Dear America, It’s time.

This has been weighing heavily on my heart.

My goal in writing this, is not to diminish any one side’s voice.

Rather, to bring to the table that there is a time and a season for everything.

I feel like I’m pretty middle of the road- and even so, I know I’m still at fault, at times.

I’ve spent the better part of the past year trying my best to listen, and I still felt like there were times my voice wasn’t heard.

On one end, I’m tired of being a punching bag, on other, I need to stop throwing the punches, on the other, it’s time I make amends, and use my voice to help build bridges.

The point of this is, cycles happen- and they don’t break until there is change.

And, there needs to be more people standing up in the gap, building bridges to make change.

This is not to say that this is necessarily “your time” for any specific area- rather, whatever you are ready for, and on your time table- I’ll hope that you’ll remember and be open to what changes you are personally ready to take.

Politics aside, this is not to say don’t stand up for what you believe in.

Rather, stand up for what you believe in and be loving to your neighbor. Hear when you have wronged others, and when you’re ready- because we are all on different time tables- break the cycle.

We all have a responsibility to the parts we play in our circles, in our society, and in the world.

In different aspects of our lives, we may be in different parts of the cycle. We may be breaking cycles in one area, and still needing a lot of work in another. And in some- man, do we really need to just stop talking, and start listening and doing!

If I’m way off base, or you feel like any part of this was hurtful- please feel free to open up to conversation with me!

My goal is to keep a space that allows for honest, open communication that works towards coming together.

Trusting God is Hard

Sometimes, trusting God is hard. For a while now, I’ve been waiting on God in some key areas of my life. And, it feels like He is ignoring me. Deep desires of my heart. I feel like all I hear is crickets.

If I’m honest, the lack of answers. . . The sitting in waiting. The doing the work, only to get knocked down 15 levels. It has been so painful. The kind of painful that you are at the end of patience for waiting, and into I don’t even care any more, so I’m just going to stop praying and stop drawing near to God.

And that is so much more frustrating. Because, now I feel even further away from who I feel like God has called me to be. So much further away than Him being at the center of my marriage and our family. Further away, from where God has said He called me to. Further away from what He promised. Like, it all feels impossible. No matter which way I look- I don’t see how He is going to answer these prayers. I don’t see how He is going to bring healing.

And with the craziness of this last year- nothing makes sense right now. Absolutely nothing.

I was so sure that if x,y,z would happen, then God would x,y,z in our lives.

I do feel like He keeps sending me little reminders of His perfect timing, but right now- it is so hard to keep the faith that He will turn things around.

All of this has been weighing heavily on my heart.

And if you are out there reading this, just know:

It’s ok to be feel this way while you are in the waiting. Lay it all out to God- Trust me, He can handle it.

Following God doesn’t all of a sudden make life easier, and sunshine and roses. If you are feeling like it’s you and you aren’t worthy. That’s not true. You are so worthy. God loves you through the trials. Even if it feel like you aren’t alone, and you don’t want to pray about it any more. He is right there with you, waiting on you! He is patient.

Whatever it is you are waiting on- whatever storm you are walking through. There’s a rainbow on the other side. It’s beautiful. It won’t be stormy forever. When it’s hard, keep take one little step at a time, and He will guide you!

Even when it feels foggy. Even when it feels hard. Even when it feels like life is upside down, and you don’t see how anything will improve. Just keep walking. He is faithful.

One Thing: Budgeting/Finances

Background:

Finances. Eck. Not my favorite subject…people get weird when finances get brought up.

My finances have gone something like this…

(From the time I moved out of my parents house and into my own apartment)

Work 3 jobs, go to school, eat. sleep.repeat. Just like I didn’t make time to go through all of the stuff I had accumulated…I also didn’t make time and attention for my finances.

I struggled…just like every other person, starting out living on their own.

When my husband and I got married…it is by the grace of God that every need was met.

And, as we continued on in our marriage…we did ok.

For a couple of years.

Then, as I started working part-time and eventually stayed home for a year…our financial situation has slowly grown into a giant needing to be slayed.

But, if you rewind a year or two…you will see that I had prayed for this…

And looking back now….I just laugh…and shake my head…because that’s all you can do. I literally asked for this giant.

A couple of years ago, as I was pursing a Network Marketing business…you would hear stories about how people were in this financial situation. They were hurting financially, and when they made the jump into Network Marketing…they needed a God miracle.

And one night…I remember praying to God. “Break my finances, God….and put me in a place where I need you. Break my finances and put our situation back together, help us start over from ground zero.”

