Sunday, February 19, 2017

Shed or Surround Yourself

Peace
Joy
Encouragement
Acceptance
Community

Each of us needs to feel included, accepted by those around us. If we are not being encouraged to be our best by our community or if we feel left out/ put down/ unaccepted, our hearts wilt. I feel so blessed to have others in my life that lift me up, stretch me to be the best me. Toxic relationships contaminate our lives if we don't move ourselves away from them. Supportive relationships fill our lives with joy and grow us to be our best. 

Make sure your community, your people are lifting you not dragging you down. Some animals shed their skin so their new self can shine. Some of us need to shed a few relationships so our self can be brilliant.

In Him,
Joyful
2-19-17

Friday, February 17, 2017

Grandgirl, Passports, and a New Room

My heart is full and my home is a bit fuller too. Our twelve year old grand girl has come to live with us for middle school. We are enrolling her in an online public school to give us flexibility with her schedule and so we can have more hands-on with her learning. She is the one who asked to come live with us and her parents supported her decision. She and I have been busy de~Natalie~ing her room and Lissa~izing it.

Ron and I have a little plaque on our mantel that says 'We love our birdhouse full of birds.' That is how we feel about having Lis here. As wonderful as an empty nest is it is fabulous to have a young one here to love and encourage. The truth is Lissa brings a new life to our home. Her curious enthusiasm to learn and be involved encourages us to learn and be involved.

We all sat down and came up with the dos and don'ts list. She has spent summers with us, so she knows how we live and what we value. There may be bumps in the future but as long as we all let each other know what drives us nuts and what makes us smile, we will be okay.

Wednesday is Thrive aka youth group so Wednesday night will now be date night for Noni and Papa. Lis already got her first mail at our house from her loving cousin, McKayla. It not only made Lis smile but she wrote back immediately. I love that my grands are sending each other snail mail. When they were younger I tried to write a couple times a month to each of them. This is another thing that makes me smile.

Grandparents raising grandkids is happening more and more. It used to be that we all lived close enough so the grandparents as well as aunts and uncles all raised kids as a community~family. The hardest part of raising grandkids is that something is broken in our kids or we wouldn't be. As you know, we lost Lissa's dad to suicide almost seven years ago. We love that this opportunity to love on his daughter is here. Ryan would be so thrilled with the young lady that Lis is becoming. She has his love for others and adventurous heart. When I look into her brown eyes I see her dad's heart. She is her own person but got a good bit of the best of both her parents. Having her here gives us the chance to steer her away from the pitfalls her parents made and toward the opportunities that will give her the biggest world possible. Drugs and alcohol and the shame of them took her dad. Our hope is to provide Lis with successes that keep her from repeating his missteps.

She asked for a passport for Christmas so she could see the world. Guess Ron and I need to get out the map and dust off our own passports. World here we come with Lissa in the seat next to us.

In Him,
Joyful
2-17-17

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Courage and Patience is what Moms are made of

I had the pleasure yesterday of having lunch and attending a school conference with two incredible moms. These amazing ladies both homeschool their 5 kids. When they get together on Wednesdays for Social Studies their are 10 enthusiastic kids running around. It is a marvel to see how they get them settled, motivated, educated, and fed, all with smiles on their faces. The cleanup is quick with so many hands and then one piles her mob into the minivan to go home for more learning.

Yesteday, we had transition conferences to see if their almost 3 year olds will qualify for the districts preschool program. This was a tough meeting on many levels. These protective moms like to have a hand in their kiddos learning at all times. Even with that they both came to sit down and hear what the district could offer. Because doing what is right for their kids is greater than their hearts for keeping them home. The meeting didn't show the district in the best light. They didn't have the paperwork we had delivered before Christmas. Hadn't looked closely at their own calendar and didn't realize they had a meeting for the second kiddo until they double checked their own calendar. What a poor impression! When asked a question the director of special ed had to back track her first answer when confronted with the facts. I was sad that these two moms who worked up the courage to come to this meeting and consider trusting their precious littles to our school district were subjected to such haphazard attitudes.

