Monthly Archives: October 2012

On People Pleasing

There was joy in his leap. He didn’t look around to see who was watching, he simply seized the opportunity to embrace one of the great things about this season, threw his hands in the air, and jumped.

Because I’m a people pleaser by nature, sometimes I miss moments like these. Instead of soaking in the excitement that comes with following my passions, I pine to hear someone tell me that I’ve made them happy or helped them. I let worry gnaw at my stomach when I even think that someone I care about is displeased or unimpressed with me, or perhaps indifferent about something that I’m passionate about.

With each year that I add to my life, I see the holes in this mindset that has drained me dry too many times. For one, people pleasing is one of the easiest ways to stay mediocre. If I listened to every lie that is born of the misconceptions I’ve made about what people think of me or what I have (or haven’t) done, then I would never grow into the strong woman God wants me to be. Why? Because I’m allowing my thoughts and intentions to be defined by others.

In truth, God has called each of us to a unique and beautiful purpose. It won’t always make sense to everyone all of the time. Some may even think were crazy, but the only thing that would actually be crazy is choosing man’s opinion over God’s calling.

People pleasing can also steal joy. It saddens me to look back at times in my life when I decided to chew on a phrase that hurt my feelings when I could have chosen to dwell on the abundance of affirmation and love that comes from God’s Word instead.

Today I choose to go all in without looking over my shoulder. I choose to find joy in the work God has done in my life, removing all pressure off my own shoulders because it is His name that deserves to be glorified, not mine. I choose to embrace the benefits of this season without drawing in unnecessary clouds of worry and wonder. God is good, and pleasing Him is something I daily work to make my primary ambition.

“And I am sure of this, that he who begana good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

Look: The Dream Lives On

Friends, I have been extra silent around here lately because I’ve been working hard. The book is almost done! (Excuse me while I do a happy dance.) I know that my friends are probably sick of hearing me make references to this book, but this thing has become a huge part of my life right now. It is what I do in my free time. It is what I think about when I’m driving or doing the dishes. It is a piece of the journey to pursuing God’s dreams for me, and when God speaks as personally and persistently about one solitary thing to me, I can no longer ignore Him.

Today when I saw the Five Minute Friday prompt, it would only make sense that my thoughts would immediately focus on the process that’s led me to this point. So thank you all very much for being patient with me as I write about something that must be getting old to those not living what I am. All I can say is, I write about what I’m experiencing, otherwise I can’t bring myself to hit publish.

Having said all of that, here’s my five minute free write. And if you’re interested in reviewing my ebook Trend Breakers: Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World on your blog, let me know!!! I’ll be working on the details in the next few days and would love to have you be a part of the process.

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Look

I used to sit with an old, mostly used blue notebook in the woods this time of year. I was 10. I would take that blue notebook, sit on a swinging branch and write. It wasn’t beautiful. I’ve gone back and looked at it with that adult knowing grin that realizes I had no idea what it meant to write creatively. I was so worried about getting it perfect that I would practically replicate all that I was reading so that it would be good.

I was scared to do something on my own. It seemed far too daunting to think of something by myself, so I would pull out the notebook only on the days when I felt like writing about what I read.

The dream wouldn’t die, however, and somehow, I couldn’t avoid pursuing the English degree, no matter how many times I tried. I started looking at writing as more than an assignment or something that only elite people could accomplish on their own.

Then I began teaching writing. I looked at it in an entirely new light. It was beautiful art. It was rewarding to watch the hearts of others come out on paper, and I started seeing how it was changing me. Making me braver, desiring to share my own heart on paper.

I’ve grown in my outlook of writing, and it’s taught me to follow God. To look at the dreams He’s placed in my heart and tackle them head on. I refuse to look at how challenging it is because now He inspires me. I don’t have to worry about perfection because this is how He communicates to me, and I to Him.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

The Story of my Smell

How do I smell to God?

I didn’t give it much thought until one night not long ago at bedtime.

That’s when the funny little tradition of smelling books before reading them started. Dash crawled up on my lap with a library book we’d just picked out earlier that day. It was an older book, and it definitely bore that “aged book” scent.

I didn’t think much of it as I began reading the words on the first page, but Dash stopped me with a, “Wait Mom!” as he pulled the book up close to his face while inhaling at an exaggerated level.

