The Long Haul

The beginning of a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt says “Nothing in this world is having or worth doing unless it means effort.”

But we humans want quick fixes and fast solutions.  I’m four weeks into a new workout routine and have made some pretty significant changes to my eating habits as well as being much more intentional about my water consumption.  My eating habits aren’t perfect – I still “cheat” now and then – but I’m learning and doing a little bit better each day.  I’m doing LOTS better than I was four weeks ago!

But I’d love to see big changes and fast!  In my head I know that quick, radical changes usually don’t last.  When it comes to healthy weight loss, slow and steady is the route to success.

So I have to choose to focus on the positives –

– My sleeping pattern is better and more restful.

– My energy level is great!

– There have been small changes in all of the “measurements” and the scale has nudged a bit in a healthier direction.

– My legs feel stronger and my arms are starting to do the same.

I say these things not to brag but to remind myself that my commitment to living healthier was never going to be a short term thing.  If I want these healthy changes to “stick”, I need to remember that I signed up for the long haul and just keep taking baby steps forward.

A New Stage

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” – Debra Ginsberg

Today was a life-changer.


My baby walked across the stage and received his diploma.  My youngest child graduated high school.


This is the end of an era, as they say.  For 18 years I have watched a child walk in to a K-12 school building.  18 years of field trips, permission slips, Friday folders, spelling lists, fundraisers, parent/teacher conferences, concerts, plays, musicals, projects, snow days, . . . four children, a countless number of teachers, friends, highs, and lows.  I have been a band mom, a soccer mom, a choir mom, a theater mom, a basketball mom, . . . you get the idea!!


These four have brought me more joy than I could ever have imagined.  They have made me laugh, tested my understanding and patience, proven that I am NEVER to old to learn and no one is ever too young to teach, and have filled my heart to bursting too many times to count.  I have NO clue what this new phase holds.  My eldest duckling (in the sunglasses next to her brother) has been living on her own for awhile and working a full-time, “grown up” job so I’ve already dipped my toe into the “empty nest” waters.  But I still had kids in school which felt comfortable.  Today all of that has changed.  I still work for the school district but that is just not the same as being a parent.

I’ve shed my tears through the “lasts” – last choir concert, last band concert, last large group contest, last musical . . . you get the idea – and I shed a few more today when he gleefully tossed his cap into the air.  I love my kids and am fascinated by the individuals they have become.  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of them but I would be lying if I said that I was not at least a little bit nervous about what it means for hubby and I as we tread these new waters.

Congrats, sonny boy.  I could not be more proud of the man you have become and I cannot wait to see what life holds for you!

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Out With the Old . . .

I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions.  I am all for trying to improve oneself.  But setting goals for an ENTIRE year seems a little overwhelming.  Instead of setting myself up to fail, I tend to reflect on the past year’s experiences – lessons learned, joys, frustrations, big moments, etc. – and then focus on writing down goals for the next weeks/months.  Short-term goals, long-term goals, whatever I need to move into new habits.  I revisit them every so often and “tweak” as necessary.  I may discover that I have reached a goal earlier than expected so I take that one off the list and add a new one!

With December just days from being over, I am still in “Reflection” mode.  I will move forward into the goal setting stage soon but for now, taking hold of lessons learned is the focus.


I was one of several people who took the “100 Happy Days” challenge.  This was an online campaign that encouraged people to use their social networking platforms and a “custom designed” hashtag to share the moments in their day that made them happy.  So I went to the site, registered my hashtag and spent 100 days looking for reasons to be happy.  Some days were busy and I missed posting so I caught up the next day.  On some days it was EASY to find things to post about.  Almost too easy – I had to narrow it down to just one or two things.  Some days were accompanied by a photo, others weren’t.  But on some days I had to looked hard – REALLY hard – to find one thing to be happy about.  But over those 100 days something interesting happened – I was happier!  Not goofy, laugh out loud, super perky kind of happy.  Maybe the better way to describe it was “joy-filled” or content.  On those days when almost everything went wrong except for that ONE happy moment, the old me would have grumped about all the bad.  But somewhere in those 100 days – which ended in late November – and in the days since, I look at the rough days, find the “happy” and think to myself, “It was a tough one today, but there was this!  This one shining moment in all the ick.  Today was happy.”  I cannot speak for others who took the challenge, but it definitely had an interesting impact on how I look at my circumstances.

Phases of Life

In the summer of 2014, my baby turned 18.  Every child in my family is now an adult.  The eldest is renting a place with a friend and working a full-time job (she’s such a grown up!), my second born is in her Senior Year of college and applying for graduate school next fall, my youngest daughter (child number 3) is in her Sophomore year of college and just recently got engaged (wedding in December 2015), and my baby is an adult and a Senior in high school.  For 23 years I have been a mother with dependent children living in my home.  That reality is shifting and hubby and I will soon enter that phase of life known as the “empty nest.”  It’s a bittersweet time.  The purpose of raising children is to see them spread their wings and fly.  It is what they are supposed to do.  And I am BEYOND proud of them for chasing their dreams.  But I do miss having them around.  I look at pictures from when they were little and get a little teary-eyed.  I know they need to move into their independence. I WANT them to move on. But I will miss them when they are gone!  It’s not bad.  Just different.

