August 22

Taking Time instead of Making Time

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This week, this month, this summer has had me running and rushing in every direction. It’s not been just good, it’s been great, but I find that again, the things I’ve most wanted to do, have gone undone.

And that perfectly describes how I feel right now.

Undone.

I left my youngest daughter in the hands of Texas State yesterday.

There are still unpacked boxes sitting in the garage.

My lists are getting longer and I’m not sure that’s good.

Tonight I’ll pack a suitcase.

And take some time for myself.

Time to figure out where the next chapter leads.

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August 15

Up, Up and Away…Secrets to Higher Flying

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First it was the purse.

Then the new IPhone 6s Plus

And then the free Ipad because I upgraded from the 4G.

Who even still had a 4G, but me?

Then I got a new blue tooth thingy that hangs on my dashboard so I can talk and drive and not get a ticket.

It feels as if my life is being upgraded. And I like it.

I like it a lot.

But I wonder why?

This weekend on a webinar/coaching call with Andy Andrews, he talked about how important it is that we ask ourselves the right questions. Instead of asking, “What if it doesn’t work out?” we should be asking, “What would be possible if it it did?”

Someone else once told me if you don’t know what to do, just do the next right thing. We don’t always know what the next right thing is, but if we are honest with ourselves, we usually know what not to do, and we can keep moving.

Unless we are in a place where just standing is all we can do. And that’s okay too. Sometimes all we can do is stand.

Last night as I was cleaning up, and unpacking the rest of the stuff still sitting in the garage, I was listening to a podcast by Joyce Meyer because I love her and I haven’t been to church in three weeks and needed God to know I still thought about him here and there.

And everywhere.

Anyway, she was talking about our thought process and how much it effects the way we lead our day and the things we say. Pretty much everything we do is an outpouring of what’s going on, on the inside of ourselves.

I noticed the changes happening when I noticed my attitude got better. I’ll admit, it took some extra medication to get me over the hump of the slump, but I’m feeling much more like myself again. More hopeful. More joyous. More determined. And more excited about all of the things that really could be possible if I can tame my time management skills.

But I’m still, just like the contents strewn all over the concrete floor of my new garage, a little scattered.

Joyce was saying if you have a problem with anger, you don’t read the bible on prosperity. I know that right now my biggest problem is getting everything done I want to do and I also know that I need the crazy organizational skills I mocked my mother about for years.

I need goals clearly in front of me if I’m going to get anything finished.

I need the To Do lists written for the next day every night before bed so I don’t toss and turn all night remembering to hang a lock box on my new listing at 148 Latigo Lane in Boerne. The open house is Wednesday night from 5-7.

Make Brownies will go on my Tuesday To Do page.

Just as soon as I can find my planner.

My prayer for Monday is that God helps me fill those appointments and time slots and meetings and To Do lists. I need that kind of direction. If asking the right questions is one of the keys to living better lives, maybe we need to be asking what the next right thing is?

Meanwhile, I’ll be embracing the upgrades, staying thankful in all things, and making more brownies.

That’s super funny because I heard this week I moved into the weed house. No wonder it feels so peaceful.

“I wonder if the neighbors are suspicious of me carrying so many plates of brownies to the car?” I asked my daughter.

Now there’s a good question.

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August 12

Writing More in the Margins

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One of the things I loved most about school were the notes.

Or is it was the notes?

I should have spent more time listening in English class instead of writing and passing notes to friends when the teacher turned to the blackboard.

The truth is, usually I was the middle passer and not the writer or recipient. The lined notebook paper, perfectly folded, with the decorative hearts drawn carefully on the outside only left smudged, lead marks on my thumb and forefinger as I passed it for my friend Lori to Donnie B, the cutest and coolest guy in 6th grade.

What does it say? I wondered.

I was always so envious of the way she always seemed so confident.

But, she did weird things to her cat and had a weird rule about not eating in front of boys. I was always the one answering the door, holding two hot dogs and a bag of Doritos that abruptly got shoved into my arms the second his shiny satin coat appeared on the front lawn.

“Here. You hold it,” she said as she quickly glossed over her thin, often pursed lips.

I remember thinking she might have gotten notes passed back and cute boys to walk clear to the other side of town for her, but I had nicer lips. You think things like that when you’re 12. and insecure, and too tall with pimples.

I was the kind of girl who wrote made up silly, fun notes for the rest of my friends to read on the playground. The short kind of notes you open from the inside after choosing a number or a color. A sort of fortune telling for pre-teen girls.

Red.

R-e-d we’d say as moved the paper back and forth, vertically and horizontally, in between our fingers before choosing the next compartment.

