Life gets really fun once you get over yourself.

A peacock, who sits on his feathers, is just another turkey.

A peacock, who sits on his feathers, is just another turkey.

Life is so much more fun when you quit worrying about what others think of you. It’s not about “me” anyway.

Life gets really fun once you get over yourself

The other week I sang a solo at church. It used to make me ridiculously nervous.

Why does it make us nervous to do something we love in front of other people?

Because there are people! And they are watching! And what if your hair is messed up, or there’s lipstick on your teeth, or you miss a note?

But what if you don’t? What if you just stomp on all of those thoughts, embrace the very soul inside yourself, and just do it!

That’s what I did the other week. I had all these doctor appointments and mystery health problems hanging over my head, and something about it all pushed me over that selfish ledge that has eluded me. I managed to hop that fence, you know, the one that stands between caring and not caring about what anyone else will say.

Plop! There I was on the other side of that fence, and it felt amazing! I stood there, it was the most empowering thing to just not worry, and I sang my heart out to Jesus, just as if I were in my very own shower.

I was not nervous because it wasn’t about me anymore.

Who cares if someone out there chuckles about me? Good. Glad they got a laugh. Serving isn’t about me. It’s about giving what I have.

Have fun with life!

Have fun with life!

Ha! I bet some of you wonder why I’m always sharing my crazy crap on the internet.

It’s worth it, y’all. Do what you love, and shamelessly share it. It may even turn into income for you. I turn away work now all the time because I’m still too busy with all of my children to take on outside work, but I’m still here, writing and sharing, maintaining what I enjoy. Income opportunities can be taken care of later, when I have time for that.

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I believe in not putting pressure on yourself to “have it all.” Maybe you can have it all throughout your lifetime, but why stress yourself out going for all of it at once? Where’s the fun in that?

I wish I could go back to the sweet, timid, 23-year-old me. I would tell her, “Who cares if you don’t have a job and don’t know what you want to be? You’re happy being a wife and cooking and keeping house. Master that, and don’t worry about what anyone else says. There will be so much time to work a career and raise children in due time.”

Life is too short to impress people who won’t be impressed anyway.

I’m going to spend this weekend praising and thanking God for this beautiful life that I have been given. We are going to hang out as a family, going to birthday parties and basketball games. I’ll probably eat and talk too much and accomplish precious little. The kids will be loud. John David will follow me around. People will always be asking me, “What about dinner?” It will be glorious.

Life get so much more fun once you get over yourself.

 

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

Romans 12:6-8 

 

 

We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us. The person who has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in agreement with the faith. 7 Anyone who has the gift of serving should serve. Anyone who has the gift of teaching should teach. 8 Whoever has the gift of encouraging others should encourage. Whoever has the gift of giving to others should give freely. Anyone who has the gift of being a leader should try hard when he leads. Whoever has the gift of showing mercy to others should do so with joy.

 

Thanks for keeping me in the top 50 by voting!

Undeclared Major

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Age 19

I was a freshman at the University of Alabama. That was the semester we helped our friend Jason try out for Big Al, and he made it! That was the spring they fired Alabama football Coach Mike Dubose, after he had an affair with his secretary. I went from “14th floor girl” to an off campus apartment dwelling sophomore. I officially dated not a single person. Yet I still managed to get my heart broken a couple of times. I was always falling in love, or like, or confusion. I was the QUEEN of clueless dating, as in I could not have been more clueless about how to handle boys. I mostly just played hard to get, and it worked. No one got me. Ha!

I was 19, and for most of us, that’s just what we did. Right? Surely I wasn’t the only one.

I cannot, for the life of me, remember if I spent that summer working at the physical therapy clinic or the shoe store, so that’s why I have a journal. I’ll look it up here in a minute. I worked at Alumni Hall during the school year. On campus jobs are the best!

I do remember that when I was 19, I knew exactly who I was, but I had no idea where I was going or what I would be. That’s right. I was an undeclared major. I hated that label. It felt sketchy. I was a scholarship winner. I should have a plan, a purpose of some kind! I should at least know where I was going in life.

