Monday, June 30, 2014

I want to meet you!-Please Comment and Introduce Yourself

Ladies-

This weekend if you have a minute- please leave a comment and tell me about yourself- introduce yourself to our little group. You are incredibly special and an amazing part of the body of Christ and I want to know more about you! I am very excited because another CWM has created a book called Voices of Christian Working Moms- check it out! http://www.kimberlychastain.com/book.htm which tells our story and allows us to connect.

I am ordering this book by Ms. Chastain and will be sharing portions of it on this blog- additionally Ms. Chastain has agreed to be a guest blogger on Christian Working Mama so I am very excited about that!

Ms. Chastain sends out a newsletter with interviews for CWM's and I have seen a few- and they are AWESOME. She is requesting more CWM interviews and I will be submitting mine this week.

So- tell me about yourself! No set format! I will go first. 

 I am 36 years old- Mom to Lincoln and Benjamin.  Been married 12 years. I work as a Vocational Rehabilitation Evaluator. I assess and provide career counseling to persons who are eligible for the state Vocational Rehabilitation program.  I LOVE COFFEE, the color yellow,  sunshine, have a crazy sweet tooth and LOVE to write. I can't sit still, I get anxious in social settings but love meeting up and chatting in small groups. I was a missionary with Food for the Hungry in the Philippines for five months before I got married. I have struggled with depression since college and some days the battle still rages BUT my God is faithful. I love puzzles,  used book stores, thrift stores,  Hip Hop music, banana and peanut butter sandwiches and taking walks. Your turn!
Love you ladies!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Girlfriends- oh how I need you!

 This year I have really come to the realization that I NEED some girlfriends. Like REALLY need some girlfriends. Like I cannot DEAL without some girlfriends. And that is a big deal for this introverted gal who gets a stomach ache whenever she had to go to a party of any sort:)

I need you ladies! I really, really do!

I need you to GIVE ME PERSPECTIVE

I need you to GIVE ME A GOOD LAUGH

I need you to SIT IN MY HOUSE and NOT LOOK DOWN ON ME when you see all of my unfinished projects and dirty floors

I need you to NOT JUDGE ME when you see me yell at my kids like a fool

I need you to HUG ME when my pain is too much

I need you to REMIND ME OF WHO I AM IN HIM, when all I see is the ugly

I need you to TELL ME I LOOK NICE in my new shoes and when I get my hair done

I need you to PLAY WITH MY KIDS while I clean up my house before guests from out of town arrive

I need you to TELL ME NOT TO QUIT when my struggles with my man feel overwhelming

MOSTLY I need you to SHINE  LIGHT ON MY GOOD AND HELP ME FIGHT MY BAD

I NEED YOU...



So I took a risk and started a group with some ladies from church- which we decided to call- "God, Girls and Gab". We have a FB group and we meet up weekly or bi-weekly and we just "BE". We don't do anything too structured- we chat, we complain, we laugh, and we just be ourselves-that is the main point- and we bring our kiddos so we are not missing out on our time with them...

That first night at Chick Fil-Et...I felt nervous and unsure- we all chatted and no one said anything about our group's purpose yet- we just ate and talked about random stuff- then I felt it- that tugging in my heart to be brave and real and transparent and I looked up and said- "So ladies, the reason I wanted to start this group is because... I need some friends."  I waited-...surely someone will look at my funny or change the subject or maybe just brush it off- but that is not what happened- we all agreed that we needed some good girlfriends and we agreed to be there for each other-sweet and simple. No major expectations, no set meetings, just that we would be there and that we would make an effort to meet up often.

We are just getting to know each other but already I feel different- I feel like I can fight my battles a bit braver and with a bit more confidence, I feel freer because I know that when those moments come when I cannot DEAL- I HAVE LISTENING, ACCEPTING AND NON-JUDGEMENTAL EARS...

And I feel HOPE because my ladies are ALWAYS POINTING ME BACK to the only TRUE source of HOPE- my God...

Maybe you need some girlfriends like me? Can I encourage you to reach out? They are there and you will never be the same! 



I love you ladies!
Liz


 





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stop Thinking You Have to Balance it All


As a Mom, we are always hearing talk about "balance"- how can we balance it all? Husbands, kids, friends, ministry, physical and mental health, relationship with God, etc...THEN- we add on WORK and we REALLY feel like we are in need of some kind of magical answer for how we are to balance our lives.

People write articles upon articles about this topic and I have come to the conclusion that it really is not about balancing all of these things- we are not jugglers and we cannot keep a million balls up in the air without dropping some. In fact-multitasking is stressful and not healthy for us- it is true-

There’s a term for this rapid shifting between one task to another, and it’s called switchtasking, according to management expert Dave Crenshaw, on his website davecrenshaw.com. And there’s a high cost to switchtasking over time: “You have deeply engrained habits that cause stress and anxiety and dropped responsibilities and a myriad of productivity & focus problems,” states Crenshaw. “It’s little wonder so many people complain of increasingly short attention spans!”


