“Mom, don’t move your face!”

When I heard “don’t move your face” for the first time from my 3 year old daughter, I burst out laughing. She looked concerned because she was genuinely asking me to watch her do a new jump. She wanted to make sure she had my undivided attention.

Undivided attention…does that exist anymore for you? Can we ever focus on just one thought, one task, one conversation without our mind wandering somewhere else?

When the website you’re on is slow, isn’t it easy to click on another tab and work on something else until the original site comes up? Why wait- there are many other things I can do to pass the time.

When my son is explaining to me about a new feature in a game, I am turning my ear to him, but my hands are changing the laundry. I am hearing him but I’m not really listening. This issue resurfaces when my son is sure I have a memory problem because he already told me the explanation of Fortnite V-Bucks yet I ask again, “does that require real money?” The life of a busy mom, you know, we have to multitask in order to keep up with life.

young beautiful girl uses a smartphone on the street, surfing the internet Free Photo

(Photo credit http://www.freepik.com/sergeycauselove)

My house isn’t spotless or de-cluttered. My yard needs work. My dishes are in the sink. So it’s not that I “move my face” because I am a perfectionist and feel the need to uphold my perfect home. I am a “survivalist.” I do enough housework to keep us clothed, prevent tripping hazards (for the most part) and stop dust bunnies from forming…mine are more like dust hamsters (those are smaller, right?)

But do you, too, find yourself moving your face away? Moving your eyes away from making your storytelling children feel listened to and understood? Are you nodding “um hum” to a conversation but you’re also scrolling social media at the same time? Are you turning your ears away from a friend that is asking for support indirectly and not listening enough to catch it?

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:4

God, too, wants us to seek Him and keep our attention on Him. Maybe God is speaking through my daughter when she needs me and says, “Mom – don’t move your face.” God doesn’t want us to move our face from Him…just like my daughter wants my face on her.

What can we do today, tomorrow and every day to keep our face on Him and to those that seek our help or attention? For me, I need to look at people in the eye and show them that they have my attention. Maybe it’s knowing the laundry will be there in 5 minutes and move my face toward my son and daughter right now. Spiritually, keeping our faces on Him, not moving our faces away, is to invite Him into our daily lives. Our decisions, our goals, our attitudes…let’s not move our face; let’s bring Him honor through inclusion & direction in our lives.
Don’t you love it when an everyday life happening points us to being better followers of Christ, and better moms in the process?

A widow’s guide: Top Ten Tasks to prepare your yard for winter. (Comments encouraged – What did I leave out?)

Blog fall

 

Owning a home is great….until it’s not. When something breaks, leaks, cracks, explodes, ….who is going to fix it? Some of us have learned these skills from our own parents or from trial & error. Some of us have the means to hire out someone to fix it for us. Some of us have the resources of friends and family that will do it for us or help us do it. But for some of us that are widowed/divorced/single, being a homeowner can be overwhelming.

 

Every fall I scratch my head trying to recall all of the things I am supposed to do to get my yard ready for winter. No one enjoys standing out in the freezing cold trying to unscrew the hose…whilst trying not to let the bitter air make us bitter about our situation.  To change the course of my previous unpreparedness, I have come up with a list of Top 10 must-do’s to get your yard ready for winter.

1. Garden hoses

Disconnect them from the house, (“Lefty Loosey”) and drain any remaining water. Lay the hose on any sloped surface like a driveway or backyard hill. If you can leave it out on a sunny day for a few hours, even better. Once drained you can put the hose back on a reel and store in a shed, garage, or under a deck.

2. Lawn mowers

Some say to run them out of gas, though I’ve kept gas in mine most winters and haven’t had a problem (fingers crossed). Start keeping a written log of when these items are serviced – blades sharpened, oil added, tune ups. Springtime is often the best time to do this, but get that log started now. Come spring, you might not remember if you did it in the fall. Use a spiral notebook hung on a nail in the garage (it need not be fancy) where you can keep record of these maintenance events.

 

3. Irrigation system 

If you have an irrigation system, winterization is a must. Many landscaping companies offer this service for usually $50-$80 and if you can rally your neighbors together to get it done at the same time, there might be a group discount. It basically is an air compressor blowing the lines out, similar to the above-stated hose draining, but on a more powerful level. Some systems are self-draining but verify with the owner’s manual.

