Remember

As I said yesterday, the holiday season has arrived. We are all busy with decorating, parties, shopping, cleaning, baking, wrapping, traveling, and so much more.  It is easy to get overwhelmed this time of year and lose sight of what is really important.  I know I struggle to keep myself together every year at this time.  We have the addition of competition season for both girls beginning at the same time, which makes things even more complicated.  Those feelings of stress and anxiety begin to creep in for me as soon as Thanksgiving is over, and they can easily get out of control if I am not careful.  I swear that as soon as December 1 hit, I had this sudden feeling of dread and anxiety.  I recognized it right away because it happens every year.  I start to get frantic and am constantly making to-do lists in my head at night and in my phone all day long. As I am typing this, I have stopped 3 times already to add something to my list. To say I am distracted is an understatement.  I worry that I will forget something.  I feel my shoulders tensing and the exhaustion already setting it.  It is crazy.  This is supposed to be the most magical time of the year, but many of us don’t allow ourselves to feel that magic.  Instead we feel the anxiety, stress, and dread.  We let the small, petty things and the hustle and bustle steal that magic. We forget what this season is really about.  It is supposed to be about giving, love, happiness, togetherness, and the miracle of Jesus.  It is not about making the perfect meal, choosing the perfect gift, or how clean your house is; yet that is what we often turn it into. Our priorities are all in the wrong place.  I am totally guilty of this myself.  It is hard to focus on the true meaning of Christmas when you are checking things off a to-do list.  

I was reminded of my need to slow down, stop stressing, and enjoy the little moments this past weekend on two separate occassions.  The first came as we were eating lunch after doing some shopping on Black Friday.  I was stressing over all the presents that we still needed to buy, when I got a picture from my mom of an ornament that belonged to my grandmother who passed away this past summer.  It is an angel with my name engraved on it.  It was the ornament that she always hung at the top of her Christmas tree.  It was why she always referred to me as the angel on top of her tree.  When my parents were going through her things after she passed, that was the one thing that I asked to have.  Unfortunately, at the time, they couldn’t find it.  We thought that it had been lost in the fire that she had last year that destroyed much of her home.  It broke my heart to think that it was lost forever.   When I got the photo from my mom that my aunt had found it, I started to cry right there in the restaurant.  I cannot tell you how much seeing that ornament meant to me. It brought back so many memories.  I am tearing up typing this right now.  It reminded me that life comes to end for all of us at some point and that we need to cherish every minute that we have here on this Earth with the ones we love.  It reminded me that I need to stop stressing about stupid things and just enjoy the magic of the season with the people I love. 

The second incident happened as the girls and I were decorating the tree on Sunday.  Our tree is not one of those that you would find in a magazine.  It doesn’t match.  It is a hodgepodge of ornaments that don’t go together, but it is filled with memories and love.  One thing my husband and I started when we got married was getting a new ornament every time we went on a trip.  It was to be a reminder of a time when we were together and having fun.  This tradition has continued for the almost 20 years we have been married.  The whole family enjoys looking for that one ornament to represent our travels every single time. Our tree is full of not only these ornaments but also of all of the ornaments my kids have made over the years. There are so many with their pictures on them from when they were much younger.  They beg me not to put those on the tree, but I hang them front and center because they are my favorites (as you can see, they moved most of them to the back when I wasn’t looking).  My husband and I also have several ornaments that we hang that are from our childhood. Some are ones that we made as kids or that were given to us or that belonged to our grandparents. Each of the ornaments on our tree means something to us. As we hang each one, we are reminded of a memory…a memory that brought joy.  This year I also added some of our beautiful Trades of Hope ornaments to remind me that there are women out there who are suffering and need a little magic in their lives.  Our tree is truly special to us. 

Going through all of those ornaments while laughing with the girls and looking at the picture of an ornament as old as I am that belonged to my grandmother really reminded me of what Christmas is all about.  It brought the magic back to the forefront of my heart.  I want more moments like that this year.  I want to put my to-do lists to the side and just be present. I want to laugh hard, love hard, and enjoy the time with family and friends.  Most of all, though, I want to remember.  I want to remember Christmases past.  I want to remember the loved ones we have lost.  I want to remember to pray for those women who count on me and my partners to show up for them every day so they can change their lives. I want to remember that Jesus came that Christmas morning long ago to die for my sins. I want to remember the magic of Christmas, and I want to experience it all with those that I love. I encourage you to do the same. Put down the lists, stop fretting over presents and baking, and enjoy the little moments. Those are the memories you will have for a lifetime.