7

S-E-V-E- N we would spell out loud before anxiously opening our selected flap of destiny.

You will be rich and famous. 

Or

You will be a rock star.

Or

You will live by the ocean someday.

I looked forward to reading those random notes as much as I looked forward to reading the comments the teacher would write in the margins of my paper. I gobbled up the words written in blue or black ink and always feared the red pen of correction. I wanted to write perfect papers with perfect spelling and perfect sentences.

My dear new friend, although she doesn’t know it yet, Shauna Niequist, released her new book this week on Amazon called Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.

I can’t wait for it to arrive in my mailbox and kick myself for forgetting to turn in my forwarding address.

Because I’m so totally imperfect like that.

And I recognize I need more margin in my life.

I imagine what a teacher would write in blue or black or red ink and I grade myself every day like my life is a homework assignment.

Sometimes I grade too harshly.

Many times, too harshly.

I long to lay down at the end of the day and read a comment, “Keep up the great work! This made me smile!” the way Mrs. Rodewald would write on the margin of my paper.

What kind of comments are we writing in the margins of our own lives and are we giving ourselves enough room to live in the present and not the perfect?

“Here. You hold it.” 

Hold that pen and write it well. Sometimes we have to be our own encourager and teacher.

And most times, we only need to be present, and not perfect.

 

 

 

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August 8

Loving the Good Parts & Living through the Bad

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What was my favorite part?

The ending.

I have to say, I felt like a bad mom watching Bad Mom with my daughters.

It was supposed to be a mother/daughter midday celebration after getting moved into the new place, but as we walked to our cars, I felt like I owed them an apology.

And a shower.

Yes, they are almost 26 and almost 19, but I almost got up to leave on several occasions. In between all of the laughing and the excessive amounts of buttered popcorn, I felt like leaving.

There were a few jokes that had me lol-ing much louder than the 10 people at the matinee probably thought was appropriate. And I think I snorted at the line that went something like, “So, turn off 12 Years a Slave and get your butt moving….”

That’s not a direct quote but a good theme to follow on those nights we want to wallow. Those nights that include the actual container of ice cream instead of a bowl, a baggie shirt and the big spoon.

And though the story line may have been true and noble and good, I really only want to hear the “c” word in words like cockatoo, cocktail hour, or cockadoodledoo.

Mostly.

I certainly don’t want to hear it 47 times in less than two hours.

When I apologized to my daughters for the extreme levels of “oh wow” they said they didn’t recall anything “that bad.” And I struggle with thinking that is not “that good.” I’d just written about our kids seeing too much and hearing too much and then there we were.

It was too much.

The movie was good, hilarious in fact, in parts, but it made me wish I was watching it with someone like the girl next door, the neighbor I grew up with who liked to play dirty Barbies, instead of my two daughters.

My favorite part really was the ending.

I loved hearing the actresses and their moms share their own bad mom moments. It made me feel less alone. Like I wasn’t the only one and we all have them. And we all need to give ourselves a break.

So I also went and saw Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat at Zion Lutheran Church this weekend with my aunt Maureen and walked away with my cheeks hurting from all of the smiling. It was awesome!

And this morning, as I was making my coffee and looking out the picture window in my new kitchen, I saw birds. And squealed with super joy! What had been a waste land for wildlife habitat is quickly becoming a resting place for creatures that scurry and scamper and fly.

In each of our lives, we have both good parts and bad parts.

Some of our bad parts may be more bad than others. And maybe some us have wasted or lived sometimes wild lives.

And maybe that’s what makes everything so beautiful. I’ve learned to relish the good parts now. The sweet and the simple things.

I watched and loved Miracles from Heaven with Jennifer Garner who quoted Albert Einstein.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”

It made me think of that verse in Philipians. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

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August 5

When is too much, too much?

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“I get kind of sick of all the kindness.”

“What?” I thought I heard her wrong, this adorable pre-teen with wavy two toned hair that looked glamourously uncombed.

She said it again. That thing I thought I misheard.

“It’s too much kindness.”

Vacation bible school is supposed to be about crafts and snacks and singing. It’s supposed to be about sharing the sweet love of Jesus.

I’m not sure if it’s the place for rogue honesty from an 11 year-old.

And yet I found myself laughing, and clapping and wishing I had a gold star sticker to give her.

Because it is what we need more of.

And it was bold and brave and awesome to put feelings out on the patio table by the pool that truly reflected something so deep.

A jaded perspective is sort of expected.

When life and circumstances and family and hard times hit you right upside the head, the little seeds of faith we try to plant get stomped on and burned up in the cracks of all of the brokenness we see around us everyday.

