Friday, February 26, 2010


On this day of your life, God wants you to know ... that to love is to be vulnerable.
Love is the opening of the heart, the welcoming of your beloved. Loving is not secure, authentic loving is risky. Security lies behind the walls of a closed heart. You either invite the union by opening in love, or you secure the isolation by closing down.

I read that this morning, kind of shrugged, and thought, Well, that doesn't really apply.   I love and am loved by my boys, my husband, my family, my friends.  I'm already open and taking that risk.  Then God poked me in the back, tapped me on the shoulder, whispered in my ear...  (Wait,  I am not a crazy person.  I don't mean He actually poked me or any of that.  I didn't actually hear a voice.  But it was the same as if I had...)
So, I'm sitting there, almost smirking to myself about how I've already got this one handled, and then... Bam!  Gibbs Slap to the head.... (Come on, you watch NCIS don't you?  Mark Harmon rocks!)  Anyway, I get this mental slap-to-the-back-of-the-head and the not exactly whispered.... "What about Me?" 

As usual, He's right, and I'm wrong. 
Do I love God?  Yes!
Do I go to worship? Yes! 
Do I pray regularly? Yes!
Do I try to go about my daily life as I think He might want me to? Yes.
Do I participate in handbells and other groups at church?  Yes.
Do I read and study and reflect?  Yes. 
Is my heart completely open and fully taking the risk of loving and being loved by Him?  No.

That's a little shocking isn't it?  It's my secret (not-so-secret now...) confession.  I am still afraid.  I am still worried about offending people who might not agree with me.  I am still worried that people will think I'm 'one of those religious nuts'.  I am not comfortable talking to people about God, or telling them that I will pray for them.   I am worried about being judged.  I still isolate myself from God, even though I know that He is always with me, always supporting me, always loving me.  Sad, right?

I had a friend ask me the other day if I had given up anything for Lent, or if that was just something Catholics do.  And I couldn't say it.  I wrote out this beautiful post about it, obviously have it well thought out and am doing it everyday, but I couldn't say it.  I was afraid.  And then I was ashamed at not taking the awesome opportunity to share with her.   So I tried to start telling her, but it just came out a jumbled mess that didn't make much sense.  I wasn't comfortable talking about how I look at it as giving up something that separates us from God. That was just too risky.  And because I haven't let my heart truly, fully open, I lost a perfect opportunity to share God's love.  Shame on me.

God, make a fresh start in me,
      shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
   Don't throw me out with the trash,
      or fail to breathe holiness in me.
   Bring me back from gray exile,
      put a fresh wind in my sails!
   Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
      so the lost can find their way home.
   Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
      and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
   Unbutton my lips, dear God;
      I'll let loose with your praise. 
Psalm 51:10-13 (The Message)
Something I need to, and will be,  working on, to be sure.  It's just not something you ignore when you're head slapped and told 'snap out of it' by the real 'boss'.  So this is me, saying, "Yes, Boss!" May God help me to unbutton my lips and my heart, so I can sing His praises and share His love.

May you be blessed with a fully open heart, 
and filled to overflowing with His love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's not all about me

I wrote before about how we were going to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate my oldest's upcoming birthday.   Not my personal idea of fun, but lots of fun for a mom to watch her boys have such a great time.  And I even learned a few things while we were there.

My youngest fell in love with these wave runners that were glued to the floor on the little kids area of the waterpark.  He pretty much just wanted to sit on them and shoot water at people the whole time if he wasn't floating in the lazy river.  He told me they weren't shooting water out of their squirters, but that they were squirting out cheese.  Both days he told me this.  I envisioned him riding a giant can of spray cheese, but it quickly got boring to just stand there and watch him squirt water cheese for an hour.   So I did a little yoga.  I kid you not.  In one of my classes last week, the teacher had us squatting on our toes.  It's supposed to be good for the soles of your feet.  And she said that if it's really torture for your feet to do this (like it is for mine), that you should try to do it a least once or twice a day for a couple of breaths.  So I toe-squatted next to the cheese rider.  And I tried to just be in the moment and appreciate how much fun he was having, instead of thinking about how bored I was.  He was so happy to be there doing that while the older ones rode the bigger rides, and all I had to do was just stand squat and watch. 