Anchored and Remembering,

Give Thanks

It is the time of year when we start to look back over the past year and think about all of the things that we are grateful for.  Thanksgiving reminds us that we need to stop and appreciate the many blessings in our lives.  Gratitude journals are so popular right now and are designed to make us reflect on all the little things that bless us every single day of the year.  They encourage you to start your day by listing things you are grateful for.  It is supposed to help you have a more grateful heart and a positive attitude. While I think the concept is great and really has an important meaning and lesson, I am sure the majority of the world is not using them consistently.  People very rarely take the time to stop and think about all the things that have blessed them in their lives.  Many will say that they don’t have time for that every day.  Thanksgiving is really the one time of the year when people actually do reflect on the things that they are grateful for.  I guess once a year is better than not at all, but we really should try to express our gratitude more often.  It might bring some change to an otherwise negative world.  I am not using a gratitude journal right now, but I am really trying to focus on all the little things that have make an impact on my life every day, and I know that I am truly blessed to be living this life.  With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, I thought I would share some of the bigger things that I am thankful for this year. 

I am thankful for my husband.

As always, I am so thankful that God placed him in my life when he did.  It was certainly God’s timing and not mine.  In May we will have been married for 20 years, and it is really hard to believe that it has been that long.  So much has happened in those 20 years, and I feel like we have both done a lot of growing individually and together as a couple, especially this year. It has only strengthened our bond and made us better people.  I am not sure how either of us would survive without the other.  My love for him is unbreakable, and I thank God daily for bringing us together.  

I am thankful for my two beautiful daughters.

My two girls mean the world to me, and I am so thankful that I was chosen to be their mama.  I certainly don’t deserve them. Even though they drive me nuts sometimes, I couldn’t be prouder of the young ladies they are becoming.  I love watching them grow and come into their own. I just wish is happened a little slower. I am blessed beyond belief to get to teach them about life. I love them both to the moon and back.

I am thankful that God has opened my eyes to the injustices of the world.

God hates injustice and calls us to stand up and fight against it.  I never really realized that until I did a Bible study on it earlier this year.  I was totally clueless to the things women around the world faced.  I lived in my little bubble and didn’t think about anything outside of it.  God has truly spoken to me this year and has shown me the horrible things going on around the world and right here in front of me, and he has given me a platform to fight against injustice.  I am so glad that he placed Trades of Hope in my lap when he did. I know that I am now closer to him than I have been in a long time as he is leading me down this path to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

I am thankful for my friends.

I am so thankful for all of the friends I have made over my lifetime. There are those who are still close and those I’ve lost touch with.  No matter how close we are now, I feel so blessed to have had all of them in my life. They have picked me up when I was lost and carried me when I couldn’t take a step on my own. They have cheered me on and held my hand through tough days. Each of my friends means the world to me.  I am also grateful for the new people that have come into my life in the last year. Some have truly been a blessing to me and have had a huge impact on my life. 

I am thankful for my family. 

This year, I feel like I have developed an even greater appreciation for all of my family members.  Loosing someone you love makes you realize what a gift life is and how much all of the people in it mean to you. I do not show it or say it enough, but I love each member of my family and am so grateful for their presence and influence on my life. 

I am thankful for strength.

A lot of things have happened in the last few years that could have broken me, but I am so thankful that God gave me the strength to overcome it all.  He was holding me up through a lot of it and his strength became mine.  I can’t imagine my life without my faith.  God is such a huge presence in my life and I don’t know how I could have made it through some of those things without the strength he gives me so freely.

I am thankful for this blog.

I am so thankful that I was able to commit to this blog for over a year now.  It has truly led to a ton of reflection and self-growth for me.  I have been able to find my voice and use it to encourage others.  I cannot even describe how much writing here every day has changed me and blessed me.  Thank you to all of my old and new readers for coming back time and time again to read what this simple little country girl has to say.  Thank you for allowing me to share my heart and my passions with you free from judgement.   

