Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Making Time

Time used to be something I had. It was a fickle thing, but for the most part really awesome whenever I possessed it. But then, it happened.

Time slipped through my fingers and went merrily down the sewer.

Now the only way I can make time is if I manufacture my own watches. You know, watches- those time things that used to be on people's wrists? Oh, never mind...
The only way I can make time is if I reset the clock on my smartphone back a few months. 

Or years.

I look at the pages in my scheduler and see vast waves of almost-nothingness- when I go past the two upcoming months that is- and think 'I'll have time to do that then,' or 'Great! We'll do this three months from now!' But when I get there, it's a different story. I get booked and have no time for the fun things in life.

That is so not the way I should do things!

I know better. I just forget to plan and reserve certain days for family fun and friend get-togethers. We wind up asking people the last minute when they are booked, so we wind up doing something else- usually filling those gaps with more work. Yay.

This has got to change, before I go stark raving screwball nutso! 

This week I plan to open my scheduler and claim those blank pages in the name of Sanity. This day for friends at the fire pit, that day for breakfast out, and that weekend for family camping, sans technology. Then when those days come, we have it all covered and can finally relax.

Don't wait to 'make time' with your loved ones- including friends. Make that time count now. Make plans. save up for trips. Give yourself time to be alone if you have to- that's what I do when we're camping! I let my husband take the kids fishing or exploring, and I sit at the camp reading and just listening to the birds, squirrels and God. It's awesome.

Last year we didn't do much of anything because I didn't plan to do anything. We wound up working and cleaning up the house and yard. Whoopty-stinkin'-doo. Memories aren't made doing chores!

Think about that for a second. You never hear the kids say "Hey- remember that time we took the trash out?" Nope...never gonna happen. And if they do say things like that, you really need to go out and do something with them. Stat.

It's not easy to make time for you, your family and your friends. But it's important to get away from the screens and devices and get face-to-face with your peeps once in a while. Don't let time escape down the sewer. Hold it close and savor it as often as you can!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Brain Shorts

My brain is shot.

Why? Because I'm a mom. But I'm not just a mom- I'm a mom with too many jobs that likes to have a hand in everything my family does. Because of that, my brain is about as useful as the new math.

I'm out of the door by 5:30 am. and I don't usually get back home until 7:00 pm- with a small break at the house somewhere in the middle of the day to throw something fast down my throat.  

I come home, eat something, zip off to a meeting, do something with the family, or go through a bazillion emails (mostly tossed into the 'Delete' pile), then collapse into bed by 9:00. Weekends are a little better, but we're still running and playing catch-up with the house, shopping, church, or activities.

And I'm wondering why my brain is shot?

God has a sense of irony. Don't believe He doesn't! Half a year ago I was an at-home mom wondering why people can't just slow down and rest when they obviously had to- I mean, how hard could it be?

And then God came along, saw me being all smuggish and decided I needed to learn something. A few somethings, actually. Well I'm not smuggish anymore! Thanks a lot, Lord. Now I have trouble finding time to blink.

Right now my brain wants me to shut down this blog and take a nap before I start my second job. Selfish- I know! But I wanted to tell you about a few things first.

My brain has been betraying me. This is how I know I need a new one. This one's shorting out and breaking down. 

How? Here are some examples:
I was writing out my menu plans for the week, and my brain kept insisting on putting 'Reservations'- on every single day. 
My 'To Do' list had 'Nap' written on it. Twice. In my handwriting. I don't remember writing it. 
My brain told me Girl Scout cookies would give me energy. I never bought them before. I bought two boxes and ate most of them. It lied. Lemonades rock.
I've started a conversation, paused, and totally forgot what my point was and ended with another story entirely.
While filling out the title of this blog post, I kept thinking of my brain wearing Bermuda shorts and had a strong desire to be on a beach somewhere, sipping iced tea with fruit in it.

Oh yeah- my brain is definitely shot.

That is the last time I get smug around God. I don't think I'd survive Him doing this again!

Blog post done. Brain short blamed.
Now...about that nap...


