Friday, August 31, 2012

Fragments. Guests. Laughs. Worship.

Mommy's Idea 

Just a few quick thoughts to get out there for you today...


I want guest posts, please!!!  I am wanting to highlight some fellow bloggers and give non-bloggers the opportunity to share their thoughts/opinions/story.  If you are interested, please email me a submission this weekend- by Monday at the latest.  Any topic, length is fine with me.  If it's wholly inappropriate, I just won't publish it.  Email me - gentlemomlc on gmail.


You need a laugh.  So go check out the video of my son- you won't see him but you'll certainly hear him.  Be sure to watch until the end!!  It's on my Facebook page...


I am SUPER EXCITED for next week!!!  I am going on something of a vacation... but it's a vacation with an agenda and not a relaxation time.  I'm traveling to Orlando, to Disney, for the Experience Conference with my friend, pastor, and worship leader (Jennifer).  I know that this is going to fill up my soul and set my heart on fire!!!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Teaching My Children To Be The Light

We have spent a lot of time giving our children words about their blessings.  We have tried to use words to help them understand how lucky they are- that they have a home, 2 parents who love them, food and clothing and that they have all of their needs met without hesitation.

But putting a face to what they've been imagining is a different experience.

I think Teagan had begun to imagine that someone who was poor would look a certain way- like Little Orphan  Annie or something.

I don't think Zach has formulated a specific picture in his mind.  It's more ideological for him at this point.

Our church is part of a network of churches that assists the Indianapolis Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN).  IHN has a Day Center and relies on their partnering churches of various faiths and denominations for care of the IHN families at night.  IHN is a program that assists homeless families. This is how the program works (from the website):

On Sunday afternoon, the network van arrives at the host congregation with beds and families’ personal belongings to be set up in a designated space, such as classrooms.
Guest families arrive at the host congregation Sunday evening. Families settle in and become acquainted with the volunteers and facility.  Dinner is served family style as guests and volunteers share the meal together. Families are responsible for their children and help with cleanup and chores.
After dinner, some congregations offer activities while others offer free time before turning in for bed. An overnight host volunteer(s) stays at the facility overnight and assist guests with breakfast & departure to the Day Center the following morning. Food is available for guests to make lunches to take to the Day Center.
Families leave for the Day Center at 7Am weekdays and 8AM weekends. Children go to school and parents to work. If guests are unemployed, they work with the Director to seek employment, housing and other resources designed to help them regain independence.  Guests are transported back to the hosting congregation each evening.
The following Sunday, families pack their beds and belongings and leave the facility.   They are transported to the Day Center and are picked up that afternoon by the next hosting congregation.

Our church has hosted IHN families a few times in the past year.  We have learned that our building is not best suited for the overnight piece of hosting so we partner with a church that does have the facilities and our congregation does the work- providing meals, fellowship, activities, and so on.

Our church has a regular mid-week event called Wednesday Night ConneXion.  We have dinner together and then break into small groups for Bible studies, spiritual growth groups, and so on.  When we are hosting IHN, we bring the IHN families to ConneXion for dinner and small group time.  

I have not been able to make it work to where my family has been able to be involved with IHN beyond donating things needed for the week.  The weeks have always fallen at a time when we aren't around.  

Last night, we were at church with the IHN families.

I had known about it, of course.  Part of what I knew was that some of the moms were excited to learn that we had Zumba at church that Wednesday night- they hadn't done it and were eager to try it out.  And we ended up having a blast and shared a lot of laughter!

I didn't say anything to my kids about the guests who were going to be there.  I didn't make them different or have them stand out.  My kids were aware we had guests and, as is common in our church, our guests were invited to the front of the line to get their dinners.  Everything about the evening was just a normal church night from the perspective of my kids.

As we were driving away, Teagan noticed the group standing by the van that transports them from church to church and to the Day Center.  She asked if they were a large family.

And our drive home ended up being a very serious and loving conversation about homelessness.  

My children were both very sad.

My daughter cried.