Life has been good to me and God has remained faithful.  There isn’t much more I could ask for than that.  I am thankful for this life I get to live and for all of the people in it. I am truly blessed.  I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings this year.  Use it as a time to reflect on what brings you joy and what has impacted your life.  Give thanks and know that you are loved. 

Anchored and Grateful,

Strong-Willed Child

I swear that my youngest child is going to be the death of me. Can someone please tell me how to handle a pre-teen, know-it-all, strong-willed child? Don’t tell me to read a book either, because I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Nothing works.  I really believe that her goal in life is to torture me, push every button I have, and fight me over any and everything. I am not sure I am going to make it through her teenage years.  I am not even sure I am going to make it through her pre-teen years.  I have to say that our relationship has come a long way over the last two years, but the relationship remains the most difficult challenge I have ever been faced with.  Nothing I do is ever right or good enough for her.  I swear she would argue to her death with me over something as silly as the sky being blue just because I said it was.  I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to win with her. I am really the only one she is combative with, too. It’s like she has this need to make me pay some debt she feels I owe her, or she wants me to feel more miserable than she feels at any given moment. It is so unbelievable to me how both girls came from my body but are so vastly different.  I have such a different relationship with the kid that actually is a hormonal teenager than I do with the pre-teen who hasn’t even entered the hormonal phase yet.  One actually talks to me and tells me things and listens to me (most of the time), while the other one can barely stand to be in the same room with me.  It is so frustrating and heartbreaking at the same time. I wish I knew where I went wrong and the secret for how to fix it. It keeps me up at night, and it consumes my days. It has been this way for as long as I can remember.  As I said, it was worse at one time, but things have improved to some extent, which I am grateful for.  It is just still so hard sometimes.  

I saw a graphic on Pinterest that listed the 10 signs that you have a strong-willed child.  I couldn’t find the source of the graphic but thought the list was pretty good. Below are the 10 characteristics of a strong will child according to that graphic I found. I can check off every single one of these as being a characteristic of my daughter. She is definitely a strong-willed child to the 10th degree.

  1. “They are fiercely stubborn and not afraid to say ‘no’”
  2. “They are bossy and very demanding.”
  3. “ They have strong likes and dislikes.”
  4. “They don’t forget anything and argue like pros.”
  5. “They are energetic and intense.”
  6. “They challenge boundaries.”
  7. “They learn by doing, ask ‘why’ questions.”
  8. “They are fast paced and impatient and don’t listen.”
  9. “They have a strong sense of right and wrong.”
  10. “They are short tempered.”

I know many of my friends would say that one of their kids is certainly more challenging than their other and that one is extremely difficult. We talk about it all the time, and one of us at least is venting about it almost every single day. There is always one kid that pushes us beyond belief. There is always one strong-willed child in the bunch.  Why is that? Why does it seem that we all have to be given one child that challenges us beyond what we think we can handle? That is a question I ask in my prayers a lot.  There has to be a reason, right? There has to be some lesson in it.  Sadly, I don’t think I have learned it yet.  I just keep fighting, keep pushing, and praying that one day things will change.  We all love our kids beyond measure despite how much suffering they put us through. We want what is best for them and want them to grow up to be strong, independent adults.  That is our greatest desire for them and the reason we continue to fight.  I know that I am doing my best to not let it break me, but I can assure you that there are those days when I am not so sure I can continue the fight.  Those are the days that I pray for strength.  I need God’s strength to get me through those difficult days or sometimes weeks, and he comes through every single time. I guess that is the answer to my question at the start of this post. I handle it through prayer. That’s the best defense I’ve got.

Anchored,

Pray for Me!

Ya’ll, please pray for me. Pray for patience, courage, sanity, calm nerves, and strength.  My kid can drive! I cannot believe that I just typed that.  I think I am still in denial that she is growing up.  It was just yesterday that we brought the tiny peanut home from the hospital.  How is it possible that she is old enough to drive? Where has the time gone? I feel like I blinked and missed it all.  I also feel like I am starting to forget all the little moments throughout the years that I wanted to remember forever.  We cram so much in that it is hard to remember it all.  That really makes me so sad, though.  I wish I could remember every single second of her growing into the beautiful young lady who seems to still be growing taller by the minute.  I wish that I had savored it all more.  Maybe then I would remember it.  All of those years that I spent so wrapped up in my job took away so much of my focus on my own children.  As much as I loved my job and working with all those special kids, I do wish it hadn’t taken all that time and energy away from my family.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t regret my decision to be a working mom or to be a special education teacher.  What I do regret is that I allowed it to take over my life and rob my kids of a stress-free mom for so many years.  If I could go back, I would still be a teacher/working mom, but I definitely would have gone about it differently. I would have taken more time for my family, and I would have tried harder to leave school at school. I wish I knew back then what I know now. I wish I had been as confident and in touch with what I really wanted out of life as I am now.  While I can’t go back in time, I can only move forward and keep striving to be a more present mom, and to make up for time lost. My priorities are definitely in a different place, and I love it.

