Friday, January 25, 2013

Where the rubber meets the road

As I tried to put on my "mom's-in-control-and-there's-nothing-to-worry-about face, as I drove as slow as I could force myself to drive, as I turned on the radio and sang along to keep my jangling nerves from showing, I knew it was one of those moments. One of the times I talk about that God speaks into my soul and I'm expected to listen...

It had been a long five days. My son had come down with influenza B and I had been doing the best I could to juggle work, caring for a sick teen and prepping the Man for a road trip in a few days that would last more than a week.

The Boy had been having terrible bouts of stomach cramps in the night time hours and I was fried. I don't function on interrupted sleep and three nights of it plus the stress of getting enough liquid into a surly teen was taking a huge toll. I have to admit, when he walked into my bedroom doubled over in pain I responded in frustration. There is nothing as irritating to me as feeling helpless and that was exactly how I felt: helpless.

Nothing I was doing was helping my son. Food didn't alleviate the pain, we didn't have any Pepto (which I know now was a good thing), and it seemed to be getting worse. After probing with some pretty invasive questions about his bathroom activity I decided to call a helpline. Something was definitely off.

If you've ever called a nurses helpline you know they can be incredibly compassionate and caring. This was no exception. The nurse I had even went the extra mile when my phone cut out twice not to drop the call. She made a point to call me back and continue getting the information.

If you've ever made one of those calls you might also be familiar with the tone of voice they take when they become concerned. It's a very sunny, I-don't-want-to-alarm-you-but-crap-just-got-scary distinctness I've heard only a few times in my life. It was time to head to the emergency room and she wanted to know if I was ok with doing that or if she should call 911 for me... Uh... Wow. There just isn't anything like that kind if reality slamming head on into your night.

No, I said, I can take him. When she began asking me to confirm that my Boy was coherent, that his speech wasn't slurred and that he could walk on his own power to the car I knew we were on a time crunch and that losing my cool was not an option. Luckily, that kid is made of some pretty strong stock and we made our way to the car and out onto the night time roads.

While I had a suspicion of what we were dealing with I also knew my child was counting on me to maintain a sense of security. He was watching my every move looking for any reason to be concerned.

Normally I'm a basket case when it comes to the safety of my "chillins". I'm overdramatic, volatile and protective in the extreme. Lots of eye-rolling tends to accompany my tirades and plenty of, "oh mom!" This night there was something different. I had a peace surrounding me. I knew we were at the edge of a dangerous place, potentially in some serious trouble but I also knew, just as sure as I was sitting in that seat, that Jesus was along for the ride.

You can call me crazy, over zealous, delusional - whatever you want. I really don't care. How I reacted, the quick way we made it to the hospital, all the professionals involved who looked and actually listened to us... He was there.

Even after two days in the hospital and the Boy on his way to recovery from a stomach bleed that still isn't quite pinned down, I'm confident that Christ is with us here. We have very few answers and not a lot of direction but my heart is full and my head is clear. We are in the palm of His hand always. No matter the situation He is there. I don't know what the next report holds but things look hopeful for us. It could've been so much worse but thankfully it wasn't.

We are not done here yet. It takes way more time and patience than I think it should for the simplest of tasks. But I'm doing my best to relax into it. No matter what my day consists of, no matter how interrupted my routines become, God is still at the helm. Trusting Him will always be challenging for me but looking back on this week I know He's not done proving He's worth it.

When I'm tempted to question what God is doing, when I think I just want to know what His ultimate plan is, I hope I can conjure up this memory of being held right in the palm of His hand, cradled, loved and protected.

Thanks go out to everyone who's prayed with us for a speedy recovery. We continue to covet those prayers as we await discharge, whenever that might be.