 

4. Snow, Snow go away!

If you think hiring a snow removal service is worth it….I agree with you. Personally I don’t have the strength, desire or time to shovel my driveway before work.  Look for landscaping companies that might offer a pre-season discount or neighborhood discount. But get it paid for now, before you have to scramble to find someone. On average, this will cost $200 per season.   If you decide to take on the winter fluff yourself, definitely get the machine out now and start it up, let it run for five minutes at a time, every couple of weeks so that it is in good working shape when you need it. If there’s a problem, you can get it in for repair early.

 5. Gas cans

Whether you have regular gas in a can for  a 4 cycle engine or the oil/gas mixture for a 2 cycle engine, make sure to use Sta-Bil fuel additive in them.  It basically keeps the gas “good” for several months.  It’s easy to use, just measure about an ounce for a gallon of gas, following the label instructions.

 

6. Windows/Screens

Check that that screens are tight or stored for the year.  Verify there are no cracks in the glass windows.  If there are cracks, get estimates now for repair or replace. You don’t want them to spread, get worse, or cause damage or injury. See if you can feel any drafts coming in around the windows.  If you suspect there is a draft, consider putting up 3M Window Insulator kits on windows that don’t get used or won’t get punctured by young kids/animals.  It is an easy process, involving double sided sticky tape, attaching plastic film and using  a hair dryer to heat it and take the wrinkles out.

 

7. Outside Doors

Consider adding an outside storm door if you don’t have one. During warmer months you can use a screen and in the cooler months use the glass insert. This provides another layer of insulation from the cold. Either way, you’ll want to make sure the foam insulation around the door jam is intact. Home improvement stores sell the replacement foam and it’s as easy as attaching the sticky side to the door, letting the foam on the other side help with stopping drafts of air.

 

8. Outside Dryer Vents

Check/Clean the outside dryer lint exit for the dryer… not only does this prevent fires, it will be easier to do now than when ice is pelting your red-cheeked face and you’re cursing “Pure Michigan.”

 

9. Garage/Shed clean out

Clean out and organize the garage and shed. You don’t want to be tripping over bikes and grills in January when looking for a snow scraper or shovel. And, you don’t want to tempt any rodents to make a cozy bed out of leaves or grass clippings that have collected on the garage floor. Is there space for your outdoor lawn furniture or outside kids’ toys? If you can’t move them into an enclosed space, at least cover them to prevent cracking. 

 

10. Prepare your car

I know…. this post was about preparing your house and yard, but multi-task a little bit and pack an emergency kit for your car. Include flashlights, window scrapers, a blanket, gloves, and a small shovel. There are other useful items that could be added to this kit, but at minimum, include these.

 

Hopefully you have people in your life you can call upon to help you with some of these tasks. If not, there’s always YouTube for further reference. And, while being a single/divorced/widowed homeowner can be a daunting situation, you can do this. You will either learn to ask for help with the tasks you really have trouble getting done or you might decide it’s worth the investment to hire it out .  But, maybe you’re like me and decide to conquer new tasks each year resulting in confidence that you’ve got this. Go you!

 

And, if you are a capable DIY’er that cares about people, think of someone in your life to whom you can offer this specific help…and offer it soon! They will appreciate it.

Special thanks to family friend Andy Waldron for helping provide me this information!

What to say (and not say) to a grieving person.

To break the awkward silence.

To offer comfort.

To be helpful.

To offer advice.

To let them know we care.

To show them we are hurting with them, too.

To let them know they are not alone.

To make ourselves feel better.

To get them to stop crying.

To get them to smile.

To make them feel loved.

Today’s question is: Why do we say… what we say… to grieving people?

We’ve all been there…maybe on both sides of the equation. We’ve been the ones to speak to a grieving person, and also on the receiving end when others responded to our hard life event.

I am going to bet that most people truly want to be helpful, loving, caring, and respectful. But sometimes what people say during these hard moments may be just the opposite.

BLOG Blessed are those who mourn

Can you identify with the 6 most common phrases said to a grieving person?

