Friday, January 24, 2014

just for fun

I feel like life has been a little heavy lately...

Okay, a LOT heavy...

big major questions and life altering answers...

not just in my family but in families all around us...

But I know that God promises abundant blessings on His people...

so, just a little bit of fun for you (and a major photo dump)...

 When you "blog" like I do, you get around to posting Halloween pictures in January... whatev.  Our Pocahontas had so much fun this year!
 Thank you, Chick-fil-A, for chicken tortilla soup and (on good tummy days) salad with your berry balsamic dressing.  Please keep these around forever.  Please?
 Once a week, I have the absolute privilege to volunteer with Lazarus Ministries at City of Refuge.  I get to play with the cutest kiddos while their mommas learn foundational financial concepts.  If you need to get plugged in with an amazing organization, contact Lazarus.  They are doing amazing things in our city!
 Okay, ya'll... this stuff is super addictive.  Maybe it's because Noonday Collection was started as an adoption fundraiser (and that speaks to this momma's heart) or maybe it's because their sole purpose is to help mommas around the world create pathways out of poverty for their own families... or maybe it's because their jewelry and accessories are just to die for beautiful... Whatever the case, I cannot get enough.  I wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing and holy cow do I love this jewelry!  Don't worry friends, I'll be having another trunk show soon!  **Spring Line debuts February 20th!**
 Again, because I'm an awesome bloggger (ha!), here's a picture of my sweet family... cutting down our Christmas tree!  It was a first for me but it was lots of fun!  You know it's gonna be a good time when you drive up and they literally hand you a saw through the window of your car!  :-)  This will be a tradition from here on out!  Very Clark Griswold... without the giant roots... or crazed squirrel... or Cousin Eddie. 
 My girl at a Georgia Tech football game this fall!  She was so thrilled that a real, live "chee-lee-dah" let her hold the big, gold pom pom!  It is always a fun family time on the Flats! 
And from the Chick-fil-A Christmas Open House... my sweet girl in Mr. Cathy's office... such an amazing family and incredible company to work for.  We are so thankful. 

Okay... hopefully those put a smile on your face... and if not, well... shop Noonday Collection's sale for some awesome deals right now!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

one year

It really is amazing what a difference one year can make! 

It was nearly one year ago that my baby stopped sleeping in her baby crib.

It was nearly one year ago that my girl had some scary health issues that landed us in the CHOA ER not once but twice in a matter of weeks.

It was nearly one year ago that we (more me than we but that's another post for another day anyway...) decided I would take a "part time", short term job.

It's been just over a year since my hubby had his first ever surgery.

It's been nearly a year since I was introduced to Jen Hatmaker.  (not literally... just her books and way of thinking...  I did actually meet her this past September... and I ugly cried... not my proudest moment.)

It's been about a year since I started listening to that whisper in my heart.  God was trying to get my attention.  It took about a year.  I'm hard headed.  :-)

My word for this year - wait - comes after a year of running... even racing... toward what I thought was right and good.

My intentions were well meaning but it was still I and ME instead of Him. 

Learning to lean into His will daily is difficult for this planner.  I like a full calendar of events and plans and To Do's but I'm learning that slowing down in order to listen... that's most important. 

"But what if God's will was never intended to be found?  In fact, what if it was never hidden from us in the first place?  What if God the Father has not sent his children on a cosmic Easter egg hunt to discover his will while he sits back in heaven saying, 'You're getting colder... warmer... colder...'?  And what if searching for God's will like this actually misses the entire point of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?"
from Follow Me by David Platt
 
I think this is what my waiting looks like this year... becoming more a disciple of Jesus and less Easter egg hunting for "God's will".
 
So, more of HIM... less of me... and in this time of waiting, I will choose His will daily... die to self...  love others... serve others...
 
"I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."  Luke 1:38
 



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One word for 2014

Happy 2014!  I hope your new year is off to a great start!

We had such wonderful holidays this year!  I don't know that they were really any different than years past but they were just perfect!  I was sad to take down our tree (or rather watch my hubby take down the tree) and pack it all away.  But now, it's a brand new year...

So all over the blogosphere I've seen people writing about their "Word for 2014".  Have you seen this?  So many posts about "rely" or "simplify" or any other admirable verb or adjective...  But of course, it got me thinking... 