Be blessed!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Splash Zone

We have all seen it. A swimming pool, water park, kiddie pool, Vegas... You name it, where there is water, we have seen the "Don't get any on me" dance and squeal. The little girls around 12 to 15 years old are the best. They threaten, fuss and do that funny jog in place-limp-wristed-hands-held-up-above-the-water-level dance. For whatever misguided reason, they think they can get into a pool and look cute with curled hair, lip gloss and perfectly applied mascara and every one will respect their desire to be just that: Cute. If there are any boys of corresponding age in the pool, we all know that will last as long a jar of Nutella at my house! Doused and crabbed out, out of the pool they will stomp looking like drowned raccoons to pout on a chaise somewhere out of sight. Oh and let the whining begin...

We aren't much different spiritually. Ever been to a Christian conference or better yet, your own home church and thought, "Oh man! If only (insert other person's name here) was sitting right beside me... They really need to hear this!" You nod along to the pastor's message, even throw in a little "Amen!" when you feel particularly sure that this will be the dvd you actually pay $2 for so that ole so-and-so can hear it for themselves. Yeah... Tread lightly, folks. I have been just that person and not too soon after I was sure I knew that God was speaking directly to someone else's sin, splat! You guessed it... I got some on me!

It is funny. That special way we can look around and point out fault like we are Gordon Ramsey in a Kitchen Nightmares episode. Yet to the gaping holes in our own spirituality we are oblivious. (What is that breeze I keep feeling?) Those times that God allows us to be privy to another's failings I have learned, are not so much the accolade that we are right and they are wrong. Quite the opposite: they are warning signs that anyone can struggle. Lest I start thinking that I have it all in the bag and under control, God will splash a little light my way and illuminate the sinful behavior I am engaged in. It is all in how you respond in that moment. I can stomp out of the pool and harumph my way out of sight, or I can stand in the light of my Lord and say, "Well! Would ya look at that? I got some on me..." Until I recognize that I am also covered in sin-splotches, I have no compassion for others or desire to scrub it out of my own life.

God is gracious, however, and He also allows us to be splashed with the light of someone else's joy. When a missionary, visionary or just amazing Christian influence embarks on a journey to better themselves and the world around them they have a tendency to splash around in the pool of life. They aren't being malicious in their whirling and twirling... They just can't believe they have been allowed the opportunity to live it up in the deep end of the pool! You know the feeling right? That moment you finish a book like Wrecked and you examine your life for something to be spiritually destroyed and rebuilt over... When you start recognizing your Flinch and decide, "No more fearing failure for the sake of mediocrity!" When you redefine yourself as courageous. That is the moment you realize you got some on ya... And it feels great!!

Whether what you have dripping down your shirt is revealing light or exuberant joy, don't be afraid to splash a little, jump a little, get a little on ya... It's about time we were unapologetic and excited that God chose us! He chose us to make us better, He chose us to exemplify unconditional love, He chose us so that we would chose Him. Make it count!

Be blessed...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Put 'Em Up... Put 'Em Up!

Hollywood is a big fat liar. Yeah, I said it. Not sorry either. At all. You know what I am talking about... The protagonist hero in some blockbuster movie that stands on the edge of doom and screams his defiance as he leaps without hesitation into the abyss. Bull-crap! They feed us this line of dumb-assery that if we fear, if we hesitate - that somehow we fail in being courageous. Like the simpy Cowardly Lion, we are aggravating, irritating and a blubbering mass of uselessness unless we bull forward into oblivion, nary a care or consideration in our midst. To this end, I say "Nuh-uh!"

Courage has so little to do with being fearless. Courage has been lauded and sought after, pursued and bastardized so often and so brazenly we have completely lost sight of what it looks like. Courage isn't standing in the midst of the fray, swinging wildly about without fear of pain, failure or personal destruction. Courage is, in fact, the opposite. Courage, when properly viewed, will look less like "Braveheart" and more like Charlie Brown. Courage trembles, courage sweats, courage can even cry, but ultimately, courage steps forward and in spite of the fear does what needs doing.

Google "courage" and you are bound to find some gems. I found quotes from Nelson Mandela, C.S. Lewis and Mark Twain but the two that struck me where I live came from more modern and gritty sources.