I’m sorry for your loss…

They’re in a better place…

Just be thankful it wasn’t…

If you need anything, let me know…

I know what you’re going through…

I’m praying for you/thinking of you…

What about YOU? Which one is your go-to?

“I’m sorry for your loss…” – respectful, honest, THE most common phrase (especially in written form), and perfectly acceptable.

  • Add to it: “I’m sorry for your loss….he was such a great guy/I will remember his bear hugs/He will be missed/Her smile was precious.
  • Bring up a memory of that person that the grieving person would appreciate hearing. They want to hear stories about their loved one! They want people to say their loved one’s name. Follow up with a written form of that story or memory. It will be treasured, and they might not remember you mentioning it at a visitation or funeral. Remember – a newly grieving person’s head is spinning and cloudy.

“They’re in a better place…”  Oh boy. Listen: if you are a Christian you know that ultimately this is true. Heaven is pure bliss and it is no doubt better than any perfect paradise we know of on Earth. There is no suffering, no fear, no regret, no looking back. However, in the midst of severe grief the thought of our loved one being anywhere but by our side is not comforting at all.

Quite possibly the worst experience of my grief journey happened in my own home, said by a priest, nonetheless. I can’t remember if my husband’s body was even out of the house yet, when we formed a prayer circle. The priest included in his prayer, the fact that my husband was now in Heaven, and he wouldn’t want to come back even if he could. (Cue the slamming brakes sound!). I was livid. I wanted to scream out. I wanted to choke that priest and argue my case. Absolutely without a doubt, if Kevin could, he would see us all crying and shaking and come back to his family, his precious boy, his barking and confused dogs, his heart-broken best friend….he would. He would come back right now if he could. I was sure of it.  I mean, talk about the absolute worst time to say such a thing. That phrase haunted me for years. If you as the reader take nothing else from this blog, take this: please be careful when thinking of this phrase. While it may be true, the result could be devastating.

“Just be thankful it wasn’t…”  Seeing the bright side of things, I get it. Taking a bad situation and finding the positive – yes. I do this in my life. I believe it could always be worse and when I’m faced with a sad situation I try to focus on the positive.

  • The grieving person may not be able to see the bright side right now or for a little while. They are allowed to cry, be sad, and be realistic about what has happened. While it could have been worse, it doesn’t change the fact that it still happened the way it did.
  • Don’t tell the grieving person how to feel or that they need to be thankful. Let them be how they are going to be.

“If you need anything, let me know”  Please avoid this. If you are saying it to merely appear helpful, or don’t know what else to say, then say “sorry for your loss” instead.

  • Offer something specific – use your gifts to offer something the grieving person needs.
  • Offer it several times over the course of the next few months.  Don’t be pushy, but offer more than once and don’t be offended if they don’t respond right away (or at all). Offer again in a few weeks or a few months.
  • Do not wait for the grieving person to let you know what they need. The only thing they really need is their loved one back. Unless you are Jesus, to my knowledge you cannot do that for them. Asking for help is a really hard thing that grieving people have to ease into and get used to over time. They probably are not good at it, and don’t want to do it, even if they know they need to.

One kind friend, at the visitation of my husband, offered her husband to come mow my lawn for the summer. She insisted that her husband really wanted to do it and they would be calling me soon to set it up. It was such a blessing that I didn’t have to do it and didn’t have to ask. They offered and followed through.  A neighbor offered child care if I needed to do grocery shopping, or anything else. They offered over and over again, in person and written in cards. They insisted that they meant what they were saying and they would be the ones feeling blessed if they were able to help me in this way.  It was because they offered multiple times that I finally felt ok with accepting this help so that I could take an exercise class with some friends.

“I know what you’re going through…”  I doubt it. Not exactly. I probably have said this to new widows. But the fact is, all situations are different. I can let someone know that I, too, was widowed and I know it is very hard and it’s a long road ahead. For a newly-grieving person feels so alone, and much comfort can come in talking to someone who has “been there.”  But just use caution in claiming that you know the exact pain they are facing, when you don’t know all the facts, the history, the exact relationship or what all happened in the accident/death/illness.