Later, we made a second trip to the arcade.  Nana generously gave each of the boys money for more tokens, so they all headed off to find their favorites from the first visit.  Nick's was one of those claw machines that picks up candy, and if you miss, you get to try again.  Perfect for a three year old.  Success on every try.  He was in heaven.   I, however, was bored again.  And I was worrying about him running out of tokens.  And not getting any tickets. And not getting to play any of the other games.   Until I remembered how happy the wave cheese rider had made him, and realized this was exactly the same.  They were his tokens, so if this made him happy, so be it.  Again, I let go of what I wanted, handed him token after token, held out the bag for him to put his candy into, and just enjoyed watching him have fun.  In his eyes, it was absolutely perfect, and he wouldn't have changed a thing.  All my worrying was for nothing (as it usually is...).

Finally, once we had made it back home and were doing the bedtime thing, I was once again ready to be done and move on.  I laid in their room with the boys, waiting for them to go to sleep, silently wishing they would hurry up.  Then I thought of just trying to be present in the moment again.  I thought how blessed I am to have two healthy little boys to love.  And then I thought of three mothers I know,  who would have given anything to be in that same situation I was wishing to hurry along.   A good friend whose son is very sick and in the hospital again for surgery.  A mom who is planning a pancake fundraiser to honor the little girl she lost to cancer, instead of snuggling with her in bed.  A mom who lost a son to cancer, and would give anything just to kiss him goodnight and tell him she loves him, even if he were asleep. They wouldn't be wishing to hurry the moment along.  They would be wishing for it to never end.

And it hit me.  Or God whispered.  Or whatever....  It's not all about me!  Duh.  I really don't think I'm that self-centered, but I definitely needed the reminder that it's not all about ME.  It's all about showing love, spreading joy, to those we love.  Even showing love, God's love, to people we don't know.

Imagine that.  It's not all about me.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least 
of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
 Matthew 25:35-40 (New International Version)

 May you be blessed by showing love and 

spreading joy to someone else.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eureka! I have found it (or at least a piece of it!)

I have a confession to make.   I am a people pleaser.  It's not really such a good thing. I've always cared too much about what people think of me, what they think of how I look, what I'm doing, how my children are acting.  Even when I knew I wasn't really doing anything 'wrong', I would often feel.... I don't know, almost ashamed?... if someone disapproved of something about me.  Or even if I just thought they disapproved.  Or might disapprove.  Kind of ridiculous now writing that down, but it's true.  It has always been one of my struggles.  I want approval.

Yesterday, as I was trying yet again to fit in a trip to pick up my new glasses, I had a conversation in my head.  And I used my nice inner voice instead of the mean, judgemental one.  "Does it really matter if you fix your hair like you're going out on a date first?  They'll still give you your glasses if you're wearing a ponytail.   Just because it's in an upscale area, do you really need to dress up first?  No.  What you're wearing is fine.  It's GOOD ENOUGH!"   So off I went in my jeans and my ponytail to pick up my new glasses.  And do you know what happened?  I walked in the door, and back out (wearing my new glasses) in about 90 seconds.  Now, wouldn't I have felt foolish, and un-necessarily stressed, if I'd spent an hour doing my hair and makeup first?   Yes.  Did the girl tell me "Oh these are look cute!" even with my ponytail and jeans?  Yes!

Today, my friend and I met at McD's for an after school play date/mommy talk.  There were quite a few people there, and our boys happily played for an hour or so before getting hungry.  By the time we got our food, the place had pretty well cleared out, and it was nice and quiet in the play area.  We sat all four of our boys down at the table next to us, and let them eat.  Well, you know sooner or later, at least one of the boys was going to burp.  It just happens.  And then another one burped back.  And then they giggled.  And then another burp.  And more riotous giggles.  They were being boys and having such fun.   My friend and I looked at each other, recognized the harmless joy in our boys, and I said, "Well, at least it's just us in here and they aren't bothering anyone."  I'm a big believer teaching good manners, and good behavior, but also in letting children be children, and letting boys be boys.  Burping is a natural bodily function.  And somehow those bodily functions are just highly amusing to kids.  Go ahead an burp, have a little fun.  You're not hurting anyone, and it's not like we're out to dinner somewhere!

About 30 seconds after I said 'at least we're alone in here',  we hear from the other side of the post next to us: "THAT IS SO RUDE!!!  THEY SHOULD NOT BE BURPING LIKE THAT.  IT IS JUST RUDE.   I FIND IT VERY OFFENSIVE." 