Could I boil down all that I'm praying for and thinking about 2014 to just one word?

I honestly didn't think I could.  You see, I have a tendency to use LOTS of words so getting down to one seemed like a big task. 

But then, after much praying for God's will for this year and dwelling on His words and listening to wise and godly women... It hit me.

Wait.

That's my word for 2014.  Nothing super special or earth shattering for most but waiting for me is not my gift. 

Waiting means for me that truly not MY will but His be done... in my life... in my home... in my plans... in my marriage... in my family... in my hopes and dreams and prayers...

The word "wait" shows up all throughout scripture.  People were constantly waiting... for a sign... for a word... for instruction... for healing... for a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes... for an empty tomb.

They didn't always like waiting but they waited anyway.  And I feel the same way.  I don't like to wait.  I am not naturally a patient person (about most things) so waiting is difficult. 

But I feel so strongly that this is what the Lord is asking me to do in this season of my life.  Wait

Psalm 5:3 says "In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly."

I can wait expectantly.  The Lord knows my heart.  He knows my deepest desires and I continually lay them at His feet and wait expectantly. 

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"Lord I wait for You; You will answer Lord my God."  Psalm 38:15

But I do not believe that God asks us to wait without hope of an answer.  Without hope of the end to the time of waiting.  Without hope. 

So maybe I couldn't boil it down to one word... maybe it's two... wait and hope.

Praying and waiting expectantly for all that God will do in 2014.  For me, my family as well as you and yours. 


"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."  Romans 8:25

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

So many ideas!

Okay... so I'm not good at keeping this blog up to date on a weekly (or really even a monthly) basis.   Sorry!

But here is my list of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness ideas for this season.  It's never too late to start!  Pick one day and love on some people BIG! 

These are a combination of ideas from people that are smarter and kinder and more on top of things than me...
  • take treats to your local fire station or police station
  • leave treats on your front porch for your UPS/FedEx person
  • pop treats in your mailbox for your mail person
  • leave treats (in a big Ziploc bag) on your trash can for the men that take care of this for us!
  • leave a happy note in someone's driveway with sidewalk chalk :-)
  • deliver coffee or hot cocoa to people waiting on the bus
  • take treats to your doctor's office
  • leave happy notes (maybe with a candy cane?) on the bathroom mirrors at Target or Publix or Kroger
  • tape money to a vending machine
  • hide money around the Dollar Store
  • give hot cocoa to the Salvation Army bell ringer
  • take treats to post office employees
  • hide small bottles of bubbles around a park for kiddos
These are just a few ideas... come up with your own or steal these!  The point is to bless others during this Christmas season.  Slow down this busy time of year by thinking of others!



Have a wonderful time spreading Christmas kindness to unsuspecting people!  It's a lot of fun!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Change of plans...

I can't even believe that Thanksgiving is next week.  And then before I'll be able to turn around good, Christmas will be upon us!

This is my most favorite time of the year. 

Thanksgiving.  My birthday.  Christmas. 

This year I decided I wanted to have a birthday party.  Like a BIG birthday bash.  I'm turning 35 in a few weeks and I told my hubby that a party is what I wanted for my present. 

If you've known me for more than a few minutes, you know that birthdays are big deal to me!  Like a really big deal.  I love birthdays.  I love celebrating YOU on your special day.  Every other occasion on the calendar is shared, which is wonderful, but birthdays are just for the birthday girl or boy and I love that. 

But God is has such a great sense of humor.  (or I'm so hard headed it takes forever for me to get the message... let's stick with His sense of humor though, mkay?)

The invites had been emailed.  People knew it was coming up.  The menu was being planned.  Decorations had been purchased.

Then God spoke loud and clear...

Why is MY birthday about getting when it could be (and should be) about giving?

So... all the plans were canceled.  Scrapped.  Nixed.  Emails were sent canceling the whole thing.  Text messages were sent explaining that yes, everything was alright. 

Actually, everything was more than alright.  It was great. 

Now, my birthday will be spent blessing others. 

And actually the whole Christmas season will be spent blessing others with Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. 

This is not a new concept but every year, this one nearly included, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of my birthday and Christmas and presents and cookies and treats and decorating and twinkle lights and everything else. 