And, I beg of you: please do not compare this loss of grief that they are facing to the death of a family pet. I love my pets, they are part of our family. But there is not one widow or parent of a deceased child that will say their loss was not quite as bad as losing Scruffy, or similar to when Whiskers crossed the rainbow bridge. Don’t say it.

“I’m praying for you/thinking of you…” Yes. Good. Much appreciated. This is also a safe phrase that shows compassion and leaves the grieving person feeling not quite so alone. Knowing that others care and are not forgetting about the grieving person or the loved one that passed away means a lot.

  • Please take this a step further. Don’t write, “praying for you,” and then scroll down to the next Facebook post. Stop and pray.
  • Pray for specific ways that you hope God takes care of them.
  • Tell those specifics to the grieving person. “I’m praying for peace and comfort. I’m praying that God will hold you in his hands. I’m praying that you are able to get some sleep and eat and take care of yourself during this hard time. I’m thinking of you constantly. I’m praying that you do not feel alone and know that you are in my thoughts daily. I’m praying that you know how much you are loved and how many people want to help you on this journey…”
  • Take action. There’s a reason they popped into your head. Pray, call them, text them, mail a card, drop off treats at their door.

If all else fails: 

  • Say, “I don’t know what to say.” Or, “I wish I knew what to say.” Or, “This really sucks.” Those are all ok and honest.
  • Be genuine, caring, and don’t feel the need to fill the air with words that might not be helpful. Embarrassingly, I recently walked into a visitation and said to a grieving sibling, “How are you?” …I quickly said, “Well that was a stupid question. I’m sorry.”
  • A hug or an offer to get them a tissue or glass of water is always a good option, too, if you’re not sure what to say or do.

 

Thank you for reading this to the end.  There have been many sudden deaths recently of family and friends that have me wanting to offer advice to those that truly want to take care of their loved ones facing this tough road ahead.

Stay tuned for the next topic in the series – you won’t want to miss it.

A miniseries you won’t want to miss…

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(Photo credit toolakeacreage dot com)

Recently, I’ve known of three people close to me or friends of mine, that have passed away suddenly and unexpectedly….all three were in their 40’s or early 50’s. Way too young. Who are you thinking of that passed away too soon?

We all know life is “short.” But most of us assume we will live into our 80’s or longer. When we know of people that seem to be healthy and alive one day and gone the next, we are left shocked, confused, scared, and dumbfounded. It just feels wrong. We are sad for the loss of that person, sad for the spouse or family and friends that are left to live with this void. But we also think of ourselves, our spouse, our friends and family…could it happen to me? To us? To my friend? To my sibling?  We hope and pray not.

I’m working on a large project that isn’t quite ready yet, so I’m going to be doing a BLOG mini-series in the meantime, that I really hope readers will find helpful.  It’s coming soon! I don’t want you to miss it. I promise you will be able to put the lessons learned into practice, albeit in unfortunate situations. But you could be the blessing to someone that desperately needs it. 

That is, I believe, what we are called to do. Whatever life experience you have, whatever your passion….share it with others. Whatever you’ve lived through, the tough situation, the devastating loss, the growing pains….why not help someone else going through it so they might experience a little less pain?

If you haven’t gone through anything really hard…yet…well, then, Hallelujah!  You are probably young. 🙂   Because as wonderful as life is, you will face trials, and possibly a tragedy here and there. (Let’s hope those are few and far between).

I recently saw a post (author unknown) that said, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.”  This.

I have to say, I was lucky in that when I suffered the loss of my husband, I did have many good friends around me, some that had experienced the death of a spouse. But I still want to be the person that I needed back then. I want to support, help, educate and inspire others to be there for someone else who is grieving.

For the next several blog posts, I will be tackling some of the important issues surrounding grief – specifically the sudden death of a loved one….though even people that experience an “expected” death (illness, old age/natural causes) can, hopefully, relate to or be inspired by the readings as well.

Thank you for reading this. It tells me that you care. Maybe you can relate to grieving a sudden loss, and don’t want to feel alone in what you’ve gone through. Or maybe you’ve seen others go through a sudden loss and you want to know how you can truly help someone who is grieving. This world needs you! Thank you for caring. Stay tuned. 

