Adult Coloring Books – #Write31Days

coloringbook

Look what I found at PUBLIX!  I am super excited about this little find.  I actually grabbed it a few weeks ago, and my intention was to color it.  I had been going back and forth between using colored pencils, markers, or pens.  The pages are thick and single sided, which even brought to mind using watercolors for some of them.

Reality was that I just didn’t have the time to get started on anything, so it sat on my desk.

Today, I had a bit of free time.  I plucked the booklet off of my desk and began thumbing through the pages trying to decide my plan of attack.  Did I want to treat this as a coloring book, working my way through the pages?  Or, would I pick a few pages out and spend a little more effort on staying in the lines.  If I did this, I could potentially frame the pages and hang them as art pieces in my house.

However, to my surprise, I didn’t want to color a single page.  As I looked through some of the intricate designs I had an epiphany!   I could use the pieces for inspiration for a few quilling projects.  I think for now, I just want to work on some of the individual images.  However, I may then piece them together and create a picture/scene of some sort.

I’m curious if anyone else has ended up using the adult coloring books for something other than a relaxing color session?

Advertisements

What About Me? – #Write31Days

octopus

To those who know me, I love anything arts and crafts.  I love to craft with paper, or grab a paint brush and create something new to hang in my house.  My home is filled primarily with pieces of art that have been made by various family members.  Occasionally, I will head out with some friends to one of the “sip and paint” style events.  You can bring food and drink, socializing with your friends for a ladies night out… while you paint. 

Painting is not something new to me, I take to it pretty easily but even more so when I am being given step by step instructions. 

A friend invited me to a “sip and paint” party at a local studio, we were going to paint an Octopus on these cool boarded plaques.  There were about six women seated at my table, and despite the instructors best efforts these various octopi couldn’t look any more different from each other if we tried.  Well, maybe if we painted them different colors would could get one step further.

The instructor would pass by and comment on my octopus. 

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”

“That’s really good.  I like how you painted the tentacles.”

“I love the detail spots you added.”

“Wow.  That’s coming along so well.”

Let me key you in on something, I really do not like public affirmations like that.  I don’t.  I get embarrassed easily (shocking, I know).  It makes me uncomfortable for others who may be struggling.  I am also highly critical of myself and would prefer to float under the radar… or I’m too busy fretting over that mistake no one else notices but is staring me in the eyes challenging me to “fix it”.

After her first few passes and comments, the gal sitting next to me was starting to feel something about the attention.  Kindred to my own soul, she made funny comments about it.  Not directly TO me, but in my range of hearing.  I’d laugh about it, because… well… she was funny.  I’m down with self deprecation, so I chimed in a bit myself.  She laughed.  I laughed.  Then just as the tension was dying, the teacher would whiz by again commenting on my octopus.  The cycle would start over. 

Finally, she began to speak a bit louder to ensure the teacher heard her.

What about me?  Am I not doing a good job?  Is she the teachers pet?

While her tone suggested she was saying these things in jest, we all know there is usually a bit of truth in these types of comments.  The teacher was not picking up on it, but I already had.  So I began complimenting her on certain aspects of her piece.  I pointed out a detail that she added that I had skipped because I didn’t think I would do it right.  I  shared that I was worried about messing up the piece.  The one of the other gals chimed in, complementing another facet of her finished piece.

It is hard, when you are trying to do a good job.  We seek encouragement so that we know we are on the right path.  If we have put in a lot of effort, we desire someone to notice it and appreciate that effort.  That’s a lot to handle and balance with being humble.  It is a check to our pride, graciousness, and humility.

Sometimes, it’s more than just a painting or a task we completed.  We just want to be acknowledged as a person.

There are times, however, where the Lord doesn’t want us out in front of the pack.  He doesn’t want us waving our arms, bouncing in our seats, shouting “look at me”.  In fact, he wants our work to unknown… no credit, pats on the back, accolades.  In a world that is giving prizes for participating, picking weekly superstars, and overloaded recognition we can begin to expect it within all the facets of our lives.  Then, when it doesn’t happen … we take it too personally.