I knew that I have never really been in that place of need and hurt. So, I never really jumped in like they did…because they had been in a different place than I had.

I also knew that, we honestly hadn’t been faithful with the little things. We hadn’t been faithful with the little bit we had been given, and if we couldn’t do that…how could we be trusted with the big blessings? If we weren’t faithful with the little, then when the big blessings came…it still wouldn’t be enough.

So, I wanted to be able to be trusted with the big, so that we could help others.

The Bible says: “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. “ Luke 16:17

As I have mentioned before…I dream BIG. There is no small dream that crosses my mind.

And so, in that moment, I knew that I never really needed to depend on God in our finances in such a way that I had to worry in any way that it really hurt. I never needed to take a leap of faith, because I always leaned back on what was given in the natural.

Up until that point, we struggled, but we were comfortable- and God did always provide in some way or another, just when we needed it.

Over the last 2-3 years, God has shown us so much. We have learned so much.

And now, we are in a position where we are making the changes to set us up for long-term success.

And, waiting on God to slay this giant, once and for all.

Because, with prayer, action, and the Holy Spirit…God will have all the glory when this giant is slayed.

This is another one of those growth areas….

But, here is what we have done, so far…One Thing at a Time.

* A couple of years ago, my husband started working an extra part-time, work-from-home job so that I could stay home with our youngest when she was born.

* I went back to work for a year.

* We sold our house and downsized to Tiny Living. (There are other reasons for this, but that story is for another time.)

* I have started working jobs that can be on our time, flexible, and still contribute to household income. While also allowing for space to write, volunteer, and many others things that I love.

* Get rid of all monthly subscriptions or monthly bills that are not necessary and get back down to just the basics.

* Partner with referral and affiliate opportunities that come up- and I have to believe in their companies and products. I’m a big believer in multiple streams of income, and residual income. So, any chance I can take on that, and not have to invest a ton of money. I’m down. Again, as long as I love the product and company. What I love about these, is that they still take time to build. You have to put in hard work for reward…just like anything else. Anything worthwhile, takes time to build. And, as I do the hard work, the residual effect will take place in the long run. And if I do the hard work now, I don’t give up…the residual benefit will pay out later.

* I bought a budget wallet. If you want to know more about that-look up Dave Ramsey. Then look up a budget wallet on Amazon. Boom and done.

*Pray and allow God to do His thing. I literally asked to be in this position…(someone remind me next time to make sure I know what I’m asking for) and when He does…give the glory to God. (Again…I’m still learning how to do just that)

*Give faithfully- there’s a time and place for giving a God gift. A gift that is outside of what you can see there is room for. An outside of your comfort, I don’t see how God will make this work, but I’m going to do it, because He told me to gift. And then, there’s giving faithfully and consistently within your means. I’ve got the riskier one down-that one was hard. Now, it’s time to learn the latter. Equally hard, but in a different way.

There’s no way we could have taken all of this on at one time. We made changes slowly, over time.

If you find yourself walking along side me in this season, and you’re overwhelmed…

Remember…just one thing. Look up. Take a breath….seek God. And focus in on one thing you can change right now. Let God do the rest.

One Thing: Education/self development

Background:

After exiting teaching full time, shifting to part-time teaching, and entering the Network Marketing business…I was immersed in self-development.right.when.I.needed.it.

My heart was vulnerable. I was open to change. I dove in.

There are road blocks, every now and again…but you take the time to do the heart work, and move forward.

So, what did the process look like?

*Again, this is an area I have yet to fully develop, or set a solid foundation for. So, it’s a growth area.

* I went to (physically and virtually) all the trainings. I read all the books. I took all the notes.

*I prayed, read my bible. And the funny thing is, all the self-development crossed over with my stages I was walking with Jesus.

* Do the heart work.

* take all the notes (usually in the book)

* Now that I have to rely on making myself step up to the plate, my two ways of diving in to education and self-development: reading and listening to podcasts. Because that’s easiest at the moment.

Why do I invest in self-development, you might ask?

Easy. Growth. If I don’t have a growth mindset, I’ll be stuck right where I am. I don’t want to always be stuck right where I am. I always want to be moving forward. Every now and again, I get in a comfy spot…but it doesn’t usually last long…and when I start getting restless…I dive back in!

Why do I invest my time in education and what do I mean by education?

By education, I just mean that I take the time to read or find another way to learn about something I am passionate about.

