when life laughs at you…persevere

I think it’s important not to take yourself too seriously.  In light of my last post, a follow-up is necessary.  For the past few months I have been the front-of-house manager for one of most popular restaurants in our area.  I mentioned in the last post how much I love the problem solving, right?  Yes.  Did I also say how much chaos is my thing?  Yeah.  I did.  Oh. My.  I love when I eat my own words.  It’s tastes great!

Here’s the deal.  I like to take crazy and make it make sense.  I’ve been pretty good at my job thus far.  Busy days are my favorite.  I like the feeling of stepping in when everything hits the fan, fixing it, and no guest in our restaurant even notices.  I usually laugh hysterically when several people come to me at once with what they feel are end-of-world problems.  I don’t laugh at them.  I laugh at how nuts things can get.  I usually take a deep breath, roll up my sleeves, and start putting out fires.  One by one in order of priority, I fix things.  Yesterday, things got a bit too much.  Even this chaos-seeker couldn’t get the fires under control.

It all started at noon.  I got a call from the busser.  Car problems.  He’ll be an hour or so late tonight.  No problem here.  Due to budget cuts, I was scheduled as the hostess.  No big deal.  I can buss and host.  Solved.  When I got to work, more little fires. BAM!  Taken care of in the first hour.  I was thinking it was a crazy start to a Monday, but things were quiet.  Business was slow.  A sick server’s shift got covered, another needed the next day off.  No problem.  Move this one here, and that one there.  Done.  Sometimes things get hairy.  That’s the way it is in the restaurant biz.  Just Saturday I was talking with a cooks’ father who was in town from Florida.  He’s had a successful restaurant in Syracuse for thirty years.  We chatted about how it is hard at times.  It’s just the way it is.

Everything at work stayed quiet the rest of the day.  Too quiet, in fact.  By four PM I was so bored I actually said out loud that I wished to bar would explode so I’d have something to do.  To give you some background on that statement, let me tell you that my first day managing we had a loud gun-shot sound in the middle of the dinner rush.  Turns out the bartender caught the edge of the bar glass with a wine bottle.  A six foot section of the bar burst into a ba-gillion tiny pieces.  Right under a hotel insurance adjusters’ dinner.  Yeah.  It’s gets crazy.  It always happens right when the restaurant is full too.

So, I’m so bored yesterday that I asked for an explosive mess.

I got it.

The busser let me know that he’ll be even later.  The restaurant was starting to fill and my servers were getting a bit frazzled.  I let him know to just get in when he can.  They would love his help cleaning up later.  I proceeded to the bar to make some drinks, wondering where the bar tender was.  At this point I was wondering if he was coming at all.  As I made a few drinks, the look on the servers faces was getting panicked.  The restaurant was filling very quickly.  I was tending to the bar folk to relieve their stress.  I was getting that feeling that things were slipping from me.  I couldn’t leave where I was…too much to do.

Muddling drinks in the midst of a “situation” feels like waiting for water to boil.  The time seems to never end.  I knew I needed to walk the floor and check on my servers, but the drink orders kept coming!  I got up and couldn’t get out from behind the bar.  I spied the pizza server and knew she could make drinks.  I called her over and let her loose.  I served pizzas for her and ran through the kitchen to check the schedule.

Just as I suspected.  Bar tender was an hour late, and now fired!  Okay, no bar tender tonight.  Things are getting nuts!

Throw in the fact that the service is getting slower, we’re on a wait list, and another local restaurant owner was very unhappy with his experience…that all adds up to this manager feeling like a failure.

Who’s that I spy?  An off-duty bartender walking in the lobby?  Get in! Punch in, and send the pizza girl back to her side.

Here come more and more people.  Food is in the window and needs running.  Here I go.  The bartender is doing his best.  I check on cups and run more to him.  Who’s that I see?  That’s right.  The thirty year restaurateur.  He asks how I am.  Uhhhhh.  Things are a little messy tonight.

“I know.  I could tell when I walked in.”

Defeat is an ugly mental state.  It was on every face of my people that night.  Times like that you just have to push through.  I was holding on to the idea that the busser would show up at any minute to smooth things out a bit.

Then I saw a text.

