I’m Not Catholic, But…

Too often, this past year, I’ve been walking around looking only to the interests of those who are mostly like me. Far from keeping my heart tender, it’s starting to harden it toward those who don’t experience life the way my family and I do.

I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that treating others the way they want to be treated means anything other than treating everyone the way they’d like to be treated. It’s The Golden Rule, true. But, it’s one that I want to follow better in spirit and letter, this year.

I’m not Catholic, but I’ve always been inspired by the many stories centered around Mother Teresa‘s servant heart. She went into some of the harshest, grittiest, most detestable places and poured out kindness.

We can’t all head out to the far-reaches of this globe. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think every person should, either. In fact, anyone of us can look within our own city or town and find some “others” who need to be treated the way so many of us almost always are.

With dignity.

And respect.

And kindness.

Much the way I imagine Jesus to have tenderly looked on the woman who wiped His feet with her tears.

I want Him to be able to look upon me, and mine, that way.

As we embark upon a new year, I’m envisioning new family goals. This is one of them, for us. I want us to think more “neighborly” and less individually. Thinking through ways we can practice this in our community, I’ve come up with a few ideas. I’m sharing three of those, here, in the hopes that it will spark ideas of your own.

And as far as resolutions go, I think this is one that honors both the spirit and the letter of that golden rule so many of us claim to hold dear.

3 Ways A Family Can Treat Others the Way They Want to Be Treated

1. Draw pictures. Then, visit a local nursing home and share them with the residents. Share why we drew them. Just share our stories in written or drawn form. Give them encouragement to tell theirs. I’ll never forget the day I took a short story I had written with me to the nursing home I frequented in college. What started as a project for a class turned into a desire to continue fostering relationships with these frail yet fully alive elderly friends. Two of these residents had minds that were so sharp, even at 82 and 90. I brought the short story to finish it while I waited in the “parlor” for my visit with Margie. But, she snuck up on me in her wheelchair and asked what I was doing. After I told her, she demanded I read it. And then, she shared a completely unexpected story of her own. My life was changed that day. Her daughter, living in another country, wrote to me after her passing. She said that Margie lived for my visits. Just to feel connected to the world outside of that Nursing Home. I’ll never forget that. My children need to know that sometimes, the ones who need the most kindness are the ones you’d never expect.

2. Serve at a local Food Pantry or Shelter Kitchen. This is something I haven’t done in an embarrassingly long time. My children only know what it is to be served. Not to serve others. I’m being very honest. I don’t like writing that or reading that, but, it serves as a much-needed kick in the shorts to expose them to more postures of service. To help them take that chin down a notch or three and bend low to lift the chin of another. The blessing is one big boomerang of hope and goodness.

3. Ask at least one person in our house how they could be helpful to them, each day.
This is where we’ll be starting. “How can I help you?” Those are five powerful words, and I want each one of us to make them such a natural part of our vocabulary that they tumble out without prompting. I’ve made a Servant_Heart_Chart and included the picture below. It’s not fancy, but it does the job. #practicalforthewin

Servant_Heart_Chart_Missindeedy

My hope is that these children, of mine, will go about their days, weeks, and years with a heart bent on considering how they can treat others better than they deserve. This, to me, is the most difficult challenge a human undertakes.

Well, this human, anyway.

It’s why I require so much grace for my days.

But it is given. Oh, how it is! And I intend to make pouring it out a priority – for myself, and for my family.

Yes indeedy.

Do you have an idea for how to teach children to treat others with kindness?  Or, do you know of a great book with ideas for family service or servanthood? Please, share!

 

Oh Write Thirty

Is it just me, or is time kind of stampeding on? From the moment I turned forty, I feel like I’m constantly sprinting after time and yelling, “Slow DOWN, for the love!”

As soon as I saw that clock tick over to 12:01 a.m., January first, I was struck by one thought: I haven’t been diligent about focusing on my dream this past year.

Opportunity is knocking.

I am not fully prepared.

One doesn’t simply crack open the door for Opportunity.

Amiright?

It’s in the still quiet moments when I hear The Dream Giver whispering into my ear and heart. He seems to have to whisper the same word time and again: “Focus, child.”

I’m hanging onto that word and letting it drive me for 2015.

Over and over again, no matter how well-intentioned I am, I find myself running down rabbit trails. Some, are necessary. The project that my Autism Spectrum Disordered child has looming over his head becomes too big for him and begs further breaking down before we all break down. Those kind of unforeseen circumstances are the unavoidable trails.