My favorite college professor taught me what it means to be a lifelong learner. So, that love of learning has spilled over into my life after college. So, I’m trying to always learn about something:

-parenting

-how to be a follower of Jesus

-what I want my role as a mom and wife to look like

-what kind of friend I want to be

-anything science

-history, too

-teaching and education

-health and wellness/ exercise and nutrition

-photography

-Psychology and Mental Health

So, I find books, podcasts and articles over these topics and learn what I can about them.

Again…just one thing at a time.

You kind of just naturally learn about the things you are currently interested in. If you don’t have an interest in something, today, that you did yesterday, put that book down. You’ll come back to it, and if you don’t that’s ok! Pick a book (or article, or documentary, or podcast…you get the picture) that you’re excited to learn about today.

One Thing: Connect

Social Anxiety.

The fear of being nervous or uncomfortable in social settings” (webmd.com)

Connecting with other people is so hard for me. And, although I was “diagnosed” with social anxiety. I’ve come to the point where I’m not claiming it. I’m not going to let that define who I am, in the sense that it stops me from living the life I want to live, and it stops me from being the person I was designed to be. It’s not happening.

What is happening, is I’m using that to help me grow. I’m using that to connect with other people who have walked the same or similar path.

I’m thankful for Network Marketing. There’s one company in particular that threw me into Personal Development like no other. If it weren’t for that company, at that time, I wouldn’t have made the progress I’ve made.

I’m thankful for my mom. She helped me say “no” to solutions that were not beneficial for me, and frankly that sent me on a path of creative solutions- teaching me to be resourceful.

I’m thankful for my loving God. For the healing He provides.

Let me set the record straight. Healing comes from many different ways, and healing is different for each person. And for many, if not most, healing is a daily habit- not a once and for all.

Side note: 3 years ago, I made a vision board. One of my areas of growth, that I wanted was deeper friendship. I have a very similar picture to the one in this post pasted on my vision board. 3 years later, I’ve seen how that vision has come to pass in many different ways.

Background:

Let’s just paint the picture, real quick, and get a little vulnerable.

I was the little girl who was afraid of light switches. The kid/teenager who timed it right, on most occasions, that other girls/women didn’t see the stall I walked into in public restrooms. I waited in the public restroom for the other girls and women to finish their business, wash their hands, and walk out of the bathroom before I exited the stall. (I’m sure more people saw me than I realized, but I tried really hard to time it just right). Don’t ask me why I did these things. I have no idea. Haha. I’m sure it relates to the fear of social settings, and a need for control of that fear?

I was the teenager who had panic attacks in places like the fair and IKEA. Sweaty, itchy, swelling hands. Heart racing. Hard to catch your breath, panic attacks.

Got the picture?

It affected me in one way or another on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until I started talking about most of these things with my husband (then boyfriend), that I realized these things are not “normal” to all people. (Yikes).

Side note: Normal is a relative term. I’m thoroughly aware that most people have something they struggle with. Anxiety and social anxiety are common. When the anxiety is high, and affects your daily functional level- is not typical of people functioning in their healthy state.

To this day, I still have a hard time looking people in the eye when I am mad, frustrated, angry, or uncomfortable.

Most of the struggles that I have had due to “social anxiety”, I have overcome or at least improved upon.

I’ve gotten much better in many of these areas. I’ve grown so much, and am proud of that growth. I’ve worked hard and overcome a lot for it.

Yet, connecting with people, is still an area that I have to continually work at, process, and improve on, and it feels hard and uncomfortable most days.

So what has the process been for this?

* I don’t think that I really did much growing in my high school and early college years. I just survived the anxiety and avoided uncomfortable situations to the best of my ability.

* Taking classes in college that pushed my limits, helped.

* After I hit my “rock bottom” with anxiety and depression, I started going to therapy. This helped me a ton.

*Pray. Read my Bible. Pray. Bible study. Pray. Go to Church. Pray. Read more in my bible. Pray. Go to all on the conferences at church available, the classes too. Did I mention pray?

* Shortly and also overlapping this time, I was with a network marketing company that valued personal development. All the time spent in personal development, giving my life to Jesus, classes at church, and discipleship school….my friends and family…all contributed to me moving past the debilitating part of social anxiety- into growth and standing firm into who I was made to be.

* I went through a time where answering phone calls, text messages, and emails, immediately, was too much. So, I answered when I could…and sometimes not at all- mainly because the notifications drove me crazy, so I would open, read, and then forget to respond until days/weeks later…or I would just not remember at all.

* Eventually, I came out of all of that, began enjoying hanging out, calling and texting, again.