Anyway, back to the fact that my kids can drive and I need prayers.  Her dad took her to the DMV this past weekend for her sign and knowledge tests.  I refused to go because I knew that I would make her more nervous than she already was. Now she has a learner’s permit and can drive with one of us in the car.  I have told my husband that it is going to be a long while before she does it with me because I can’t handle it.  I get so nervous with just the thought of her behind the wheel.  He is so much more calm and collected than I am. He is going to have to be the one to teach her.  I can’t do it. It scares me so much. I much prefer to be in the back seat while he is the one next to her in the passenger seat.  I try to distract myself so I am not paying attention to how close she is to the curb or that car parked on the side of the road.   Seriously, this is my crazy, ADHD, “true blond” kid who sometimes acts like she is 6 and not 15.  I worry so much that she isn’t mature enough, responsible enough, or even focused enough to be on the road. I don’t know how I am going to ever let her go off in a car without one of us once she gets her regular driver’s license. How do parents do that? I know that I will be a nervous wreck. How do you let go? I already have a problem with control, and I don’t know if I am going to be able to give up control of that.  I have to admit though, she is doing much better than I ever expected, but I am still not ready for this.  Prayers are much appreciated!   

Anchored,

Missing Puzzle Piece

When I was a kid, I loved puzzles.  I especially loved ones that had a lot of pieces like 1000 or even 5000.  Those kinds of puzzles can’t be completed in a few hours.  It takes several days and numerous hours to finish a puzzle like that.  I remember setting up a puzzle on one of those square card tables and coming back to it over and over again and adding a piece here and there.  It was inevitable that a piece would get lost every now and then when you are working on it for days.  The table would get bumped and a piece would fall off the table and then accidently get kicked around. Sometimes, they would just disappear for no reason.  I would spend so much time on the puzzle and get really invested in it.  Then I would be so excited to be almost finished only to realize that all the pieces were gone and there was still a hole in the puzzle.  I would turn the house upside down looking for the missing piece.  Sometimes I would find it, but there were those times when it seemed to have vanished into thin air and it was never located.  I hated the feeling of having a hole in the puzzle.  It was incomplete, and it was hard for me to let it go.  I couldn’t stop searching for that missing piece to make the puzzle whole again. Eventually, I would give up and move on to the next puzzle, but that one that was incomplete never quite went away.  I often hung on to it in hopes of one day coming across the missing piece.

Loosing someone you love is kind of like loosing that puzzle piece. It leaves a hole in your heart. It is a piece that you will never get back, but it is one that you will always be searching for.  You will always have that little hole there that you can’t fill.  Your heart is now incomplete just like the puzzle.  You may carry on and try to let it go, but you never stop searching for something to fill the hole.  You don’t just forget about it.  The days will come when you don’t live and breath the loss constantly, but you never know when that hole will open wide and remind you that it is still there.  I shared with all of you that I lost my grandmother over the summer. It was very hard for me.  I was suffocating under the grief at first.  Now the hurt is getting better and I can breath.  I don’t think about it every day anymore, but I know that the hole that her absence has left in my heart will always be there.  This past Sunday that hole opened up wide again and reminded me that it was there.  We go to a contemporary church where we sing contemporary music.  We don’t sing hymns very often. My grandmother loved singing hymns. I can still hear her voice in my head singing at the top of her lungs at church even though it has been many years since I was in church with her.  For that reason alone, hymns will always make me think of her.  Our sermon at church on Sunday was about the importance of worshiping God through song and how doing so weaves God’s word into your heart.  The pastor ended his sermon earlier than usual so that we could all participate in worshiping through song together.  We sang several contemporary songs that were certainly helping to fill my cup. Then out of nowhere, the music changed.  Within only a few notes, I knew what song they were playing.  It was one of my all time favorite hymns, “How Great Thou Art.”  Before any words could be sung, I was overcome with emotion. I was suddenly sobbing so hard that I couldn’t get any words out.  I closed my eyes and just let the words wash over me. It wasn’t the band I heard singing the song.  It was my grandmother.  That hole in my heart was temporarily filled with her voice.  While the pain was excruciating, it was also so beautiful at the same time.  