But I didn’t. The funny thing is that I was already doing it. I was already volunteering. I worked at Kid’s Klub one day a week, an after school club in the housing projects, where we taught kids about Jesus.

And I wrote. I wrote almost every single day. I made it a habit that every time I sat down to study, and I studied constantly, I would first read something from my Bible and write in my journal.

I was always poor, so I occasionally picked up writing assignments for extra money. I used that money to buy crazy things like food.

The university had a program where you could test out of Freshman Comp (English for freshmen). Therefore, I got to enroll in an American Literature class when I was 19. That class did not go well. The grungy graduate student who taught the class hated my papers. He gave me a B+ on every single one. That seems like a fine score to me now, but back then I knew something was amiss. He never made any marks on the page. I suspected that he didn’t even read them.

I was a firm believer in talking to professors. I used to get my Bs changed to As every single semester, simply by talking to the teacher. I learned this from the movie Clueless. Thank you, Alicia Silverstone.

The graduate student, who spent each class telling us about whatever he did that weekend and how weird he thought southerners were, informed me that my papers “were like a clean coat of paint with nothing underneath.”

Youch.

He said if I wowed him on the final paper, I could get an A.

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I should really find better “back in the day” photos…

 

I spent that week working on everything but that final paper, saved it for the last two days, and could not for the life of me find a poem I liked enough to write a paper about. I finally scribbled out something ridiculous and turned it in. (I should’ve gone with Robert Louis Stevenson. You can never go wrong with Robert Louis Stevenson.)

My writer dream died that year.

Was that professor right? Maybe a little. I didn’t care much about the topics I was writing about. I was nineteen. I cared more about finding a way to walk to his class without having giant sweat circles under my arms. Tuscaloosa, Alabama is HOT, y’all! I was more concerned about my crushes than I was about writing brilliant essays.

Ah, well.

I was also wrong. You can’t let the opinions of just one person, especially a person that doesn’t even know you, affect your decisions.

I don’t necessarily regret my undeclared major or the fact that I never took another college literature class. It was just part of my story, and it’s a great lesson to look back on of not letting hurtful words, whether they are true or not, get you down.

Who cares if he didn’t like my papers? Some people DID like my writing. More importantly, my writing has served many purposes in my life and in the lives of others.

I do want to live a life that pleases God. I do want to be a blessing to my family. Everyone else? Eh…. I do want to be a blessing to them, but I don’t need their approval.

The surest way to please NO ONE is to try to please everyone. Besides, some people will never be pleased.

I did eventually declare a major. I probably did that when I was still 19. I chose psychology, pre-physical therapy.

I have used my degree too, but it has never been in either of those fields because life is funny like that. The thing is, I’m a writer. I was then, and I am now. I could no more quit writing than I could change my eye color.

If you are an undeclared major, or you haven’t figured out “your purpose” yet, just keep charging forward. Stop and notice what you’re already doing. Maybe that IS your purpose. It’ll eventually make more sense. Maybe you just need more time to hone your craft before you can share it. I did. I tried many different things and felt a little lost in the sauce after graduating, but I feel so fulfilled at this point!

Wear your “undeclared” with joy. Your day is coming.

 

 

 

Thanks for the inspiration, Tamera!

I’m off to throw a surprise birthday party with my neighbors! Happy Birthday, Jackie!!

You Can Change Your Life By Changing Your Thoughts

 

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I resisted posting their picture for as long as I could, but it’s just too good. Such a blessing to share the retreat with these ladies!!

“You can change your life by changing your thoughts.” –Denise Cunningham

I’m still benefitting from my retreat. In fact, look at me. It’s been a week, and I’m STILL talking about it.

This thought-changing lesson is one that God is really drilling into my brain lately. First, it came up in the book I’ve been reading, Unglued, by Lysa Terkeurst. Then Denise brought it up at the retreat.