Oh......crap.  Sorry, but that's what I thought.  Great, we're NOT alone in here, and now this mom is getting all huffy about it.   I mean, she was harsh.  And judgemental.  And the words coming at us just felt like venom.    So much so that, before I could form and offer an apology and explain that we had thought we were alone,  I was speechless.  I was.   I couldn't believe how harshly she was speaking to us, and assuming that she knew everything about how our boys behave ALL THE TIME, and how we've chosen to raise them.  (Now, let me just say, she had every right to be offended.  And even to ask us to get them to stop.  But it was the manner in which she was basically verbally attacking us that wasn't cool.)

In a kind voice, my friend replied with something like, "Yes, boys are like that.  Do you have any boys?"
She said: Yes, I do.  I have FIVE CHILDREN.  (With the tone, And I am a better mother than you!)

And then she continued on, and on, and on.  How it was rude.  How she doesn't allow that.  That her children are not allowed to burp.   Ever.  If they absolutely must, they have to leave the room first.  Are you kidding me?    How it is a constant battle, but she doesn't let them burp no matter what.  How she has five children, and if she can do it, then we could do it also.  As if we don't, and have never, taught our children any table manners. 

Now, as she continues to lecture us about how we should teach them manners, I have already long since quietly turned to the boys, and asked them to stop, since we are not the only ones in the playarea.  They stopped immediately, and ate the rest of their food talking quietly.  Not another burp, not even a tiny one. 

The mom is quiet for about a minute, and then starts lecturing us more on how it really is something that we should do, we should teach them table manners, and we should not let them burp, and we should this, and blah, blah, blah.  Now again, I have no problem with her feeling this way, but I do have a problem with her assuming to know how and what I've taught my children, and how and why I choose to parent them.  The venom coming from her was so awful, that I chose to not explain myself to her.  Because she wouldn't have understood anyway, that it was a choice, and a rare one for me, that we'd made to let the boys 'let loose' like that in public and just be boys and have fun.

I was so very angry at her presumptions, and her judgements, that I was shaking.  I was furious, livid, what other words can I use?  My friend even remarked to her at one point that while she felt our boys were being rude, her comments to us were feeling a bit rude as well.  She said, 'I have not said one word that has been rude to you' and then continued on with her lecture.  No, your words might not be rude in themselves, but your tone and sticking your nose into someone else's business certainly are!  Not to mention that the length of her berating us lasted for about five minutes compared to the 30 seconds of burping at the boys table.  Eventually, after she had stopped and started again about four times, I leaned around the post to face her and said, "I understand that you were offended.  But if you notice, they have long since stopped.  I would think that you could let the matter drop now."  And thankfully she did.

My friend and I tried to calm down from the adrenaline rush of being verbally attacked, and from being so angry about her presumptions about us and our boys.  We're talking about having something to blog about (hmmm... SNL could do a skit of Reba McIntyre.... 'Let's Give Them Something to Blog About...')  As wer're talking she says, laughing,  "Well, you'll have to find a way to find balance in this now you know!"

That got me thinking, and I actually calmed down and let it go pretty quickly after that.  Because I realized that I wasn't trying to please that mom.  I knew that I had taught my children table manners and good behavior.  I knew that I didn't find any harm in choosing to let them let loose for a change, since we thought we were alone.  I knew that I was sorry to have offended her, but that it was truly just an honest mistake about us being alone in the play area.  I knew that **gasp!!**, I don't think burping is that big a deal.  I knew that I wouldn't have gone back and made different choices.   I knew that I'm confident that both my friend and I are good moms. 

And so, Eureka!! I have found it!!   A tiny piece of that balance I'm seeking.  It's been percolating, and now I have the actual feeling (not just me telling myself) that I'm good enough the way I am, and that I'm a good mom, regardless of what some other mom might think. An unexpected blessing to sure!
A Simple Guide for Behavior
Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—
unless, of course, you want the same treatment. 
That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 
It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face 
and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 
Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' 
when your own face is distorted by contempt? 
It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, 
playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. 
Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, 
and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
Matthew 7: 1-5 The Message

May you be blessed with God's idea of good behavior :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Choosing Thankfulness

Tonight, I am exhausted, but I am thankful for it means I got a lot accomplished today.

Tonight, my lungs are aching from the cold, but I am thankful for being able to breathe at all, when others struggle with much more serious illnesses.

Tonight, I am freezing, but I am thankful for the roof over my head, and my warm bed to crawl into.