Monday, January 25, 2016

Fear: The Bratty Emotion

New things are scary; more scary than any horror movie ever created.

Why?

Because real life doesn't end with a series of credits and bonus features. You have to live with the choices you make.

But wait a second. God says not to fear. He wants us to trust Him, and Him alone. Human beings aren't afraid when we're born; we learn to fear as we grow up.

Fear is a spoiled brat. It has no intention of leaving us be. Trusting God means fear won't get any attention- so sometimes it throws a fit.
It makes us angry.
It makes us hate.
It makes us lash out, hurting everyone around us.
It makes us hermits, physically and emotionally.

Yet we feed it, and it gets bigger. And big brats become bullies.

Is fear bullying you? I know it bullies me. A lot.

I let fear get to me too often. Fear of failure, fear of success. Fear that no one will ever like me. Fear of disappointing the ones I love. Fear of not getting approval from those I don't even like. My fear bully has gotten too big for its britches. But how do I fight the bully in my heart?

That's the best part. I don't have to. God is already with me. I just have to step aside and trust Him.

Talk about scary!

Part of me wants to trust wholeheartedly- the other part is a fearful cynic listening to the bully. Sometimes I find myself challenging God- Me- like I'll actually win! I hear myself making bets with Him like "Okay Lord, I'll trust You with the finances this time- so let's see what You can do with this mess."

Granted, not one of my best ideas.

Occasionally God takes me up on my so-called challenges, and surprises the heck out of me. Then my cynical side can't say squat. 

Lately life has been too busy for me to be afraid. Have you ever been that busy? I can't say I have either- until I challenged God about the finances. Now I have more jobs coming in than I can handle, with a lot of potential side jobs sprinkled liberally on top. 

I know better than to challenge God...now. Instead I've been praying to Him for guidance in picking the right jobs. To work smarter. To bless others with the skills He's given me as I pay off my financial sins.

I haven't had time to fear. And the blessings are rolling in. Weird, huh?

Fear isn't getting my attention. It's been trying to throw fits, but I'm too busy to notice. Maybe that was God's plan. Maybe not. He does things His own way, and I've learned (at least in part) to get the heck out of His way and not try to second-guess Him.
I hope it sticks. I like not being afraid.

As I learn to trust Him more and more, the bully will become a brat, and the brat will eventually disappear. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the peace in the parts of my life that I've handed over to Him, and pray for Him to help me let go of the rest.

Because giving up all of me is still scary. But it's less scary than it used to be!

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Need To Be 'List'less

I love lists.

I love making lists. I love posting lists. I like making lists of lists. But I'm not very good at crossing things off of a list.

Lists are a major part of my life. they help me organize, make plans, keep plans, and help me to be productive. But sometimes I need to throw my lists merrily out the window.

Especially when God gets involved.

He got involved today. I had a list of things to do. It was a wonderful list; it was full of chores to be done, tasks to be completed, and I even managed to cross off a few items before God decided to throw me for a loop.

I received a call. Someone needed me to take them somewhere- they just couldn't get their on their own. I groaned inwardly. Didn't this person understand I had a list? In fact, I was out running my errands when she called! How was I going to get everything done with all of these list interruptions?

Then God tapped me on the head as of to say Now, now, that's not what I taught you...

As this point I could tell you I was a good Christian, smiled and said "Okay God!" and sped off. But nooooo, I mutter-grumbled and wondered why He would wreck my schedule like this. I knew the reasons why, but I still grumbled. And muttered. I sighed and turned the van around to pick her up and took her where she needed to go. And back.

She was so grateful, how could my heart not be moved? This is what God wanted me to do today- He didn't give a hoot that I didn't get my sewing room straightened or the floors vacuumed. He doesn't care too much about lists- my lists anyway; He sometimes prefers me to be 'list'less so He can do His good works through me.

Can't really be a vessel of blessing if I'm too darned busy to hear His call, now can I?