But, then, there are the ones I step down willingly. The research for a pending trip become fodder for vacation dreaming. And poof! A week’s worth of days are spent using my writing time for Internet Surfing time.

That’s not even the kind of ten I like to hang!

I would never have described myself as one who needs help with direction, in the past. My life as a Second Grade Teacher, before children, dictated a routine. It demanded organization. It fostered creativity within the bounds of structure.

This past decade-and-a-half, though, God has shifted my life. It has been more about living moment-by-moment, based on the ever-changing needs of the ones I care for.

Looking back on the year of preparation that I had in 2014, I realize that the rabbit holes were awfully dark. It’s hard to write or create in the dark.

And, I’m not a rabbit.

Zeroing in on a word that will drive me, in this new year, isn’t something I intended to do. After all, I was all about being intentional in 2013. And I wasn’t all that…intentional. Then, in 2014, I thought much about pursue. But, rabbit holes!

So, here I sit, staring at the number2-0-1-5 and thinking, “Isn’t it time I get serious and focus?”

I can almost hear God doing the exasperated parent sigh. Almost. Although, I’m sure He would never. even.

One of the most beautiful things to come out of taking on the Write 31 Days Challenge last October was seeing how I thrive on routine. I knew that about myself, at one point in time. But, I’d forgotten. Being forced to write some every single day burst open the creative gates. It also kept me honest. Saying I was going to write every day, and then having to show up on Day Whatever without a thing in hand, was a mammoth motivator to stick to it.

Back to the whole idea of focus, I know what I have to do. I work well with a schedule. If it’s looming, I’m moving. That’s where I can start. I’ll choose an Oh Write Thirty time during each day and set my trusty time and just do it! Oh those smart Nike people!

And then, hopefully, the next time I hear Opportunity knocking, I can fling wide that door and welcome It in!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to close out of approximately four vacation destination tabs.

Yes indeedy.

What I Learned in 2014

2014 was a year full of new challenges, grand adventures, goals met, lessons learned, and a whole host of moments where dark chocolate was desperately needed! I’m including my favorite posts from each month. But, I have to tell you – it was not easy to choose which posts to include. In fact, reading through each month sent me running for the tissue box more than a time or four (not to mention the stash of dark chocolate chips I realized I was going to need to keep on hand just to get through the month of June!)

So, grab your favorite cup of something warm (or cold) and join me as I reflect back on 2014.

Lessons_Learned_2014_Missindeedy

In January, I learned that I was one in a million. I also realized how very deeply I love my Dermatologist.

February reminded me that Sweetman is wicked smaht, and that I need to pay better attention during our conversations.

March was the month where I finally pursued a long-held goal of mine to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. And, although the outcome wasn’t what I’d hoped, it felt good to give it a go.

And, of course, in April, Dentists became dead to me, as we learned of sweetgirl’s boo-boos on her teeth.

May was where I reflected on the BOOM created by the very different Myers-Briggs personalities in my marriage.

June brought a painful lesson in turning the other cheek, from Sweetboy, and reminded us how Autism can have painful ripple effects for a parent – but that it doesn’t win!

July reminded me that Sweetgirl is always watching, and that Autism can sweeten the interaction between siblings – especially when a yoga ball (or two) is involved.

August is when I finally realized where my mission field is. And, OH, how I yearn to work it well!

September was the month where I learned that I can both set a goal and reach it and set a goal and fail! The women’s triathlon was successful. The goal I set afterwards was not. (There is always 2015!)

In October, I proved that I can indeed get along with Commitment, after all. I accepted the Write 31 Days challenge. Because, Grace, I know Him well.

November was full of masks, casts, and WINS! (P.S. If you need me on January 1st or, LORD WILLING, January 12th, I’ll be parked in front of the television, yelling encouraging my beloved BAMA’s football players to RUN THAT BALL!)

And, December, of 2014, taught me to shop a little earlier for the “classics”, as I reflected on the beauty of the lesson in the The Little Drummer Boy.

Such grace laces my days. I was reminded of that on more than a hundred occasions over this past year. I’m encouraged to keep moving toward new goals, maybe even toward an old one, or two, that got dropped along the way.

Hope sparkles on the horizon for 2015.

I’m praying that it does for you, too.

Yes indeedy!

What were some of your favorite lessons learned in 2014? Please, share them! I’m linking up with the lovely Emily Freeman, over at Chatting At the Sky, for her “What We Learned” link up.

 

Phoning It In

First, let’s dispense with the necessaries:

Happy Halloween!

I Made It!

