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Seminary. Church work. Family. PiYo/Beachbody work. Volunteer work. BoCo RunCo work.

My life is crazy these days without much margin. I won’t say my life is not my own, because it is my own. I am here because I have chosen to follow this path. It definitely isn’t easy, and I have to be honest and say that I am struggling with the demands on my time, but it is exactly where I am supposed to be.

I was reminded of that very fact just this morning. During my prayer time I was working through some of the discipleship tools being offered to me through one of my seminary courses. I listened to Rachel Platten’s Fight Song (below), both this version and the version done by the Piano Guys, read Rachel’s back story about this song, and then spent some time with Psalm 84.

Through this and some insight from our professor, I was reminded of what it took for me to get to this place. I have fought with God over whether or not He really meant to call me to be a pastor. I have struggled with verbalizing this call to my family and friends. I have ben knocked down by things like lack of support and imperfect systems. I even went through a very tough time of simply waiting for three years and seeing no forward progress at all.

Through that time I had a post-it note that stuck on my computer monitor reminding me, “Your calling is sure,” words that the Lord had given to me through a variety of sources.

When the time of waiting was over and movement began again, it didn’t always feel like forward momentum. In fact, there was a period of time that felt like I was punched in the gut and left for dead. But God was still at work marking out a new journey on new pathways.

The new journey hasn’t moved quickly and easily either. My husband says, “It seems like anything worthwhile isn’t easy,” and I agree. There are still many fears to conquer, mountains to climb, and opposition to face, but I cannot let the fight go out of me. I have to push forward (in God’s timing), follow-through, do my part, and watch as God fulfills His promises.

Part of Psalm 84 (VOICE) says “Blessed are those who make you their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey…They journey from place to place, gaining strength along the way; until they meet God in Zion. (Bold mine.)

These words were especially important today as I feel weak and worn down, trying not to fall into the “just get through” mentality that can sometimes plague me into not treasuring every step of the journey. So the reminder that I will gain strength along the way is a beautiful one for me today. I won’t continue to wear down as I go, but I will gain strength as I go.

This fight that I have to finish the journey isn’t one I fight alone, but rather one that God fights right along side me. He gives me the strength to fight. He gives me the path to follow. He gives me the truth to believe.

I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

Bring it on.

Fight Song
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion
And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe
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So, this blog post idea has been in the Notes app on my phone since November 17. Today is December 7 for those of you who might not realize it. This is how crazy my life has been: a blog post that pretty much writes itself hasn’t been written. But today is Monday. A new day, a new week, and I have been marking stuff off of my to-do list like a mad woman. Not sure how long into the week being on top of things will last, so I am going to take this opportunity to ACTUALLY WRITE! It is a beautiful thing!

So one of the things that I have struggled with for years is depression. And the winter only makes it more pronounced. I strongly dislike (note that I am choosing NOT to use the word hate) cold, dreary, wet, dark days. I have already said numerous times that summer can come any day now. I like my sun and warm. I like being outside. I like laying in the pool on a raft, taking a ride on the lake in a boat, sitting on my porch sipping ice-cold drinks with friends. And while the occasional “snuggle up on the couch in a warm cozy blanket” day is a welcome respite, the “I am freezing all the time and can’t get warm for anything” monotony of winter leads me down a dark path.

Because I know this about myself, I have had to learn ways to fight off the “I want to stay in my bed for weeks and eat nothing but bad-for-me comfort food and take turns sleeping and watching television” blahs. Here are a few of my go-to weapons.