Tonight, I really don't want to put the boys to bed, but I am thankful for the blessing of having not one, but two wonderful children.

Tonight, I am overwhelmed by the toys that I've pulled out to sort, organize, and give away, but I am thankful that we are blessed enough to be able to provide these luxuries for our boys when many others long for simple necessities.

Tonight, I don't really want to read bedtime stories, but I am thankful for the closet full of books that my boys and I enjoy together.

Tonight, I don't feel like drinking water with my dinner, but I am thankful for clean drinking water at my fingertips any time of the day or night.

Tonight, I don't feel like doing laundry, but I am thankful for the clothes we wear and for the laundry room in which to easily get them clean.

Tonight, I am thankful for so many things....

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, 

for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New International Version)  

What blessings are you thankful for tonight?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Big Test

So, I feel like I've just started this journey, and today is my first BIG TEST.  There are what feels like 900 things to do, and I'm already running out of time.  I'm feeling very UN-balanced.  We're taking my oldest to Great Wolf Lodge tonight  celebrate his upcoming 8th birthday.  Last year we surprised him with Great Wolf, because I refused to have another chaotic crazy birthday party.  The kindergarten one was just too much for me, so I told him we'd have a really cool birthday surprise instead of a party.  This year, he had the choice of a small party or another family fun trip, and he wanted to do Great Wolf again, so we're headed there right after school. 

This is where my test begins.  I'm really struggling today to stay calm, stay focused, and choose what matters most.  So, I stopped to write here and take a minute to think about it.  First I got all my paperwork done (the current stuff at least), and I have my desk cleared out to just the next pile of catch-up, must-do paperwork.  That can wait until Monday morning.  That's my uncluttering for Lent for the day too. 

Next up?  Well, I still need to finish packing for the night, clean up the house (my act of kindness for my hubby), pick up my new glasses, get gas for the car, check the P.O. box, get a huge pile of stuff ready for JBF, fix lunch, go by swim diapers, do a few minutes of yoga, read my devotional for the today/tomorrow.... The list is pretty much endless in my head.

So, what's most important?  I'm going to put the devotional reading/yoga at the top, because it won't make the cut if I don't.  Second, my act of kindness for my husband.  Cleaning the house before we leave so it's clean when we come home.  Third, I definitely need to finish packing up pjs, etc.  That shouldn't take long.    The glasses will just have to wait until Monday.  Although I really, really want to go pick them up and get to show off their cute new style, it's not the most important thing I need to do.  JBF will definitely have to wait, and if I can't get it done for the Ft. Worth sale, that will still be "good enough", since there is always Grapevine a few weeks later.    Lunch will have to fit in there somehwere along the way, too. 

Want to share the devotion with me?  My church sent this out, although I tweaked which version of the bible the verses came from.  Some are just easier for me to understand than others.  You can find any of them online, at and pick and choose.  It's awesome.

Friday, February 19    
What makes you a child of God?
 Grace-God’s free gift of love that I do not deserve and cannot earn. 

Yet you are the holy God,
   ruling from your throne
   and praised by Israel.
    Our ancestors trusted you,
   and you rescued them.
    When they cried out for help,
   you saved them,
   and you did not let them down
   when they depended on you.
Psalm 22:3-5 (Contemporary English Version)

Saturday, February 20  
Don’t you have to be good for God to love you?  
No. God loves me in spite of all I do wrong.

A Prayer for Protection
I come to you, LORD,
   for protection.
   Don't let me be ashamed.
   Do as you have promised
   and rescue me.
    Listen to my prayer
   and hurry to save me.
   Be my mighty rock and the fortress
   where I am safe.
    You, LORD God,
   are my mighty rock
   and my fortress.
   Lead me and guide me,
   so that your name
   will be honored.
    Protect me from hidden traps
   and keep me safe.
    You are faithful,
   and I trust you
   because you rescued me.
Psalm 31:1-5 (Contemporary English Version)

Okay, see?  I chose wisely.  I put this at the top of my to-do list and I already feel better. I can't earn God's love, no matter what I do.  What a relief to not have to try! (Not that I won't try, but at least I can take it a little easier on myself when I fail to live up to my own standards!)   And then reassurance that he will love me no matter what I do wrong.  He will protect me, and he will lead me and guide me, if I just let Him.  Amen!