The first is my husband's hero, John Wayne, who put it simply, "Courage is being scared to death... And saddling up anyway." Amen, Duke! When put that way, it comes clear that the kind of bravery we are talking about isn't without reservation. In fact, it has all kinds of hesitation and reasons why I shouldn't have to step up and step out. It reminds me that most things God asks me to do require a good measure of courageous behavior. When He asks me to write outside of my comfort zone, when He tells me to say something encouraging to a stranger, when my kids come to me with issues I thought I would never have to deal with... Those require my decision to be courageous and saddle up anyway. There is definitely fear. There is reservation. There is the thought that I am not nearly good enough, capable enough or worthy to do any of those things. But God doesn't tell me to do the stuff I think I can. God tells me to do the things I know HE can.

The second quote doesn't mention courage by name, but it nails it none the less. Julien Smith said recently, "To focus on negative outcomes and hurtful criticism is a good way to ensure failure. Giving power to our doubts is an invitation for our feet to slip off the tightrope." I live there folks, up on the high wire, chanting ridiculously, "Don't look down..." I live there in that land of "What if someone is offended by what I say?" "What if I am not universally liked?" "What if I fail?" Julien reminds me that we all have those thoughts. No one is an island of constant confidence and utter heroism. He reminds me that it is what I choose to do in spite of the fear that matters.

Simplified further, so that I might grab it with both hands and shake it into focus:
- Courage is writing what God says I should, not what I think you want to hear.
- Courage is losing some one you dearly love and moving on with life, no matter how stilted, because you never know who you might touch with your action.
- Courage is saying yes to letting your kids drive when so much could go wrong.
- Courage is allowing failure so that there may be education in the midst of the struggle.
- Courage is falling in love again, even though it never worked out before.
- Courage is letting go of control because you never really had it anyway.
- Courage is being unjustly ridiculed for the sake of Christ and continuing on that path still.
- Courage is confronting a bully even if it means embarrassment.
- Courage is feeling your heart pound, your knees get weak and your blood grow cold and doing it anyway.

The biggest lie about courage is that it is always met with success or happiness or gain. Sometimes courage looks a lot like failure. Don't buy it. It may look like your courageous act fell flat, had no impact, fizzled out impotently. Behind the scenes, however, you cannot know what plan God is working together. Like gazing at the back of a tapestry, you may get the gist of the pattern, it may look vaguely like this or that, but the nuances of what God is creating cannot be seen until He allows us the view from the front row. That, my friends, comes only when we are seated with Him.

When I am tempted to tell God that I cannot do something because I just don't have the courage to step forward, I must remember this: That is exactly the point at which He is asking me to do it anyway. On the edge of the abyss, knees knocking, heart pounding and certain of doom and utter failure - Do it anyway. He isn't counting on my abilities... He's asking me to count on His.

Be blessed!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How the Magic Happens

Have you ever wondered how writers get their stuff? I have. I used to think it was all about their amazing imaginations, their intelligence and their education. I used to wonder how they got from point A at the opening of their story to point B at the close. I wondered about the whole process and because it seemed mysterious and overwhelming I gave up and figured if I didn't know the basic way they did their job I would never be a real writer.

Like so many things I think I know, I was wrong about that.

I have had to answer that same question about how I write. What happens when I get an idea for a book or a story for a blog post? After having to answer that question, I realize for each writer it is different. Sometimes, especially for me, it is different for each idea.

Mostly, I get my writing direction from God. I know... Sounds very mystical and esoteric, doesn't it? One of those answers that leaves people staring askance at me and nodding knowingly, as if I would balk if they asked what I mean by that. I will tell you exactly what I mean by that - TODAY.

I get my writing direction from God in a few different ways. First, let's be clear: I am not espousing clarvoyance, I do not hit a trance-like state when I sit at my writing desk, and I don't scour the bible for hours on end until the booming voice of the Lord says, "Today, you will write on David and Bathsheba... GO!" It doesn't work like that.