There was a time when I was experiencing severe anxiety and depression. I wasn't sleeping well and I could not focus on anything. I had a mentor who broke it down for me pretty simply and I have kept this with me for a very long time-she said to me- "Liz, you need to think, speak and act based upon what you know is true."

I definitely don't have a straight forward answer for you on how to balance it all-certainly there are times when you have to cut things out of your life, you have to reevaluate your responsibilities, making sure your priorities are lined up with how you spend your time- you have to ask for help-you have to "say NO".

But to actually balance things- I really don't think you can- but I DO think you can BE a BALANCED person in the midst of all that is in your life by how you think, speak and act.

The Bible has the answers for it all-Christian Working Mama's-think about these things:
        
What are your expectations for yourself, your work and your family based on?  The world? the workforce? the media? or the Word of God?       
John 8:32 ESV     
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

What are you thinking about?
Philippians 4:8 ESV    
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

What are you seeking? more income? to please everyone around you? to stay "safe" and away from risk? to stay comfortable?
Matthew 6:33-34 ESV         
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

How are you treating yourself? Are you truly taking care of yourself? Are you resting? Are you eating? Are you allowing yourself some downtime?
Mark 6:31 ESV         
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

How do you start your day?
Mark 1:35 ESV          
"And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed."

Lastly- look at these four areas of your life and identify where you are lacking- THEN- make a simple action step for how your will address these issues- YOU CAN DO IT!

Physical: Proper Rest, Nutrition, Activity (Work, Exercise and Recreation)
Psychological: Mental (Truthful), Emotional (Loving)
Relational: Family (spouse, children), Friends (including church), and Co-Workers.
Spiritual: Trusting and obeying God, knowing Christ and making Him known.

LASTLY- I ALWAYS GO BACK TO GRACE-YOU WILL DEFINITELY MESS IT UP MAMA-YOU WILL DROP THE BALL-YOU WILL BURN THE DINNER-YOUR WILL GET IMPATIENT WITH YOUR KIDS... BUT-
 I love you ladies and am praying for you not to find balance but to BE BALANCED in how you think, speak and act!!!



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anybody else feeling like a cracked pot today?

You know those moments- where you feel like your yuck and your struggles and your anger and dissatisfaction with life in general- just keep seeping up and spilling out on those your love- and then you turn it back on yourself...and well-

You feel broken- life is like an uphill battle and you are losing-your are tired- you are weary...

Even though today was a day with many bright spots- there were moments when the dark ones seemed to overshadow the light and I found myself feeling a bit splintered and cracked open...too emotional, too vulnerable, too raw...
Nothing major happened-nothing life-altering-just some disagreements taken too far, too many changes happening at once, some loose ends that I wish were tied... and little by little- these things caused cracks in my spirit and I felt weak...fragile...like a cracked pot. 

Sorry to be all dramatic but I am being real- sometimes your personal cross, the struggles of those around you, unmet needs and expectations- just feel too much to bear-and you keep pushing and trying to smile and eventually you implode and explode and everything in between...


So I was browsing around on-line and I saw this:

And my heart smiled, my soul breathed deep and I felt peace-
Here is my HOPE:

Through those cracks-the light of the Lord can shine through...

My brokenness leads me back to total dependence on Him and even better...

He can use my brokenness to bless others- usually by making me more authentic and more real...

Then I remembered a story I had read a very long time ago that touched my heart deeply- I LOVE how God brings it all together- read below:

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said. 
 
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers on your side of the path but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."
 
I love all of you ladies! It's okay to be a cracked pot-just like me- you are rushing through the day-dropping off kiddos- meeting deadlines-texting in the bathroom (your only alone time)-making dinner-ironing-washing dishes-doing laundry-all the time with a heart that longs to be used for something beautiful-by being a broken and beautiful mess you ARE enough to-
LET HIS LIGHT SHINE THOUGH YOUR CRACKS

 



 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Your Story Matters

I love stories- I have always been a reader and love to get lost in a good book. I find myself connecting with the characters, laughing with them, learning from them, and engaging with them.

But-these characters, unless based on a true story, are not real people. I can't call them on the phone or send them a text message. I learn from them and am blessed by the message I receive, but the real connection of course, can only come from real people-real stories.

Your story matters-why? Because every detail works together to create a beautiful tapestry, a masterpiece that tells a story that no one else  can tell- it is uniquely yours and yours alone. Your story- if it is anything like mine, has some dark places-some places that you would like to hide from the world. It has some amazing places- where your felt joy and love in ways you never felt possible. It has some narrow places where you felt life squeezing right out of you and it has some wide places where you experienced freedom and adventure...