He’s not coming.  Just couldn’t get here in time with all the set-backs.

More defeat on the faces of my servers.  That meant that after all the rude people, failed team member, stress of knowing you didn’t give your guest what you wanted to give, you’ll now be taking on all the closing cleaning of the busser.

I  stayed to close because I knew my servers need a lift after all that beat-down the night gave them.  I figured that if we pumped up some old-school hip-hop after closing we could get the pep in our step back.

The service settled.  The guests went as fast as they came.  When the last one left, I went straight to the music.

It wouldn’t work.

And that was the night.

At every expectation of relief or hope of it getting easier, it failed.

Isn’t life like that?  There are certain seasons, days, years, that feel so defeating.  I was downcast in my heart while still trying to  encouraging to my staff.  I determined to just push through the crappy night.  There’s a word that I learned early in my Christian walk.

Persevere.

That word has a way of lifting me and propelling me.  Sometimes by one more day.  Sometimes by one more hour.  Just a bit longer.  I have a verse on my wall that I look at and consider almost daily.

In short…persevere.

rest

I keep sitting down at the computer trying to say something of importance to you.  I come up empty.  I think back on events of the week and find nothing that stands out.  Nothing to write in this space.  For the fifth time in a week I sat again this morning, waiting for something to come.  The nothingness that followed actually became the concept.  I find myself wanting something significant to happen each day.  Something to share, a photo to take, just something out of the ordinary.  I often forget to just enjoy a regular, uneventful day.

Contentment.  That word can cut me deep.  It isn’t so much that I’m not content with my life, it’s the quiet that gets me.  The moments of rest I’m called to by God are the hardest for me.

Be still.  Know that I am God.

That has always been a struggle for me.  I’m a busy-body.  A do-er.  I like challenges and problems to solve.  Perhaps, that’s why I’ve always found myself attracted to an over-loaded schedule.  I’d rather turn down a task than not have a full plate.  It makes sense to me.  I’ve always been that way.

I like deadlines, big events, and a dollop of chaos to unravel.  I know, I’m quite strange.  It’s just how I am.  I’m built for weird.

I’ve heard of a book over the last few years that tackles such a personality as mine.  Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.  I just began to read through it last week.  This is really speaking to me.  If I could re-write the title to better fit me, I’d call it, Having a Mary Heart with a Martha Mind.

Do you also struggle in busyness?  I certainly lean more towards Workaholic than I do Laziness.

If so, I think you would enjoy this read.  I love the way she has addressed the fact that Martha isn’t less spiritual of worse than Mary.  She points out the strengths and weakness in both.

As I look for areas in my life I need to rest in, I also know that being busy isn’t a bad thing.  I just need to make sure I focus on Jesus and the path the Holy Spirit leads me down.  I pray for discernment in my life constantly.  I ask myself what taking on something else would profit me, my family, the Kingdom of Heaven.  Is it worth it (time, effort, money, energy)?

Have you any thoughts here?  What do you do to decide your life obligations and activities?  Do share!

I am learning more each day the value of quiet.  Nothing to report, ordinary, mundane, life has many lessons for me.  I am grateful for the silence.  I have found that a new challenge is always around the corner.  The rest is worth taking while I have it.

Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

lessons for the working, homeschool, mama

Oh, my!  I’m one tired mama.  Since January I have worked full-time, while still  homeschooling the kids.  My husband has been patiently awaiting a permanent place at UPS after working the holiday season.  He’s been painting houses and doing side jobs for the time being.  Okay, we’re both tired.  In a nut shell, it’s been a tough season.

It’s been a long hard season in fact.  Sometimes I have thought that everything that could go wrong has.  We have suffered loss.  We have had our marriage under attack, financial devastation, career change that led to months of unemployment- which led to mortgage debt.  I was wrongfully fired from a coffee shop job just as things were looking up financially.  We’ve been through it!  Just when are about to get a drink of refreshing water, it seems someone kicks the bucket over.  Why is everything SO hard!