I wonder though, if we are supposed to give the Lord the glory in ALL THINGS… why do we demand such accolades for ourselves?  Why do we demand to be seen, even when He clearly is asking us not to?

Lord, let my human fleshy needs take a back seat to your wonderful righteous glory! Amen.

Midfaith Crisis – con’t from Failure blog

MBA

Yesterday’s blog piece on Failure was my attempt to wrap my head around a fellow writers statement that “Jesus failed her”.   As I read through the piece, I just couldn’t get passed it.  I can’t think of a time where things didn’t go my way resulting in my feeling as if Jesus somehow failed me.  Even when I feel discontent with God’s answer or lack of movement in an area, I’ve never blamed Him.  More often than not, I will point the finger at myself assuming that my desires were not in His will or perhaps I have been walking in disobedience.  I may even remind myself that I have to be more patient because things happen in God’s timing not my own, or that His answers will always be infinitely better than my own.

I can remember being pregnant with my second, the doctor alerting me to precancerous cells found in my uterus and cervix.  I listened intently at the options before me, what risks each carried for me and the pregnancy.  I don’t ever remember being angry at God over the risks to my pregnancy.  My husband came upon me in the bedroom crying over it, and he told me “God wouldn’t give you a baby just to take it away”.  His words were sweet, but we all know that sentence isn’t true.  Women lose babies.  I said as much to my husband, and told him that her purpose may simply have been to save my life.  I was trusting that however this was going to play out, it was part of God’s good plan.  That doesn’t mean I stopped crying over it, worrying over it, praying that the Lord would protect her.   Had I lost the pregnancy, I would have grieved.  I just don’t recall ever feeling let down by God.

That is not to say that I haven’t had my moments where I have cried out to the Lord, because I couldn’t understand  what He was doing in my life (or the lives of those I care for).  I think that is an entirely different thing.  I can be confused or concerned, worried or sad, and even angry with a given situation.  I just don’t see an emotional response as being the same as feeling that Jesus let me down.  So, as you can see, this was just a concept I couldn’t understand or agree with.  When I read the piece a second time though, something else caught my attention and then I had my “a-ha moment”.

The author penned the term “midfaith crisis” and suddenly it all began to make sense.  At some point, whether via a movie, television show, or happening right before our eyes, witnessed someone going through a midlife crisis.  Mid LIFE crisis is a term we all know, even if we don’t understand it personally.  Entertainment will portray it heavily, as the guy who cheats on his wife with a younger women… or lightly, the man who comes home from work one day with an ear pierced, a tattoo, and a motorcycle.   A result of an nonacceptance of aging, desperately clinging to their youth, or attempting to accomplish those bucket list items before they are too old to do so.

When someone has a midlife crisis, we can at least have an understanding as to why they are making some crazy choices even if we don’t approve of those choices.

A mid FAITH crisis wasn’t really a term I was familiar with, or even a feeling I could understand.  However, when I consider the totality of my faith walk… well, I joined the party on the late side.  Maybe, I will be spared the midfaith crisis… or it’s just lingering further down the road.

As I spent more time trying to understand the concept of the midfaith crisis, I found myself softening to the author and beginning to grasp how she could feel that Jesus let her down.  Sometimes our immediate knee jerk responses are more about our ownselves and perceptions than they are about the other person.  Being able to apply what I understood about midlife crisis, midfaith crisis was a bit easier to work around.  The more I thought about that, the more sense the whole piece made.

If I had to imagine myself as a person who worked hard all of my life, dedicated to my job and family.  A person who volunteered in the community, was a good steward with my money, living a modest life and helping others.   If I think of these things, and then imagine that all through my life I could never catch a break.   I can see how that would bring me to the brink of crisis when I hit that half way point of my life.  You wonder “will it get better?” and you may even begin to take things into your own hands to control a better outcome.  You believe that you worked hard all of those younger years, full of sacrifices, so that your golden years would be easy and carefree.  You worked hard, you deserved an easy retirement.  Then one thing after another comes along that takes you money, your health, etc. away… and crisis strikes.  You feel let down by life, you wonder why you sacrificed for nothing.