Later that day, my husband shared with me that hymns also get to him.  He lost his mother a few years ago and hymns make him think of his childhood and her.  He asked me if I thought it was normal that things like that still get to him.  While my loss is still fresh, his is a little more distant.  That is what got me thinking about the whole puzzle analogy.  I told him that I did think it was normal.  That piece is still missing and it will never be found here on Earth.  Only when we meet them again in heaven will our hearts be whole again.  Yes, the hole may get smaller over the years, and it may scab over.  I just don’t think it will ever truly heal and close up.  It will always be open just a little, and you never know when something like a song or memory will open it wide again.  It’s ok to feel sad and emotional from time to time.  I really don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  It just means that you care and you miss them deeply.  We all love hard and, in turn, loose hard.  It is an unfortunate part of life.  Just like I did with those puzzles years ago that were incomplete due to a missing piece, I will put my grief on the shelf and move on; but I will never forget about it.  It will come back out from time to time, and I will feel the loss deeply.  However, I won’t let it break me because I know we will meet again one day.  

Anchored,

ADHD or LIVING?

I am seriously beginning to think that my children got their ADHD from me.  Two or three years ago, you would have never heard me say that. I have always been laser focused and have never had a hard time staying on task or getting things done. Lately that seems to have all changed.  I don’t know if it is something that just comes with age or the fact that my life is so vastly different than it has been most of my life, but something has definitely changed.  I’m certainly not hyperactive like my girls are, but I sure am having a hard time focusing these days.  I am suddenly easily distracted.  I have a hard time staying on one task at a time.  I start one thing and then end up doing something totally different without even realizing it until I am in the midst of it, and then nothing ends up getting completed. Sometimes I even find myself daydreaming.  It is like I have all these things running around in my head and I can’t stick with one of them until completion without thinking about ten other things. The sad thing is that some of those things that are distracting me aren’t even really that important, but they are still rolling around in my brain.  I seem to also be more forgetful these days. If it doesn’t get written down on my calendar as a “to do” item, it isn’t getting done.  It is so weird and is starting to really bug me because it is so out of character for me. I even talked to my husband about it the other day.  It’s not like I am busier than I ever have been. Yes, we have a lot going on, but we have always had a lot going on.  I used to work full time and still had a ton going on, so why am I having these focus issues now?  Is it because I have more down time to think when I didn’t before? Maybe it is because I was just on autopilot back then and not really living my life. I was almost like a zombie in those days. I was just going through the motions. Now that I have been on the road to rediscovering who I am as a person and what I want out of life, more and more things are opening up to me. Plus, I am having more revelations about myself (like right now as I type). I truly think that those things are why I am having this issue difference with focus now.  My life has changed greatly and I feel like I am finally free.  I am free to be me. I am free to do what I desire.  I am free to be the person God called me to be. I am free to dream (or daydream). I was so consumed before with being perfect (the perfect teacher, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect person) that it was all I focused on.  I didn’t allow distractions in because that would mean that I was weak.  While I still struggle with thinking that I need to be perfect, I have come a long way in rewiring my brain.  I am changing, but I am changing for the better.  I am starting to think that distractions aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  Distractions can lead me down a whole new path that can change me for the better.  

So what if I have ADHD now? Maybe I have always had it but I stuffed it down and refused to allow it in to my life.  Maybe I am just getting old. Either way, I am learning to embrace it.  It’s ok to loose focus sometimes, because it just may mean that your priorities are changing.  Those things distracting me that I said really weren’t important earlier actually are important because they mean something to me.  Those things are shaping me into a better version of myself. They are helping to change me into the person I long to be.  They are allowing me to define what perfection really means.  It isn’t about having the cleanest house on the block or being the best teacher or mom.  Perfection is truly living your life and being present in the moment. It is about embracing your flaws. It’s about being happy. It is about love and kindness. It’s about choosing to be who God calls me to be.  If being distracted helps me to get there, then bring it on.  