I spend a lot of my time at work listening to stories. Persons with disabilities-with chronic conditions that I cannot even imagine having to deal with on a daily basis-they tell me a story and everyday on my way to work I ask God to show me where He is in their story and how I can help them move closer to Him with my work in career counseling. Out of all of the parts of my job that I love the most- it is the listening to the story. And I am blessed by their story...it needs to be told.

Is there any better feeling than when someone truly LISTENS to your story. When you are allowed to tell it-from beginning to the present time- hiding nothing, sparing no details and there is someone who sits with you and LISTENS. And is there nothing better than when you HEAR a story that reminds you that you are not alone? That someone else has walked a similar road and MADE IT. That someone else has experienced tragedy, or heartache, or devastation akin to your own and they are not only still standing, but they are THRIVING.

All I want to say to you today, Christian Working Mama is that YOUR story matters, it matters to me because I need to hear it, it matters to the body of Christ and your story reveals something about God that no one else's can.

Our God is UNBELIEVABLY creative in how he tells HIS STORY OF REDEMPTION through the stories of his children.

SISTER- YOUR STORY MATTERS!

I have a new friend who bravely shares her story in her newly developed blog. I want to honor her by putting a link on this post. Visit her blog and encourage her. She is a brave storyteller and we are ALL blessed that she decided to share her story with the world.:
Blended and Blessed- Evonne Prince

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Messenger

You are beautiful, your hair looks nice, what cute shoes you have on, I love your smile, you make me laugh, you are very special, you have a way with words, you light up a room, you are a light in this dark world, you are amazing, you are wonderful, your makeup looks so lovely, you are so kind, you are a sweet soul, your outfit looks so stylish, you are such a fun person, you are a ray of sunshine, you are such an amazing friend, amazing Mom, amazing employee, I admire you, I look up to you, I enjoy you, you make my day, I am amazed by you, I think you are fantastic, you are so sweet, you are awesome, you rock!

I love to give compliments- I love to see the smiles-the face lighting up-when my words fall upon a soul I come in contact with-words are powerful-words are strong-
 
I am a messenger and my message is that you are beautiful because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Note: This post is part of a new writing adventure I am on. Lisa-Jo Baker has a Five Minute Friday group where bloggers write for five minutes on a specific word. This week's word was MESSENGER. You can check this out at: http://lisajobaker.com/.

 
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Grace-Filled Home- two things I have learned to do


At any moment in my home we can be having a grace-filled or a yuck-filled moment. I call "yuck" any feeling, word or action that stems from our sin; typically things such as resentment,  bitterness, selfishness, pride, etc...examples- mean words, snapping at my kids,

I am blessed to say that in my home we have many grace-filled moments and typically the yuck is followed by grace...eventually...and to be completely honest- my husband is usually the one to bend before me...

Some people may find that shocking- me-the social worker/Ms. Helping Professional. But in the moments of our conflict- guess what? My pride usually outlasts his and he is usually the first to grab me, hold me and say, "I'm sorry babe." There have been SO many moments- after a heated discussion, where I am sulking a bit and walking around mad and my man has looked at me and said two words- "Come here." Then-I melt, I fall into his arms and all is well again.

This post is for him because his words of grace, forgiveness and his steady and consistent commitment to this is what gives our marriage the life that it needs to survive and thrive.

These are some lessons I have/am/will always be learning that I wanted to share:

1. With God's help-I have the power and the choice to turn yuck-filled moments into grace-filled moments:

Most of the time, the yuck from my hubby and my kids has nothing to do with me and vice-versa (they/I may be having a bad day/they feel rushed,  are tired, or are frustrated with something).

Frequently my response to their yuck-can turn the tide in that moment. I can choose to be a Thermostat, not a Thermometer: I don't have to absorb the yuck (thermometer), instead I can choose to change the temperature of the moment by offering grace (thermostat).

Some simple examples:
-"I'm sorry you are so frustrated. Can I help?"
-"I get really mad when things like that happen too."
-"Are you hungry? Can I fix you something?"


2. I can just be quiet for awhile... I can hold my tongue when I want to lash out-before I respond, I can step away and wait. For me- I try to wait a day if it is something that I know I will have a HUGE response to that I know may not be welcomed very nicely and then I will see if I still want to say the same thing. Sometimes I wait until the kids are in bed, sometimes I wait until after I finish a task, etc... I put up a boundary for my anger, frustration, etc.. so that I can
wait on God and talk it out with Him first. NOT EASY- but LIFE SAVING for my marriage!

Honestly- I find that typically by the next day, something good has happened to soften that moment and I can either approach it in a better way or leave it alone.

So-two things-short and sweet for having a Grace-Filled Home;

Be a Thermostat-not a Thermometer and Be Quiet

I would love to hear from you about how this principle works for you! Try it out and share with me!