I'm still learning to listen. Sometimes I have to put aside the lists and ask God what He wants me to do, then go do it. I also need to stop hesitating and mutter-grumbling when He asks me to do something. I'm not a perfect Christian- not even close!- but He does teach me something new about myself and Him everyday.

And that is a list I really should be making!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Inner Brains- Kid vs. Adult

This is not a post about kids versus adults; it's about the clash of the brains- inside my head.

My kid brain wants stuff. My adult brain thinks it knows better and refrains. And sometimes the arguments are quite interesting.

For instance- I'm hungry. I could eat the doughnuts my husband brought home (quick and easy) or I can make myself something (time consuming but healthier). The argument in my head goes something like this:

Kid: DOUGHNUTS!!
Adult: No. We are trying to lose weight.
Kid: DOUGHNUTS!!
Adult: We can make something else up in about ten to fifteen minutes.
Kid: We don't have fifteen minutes! 
Adult: (sighs as she looks in the fridge) Maybe a grilled cheese sandwich?
Kid: We have to leave soon and I'm hungry NOW!
Adult: What about an apple?
Kid: Doughnuts don't have cores- oh wait- some do, but they're usually creamy- and you can eat them!
Adult: They make a mess.
Kid: You can lick your fingers!
Adult: But...
Kid: Too late! We have to go now- DOUGHNUT!!
Adult: Just this once...

....aaaand that's why I'm fat.

But sometimes, just sometimes my adult brain wins.

Kid: Let's go do something fun and dangerous!
Adult: Like what?
Kid: Go pet that bear!
Adult: Pet the bear. Right.
Kid: He's so fuzzy and cute...and see? He's smiling!
Adult: You want me to go up to the fuzzy smiling bear and pet him.
Kid: Or her. I can't tell from here. 
Adult: No.
Kid: Why?
Adult: Because I like having arms.
Kid: Awww! (pouts)
Adult: Let's go feed the goats.
Kid: okay!

It's not easy having two brains, especially when they argue. But I'm sure most of you understand what I go through each day. I won't even mention the writer's brain and all the characters that she brings along- it's a wonder I get anything done at all!

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes my brains agree with each other. And sometimes my kid brain teaches my adult brain something.

Kid: Did you see that? Awesome!
Adult: What?
Kid: That awesome big blue bird that just flew by! Oh! He's at the window now!
Adult: The blue jay?
Kid: YES!!
Adult: Nice bird.
Kid: Lookit! It's playing with a squirrel!
Adult: Shh! Trying to do work here!
Kid: (makes me turn my head to the window) Look! How cool is that?
Adult: (gives in and watches) wow- that is cool!
Kid: God does some really cool stuff.
Adult: Yes, He does.
Kid: Just don't be too busy to miss God's blessings...okay?
Adult: (smiles) Gotcha.

Do you have a kid and adult brain? Do they argue too? Please don't let me be the only one that does- otherwise the guys in the white coats might be coming for me soon...

Kid: ...But the long sleeves and buckles are so cool! You can scratch the hard-to-reach itchy spot on your back, and...
Adult: Shaddap.

It doesn't matter if you are of two minds, or five, or even ten- as long as all of them love God. Don't be afraid to let your kid brain show you something cool and interesting about Him each day. That's what makes God smile- even more than cute, fuzzy, arm-eating bears!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Change of Years- Switching Gears

Life is funny. And weird.

Last year at this time, I was fighting the same demons- getting books written and published, and losing weight. 
Two books are polished (and I thought they were done), but still need a little tweaking. The children's book doesn't need much more than an illustrator. Not done, but on the way.
As for losing weight? This is a win-lose situation, because I did lose almost fifty pounds, but gained almost half of it back. I won because I still lost twenty-five pounds, but I lost (or is that gained?) because it could have been forty eight. It still counts though!

It's time to reevaluate. Some gears need greasing, and some need to be changed out. A few need to be put in a box for a while until I'm ready to use them!

The gears that need greasing are the ones concerning weight loss and the books. If I can get one book out this year, that would be great! And another twenty five pound loss (or more) would also be very, very welcome.

