a prisoner inside a cell of my own making.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You know the kind of day that isn't bad, but you feel kind of blue anyway?

I can't explain this phenomenon, but I suspect it may have something to do with my hormone level. If you do not want to hear a girl complain about PMS, hormone levels, or sugar cravings, stop reading now and come back tomorrow.

If you can sympathize, then read on, my friend.

First of all, here's the simple, honest truth: I feel big. All my clothes are tight, I feel sluggish, my chest hurts, and I'm craving nothing but carbs and sugar. Oh, and my face is etched with permanent dark circles and an upside down smile (A.K.A. a frown to beat all frowns). Who wants to do anything when they feel like this but sit on the couch and eat large, family-sized bags of potato chips? Which is precisely what I did two nights ago (except that it was a bag of tortilla chips and not potato chips, but really, after so many, there is no difference), my mind screaming at me to stop because I have not eaten that many chips in like 10 years. Or at least not that many in one sitting. Man, they were good. I suppose all that salt did nothing but cause me to feel like my clothes are tighter than normal. I hate that feeling. Ugh. Afterwards, I turned sideways in the mirror and let my stomach just hang all the way out, and jiggled the fat layer on top. A real feel-good moment. And to top it all off, I am craving sugar like a frenzied lunatic, but gave up sugar when I decided to give up wheat and try the whole Paleo fad (which, by the way, I am feeling very disgruntled over, but that's a whole other post right there). So the only sugar I can eat is honey, but I decided to give that up for Lent (I know, it's lame), so here I sit. An upside-down smile (A.K.A a scowl), dark circles and a bad attitude.

Today:

*My daughter decided for good that she isn't playing softball this year, which you know has me all in a tizzy. For the life of me, I cannot seem to let this go, and we'd all be so much better off if I did.

*I decided to go to Body Pump, and figured out very quickly that I'm either coming down with something and my body is tired, or I am out-of-shape. I'm going with tired.

*I finally had to take the recycle out because it was overflowing my indoor bins, and when I opened the door, the foulest smell assaulted my nose. Why would recycle have such an odor? It's recycle. Empty cans and plastics. I threw up a little in my throat.

*I went upstairs to clean the bathroom, and the toilet was stopped up. Again. For like the 3rd time in two weeks. What the heck??? Talk about foul. G-R-O-S-S.

*The wind is blowing incessantly.

*I forgot to wash my face this morning, which I never let myself forget, because if I do(especially this time of month), I will immediately and without warning have a bazillion breakouts.

Last week, I pointed out to my fellow bible study members something we read in our book: that God has given each of us this beautiful day and He will not let it go to waste.

Even this day, which I have thus far shown absolutely zero appreciation for?

It may be time to give up on complaining about what I wish was different (although clogged-up toilets are worthy of complaint in my book), and take a look beyond my own four walls. When I look outside, I see the sun shining brightly and the mountains standing against the backdrop of a clear, blue sky. A smile-worthy picture of beauty.

Photo



Monday, February 18, 2013

I could hardly see his face through the tinted window as he waved good-bye, hand formed in the classic sign for "I love you", our special sign to each other as we wave good-bye each day.

Sad, I thought.

Sad that I can't keep them little forever, sad that he sometimes calls me mom instead of mommy, sad that I have to let go, sad that the world slowly steals the innocence from their eyes.

I got my hot tea, my devotional and my Bible and sat down for a little quiet time, but I couldn't help but think about both of them. Is my influence enough? Am I doing enough? Do they know how much I love them?

I opened my new devotional (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young), where I was immediately reassured that He is with me through life's ups and downs. Sometimes I don't have to be in the midst of a tragedy to appreciate the reminder that He is holding my right hand.

And He's holding their right hand as well, guiding them in an uncertain world where  He remains strong and true.

Friday, February 15, 2013


It's Five Minute Friday again...and I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker over at
tales from a gypsy mama. The rules are simple: no backtracking, no editing, no overthinking, no trying to get it just right. Today's writing prompt is:




Beloved

Let the
beloved
of the Lord rest secure in him,
for he shields him all day long,
 and the one the Lord
loves
rests between his shoulders.
{Deuteronomy 33:12}
 
 
I know these aren't my words, but they are the only words that I can think of when I hear the word beloved.
 
I am beloved.
 
I am secure.
 
I can rest.
 
Life is good.
 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The night was young, but she remained anxious, waiting for the signal. When it came, she carefully and quietly snuck out of her parents home and into the waiting arms of her one true love. In the still of the night, they secretly met with the priest Valentinus so he, risking--and ultimately sacrificing--his life by going directly against the decree of Roman Emperor Claudius II, could marry them. They said their simple vows, she declaring her eternal love for him, he vowing to forever protect and care for her. They knew their situation was dangerous; the Emperor had declared that young men were better warriors when they remained single, and had decreed marriage to be illegal. Yet they couldn't bear to be apart, their love stronger than their fear.