We talked about these families who are in this program and that they are fortunate to have this help.  We talked about the man I saw when I was staying downtown last weekend- as I walked to my hotel, there was a homeless man lying on the sidewalk in an alcove against a building.  I think of him and pray for him often and wonder what I can do to help him.  

And once we got home and were getting ready for bed, the conversation came around to issues we've had with Teagan being mean to other kids.  

Because there were a couple of little girls there who looked like any other kid at church, like any other kid at school.  And my daughter came to realize that you don't know someone's story.  That the reason why Mommy and Daddy are always striving to be kind to others and why we want her and Zach to be kind to others, especially when it's hard to choose kindness, is because you don't know if that little girl doesn't have her own bed to sleep in... doesn't have a Daddy at home... has a Mommy who hurts her... doesn't have enough food... you just never know.  And since we don't know someone else's story, it is always best to choose love and kindness.

My daughter learned an important lesson last night about compassion.

My son shared his heart with his family when he was able to tell us that he wanted to cry for the man I saw downtown.

It was hard to see reality hurting my kids.  But it warmed my heart that their response was compassionate and not something they just brushed off as something not connected to them.

The next step is important.  I don't want my kids to just have this one experience and move on.  A friend at church shared that someone she knows from another church has bags they make to take to homeless people.  I want to find out what is in those bags and see if it is something we can do as a family.  Make some bags and go downtown and see if we can't bring some care and compassion to a few people.  

I'm reading up on ideas of these "blessing bags" and have started a shopping list:

Cereal bars, granola bars, sandwich crackers, water, new socks, travel sized toiletries (I have a stash of hotel items!), fast food gift cards, toothbrushes, toothpaste (going to contact a couple of dentists I know for this one), combs, wet wipes, and notes that let the recipient know that they are loved and that someone is praying for them.

This Labor Day, I think my family is going to take on a labor of love and make bags and take them downtown.  I want my kids to learn and experience compassion but, more than that, I want them to put those feelings into action.  Words are powerful, feelings are forming- but action is what makes a difference.

Isaiah 58:10

New International Version (NIV)
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

I want my children to learn to be the light.  And I want to be the light in action more than I am.

Matthew 5:14 says, "You are the light of the world- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden."    That's from the Sermon on the Mount.  It's where you find the Beautitudes- blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the meek, etc.  It's where Jesus spoke to His disciples about being the salt of the earth, being the light, being leaders.  It's this sermon where Jesus told them to turn the other cheek and to love your neighbors as well as your enemies.

How can you be the light to someone today?  How can you be the light this weekend?  In your family?  In your community?  And even to yourself?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Think, Believe, Do

Philippians 4:11-13
New International Version (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians is a book of the New Testament.  It is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Philippi.  Paul writes the letter from jail, where he is waiting for his fate to be determined.  He is waiting to find out if he is going to die and he writes a letter to the Philippians and in it tells them that he has learned to be content in any circumstances.

At Women of Faith this past weekend, Marilyn Meberg spoke about Paul and contentment and gave a message that really spoke to me.  Here is what I took from her talk...

Like Paul, we can learn to be content.  Content is the state that we should be aiming for, content should be the norm.  Happy and sad and angry and frustrated and other feelings are temporary blips on the contentment radar.  Those blips have a beginning, middle, and end.  Content remains steady.

And when I am faced with a situation that challenges my contentment?  I have to look at what I think, what I believe, and then decide what I am going to do.

This is where I get myself in trouble.  I've become someone who gets very caught up in my thinking.  The thoughts in my head are my first and immediate reaction to what is going on around me.  I know that I have been getting caught up in my thinking, overwhelmed inside my own head.  And it has reached some pretty low levels.  I've had anxiety attacks because I've gotten caught up in my head.  I've turned to alcohol too often to unwind because I'm caught up in my thinking.  I let all this thinking in my head impact too much of my life.

Most of all, I have been getting very caught up in "Stinkin' thinkin'."  When faced with stress, more work, complaints, frustration... my thoughts get negative and defeatist and sometimes they get kinda grandiose in the negative department.  That's when I end up feeling like the world is caving in on top of me.  That's when I'm frustrated up to my neck and end up having a couple of large glasses of wine after the kids go to bed.  That's when I come home cranky, exhausted, worn thin and my family doesn't get the best me that they deserve.