I am convinced kids need the umbrella covering and protection of God. They see too much, hear too much and feel too much of the dark parts of the things that go on around us.

Jesus loves the little children…all of the children of the world. 

When the adults around Jesus tried to keep the kids away from him, he welcomed them with open arms and said, “Come to me.”

And he comforted.

I was a mom that sometimes stood in the way of Jesus.

I remember grounding my kids from youth group and I look back on that now and laugh, but deep down it makes me a little sad. It was one thing they looked forward to so much and also the one thing I felt shined a brighter light on my own inadequacies and the parts of our family life that weren’t always so kind.

Like when your mom loses it and stabs you in the leg with a fork. Sorry Tara. No blood was drawn. Can we just move on?

When Jesus opened his arms to children, he comforted, not criticized. He provides a safe place when everything around us doesn’t feel safe.

Thank God he is our refuge. When we don’t feel loved, valued, seen or heard, he is the safe place. I run to him often in the light of all of my yuck and stuff and…sin.

I stare at the black bead of my vacation bible school bracelet. The one that represents sin. I’ve held it and turned it and touched it and it keeps me aware. How grateful I am for the red bead of his blood that gets us to the white bead. My favorite one of all. The one that represents the cleansing.

The pure.

I couldn’t have pulled off those days this week without incredible youth leader chicks like Tess and Fabi. I stood there amazed at their dedication to the sweet and not so sweet faces. I admire their willingness to get up and share their time and talents and love for God.

“I wish we could do this every day,” one of the kids said.

I didn’t think to respond, “You can!”

There is no such thing as too much kindness, only our hearts that sometimes have trouble receiving it.

P.S. Target has awesome $5.00 shirts for girls that say Kindness Matters.

We all need one.

 

 

 

 

 

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August 1

Moving: A Different Kind of Tailgate Party

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“I love it when a plan comes together.”

I remember that line from A-Team.

My aunt, who has a gazillion excellent customer service comments on Trip Advisor, had the pleasure of serving the cast last week at the Holiday Inn where she works.

I had the pleasure of packing and moving into a new home.

Okay, so it wasn’t all pleasurable. Moving hardly ever is. But the yard, and garage, and fireplace and screened porch helped me endure.

Plus my daughter Chelsea did most of the work.

We relocated just a few blocks from where we were. It was the kind of move where someone can sit on the tailgate and just hold things down.

Watching Samuel and Stanley pack their pickup one more pile higher, I had to remind myself repeatedly, I love shabby chic. The scratches only give it more character.

And I’ll need more doilies.

All the while, I am trying to make sure these nice, hard working men understand, this is my kitchen table. It’s the only one I have and we’re not running out to buy a new one.

I thought of my love for my stuff.

The only stuff I have after the last moving debacle. On a wing back chair and a prayer, I hoped it would all make it to our next destination as they drove off with my bread eating and board game playing table strapped to the tailgate.

Three stories high.

I thought I heard the voice of the narrator from the Beverly Hillbillies say, “Black gold, Texas tea.” And then I thought of Jed Camplett and wondered if the clamps were tightened tight enough.

And when the left side of my bed and the top of the antique “piece” our t.v. sits on both came apart,

“Es no problem,” is the smiley response I received.

I’ve made it one of my new goals in life to learn that same dilemma reducing technique of smiling and confirming, “Es no problem.”

Even though the bed post was dangling, it somehow made it better.

The 5 or 6 or 9 kids, mostly girls, who lived in the apartments with me, showed up and volunteered to load 27 plants and my important patio stuff like the metal flying pig and the Water Boy Igloo cooler I’ve had for over a decade.

It’s cooler when people help people.

I am hoping I can help them now, and God will move them this morning when we start three days of vacation bible school in an hour. God and Max’s church have allowed me the awesome privilege of sharing Jesus with mid-summer bored children and how much God loves them.

I pray they believe it.

And I also pray I don’t screw it up and remember that it’s not appropriate to talk about the hill of foreskins with five year-olds.

It’s funny, but not workable into the story of the tax collector.

I’m only slightly annoyed that I’ve had an unused whale cookie cutter in my drawer for three years and there is still no bible lesson about Jonah. Someone needs to check the ratings on Shark Week and get some sea life stories going.

Because I really wanted to make whale cookies.

In any case, today, Fabulous Fabi and Terrific Tess, my trusty volunteers, will be talking about tax collectors. We will make bracelets. With representative beads and decorative beads because we’re unique like that.

If someone accidentally swallows the red one that represents Christ, I will remember what I learned from Samuel this weekend.

My mover, not the prophet.

“Es no problem.”

I love it when God moves.

