Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 8 - Couple Time

Let's face it - even the best marriages have areas for improvement. Our marriage is pretty great but there are definitely things we need to work on. 

We would probably both agree that the area we struggle with the most is making time for just the two of us. Whether it's a date night on a semi-regular basis or a weekend away, we always have a million and one reasons why they don't happen. 

It's not that we don't like spending quality time alone together; it's just such an ordeal to coordinate schedules. One would think we had it made with built-in baby sitters since we have the two bigs (who can basically fend for themselves) and then Princess Mia. But the problem is the two bigs have much more active social lives than we do. Coordinating everyone's schedule to find a night that no one has 'organized' activities (games, meetings, rehearsals, etc.), Tim is in town, and the bigs have an open social calendar is like trying to negotiate an international trade agreement. It's so mentally exhausting we've kind of just given up trying (unless you take into consideration our random late night strolls through Target).

This is why I was quite shocked when Tim came to me back in the spring and said we were going on our church’s annual fall marriage retreat in October. This was very out of character for him - he's an engineer who likes to have a plan and know all the details before he commits to anything. Well there was no way back then that we would know what everyone's schedule would be now, and that’s probably a good thing.

Tomorrow morning we’ll leave behind a weekend packed with football and soccer games, SATs, and I’m sure lots of other things that I’m forgetting (but have written down for the grandparents who are graciously coming into town to temporarily manage the house) and head to the mountains for two and a half days of ‘just us’ time.

I pray we return refreshed and committed to making regular quality time for us a priority – no more overthinking the logistics, no more excuses. Don’t get me wrong – Target date nights are awesome and they’ll make do in a pinch, but it’s time to start setting the bar a little higher.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 7 - Do I Have What It Takes? Or Does God?

Not long ago I was asked to write something that was a bit out of my comfort zone (right now it seems writing in general is out of my comfort zone because it's been a while since I've done it with any regularity). This was a genre and style that I didn't have a lot of experience with, but I really felt God nudging me to give it a shot.

Of course no sooner than I said yes did the doubts come flooding in…maybe someone else is better equipped to write what is neededwhat if I didn't do a good jobwhat if it wasn't what they were looking for…and on and on.

For the next few weeks when I wasn't staring at the flashing cursor on the computer - frozen, I was honing my procrastination skills. And these are not skills that need help even under the most ideal circumstances. I mean I can find the most unnecessary task and elevate it to levels of national importance to delay what I know will be inevitable failure.

But God has this funny way of telling me what I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it. I happened to be studying women in the Bible and their individual fights for faith during my morning Bible study time. In each situation, the women had their doubts but God bolstered their faith and used them for His purposes. So I fervently began to pray that God would do the same for me.

One Sunday afternoon I somehow managed to push everything else aside - the dishes in the sink, the laundry piles in the hall, the hungry teenagers - and sat down with my Bible and the computer determined to put something on paper. And the flood gates opened - characters were developed, themes were woven, and stories were told. And none of it was me…

When I finished I was still quite reluctant to share with others, but I gave it to my resident editor to review. (There are advantages of having a high school senior who is potentially looking at writing as a career. And I wasn't sure what to expect because he is not one to hold back what he really thinks.)

So when he came back and said he liked the way I had modeled the characters after such and such, I honestly had chills. I simply nodded - because what he noted hadn't even entered my mind until that moment. It was just more proof that God was doing the writing.

It's very easy for me to believe that my gifts and talents aren't enough. And they aren't in my own strength. But when I'm obedient to God's calling, He can work it all to His glory despite my overthinking and insecurities.

Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus - the great Shepherd of the sheep - with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. ~ Hebrews 13:20-21

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 6 - Another Challenge - Dressember

Why me?

What did I do to deserve to be born into the life of freedom that I have? Nothing. What did the woman (or child or man) who becomes a victim of human trafficking do to deserve the life of slavery that they have? Nothing.

Their worth as a human is just as valuable as mine. After all we all created in God's image. Yet they find themselves in circumstances that are beyond my comprehension.

As I sit here in my comfortable house going about my comfortable life, it's easy to become oblivious to devastating injustices such as human trafficking. But it's real.

When I see articles or news stories or posts from organizations working to stop this horrific practice, I start wondering what I can do to help. But then I think, I'm just one person - just a stay-at-home mom in suburbia at that. I have no real influence. I don't have wads of extra money to donate. I guess there's really nothing I can do.

But there is. Thanks to the creative minds of people who decided that they could do something to help.

I first heard about Dressember last year when some women I follow on social media began posting about their participation. As I learned more about the movement, I thought that it would be a great way for someone like me to be able to contribute to the fight against human trafficking right where I was.

So when registration for this year's challenge opened, I didn't hesitate to sign up. For the 31 days in December, I along with many other women (perhaps even you reading this) will commit to wearing a dress every day to advocate for the inherent dignity of all women. 

This means I will forgo my yoga pants and sweats (this is a big deal for this homeschooling mama) as well as my favorite jeans for the entire month of December. But the discomfort this will cause me is virtually non-existent to what these enslaved women must face every day.