The importance of our thought life cannot be overstated. It will change who you are! I used to look at any mess in my house and think, “I am such a mess,” allowing that mess to define me and weigh me down.

Why must I be my own worst enemy? Forget that mess. It’s not ME. It’s just stuff. I’m raising four children here. That mess is just a chore and nothing more.

“Boys! Clean up this floor before you even think about going outside.”

There. Done. My floor is no longer a total mess, and neither am I. I wasn’t a mess before they cleaned it up either. I was just doing that stinkin’ thinkin’ thing.

Let’s be done with that.

What thoughts do you need to turn around?

Let’s level with those thoughts, focus on what we can fix, and pray about the things that we can’t fix.

Figure out what is stealing your joy, and go to war with that. Sometimes we can only pray. Don’t count that out, though, as a small contribution. I have felt powerless about so many things, where all I could do was PRAY. Yet it turned out to be exactly what was needed, and God solved those problems FOR me.

For example: I pray crying babies on airplanes to sleep. Laugh all you want, but crying babies bother me. I know. I know. I can’t help it. I pray them to sleep. It’s never taken God more than a minute or two to get a baby to sleep that I was praying for on an airplane. Now you may snicker and think that’s small beans. It is not. As a mother of four who has flown more than my fair share with all of my babies, I can tell you that crying babies usually elevate stress in the mother the most. Past that, it aggravates those with flight anxieties, headaches, etc. Therefore, praying babies to sleep is a precious gift to many. We all need a little more peace and quiet in our lives, right?

Sometimes we can take practical steps too. One thing that was stealing my joy was the complaining or negotiating that my boys would do at school.

I have one son in particular that complains and negotiates. That had to go. I can’t live like that. We’re still working on it, but the little chart I made is paying off!!! Big time! Now when a student whines, instead of increasing my heart rate and beginning to unravel myself, I just say, “Go and remove a check mark.”

No need to let someone else’s problem ruin my day. Perseverance is winning this race.

I set up that chart so that every time some one obeys WITHOUT whining or complaining, I give them a check mark. Once they get 17 check marks, they get a prize. They’ve all already earned their first prize: going to see a movie with Mom.

We saw Hotel Transylvania 2. (You can safely skip that movie.)

For the next completed chart, we’re going to Cold Stone Creamery.

I read somewhere that giving toys as prizes increases materialism, so I’m choosing activities instead. This sweet boy is the only one that has already earned his second prize:

This is Caleb giving a presentation about his favorite Lego creation at school. Caleb is not the reason I created the chart, though. He isn’t a member of the Whiner’s Club. Thank you, Caleb!!!

My thoughts are still very much a work in progress, but this is not something I have to fix by myself. When we belong to God, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us along. We need only to rely on that help.

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

 

“But when they arrest you [for your faith], do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”                Matthew 10:19-20

 

God will always answer our cries for help, when we are asking him to help us with the right motive. It is definitely his will for us to have positive thoughts, tuning out the lies of the devil, and living happy, productive lives– lives that benefit not only ourselves but also minister to others. Therefore, we know that if we ask God for help with our thoughts, he will be faithful to send exactly what we need.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”       Philippians 4:6-7

This is the kind of stuff I repeat to myself over and over on days like this, with multiple tutoring sessions, play dates, soccer practices, and meals to get on the table. Phew! Life is exhausting, but if we rely on God and even enlist others to help us, we can feel renewed rather than weary! No one ever said that we need to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. I will no longer be ashamed to reach my arms up and out for help.

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My friends and I, on our way home from retreat

 

“We pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with joy.”   Colossians 1:11

It took going away for a weekend for me to see my life for what it actually is:

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Adorable!

My life is adorable!!! No, life isn’t supposed to be easy, but gracious, it ought to be FUN!!

Sometimes we all need to take a step backwards to look at the whole picture. Wow! What a lively, large, laughter-filled, lavish, light, liberated, lovely, lucky, Lord-honoring lot that I have in life!

Today I am thankful, and being thankful brings joy, and joy cannot help but spill over.

 

 

 

 

 

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