Last Day of the Write 31 Days challenge!

Happy Halloween!

(I already said that, didn’t I?)

You know that moment where you’re driving along a highway and you are so zoned out that you miss your exit? Or turn? Or, state line?

I kind of feel that way about what just happened here, over these last 31 days. I assumed that there would be a few bumps in the road, as I sought inspiration each day. While I did, indeed, plan a few of the posts out ahead of time, most of them were written only a day in advance, if not the actual day of. Missing at least one day of writing, if not many, was what I believed would happen.

But, Grace pushed me through. It gave me the extra hour that I needed, encouragement in the form of your comments, and even a gentle nudge to check why my post still hadn’t “published” by 9:30 at night! (TIP: It helps to specify A.M. as opposed to, you know, P.M.)

Even the passage of time was a grace to me throughout this challenge. I feel like I must have zoned out for a while, because MY LANDS, how did the end of October sneak up on us this way?

You see, on the very first day, I mentioned that Commitment and I don’t get along too well.

Apparently, we are now friendly. Oh, yes we are!

Thank you Write 31 Days challenge, for that.

So, today, I’m phoning it in! With this picture of my Halloween Costume from 1981. If you can figure out what I was, comment. You’ll be entered to win a copy of The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillin Smith (The Nester). I think it’s fitting, since she hosted us during this challenge. Yes?

Missindeedy_Halloween_Throwback

P.S. HINT: I wasn’t actually all that hot, was I?

P.P.S. I’ll close comments on Monday, November 3rd at midnight EST.

(What comes after P.P.S.?  This is day 31, OH YES IT IS, of the Write 31 Days challenge. Click my button below to be transported to a list of each of my 31 Days of Grace posts.)

 31days_of_grace_button_missindeedy

Bravery Can Mean Going Belly Up

Success_Quote_Missindeedy

Dream chasing and encouraging and fulfillment has taken up plenty of space on this here blog, of mine.

And last month?  Last month, I pursued one dream that I’ve harbored for a mighty long time.  With encouragement poured in from friends and Holy whispers of “you are already enough” ringing in my ears, I entered a writing contest.

If what I write next isn’t The Most Anti-climactic Statement in the history of ever, I might not know what anti-climactic really means.

I didn’t win.

But, but, BUT… I submitted.

And y’all, that was huge. It was a step toward something I’ve been saying I wanted to do out loud for a sweet forever.

And since I didn’t win, I get to share my entry here. With all of you.

You, who keep me on my toes and support the stuffing out of me. (I wish. The stuffing remains.)

My submission may have gone belly up, but my bravery in continuing to pursue The Dream? Alive and kickin’!!!

So, without further ado… my entry into the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. (And if you want to check out who did win? The winners are here.)

What the Toilet Paper Taught Me

I grew up with a father who lived by the credo that we have ten boxes of Kleenex in the house at all times. I thought this was normal.

Until, that is, I flew the coop and lived on my own for the first time.  My meager wages earned as a substitute teacher, while working as many jobs as possible until I landed my own full-time teaching job, barely covered one box of tissues – let alone ten! The idea of stockpiling Kleenex was laughable.

Years went by and I got the job, met a man, and started buying tissues ten boxes at a time. It only took two years of marriage and a visit from my in-laws for me to learn that this was normal to other people, too. Just, not always with tissues.

My husband’s parents live only a few hours away from us. One particular weekend, very soon after buying our first home, they made plans to visit and see what we’d done with the place.

A cleaning frenzy ensued. My inner Martha Stewart was ablaze in the kitchen, when my husband emerged from the bathroom, distraught.

“Please, TELL ME there is more toilet paper than this one roll,” he begged.

I mistakenly thought that reminding him that his parents would only be visiting for a few short hours would calm his agitated state.

Wrong!

“We DO have more than just this roll, though, right?” he pleaded again.

My choice of marital mate now fully in question, I reminded him, a little less gently this time, that his parents would only be visiting for four hours! And, while I don’t know how others’ bathroom experiences usually work, one double roll of toilet paper would probably suffice for four people in that short amount of time.

I shared this with him, jokingly.

This was a grave error on my part.

He slipped on his shoes, grabbed his keys and headed for the door. “I’m going to run out and buy us a six-pack. Just in case,” he announced. He looked pale.

At that moment, I understood.  I knew what this was. This was the Kleenex manifesto, only with toilet paper.

I explained that there was no need, as I had bought a twelve pack, double-rolls no less, the day before.

Those words worked better than any aphrodisiac. He strode over, looked deeply into my eyes, and proclaimed that I really was the one for him.