 
Valentinus married many such couples in secret during the Emperors reign in third century Rome until he was executed on February 14 for acting on his belief that love conquers all...

Or so the legend goes.

Romance. Bravery. Passion. Intrigue. 

All the good elements of an excellent love story.



Happy Valentines Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My question was simple: Would you like to be a prince or a princess?

My son's answer was short, with no hesitation. Nope.

My daughter, on the other hand, sighed a dreamy sigh and breathed out a long "Yeeeessss."

Is it the romance, the passion, the enchantment that leads girls to daydream about being a beautiful, yet brave and daring princess, who is living a fairy tale life?


When I was a little girl, I used to pretend that I had been dropped off in a basket as in infant by a beautiful and mysterious queen. I would come up with names for myself (because Princess Heather sounded, well, so very ordinary to me, but Princess Victoria, now there's a royal name!) and I would imagine myself wearing flowing pink gowns, complete with shimmery glass slippers and a sparkling diamond crown.

Queen Elizabeth

My mom tried to talk some sense into me, saying things like,  "I know you weren't dropped off by a queen because I clearly remember giving birth to you; however, you are still my princess." This explanation was not good enough for me then, but as I think back, my mom, in her own way, did make me feel like a special princess when I was little.



Wouldn't it be great if that feeling stuck? But the wounds and bruises inflicted on one as they grow up are often too painful and we forget that to One, we are still a special princess, and according to the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, the crown of creation.

"There is something uniquely magnificent and powerful about a woman." {Captivating}

Can we even begin to believe that?

That the world desperately needs the beauty and radiance that is hidden in our hearts?

God thinks so. In fact, if you check out Isaiah 62:1-5, it says that we are a crown of splendor, a royal diadem in His hand. It says that He delights in me. In you. In His creation.



I can read it all day long. But do I really believe it?

Sometimes my head rejects the truth even though my heart longs to accept it, and I am in an epic tug-of-war battle.

Princess Heather.

I could get used to the sound of that.

*all images from google images


Sunday, February 10, 2013

A
happy family
is but an earlier heaven.{George Bernard Shaw}
 
I love having an afternoon to spend time with my family. Sometimes, that means running around, wildly trying to accomplish everything we need to. Sometimes that means a lazy afternoon filled with fun.
 
Today is one such day!
 
We are making candies* in honor of that Great Day of Love, a.k.a. Valentines Day.
 
All you need are a bag of square pretzels, M&Ms, and Hershey's Kisses (we used Hugs).
 
 
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
Arrange your pretzels on a cookie sheet and top with the Hugs.
 
 
 
Bake for 5 minutes or until just barely melted.
 
Press your M&Ms into the melted Hugs and voila!
 
 
A cute, easy treat that will cure any chocolate craving.
 
 
 
 
Enjoy!
 
*thanks Aunt H for this fun idea :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Last night I didn't sleep well. I just tossed and turned and kept waking up from really strange dreams about the current book I'm reading (Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith but I cannot recommend it because the language is deplorable; however, I am halfway through and probably should find out what happens at the end...).

Confession time:

I am agonizing over my daughters decision to play (or not to play) softball this year.

Did I just say that?

I think someone needs to gently remind me that I am not my daughter. And she is not me.

Is this why sports are so competitive these days? Because parents think that they and their children are one and the same? Because honestly, I might be feeling a little of that right now.

More than anything, though, I don't want my daughter to be like me. I never played team sports (except for a short cheerleading stint in 1984), and stunk at the ones they made you play during gym class (also hated gym class, probably because I never got chosen til it was me and the kid who couldn't run fast at the end...don't even lie, you know you had a kid who couldn't run fast in your gym class.). One time, I even made a basketball goal with a volleyball during a gym class volleyball game. Collective groan from all teams. Sigh. I was involved with other things, like dance and horseback riding, but never really stuck with them, so by the time I got to high school, I didn't have anything to really call my own. However, the choices I did make growing up contributed to who I am today. And I know the same will be true for her.

But I am still trying to choose them all for her...

I guess I just want my daughter to feel involved, connected, part of a group. Is that so bad??

We recently watched Hotel Transylvania about Count Dracula and his daughter, who he tries to keep under his protective wing. Forever. Except Mavis Dracula wants to fly. Be her own person. Which is perfectly permissible when the movie is a cartoon and everything turns out peachy at the end. However, every good cartoon has a moral at the end, and my nagging thought is this: by forcing my own daughter to do the things that I want her to do (and incidentally, the things I didn't do), am I really allowing her to be her own person?

I'll not be answering that question out loud.

So here are some things that I did growing up that have contributed to who I am today:

A performer...

 

That's me in the middle. I hear the unitard is making a sweeping comeback.
 