The simplest thing can be going on in my life and suddenly I will have this overwhelming intuition that I need to pay attention. God is speaking to me, through the radio in my car, through the sunset I am watching, through a television commercial - "Pay attention, this is going to be important." Sometimes the idea comes complete, beginning, middle and end. Other times, I get just the basics: What does courage really look like? Some days the idea needs written out like a burning match and there is urgency, other times it stews around in my head for a day or two - maybe more - and comes out slowly, like maple syrup in the woodlands of Vermont.

Often, I will scurry to notate my pay-attention-moment into my phone. Some ideas need more time to simmer and bubble on the back burner of my psyche and if I am not careful the cacophony of life will steal away the original thought. Once I have it down somewhere (and let's pray that I remember where that somewhere is), I can relax a little into the process of research, prayer, devotions and actual writing to get what is in my muddled noggin onto these cyber-pages and out to you.

With the larger projects I have done, God has been gracious enough to give me complete concepts. Three books, one completed, two in process and all three ideas came complete. Write this, like this and for this audience. Now actually sitting down and completing the work... Well... Working out those details and making my writing a priority isn't always top 'o' the list. After all, I am the only one who knows what is in my head and on my God-given task list to complete. No one will know if I never finish those things, right?

Well, not this time. I decided with this new year, I would put myself out there and enlist an accountability partner. I would give myself a reason and a deadline and I would be disappointing someone if I didn't make it happen. I was excited at this new approach. I work so much better when I have a goal, a deadline, an assignment! Yeah. And the first thing that happened was that life got hectic, the weather got cold (well-diggers-lunch-box cold!) and I fell down. But you know what? This is me... Getting back up!

I have a series that I have been asked to write on Christian attributes. It won't be easy to complete because the concepts are often misconstrued. They aren't easy to hear about either, but just like every other post I have written, this isn't about me teaching you - This is about me being schooled by God and you watching the carnage from a safe distance. If I get a little on ya, well that's something you can take up with the Father on your own.

I also have a plan and a hope that the fictional work I have been tediously avoiding will reach completion this year and somehow God will provide the means to get it edited. I know that this is going to be difficult work, I know that there will be missed deadlines and my accountability partner will have to jerk on my chain to get me to comply (I chose her for just that reason). I also know that things worth doing don't come easy. They just come. Sometime they sit quietly and politely in the background and wait until I am ready. Sometimes they don't. And sometimes, like this time, God pointedly asks when I will think His request is important enough to finish?

What little closet task has God asked you to complete? Why haven't you? Are you ready to quit giving excuses and give an accounting? Step up, step out and tell someone who will graciously hold you accountable for what is being asked of you. No one ever has to know, but you will... And God does.

Be blessed.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eyes Wide Shut

I know this post will raise some eyebrows. I know it isn't the most "intelligent" thing I could let you know about me. I think you already know that I don't much care what your perception is of me - Unless it muddies up my faith. But this doesn't have much to do with that. OK. Yes it does. A lot!

I do this thing... Well, hrmmmm..... Maybe it would be easier to explain if I told you I DON'T do this thing. Yeah. That is better - I don't watch much news. At all. Can't stand it. (Go ahead, insert your gasp here. I am ready for it.)

I don't know exactly what it is other than I know that it effects me in a negative way. As someone who suffers from clinical depression and someone who doesn't get along well with conventional treatment of such, I have become very guarded about what I allow myself to listen to, see and generally obsess about. Talking heads, reporters of the macabre - they all make me a little nauseous. The smiles, the limp, feigned sympathy, the horrific way they fail at being non-biased all leaves me barking at my television or snarking at my radio. My pulse elevates, my head clouds with anger and the hopelessness creeps in.

So I hear it... That far off chorus of voices that tell me if I don't know what is happening how will I "be the change I want to see?" What kind of heartless, selfish and self-centered individual am I if I won't watch the latest and greatest of the human atrocities? Don't I want to live an informed and intelligent life? All these things I have argued with myself come down to one simple and yet difficult conceptual answer. I have been tasked by my Heavenly Father to live a life exemplified by Christ. Yup. That's it. That's my answer.