Anchored,

A Mother’s Burden

Well, I am struggling again today.  This sickness sure has a strong hold on me.  Thankfully I did get a little more sleep last night, only waking up every 2 hours in a coughing fit instead of the entire night of it.  I guess that is improvement.  I am thankful that my kids are old enough now that they can take care of themselves when I am not at 100%.  I can actually take the time to rest when just a few years ago I couldn’t (or at least I wouldn’t).  One of my friends shared one of the pictures above on Facebook last night, and it really struck a cord with me.  While this sculpture shows the burden of housework, we all know that a mom’s burden is so much more than the housework.  There were so many years that I felt like that woman depicted there. It was like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders every single day.  My husband was deployed a lot, the girls were young, my youngest daughter’s medical condition was wreaking havoc on her body, and I was giving everything I had to my job and students all while trying to project an image that I had it all under control.  In reality, I really didn’t.  I was drowning, but I wasn’t going to dare let that show to anyone.  That’s what mother’s do, right? We don’t let it show when we are struggling, and we would never admit that we need help. That would be a sign of weakness, and mothers aren’t supposed to be weak.  Instead we pile on more and more to our backs, and keep pushing through.  No matter how far this country has come, how society has changed, or how supportive our husbands are, women still put that pressure on themselves.  By putting it on ourselves, we are projecting it on to every other mother we know.  If Suzy can handle all that she has going on with a smile on her face, then I can surely handle whatever my life throws at me.  That is our mentality.  We see others who appear to have it all together so we feel like we have to do the same even though we know that none of us has it all under control.  It is an endless cycle perpetuated by our own flawed thinking. I am so guilty of it.  Back then I would NEVER admit that I needed help or that I was struggling.  I wanted everyone to think that I had it all together.  I wanted to look like I was strong and could handle it all. 

Why? Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we think we have to project the perfect image? It is so messed up.  We have to break the cycle.  We have to be willing to show our weaknesses and ask for help. It is the only way to help each other.  There is so much power in knowing that you aren’t alone, yet we are afraid to share our struggles with others.  Sure we have mom friends that we vent to, but do we ever really share with them how we are feeling deep down? I don’t, and I would bet that you don’t either.  We all just silently carry the crushing weight of the world on our shoulders day after day. I am here to tell you that you aren’t alone.  We all feel the same way.  We all struggle.  We all secretly cry at night sometimes when no one is watching.  We all get that feeling of barely keeping our heads above the water.  We all feel like we are failing.  We have all been there.  We have all suffered through it alone, but we don’t have to do that any more.  We can stop the cycle. We can share our feelings. We can ask for help.  We can carry the burdens together. We don’t have to walk alone.  We just have to open up, be willing to show our failures, let others see that we aren’t perfect, and support each other. Stop acting like you have it all together when you don’t. Other moms need to see that you struggle too. Can you imagine what it would feel like to know that Suzy carries the same burdens that you do? There is power in knowing you aren’t alone. That power lifts some of that weight from your back. Yes, moms are superstars.  We can carry that weight, but we don’t have to do it alone.   

Anchored,

Wake Up and Unplug

This past weekend we traveled 10 hours to visit our family in South Carolina.  It always seems like the longest drive in the world. Why is sitting in the car so exhausting? You would think that just sitting there for long periods of time would be a form of resting.  Somehow, it doesn’t work that way.  Anyway, I did my post on Friday as we were driving down the road.  Now, you may think that was a good use of time, but that isn’t the case for me for two reasons.  One, and the biggest, is that I get very carsick and have my whole life; so riding down the road while staring at a computer isn’t really a good idea. The second reason is that we take back roads most of the way through the mountains where there is very little reception. Connectivity was sparse.  Needless to say, it was not easy or pleasant to get that post up.  I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do the same thing for my Monday post as we drove back home yesterday.  We are also from a very small town in the middle of nowhere in South Carolina. For some reason, my parents’ house is like a black hole. There is absolutely no cellular service whatsoever there.  There is also no such thing as Wi-Fi there because they live too far outside of the city limits to get any kind of Internet service hooked up.  It is really bad and super frustrating.  It is extremely hard to even get a text to go through much less connect to the Internet.  It really makes no sense considering there is a cell tower less than a mile down the road, but it is the truth.  Now, I promise there is a point to telling you all of this.  The point is that when we go home to visit family, we are all forced to unplug.  My children, of course, think it is torture. I will admit that it drives both my husband and me nuts too.  It is especially difficult when all of my businesses rely on the Internet and cellular service.   While it is super inconvenient and very frustrating, I realized this weekend that it does allow us to really connect with our families while we are there.  My mom was supposed to be watching my youngest nephew on Saturday but she wasn’t feeling well. That gave me the opportunity to connect with him in a way that we had not done before.  It was the first time really that he ever had anything to do with me as a total mama’s boy. I thoroughly enjoyed just hanging out with him all day, as well as, spending time with my grandparents and husband’s family while we were there. I even had actual conversations with my children, which is rare these days.     