What I am thinking doesn't add up to what I believe.

What I believe:

God's got me covered.  I can handle anything because He strengthens me.

I am smart, a hard worker, capable, and an asset to my workplace.

I love my kids and my husband and my friends.

I am a good mom and a good wife and am consistently striving to be better.

When I start thinking all my negative thoughts in reaction to... an email from my boss, work not getting done, phone calls from internal customers... I need to stop and check my thinking to my beliefs.

"There is no possible way I can get this all done.  Who do they think I am?  Don't they know that I have 50 million other things to do?  Why won't anyone just tell me what is going on?!?!"

"I am smart, capable, and can organize this work load.  I can work to the best of my ability each day."

Then comes the Doing.

Once I sort through the thinking and believing, I have to figure out the Do piece of the equation.  Sometimes, doing nothing might be my best option.  Sometimes, doing something Big might be what is best.  But because I have cleared out the stinkin' thinkin' and have filtered those thoughts through my beliefs, I now have a clear head to figure out what to do.

Make a list of what I need to get done.

Take 5 minutes to walk and clear my head.


Think.  Believe.  Do.

Proverbs 18:15

The Message (MSG)
 15 Wise men and women are always learning,
   always listening for fresh insights.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interruptions (@MarkAlanLowry)

I became something of a crazy fan girl at Women of Faith.  It isn't my normal reaction to meeting someone "famous."  I haven't met a lot of famous people- but I don't get excited about or try to meet famous people, either.

But a couple of weeks ago, someone shared a quote by a guy named Mark Lowry.

I loved it!  It really resonated with me and with the things I believe and the things I've written about.  So I went and read all about this Mark Lowry guy.  Found out he sings with the Gaither family.  Found out he tweets and is a socialcam guy.  Found out he was coming to Women of Faith in Indianapolis!

I was excited.  I thought it would be really... refreshing... to hear from this guy and what he had to bring.  I was eager for his humor and his voice.  And I wasn't disappointed.  And what he spoke about really spoke to me.

He finished his talk and they were getting ready to go into a break.  A few of my friends and I opted to make a dash to the potty before the lines formed.  We exited our section and I realized that we were seated right in front of the area that would be the space for speakers and musicians and other presenters to do signings and meet and greets at scheduled times.  And I saw a sign that indicated Mark Lowry would be there at this coming break.

I thought... you know, his talk really spoke to me and I did find so much of what I've read about him to be refreshing.  I think I'd like to just shake his hand.

I really was all calm like that.

Until he walked in.

And then I got all crazy excited.  And I maybe pointed at him as he walked past me and I maybe screeched at him "It's yoooooou!!!" And I got to step up to the table to meet him and have my poorly-lit picture taken with him and I kind of went all crazy.  I suddenly started talking about 90 mph and was gesturing and I might have giggled a lot, too.  It's kind of all a blur now.  But it went something like this...

Mark: Hi, what's your na...?

Me: OhMyGosh! I can't believe it's you! It's really you! I am your newest but biggest fan- you have no idea. I didn't even know who you were a week ago and then someone posted this quote from you on Facebook...

Mark: The "love the sinner, hate your own sin" one?

Me: YES! That was IT! And I thought I have just got to know more about you so I went and read a bunch of stuff about you and liked everything I saw and then found out that you were going to be HERE in INDY and I was SO EXCITED and I just LOVED what you did out there and... *deep breath*  I totally follow you on Twitter and I'm a blogger and I am soooooo gonna blog about this!!!!

Mark: (signing the restraining order) Well, make sure you tweet me the link!

OK.  So.  I thought I was calm in my head and then... I didn't even get to say what I wanted to say but that was because I had no clue what I wanted to say or how to articulate it.  I wanted to ask him to go have a cup of coffee with me because I really wanted to know if his heart was as true as the words I was hearing from him.

And even though I turned what could have been something poignant and meaningful into something crazy and fun (at least for me and my friends- we all had a good laugh at my antics.  Hopefully I was memorable...), the best part of the story is what I got from Mark's talk.