See, I know there is unspeakable evil in this world. I understand that there is a moment in which I will be called to answer for the way I have lived and I also understand that that moment may come at any time, either by peaceful or violent means. I need neither to hear of another's violent passing nor evil deed to know that only I will be held accountable for my life. Knowing of the latest abduction and horrific details of captivity, watching footage of closed circuit cruelty and carnage, hearing panicked phone dialogs and screams of terror - none of that will change my responsibility when Christ comes calling me home.

Fact is, harsh but true - I cannot stop every bad act. I cannot save every dying animal. I cannot carry the sorrow of every murdered soul in my heart. I would become an ineffective lump on the bathroom floor, paralyzed with fear of what "might be." I can, however, live my life the way I want to be treated. I can teach my kids to be safe in an unsafe world. I can let them know that bad things happen and that they are responsible for their actions. I am tasked to model consequential living for them and I can pray.

"There but for the grace of God go I." Heard it before? Me too. Been around a long time. Know what it means? Only God's grace keeps me from dealing with issues and trials I see around me, and sometimes, God's omniscient grace lands me right smack in the middle of that self-same trial. To recognize that I am no more special than the man next to me, to realize that God graciously allows my family and myself to be largely healthy, wealthy and wise, that is the gift I receive on a daily. I won't get that kind of reassurance from a reporter. I won't read it online or in a paper. But it is there. His grace is always there, waiting for me to rest in it, partake of it, dole it out to others.

I understand if you still need to to tune into your news shows. I won't judge you for that. Just understand when you ask me about the latest shooting, I probably won't have much information. Don't get me wrong, I have my causes. I have things I am passionate about and I have my struggles with evil as well. The cacophony of too much information is just not how I deal with it. I pray. I ask for God's guidance, and I practice obedience to His will. I may never get airtime for it, but then I don't take a good picture anyway!

Be blessed.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Off Grid Living

I took a hiatus from Facebook not too long ago. It wasn't because of boredom, or because I grew out of it... I wish I could mature beyond a need for human interaction, but I have yet to reach that pinnacle. I took the break because my feelings got hurt. And then they got hurt again. And again.... And after a sincere and tear filled conversation with my husband, I decided close my account and log off. At the time, I didn't care if I ever set my digital foot-print on that site again, I was that hurt. There were lots of reasons I left but at the crux it was my own emotional immaturity and my inability to accept that not everyone has to like me.

I share this rather embarrassing part of my history because I hear from women more mature than myself that this new age of living online has them soothing hurt feelings too. How can you not, on some level, have a stinging sense of exclusion when you are able to see inside the workings of someone else's life and you are very obviously left out? When everyone of your "other" friends is thanked and you are left out, when you read of a party you were not invited to, yet someone you think barely knows them is included? How on earth are we expected to react when we feel slighted, hurt and excluded?

For myself, this came to a head when I realized that I was neither reacting nor relating to the situation as a Christian. I realized I was looking to outside sources for validation, away from my heavenly Father, and right into the grasp of the enemy. I was turning to the world for validation, not separating myself from it as God so clearly instructs. I also realized that I needed to really, honestly - brutally - look deep within myself and determine if I was mature enough to handle the responsibility of being part of something like Facebook. Was it the venue, or was it me? Was I the one with the problem?

Regretfully, but thankfully for my sanity, I came to the conclusion that until I was able to resolve some other major issues with my heart (think bitterness, grudge-holding and self-riteousness), I needed to excuse myself from all social networking. It was a blessing... I began blogging instead, met some amazing folks, and resurrected a life-passion that had laid dormant for years. I know that God worked it together for His ultimate good, but man - did it hurt in the meantime! It meant that I had to look at parts of me that I distinctly despise and it meant being disciplined enough to really know myself and do the right thing for me. To not fold under the pressure, no matter how well meaning, of my friends who didn't want me to leave FB was very difficult. I wanted to stay, but I also knew until I dealt with my issues, it was a no-brainer... I needed to log out.