Before you completely check out and stop reading, there is a point to my unloading.  I have grown tremendously in the past year.  The season of trials has proven a great season of lessons learned.  It’s a well-spring of spiritual opportunities and assessment.  I understand just a little more about God’s grace and forgiveness.  I have a clearer picture of what it means to run the race set before me.  This race has felt like it would kill me.  I’ve been at the end of my strength, dying of thirst, ready for the demand on my energy and exertion to end, but God’s grace has furthered me down the path a bit more.

Friend, have you been down a path like this?  One that makes you re-think all that you knew or believed?  A path speckled with hurdles that look so much bigger than what you can handle?  You are not alone.  In fact, the more I feel brave enough to honestly share my own struggles, the more those around confide in me their own battles.  I’m learning that people are afraid to share that they aren’t perfect and don’t have “it” all together, but it’s a fact!  With a determined heart I follow Christ.  When I want to give up and get away from my problems, I pray for Him to be the strength I need.  Join me, won’t you?

Acts 20:24

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

I signed up for a race, and I aim to finish it.  I’ll be ragged and disheveled by the end or I’ll get my runner’s high.  Knowing myself, I’ll likely be crawling to the finish line- perhaps an ambulance escort.  I decided to follow Jesus, and there is NO turning back.  I’ll get there.  How about you?  When life gets hard and every step is uphill, What verses do you cling to?  Be encouraged.  HE is our strength.

i’m sick of me

I’m so sick of myself!  I say that in the least self-loathing, self-centered, depressed way possible.  But really, I am.  Ever since I became a Christian fourteen years ago, I have heard people say that all you need is a humble spirit and a teachable heart.  You read your Bible, go to Bible studies, say your prayers, love others, serve others.  Eventually you will become more like Him.  I find that defeating.

Think about all the work that list entails.  Overwhelming.  If you get married you are then to be a good and loving spouse.  Serving your spouse when they are undeserving, and being okay with whatever they say and do with no bad attitudes.  Be in the perfect frame of mind.  Live life fully in the Spirit.

Do all this while dancing around with a smiling on your face.  Singing praises to God in all situations.

Now have children.

Multiply the Earth with a quiver full of arrows.

Now, be always giving and loving.  Nurture those babes with the fear of the Lord.  Direct them in the ways they should go all the days of their lives.  Read Proverbs 31 and be that person.  Forever.  Motherhood is always.

Really?  We don’t need to work our way to being a person who reflects the image of God?  We are supposed to help the poor, serve our families, teach our young ones, volunteer at church, keep our houses orderly, cook wonderful healthy meals, all while having a patient attitude even when the kids that are a blessing from God are smearing poop on the bathroom floor.  Even when your spouse who was hand-picked by God hurts your feelings.

Take it Christian women.  You can choose to make the best of all things in your life.

This is all partly true.  The missing piece is this:  “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.”

How have we become exactly like the Hebrews and not realized it?  We want Jesus as enough, and we want to be perfect super women also.  If we’re strong in our life who is it that’s weak?  Christ, right?

When we’re weak He is strong.  I seem to forget this all the time.  I know this in my head, but in reality, I fail to remember that Jesus is ALL I need.  He is sufficient always!

Do you need to remember this too?  You cannot do life on your own.  You weren’t meant to. Christ wants your humility, not your strength.

I was recently given a book by my dear and sweet friend.  I read the preface three times before I could read the first chapter.  The book is Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Harnard.

As I read the following bit, I knew that all the head knowledge I’ve gathered up in Bible studies and life and devotional time wasn’t sinking into the reality of my path here and now.

“But the High Places of victory and union with Christ cannot be reached by any mental reckoning of self to be dead to sin…”

What?  I can’t choose to be dead to my sin?  I don’t have the ability?

“…or by seeking to devise some way or discipline by which the will can be crucified.”

Reading my Bible everyday and going to church and going to Bible study, and serving and being a patient (yeah right!) mother, and hosting Jesus Birthday parties for all the neighborhood kids, and NOT doing things I shouldn’t doesn’t count?  *MIND BLOWN*

“The only way is by learning to accept, day by day, the real conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of his as is it presented to us in the form of the people with whom have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us.”

Ummm.  Read that again!

“Every acceptance of his will become an altar of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to his will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which he desires to bring every child of his while they are still living on earth.”

She goes on the explain that the lessons of the book are a journey to accepting grief and pain and triumphing over evil ect.