Volunteer Dads

You might know a widow with young kids, maybe you know several. Here’s a sneak peek into our world and why I feel compelled to talk about dad volunteers.

My husband has been gone almost eight years. I often think about what he’d be doing now if he were still here, especially things that my son and he would have done together.  As I sat on the sidelines of our son’s basketball practice a few weeks ago, my eyes welled up with tears. His dad will never be the dad volunteer coach. He won’t even watch him practice. His dad won’t be the one patting him on the back, or teaching him a new play. My son won’t look to his dad and see him clapping after that shot he just made.

But what my son does see is other dads. He sees other dads who pat him on the back, who teach him a new play. He sees other dads that clap for him when he makes a basket. It’s not his first choice, but the point is, they are there.

These dad volunteers have other jobs and are probably tired. These other dads might have other kids, and other chores to take care of at home.  But they do it. They show up, they cheer on and coach and teach not only their son, but the boy whose dad isn’t there. The boy whose dad is out of town for work, who has other commitments, or who’s sick at home. For the boy whose dad doesn’t give a darn. Or for the boy whose dad who is in Heaven.

blog-volunteers

Today at my son’s second basketball game, I found my eyes welling up with tears again. I almost lost it. I was hoping the people next to me just thought I had something in my eye. Both eyes….continually for 2 minutes.  

It happened when my son got a rebound, threw it back up and made it in – swoosh! His first-ever score at a critical moment in the game. To say he was pleased is an understatement. I wish I would have had the camera on so I could relive that moment…but I hope to remember it in my mind forever.

It wasn’t just my son I was watching, however. I saw how happy he was but then I heard the roar of cheering from the three coaches on the sidelines of my son’s team. My eyes welled up with grateful tears for those guys that were proud of my son.  They cannot possibly understand what an impact they are having on my son, who doesn’t have his dad. Once or twice a week when they give him a high five, or tell him he’s doing a good job…it means the world to him (and me).

I realize I am a lucky lady, surrounded by some strong male father figures that are the next best thing to having his dad here. (My brother, dad, father-in-law, neighbors, cousins, cub scout leader, teacher)… Take my cousin, who has already attended a zillion cub scout events and meetings with his own boys, selflessly commits to take my son to cub scouts each week. He cares that much about my son; my husband would be amazed and equally grateful.

Every once in awhile I take my son to cub scouts and last week I got to witness the leader teaching my son to use tools. It was hard. That was my husband’s thing. He loved tools and was so talented at using them. I’ll be honest….I pounded my fist at least once against my leg in frustration that his dad wasn’t doing this. Not now, not next year, not ever. But thank God for these incredible mentors that are teaching my boy these skills. Thank God that these dad volunteers give their time, talent and encouragement to all the kids, not just their own.

Grieving people: This will happen. These waves of grief, even when you are sure you are doing really fine. Not just months after the death, but for years…….you will never be “ok” with the death and there will be times when the grief resurfaces and you so wish they were here. Hopefully, though, after the fist punch to the leg, the sobs in the shower, or shaking of the head….you can find gratitude for what and who God has left to care for you and youd kids.

Today I am grateful for the dad volunteers that have stepped up and continue to step up. Please tell a volunteer dad that they are having an impact way beyond their intentions. My son may not truly understand the impact of these strong role models until he’s a bit older, but I feel like the hole in his heart is being filled in an incredible way by these volunteer dads.

The day mom swore

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I don’t swear but once or twice a year – seriously. I made a strong effort once I had kids to not say anything I didn’t want to hear repeated. I am not one of those people that think it is cute or funny when toddlers swear. Sorry if you lol’d when your precious little one dropped the F bomb when grandma was over, and then shared it on Facebook. 

It doesn’t offend me when others swear, per se, but I think it is overused in television shows and movies. It has lost its shock factor.

My son claims when he turns 18 (his rule) that he is going to swear all day long. Like the forbidden, he can’t wait until he’s free to say whatever he wants.

When I got frustrated last year with Christmas lights getting tangled while I’m trying to create memories, my son asked if I was about to swear. Nope. Not even close.

When I yelled at the cat for peeing on my bed, the cat’s devoted caretaker warned me not to swear at him. I didn’t.

But yesterday, after a long day of nerves (mine) and months of anticipation…it happened.