  1. Work out. Do it. Whatever kind of workout you can do. Take a brisk walk. Go for a run. Head out to a group exercise class (Here is one I teach!). Find an in-home DVD that you enjoy (I can help you find one.). Do something EVERY DAY. The more you move, the more endorphins are released. The more endorphins that are released, the better you feel. The better you feel, the easier it is to fight off the blahs when they come in like a flood.
  2. Eat right. Do it. If you don’t know how, talk to me about it and I will help. Comfort food may seem like it comforts you in the moment, but those sugary, high fat, high carb foods will cause you to crash harder once the initial “high” wears off. Studies have shown that VEGETABLES have an inherent anti-depressant quality, but to get the benefits, you have to eat them. 🙂 If you struggle with this, here is a way to help: don’t buy the junk and/or keep it out of sight. Keep healthy choices in front of you and make them what you reach for in those moments of weakness. Also, when you are having a blah day, be sure that you aren’t eating for comfort. When you feel overly “snacky” find an alternative – go for a walk, call a friend, pick up a hobby you enjoy. Making these healthier choices will help you combat those “down” days.
  3. Get sleep. Do it. Lack of sleep wreaks all kinds of havoc on your body, not to mention your emotional state. Figure out how much sleep you need and make it happen. Sometimes it is hard when you have commitments, but as often as possible get to bed at a time that allows you adequate rest. I know that I need between 6-1/2 and 8 hours of sleep a night to function well. That means if I am getting up at 4:30 a.m. (yep – that is what time I get up almost every weekday so I can make sure #1 happens), I need to have the lights out by 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. at the absolute latest. That means that I get kids headed to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., and I am in my bed by 9:00 p.m. to have some time to do my devotions and read for a little while. If you want to feel better, make sleep a priority.
  4. Even if you are doing all three of these things fairly well, there will still be rough days sometimes. Don’t let the blahs win. Get up. Get dressed in real clothes (don’t default to the sweats/yoga pants that are calling your name). Put on some makeup (if you are one that wears makeup). Do your hair. There is something about the process of making yourself look good that in turn makes you feel good.
  5. Last but certainly not least, if you are still struggling, ASK FOR HELP! It might be you need your spouse to do something to help you. You might need to have lunch with a friend. It is possible that you need medical or pharmaceutical assistance. When you have tried everything and it isn’t getting you anywhere, it is time to call in reinforcements in the form of PEOPLE who care about you and love you.

You can make it through the winter blahs. Even if it means you occasionally need to turn up the music and have an impromptu dance party in the middle of your living room or drive around town with the music blaring and you singing at the top of your lungs. (Yes, sometimes these are necessary coping mechanisms for me.) So in that vein, since it is Monday and I like to share music with you on Mondays, enjoy one of my family’s favorite Christmas songs and SMILE!

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It’s Monday. And that means some of you might need to be cheered up. So here is a lovely throwback song for you!

Now that you are smiling (or annoyed at me for putting this song in your head), you can go on to listen to the sermon that I preached yesterday which used this song as an illustration. It was a tough sermon for me to write, as well as preach, because it is a touchy subject. And yet it is a topic that we often ignore because it is easier to ignore it than to deal with the issues of our hearts. And the topic is…

Money.

But the thing is, God uses money to teach us some very important lessons about how we live our lives. And Jesus talked about money more than any other subject. So apparently we have something to learn when it comes to the way we view and manage our finances.

Take a listen and let’s talk!

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It Matters

I was driving home from teaching PiYo early on Wednesday morning and this song began playing. I have heard it so many times it shouldn’t have caught me any differently than before. But it did.

And then Wednesday at noon we were talking in Bible study about how in our culture we tend to take a step back and not try to change anything because we are either overwhelmed with the immensity of the problem and we don’t think that the little bit that we could do would make a difference or we don’t want to stand out from the crowd and be ridiculed or perhaps even persecuted for trying to go against the status quo.

For all of you who wonder if what you do makes a difference.

  • If helping one person has any impact at all on the world.
  • If standing up for the rights of a group of people changes how they are treated.
  • If making right choices in your life makes the world a better place.
  • If pouring your heart and soul into what you feel called to do affects the people around you.

It does. It is worth it. It is needed.

Change begins small and grows. A fire begins with a single spark. One rock dropped into the water makes ever-increasing ripples.

But even if you aren’t able to see how what you are doing is making an impact on the world around you, it is making an impact on you. You are making a stand and a statement by doing what is right, by helping others, and by giving your best. And in the process you are letting people know that you care enough to do something that may not gain you a thing except a stronger character.

“As long as one heart holds on, then hope is never really gone.”

Keep being the change that you want to see. Even when it is hard. Even when it goes unnoticed.

It makes a difference.

Garth Brooks video: The Change from Big Chief Studio on Vimeo.

The Change
by Garth Brooks

One hand reaches out
And pulls a lost soul from harm
While a thousand more go unspoken for
And they say,
“What good have you done by saving just this one”
It’s like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm

And I hear them saying,
“You’ll never change things
And no matter what you do
It’s still the same thing”
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so, this world will know
That it will not change me

This heart still believes
That love and mercy still exist
While all the hatreds rage
And so many say
“That love is all but pointless,
In madness such as this
“It’s like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss”

And I hear them saying,
“You’ll never change things
And no matter what you do
It’s still the same thing”
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so, this world will know
That it will not change me

As long as one heart still holds on
Then hope is never really gone

And I hear them saying,
“You’ll never change things
And no matter what you do
It’s still the same thing”
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so, this world we know
Never changes me

What I do is so, this world will know
That it will not change me

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Monday Musings

It’s Monday. And I am feeling a bit Garfield-like about today.