Last year, Women of Faith was very emotional for me.  And it was what I needed at that time.  This year, I've ridden the emotional train long enough and need more concrete help.  I get all the emotional stuff and I fully understand the stress that I've been under and the impact it is having.  I feel like I keep turning to God but that I'm missing something or that I'm not getting something right because there has been no change.

And then I got a nudge that I need to change how I'm praying.  Me and my nudges- when I get one, I've learned that I had better listen.  This one was that I needed to stop praying for myself.  I've been praying for wisdom and patience and strength.  My prayers are different now.  Because I'm fine.  The Big Guy's got me. I am wise and patient and strong.  My prayers are now focused on the decision makers in my company.

So as I came to Women of Faith, I knew I was hoping for something specific, something concrete, something to really help me keep moving forward through this "new normal" that life has become and shows no signs of stopping.  I figured I would end up with another emotional release.  But I got what I hoped for- I got what I came for.

Mark spoke about Interruptions.  He spoke about the story of Jesus and his mother, Mary, and the interruptions that their lives encountered.  He said that interruptions are when God sticks His head in.

Woah.  That one hit me.  Interruptions are when God sticks His head in.

I had been tooling along, living a content life, generally happy with things.  Then the work world blew up and it hasn't gotten better and has actually gotten markedly worse and is going to keep getting worse before there is even a chance of potentially seeing how it could get better.  God stuck His head in.  I didn't plan on taking on huge amounts of more work.  God stuck His head in.  I didn't plan on my department and my friends being impacted by a deep layoff.  God stuck His head in.

And I started looking back at other times when God has pushed me past my comfort zone, other times that He's stuck His head in and interrupted my life.  I was living my life with purpose, I was doing what He asked, I was on it... and then there would be an interruption.  Like a call to lead a children's choir or like starting a healthy living group or like inviting people to church or like preaching through my blog or other avenues about love...

All of this work stuff- it's a bunch of interruptions.  From big things like added responsibilities and layoffs to smaller things like someone else's project becoming number one on my plate.  Interruptions.  And I can grumble and groan and stress about it or I can accept that there is a reason for this interruption.  I can't see it, I don't get it.  But I know it to be true.

Ever notice that when we look back on interruptions, we often see the silver lining?

So my focus is on seeing the interruptions for the blessings, the silver lining, or at least recognizing God's hand in what feels uncomfortable or stressful...

And one last quote to leave you from Mark Lowry-

"If your Jesus is a condemning Jesus, you've got the wrong guy! Fire him!"


Monday, August 27, 2012

Must Be Doing Something Right

Yesterday, I asked each of my kids a question that could have some really hard to hear answers.

"What can Mommy do to be a better Mommy for you?"

I wasn't sure what answers I would get.  I feel like I haven't been the best Mommy lately.  I'm quick to yell, I'm worn thin, I'm tired, I'm stretched in too many directions.  I'm not as patient and loving and fun as I'd like to be.

But that's in my eyes.

I expected to hear things like...

I want you to yell less.

I want you to hug me more.

I want you to be around more.

Things that would be hard to hear but, in my eyes, realistic.  I want to yell less.  I want to hug more.  I want to be around more.

The words that came from my beautiful children... put a smile on my face and warmed my heart and made me laugh.

I think I passed my job reviews with my little managers.

"You could be a better Mommy if you gave us more ice cream!"

I must be doing something right- in their eyes.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Weekend of Celebration!

Friday and Saturday, I attended the Women of Faith event.  Last year, it had a big impact on me.  This year, I took away some very concrete things and had a good cry once.  I'll be sharing some of those concretely good things that I took away very soon.

Today, I have a very specific something to celebrate and I hope you'll celebrate with me!

To disconnect from all areas of stress in my life and be completely open to inspiration and time to praise God as a lead in to my birthday was awesome.

I slept 11 hours last night.

Teagan woke me with a huge and birthday greeting this morning.

My kids and my husband had cards and a gift they'd picked out for me.