I could understand the author’s point more clearly.  Imagine that all of your life you had been a faithful believer.  You prayed every morning, and each evening with your kids.  You were a faithful wife, who was a perfect helpmeet to your husband.  You taught your children about God, tending to their hearts.  Every week you were at service, never missing a Sunday.  Volunteering in the church, leading studies, tithing above 10%.  You heeded the call to full time ministry service or missionary work, selling your belongings and raising the funds.  You put your hands and feet into kingdom work every single day.  Then crisis knocks down your door.  You cry out to God…. “Have I not been obedient to you?  Have I not gone where you told me to go, served as you told me to serve?  Have I not sacrificed with joy, followed you word, shared the gospel… all that you have asked of me?

Then WHY God… why this?  Why now?

Then I felt it, I could understand.

Part of the reason I couldn’t wrap my head around it from the beginning was because I still feel like I fail at following Him to the fullest.  I know I could sacrifice more, give more, serve more, pray more, follow better.  Which is why I lean toward the belief that I let God down, not the other way around.

But, for those who have… and we all know those people exist (even if the number is few)… that serve God, love God, obey God with every bit of their being?

I could understand that moment (however long it lasts) of being honest with God and saying, Lord… you let me down on this one.

The good news?  Our God is big enough, and loving enough to handle that feeling.  He can handle your midfaith crisis.  He knows our hearts, because He dwells there.  He knows that we love him, serve him willfully, and that sometimes the directions He will take us can be tough.  He understands that we are confused, and can’t see what He is doing.  He understands that we are hurt, and don’t see the good in what has happened (yet).   He loves us through it.

As a parent, I would love to be able to give my children all of the desires of their heart.  However, I also know that all of those desires are not good or healthy options.  My 10 year old would be content with eating cake the rest of her life, my middle schooler would love for me to allow her more freedoms, and my high schooler is entering a time in her life where she teeters between childhood and adulthood.  There are times when our answers to their requests are no, and they will cry or get angry.  No matter the words they hurl in that moment… they know that I love them, and I know they love me.  Despite that crisis mode they are in, or the hurt, or the words.

My eldest recently asked me a question, and she started it with:  “I need to ask you something, and I hope you will say yes…”  I knew it was going to be a weighty question, and probably one I couldn’t answer on the spot.  Yet, even with those words spilling out of her mouth… I could sense hope.  She had her hopes up already, even knowing that my answer would not likely be what she wants to hear.

Just as we know our children, our Father knows us.  He hears the hope in our voices, He knows the desires of our heart.  As I reflect on the blog piece that started the wheels in mind to travel down this road, I realized how raw and honest this woman was being.  But, I was also able to see that despite her feeling that “Jesus had failed” her… she had not given up on loving Him.  Her words were not as dire as I first perceived them.

Perhaps, we could all learn from this exploration to be a bit more patient before we jump to conclusions.  To listen better, to read through things a few times before we jump to judgments.  To take the time to process it and see situations or statements from other perspectives, so that instead of judging someone harshly… we can stop and pray for whatever situation they are dealing with.  Quite often we only have part of the story, or we focus on a small detail and miss the bigger picture.

Had I allowed myself to stay hung up on her statement of being failed by Jesus, I would have missed so much more of what she was attempting to share.  I would have missed her endurance, perseverance, honesty, transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability.  I think we could all do well with a dose of being real and raw, with the world… with ourselves… and with our God.

Mommy is sick?

MBA

Recently, because I wrote about having Hashimotos on my blog… a woman reached out to me on social media.  She was newly diagnosed and looking for guidance on resources and information.  The family and I were out and about, and I was texting her from the passenger seat.  My husband was curious as to who I was texting, and I explained the situation:  “It is a woman recently diagnosed with Hashimotos, and she is asking me questions.”