Needless to say, it was not a pleasant conversation when we got back out into the fresh air. But the truth is, these moms both love their kids more than they dislike the district employees we met with today. I know that they will prayerfully consider what is best for each of their kiddos and make the decision that is best for each of them.  After all, courage and patience are what moms are made of.


In Him,
Joyful
2-2-17

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Connections/Connecting

Connections
Life is all about our connections. 
We try to reach out to those we love
To connect.
In this world of technology
Connecting is simpler than ever. 
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Marco Polo
FaceTime
Skype

We don't wait until a baby comes home from the hospital
And the parents have time to develop pictures to send in the mail.
Instantly, we are connected to a new life
Through birth photos snapped moments after entering our world
Proud parents don't have to search for stamps
A mere click on the address books shares their joy with all those they love
Near and far.

Heartbreaks are shared and we are supported by those who pray for us 
And those who just send their concern and positive thoughts. 
Storms seem less scary when we have a network
Connected to us to see us through. 

There have been days when someone knocks on my door with just what I need
Moments after I express it. 
This year we raised money for a mission trip to Peru
By making breakfast burritos to serve after church.
When it was clear that we had way too many burritos for the crowd
Jenn put it on FB that we would deliver burritos and people could donate
Whatever they wanted to give.
We had a blast! 
The last of the burritos brought in more money than the ones eaten at church.
It was fun including others in our mission
And we got a promise for prayer support along the way.
One generous soul gave us $100. for 6 burritos.
Dang!
I wish I wasn't so skimpy on the bacon. 
Hope the extra green chili made up for it!

Connecting
We humans are meant to share our journeys on this earth.
It is true that we need to put our phones away
And look into each other's faces when we get a chance to meet in person.
But don't discount the wonderful connections that simply wouldn't happen without technology.

I am a part of my adult cousin's lives through FB.
Time and distance just wouldn't make it possible to stay involved 
Otherwise.
I am grateful for the connections I have with those who read my blog,
encourage me and pray for me that I will probably never meet in person.
I have a sweet friend who is from Chicago, a place I have never been.
She and I met when she was visiting here for the Fourth of July a few years ago.
Exchanging Facebook info allowed us to stay connected.
I count her as a friend. 
Getting to watch her life unfold is a gift. 

Connections
Connecting
Being part of each other's journeys.
Wonderful!

In Him,
Joyful
1-29-17



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Community

I love when our prayers are answered in a way that is so crystal clear. The past few weeks I have been praying for a community for someone I adore. She has walked into a church home and is surrounded by just the positive, loving community I prayed for. Sometimes it is more subtle how our prayers are answered. Heck, there are times when I have thought I wasn't heard at all only to see the bigger picture later on.

In my life I have struggled with the heartbreaks and applauded the windfalls. The truth is when I look back I see clearly that the struggles led me to the windfalls most of the time. Everyone around me knows I can't stop saying how much I love my job. It is the truth and more than that I am beaming with gratitude of where God has placed me. In a nutshell, I get welcomed into families homes to play with their wee ones who are under 3 years old. My job is to interact, encourage and just be another set of eyes on these littles who are struggling with development. Me getting to love on tiny tots and have encouraging conversations with their families? Yep! Windfall!

But I know that my own struggles as a mom who lost a son to suicide, another child who has been homeless and struggles with addiction, and my girl who had someone just like me support us when she was bitty is what makes me perfect for this job. How blessed I am to have enjoyed a career as a teacher of kids from kindergarten to eighth grade. That I had those who struggled for 2 or 3 years made them more than students. It made them family. When I retired, I hoped that God could set me down in just the right role to lift up families. This fit in the FIT program is more than I could have dreamed of. FIT stands for Families, Infants and Toddlers. It is a Federal Program that is called different things in different states. But the support before school is the same everywhere. Now this is a great way our government is spending our dollars. Early support for the future of our nation.