We really should take the time to unplug more often.  I think that is important.  We get so wrapped up in our phones and computers that we sometimes loose those real genuine connections.  I think that is especially true of someone like me who really prefers to text than talk on the phone and who has a really introverted personality.  It is so much easier to connect through a device than it is to connect face to face.  Plus, that is what is more comfortable to me.  I know that I am super guilty of hiding behind my phone or computer so that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable. As we stopped for dinner last night on our way back home, I suddenly noticed that all 4 of us were sitting at the table on our phones and not at all communicating with each other.  I guess that we were all in withdrawals from being unplugged all weekend and were trying to catch up.  It honestly happens all of the time, though, but it has never occurred to me just how sad it is until last night.  This is the world that our kids are growing up in, and it is our job as their parents to teach them proper communications skills.  That job is even harder with the amount of technology these days.  Last night I started thinking that we were failing miserably as parents.  With our busy schedules and the fact that we are rarely all four in the same place at the same time, it is difficult to find time to connect with each other. Each of us always has our phone within arms distance at all times, and my kids are often closed up in their rooms on their computers.   It was a wakeup call for me last night.  We really need to focus on spending time together as a family unplugged.  It has to become a priority. We only have a few more years before both girls are gone.  We will have missed out on so much if we don’t start to put down the phones and close our computers.  I know we will regret it if we don’t make a change. It is going to take a conscious effort and will probably result in a lot of growing pains and maybe a few meltdowns, but it is an effort that I think is worth putting forth. This is honestly a lesson that we can all use. Stop, put the device down, and communicate with your loved ones on a regular basis.  If you have to physically lock your phones in a box during family dinners, do it. If you have to miss an important call, do it.  Trust me! That call can wait, that Facebook post isn’t going anywhere, and those sports scores will still be there in 30 minutes. Face to face interactions are so important. It is how we learn, grow, and make true connections. We all have to wake up and unplug before it is too late.    

Anchored,

Chosen

I’m having another one of those distracted days where I can’t seem to focus on one thing at a time. My brain is all over the place, and I can’t seem to complete a single project or task before I start on another one. This is the curse of over booking myself. I do it all the time, and I have written about it numerous times. I have a really hard time saying “no.” It is a fact, and it is a flaw.  It is a fact and a flaw that I know about myself, yet I can’t seem to overcome it.  It’s also not just about not being able to say no to others. I bring things on myself, too.  I can’t say no to myself.  I think I can do more than I can.  I have grand ideas and dreams and I try to do more than my mind and body will allow, and I manage to overcommit myself constantly.  Then I get overwhelmed and start to loose my mind like today.   As much as I like to think of myself as my childhood idol, Wonder Woman, I’m really not her. I cannot do it all.  It isn’t physically possible.  There are not enough hours in the day.  No matter how hard I work or how much time I devote or how many hours of sleep I loose, it can’t all be done.  The perfectionist in me wants to kill myself to do everything to the best of my ability PLUS more, but I cannot give 100%, 100% of the time.  That alone makes me feel like I am a failure because I feel like I am constantly letting others down, and I am letting myself down. In my head I think I am not good enough. I’m not worthy of the faith others put in me.  I’m not worthy of the big dreams and goals I have. These are the negative things I tell myself constantly. This is the beat down I give myself in my head daily.  It deflates my confidence, and it makes me feel worthless. I think a lot of people do the same thing.  We are the judge and jury for ourselves, and we always find ourselves guilty.  How is it that I can go from chastising myself for taking on too much to feeling like I am worthless and a failure? That is literally how my brain works. I seem to have a knack for turning everything into a fault or some kind of negative in my head.