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July 29

I Didn’t Know You Before…

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Yes, yes I did get a Michael Kors hand bag as a thank you gift from clients.

And a Simpatico Home candle in the scent of scrumptious.

And a ginormous bar of Honeydew & Lemon Triple Milled Soap.

And a stuffed fat cat from a seven year old who said, “I didn’t know you before, but now I do.”

In a soft, shy voice she added, “And I want you to have my cat.”

I can’t get over the happiness I feel all the way through to my insides this week! Gifts galore. Totally unexpected. And completely appreciated.

I’ve never had such a fabulous purse before and have suffered handbag trauma over a tilt-o-whirl episode and a leather fringed purse since I was a kid.

“Let it go already,” warns my mother.

Now I have this gorgeous purse that makes me feel like a slightly better version of myself. It makes me want to put on a pair of heels, curl my hair nice & get my nails done.

I won’t.

But it makes me sort of want to.

For the last few days I’ve thought about the profound thing that came out of the mouth of that little girl with long brown hair. The one who gave me the cat and held on tightly to a fluffy bunny she could not part with.

I didn’t know you before, but now I do. 

I didn’t know myself before. 

I didn’t know there was so much hurting on the inside. So much of the checkered past I needed to mask and hide. I can spot it sometimes when I see others now too, and pray they’ll see love and compassion, forgiveness and a friend when they catch me looking their way.

The same way I see Christ’s love when I look in the mirror these days, I pray when your new day comes, you will feel a little more hope than you had on the day before.

I understand what it’s like to see someone you’re not. And hardly recognize yourself or the person you used to be. There are things I didn’t know.

I didn’t know the strength God has given me to keep going and growing.

I didn’t realize how much I was afraid of things buried, unexposed and untold. Scraping yourself up off the bottom feels a lot like separating your skin from your bones sometimes. It’s wretched. And painful.

You wonder if it will ever stop. That feeling of inadequacy and anger and dependence; resentfulness and remorse.

I promise it will.

It happens quicker when we connect.

Another thing I didn’t know is that I am the kind of girl who really does like pretty purses. Even though I’m also the kind of girl who’s likely to shove an uncapped pen or a half eaten piece of fruit into my bag.

I used to lie a lot. I’d say I didn’t like flowers, or romance or mushy love that looks like holding hands or pretty much any public display of affection.

Turns out, I like them all.

A lot.

But it’s easier to make fun of frivolousness things than it is to say we wish we could have it. More of it.

And it takes a lot of nerve and guts and God to get over thinking you are not good enough for good things.

Now that I know myself, I know that I don’t really need a fat cat as much as I need the comfort of being still, having survived nearly nine lives. I need more margin to create, and a safe space where I am free to be me.

Quirkiness, character and all.

I want to hear the birds and the secret melodies that come alive in my heart.

I want to feel my feet sink into the sand near the edge of the ocean.

I want to run my hand across a soft leather handbag in dusty rose, because it makes me feel pretty on the outside, the way I believe God sees my heart on the inside. Even on dark days. I am still.

Worthy.

I didn’t know you before. But now I do. 

 

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July 25

Making Sure Our Speech Sparkles.

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I’m back to thinking duct taping my mouth might not be a bad idea at all.

Not a half an hour after writing about finding the positive in all things, and that I liked my life abundant and spilling over, I spilled half a pitcher of peach tea all over the inside of my car.

‘Cause I’m graceful like that.

It had been strapped into the seat belt, carefully driven to the open house, and then dumped in an instant when I took my hand off the wheel to make a right turn into the guard gate.

The one no one got the code to.

What was the positive aspect of having sticky syrup all over my seat and carpet? It was an opportunity to crack up laughing because I realized how I had just gotten exactly what I asked for.

Both my cup and my pitcher runneth over.

Excellent.

I had also been bragging for days about my Aunt Maureen’s delicious brownie recipe I made and decided to mix up a repeat batch. Somehow I managed to turn the frosting into a runny glaze instead of the fluffy butter cream I received “yum’s” over the week before.

When I got to the really awesome one and a half story home with the private back yard at 8439 Silent Creek to set up the food for the other realtors, the nice ones that are courteous and respectful and over the top awesome, I realized I somehow managed to buy two packages of knives instead of forks.

That didn’t keep me from cutting up and laughing at the obvious. My mouth really is a rudder that steers the ship of my life.

My friend Debbie, and associate extraordinaire, reminded me about the time about 17 years ago when God heard me and delivered in a really, really big way.

I had been in line at HEB wanting ice cream the night before but didn’t get it. The girls were nagging and pulling and begging for stuff at the check out line and I forfeited my craving for cream and gave in.

