Saturday, January 29, 2011


“N-O!” They are just two little letters that make up a word which pack a very big punch. I hear it from my two-year-old way too often. I use them when the requests of me are just not convenient. And I’m learning to say them when something is presented to me, while in and of itself may be a good choice, but in consideration of the big picture, is not the best choice for my life.

My hope for 2011 is that life will become richer because of this little word, “no”. While I have spoken this word to myself when contemplating exercise or healthy eating, I need to speak it more often when it comes to instant gratification and moments of laziness instead. When I want to say these two little letters to my girls’ requests for playtime because I am busy doing whatever it is I am doing, I need to take more moments like yesterday where I sit and watch their dance “performance” of 10 songs with their girlfriend. And at those moments where I say “no” to my husband because I am too tired, I need to remember that if I used this word more often on the requests of others, he might not have to hear it quite as often.

I am in pursuit of learning this year the empowerment that comes from using the word “no”. Not in the moments it flows naturally off my tongue but more so in the moments where I’d quickly say “yes”. I need to take the time to consider my entire calendar and my family. Taking the time to stop and ask if this is a moment where “no” would be appropriate will probably leave me more fulfilled and less frazzled.

“N-O!” are two powerful little letters when they combine to make a word. Have you considered your use of them lately? Do you need to reprogram your mind and responses with me?

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our Trip to "The Castle"

There was nothing but excitement from my girls and husband as we prepared for our trip to "the castle" this past weekend. Rod's aunt, uncle and cousins have been going to Stronghold Castle in Oregon, Illinois for the past 30 years or so with their church. Although Rod has not attended in the almost 15 years that we've been married, he went often from the age he turned 12 until our wedding. Nothing but fond memories surround this vacation for my husband.

His aunt and uncle invited us to the castle this year as their treat. Ater making arrangements to leave our two-year-old at home with our moms, we agreed to go. Nikelle and Jaycie could not get to the castle soon enough. Question upon question was asked about what to expect at the castle and my standard answer was, "I've never been there. I'll find out with you when we get there." While my family was filled with anticipation, I was filled with intrepidation. While I can blame my anxiety on the fact that Jaycie's behavior is unpredictable in crowds it really boils down to the fact that I didn't know what to expect from this weekend. I am a control freak and the only control I have of the unknown is to never venture into it.

I should learn by now that my fears of the unknown will quickly dissipate if I simply jump right in. While Jaycie did have her moments of clinginess while we were away, most of the time, she made herself at home with her cousins and explored the castle.

This staircase was in "the tower" of the castle. While I found myself weak in the knees and followed my husband's example of clinging to the wall as we walked, Jaycie went up and down the stairs without a worry. She even asked Rod to take her again later.

Here is Jaycie looking out the window at the top of the tower. This other picture shows you her lack of fear in the environment in the castle.

Nikelle's favorite part of the castle was the secret passaeway. While I forgot to take a picture of how the magic works, this is the room it leads to. Nikelle enjoyed teaching her sister and cousins in this little sanctuary.

It was a restful weekend where we spent time with family and their church family and enjoyed a peaceful time away from the rat race. We played games, read books and had time for fellowship.

We were also able to make some memories in the snow.

There was a hill that was long but not too steep which made for some great sledding. It will be fun to make this a family tradition.

I can't recall a time with Rod's aunt, uncle and cousins that wasn't filled with fun memories. I have no idea why I was so hesitant to jump in on the fun but I'm so glad we did!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Responding to Yesterday

"Yesteday you can't alter, but your reaction to yesterday you can. The past you cannot change, but your response to the past you can."

~ Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Who should I be?

I disagree that I need to look like the skinny, airbrushed models in the magazines. I do not believe that striving for achievement, fame and fortune is the path to success. Education does NOT matter more than character in my book. I hate hearing how I am supposedly intolerant, unloving and closed-minded. I'm tired of being yelled at that I need to not only accept sin but embrace it.

Aiming to be healthy is important. What is in my heart should be what makes me beautiful on the outside. I am to become a servant because afterall, that is the example Jesus set for us. Learning is important but without the wisdom to apply it, those smarts are fleeting. Character means more than the amount of facts I can hold in my brain. God tells me that I am to love through His example as He is the definition of love. True love wants one's best and doesn't require altering the owner's manual. I am to be open-minded and tolerant by God's standards (not by my own and not by some predetermined set of standards from Oprah, The View or Hollywood).

It can be exhausting at times to use God's filter for my thoughts. Still, I know I need to turn off the television and be careful of what I read and listen to. What enters my mind will shape and mold the life I live. Do my thoughts and beliefs really line up with God's? Or have I simply given in to the media and decided that God's best for me doesn't really make a whole lot of sense?

I cannot determine what is best for my life by my own standards. I have a Creator and He knows best how His design operates. Just because someone shouts louder, it does not make them right. God allows me the freedom to embrace His truths or not. This is love. I can choose to take the easier path and go with what my own predetermined standards of right and wrong or I can choose the narrow road that God sets before me because it will take me to the perfect destination.

We are doing a study at church of John Ortberg's book, The Me I Want to Be. In it, he reminds us that "There is a God. It is not you." That is likely the biggest struggle. I want to be God's best version of me. That's the me I want to be.


I've always considered myself an extrovert. I like being with people. Conversations that matter energize me. I like to talk with people about God, marriage, friendships, and life in general.

This year, more than ever, though, I find myself craving solitude. My husband said it's because right now it is such a lifeline for me. It is one of those commodities in life I am not afforded very often and therefore I am left craving more. I think he has a valid point there but I also think it is more than that. I think God is telling me that I need solitude in order to become more of the person He designed me to be. I think He is whispering to me the importance of quieting my mind and my life and taking the time to listen for His voice. I'm not the best listener in the world. I often find myself thinking about what I will say next rather than listening to words that are being spoken to me.

This year, I want to hear God more. I want to become a better listener and I believe an action toward that goal is to find solitude and quiet. That's my goal anyway.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New endings

I'm always looking for a clean slate. A fresh start that allows me to begin without any mistakes. That's why I like Mondays. It always seems like a new week will help me achieve the goals and desires I have for myself. The problem is that I quickly muck it up.

The new year always gives us the opportunity to wipe the board clean. When my children came down with the stomach flu and all I could do was operate in survival mode as 2011 greeted us, my dreams for healthy eating and exercise suddenly slipped through my fingers. (I didn't even have the opportunity to shed a few pounds through hugging the toilet bowl myself.) So much for New Year's Resolutions -even though I didn't really make any.

I'm so good at excuses. I don't make any changes because I want perfection. That lasts for a minute (if I'm lucky) until I find myself wanting a new beginning again.

I liked this quote from my Weight Watchers meeting last night:

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” —Maria Robinson, health educator

I alone am responsible for my choices. I may not be able to undo yesterday or even the last hour but I can change tomorrow. I've been told monitoring my thoughts will help greatly with my endeavors. I'll start there.