Choosing Who to Hear

I know I am not unique in this – I am so much quicker to hear and believe the negative things that people say about me than I am to hear and believe the positive things people say.  But the recent counsel of a friend drew my attention to that in a unique way this year – if one person criticizes something about me and five people pay me a compliment about the exact same thing, why on earth would I give more weight to the minority opinion?!  I didn’t have a good answer for her.  Thanks to that conversation – and a couple of others – I have been carefully choosing how I spend my time as far as the people I seek counsel from, those I interact with online, and those I spend time with.  Let me be clear – one negative comment does not get a person cut completely out of my life!  I do NOT want to surround myself with those who will not correct me when I need it.  But a pattern of negativity just might be a deal breaker.  It should not be a surprise that being selective about those who have access to my life has made a significant difference in my attitude, my focus, my emotional energy . . . I just feel better about life in general.  Thanks to some upcoming projects, I have been able to practice being selective and am committed to working with people who will hold me accountable, encourage me, challenge me, and hold me to a standard of excellence.

2014 wasn’t perfect.  The beginning of the year found me in a work situation that drained me emotionally, mentally and physically.  That situation has changed and I am absolutely IN LOVE with my work situation.  I have had the opportunity to work with local college, high school and middle school students in the performing arts and that is my FAVORITE thing to do!  Don’t get me wrong – there have been challenging people I’ve had to work with along the way.  But the joys far outweighed the frustrations and I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences for anything.

I’m excited to see what 2015 holds!  The baby graduates high school, my second born will start grad school, and we will add a son-in-law to the family just before the end of the year.  I have some short-term plans and long-term plans that I’m working on the details for.  There is also a project for Easter that involves working with another church here in town (which also means working with the Pastor’s wife, a darling woman named Toni who is becoming a treasured friend!).  I feel more emotionally and mentally sharp and focused than I have in years.  Maybe in forever.  This year I’ve had the chance to grow, succeed, fail, learn, try new things, take on new responsibilities, let “old things” go . . . I like where I am right now and look forward to what lies ahead!

Doesn't Have to Be This Way

Spent some time tonight working on music for the worship gathering this coming Sunday.  Had a friend there working with me which ALWAYS makes any music related event more fun!  We have recently made a couple of tiny changes to the way things are done on Sunday mornings.  I like it.  Oh, let’s be real.  I LOVE it.  Tiny steps but definitely in the right direction.  And I have this dear friend coming along for the ride and she brought her guitar with her!

The sad part is not every one likes the changes and some are getting downright cranky. Maybe even mean.  There are small changes going on in a couple of other places in the overall ministry as well.  These same people aren’t real thrilled about those changes either.

This dear friend – the musical friend I mentioned earlier – looked at me tonight and said, “It’s not great that it’s happening but it’s great that I’m getting a taste of what it can be like.  My hubby wants to be a pastor and this kind of stuff is just part of the package.”

She’s right – it’s not great.  In fact, it’s downright sad.  It doesn’t have to be like this.  Each Pastor’s wife brings a unique blend of gifts and passions into the church where her husband serves.  If those gifts and passions were embraced and she was free to put them to work where she felt led, imagine what might happen – new energy, new excitement, new ideas, hearts being touched . . . the possibilities are endless!  Instead, some people have specific ideas of what the Pastor’s wife/kids should or should not do and to step outside those parameters is venturing into dangerous territory.  Pastor’s families burn out in churches just as easily – maybe even more quickly! – than members of the clergy themselves.  Maybe if they felt welcomed, included, and free to use their gifts, they could be a better support system for the man in the pulpit and help him through the rough times in ministry so that he doesn’t burn out as quickly or maybe even not at all.

Is there a chance she might want to try something new?  Yep.  Is it possible that she might want to change the way something is done?  Yep.  And none of that is inherently bad.  Yes, a certain measure of tact and LOTS of conversation is needed before trying new things or making changes.  But simply shooting her ideas down out of hand or getting angry if others support her ideas is not what the church is supposed to be about.  Our focus is to be on sharing God’s love with others, not creating a country club atmosphere that caters to it’s most powerful or vocal members.

It’s just frustrating because it really DOESN’T have to be like this.  But the good news is I have my friend and her encouragement.  She is excited to be a part of the “new stuff” and her excitement is contagious even in the face of the crankiness.  So we will take another step in the right direction and deal with fallout – if there is any – when it comes.  It’s time to focus on the feedback from those who LIKE what is happening and just “keep serving.”

*Deep breath* I think I can do this.