The next day, I’d stopped to help a fancy lady in a broken down BMW. Maybe it was a Mercedes. I don’t remember. I tapped on her window to see if she needed help and she looked at me like I was insane and rolled down the window and said, “I’m waiting on Mr. Rescue.”

I laughed, pointed to the sky and replied, “Me too.”

She didn’t think it was funny.

So I got back in my car with my three girls and Rhonda’s 3 boys and waited for the light to turn green.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the woman appeared at my passenger window and started rapping on my window. I pushed the button to let the window down and she said, “I have ice cream going to hell in my trunk right now. Do you want it?”

Um, yes!

It was the exact ice cream I wanted the night before! With real vanilla beans.

Sometimes God works like Jack with his giant bean stalk. We plant and he makes it grow big and beyond our belief.

And sometimes it looks like peach tea spilled all over the front seat.

God help me guard my mouth and make sure my speech sparkles with life and good things and sweetness.

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July 22

What Will You Find When You Change What You See?

 

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Tell me what you see.

Those words remind me of some kind of psychological inkblot test.

They are also the same words I hear whispered wherever I go.

Tell me what you see.

It’s a silent nudge, a reminder, to everyday try my best to see the good and purposely look for the positive.

Especially in the midst of our daily routines and sometimes rude awakenings. Are we focusing on the good or the bad? Negativity sucks the life out of me more than it used to. My daughter told me recently that in her real estate training, a well known and respected agent gave her some advice that she thought was brilliant. It’s had me ticked off all week.

She told Tara that in this business, it’s good to be rude.

And she purposely practices being overly aggressive and pushy to newbies and industry people like loan officers, other agents, escrow officers and contractors. Her skewed and wacky theory is that it’s important to let people know who you are and communicating in a caustic and dominating manner helps her discern and weed out the people who can or can’t take the heat when a sticky situation arises.

My daughter thought this made sense, “in a sick sort of way.”

Maybe I’m just old school, but…

What. Are. You. Talking. About?

Are you kidding me?

I’ll take home made muffins and caring conversation over someone mean mugging me any day of the week.

Then again, I grew up learning this freaky old fashioned relationship rule called, The Golden Rule.

It’s about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, although I think I’ve read a plaque or meme or something that read, DO UNTO TO OTHERS BEFORE THEY DO UNTO YOU.

Bleck.

Life is hard enough without adding burdens of stress and sarcastic soundbites to the very people God’s placed in our paths on any given day. My mom taught me to always treat people the way you want to be treated. (I don’t always do that, but it’s a good goal.) I save my contemptible eye-ball rolling mostly for those I’ve birthed.

My girls know I’ve got a mouth.

And they’ve also heard me use it to say something a million times or more. Something I believe with all of my heart.

If you get up every day and go to work to get a paycheck, you will be miserable. Every day will suck more than the last. But when we begin to understand that our purpose is about people, and not a paycheck, our lives become instantly more joyful. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like loving people and living on task. Whatever that task may be.

Who can you help?

Or who can you honor?

This weekend I’m going to drop a dress off for Rhonda from the used furniture store. She loved it on me. And I’m going to love it unto her. It cost me $13 dollars at HEB and I don’t need that dress as much I’d love to bless her with it.

Plus she promised me a discount on a piece of vintage furniture. I’m just saying…

Who is your server?

The guy at the body shop?

The senior greeter?

Or maybe Danny who holds the God Loves YOU sign on the corner of the frontage road & highway 46? I love that guy!

I consider the people I meet to be divinely placed there, because I believe in weird things like that.

Not too long ago I was having a talk with a woman who was telling me all of the ways she’s been able to wiggle out of showing up for her court mandated AA meetings and I had to ask her if she thought about what she might be missing?

“What do you mean?” she asked.

What if our unwillingness to go through the hassle of hard things is keeping us from the better things?

I think it’s all in the way we see it.

What if we are blocking out divine appointments and the people and places that have been put in our paths for a purpose?

Tell me what you see.

I’ll tell you what I see.

I see dead people.

Wasn’t that the boy’s line from that spooky movie from way back? I think it was.

People disengaged, disappointed and disinterested. I’ve seen that same look in the mirror at different times in my own life. But more and more lately I am so completely drawn to life givers and the kind of people who see the cup not as half empty or half full, but overfilled.

Spilling over with abundance and goodness and inexpensive, but priceless things like patience, joy and laughter. And okay maybe an occasional snarky comment or inappropriate joke here and there.

I look for friends who are able to speak words of encouragement, mercy and the grace we all so desperately need to receive and give to others.

Tell me what you see.

Or maybe try seeing a different way.

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