“Smell the book?!” It was both a question and a request from him at this point as he pushed the book up to my face.

“Yes, I do. Some books have funny smells, don’t they?”

I smiled at his observation and then read about trucks to that sweet boy.

I thought this book smelling was a one-time deal, but now, nearly every time we open a book to read it, Dash takes a second to take in the book’s scent before thrusting it in front of my own nose. If he approves of the smell, he proclaims that it, “Smells good.”

I smile each time (and maybe I also hold my breath a little when I see certain books coming in the general direction of my olfactory sensor).

One day, however, I was struck with the profundity of my innocent and curious little observer’s actions.

Smells tell a story.

They undeniably tell where I’ve been, even when I’d rather claim otherwise. They tell if I chose to shower after working out or if I’ve been in a greasy burger joint. They tell if I’ve been outside in fresh air or exposed to smoke. However, the sweet smell of a freshly bathed child tells a story that will be forever engraved on a mother’s heart.

I wonder if God feels that same happy, adoring, priceless feeling I do after He’s bathed me. In those moments after my raw confession and repentance, when I’ve been cleansed by Jesus’ blood, I feel that closeness a child feels when shes been forgiven by a parent, almost as if I’ve been hugged.

And in that moment when Father God embraces me, does He take a big whiff of how fresh I smell now that I’ve chosen holiness rather than sinfulness?

Ephesians 5:2 points out what the blood of Jesus smells like to God.

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Story time has taught me to take note of the whole story I tell based on how I’ve been walking and living on any given day. I desire to smell sweet to the God who desperately wants to pull me close and sigh, “She smells precious!”

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

 

 

Fall Dinner Ideas

I get in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when fall arrives, and this year has been no exception. Because I love a good recipe exchange, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite fall dinner recipes that I’ve come across. All but one of them is a crock pot recipe, which is a big plus, too!

Beef Stew – One of the least expensive, satisfying meals I have in my repertoire.

Minestrone – I shared this recipe last fall. It’s still one of my favorite fall meals. I love freezing half of it for a day I don’t feel like cooking down the road.

Crock Pot Potato Soup – I made this one today after eyeing it on Pinterest for a long time. Delish! Seriously try it! I threw a couple of chicken breasts in there then shredded them when they were cooked to give it some protein. Seriously. Make this recipe!

Chicken Tortilla Soup – I got the original recipe here, but once I started making it, I kind of started dumping a bunch of different things in there as well. Here is my adapted recipe.

1 small onion, chopped
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 cans {14 oz.} Rotel (I did one fire-roasted and one regular)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 lbs. chicken breasts
2 cups chicken broth

Add onion, corn, Rotel, beans, cream of chicken, and garlic to the crock pot.  Mix well to combine and place chicken on top of tomato mixture.  Pour broth over chicken & tomato mix. Cover with a lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove chicken and transfer to a cutting board to shred.  Return to crock pot and stir.

Serve with chips, sour cream, cheese, and whatever Mexican toppings you enjoy.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Gravy – These made a really yummy, comfort food-style dinner. The only thing I will do different next time is lessen the amount of flour mixture I add to the broth. The gravy was a little on the thick side, although still tasty.

Oven-Baked Frito Pie – This is one of the few soup/chili recipes that my husband excitedly approved. I’ll be making this my go-to chili recipe. Next time, I’ll probably skip baking the frito pie and opt for making our own individual ones in our bowls. This made a lot for 2.5 people, so I was stuck eating soggy fritos for leftovers. It would also make yummy chili dog chili.

I hope you enjoy these recipes! Now, you know what I would really love? If you’d share your favorite cool-weather recipes with me!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Should a Book be Judged by its Cover?

Photo Credit

The question is not a new one, but there are many reasons it is continually asked.

Today I lived several of them.

My energetic son was obviously aching for some quality time at the park, and given that fall has found its way here once again and my husband had the day off, our little family embarked on an adventure together. I packed a picnic lunch and donned some workout clothes so I could take advantage of an opportunity to take a walk while the boys played together.