Garfield Monday

Not that anything bad has happened. I am just tired. And getting sick. And blah.

So instead of drowning in “I hate Monday” madness, I thought I would share a few random things that are going through my head today.

  • The laughter of my children is the most amazing sound in the entire world. And I was privileged to hear lots of it this weekend.
  • If you like fun apps, you need to download Relay. My friends and I have been sending funny gif messages back and forth since we discovered it and I may have spent too much time yesterday looking for funny ones to add to my collection for future messages.
  • If you like books about strong women paired with fantasy, you need to read Pennyroyal Academy. I just started it a few days ago and haven’t had a ton of time to read, but I am loving it and can’t wait for Anne to read it, too. Nothing like squelching the idea that princesses have to be of a royal bloodline and are just pretty faces with the fact that princesses are warriors for their kingdoms, just like knights.
  • When the weather turns cold, the depression sure comes on fast for me. I have had to fight to get my workouts in this past week, and I have not done very well with eating right, either. Here’s to a new day of doing what I know helps to keep the depression under control – exercise and eating right!
  • Singing at the top of my voice to some of my favorite music is one of my favorite things to do, ever. Thank you Trisha Yearwood for music that fills my soul!
  • A good cup of tea makes me smile this time of year when the cold is starting to seep into my bones. These are my three favorite varieties: Trader Joe’s Decaf Irish Breakfast Blend, Good Earth Decaf Sweet & Spicy, and Stash Decaf Chai Spice.
  • I have been working on a crochet project just because it is a pattern I have always wanted to try, but I have been looking for a new gift project and this week I was blessed with not only a person on my heart for whom to do a project, but the perfect project placed right into my hands. I found the perfect yarn yesterday and am looking forward to beginning on the project on Thursday. So excited to be able to bless someone!!
  • For the last few years, my family has done various forms of daily Thanksgiving. We have had a wall of Thanksgiving where we added post-it notes every day. We have had posters on each of our doors that we wrote reasons we were thankful for each other. This year, life has been a bit chaotic and I haven’t gotten anything organized to do daily, so I am thinking about other ideas. Right now, I am thinking of making family “Thanksgiving” trees on Thanksgiving day with all of our family that will be together. How are you practicing Thanksgiving with your family this month?

I warned you that this would be a random post! But just putting these things down in print has helped me move past my initial Garfield-esque response to Monday. If you are having a case of the Mondays, perhaps you should make a list, too!!

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I know I finished my 31-Days of Parenting posts on Friday, but the evening before that last post went live, our community was touched with tragedy.

As I dropped my kids off at school that morning, with a heavy heart, this song came on my iPod. It is from the upcoming album by Garth Brooks.

Send ‘Em On Down The Road”


He didn’t ask
He didn’t pry
He just held the ice that covered my black eye
And when that girl
She broke my heart
We just threw that baseball back and forth ‘till dark
And when I started playing guitar
And didn’t have a clue
He wanted to protect me
But somehow my father knew, that

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bear the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And send ‘em on down the road

A little kiss
On a skinned up knee
From playing soccer, riding bikes and climbing trees
When bad dreams
Filled their heads
I chased the monsters out from underneath their beds
I guess I always knew those days would end
But the hardest thing I’ve ever learned has been, that

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
You can help them find their wings but you can’t fly for ‘em
‘Cause if they’re not free to fall, than they’re not free at all
And though you just can’t bear the thought of letting go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
And you send ‘em on down the road

You can cry for ‘em
Live and die for ‘em
And even though it’s gonna break your heart, you let ‘em go
You pick ‘em up
You dust ‘em off
You pull them close
And you pray to God
To send ‘em on down the road
Down the road
Down the road

Our kids will hurt. They will lose family members, friends, and acquaintances. We may even lose our children. Letting go is hard, because what we want to do is hold them tight and never let go. But we have to let go, and let God take care of them.
Our prayers go out to those in our community impacted by the tragedy of Thursday evening.
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Is forever enough

This month has been good. I have enjoyed posting every day about things I have learned about being a parent. It hasn’t been easy, but it has required me to think about my kids, what I am intentional about and what I let slide, and what is most important to me as a parent.

But what I most want is for my children to know how much they are loved. Forever.