 






Thursday, June 5, 2014

I'm going on a treasure hunt: Six things to do when faced with a "I don't like myself. I'm not enough. I can't do this" moment

I work with people with disabilities- my job is to assess their skills and abilities and make recommendations for employment and educational opportunities for them...

Sometimes- my job is pretty easy; the persons knows what they like/don't like and I can fairly easily help "figure them out". Other times- not so much; the client has multiple disabilities, they don't have good self-awareness and their job interests are limited.

This is when I have to roll up my sleeves and DIG DEEP. It takes much more TIME, much more THOUGHT, and much more TENACITY. Sometimes a brilliant idea comes to me, sometimes I have to admit that I have hit a brick wall...That I just don't know- I can't think of anything- I THEN tend to become overwhelmed by my inadequacy to help this person and I put pressure on myself- really ridiculous pressure! (Why do I seem to be surprised that I don't have ALL THE ANSWERS?)

I have noticed that EVERY TIME this happens, my inner voice berates me- "I am not cut out for this job, I will never figure this out, etc.." This is what I hear and I begin to feel anxious, inadequate and frustrated.

However- as with EVERYTHING; WITH EVERY STRUGGLE COMES A HIDDEN TREASURE FOR THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO LOOK-

So these are the TREASURES (the lessons) I am learning (and will continue to learn probably forever!) when faced with a "I am not enough" moment:

1. Don't ignore this moment and pretend it didn't happen: Be BRAVE and FACE IT HEAD ON/ IT BECOMES SMALLER AND WEAKER THIS WAY (when you ignore these moments- you push them down and they begin to wreak havoc- you feel depressed-you get anxious-sometimes you take these feelings out on others...)

2. Look at the moment long enough that you can learn from it but brief enough that it does not consume you: Give yourself boundaries- focus on it, pray about it and reflect and then move on and be expectant of how God will meet you...

3. Thank God for the moment and ask Him to use it for something AMAZING: This gives the moment eternal value and gives you MOTIVATION to face it and deal with it!...

4. Remember that God's strength is MADE PERFECT IN YOUR WEAKNESS: This is my LIFE VERSE- 2nd Corinthians 12:9-"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

5. Don't let your pride keep you from asking for help: Use your resources and reach out. In isolation this moment can completely distort your perspective-find some good people to remind you of TRUTH.

6. Lay the whole thing out before God: Bring it into the light so that it can be examined through the LENS OF GOD'S GRACE- and NOT THROUGH THE LENS OF CONDEMNATION.

Grace, Grace and more Grace- this is always the language we must speak to the world and especially to ourselves!

So next time you have one of those "I don't like myself. I'm not enough. I can't do this" moment- go on a treasure hunt!


 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Living at the Pace of Grace: Tip #3- Be Selfish

What helps you breathe? What gives you life? What revitalizes you?

When there is turbulence on an airplane and the oxygen masks fall down- what are the instructions? Put on your own oxygen mask first SO THAT you can help others...

Keep that in the back of your mind...

So YES- to live at the Pace of Grace- you HAVE to be selfish!  WHAT? Yes- I said it- BE SELFISH. Okay- so NOT in the meany-pants, I am gonna get my way and do what I want kind of selfish- no, no, no...

I mean in the:

...tonight I am gonna take an extra long shower and use pretty smelling body wash and shave and paint my toenails cuz I feel grimy and I want to feel beautiful- kind of way...

...this afternoon I am gonna read my new favorite book and lovingly ignore (yes-sometimes it really is OKAY to do this) my kids (who by the way- are better at playing by themselves than I think)-kind of way...

...before I leave work I am gonna text my babysitter and tell her I need 30 more minutes till pick up today so I can go to Starbucks, grab my Tall White Mocha and regroup before starting my evening- kind of way...

...tonight my kids will play on the crazy play structure at McDonald's after work so that I can cry to my girlfriend about my struggles at home kind of way...

...I am going to enlist my kiddos to do more chores and to help me more vs. play-time because it makes me less nutso and you know what? it is good for them too-kind of way...

...tonight I am going to leave the laundry, the dishes and the toys on the floor and cuddle up with my Man and tomorrow we will eat out (or use paper plates) and I will just use the broom to sweep enough toys out of my way for a walkway- kind of way...

Simple things, YET they make a difference in how we Christian Working Mamas THRIVE or just SURVIVE our day-to-day lives...

Tomorrow we start a new week- be sure to be selfish this week- even just 10 minutes of doing what you need, what makes you feel energized and just simple taking care of you- shows your people that sometimes you really do need to put on that oxygen mask first before helping them with their needs...

We Mama's love to give and give and being a Mama is the best GIFT in the whole world to us and some days we CAN'T put on that oxygen mask first and thankfully the Holy Spirit breathes a fresh breathe of spiritual life into our beings; however... we need to take care of ourselves because we are PRECIOUS to the Lord...