Birthday greetings coming in on Facebook.

Sharing a birthday with a good friend and having a lunch plan with her today.

Knowing that the important things in life come from interruptions, knowing that I have some concrete points to ponder to help me face work on Monday, knowing I have friends who love me and support me, knowing my husband is by my side in all that life brings our way, knowing I have a daughter who is smart and fierce, knowing I have a son who is funny and joyful...

Knowing I have so much in my life to celebrate, knowing I am so incredibly blessed...

It is most certainly a happy birthday- starting with a good morning!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Finding the Routine

Oh my.

I had forgotten how hard the transition back to routine can be.

We were smart and the kids stayed on the same basic schedule over the summer as they do during the school year.  Bedtime, waking time, out the door time remained constant.

But there were still transitions that occurred and it got UGLY last night!

The first week of school was a 3 day week.  Jeff was off to fight dragons and hangout with Wil Wheaton as a True Dungeon Dungeon Director at GenCon so I had the kids and their routines all to myself.  And it really went pretty smoothly.

Last night was our first school night with all of us in the home and having to do our school night routine.  Teagan had homework.  Zach needed a bath.  We had dinner out.  Daddy handled the pick ups from school at the end of the day.

There was an undercurrent of some chaos because we didn't know who was doing what.  We will soon fall into a pattern and have expectations but we aren't there yet.

And it resulted in two very tired children hitting the wall at the same time- right at the "lay down and get tucked in" point of the bedtime routine.  Screaming, crying, yelling.  (Them, not me.  But I was tempted to join in- it seemed very cathartic.)  And eventually, we separated them to different rooms and let them cry themselves to sleep.

My blood pressure definitely took some spikes last night.  The irrational meltdown doesn't sit well with me.  I don't appreciate it as a response.  Logically, I understand that the meltdown isn't a true response to what is happening right now- it's a build up of anxiety or whatever.  I get that.  But when it happens, it sparks my own emotional response and I will say that I am not proud of how I typically react.

One of my parenting strengths is figuring out that there is an issue and putting a system in place to fix it.  And I think the main thing we have to do is make sure the routine is filled with set expectations of what has to get done each evening.

We keep a corkboard at kid level in our hallway next to the kids' bedroom.  It's where I post anything that needs the family's attention.  Over the summer, we kept a schedule sow e knew what each person had going on day to day.  We've used it for chore charts, too.

And now I'm going to add a "Start the School Year Right" list so that everyone in the family knows how the evening is supposed to move along.

What tools do you use to keep your family or yourself on task and on track when dealing with transitions?

(This is also hugely pertinent to my current work situation as we are in a huge state of transition due to layoffs and massive computer system changes- both of which have major impact on the work I do each day.)


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Up, Up and Away @ConnerPrairie

The kids and I ended up on a special adventure yesterday!  We knew it was going to be a fun day- we got haircuts by our favorite stylist (Sassy Sally at Sola Salons), went out for lunch and ice cream, and then decided to spend the rest of the day at Conner Prairie.

Through a twist of fate, we ended up on a special adventure thanks to a friend.  From our house and neighborhood, we often see the Conner Prairie balloon - 1859 Balloon Voyage.  We've never had the chance to go up in the balloon- it's not usually flying when we are there due to weather.  Today was our lucky day!

But we started our day with a fun visit to 1836 Prairietown.  We haven't been to CP this summer and they have made some great changes to really add to the interactive piece of the history park.  We stopped by the "Outfitter" and selected a seek and find book.  This was perfect for my kids.  We had a description and drawing of a building to find and then questions to ask of the people in that building.  We visited a home, the blacksmith, the store, and the school.

Zach's always happy when he finds a map.  He loves to see where we are on the map and where we've already been.

In the school... she looks appropriately bored.

We headed to the balloon area and were excited to find a very fun exploration area set up.  You could learn about the balloon and the history of flight but the part we really enjoyed was the photo area!

And then there was the trip up to 377 feet in a tethered balloon... with incredible views!

But perhaps the best find was the playground behind the balloon experience area.  This was a fantastic playground where kids are encouraged to take risk, be courageous, and have serious fun!