So today, I dedicate this song to them, this 31-Days of blogging to them, and I commit again to being the best mom that I can be to these precious lives that God has given to us to raise and love.

Lullaby
Dixie Chicks

They didn’t have you where I come from
Never knew the best was yet to come
Life began when I saw your face
And I hear your laugh like a serenade

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

I slip in bed when you’re asleep
To hold you close and feel your breath on me
Tomorrow there’ll be so much to do
So tonight I’ll drift in a dream with you

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

As you wander through this troubled world
In search of all things beautiful
You can close your eyes when you’re miles away
And hear my voice like a serenade

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up
Is forever enough
Cause I’m never, never giving you up

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Inspiration

Parenting is hard. It is constant work. You can’t let it slide. You can’t assume it is happening. You have to work to be on your toes and aware of what is happening with your kids.

And we all fall short of that ideal. Often.

Some days we are lucky if we get them out of bed and off to school, never mind making sure homework is done, they have had a healthy breakfast and they remembered to brush their teeth.

But the purpose in me blogging for 31 Days this month isn’t to make it seem like I have it all together when it comes to parenting. It isn’t that I have all the answers. It isn’t that I think I am doing a fabulous job in every possible area. It is really that I want to share my experiences and hopefully inspire someone to take that extra step, put in that extra work, and in the process, that I will also be inspired to be better and do better.

This is how it is in every area of my life that I put out there on my blog.

I talk about depression in hopes that someone else can get the help that they need.

I talk about health and fitness so others can find encouragement to get healthy.

I talk about giving to others, so that someone might be inspired to give of themselves.

I talk about music because of its ability to lift us up and move us forward.

I talk about faith because it is the ultimate inspiration in my life.

I truly want to inspire YOU to be the best YOU, the one created and loved by God.

Put in the work, be inspired by others, and be the best parent you can possibly be to the children that God has given to you.

You can do it. I believe in you.

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angels wings

Today’s song is the one that makes me think about my boy, Ty.

When he was a baby, this song was like a lullaby for my little one. As he has grown up and we have dealt with sleep walking and night terrors, it has taken on a new meaning, more of a prayer for him to sleep well and have sweet dreams, protected by God and His angels. I love the pictures that go through my head as I listen to the song, pictures of playing cars with Ty on the floor, and reading Goodnight Moon to him before bed.

I love this boy, and always will.

Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)
Dixie Chicks

Dragon tales and the “water is wide”
Pirates sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you
Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Sweet dreams
The rocket racer’s all tuckered out
Superman’s in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
And I love you
Godspeed, little manSweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and match box cars
God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God hears “Amen,” wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Godspeed
Godspeed
Godspeed
Sweet dreams

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Born to Fly

I haven’t done a Monday Music during my October 31-Days, but this week and next I want to share with you songs that are my songs for my kids. These are the songs that when I hear them, I think of my kids.

Today is my song for Anne.

I remember listening to this song as we drove into town on the way home from the hospital with her and just being joyful and teary-eyed all at the same time.

I want the best for her. I want her to find her wings and fly. I want her to embrace who God created her to be, and find the peace that comes with that. I want to see her succeed, not in the way the world defines success, but in the way that God defines success. And I know that as she continues to grow, this will bring moments of letting go for me that will be bittersweet. There will also be moments that she wants to get going on this life of hers, and it won’t quite be time. But in the end, I know she will fly, because that is what she was born to do.

Born To Fly
Sara Evans

I’ve been tellin’ my dreams to the scarecrow
‘Bout the places that I’d like to see
I said, friend do you think I’ll ever get there
Ah, but he just stands there smilin’ back at me

So I confessed my sins to the preacher
About the love I’ve been prayin’ to find
Is there a brown eyed boy in my future, yeah
He says. girl you’ve got nothin’ but time

But how do you wait for heaven
And who has that much time
And how do you keep your feet on the ground
When you know, that you were born, you were born to fly

My daddy, he’s grounded like the oak tree
My momma, she is steady as the sun
Oh you know I love my folks
But I keep starin’ down the road
Just lookin’ for my one chance to run

Yeah, ’cause I will soar away like the blackbird
I will blow in the wind like a seed
I will plant my heart in the garden of my dreams
And I will grow up where I’ll wander wild and free

Oh, how do you wait for heaven
And who has that much time
And how do you keep your feet on the ground
When you know, that you were born
You were born yeah
You were born to fly

So how do you wait for heaven
And who has that much time
And how do you keep your feet on the ground
When you know that you were born
You were born to fly fly fly fly

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