The gears that need changing out concern working. Some jobs just don't pay as well or are as consistent as others, and I have to make some serious decisions- though I admit, one of them doesn't seem all that serious- since I'm considering becoming a face-painting clown.

Yes, you heard me! Funny and weird, all rolled into one curly purple wig.

I'm also looking into specializing in one craft and starting a real online business. My crafting focus has been too diverse; I've been watching coaching videos and talking to people to help me narrow the fields down to one. Right now I'm deciding among four choices: fabric fashions (aka scarves), totes and bags, home dec sewing, or paper crafting. Talk about switching gears!

The only gear I'm not touching is the one steady driving job. That will help support everything else until I can get the fabric/paper rolling! I have no idea how long it will last, but it's very steady at the moment, so for now, all is good.

It's time to make some changes and stop sitting on my duff, imagining my way to success. I don't know about you, but going out and doing it scares the bejeebers out of me!

It's time to do something. About my weight. About the debt. About how I work. It's time to get myself out there in the business and book world, and let God's light shine through me! Who's with me?

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Present vs.The Future Thinker

The other night I was talking with my husband about the future. I don't know why I still do this; after eighteen years of marriage, I get the same answer:

Me: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
Him: I have no idea.
Me: not even an inkling of what you'd do?
Him: Not really.

Do you see what I have to live with, creative people? He's a present-minded person, and I'm a future-minded person. He drives me crazy! I married a guy with no imagination- except when it comes to the present. Only then does he shine.

If I need something special made or done within a few days, he's the man for the job. But if I want him to help with a five-year plan for our lives? I'm doing it myself.

Though I have to admit sometimes his way is better. Sometimes.
Let's take the finances for instance. One week we didn't make the quota I set to keep the budget on track...

Him: Well, we didn't make it this week, but we should be okay if I can do some side jobs in the next few days- and if I can't, we'll manage. I'll pray about it and see what God does.

Me: We didn't make the goal? Okay, if we can't find extra work, that means I have to stint on the groceries this week, or buy a little less for the whole month. We have to eat though, so if that doesn't cover it that means we can't pay the mortgage, then they'll come take the house and we'll be homeless- I better pack up some essentials with extra blankets and pillows just in case...maybe we can use the camping tent on the streets? Maybe the cops won't arrest the lot of us and put us in jail- I can't get a fifth job if I have a record....

As you can see, my perspective is much more reasonable. Extra blankets and pillows are needed because it's winter- duh.

His perspective does take the worry out of the picture. Of course it doesn't always keep the lights on, but at least it will be darker at night since the clock radio won't be shining its bright digital display at me.

Hmm...Maybe God had a point when He said not to worry for the future? At least not so much that worry is all we do.

Future thinking has it's advantages and disadvantages. Future thinkers like me are the ones always inventing new things, writing new books, and creating new crafts. In fact, we can't stop coming up with new ideas! But a detailed future-minded imagination can be a heap of trouble too; like the time before cell phones when I couldn't contact my husband when he was working late, and by the time he came home, I had his funeral planned and was on the floor sobbing in a puddle of tears- all because he never heard the work phone ring over the noisy machines.
Of course he didn't think to call, because he told me a few days prior that he was working that night- I just forgot! Present thinkers...bah!

God said not to worry about the future. He's got our back. Had I known Him better back then, mayhaps my husband wouldn't have found a sopping wet wife with swollen eyes and the funeral parlor on the phone the moment he came in the door!

You future thinkers- you creative minded folks know exactly what I'm talking about. You present thinkers probably think I'm one chapter short of a Bible. That's okay. I probably am. Future thinkers are usually a little bit loopy- that's what makes us so special.

I'll probably never fully understand my husband. He'll never ever understand me. So I'll make my five-year plans, ignore his smirks when I show them to him, and I'll ignore his lack of a future imagination. I'm just glad we both have cell phones when he goes to work!

What will we be doing in five years? I don't have a single idea. I have twenty. And maybe, just maybe, one of them will come true. But that's not up to me or my husband- that's up to God. I think I can handle that. But I still like to dream about it!