May you be blessed by knowing that you don't have to be 
"good enough"
for God to love you.  He just does!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To Glow in the Darkness

The last couple of years, I attended the Ash Wednesday service at my church.  It was a service that I had never gone to before, and really didn't understand, but I'm in the handbell choir, and we were playing during the service, so there I was.  It ended up being one of the most powerful services I've ever attended.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  

First, what on earth is Ash Wednesday anyway?  That was the question I was thinking in my head, but too embarrassed to ask.  I'd heard of 'giving up for Lent' but never really understood it, or the reasons behind it.  I had absolutely no idea of how Ash Wednesday related to any of that either.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the 40 days leading up to Easter.  This is called Lent.
According to Wiki,    People may decide to observe Lent by giving up a favorite food or drink (e.g. chocolate, alcohol) or activity (e.g., going to the movies, playing video games, etc.) for Lent, or they may instead take on a Lenten discipline such as devotions, volunteering for charity work, and so on.  Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.

I still didn't get it.  What does giving up my morning coffee have to do with getting closer to God?  This seemed like one of those odd, it's-just-the-way-we-do-it, rituals to me, until I attended that first Ash Wednesday service.  Then it all clicked.  During the service, we were all asked to write down a few things that we would like to change about ourselves.  Things that were standing in our way to becoming the person God intends for us to be.   I think wrote down something like 'not worrying so much' and 'being a better, less frustrated mom'.  (It was the beginning of my search for balance even back then before I had a name for it in my head.)

Then, we came up to the front one by one with our little scraps of paper.  And we each took our paper to the candle flame, set it afire, and dropped it in a plate to turn to ash.  Physically, visually, giving up those things we had written.  Bringing ourselves closer to God.
The service continued, and included us once again coming up to the front, to recieve the ashes on our foreheads. Again, I didn't get it.  And I wish I could remember what the pastor said as he used the ashes to draw a cross on my forehead.  It was so, so powerful.  The most powerful moment I've ever had in church.   I can clearly picture his face, and remember exactly how I felt, how I felt almost as if God himself was reaching out through the pastor to me, marking me as a child of God, but can't for the life of me recall the words.   But the message was this:  Lent is about giving up something that separates us from God.  Not your morning coffee, or an afternoon piece of chocolate.  Something bigger and more important than that.  And Ash Wednesday is the reminder when you give that up, when you turn it to ash, you rise up from those ashes, and get just a little closer to God.   At least, for me, that is what Ash Wednesday and Lent are all about.

So, what am I giving up this year?  I'm giving up the clutter and chaos in my house.   It keeps me from being as good as I could be for my family, it frustrates me, and it takes up too much of my time that I could use for better things.  Gone!  To ashes!  I commit to turning at least one pile/drawer/cabinet full of clutter 'into ashes' each day during Lent.  Check back on Easter and I'll let you know how much of a difference it's made!

But, wait!   There's more!!  Again, I'm thankful for this blog, because in writing it I stumbled across this site, which says:  Lent is not all about giving things up. It's also about adding good things to our lives or to others' lives -- the kind of good things that follow on what Jesus asks of us.  Click on that link for ways to add things for Lent.

I'm going to use a couple of those ideas myself.  I will:

Do acts of kindness for people daily, just because the opportunity's there
give them little tastes of God's love.
Spend time daily appreciating the beauty of nature that makes me feel close to God
(Pictures to come, stay tuned!)
Use yoga and prayer as a way to worship daily
(More about how I see yoga as worship coming soon!)

Isaiah 58:6-12 (The Message)
 6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,

   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,

   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places

 9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
   quit blaming victims,
   quit gossiping about other people's sins,

If you are generous with the hungry
   and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
   your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
   I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
   firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
   a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
   rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
   restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
   make the community livable again.

What will you give up or add for Lent?

May you be blessed today, during this season of Lent,  
and every day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Math Night...It was a good lesson!

Today was a great day, and I spent a lot of it looking forward to getting to yoga class tonight.  I've had more than two weeks of classes now, and I love them.   All of them, doesn't matter which class or instructor.   I hate having to miss several days in a row though.  This has happened when I can't get there on Fridays, sleep in and miss Saturday mornings, and then also miss Sunday because of the Super Bowl and Valentines Day.  I can really feel it.  I am tight and sore.  I want to go to yoga!!  I managed 40 minutes at home last night, but without the heated room, it's just not the same.  Today, however, there is a class late enough that I can make it after the hubby is home from work.  Hooray!  Yoga tonight!