I should take a second to clarify how said workout apparel looked on this nearly six-months pregnant body of mine. None of what I was wearing was maternity. I dug to the bottom of my drawer and found the lone pair of athletic shorts that fit enough to be considered appropriate, though far from flattering on even my non-expectant body. I took a few extra seconds to find a longer, larger t-shirt and stretched it over my swollen middle. I took exactly five seconds to look in the mirror after getting dressed – enough time to realize that this shirt is fitting even weirder than it did last time. I also noted that my ponytail, which I threw into existence at 6:30 A.M. while I was still half asleep needed tending. Simultaneously, my son ran naked through the house after going potty before we left, so I threw an extra clip in the general bangs area of my head, grabbed his clothes and wrestled to get him dressed while my husband beckoned us to hurry up and get in the car.

If you don’t have a clear enough mental picture at this point, then trust me when I say that I have full faith in the idea that I was not looking all that put together. I pushed this fact aside and decided to focus on the fact that I was actually going to get some exercise in this beautiful weather at one of my favorite parks in the city.

And that’s just what I did. I gave father and son time to run, wrestle, and slide together while I puttered around the track. I returned to them, winded and feeling those Braxton Hicks contractions flaring up in congratulations for completing this rare feat of pregnancy exercise. To celebrate, we took some time to enjoy our lunch before hitting the playground again.

As soon as we turned around to greet the slides, I saw him. Smiling with his expensive news station video camera while recording a dad and his daughter playing. We quickly moved to another part of the playground, but it was as if the trio of father, daughter, and journalist were following us.

I took the opportunity to park it on a bench and rest my still-contracting stomach muscles while the camera man took in footage of my husband looking like the hero that he is, pushing his son on the swing next to another model father with his daughter. I felt awkward, self-conscious, unsure what to do to NOT attract attention to myself. I finally decided to pull my phone out of the bag and text my scenario to a friend. That would take my attention off the camera guy who was obviously eating up this scene of dads with their kids at the park on a glorious autumn morning. Instead, I glanced up to see him zooming the camera in on me.

In horror, I asked him to please stop filming me seeing as how I hadn’t even taken time to fix my hair that day. He acted a bit embarrassed and said he’d move to the side so I wouldn’t know he was there. I put down my phone and watched the kids play some more, but kept feeling that camera guy hovering a few feet away. He eventually moved to some other park attenders, and I sighed a relieved sigh. Those moms at least looked put together in their cute little outfits and styled hair. I pulled out my phone again to finish the text I started earlier, and like a sniper, the camera guy was targeting me again in a flash.

What on earth is up with this guy?!? Out of all the people in this park, playing happily together, why would he single out this obviously pregnant woman who was trying ever so hard to look boring and uninterested in being a part of any news cast.

It was about this time that my unsuspecting husband asked him what he was getting footage for. He admitted, rather sheepishly, that he was doing a piece on texting and parenting. Seeing as how I was the only parent with a phone out, because someone was already watching my child mind you, he was trying to catch me being the evil parent who portrays to the rest of the greater metropolitan area in which I live, what an alarming trend is taking over our nation with parents not being aware of their children’s actions because they’re too engrossed in texting.

I was mortified beyond the level that I had already felt when I learned this. When we began dialoguing about it, he acknowledged that he knew what was happening in my case was completely acceptable, but he needed footage to prove his point.

Ouch! Talk about feeling used and misinterpreted. I have seen first-hand the issue he was trying to capture, and I believe it is a good story, but the humbling part was being used to represent something that I do not do when I’m alone at the park with my son.

I have been struck with the very real truth that I am to never be caught off guard as a Christian. No one else saw my morning, knew my motives, or even witnessed the good things I did as a mom leading up to that moment. The worst part was, the journalist scrutinizing me didn’t care. He just needed my one innocent act as evidence to prove his point, and he was willing to misrepresent me to do it, regardless of what it could do to my reputation.

I hold no hard feelings against the reporter. I talked to him for quite a while, off camera of course, and told him that I thought his story was a good one. So when I share the verse that won’t leave my head as I continue to mull over today’s events, don’t think I believe him to be in any way evil.

Having given that disclaimer, here is the verse I can’t get out of my head:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Books should not be completely judged by their covers, in my opinion, but the fact is, human nature does it automatically. That’s why it’s my job to do two important things:

1. Live in such a way that I have no reason to be ashamed or cause another to stumble.
2. Give myself a break when it’s easier to be super sensitive about what others might think of me when I know I’m bringing honor to God. He is the only One whose judgment counts.

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.