Day 63: Entitled

I've been thinking about this word a lot lately. I hear it often in this community where I live. I hear it often about the people who live in this community where I live. And when I do hear the word, it is never used in a positive context.

What exactly does it mean to be entitled? According to it means

en·ti·tled  [en-tahyt-l]
verb (used with object), -tled, -tling.
1. given a title, right, or claim to something;

It basically shows ownership. For example, when you buy a house, and you are given the title to it, you are "entitled." Meaning you have the right to expect certain things as it relates to that property because you own it.

So when I hear people say that someone acts "entitled" they are basically saying that person acts like they own the place. You get the idea. It isn't positive.

But this weekend, I listened to a message in church and it made me realize just how entitled I act, most especially as it relates to the things I think God owes me.

I think I am entitled to a life of ease. I think I am entitled to a life of pleasure. I think I am entitled to a life of prosperity. I think I am entitled to a life void of disease or distress or physical pain. I think I am entitled to a marriage without stress.

In short, I think am entitled to have a life of riches and gain here on earth.

But nothing is farther from the truth.

What I AM entitled to is a life free of worry. Not free of stress, free of worry. But I choose not to claim that. I am entitled to a life of peace. But I choose not to walk in that either. I am entitled to the kingdom of heaven, because of Jesus. But somehow, that's just not good enough either. At least that's how I live.

All that to say, imagine if I would just live with the entitlement I have instead of with what I want to have.

Day 62: Jesus Calling

I am reading a book called, "Jesus Calling" that my good friend Katherine Sloan sent me. She said it had really spoken to her over the last year, and so often seemed to meet her in the midst of whatever she was going through.

I absolutely love it, and would highly recommend it to you if you are looking for a brief, but meaty devotional type of book.

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of devotionals (which is kind of funny considering how many times people have told me I should write one!)

But I like this one because each day is a paragraph or two, written in the voice of God. And though I know a human being wrote the words, I feel like I am actually hearing God speak over me when I read it.

There is something so absolutely comforting in feeling that the God of the Universe is speaking directly to you. And when it happens, you can feel it, somewhere down deep inside where the depth of your soul collides with the gift of His Spirit.

I wanted to share with you a post from a couple of days ago. This is from Jesus Calling, June 20.

"I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence.

You can find me in each moment, when you have eyes that see and ears that hear. Ask my Spirit to sharpen your spiritual eyesight and hearing. I rejoice each time you discover my presence. Practice looking and listening for me during quiet intervals Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else."

The God of the Universe, my God, speaks to me continually. The same God who spoke me into existence. Who spoke the world into motion. He speaks.

I find that my deepest sorrow comes from knowing I am just too freaking busy to listen to His voice.

All that to say, I need a hearing aid. Jesus is Calling.

Day 61: Confidence

I lack confidence.

I'm sure many of you will find that surprising, as one of the things I hear most often from people is that I have so much self-confidence that it makes me come across as intimidating. (Of course, I have also been told that my posture and over-pronunciated speech also make me intimidating . . . )

I suppose I am confident about some things, maybe overly so if the truth be told.

But when it comes to running, I totally lack confidence. Every single Friday without fail, I start to panic a little. I panic on Fridays because on Saturday the group I run with does our long run. In the beginning those "long runs" were 2,3,4 or so miles. (at the time, that seemed REALLY far). But now those long runs are 10,11,12 or so miles.

And those numbers are intimidating to me.

And soon those numbers will be 15,18,20 miles.

So on Fridays, I panic. And I tell myself that I'm not ready to run that far. And I begin to notice the tiniest aches and pains in my legs, knees, feet, ankles,etc. So that by Saturday, I'm in a pretty impressive state of anxiety.

It's a miracle I can finish. But consistently, every Saturday, I finish.

So you'd think by now that I wouldn't be so nervous. But I am.

Jacob told me yesterday, "Mom, run with confidence."