I picked the boys up from school, looking forward to yoga tonight, and headed to McD's playland.  We've got a now standing date with some good friends to play and socialize after school.  It's great for the boys, it's great for us as moms too.  Everyone is happy, and we're out of the house not making a mess.  It's a win-win blessing all around.

We stayed at the playland until the dinner chaos started, then headed home.  Yea!  Yoga tonight!  I can't wait!  We headed in the house for a few minutes to clean out lunch boxes, empty papers out of folders, and put away backpacks.  Then we headed out the door to the school's Family Math & Science Night from 6 to 7.   Last thing to do before yoga!  Yea! 

We got to the school right at 6, because I need to leave for yoga at 7!,  and headed down to the hall where my oldest's grade level had set up four rooms of math and science activities.   We started out building and measuring a paper snowman, and by 6:10, I was already thinking, Hurry up! We're never going to get through all this so I can go to yoga.  I found myself telling that voice to relax,  it will all work out.  This is making my boys happy, that's what matters.  A minute or two later.... Arrgghh!!  How many buttons do  you need to color on that snowman!  Come on!!  Let's move on!  I want to go to yoga tonight!!!  I found myself secretly hoping for the huge crowd and crazy chaos that we faced at last year's Math Night.  Maybe we'll get to leave early because it will just be too crowded and hard to do I can go to yoga!

Then, I overheard the mom next to me telling her daughter how to measure her snowman correctly.  No, not like that, like this... to the quarter inch!  No, the quarter inch... 1 and 1/4.  One quarter.  One and one quarter.  Yes, but don't make the one so big.  Do it like this....   And I thought to myself, wow, this is supposed to be fun.  They're only supposed to measure to the nearest inch, why all the extra pressure?  No grades here, does it really matter if her 1/4 is a little lopsided? Does she even need to write 1/4 for that matter?  Just let her have fun with it.  And then it hit me.  In my head, I'm just as bad as that.  I'm the fun-hater.  Hurry up and color those buttons, because I want to go to yoga!  I wasn't being in the moment and accepting the glory of it as it is RIGHT NOW.  Right now, I'm being a mom to two great little boys.  We're supposed to be having fun together, and instead of being present, I'm worrying about yoga later.   

So I let go of yoga, and decided if it happens, great, and if not, then that's great too.  I'm going to be present now, have fun, and enjoy my boys.  And to quote my oldest,  "It...was.....Awe----SOME!!"
Mentally adding 9+8+12+4+5....
and he got it right! 

 We measured, we added, we glued, and then there was this awesome goopy stuff with cornstarch at the end.   And not once did I again think hurry up, or let's go, or but I want to go to yoga!
My boys mixing up the goop

That was FUN!  This cornstarch goopy stuff?  Way-cool.  It's part liquid, part solid.  You roll it into a ball in your hand, and then when you let go it turns back to liquid and oozes through your fingers.  My boys wouldn't touch it.  "Eeeww..... gross... I'm not touching that stuff!"    They were fascinated watching me play with it, and let me just say, they missed out on the fun!  I could have played with that stuff for quite awhile.  Very fun.  Actually quite stress-relieving too.   And it was such a blessing to gross them out! 

I'm so glad that I let go of the yoga and just had fun with my boys.   They couldn't stop saying how awesome it was on the way home.  "It was Awe---SOME!!  (I wish I could type that sing song voice....) Today was the best day ever!"  They felt love and joy because I let go of what I wanted and focused on enjoying and loving them instead.  I was not giving up and self-sacrificing and then resenting, but changing my priority, and then enjoying it.   And I am so thankful for that lesson!

A true blessing and all because I didn't get my way!
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.  Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)
May you love and be loved as God loves us, and may you be blessed by not getting your way!

Seeking Balance

I feel like this is going to sound like the title of an old 80's movie:

Desparately Seeking Balance
Mom seeks balance in life.  Must include children, husband, God, extended family, office paperwork, housekeeping/cleaning, exercise, prayer & meditation, healthy eating, garden/yardwork, health management for self & family, maintaining friendships, and at least a little time for herself.  Not necessarily in that order.  If you have the answer, please contact below in the comments!  