If you read real bloggers like Courtney Defeo or Laura Kelley or Tracie Johnson they've all said these same things... but much more eloquently.  (and if you don't, you should :-)

So, I'm focusing on kindness and blessing others and taking the focus off of myself and my "to do" list.  Wanna join me?  Or join Courtney on her Light 'Em Up 2013 challenge? 

I'll post my R.A.C.K. list tomorrow with some helpful hints about how I'm preparing so it works for my family.

Think about how you can spread Christmas cheer with Random Acts of Christmas Kindness this year!  The reward will be so worth it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

What do you do with chocolate chip cookies?

It was a fall day, much like the ones we have been having lately, when I sat at her kitchen counter.  I had been there before... drank her sweet tea before... talked about school and boys and life before... but on this day, it was different.

You see, I met the Leslie family six years ago during a difficult time in my life.  One major chapter of my life had ended and I was completely unsure of the next.  I knew that God was in control (thank you Jeremiah 29:11 among the others) but I like holding onto the map and at this moment, I didn't have a map.

So, at her kitchen counter I sat and witnessed the most amazing thing.  Mary Leslie made her middle child chocolate chip cookies to take to school.  Not break-and-bake cookies but actual, honest to goodness, homemade, with Crisco and all, chocolate chip cookies. 

This may not seem like a big deal but in the house I grew up in, I never saw cookies made from scratch.  Much less that much time and effort put into a school snack.  My house was different.  But this house... this mom... well, I liked this kind of different. 

There was more to it than just the chocolate chip cookies.  There was an openness and a sense of understanding and peace that prevailed.  There wasn't any judgment to be found.  Only love... and cookies and sweet tea. 

Throughout the years these cookies have been a symbol to me of the love that Jesus has for me.  He doesn't take the easy way out.  He puts in the time and effort and energy and most importantly, the love, that is required for homemade goodness.  He gives me this love when I don't deserve it and haven't done anything to earn it.  He gives me His best because He loves me.  That's it.  No strings.  No frills.  No buts.  He loves me and because of His love, I love Him. 

So... what do you do with chocolate chip cookies?

One thing I know about Mary Leslie's cookies is that they don't go to waste!  You better be there when they come out of the oven or you may miss out!  I've never seen (or heard of) Mary hoarding her cookies for herself but rather she gives them away.  All of them. 

Jesus's love for me is the same way.  Now that I know the love that can only come from our perfect Father in heaven, I have to give it away.  I can't keep it to myself and store it up like cookies from a kid.  It is so amazing and life changing that it must be given away if it is to be worth anything!

How do you do this?  How do I do this?  Well, I think the answer to this question is just as perplexing as asking it in the first place.  Are you at a place where you actually want to step out of your comfort zone and give away what is most dear to you?  If so, then I would suggest reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker and Radical by David Platt and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  All of these books answer this question... Jesus loves me, this I know... now what do I do with it?

For me, this means standing up for my convictions.  It means talking about what Jesus has done in my life when it's not necessarily trendy.  It means inviting people in to my home and beginning relationships.  It means telling my girl over and over and over again that Jesus does love her and He calls us to love others.  It means writing scripture on my wall, literally, as a reminder of His homemade goodness and mercy and grace. 

Now, what will you do with chocolate chip cookies?  My prayer is that you will give them away.  And give away the love Jesus has given you at the same time!

"let us not love in words or speech but with actions and in truth."  ~ 1 john 3:18

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

First World Problems

A sweet friend (who knows me so well) sent me this article today and well.... it hit the spot.  Like that organic frozen yogurt on a semi-hot day in my air-conditioned SUV... It hit me square between the eyes.  So, because I am so kind, I thought I'd share it....  Then, if you dare, pick up 7 by Jen Hatmaker or  More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger or Radical by David Platt or any other host of turning-my-world-upside-down (or maybe right side up?) books.  But only if you dare. 

Enjoy.