My heart broke for the six kids at my son’s school who have been working for months, giving up their Thursday evenings, half day and some Saturday hours to express their creativity, building skills, problem-solving, script writing, public speaking and teamwork. While their presentation for a multi-school competition was strong, they didn’t place in the top 6…or even have their names mentioned. My torso, that was almost lifted off the bleachers while I held my breath waiting to hear their names, slumped down. My eyes shot to the kids whose spirits and bodies, too, slumped down in disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong: I do not believe any other team didn’t deserve their placement. They probably did. I am also not “that mom” that believes every child deserves a medal for showing up, that is not real life. I want my son to experience defeat from time to time to keep him grounded and better prepared for the real world. He’s already experienced a whole lot of loss in his life and has learned to bounce back with his head held high. He’ll be fine despite his discouragement in the short-term.

As we walked to the car following the awards ceremony, I tried so hard to look at the positive and not be a sore loser. But I was honest, too. I told my son that I am really shocked and disappointed that their score was not better, because I was sure they deserved one of the top spots.  My son asked me if this situation was worthy of swearing. My immediate reaction was “no.” After I heard the click of the safety buckle on my toddler’s car seat, I placed the umbrella stroller in the back and said, “Well, maybe.”  By the time I sat myself down in the driver’s seat and took a deep breath I said, “Yes. Yes it is.” ….

“Damn it! You kids deserved better!”

My son’s eyes welled up with tears and I told him it is ok to cry when you are sad or disappointed. It’s ok. It’s ok to let out that frustration temporarily, in the right environment. We agree that we waited until we got to our car, didn’t make a scene, didn’t doubt anyone else’s ability, and didn’t blame others. We knew they did a great job and did it on their own; their ideas, their words, their work.

What have you experienced that made your heart break for your kids? Have you made it ok for your kids to be frustrated, cry,  or express anger…in the right environment?   When have your kids witnessed you as a human being that had hurt or frustrated feelings? Did you handle it well or not-so-much?

Thank you so very much for reading this gosh darn bleeping post. I appreciate you. 🙂

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Taking turns: not just for toddlers

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(Photo courtesy of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, PBS dot org)

My little family has been practicing the concept of “Taking Turns” a lot lately. I am really quite astonished at how this should be applied to so many more situations than just  kids fighting over the laser mouse toy that drives the cat wild. We all need to take turns.

Are you a giver or a taker? Do you give more advice than you take?  Do you give more lectures than taking the lesson?  Do you give your friends an earful more than taking turns and letting them vent for a change?

Do you have to win every argument with your spouse? Are you choosing your side of the family to spend time with over his side…again?  Are you the ringleader in your small group and plan all of the events?

In your phase of downsizing, is it just everyone else’s belongings that are getting donated, sold, or trashed?  Are you in a rut with recipes and sick of deciding what to make?

To all of these I say, “Take turns.”

If you are a taker, be a giver. Resist the urge to report first about your life. Bite your tongue when wanting to “one-up” your friend’s story. I know you can, but don’t do it this time. If you are a giver, try being a taker once in awhile.  Think of what you talk about with your friends. Ask about them and give them the spotlight. If you are normally the sounding board, tell them a story about you for a change. Ask for prayers for yourself instead. Take turns.

When you know you are right, but it is not that big of a deal…take turns. Tell your spouse you love them and don’t insist on getting the last word in. Let them have a turn at being right.   Take turns about who you spend the next holiday with. Make it someone you haven’t seen in a long time or invite someone who is alone. Take turns in letting your kids decide who the next batch of cookies is for. Who, in their minds, do they want to bless?

If you are the planner of your friends or small group, step back and let them know you want to give someone else a turn at deciding what to do. In your bible study when you want to answer or tell a story, keep quiet this time. Take turns and let the quiet ones come forward. (If you are quiet long enough, someone else will speak).

Take turns at cleaning out closets and look in a mirror – that person has a lot of excess, too. It’s not just about too many toys. It’s expired makeup, 25 jars of candles, clothes that don’t fit, and shoes that hurt.