I think I've read that before. "Run with confidence the race set before you." God said that too (of course He was talking about life and not running, but still, great advice.)

Just run with confidence. Run like you know you're going to finish. Sounds like a plan no matter what we're talking about.

All that to say, I'm going to try it today. I'll let you know how this whole "confidence" thing works out.

Day 60: Proximity

prox·im·i·ty - [prok-sim-i-tee, noun
nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation.

Prior to being a mom or a teacher or a Pastor, I worked in the corporate world as an office manager for a very large uniform company that would later become Cintas Uniforms. I was only 22, the youngest manager the company had ever hired, and I had a lot to learn.

I learned a practice early on called MBWA, management by walking around. What I thought I would learn from this practice was that I would see all of my employees slacking and my presence would intimidate them into good work behavior. (I wish that wasn't true, but it is!) surprisingly what I learned from increasing my proximity to them was that they were good people, good employees, and people genuinely eager to do the right thing! Each day as I walked around, I learned about their lives and their families and their struggles, and even some work related things I could help them with. I really began to care for them as individuals and apparently it showed, because they responded in kind. EVERYTHING went up in our department, sales, repeat customers, and we had the lowest receivables in the company, people were even paying their bills on time!

When I became a mom, I applied the same principle of MBWA to parenting, but I called it Parenting by Proximity. In the early days of PBP it simply meant moving closer to them when i wanted them to obey me ( as opposed to yelling across the room . . . Try PBP if you have little ones!) But as they got older it meant being a part of their lives. It meant listening to their dreams. It meant having a real true interest in who they are as individuals.

The thing about any relationship is that for it to be good, you have to inrease your proximity. You have to be close. (I know my brilliance is staggering at times, isn't it!).

Any relationship.

Working ones. The one you have with your spouse. The one you have with your children or your friends or your extended family.

And not surprisingly, the one you have with God.

All that to say, if you have a relationship you'd like to see improve, then take a look at your proximity. And move closer.

Day 59: I Write

Blogging is a weird animal. In a very public forum, we bloggers pour out our hopes and dreams and struggles and victories. We allow you, our readers, to take a small peek into our hearts and minds, hoping that the things you find there will in some way impact your life.

But we don't always write for your benefit. Sometimes we write for our own benefit, because we need a second chance to rethink, reevaluate, and relive moments in our lives that warrant a second look.

Sometimes those second looks are joyous celebrations, memories of happy moments that we need to cherish just a little longer before we file them away.

And sometimes those second looks are an opportunity to reevaluate our thoughts, our words, or our deeds.

But there are times when I write because it affords me the opportunity to dive deep within myself; hoping, longing for, desperately needing a different answer than the one my conscious mind has supplied.

I find that I can torment myself with my thoughts. I can let them run rampant until they have ravaged my mind and very often my heart, as well. But when I write those thoughts down, when they become words on a page, they are easier to sort and discard.

So I write. I write about love and family and hurt and despair and joy and deep sorrow.

And you read, though I'm not totally sure why you do.

All that to say, I have a million thoughts running through my mind tonight, but I shall try and take them captive before they capture me first.

Day 58: Half

Today I am freaking FIFTY years old. FIFTY! That's a half a century! You'd think I'd feel older. In my head, I'm like 32. (I used to be in my twenties in my head, so I guess I really am aging!) But, I'm actually neither in my twenties, nor am I 32. I am Fifty. The big 5-0. Halfway to a hundred. Heck, I practically have one foot in the grave.

So why in the world don't I feel that old?

I've always wanted to be someone who was "timeless." (notice I didn't say ageless? I'm not blind! I can see in the mirror!)

Anyway, Timeless. You know. Someone who seemed to progress with the times, and not be passed by it.

I mean, I blog. I'm on facebook. I wear TOMS.

I know NOT to say "bomb diggity."

I have good good friends in their twenties, thirties, fourties, fifties, sixties, seventies.