My youngest piped up from the backseat:  “What is Hashimotos?”

I responded casually, as if she knew:  “It is the disease mommy has, it’s what I take my medicine for everyday.”

And then, in the tiniest voice:  “Mommy is sick?”

In that moment, I realized I had never explained to my kids that I was sick.  They knew I took medication every day, understanding that it helped me.  But, that was it.  I thought they knew, but apparently not.

I was also in a unique position because of the timing, my Father in Law had just passed away a couple of weeks earlier.  I knew that I had to tread cautiously, because I didn’t want her to panic and think I was dying.  At the same time, I didn’t want to just brush it under the carpet… since apparently as vocal as I am about it publicly, I’m not so much at home.

“Hashimotos is a disease that mommy has.  It is what makes mommy really tired, and have days where I don’t feel really well.  It is why mommy will forget things sometimes.  I take medicine every day to help me feel better and have as good of a day as possible. “

I felt like this was a good enough answer for a nine year old, and she seemed appeased by it.  As I reflect on that conversation, I realize how important it is that we are talking to our family about what is happening with our health.  Not in a way that scares our small children, but helps them become aware of what we struggle with each day.  We don’t want them to worry, or because we are managing our illness… we don’t think it’s worth mentioning.

But, one day… it might.  When our children are filling out new patient forms at the doctor, this information may be important or a clue into what is wrong with their health.  Family health history is SO important, and we can’t take for granted that we will be there to answer those questions for them when they are 20, 30, 40, 50+ years old.

There are some instances where it may be best to not tell our children, I recognize that we all know our own children best.   What I would recommend is keeping a document with your health info (diagnosis, medications, reactions to medications, procedures, etc… and be sure to include your age at the time of diagnosis/treatment).  If your parents, in-laws, grandparents, etc are still alive… ask them too.  If you have adopted, and the adoption is open, ask the biological parents for as much info as possible.  This could be invaluable as your children walk their own journey of health.

#Write31Days Challenge – Post 27 – God on My Mind

lists

Some days are just tough, mentally we are at our max capacity.  Our stress levels are high, our emotions are running wild, and our energy is running empty. 

Then there are the days that are just, busy.  It’s not that you are overwhelmed emotionally or even physically, but it just seems like every second of your day has been claimed by some thing or some one.

On days likes these it can be hard to put in some serious Bible Study, we either don’t have the time or the energy to put the mental energy into study.  Our prayers may be short and sweet lists, or even the sigh we exhale as we say “God help me!” as we drop our sobbing eyes into our hands.

Speaking for myself,  I know that when it comes to spiritual practices …. I have good days & bad.  There are days I can accomplish in depth study, first thing in the morning, that will carry me throughout the day.  I also have days where I am on the go, all day long, and it isn’t until those final moments I am putting my head to the pillow that I can stop and pray.

Over the years, I have learned a few tips to help keep God on my mind throughout the day.  I may not getting in 30 minutes of Bible Study or even 5 minutes of dedicated prayer time. 