In a recent TODAY moms survey, 42% of mothers say that they "sometimes suffer from Pinterest stress." According to Today.com, "Symptoms include staying up until 3 a.m. clicking through photos of exquisite hand-made birthday party favors even though you'll end up buying yours at the dollar store, or sobbing quietly into a burnt mess of expensive ingredients that were supposed to be adorable bunny cookies for the school bake sale."
This is what I like to call, first-world problems. Mad because those Valentines you spent two weeks making for your kid's party were outdone by another mom? First-world problems. Your teen refused to wear a coordinating shirt for your carefully-crafted family pictures? First-world problems.
I'll admit it: I've been sucked in by the radiating allure of Pinterest and the joy it promises. My DIY bangs turned out to be a hack job. My super-easy gingerbread men on a stick looked like the walking gingerdead. And that awesome no-fail dessert everyone was pinning failed on me. It turned into soup. And our guests, because they are Midwestern, politely insisted on sampling it and sipping their cake from their bowls like stew.
"Well, it tastes like pudding," our friend kindly said. They haven't been over since. I think Pinterest is trying to kill me. But you know what? First-world problems.
I tell this to my daughter. She is two and blonde and beloved by a whole host of wonderful people. So, when she cries because her strawberry pancakes have too many strawberries or because I turned off "Mickey Mouse" -- and not just cries, but throws herself to the ground in a righteous rage -- I have three words for her before I walk away: First. World. Problems.
lyz lenz
Right after I got married, "The Today Show" ran a segment on post-wedding depression, a condition where brides sink into a malaise because they are no longer the center of attention. "You know what I call that?" My dad said when I showed him the article, "Whiny girl disease!" Now, I'm a mom and we're all whining over mommy wars and Pinterest stress and all those things that well-fed, middle class people with iPhones have to worry about.
Mommy wars? You know who has mommy wars? Women with enough time and disposable income to bemoan the fact that others are "judging" them for how they feed their kids? Pinterest stress? That's what you get when you need a problem.
I'm raising children in a privileged world. We have food. Money to save for an education. At 2, my daughter has a room that is bigger than any room I've ever occupied in my life. We can afford the fancy Easter dress. When we have a bad day, we can afford to get a special treat. I'm glad I'm raising a child in this environment. In fact, my husband and I waited to have kids just so we could do things like take vacations to Florida. But now that we are here, I wonder if we really are doing things the right way...
I remember as a teenager, I was upset because my parents promised to let me see a movie and then back-pedaled at the last second. I was like North Korea with a missile. "That is so unfair!" I whined. "At least have the decency to live up to your promises."
My dad lost it. "You know what's unfair? Having to make funeral arrangements for your older sister who died at 17 because your parents were too grief-stricken to handle it."
I should have stopped. But I didn't. "That's hardly the standard we should apply to this situation..."
"GET TO YOUR ROOM!"
I lost that fight and I'm glad I did.
And while I don't ever want my daughter to feel the pain of real trouble, I wonder just how I can raise a human in this blessed environment, where she is completely inoculated against such petulant, whiny diseases. Pain, of course, is relative. And having financial security doesn't protect against real problems. But how do I teach my children that petty problems aren't worth their time? That failure makes you stronger and that social media-induced ennui means you should probably shut the computer and read a book -- a real book.
I'm not saying this to be cruel. I love my children. I want what is best for them with every fiber of my being. But every temper tantrum over the fact that I bought off-brand Goldfish Crackers makes me see the bigger picture.
I don't know the answer to how to raise a kid who isn't whiny and annoying and who doesn't think that Pinterest stress is really a thing worth lamenting. But I do know that as a parent, it begins with me. I set the limits. We won't do Elf on the Shelf because mom has enough trouble getting cookies baked over Christmas. The tooth fairy only brings a quarter. There is no adjustment for inflation. Your birthday cake will probably always come from the store, as will your Valentine's cards for school. I didn't buy baby moccasins because the ROI on that investment was one good Instagram picture. Your food won't be all organic. Yes, I used formula. Walk to school. There is no second breakfast or special dinner for you. I don't do grocery cart covers or antiseptic wipes. I don't care if that kid took your toy, get it back yourself, that's street justice. I don't care if the neighbor sneezed on you, the flu happens. Time out occurs at anytime or anywhere, so be on alert.
This is where we begin.
My refusal to compare myself with the other mother I see on the Internet and to build a life that embraces the important and repels the petty. And I only hope that lesson extends. If not, I am building a backlog of "Oh, you want to see not fair?" lectures. Just in case.
This post originally appeared on LyzLenz.com