Monthly Archives: October 2015

Pumpkin Carving Day of Rest


Each year, it is our tradition to host a pumpkin carving party. I got this great idea from my dear friend Jenn who lives in the most amazing ‘hood, where neighbors get together ALL THE TIME. (J and I are jealous, Jenn – tell us when an affordable house comes on the market.)

In all reality, people show up for the Husker football game and the women (bless their hearts) oblige my crazy desire to carve pumpkins during halftime. But now that some couples are having kids, the excitement for the party is becoming less about the game (at least for the women; the men only move for food, and to potentially pull two children apart – but only maybe) and more about the thank-God-you-got-me-out-of-the-house-to-have-an-adult-conversation-with-someone-other-than-my-spouse. Not that our spouses are bad; we also enjoy time with our same gender.

But this year, the pumpkin carving didn’t even take place. First, we had to all meet one another and the kids had to discover new toys at our house (mucho thanks to my mama for saving a giant box of duplo legos from my brother’s childhood and passing it on). Then, everyone had to eat. And the family of small boys always ask what’s to pick in the garden – and you know I always leave something for them. 🙂  So, we picked a few tiny pumpkins, peppers, and most important – strawberries (“only the red ones, guys”)! All this happened in the course of two hours (insert quick breath here). Normally carving would happen at this point, but with a year old, 18-month old, 3-year old, and 5-year old, we opted instead to trick-or-treat at HyVee – an awesome free event they host each year! (see photo of Baby O with his future hunting buddies)

Normally, I would be so upset about not carving my annual pumpkin, but this year, I was relieved. After prepping for our company (which really wasn’t that much work – real friends are very forgiving and our house was surprisingly well in-tact at the time), I was grateful to chat with my friends whom I don’t see often enough. And J is THE MOST helpful dad of all time, but…the game was on. And his buddies were there to watch it with him. So I was willing to give the guy a break. It was so good to see these girlfriends I never get enough time with. It was fun to hear laughing, children playing, and see people smiling. I felt relaxed and sincerely enjoyed the whole day. I felt less Martha-ish! I was having a great time!

So much thanks to all our friends who supported my Martha recovery. But next time? Let’s have wine.

Lord, thank you for rest and recovery. Thank you for friends. When I’m feeling stressed and struggling to smile in the upcoming weeks, remind me of this time to renew my heart with the beauty of friends, football, food, and my favorite season: fall.

Leggings Are Not Pants


Photo Credit: Matt Fradd on Twitter

Fall…the time of year we need to gently remind other women that leggings are not pants. Or, as my husband likes to say, “Spandex is a privilege, not a right.” (When I told him this blog topic, he requested that I quote him – seriously.) We’ve all seen those women that share way more curves than any of us need to know about in public. Heck, maybe you’ve been one of those women. Or maybe you still are one of those women…consider this your intervention, and see WikiHow for a guide to appropriate leggings wear. For me, leggings are a great way to keep just a bit more warm. I usually pair mine with a skirt and tall boots in the winter. But never just leggings alone – I try to not make things what they aren’t.

Which led me to wonder…what else in my life am I trying to make something it’s not? Or in even easier terms, when do I “fake it ‘til I make it?” When am I not genuinely being myself?

I’m usually pulling it together at church. Singing worship songs really gets at my core, and I often get tears in my eyes simply because I’m reminded of how tired I am by not relying on Jesus, and also the impact of grace – because I really don’t deserve it. But by holding those emotions back, I’m not allowing myself the chance to breathe out all my worries and incompetencies, and give God the chance to really work at my soul and allow him in. So I can have less of those overwhelming, embarrassing crying moments – and instead have ecstatic worship where I’m crying out of happiness and being so grateful for this life. Now, if only I can get over being worried about people looking at me. Those middle school fears never leave a girl…

I also think about the number of times each day I am asked, “How are you?” We all usually give a quick quip, just to keep moving on. But there are always a few people who have a few more minutes and want a little more detail. I love to share what’s happening in my personal life. And I’m a great talker, but not such a great listener. I really wish I was better at getting others to speak, but I think that’s a tough skill – to make people feel comfortable within 15 seconds in a way that they open up about what’s really going on in their life. I also understand people have guards up – they’ve been taught to not make things too personal, or been burned in the past. I don’t know what that feels like, but I pray if you are one of those people, you have at least a couple confidantes you can really let it all out with.

So we’re all pretty good at faking being ok and just pushing through day-to-day circumstances when something very difficult may be going on in our life. But on the flip side, when DO I genuinely feel like I AM being myself? My StrengthsFinder strengths include qualities like achiever, responsibility, discipline. I feel like a rock star when I’m accomplishing tasks with a high level of accuracy and impact: whether that is through projects at work or at home. I also feel a high level of awesomeness when I’m with dear friends and having authentic conversations, typically resulting in solving problems with prayer and a difficult, but necessary, action. I also feel happy emotions when I am spending time with family. Anytime baby O smiles at me or laughs really fills my soul. When I let go of my worries and anxieties about what I should be doing, or how something might fail, or how someone might perceive me, I feel more at ease to be the woman God created me to be.

In sum, I’m learning it all comes down to not worrying what others think of you, and having a genuine interest in others, just like Jesus. I’m reminded of John 3:30 – “He must increase and I must decrease.” So give a little more love to others, which will rejuvenate yourself; and don’t make things what they aren’t. And for the love: cover your backside up with a skirt or dress, not just leggings.

Jesus, Thank you for the way you’ve made me and others. We are all made in your likeness in some way, and I get giddy when I think about the ways I love others around me, and how that is a reflection of you. I’m looking forward to the days in heaven when I get to see both my and others personality reflected in a totally pure way, as we all worship you. Send your Holy Spirit by my side with gentle reminders to put others needs before mine, and to have a focus of what you want for my life.

When was a time you felt totally like yourself or in-tune with God, as a result of not worrying about how others would perceive you?

My Growth Bookshelf

  I was inspired by Dr. Tim Elmore (of Growing Leaders) a couple years ago to create a “Growth Bookshelf.” This is either a list or literal bookshelf of all the books I have read that have caused me to grow as a person. In an effort to keep this short, I will share the list I started on the Personal Growth part of my bookshelf, in no particular order:

See earlier post about the impact of this book bringing my understanding of grace to a new level. You will feel a lot of love when you read this.

This woman embarks on a journey to write down things she is thankful for everyday. It really brings perspective to our cluttered, always-wanting-something-more world.

How do you meet others’ needs, and understand how yours are best met? Get to know your love language! It has helped my husband and I a bit (we should focus on it more, to be honest). I love when he writes me kind, loving notes and helps with chores. And my guy’s a total “touch” persona.

My top five strengths are: discipline, learner, achiever, responsibility, and focus. (And if you were unsure I had any issues with being a “Martha,” I think those five descriptive words should lay any of those worries to rest.)

I spend time with teens in my job and at church. And I love learning about how best to connect with them. This book has brought perspective about how I can best engage with young people – or many people, to be honest.

This is an old book (written in 1936!) so I love it first for the language style. You are instantly transformed back in time to an age with incredible manners and innocent vocabulary that will make you smile.But I mostly like it for it instruction on how to do exactly what the title says: influence others and gain friends. It is geared towards sales, and we all have a desire to share and persuade. It’s helped me both personally and professionally.

What is important to your husband and how can you be his biggest advocate? Stormie is a great guide to helping me be a prayer warrior for J.

Lord, thank you for the wisdom of the writers of my Growth Bookshelf. I love that I connect with you through the words of others. Help continually remind me of this knowledge and give me encouragement to apply it as often as possible.

What’s on your Growth Bookshelf?