This morning as I was feeling down on myself and thinking I was a failure, I was reminded of something in the Bible I read a couple of days ago in Ephesians 1.  It reminded me that God chose me.  He created me for a purpose, His purpose.  He has blessed me, chosen me to be holy and blameless in His sight, predetermined who I would become, adopted me as His daughter through Jesus, and redeemed me through Christ’s blood.  Even with all of my faults and failures, He chose me.  He actually gave me these flaws that make me loose my mind, but He gave them to me for a purpose.  Although I may not understand that purpose or see what good can come from the many flaws of mine, I am comforted in knowing that He chose this life for me.  He gave me this desire to do more than I can physically keep up with for a purpose.  I have to believe that good can come from it somewhere.  On days like today when I feel like I am failing miserably or when I am overwhelmed, I have to remind myself of this message.  I am who He designed me to be.  I am whom He chose for me to be, and that means I am not a failure.  I am not worthless.  He may not have chosen me to be Wonder Woman, but He did choose me to be Allison. I am going to keep on trucking along, keep on overextending myself, and continue to try to do it all. BUT…I am going to do it all knowing that this is who I am meant to be.  I’m not a failure. I am not worthless. I am CHOSEN.

Anchored and Chosen,

One Year

It was exactly one year ago today that this little blog came to fruition.   It is really hard to believe that I have been doing this faithfully for a full year.  There were so many people that doubted me, poked fun at me, and thought it was just a phase I was going through. I think some people thought it would be short lived, and that I would move on to something else soon enough.  While something else did come into my life during this past year, I remained faithful to this blog and continued to share my life and passions with you day after day.  I won’t deny that I doubted myself on more than one occasion over the past year, but I didn’t let it stop me. There have even been days that I have woken up and have not wanted to write, but I do it anyway. Sometimes I even get writer’s block and have no clue what I am going to write when I sit down in front of my computer, but somehow the words always manage to find their way onto the page.  It is not easy sharing your faults and struggles with the world, but I believe it is making me a better person. I cannot tell you how much this blog has blessed my life in the past year.  I love that it forces me to think outside the box and step out of my comfort zone day after day.  It has also forced me to evaluate my behaviors closely and come to some realizations about myself that I have in turn used to make changes in my life.  Whether I have one reader or 1,000 readers doesn’t matter to me because it is filling my cup up every single day.  What I am getting out of it far outweighs any of the negatives, and I feel truly blessed by it. 

My goal for starting the blog was not only for my own personal self-discovery and growth, but it was to also help empower other women to become the best version of themselves that they can be.  I hope that I have been able to do just that.  Whether it is through feeling more comfortable with how you look and present yourself, how you organize your home and life, or becoming more confident in who you are as person, I want you to feel empowered. I want you to know that you matter and that you are not alone.  No one is perfect, but we can all strive to be the person that God calls us to be.  I am certainly not an example of perfection, but I hope that I can be an example of someone who owns her faults and struggles and puts in the work to become a better version of myself.  We all deserve that.  We deserve to live our best lives.  We should never stop learning, growing, and changing.  If my crazy life can help you to do that, then I am going to keep on writing. 

Shirt/Earrings/Necklace

Before I started writing today, I actually went back and read my very first post from a year ago. I sure hope that I have become a better writer in the past year, because that post seemed too juvenile to me.  Ha ha! Seriously, though, I look back at the person who wrote that first post, and I think about how much I have grown in the last year. I am not that same girl, and that is a good thing.  That girl was lost and struggling. My dreams and goals are much bigger now than they were then, and I am more in touch with who I am and who I want to be.  I pray that I will continue to grow and come to know myself even better in the next year.  I also pray that my words will resonate with you and that you will desire to grow and change along with me. Life is a journey, and it is a journey that can lead to so much good and happiness.  It is all about perspective and attitude.  That is the biggest thing that I have learned in the past year.  I used to look at everything negatively, and now I have tried to change my mindset into a more positive one.  Of course it is still a struggle, and I am certainly a work in progress.  I just hope that something I have written has blessed you as much as it has blessed me to share it all with you. Thank you for coming on this journey with me over the past year, and I pray that you will stick around for many more. 

Anchored,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.