I'd love for you to join me in this challenge - the more the merrier and the more we can accomplish. Don't over think this - visit Team Sunshine Stories and sign up today!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 4/5 - Overthinking Others’ Words

I like words.

I like speaking them. I like reading them. I like writing them.

But to be honest, I don’t always like hearing them.

Sometimes it’s because I don’t like the truth that’s being shared, even though I need to hear it. But sometimes it’s because I mistake lies that I hear for truth.

Nothing sends me into serious overthinking and second-guessing mode more than the harsh judgments or the overly critical words of another person. Maybe their words aren’t technically false – at least not completely. But if they’re delivered in an accusatory tone or in a super critical way they are still lies because they were intended to deliver a false impression.

And many times they make me believe that false impression of myself – I’m not good enough, I didn’t do enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m parenting badly, and the list goes on. I’m guessing I’m not the only person that allows this to happen.

Why do we let ourselves cling to these hurtful statements? Why do we let these lies take hold in our hearts and grow? We’re basing our self worth on what others think of us.  We’re desperately seeking the approval of those around us especially if they’re important to us.

We’ve temporarily taken our eyes off the only One whose opinion really matters. This allows our ears to hear the lies that penetrate our hearts and edge out the truth that God loves us just the way we are. We’re enough for Him.

The next time someone’s words leave you feeling like a failure and you begin second guessing your worth, measure them against what God has to say to us through Paul in Ephesians 4:8:  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, 
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about 
these things. 

Any words that don’t meet this criteria simply aren’t worth overthinking.

The only words we should ever overthink are the words coming out of our own mouths. Let’s remember that  “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 3 - My New Fall Go-To Outfit

Tonight's post is short and sweet but possibly helpful. 

I had a wedding to go to and help out with today. I wanted to look nice but be comfy. Thanks to a little retail therapy yesterday, I succeeded. I now have a new fall go-to outfit. No more overthinking what to wear - and it works for casual to dressy depending on your accessories. 

(Disclaimer - I have no actual photos of me wearing said outfit because I was working behind the scenes and never managed to get a photo.)

I paired the dress and leggings (both Old Navy) with black riding boots then accessorized with some awesome Noonday Collection pieces. You could easily dress this outfit up or down by adding a chunky scarf or changing the boots out for cute flats. I'm sure this outfit will become a staple for me this season.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2 – Overthinking God’s Promises

This is probably the only rainbow I’ll be seeing here in North Carolina for the next few days. We have plenty of the rain part, just none of the sun. I feel like I’ve moved to London with all the rain we’ve had lately.

Maybe that’s why this fun little cupcake rainbow jumped out at me as I was scrolling through some recent photos – that and the fact that I could really go for one of those cupcakes right now. (They were pretty yummy if I do say so myself.)

Actually I think this cupcake did more than get my salivary glands going - it helped drive home some lessons I’ve been learning, or rather re-learning, this week in my daily If:Equip Bible study. God is always faithful with His promises.

Maybe you’re like Sarah (Abraham’s wife) and have doubts that God is going to fulfill His promises because it seems like it’s taking too long or the circumstances seem beyond impossible. (Don’t know about you, but I get a little impatient sometimes – even with God.) Or maybe you’re a Noah, and people are looking at you like you have three heads because you’re stepping out in faith and complete obedience to what might appear to be a crazy request.

When I come up against those kind of situations, my overthinking kicks into high gear. 

“God, are You sure this is what you want me to do? I don't think I'm the right person for the job. 

“Is it really necessary for me to put myself out there like this?” 

“God, if this is really Your plan for me, then why is it taking so long for all the pieces to come together?”

So today when I saw the ‘rainbow,’ it was like God was using my own replica of His creation as a gentle reminder that I don’t need to overthink anything. He’s got it all under control.

Genesis 9:13 ~ I [God] have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Not Overthinking It

Fact #1 – Once upon a time I was a fairly spontaneous, try new things, throw caution to the wind, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal.

Fact #2 – Somewhere along the way to my forty-**cough-cough**-something birthday (which is this month), I acquired the habit of ‘over-thinking.’

What fabulous opportunities have I missed out on – or at least delayed - as a result of over-thinking (sometimes known as self-doubt)? What friendships or experiences have passed me by because I was too busy wondering should I, should I not?

I’ve spent countless hours over-analyzing a blog post only to decide, after all that, to delete it (hence the somewhat very sporadic postings).  Not to mention things of actual importance that I have successfully talked myself out of doing or trying because I thought about it too much.

Well, no more. It’s time to give my feeble brain a rest. Maybe it’s time to give my heart and soul a chance to run the show for a while.

For the next 30 days I’m challenging myself to sit down with a cup of extremely dark-roasted coffee and write. Will I write about over thinking every day? No, but I will write without over thinking.

Who knows, maybe I’ll re-emerge with a little of the spunk that used to get me into trouble. But hey, since I’m forty-something, aren’t I allowed a little more grace? :-)

(And in the spirit of full disclosure, some very minor over thinking may have gone into the writing and publication of this blog post. But I promise no more.)