When I got down to it, who was I trying to please? Was it God that I had my sights set on, or was it something else altogether? Was I in His will with my obsessive compulsive behavior? Ahem...Definitely not. So in this age where we talk ourselves into this mantra of, "I deserve to be a part of this or that," I had to look myself squarely in the eye and say I was not mature enough to be on Facebook. I was looking for validation beyond God's desire for me and I was acting childishly to boot.

I wanted my "friends" to shun my offender and they did not. I wanted God to punish my offender, and He didn't appear to even blink... In fact, to make matters worse, it looked like my offender was being rewarded! In the year and a half that I removed myself I realized I had a choice. I could use the venue as a tool or I could seek out other means of entertainment and self promotion.

Ultimately I learned some valuable truths about myself and how I to interact on a social network to keep my heart safe and God happy.

1. I view only what comes into my News reel. I don't visit other people's pages unless they tell me they have something specifically for me to see. That keeps me reading only things they want me to see. I have relied on a something my Aunt has said over and over, "What other people think about me is none of my business." I always thought that was crap until it was explained in light of my own private thoughts. Would I want someone else to know that? uh... Absolutely not!
2. It is good to take a break from the constant bombardments. I have committed to my family to have one tech-free day a week. No phone, iPad or computer for a whole day. If we leave the ranch only one adult is to have a phone and only to be reachable in case of emergency. It keeps us sharper, more aware of the others around us and less likely to take each other for granted. And do you know what? We are all pretty funny individuals! My kids have amazing senses of humor and my husband is a rockstar! (Just sayin'...)
3. I think more about what I am saying when I post now. I try to realize that there are folks out there who struggle with exclusion and who have the same issues that caused me to log off. I try to be uplifting and not Debbie Downer. No one wants to read continuous posts about how crappy my day went. And when I just have to post about a disappointment, I try to find some sort of humor in it. After all, it's just a bad day, not a bad life!

I know it isn't cool to say this, but take time to put the gadgets down once in a while. Let peeps know how to get a hold of you in an emergency, but live some analog time out there with a cup of coffee and a good friend, face to face, smile to smile, laugh for laugh. You will be astonished by how amazing you feel afterward!

Be blessed!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pinterest is evil and other truths about me...

Pinterest is evil. Not because of its electronic nature, or because of its content. No, it is evil because it steals my time in huge chunks. I have a few interests that I love to cruise for, but mostly, when I am waiting in line or bored or just plain ignoring my to-do list I saunter through its maze of wonders in search of "Snark" that relates to me.

It is also something that God calls me to. No, not posting wildly inappropriate e-cards. That isn't what I mean. Sharing parts of me that are imperfect, flawed, sinful and snarky - That process is important to me, and believe it or not, it is important to God. He wants me to take myself less seriously, He loves to hear me laugh and He wants us to know that no one - NO ONE - deserves a pedestal. Well... Except for His son. But you know what I mean, right?

The thing about exposing one's flaws to the world and then laughing about it is simple. Once they are out there, flapping in the wind like so much excess skin on a running Bassett hound, they are much less powerful to our inner psyche. Once you share with the world that you are not the picture of perfection that you think you are (and yes, you are the only one who thinks it looks perfect), that Voice that taunts you inside, it loses its power over you. You become a lantern beaming out the rays of God's all-accepting love through all those holes of imperfection.

Today, I am thanking God for my struggles, for my sins, for the problems that won't leave my side. Those things, are great teachers of God's patient love. They remind me that I need Him, that He loves me despite of my awful behavior and the murderous thoughts I think in the post office Que. The flaws I have poke holes in the desire of the Enemy to keep my light under a basket. When I shine them forth, I steal his power over me and I fly in the face of my own pride. It also takes me down off my own rickety pedestal and puts me among those that need to know the love of God on a much more personal level.