Seriously.  Do you know what she stated to be true?  In your heart?  In your life?  In the way that you live?  I think I missed something along the way.  I truly believe that God’s Word is true.  I know it’s by His strength, in His Spirit, by His will, for His glory.

What I’m really trying to consider here is that I must accept every thing that happens as an oppurtunity to humble myself, and by God’s grace and mercy accept the fighting kids as tools to sharpen my patience.  I am set on thinking of disorder that drives my recovering OCD mind crazy, as a way for God to instill his order in my heart.

I am forever and always until Jesus comes, going to be struggling.  I am eager for God to work into me a heart and Spirit that shines His light into darkness.

What if my life brought others to knowledge of Him?  That won’t happen if I’m complaining about how someone built an awesome thing inside our house and sanded it inside our house.  It won’t happen if I pretend to be strong when something is hard.  Honest humility.  We are to bear one another’s burdens,  You get the point right?

I have had plenty of opportunities to accept His will in my life recently.  Each time, I’m reminded of this passage.  My only real job as a Christian is to act on those opportunities.  Sometimes that looks like scrubbing my neighbor’s house because that’s how they need to hear the gospel.  Other times it looks like NOT freaking out on kids and being humble and loving.  Choosing to accept the challenges they throw at me as an oppurtunity to teach instead of punish.

It’s not going to be easy, but I am so excited to start letting Him work his will in my life.  I’m also excited to allow his will instead of impose my own.  Are you with?

 

thankful journal: count your blessings even when it’s hard

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Have you ever gone through a season in your life where it seemed like nothing was going good?  I feel like we’ve been in and out of those seasons so often over the last couple of years.  It’s easy to cry out, “Why me?”

It’s hard to stay thankful and grateful.

I admit to doing both quite well.  I always want to be thankful and count my blessings.  I don’t always do it.  Even with the most well-intended fantasies of being that perfectly content and loving person, I FALL SHORT.  I get bummy and grumbly.  I forget what I already have and whine (in my heart) about what I don’t.

Over the last month I have done something to remind myself each day that I have so many things to be thankful for.  I made a little thankful journal.  It’s a sentence or two everyday.  It takes less than a minute, and it really helps me to see that even on the worst, most stressful, heart-breaking days, there is always at least one thing that caught my attention.  One thing I can say, “Thank you Lord.” for.

I just read through it before I wrote this post.  It’s amazing how many things I already forgot I was blessed by.  Isn’t that just like us humans?  We are so quick to remember the hardships and trials, and so quick to forget just what God has done good.  I would like to to challenge all of you to “Count your blessings.”

Write down a moment or a thing you are thankful for everyday.  Write it in a fancy journal.  Write it on a notebook.  Write it on the calendar.  Just pick a place and put that paper somewhere you won’t forget.  Somewhere that you will see it and not forget.  You might have to put it in your purse and take it with you.  Perhaps stick it on your nightstand– you get the idea.

There have been a few days I missed.  I try to think back and write what I remember.  Don’t beat yourself up if you forget a few days. The point is to walk over a write your thoughts as soon as you can so you don’t forget the little things that blessed you.  You may have to dig deeper some days.  Hey!  Some days are better left forgotten, but try to find even the tiniest gift for those days.  One of my days said, “Isabel made breakfast.”

I remember that day.  That and the breath in my family’s lungs was truly about all the good that happened.  But that is a blessing, isn’t it?

So, do it!  Comment what you’re thankful for below if you want.

Thankfulness isn’t just for this week.  It’s a life choice to be grateful and blessed by the lives God has placed us in.

Difficult times may be all you know.  I realize some of you have had trials I couldn’t imagine.  I know God is faithful, and maybe ALL you have is him.  Praise him for his presence.  He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving.

Always.

8 things we need to know about grace

I love a good second chance.  I need them everyday don’t you?  In the Christian world we call this grace.  I thought it would be fun to look at ten things we need to remember about grace.

1.  Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.  It’s a gift we don’t earn.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

2.  We are to freely give grace, just as Jesus has freely given it to us.  We can’t expect people to earn grace from us.  It’s a gift, remember?

Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

3.  Grace comes with a price.  Jesus paid that price for us.  Sometimes for us to show grace is a sacrifice that doesn’t come easy for us either.

Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

4.  There is a call to action.  Be graceous!  Give back what the Lord has given you.

Psalm 111:4

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

5.  We need it daily.

Luke 9:23

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

6.  Grace is choice we have.  Have you ever heard someone described as gracious?  I’m not just talking about floating across the floor flawlessly.  I’m glad that’s not the definition.  My clumsy self would have no hope in that.  We can choose to BE gracious towards others.  We can be gracious in our thoughts.  In our hearts. In our actions and words.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

7.  True grace only comes from the father.  Either to us or through us.

8.  It’s not easy for us, but He can give us strength.  Sometimes His grace is all we have.  It’s always all we need.

2 Corinthians 12

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

9 misunderstandings about motherhood (i wish someone told me this)

If you’re a struggling mama, a new mama, or a soon-to-be mama, a never-ending, or a super mama, hippie mama, corporate mama, stay-at-home mama, unschooling, homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling mama…this list may be for you.

1. Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural.  Okay, this ends up being mostly true, but it’s starts out blisters,  crying (mama from pain), and ends in biting and more crying- ’cause mom doesn’t want her baby to  grow up.  Somehow your child will live- even on formula *gasp*.

2. Stay-at-home moms don’t do much.  Excuse me?  They have time to do everything perfectly that working moms never can.  Being a SAHM is easier.  For me, I think my mind and emotions would rather I get a job.

3.  Motherhood comes naturally.  Disagree.  Selfishness comes naturally.  Motherhood is a life of service.

4.  It gets easier.  So far, no.  The change of physical demands and no sleep to bra shopping and  hormones- ’nuff said.  I have heard enough from mom’s with adult children to know that season has it’s struggles  as well.  Like I said- life time service.

5.  If you read a bunch of parenting books, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect and how to deal with  it.  Don’t worry the formula works for everyone…said no mother ever!

6.  You have to be able to juggle house, schedules, and bake cookies all the time.  Give yourselves a break.   We mamas can seldom muster up the will and motivation for for anything other than keeping the young  alive.  It’s okay.  If you’re a ball of energy, that’s awesome.  If you’re not, don’t fall into the trap of looking  around you.  Assume you’re friend’s Instagram picture of perfection was the only moment of peace that  day held, and she documented it.  Assume that all the Pinterest pins are looking more like the Pinterest  Fail blog.  Just love your babes and do lots of deep breathing and praying.  You’ll make it to the next  stage.

7.  Your friends are sweeter, more peaceful, and never complain about anything.  They have it all figured  out.  They are better than you.  Yeah right.  They are likely struggling just as much- maybe more.  Have  honest conversations and be a friend who understands.  We are all figuring things out as we go.  YOU”RE  NOT ALONE!  Surround yourself with godly women who you can relate to.

8.  If you don’t feed your child organic from scratch food, on a plate that’s BPA-Free in a chair you bought at the thrift store and painted with chemical-free paint, while strumming your guitar to a song you wrote especially for him– he’ll grow up hating you and thinking that you neglected him.  Give that kid some chicken McNuggets and let him play in the ball pit of death germs.  He’ll love you more.  Just kidding. Do what ever you want, but remember that he only wants you.  Not your food or your up-cycles.  Just your presence and love.

9.  If you’re a single mom you have failed.  You don’t see your kids enough and they will turn out horrible.  Don’t believe that for a second.  You can do it, and you will realize one day how amazing you are for raising a child with no help or relief from a spouse.  I think single moms are amazing!  God will get you through to your next season.

Moms!  You are important.  What you do everyday is doing something.  Every stage of motherhood you look back on and see the growth in your person, your relationship to the Lord.  Every stage is teaching us something.  Don’t believe lies.  You are a mother.  You are amazing.  You may not feel amazing, look amazing, or act amazing (mommy-ka-boom!), but if you love your children they will know.  

Sometimes a, “Mom, MOM, MOMMY!  I love you.” Is enough to remind us, right?

Do not grow weary in doing good.  The Lord provides the strength you need.  Just be the mom He wants you to be, not the one you think you should be.