  • Play worship music on the radio while in the car picking up the kids, or while bustling around the house cleaning.  Often Christian radio stations will read verses throughout the day, replay Pastor’s sermons, or interview of Bible teachers that are worth listening to as well.  Audiobooks and Podcasts are other great options.
  • Pray as you clean, over what you are cleaning.  Be thankful for indoor plumbing as you clean your toilet.  Pray over your children as you fold their laundry.  Pray for your husband’s safety while working, as you prepare to make that doctor’s appointment for him.  Volunteering at the church?  Pray on your drive for the church, the Pastor, or the ministry you are serving on.  In the Parent Pick Up line at your child’s school, pray for the school.  At the gym?  Pray for your health.  At the grocery, pray for those who are going hungry.  As you pay your mortgage online, give thanks for your home and pray for the homeless. 
  • Pray throughout your day.  Instead of sitting down in the morning going through a lengthy prayer session, instead pray throughout the day as thinks pop into your head.
  • Display scripture on walls of your house, either in picture frames or using wall decals. These can be life verses or family mission verses.  Even if you don’t have time to study your Bible that morning, you can focus your eyes on those as you move about your home.  Then can also be fun verses like the ones I have for certain rooms of the house.  In my kitchen the verse on the wall is Psalm 107:9, and in the bathroom is verse Psalm 24:4.  
  • Now this one may make you giggle a bit, however in our old house … I got really creative.   We placed a white board right across from the toilet in our guest bathroom.  Every week I would write a new piece of scripture.  We kept no magazines or newspapers in there, so the only reading material our guests had was from the Word.  We referred to it as “Coming the Throne” (I am convinced God has a sense of humor).
  • Use uninterrupted times to really speak to God.  I find that I am most vulnerable when I am totally alone, away from the noise of the house.  Some of my greatest conversations with God have taken place in the shower, or by turning off the car radio and just speaking with the Lord. 
  • Bring your Bible or Bible Study with you to waiting rooms at doctor’s offices, or even when you are lunching with a friend – particularly if you are generally a person who arrives early.
  • Turn your lunch dates with friends into something more than gossip sessions, and make that your Bible Study time.

All of that said, I would also suggest doing what you can to reduce some of the hectic activity from your life.  Lysa TerKeurst has a great book “The Best Yes” that really helps you take a hold of your life, so that you can carve out time for God, not be overwhelmed by your schedule, and learn to give your best to the things that are most important.

And finally, should you find yourself in a space where you are struggling emotionally or physically with life… please, PLEASE…. see your doctor.  There are many disorders that steal our minds, energy, drive, and make us feel like we simply CAN’T.  Have your primary care doctor rule out physical ailments, and if you need to see a Christian Counselor who can help with the mental aspects.  There is nothing wrong with seeking help or using medication to get you through, and a good Christian counselor can help you do so while leaning on the truth of God’s love.

#Write31Days – Post 20 – Subjective Value

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

If you know me well, then you know where I stand on the subject of abortion.  I have always considered it a non-option, the baby is a life, and ending a pregnancy is ending that life.

You will also know that I don’t take this subject lightly, or to hyperbole.  I recognize that for most women who walk into an abortion clinic… this wasn’t an easy choice.

I don’t know what the circumstances were that led to their pregnancy.

Nor am I aware of the circumstances that led them to believe this was the best choice.

I am keenly aware that for many people the “best choice” is not one they are necessarily happy with.

I have made a point that I will never shame a person who has walked that road.  I can only speak against the industry itself, the society that has led many to believe that this is not only ok… but in many cases their “only choice”.   Society, even parents, have pressured teens to have an abortion in order to avoid shame.   Some churches will scream against abortion, as they tear down the women who get pregnant out of wedlock.  It leaves some thinking there is no other choice.

When I was in high school,  I know of three particular girls who got pregnant.  The first two were kicked out of their homes, one was kicked out of her church, and the third had an abortion.  At the time, I understood the choice the third girl made… because I saw what happened to the other two girls.

Let’s face it, with our judgment and condemnation we have never made it easy for the unwed mother.

But, let me clue you into something…  A BABY IS NEVER A SIN.

Yes, the act of having sex outside of marriage is not part of God’s plan, it is sin.   The resulting baby, is not.  It is a blessing.  Until we can take the shame off of pregnancy, women will go to abortion clinics to avoid shaming themselves and their families.

Until we can take the shame off of pregnancy, babies will not be considered a blessing.  Even those babies who were planned for, or the parents were excited about conceiving are shamed.

“You know how that happens, right?”

“Don’t you think two is enough?”

When we had our third daughter a family member actually said “She’s really pretty, but tell Gena she can stop now.”

Which brings me to “subjective value” and what taking an economics class taught me about abortion, and babies.

In economics the value of an item is based on how desired that item is.  The more people who want a particular item, the higher it’s value… thus the higher it’s price.