A cheerleader...
Only one of the many cat-like moves I could perform out on the field.

A hairstylist...
What is with the bag on the head? Is this a redneck shower cap?

A contortionist...
Do not even ask because I could not even begin to tell you.

An artist...
My mom always used to wave at the camera. I must have gotten this from her. Why?

A drag queen...
In case you didn't know, this is supposed to be Dolly Parton, circa 1980-ish. Note the extra-large bosoms.

A make-up artist...
Um...I don't know what happened, nor do I remember this. Apparently, I was experimenting with foundation as a blusher. Cute. Incidentally, I still really love make-up.

An exercise enthusiast (ok, so that one stuck!)...
So yes, the unfortunate soul to the left would be me, with my cool bandanna-thing on my head. I do not think I still look like this when I work out, but I could be wrong.
 
 
An equestrian...
I loved horseback riding!

And who is my sweet daughter?




I guess she needs to be the one to discover that.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Labels

Sometimes I don't feel cut out to live the life I have. I don't feel like I have what it takes to be a good mother, wife, sister, or daughter. I feel like I don't have the moxie it takes to keep a house together and running smoothly. I have labeled myself as incompetent, unable, disorganized, messy, shy and selfish. I have accepted what others say when they label me as well. But this morning I was reminded of one thing: Jesus loves me. As I read the devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries, I was reminded that I am one who Jesus loves, too. And while that's a label I don't often think I deserve or can accept, it's the one that fits the best.

The one whom Jesus loved.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sitting here trying to concentrate with children in the house isn't the easiest thing in the world.

So I'll begin with what's really on my mind.


Oh. MY. Did you see the kids from Newtown singing "America the Beautiful" before the Super Bowl started? I was so moved, sitting there wondering if any of those children on TV were witness to the devastation that happened inside their own school.  And THEN! Did you see the Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdale horse who recognizes his owner?


Tears.

Yes, real tears brimming in my eyes over a fake human/horse relationship. Luckily, I had on my glasses and was tangled up in a ball of blankets and children, so my tears went unnoticed, but really. I had to take a few minutes to compose myself.

In other news.

Last week someone commented on the size of my derriere. After recovering from my bewilderment, I joked about it and moved on. OK, so I tried. There was a very valiant effort made on my part to try to get past the fact that A) someone commented on the size of my posterior and B) that there was a chance that they could be correct in their assessment of it's size.

When I got home, I changed out of my workout clothes and put on my jeans, and I thought to myself Is it, in fact, possible for my tush to have grown since the last time I wore these jeans????

 


After a few minutes of internal name calling, some remorse over the food choices I make, and some self-reproach, I realized that my internal dialogue was only making me feel worse, not better (and who wants to feel worse after they've been told they have a big ole booty?).

Standing in my closet, feeling bad, I started making faces at myself in the mirror. (Do not tell anyone that I do this, I don't know why I do. It only makes me feel worse because the faces are so ugly.) But as I was looking in the mirror, I noticed the verse I have taped to the wall, just for times such as these: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. {philippians 4:6-7}

Those anxious, depressed feelings over appearance, those feeling of defeat and loss of control...I don't need them, and I don't want them. It was only appropriate for me to give all those ugly feelings to God, and let His peace guard my heart and my mind. After some wrestling over how exactly one goes about actually giving their feelings to God, I said a prayer, told Him I was done, and asked Him to take them, and asked Him for His peace.

I'm not anxious about the size of my round rump anymore. That doesn't mean that I won't ever be anxious again, but for today, I'm drinking in the one thing that no one and no thing can offer:

Peace.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker over at Lisa-Jo Baker: tales from a gypsy mama for Five Minute Friday! The rules are simple: no editing, backtracking or overthinking. And the biggest rule: no worrying about getting it right!
Today's prompt is:

Afraid

How can one be afraid, but not afraid, and all at the same time? It makes no sense. But this is the vortex in which I find myself, spinning with no direction, and yet discovering that direction and peace are found in the midst of the chaos.

I desperately want to stand out, be different, have a spark, a glow, that special sparkle that marks a truly beautiful person, one who loves God and isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in. But. I'm desperately afraid to be myself, to be comfortable in my own skin, to just let go, to trust God completely without looking back.

And the What-ifs take over.

What if something bad happens? What if I gain weight? What if I don't measure up? What if I don't present myself in the way that I want to? What if I'm lonely? What if I'm sad? What if I can't deal? What if one of my kids takes a path of life that I'm not prepared for? What if, what if, what if...

And then the answer comes, a still, small voice, one I have to close my eyes tightly and open my ears to hear, but it comes: Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward (Gen. 15:1). Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there (Gen 21:17). Do not be afraid, for I am with you (Gen. 26:24). So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children (Gen. 50:21)...

And I know...I do not have to be afraid.