Community is something we all need. Whether we just moved to a new city, are home raising our kids or grandkids, or struggling with the addictions of those we love. God has blessed me with community and I am thrilled with the way He answers my prayers.

In Him,
Joyful
1-28-17

Friday, January 27, 2017

Helping Storms Pass

Often we refer to the storms of life as those times that things aren't going the way we had hoped. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, illness, financial difficulties we use the term the storms of life. This makes so much sense. There is no place that has all clear days. Even Hawaii gets its share of rain. There is also no place that is under a continual storm warning. My kids live in the Northwest that is known for its rainy days but last summer we swam in a beautiful lake basking in the sun. 

Life is like that too. All of us go through the aches and pains of life whether we bring it on ourselves or our circumstances are just harder to live with than other people's. The truth is life is not fair. Some have to deal with constant pain, some deal with grief greater than most, and their are people who feel they just can't go on. Even though climates as well as storms differ around our globe there are comfortable days and days we better bundle up everywhere we go. Life is the same. Some live with harsher weather and some seem to get that life on the beach everyone dreams about. But even in the hardest days we can cling to the hope that there will be better days ahead. That is what we call hope.

Lately, it seems we have been losing our hope in the world, our country and even in each other. We are allowing ourselves to dwell in and mope about the storms. This loss of hope is destroying our faith and our acceptance of each other. All we are left with is hopelessness and judgement. I have faith this storm will lift in our communities and our country. But it will take each of us being kind and accepting rather than hurtful and condemning. 

Our hope has to be in each other not in politics or politicians. Our love for each other has to be stronger than our hate for each other. This rough weather can pass if each of us turns our face to the warmth of compassion and empathy. 

I am guilty of having a terrible attitude myself. I push the hide button on everyone's posts and avoid political speak like the plague. I shove it all away rather than trying to understand the heart of the person who is so angry, hurt or scared. Heather has been the best example through this storm. After the election she baked and delivered cookies to those who were so upset. She reached out with kindness even if she didn't agree with them she was willing to understand that they were grieving. Wow! I want to live like that. How quickly my own storms would pass if I chose love over a judge mental heart.

In Him,
Joyful 
1-27-17

Monday, January 23, 2017

Walking Into A Room

'When you walk into a room does the atmosphere get better or worse?' Our pastor posed this question to us yesterday. Hmmmmm. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, 'Do everything in love.' If only I could fully follow that verse the answer to the room question would be clear. Unfortunately, I get caught up too often in jealousy, judging others, and gossip. None of those things make the atmosphere of any room or my heart better.

If I just measure this with how I feel about others behavior my answer is clear. When someone bad mouths others I am always left wondering what they say about me when I am not around. When someone focuses more on bragging about themselves rather than listening to others I am not as interested in what they are saying. When someone is constantly putting down another persons thoughts and opinions it leaves me questioning their thoughts and opinions.

None of us is right all the time. All of us get too self focused at times. What I want to do is really think about what actions positively and negatively impacts me. Then try harder to embrace those in my life. I know I can be positive, generous and a joy to be around. But I can also be tiresome with my whining and complaining about how others have wronged me. If I don't want to hear it~I shouldn't be saying it. Simple. It may be simple but it is certainly not easy to stay positive and not share my frustrations and hurts with others.

Of course it is healthy to have a confidant that I share my heart with. The trouble comes when I feel the need to tell everyone my woes. That changes my whole day to the negative. It also leaves those I barely know wondering why the heck I am telling them my problems. Pity party restraints are needed. Just because I am sad, mad or angry doesn't mean everyone needs to know. Besides it will only grow those feelings and keep me wallowing in them all day. Perhaps the better path would be to talk it out with the offending party. Maybe I would find out it was all a great misunderstanding. Then I could get back to my positive day feeling the issue is resolved. Seems to me that is what 'doing everything in love' is really about.

In Him,
Joyful
1-23-17