The interesting thing about that value is that it is totally subjective, and we don’t even need to be able to explain WHY we value one item over another.

I’ve always found it interesting that the value of a baby, among society as a whole, is not based on the baby’s  actual value at all.  Few are looking at the intrinsic value, or long term value of what that child will bring to the world. Instead the value of a baby is totally subjective.

It is why we can say, “sorry you lost your baby” when someone has a miscarriage.  However, call it a “lump of cells” when the baby is aborted.  The difference is value.  The “baby” was wanted by parents.  The “lump of cells” was not.

You would never hear ANY person (no matter their abortion beliefs) tell a grieving mother… “sorry you lost your lump of cells”.  NO!  Because, despite their personal beliefs… they know this woman WANTED this baby, and she is grieved over losing it.

You can have a baby of the exact same gestational age… but if a mom delivers the baby at home, and discards it in a trash can… she is a monster.  However, if that very same morning she went to an abortion clinic, we talk of her rights.

Value is subjective to the person making the decision.  What is more important to the person, this baby or whatever motivated them to consider abortion?

Not every abortion is “selfish” in the sense that they are doing it for their own gain.  Many women look at the world they would bring that child into and see it is as unsuitable.  We have failed to fully educate on the options available other than abortion, as a whole, in many communities.  More so, we have failed to remove the shame and stigma on the unwed mothers.  Even more importantly, we have failed to shape people’s idea of children to a place where their “subjective value” of life is one to be protected at all cost.

If we want stop abortion, we need to affect the subjective value of babies.  Society needs to not only stop shaming the unwed mother, but also needs to change it’s opinions of children.  When we value and celebrate every child, we value and celebrate every baby.  When we value and celebrate every baby, we will make abortion moot.

Women need to know that it is ok to put their career on hold, to stay home… without being condemned by their contemporaries.

Women need to know that it is ok to have a career and be a mother… without being judged by those who choose to stay home.

We need to make sure that as we are discussing abstinence, that we are also not just pushing against abortion… we also discuss the beauty the gift of adoption can be.

Parents should make sure that our children know that we may disappointed by their choices, but we are not disappointed in them.  Our disappointment should never cause shame that results in an abortion.

Society should stand behind the single women who have chosen life, and the church should be doing whatever we can to help them succeed.

New Year, Real Solutions

MBA

I was recently reading an article where the author talked about not making resolutions, but instead focusing on real solutions.  That has stuck with me, during this two week-ish break.  I really do want REAL solutions in 2015.  No more dreaming and not taking the steps, no more excuses, no more adding entirely new notions to a resolution list… when I have other things in my life that require real solutions.  I need to own the problems and difficulties, and honestly ask myself… what is the real solution for this.  Not the “ideal world” solution, not the “if things could be my way” solution, and definitely not the “if money was no object” solutions.

Truth this, none of that is a reality.  It’s a fallen world.  I will never get all things my way.  And, money creates more problems than it generally solves.

The real solutions lie in looking at the big picture and the small picture.  It involves action, research and progress.  It involves prayer, accountability, and encouragement.  It requires attainable steps, measurable success and more importantly it requires divine direction.

For example, my battle with weight.  (Ah the cry of the women folk)

If I continue to only look at diet plans and exercise programs, I’m going to have some success.  But, I won’t have measurable success, until I look for the real solution.  That real solution lies not in my medication, exercise program or diet plan.  The real solution lies in understanding my illness, trying to determine the triggers, looking to others who have walked this road before me & are healed, and actually doing all those things I keep saying I need to (like getting my allergy panel done).

Real solutions is not saying “I would like to” or “I need to” do something, it’s coming up with the action plan to get that momentum started.

Real solutions may take you outside of your comfort zone, and may require you to do and say things that are not pleasant … but need to be said.

Real solutions require….

REAL ownership of your life.

REAL accountability to others.

REAL action steps.

REAL timelines and deadlines.

REAL purpose.

… and the best part… Real solutions contain real HOPE.