I'm timeless. Right?

I think the only real brush with the reality of my age came two days ago when I was shopping, and I realized I simply could not wear all those cute tops that are gathered, cinched or banded at the bottom, but instead I found myself relegated to the old lady sweater department. I felt old then. And I felt a little old when the Walmart Guy asked me if the pool I was buying was for my grandkids. I felt old then.

But, I guess I'm okay with being 50. As a general rule, I like myself. I wish I had a healthier body, but I don't want one so badly that I'm willing to forego cake in order to have it. And I'm okay with my wrinkles because I've earned them. And they show that I've lived life. And I'm okay with not being okay about gray hair. I do wish I could see better though. That is SERIOUSLY frustrating me!

I know that I love Jesus more than I ever have.

I know that I have a great marriage. Not a perfect one. But a great one.

I know that I have parented well and that I love my kids. I haven't parented perfectly, but I have loved my kids perfectly. :) Just ask them.

I know that I could change many things about my life, but the things I would change would also change where I am in my life right now, and I wouldn't change that.

And I know that I have NO FREAKING IDEA what tomorrow holds. But today, today better hold some awesome presents and an Italian Cream cake or someone is going to be in big trouble! HA!

All that to say, Happy Birthday to me, old lady.

Day 57: Feed Me

My friend, Luann, has one of my favorite blogs. She is always posting about something funny, and food, and family. And every now and then, she posts a recipe, though lately she hasn't been doing much of that, so she better get busy.

In my attempt to end my tired and boring menu, I find that I am quite drawn to cooking blogs these days.

Here are a few of my favs.

Simply Modern Mom (this link is to her Over Used Recipe Swap! . . . which you will love!)

And I love this girl too!
Deanna's Corner Cooking

And I also love this one!
Real Mom Kitchen but I think I was initially smitten with the colors of her blog and then later fell in love with her recipes.

And finally, I think I love her. Where was she when my sons were still at home?!

All that to say, I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! And if you have others, send them to me! Or better yet, post your favorite recipes, I'll group them together and post them for everyone!

Day 56: Learning to Communicate . . . Again

Mike and I have not ever really mastered the art of communication. When we had been married less than a year, we attended a marriage retreat weekend. At the retreat, the leader asked, "What is the most important aspect of any relationship?" I said, "Listening" and Mike said, "Talking."

We should have known right then that we were in trouble.

What we both meant was "Communication."

So pretty much from the get go we have had trouble with "communication."

A few nights ago, we were talking about all the changes in our life that were taking place at such a breakneck speed, and how those changes have really adversely affected our relationship.

Seems like we have not done a great job talking to each other through all of this.

So, we sat down and each agreed that we could give the other person a couple of things to work on as it relates to communication.

I told Mike I would like him to work on not asking every question as though it was an indictment. (Seriously, he has such a way of asking the most mundane question in such a way, you fear for your life if you answer incorrectly.) And I also asked him to share his heart with me. (Seems like all we women are asking our men for this one!)

Mike said he only had one. He asked me to just quit being such a b-scratch all the time (pretty sure you can figure out b-scratch) . . . to quit responding to every question, statement, observation or comment with a tone and an attitude. LOL. (I do that?)

We even gave each other permission to tell the other person when they are doing the thing they are supposed to stop doing.

It's working pretty well.

So well in fact, that we have actually had some fun conversations lately. He is in such a good place with all of the new business stuff, and I am LOVING that he will be home before 7:30 p.m. most nights.

Last night I said, "Babe, this is going to be so awesome. You're going to get home earlier. I won't be so worn out from the girls. We'll both be rested when they go to bed. You'll get your hopes up. I'll dash them shortly before I go to bed. It's just going to be awesome." We both laughed pretty hard. (I secretly knew I was telling the truth!)

All that to say, we're learning to communicate. Again. It's amazing what a little hope will do for you.