Take a little time today to poke some fun at yourself. After all, you have a few hours to sink into the Pinterest-time-continum, right?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bring it on!

Ringing in the New Year... Sounds so official and elegant, like one could simply ring a bell and magically erase the previous year to start afresh. With the tolling we would wipe away the mistakes of our past annuals and be granted a consequence free new deal with which to begin again. Unsullied, pristine, unmarred by our selfishness and poor judgement. Oh, if only it were so!

Never gunna happen... But I can go back, take an honest poke at what I remember about last year (yes, I said what I remembered), and plant new, fresh, wonderful ideas firmly into the landscape of this coming year. Don't get me wrong, I am not a resolution type of gal. If I make a resolution, one thing is certain - I will promptly fail at keeping it, beat myself up for failing at it once again, and then eat something I shouldn't while washing it down with far too much wine. Ahem... Now that you know my stance on New Year's Resolutions, it should all be very clear.

No, what I am talking about (because I tend to explain waaay too much what I am NOT talking about), is this:

* I WILL write more out here in my lovely place. I know I said this last year too. And I actually did it. I wrote more than I did the year before. You may not have known it, because I don't post everything I write, but I did... really... Don't judge me. I will stop requiring myself to carve out time and I will simply make time. I will stop requiring a clean house, a perfect marriage, a groomed puppy and I will just plop my butt in my chair out here to write. I have to start thinking of this as less of a "treat" and more of an act of obedience. God didn't ask me to use this talent only when I had completed some chore list. He asked me to write...

* I WILL investigate more ways to publish my work. No matter how scary that is and how much I fear rejection, I will remember that God has not allowed one word He wanted out there to be rejected. In fact, everything I have submitted for publication, has been - in fact - published. Pretty freaking amazing!

* I WILL nurture the friendships I have while still pursuing others in the manner of a new kid at school. Being social is a skill, I refuse to allow it to wane with my waistline! I don't care if it causes my kids to walk in front of me three or four strides, I will stop the uniformed service-folk and thank them for their service to our country, I will talk to the cute babies and new mothers in line at the grocery and I will listen when God asks me to encourage someone I don't know. Those moments are golden and have always given me joy.

* I WILL trust that no matter what cliff looms, what imbecile is spouting cockamamie BS or what hay prices do, that God will care for my family as he does every sparrow I see pecking at seemingly nothing on my gravel driveway. If God is going to make sure those sparrows have a meal in their tiny little tummies, I know He has my back.

*I WILL continue my self-imposed moratorium on news channels, talking heads and grinning reporters of the macabre. Call me naive, but I believe that we are healthier when we don't know everything there is to know about the latest tragic killing of babies. I understand the need for compassion, but honestly, I don't have to know the gory details to wind up in a ball on the bathroom floor, too paralyzed with terror to walk out my front door.

* I WILL use social media as just that: a means to be social! I do not want to read about how incredibly frustrated you are politically, I don't want to see the latest burnt up puppy or half dead baby on a gurney. I want to know what you did last weekend that was fun, uplifting, changed your outlook on life in some way or maybe just where you had the best martini you ever tasted! I appreciate that you are impassioned about many things, but let's be wise about the over-share. And while those snarky pictures and sayings are great once in a while, can you please let us know you are still a human being who can actually type on a keyboard? Just sayin'.

* In general, in 2013 I WILL laugh more, hug more, invite the neighbors over more and attempt to look at my life through a lens less focused on me and more focused on what God might have to say about it. He was asleep in the bottom of the boat while the Sea of Galilee churned about violently and the disciples had to actually wake Him up! Think about that a moment... He really is trying to tell us that what we see around us doesn't have Him worried - Why are we? Trusting God with all I have is the hardest and yet most rewarding thing I can ever get better at. It is worthy of my time and then some.

Be blessed! It's gonna be a spectacular year! (Again...)