* Creating a weekly, and then a daily habit of building relationships with my family and friends. If I’m not careful, I could accidentally go weeks to months, before I see the people closest to me, outside of my husband and kids. I can very easily get stuck in a routine of dropping kids and hubby off at work, being at home, and daily pick ups. So, I make a habit out of connecting with other people, in some way. Making connections and building relationships has easily gone from something I dread (you know the part where you have to make yourself go be around people) to something I thoroughly enjoy.

My process most likely won’t work the same for you as it did for me. All the same, if I did exactly what you did..it won’t work for me.

We were all designed differently.

The most important part, is I took One Thing at a time. Slow steps. When I took on too much, I had set backs and started over again.

The best thing you can do is figure out what One Thing you can do.

Is there anything you can do to connect with other people right now?

Make a list of the areas within relationships that you want to grow. Start with one.

What’s the One Thing you can do? Write it down. Add it to your daily list. Check it off once a week. Once a week will become 2,3,4,5,6x…and then a daily habit. Sometimes, it’ll take months just to make that one thing a daily habit.

Seriously.

Growth doesn’t happen over night. You may not even see it until years later…

It takes a lot of work to get past any struggles related to connecting with people, but once you do….you meet some pretty amazing people.

One Thing: Time with Jesus

Often times, we try to over complicate things. We look around at other people, where there are in life. When we do that, sometimes, we are hard on ourselves. We try to do things that they are currently doing, because if they are doing those things…they must have done those things from the beginning to get where they are. And if they are doing things, then I must need to do those things, too. Right. Right? Wrong.

We were each made uniquely. What works for one person will not work for each one of us individually.

We can get ideas from other people. We can look at what they are doing, study what they are doing, and practice what they are doing. But we can not copy what they are doing, exactly. We have to be true to who we were made to be. We can take ideas from different sources, and combine those together, and then spin them all around into what works for us.

That’s what this is intended to be.

As I share about my “one thing” that was a key to unlock the other things….know that this is just one of many resources.

If you are a person that finds yourself barely able to keep your head above the water…take what you can and practice it. Don’t try to make things happen that aren’t designed to be practiced yet. Some of the information you will find will be to hold on until later. Until you have unlocked other pieces in your life. Some of the information will not be for you, and that’s ok. Some of the information you will need to tweak and make it work for you, and that’s ok, too. Take solace in hope. I’ve been there. It’s hard, and as you keep pushing forward. You will come out the other side. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be other hard things. What it does mean is that you are stretching your perseverance muscle in this area. When you do that, you’ll be able to take what you learn and use that in other areas.

If you find yourself in a similar season, take solace in the fact that you are walking this road with someone beside you. I’m right there with you, in the trenches.

If you’ve been there and done that, gained a ton of wisdom, and this brings back fond or even painful memories. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for the wisdom you pour out into others.

Background:

Growing up…I went through this process…

1. Confusion…Who is Jesus? Who is God? I don’t really understand any of this….during this time, I tried to make myself fit into a box that I wasn’t understanding, tried to do things I hadn’t built a foundation for, and did I say I was confused?

2. Ok…I kinda get it…if you want to be good….you follow God. Is that right? I do good things, I go to heaven…right? (I would later find out that this is not quite how it works…but its where I was at.)

3. Accept Jesus as my savior. I was about 13…and I had no idea what it meant or what I was doing….again, this is where there was still confusion and more of the trying to do things I wasn’t ready for….like reading my bible on my own. I didn’t know where to go what to do, how to do it….but, I also didn’t ask for help. I didn’t let anyone know that I needed help…so, I didn’t allow for a foundation to be built the first time I gave my life to Jesus.

4. Live life. Do things my way. This went on until I was about 27. I had lived my teenage years, ventured into adulthood. Early adulthood looked like, wake up, eat, go to school, go to work, sleep repeat with life events like getting married and having kids, graduating, and starting a career. From 24-27 is when I was having a ton of anxiety and depression. This was my rock bottom. I knew that I couldn’t keep going doing things my way.

5. Give my life to Jesus. For real this time. This time, I surrendered a whole lot more…not completely..because surrender has been a process for me. Honestly, its a lifelong process. Living life, continuing to go to church, allowing seeds to be planted…I understood what was happening this time. But this was the key. This was the one thing that unlocked the other things.

Out of my Daily 5, Time with Jesus is number one, because relationship with Him means that everything else falls into place. Not perfectly, but the way it should be with room for human error.

