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.

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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.

 

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Bravery Can Mean Going Belly Up

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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.

Determination for the Destination

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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

Stilled Sails On Alert

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You are about to embark on an adventure.  Your sails are all puffed up with determination and your boat is all gassed up and ready to go. You have charts and maps and emergency plans and contingency plans and plans for your plans.

In the days leading up to this great journey, you dive into the cool refreshing waters of some serious quiet time. It is needed. With all of the planning you’ve been doing, you have neglected to nourish yourself on the inside.

So you do.

You crack open The Good Book and your eyes instantly light on a verse like “We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.” (Proverbs 16:9).

Your journal stares at you from the tabletop and begs to be touched and opened and written in.  You do. And your eyes are drawn to your last entry where you wrote of “wanting Adonia to make you aware of anything in your heart that is not of Him.”   He does.

And because that was not enough to avert your gaze from your All Important Goal, you finally hit the alarm the morning of Go Time, stumble from your bed, and find that your boat has suffered damage. You cannot set off as you had hoped to, determined to, planned to.

There is violence done to your prideful ego as it becomes clear to you that your plan wasn’t His plan.  Not for now, anyway.

Humility sets in.

For just the eleventy-hundreth time in your life.

You realize, for what you hope will be at least close to the final time, that all of your striving and goal-setting and planning and preparing is for naught, if The Wind wills your sails to be still.

And so they will be.

Humbled, yet again, I accept that my sails will not even flutter until they are willed otherwise. And, not by me, but by the only One who can put proper wind into them.

My job, until then, is to stay alert and be prepared.

And so I will be.

How To Chase Your Demons

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I don’t know about you, but I find that anytime I determine to move forward in a positive direction, in any area of my life, pesky little demons come out of the woodwork.  The very act of declaring that I’m going to attempt success seems to be a clarion call for them. I’m becoming wise to their ways, though. 42 years of living and 10 times that number, in failures, will help you do that.

Demons are crafty. They know that the best time to rear their ugly heads are when you are feeling… ugly. And, even though I’m well aware of the times they most like to pop up, they still have the ability to take me completely by surprise.

It’s annoying.

This… human condition thing.

What are your most consistent demons called? I can tell you, right now, that mine are Fear, Envy, and Disappointment.  Those little buggers love to hiss “What makes you think you have what it takes to succeed?”, “You can’t ever be as good at this as so-and-so.”, and “You’ve failed every time you’ve tried this.”.

Lifting my eyes heavenward for help, which is where my Help truly comes from, seems to issue my demons a special kind of challenge.  They are just as determined to keep my eyes downcast as I am to lift them heavenward.

I am happy to report, though,  that Fear hasn’t been getting near as much airtime as usual.  I’m feeling less afraid of its ability to derail me from my goals.  I’m becoming more confident in this truth:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If…

I keep my eyes firmly attached on Him.

And that little stinker Envy? Well, I’m learning that every time I make the choice spend time desiring what someone else has, it only serves to take my focus off what God has for me. Quite frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that!  I’ve got words to write, and books to read, and letters to send.

As for Disappointment, I think I might actually feel sorry for that one.  I’m  not only a member of The People Pleaser Club of the Western Hemisphere, I’m also The President of it. And I’ve come to realize that the person I most often let down is myself.  Now, I don’t want to dis myself here, but allow me to dis myself here – it doesn’t matter one withered fig whether I let myself down.

Because, seriously… how many times do I state that all is Grace around here.

It’s high time I start living like it.

First order of business?

Chase those demons down and smother them silly.

With grace, of course.

Grace galore.

Yes indeedy.

Want to join me in my chase?  Or, even better, what demons can I help you chase?

All Aboard the BlogHer 12′ Train

I almost can’t contain my excitement as I start preparing for the trip to New York City for the BlogHer 12′ Conference in a few days, (thanks, Picante` Sauce commercial, I just can’t get the sound of that cowboy saying “New York City?” out of my head.).  I’m not really sure if I’m more thrilled to be child-free for 4 whole days or to have the opportunity to rub shoulders (but not literally of course, that would just be weird!) with some of the “giants”, in my eyes, of the blogging/writing world.

After reading thirty a couple of posts on what to wear (comfy shoes, anyone?)  and what not to wear, and what to focus on and what not to worry about, I think I’ve got a good list of goals nailed down.

  1. Actually get out of the house and into the car alone    That’s a good start, yes?
  2. Remember to pick up partner-in-crime    MTM, I wouldn’t really forget you.  I don’t think.  Call me if I’m not there by 10!
  3. Not get lost in the city   If I don’t call Sweetman and have to ask him to navigate me in some way, he’ll consider the trip a success.
  4. Ask a bazillion questions
  5. Soak up every stinkin’ minute of my time with all the peeps who so get what I love about blogging

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got more than a few things I hope to accomplish once there, (finally decide which bird these feathers belong to after all, for one. Or, is it, which feathers this bird belongs to?)  And questions galore.  (What IS a “sparklecorn”, anyway? I’m assuming it’s fun to find out?)  But mostly, I just want to accomplish number 1.  That’s right.  Because at the rate things are going around here, Thursday morning is zooming toward me at warp speed; and I’m still laying on the tracks!