Whoooo.... No wonder I feel so stressed out all the time!  That is a really big workload for just one person.  For me, I feel like I have to always do everything perfectly.  To MY standards, which are really so high that no one could ever meet them.  So, I just set myself up to fail and not feel like I'm not good enough.  And, of course, I would never expect anyone else to reach these crazy standards.  Just me, and that mean inner voice.  As Some Girl says, "that deep, mean inner voice seems to be a voice of perfectionism… you’re not pretty enough, you’re house is not clean enough, you’re yard is not nice enough, you’re not the best, you need to be better…"  But the truth is, we are, I AM,  good enough.  God made us, each of us, to be unique and special.  Who am I to doubt his work?

and I praise you
   because of
   the wonderful way
   you created me.
   Everything you do is marvelous!
   Of this I have no doubt.
 Psalm 139:14 (Contemporary English Version)

I've been trying to work on this balancing act for awhile now, and I'm slowly starting to get a little better at it, day by day.  One of the things that is helping me is to pay attention to the little nudges, signs, and whispers that God puts for us everywhere, if we will only notice them.  These little nudges help me keep it all in the right perspective, and they help me kick that mean inner voice in the pants and replace it with kinder voice that says, "You've got this, girl.  Just keep going.  You can do it!"  A nicer voice that talks to me as I think God might.

I had a couple of these signs and messages on Sunday, in addition to my Valentine.  One, came from Facebook, of all places.  One of those little apps that my friends use, and when I clicked on it, my message said:

On this day of your life, Michelle, we believe God wants you to know ... that you are perfect as you are.  God doesn't create faulty life. No. Everything created by God is perfect, and so are you. So stop driving yourself mad with endless ways to improve, and just accept the glory of your being as is.

Now, I have to say, I read this and thought, well, that's perfect, except for the part about not needing to improve.  Then I started this post, and I'm 'hearing'  it altogether differently. Okay, okay, I hear You!  I'll stop telling myself I need to improve, and focus instead on what You want me to do.  A little bit of good mom balanced with a little cleaning house, balanced with a little prayer, balanced with a little exercise, balanced with.... Being in the moment and accepting the glory of my being as it is RIGHT NOW.

The other messages I got on Sunday were from church.  A beautiful worship song, one of my favorites, played with Perfect Timing to get me to listen more to God.  I'll tell you more about that later.  And a sermon message about 'Dropping the Weight of Stress."  Hmmmm.... am I that stubborn that you need to beat it into my head, Lord?  I guess I am.  But I hear You now!  :)

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. 
Get away with me and you'll recover your life. 
I'll show you how to take a real rest. 
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. 
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Wow, I love this blog!  Did God just whisper the answer to my Desparately Seeking Balance question?  I think so.  And He did it with just three little words:  "Come to me."  Wow.  

 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
      And I said, "Here I am. Send me!"

Isaiah 6:8 (New International Version)

One of my favorite hymns comes from this verse, and I think that it is such a beautiful song.

Here's a version I found to share with you: Here I am, Lord 

May you enjoy and be blessed by it. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day Blessings

This has been a crazy winter.  On a day when the average high temperature should have been around 60, we had a record breaking foot of snow.  It still boggles my mind with the amount of it, and how beautiful it all was.  Even now, four days later, there is still snow melting and dripping everywhere.  Just amazing.

But, it's COLD!  And I'm honestly just tired of being cold.  That picture up there is my backyard!  This is Texas for goodness sake, not upstate New York!  I'm tired of the wet, and the mud, and all of it.  I usually love winter, but I've had enough.  This last round of it has made my asthma act up, my lungs hurt, and I keep hearing myself ask, "Lord, is it EVER going to be warm again?".   I even promised my husband that I will not complain this summer when it's 110 out.  I promise!! 

But, I'm trying to be patient, and I'm trying to find a better balance in life, so I'm trying to not complain too much, but I don't think it's working.  I mean, this whole post is a complaint, right?  Well, so far, at least.  
Then, yesterday morning,  on the way to church, I pulled out to the end of my driveway, and had to sit for a minute or two to wait for my finicky car to warm up.  I looked around, and....I got a flower for Valentine's day.  No, not from my husband, because we really don't do up the whole Valentine's thing usually.  Most times we agree that it's silly to waste money for a greeting card holiday when we should be letting each other know how much we love one another every day of the year.  Now, he does offer to buy me flowers, and I always tell him to just let me buy some flowers for the yard, so at least we can enjoy them all summer.  It works for us, and we're both happy with that.   So, if not from the hubby, then what am I talking about?  Check it out:

A crocus!!  A beautiful tiny purple crocus, peeking up  from under the leaves and snow.  Best Valentine's present ever, because I can't help but think that God put it there just for me to see.  
He heard my prayers, 
and He answered with a tiny blessing and sign of hope, that yes, it will be warm again.  