Our membership is up in 2 weeks.  We hadn't been all summer and I think today sealed the deal- we will definitely be renewing!

Unknown Mami


Thursday, August 16, 2012

If I Could Spend 1 More Day @IndyStateFair

I'm thinking I will take the kids to the Indiana State Fair one last time this Saturday.  It's closing weekend so it's the last chance and there is still stuff I haven't enjoyed!

My one regret this year is that I didn't have an opportunity to take a day to go to the Fair without children.  I won't be able to spend a lot of time in the Home & Family Arts Building or sitting and watching demonstrations.  It has been better than I expected to have the kids with me each time but I still miss my one day when it's just me and Christy or other adult companions.

There are just 4 days left and there is plenty to see and not miss!!

There are 3 admission deals left- 2 for today and 1 for Sunday.

AAA DAY: Hoosier AAA members receive free admission on Aug. 16 when they show their valid membership card at the gate. One valid AAA card per person.
FREE ADMISSION FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL AND FAMILIES: The State Fair is honoring our current and former members of the Armed Forces by offering free admission for them and family members on Thursday, Aug. 16 , with presentation of a military I.D.
$2 DISCOUNT ON PEPSI NEXT DAY WITH PEPSI BRAND CAN: All visitors who bring any Pepsi brand can on the fair’s final day, Sunday, Aug. 19 will receive $2 off gate admission.

Things I have enjoyed on my visits that I think are really must-see or do:

Super Dogs - These dogs are eager to run fast, leap high, and put on a great show!  It's audience interactive and tons of fun!  Teagan's favorite part was after the show when the audience is invited to stay after and meet the Super Dogs. (Celebration Park- by the 4H Buildings)

Flippenout Trampoline Show - This was awesome!!  There were 3 guys and they did an incredible show!  Go to the link and scroll down for a video of what they do.  It's hard to describe the set up.  One of the really cool things about the show is that one of the jumpers was an Olympic athlete and another holds many titles and another has gone to the Olympic trials.  These are people who are serious about this sport- but also recognize the fun of the trampoline.  (Family Fun Park)

We didn't see the Rainforest show in the Family Fun Park but we did enjoy seeing the animals on display- parrots and some really interesting rainforest animals.

While you're in the Family Fun Park, head towards the back and get a lemon shake up from the best lemon shake up booth at the fair (in my humble opinion).

If you are heading to the Fair today, stop by the Farm Bureau Building for A Taste of Indiana Farms!  It's one of my favorite events in years past.  There will be a line but it moves smoothly.  You get samples at each booth as well as recipes and learn about some interesting products farmed in Indiana.  Everything from bison to watermelon to honey!  There is also a 1:00 talk at the DNR Building about the Underground Railroad in Indiana that I think would be very interesting.

If you are heading to the Fair tomorrow, check out Percheron Thunder at 5:00 in the Pepsi Coliseum.  Beautiful animals!  If horses aren't your thing, head over to Farm Bureau Building for the auctioneer calling contest! You can also check out the roller derby at 7!  I'm also intrigued by something called "Pack of Chihuahuas" at the Main Street Stage from 5:30-7.  And there is a Beatles tribute band at 8 on the Free Stage.  A lot to do on a Friday evening!

If I go on Saturday, I want to make sure to hear some music at the Pioneer Village barn, check out dance groups at the Ford Dance Stage, and maybe stay long enough to see Percheron Thunder at 4:00.  Saturday is also the baton twirling contest in the Farm Bureau Building and 4-H Dog Show Top Dog Test at 11 in the West Pavilion.  I also need to walk through the Expo Hall, check out the Lego display in the Home & Family Arts Building, have another ear of corn and maybe a sweet treat like deep fried oreos and I haven't had nearly enough Dairy Bar chocolate milk and I want another glass of tomato juice in the Ag/Hort Building...


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Day of School

Distracted by a neighborhood cat...

Grins... and still distracted by that cat...

Goofy grins...

Standing tall

My 2nd Grader

My K Prep Student

And they were all smiles coming home at the end of the day!