I had tried all the things first…journaling, reading my bible, worship, going to church, going to retreats and conferences. Those are all great…but without the one thing, its like putting a square peg into a round hole.

It’s ok to practice all of those things. They build a foundation, too. They build up your perseverance in other ways. But, I needed to realize that I needed to focus my attention on one thing. The key that I was missing was having a relationship with Jesus and surrendering my life to HIm.

Once that took place. I put my attention on that. What it looks like to have a relationship with Jesus and tell him day in and day out: Jesus, I can’t do this without you. Until then, there was tension in the other areas. This journaling isn’t working. I don’t know how to read the Bible and find your voice. Feeling awkward worshipping. And not even know what worship is or how to do it.

But once I gave my life to Him, the tension in that area released, and everything started slowly (for my time table- and perfectly on God’s time table) coming together and making sense.

From there, I was able to learn how to Journal with Jesus. Read the Bible looking for God’s voice. Worship. Praying. All the things that make up spending time with Jesus.

Here’s the thing. We get overwhelmed when we need to make it simple. What it boils down to, is pinpoint the tension. If there’s more than one source of tension, pick one that gives you peace. Practice them all here and there, but put your focus on one. When the tension releases, look up. Breathe. Now, tackle that next area.

You know where you are at in your journey. Maybe you have already given your life to Jesus, but praying is your tension. Put your focus on learning how to pray. Whatever your tension is. Learn how to do that one thing. Go to the conferences, the classes at your church, meet with mentors. Sometimes, you even have to put the basics of learning how to spend time with Jesus down for a minute to learn how to deal with giving your junk (you know- anger, sadness, all the hard stuff) to Jesus. Sometimes, that’s the key to go deeper. It’s like a wall- and you have to walk through letting him break that wall down, and that’s your tension. Then, you pick back up to adding those other things into your time with Jesus.

There’s no perfect way. There’s no one right way. This has just been my process, and one resource to you. Another perspective that hopefully breaks it down a little more and makes it simple. Stop trying to do it all, if it isn’t working. Focus on one thing at a time.

21 Days of Christmas: Day 3

I don’t know about you, 9x out of 10, if I’m in a hurry- my hands are full with kids in tow.

Most places I go, now, have automatic doors, curbside, or drive through. That’s because I tend to frequent places that help make life a little easier.

However, there was a time that I had: my large bag, a baby bag, and 1, 2, or 3 kids.

And, I don’t know if you’ve ever had your hands full, when a stranger holds a door open for you. . . But it’s small things, like holding a door open where people find hope in humanity.

So, for Day 3- Let’s do it. Hold open that door, wish them a great day, and smile!

21 Days of Christmas: Day 1

The theme of 21 Days of Christmas is kindness. I believe at the root of kindness is hope and love. We will start with showing ourselves kindness!!

This weekend, my kids have been with my in-laws. Today, I was going to take a day to get it all done. Did that happen? No.

I didn’t change out of my pajamas today. I lounged around, watched Christmas movies, and my husband slept. All.day. We both needed a day of complete rest.

To be honest, with traveling and COVID, we haven’t had many days without any of our kids. I didn’t realize just how worn out we were.

When you are that worn out. It is super hard to pour into others. It’s hard to show love and kindness, when you are running on empty.

So, for day 1: Take time for yourself. Get rejuvenated and refreshed, as best you can with the resources you have.

Take a nap. Read a book. Go on a walk. Do nothing. Whatever it is for you. Do it. Because, you can’t show others love and kindness well, unless you are doing it for yourself first.

21 Days of Christmas

This year has been hard, there’s no doubt about that. There’s been hardship for practically everyone this year. Fighting a world pandemic. An intense election. Much needed fight for social justice.

So much division.

I feel like this year was inevitable.

Over the past 10 years, it has seemed that each passing year there’s been more anger, more division in the US and across the world. It feels as though this year was the eruption point. The lava has been building for years, and now it’s seems everyone is shouting and not many are listening and doing, and frankly showing love to others.

What if we took the next 21 days, and created a new habit to love others when we disagree, even if we don’t want to.

Ya’ll. This is hard. Yet, I know that if we dig deep, find it within ourselves to say “enough is enough”, we can make a greater change and impact in our social circles. When we do that, I know it’ll make a big difference.

Now, I know I’m writing and sharing this later than I planned. The beauty is. . .we can take 21 days of Christmas and extend that into 2021 when most people feel the hope of Christmas leading up to Christmas Day, and the “magic” fades away. Let’s take that “magic” and keep spreading into the new year and beyond.