Take turns at being the creative genius behind dinner. Let each member of the family decide what’s for dinner one night. Then just make it. Trying to decide what to make is much harder than actually making it.
Take turns. Give and take. What can you do in the next week to take turns? It’s important for toddlers to know that we all can get our turn. It teaches patience and treasuring the time when it’s our turn. There is a time to celebrate it being our turn, and then we get to bless someone else when it’s their turn. It shouldn’t always be about us or about it being our turn forever.

With what, this week, are you going to take turns?

The un-fun resolution

Resolution-schmezolution….maybe you make them, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ve kept it for these first two weeks, maybe it didn’t last.

This blog may not be funny, clever or cute. But it’s important. Here’s one resolution that I am begging you to do – It’s a three step project:

 

  1. Discuss.
  2. Make an appointment.
  3. Complete the process.

 

We talk, we think about it, we get opinions from others, we talk some more. “Discuss” is even better, indicating a two-way conversation. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Discuss when you’re not tired, when you’re not mad, and on a few different occasions. Don’t let this project end with just talk or discussion.

 

Make an appointment with a professional that will help you document the important decisions and think of things you did not.

 

Complete the process – put it in ink, get the signatures on paper, pay the fee, put it in a safe place and tell close friends where it’s at.

 

What are you talking about, you ask? What? What?

 

Your will. Your spouse’s will. Your parents’ will. God forbid your childrens’ will (if over 18). Not just your “Last Will and Testament” but a living trust, guardianship, estate “stuff.”  See, I am no expert in what all you need. But you need IT.

 

I was lucky that my husband Kevin and I did create our wills, and had discussions in the process. It was easy then because we were young and healthy. Death was a far, faraway place and time so it wasn’t that painful to talk about. In our case, sadly, it wasn’t as far away as we wished. But, having a will done and having had some discussions made it a slightly less complicated process in a time that had enough complication already.

 

I hope death for you, too, is a far, faraway place and time.

 

But, I beg of you – do it now, so that later on it’s already done. And if you have done it, update it!  Maybe you’ve had kids or more kids, or had kids leave the nest and things need to be adjusted. If you are married, do you and your spouse agree on whom should care for your children if you both are gone? As your parents get older, are they the right choice? What about siblings or best friends?

The grieving people left behind often ask, “what would (my loved one) have wanted?”  I wish I knew if he would be ok with me selling his tools….Who should her jewelry go to?  There will still be some questions like that, but have the discussions now.

 

Pay the money for an attorney or service that will do this right. Maybe set aside some tax money for it. Get quotes and advice from others on economical but wise professionals in this area. It hurts to pay for something that isn’t fun and immediately useful – but this is important long-term.

 

Get that “Last Will and Testament” done so that when His will be done you know you’ve eased the burden of those left after you are gone.

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(Photo courtesy of the odessey online dot com)
Come back again next time for a happier blog about rainbows and ponies…(or something cheerier). But for now, thanks for reading and seriously considering getting this done.

The un-magical Christmas

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(Photo credit Lazulo.com)

This is a great Christmas. A nice, fun, relaxing Christmas. But it’s not “magical.”  I didn’t put up any outside house lights, so I am the Scrooge neighbor in between two other Magical Houses.

I put up about ⅓ of the decorations that I normally do – mostly due to my toddler and the kitty.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m not scurrying around setting out a plate of cookies for Santa, leaving carrots for the reindeer or even mentioning Santa’s name.

About 95% of the shopping was done online,  it is 99% wrapped and mostly under the tree.

But there’s not much “Magical” about this Christmas. I haven’t watched one single Christmas movie with my kids. We haven’t read any Christmas books.

We did go to a fantastic church service that renewed my faith that God has a purpose for me and I just need to trust, follow, and let my purpose help & serve others, shining God’s light along the way. (Thank goodness church didn’t tell us we needed to be Magical).

I didn’t make a special Christmas meal today nor do I have plans to tomorrow. We had waffles tonight and I’m thinking Mac N Cheese tomorrow.

I’m just feeling “meh” this year.  I know I’m not alone in this.

I’m grateful, I’m blessed, I’m happy. But I’m also tired. And it’s ok to not be Magical this year. It’s really ok.

I’m thinking maybe next year I’ll be magical. But this year, it’s ok to just be. Be what we are, where we are, whatever that looks like.