Now, of course, I know that I'm the one who planted that little crocus bulb last fall (a rather neat memory for me... trying to get them all planted just before a cold front and rain storm came through... I didn't quite make it and I was soaked to the skin when I came in, but gosh was that fun!  Ooooh...I had forgotten all about that!).  So, yes, I planted it, but God made it grow, and it was His timing that put that little bloom out just to answer a prayer and bring me joy.  I can't help but think that He also knew what a precious childhood memory that would recall for me also, those little flowers blooming in what seemed like impossible weather.  

A flower, a gift, an answered prayer, & precious memories all in one...what a blessing!  
Thank you, Lord!

May you all be as blessed, and feel God's love around you every day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

True Beauty

 This is north Texas.  We have a very mild winter, usually.  A rare snow usually lasts about an hour, and starts to melt before you can even get out in it to go play.  This year, we've had four.  Including an absolutely incredible White Christmas.  And this last one, is even more awe inspiring than the White Christmas.  It started sometime before dawn on Thursday, and by sunrise we had over two inches outside.  It kept snowing all day, until well after midnight.  

Friday morning, there is over a foot of pure beauty outside.


Outside, it is so peaceful.  There is only silence, and a few birds twittering around, 
flying about looking for berries.  
Just silence. 

Only the sound of snow falling in mini-avalanches from the tree branches above.  I can't think of anything so perfect or magical.
And just a touch of whimsy...
Our Mr. Snowman (at 5'6" tall) from yesterday is taking in all the beauty with a little yoga.  A deep backbend, or maybe a little side angle pose?  I'm not sure which.... (but I love it!)

I'd love to join him out there for a little savasana, 
but somehow I don't think it would be as relaxing as it looks.  
And who wants a face full of snow from above while they try to relax anyway, right?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The beginning

February 2010 - - The start of my yoga journey.  Well, I officially started at the very end of January, but life is about the big picture, and not the tiny details, right?  So, February 2010.  I took the $10 for 10 days trial period, and of course my boys start throwing up the next morning.  So I missed about 1/2 of my 10 days, but the last half was beyond awesome.  After only a couple of practices I can already see a difference in my ability, and I am feeling so much energy.  So much positive energy, and no more afternoon slump everyday.  It is such a blessing.   Yea, me! 

I feel so good going to class.  I feel GREAT after class.  I sometimes still wonder 'why am I doing this to myself?' in the middle of a class, but it's fleeting, and then the feeling of purpose and power returns.  Last night during practice the teacher commented about returning your focus to your intention if you are wondering what you are doing here.  I laughed out loud, because that was exactly what was going through my mind.  And then I focused back on my intention for that practice:  HOPE.  There is so much hope and positive energy out there if I can just choose to focus on that instead of all the things that try to overwhelm and bring me down.

So, roughly two weeks in, and I still love it, can't wait to go again.  I've tried a lot of the different class options.  Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Hatha Fusion, Yin-Yang, and Restorative.  Each is a blessing in it's own wonderful way.

Thank you, LORD, for all my many blessings.  They are so many for just one person.  I can't thank You enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Percolating Practice

I've started this blog in order tell the story of my quest for balance and my journey with yoga.  You might think my choice of blog names is a little odd, and I guess it is, but it speaks to me, which is what matters.


to become active, lively, spirited.  

to show activity, movement, or life.  

to grow or spread gradually. germinate.


to perform or do habitually or usually.

to exercise oneself by repeated performance in order to acquire skill.

All of these definitions fit perfectly what I'm trying to do, both with yoga and with seeking balance (more on that later).  'Percolating' makes me think of sitting in my grandmother's kitchen, watching her make coffee in an ancient percolator on the stovetop.  I so loved those childhood summer visits to the country, to a slower paced, oh-so-different way of life.  

And so, I chose 'percolating' for my title because I want to become active, lively, & spirited, to grow in so many ways.  To germinate (why do I love that word so much?).  In order to do this, I plan to make these efforts a habit, to exercise myself by repeated performance in order to acquire skill, not just skill with yoga, but in all the many areas I'm seeking balance.   

Here's to my Percolating Practice...  may it be a successful adventure of active, lively & spirited growth.