Two very important lessons were learned that day. One, I had clearly married a version of my father.  And two, my husband’s affections could be bought.

With toilet paper.

Corner Turner

It drives Sweetman absolutely crazy with a capital K when he sees me turning down the corners of a page, in a book or magazine.  “Why don’t you just take a picture with your phone?”, he asks, as if I’m pinching him. “That’s so low-tech!”

He’s cute, but sometimes…

I love nothing more than picking up a book I’ve read and seeing lots of corners turned down. Those corners tell me to that there are treasures tucked within. Things I want to remember. Things I know I’ll forget as soon as I slide that book back onto a bookshelf.

Can I get an amen?

And sometimes, I need to turn a corner in life, too. For all of the same reasons.

Health, is one corner I’ve been working on turning, lately.  Now, I’ve worn down the edges of that particular curb, because, HELLO!  I’ve been around it a time or ten.

But, this last six weeks have given me a greater desire to than I’ve ever had before. The mysterious ER visit last month, not-withstanding, I believe God is making it very clear that my beloved devil dogs, though permissible, are so not beneficial.

And so, I’m choosing the courageous route to change. Again.  Because, I don’t know about you, but I find that wonderful things take place when I finally do make the turns of change.

Shedding of the old.

New horizons.

Shifts in perspective.

Appreciation for the journey.

It’s a process, turning a corner. When I put my turn indicator on, while driving, it’s not so that I can hear that annoying little clickety-clack over and over.

No.

It’s to alert the drivers around me of my intention. I’m letting them know that I intend to turn this car to the right (or left).

And, I’ve been flashing more than a few “turn indicators” in my life, lately. They haven’t all been met with acceptance or encouragement, either. And, that makes turning a corner all the harder.

But still worth the effort.

And I don’t have to do it alone.

I’m going be courageous and turn corners by grabbing hold of God’s unwavering strength.

MTC_Missindeedy_Grab_Hold

Those little turned down corners, in things that I’ve read, remind me that something great happened on that page. And, I’m just sure that the turned corners in my health journey will prove to be just as significant.

Yes indeedy,

Are you a corner turner, too? What corners have you been turning down lately? In books or in life!

2

This is my final week of studying “Made To Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies. I have been changed by reading this book. And although I’m probably going to be “in process” for a while about the deeply buried issues that have been dug up during this study time, I am forever grateful. The opportunity to study amidst this community of Overcomers, 45,000 PLUS strong? A gift from God, Himself! We begin our next study of Wendy Blight’s “Living So That” on April 6th.  Want to see what it’s all about?, Click here to do just that! And to see what some of the other final reflections were on this study, click the button below.

OBSBlogHop

Determination for the Destination

Determination_MTC

Sometimes, you will all at once realize that the battle you fight with yourself isn’t the one that really matters.

If you are so blessed as to be given eyes to see this truth, consider yourself blessed indeed.

It takes an act of will far beyond what I am capable of mustering up on my own to tear myself away from the current battle and zero in on the one that needs to be fought.  Is this true for you, too?

Food seems to be a constant struggle.  Eating for the wrong reasons, eating the wrong things for the right reasons, eating during emotional highs and lows – they are all battles I fight.  But, I’m beginning to see that the real battle isn’t there. It isn’t in the food. It’s in the attention that I give the food.  It takes the place of something someOne it has no right to.

And as some of you know, I have determined, recently, to make changes.

The road to Change is hard.

Recently, I was given the privilege of walking with a friend while she is fighting an altogether Other Battle. This is what I am learning: while we are all journeying toward victory, the way we arrive there will be different, person to person. The pits on my road are deeper in some places and much shallower in others.

And this I know that I know that I know to be true: the road will be paved with grace.  Oh, yes it will.

Because that’s the kind of God, the Only One, who would allow us to choose the route to our final destination. He is The Smoother of the bumpy wayward journeying. And although the battle that each of us fights in the flesh may be different, the determination that He endows us with is the same.

And when my journey goes sideways, as it often does, or stalls out, as it is prone to doing, the grace paved road is still there.  Ready. Waiting for me to place one tentative foot back onto it. To feel the sure footing that only Grace and Love provide.

And I will. Because, in taking a hard look at what needs to be seen, I realize that Change is not a destination – it’s a journey.

I’m determined to continue on the new road.

How about you?

I’m joining the community, MY community, over at P31 Ministries Online Bible Studies for our study of Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  Click the button below to get some more encouragement for your journey.

OBSBlogHop