I may be tired, but I’m not stressed. I am lucky to be where I’m at and have both kids at home with me, healthy and happy. My house is a mess and it’s not bothering me. (Maybe because I’m tired).

My hope for all of you this Christmas….is you accept where you are — and make the best of it.

Maybe this year things have changed for you. Maybe you broke tradition, by your choice or it was forced upon you. Maybe you’ve had to limit the spending or see an empty chair at the table this year. Maybe the kids are doing their own thing this year and it’s just a little quieter. Maybe you’re hoping things will be better next year.

Maybe this year you feel more blessed than ever. Maybe things couldn’t get any better. Enjoy it and appreciate it, and thank God for it.

Whatever your situation this year – magical or marginal – I hope you are able to enjoy every moment and focus on the positive, important things in life. We are all here for a (Magical) reason….Jesus Christ. We do have a purpose, talent, and gift from above and we are all loved…deeper than we can comprehend.

As long as you make the best of where you are, without comparison to what the world tells us we need to be buying and Pinterest-ing, I hope you can be at peace this season.

Love and blessings to you all….

 

Let it go….let it go!

I’m singing that tune tonight because I’m trying to make myself obey it.

Are you trying to tell yourself, “Let it go” to something trivial in your life? There has GOT to be something you are getting all anxious or annoyed about…that doesn’t really matter. In the grand scheme of life…it doesn’t matter. Deep down you know this.

You see – my son just handed me his grade from a project we both worked on. (I have written this sentence 5 times to avoid ending in a proposition and they all sound wrong. I apologize to anyone who is offended by this faux pas. I am asking you to “let it go.”) 🙂

About a month ago, while my son was home sick from school, we were given the details of an assignment that was coming up. It was creating an animal of your choosing out of cardboard, painting it, decorating it, etc. At the time, we completely blew it off, because we had three+ weeks of sickness in our house.

Five days before it was due, I was surfing through emails and panicked when I saw the reminder about the project. Thanks be to God, my mom was staying with us for a few days which allowed us more time to work on it.

Because this was labeled a “family project” I really dove in.  I basically led the project with a controlling agenda and let my son help. Hey, if my name is going to be on this, it has to be impressive. Sadly, these were real thoughts going through my head. Towards the end, I really thought it was good. It wasn’t museum quality, but I raised my eyebrows a few times, impressed with what I, I mean we’d, done with only three days of actually working on it.

And then, I saw a few photos on Facebook of the other kids’ (family) projects. I was stunned. I’m serious – these could be featured in a museum! My jaw dropped and instantly I felt like our tiger project stunk. I started seeing flaws that I hadn’t noticed before. The scale – oh the legs are too short! I ruined the face! Worst of all, I complained in front of my son.

But my son – he loved our project. The tiger was his idea, and he didn’t hate the visit to Michael’s to pick out the paint colors and marbles for the eyeballs. He liked painting it and told me several times he thought we were doing a good job on it. He never once changed his tune when he saw the other kids’ projects on Facebook. It didn’t even phase him to compare his project to theirs.

So why was I having such a problem with it? Maybe the other moms spent more time on it. Or, maybe they did it in two days instead of my three? Maybe they had more help. Or, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they ….  aren’t me. And these moms…I really like them. They weren’t bragging or doing it to compare to others. Why was I twisting it into an opportunity to feel bad about myself?

So, when I saw the grade “we” received…..all I could say to myself is, “Let it go.”  Let go of the guilt and the disappointment in myself. I did the best with what I had. Shame on me for introducing my son to ugly comparison, when we were already proud of what we’d done.

For what reason do you need to tell yourself “Let it go” today?

Maybe it’s wrapping presents in floral paper since you ran out of Christmas paper, telling your kids to wear their dirty jeans again since you didn’t do laundry, leaving the toddler’s crayon masterpiece on the wall, or  letting your spouse win an argument tonight for the sake of peace…..let it go.

So, pals, join me tonight: Let. It. (whatever “it” might be). GO.

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I had been trying to “let it go” ever since my son turned it in and there was nothing more to be done. Now, I can for sure. ……….. Even the extra credit was earned. BOOOOOOOM!