Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Letter to My Teenage Self and My Teenagers

I have two teenage girls. If you have teenage girls you know what that means. While I was once a teenage girl myself, I will admit that while I do know what it is to be a teenage girl in the 80's I do not know what it is to be one in 2011. I have often thought to myself that I wish I knew then what I know now. If only right? My girls are a bit shy my oldest more so. They are quiet I was the same but only until I got to know you. Then as well as now, once I know you I never shut up. I can talk all day long one on one. There are a few things that if I could go back in time I would clue myself into about the future. So here is what I would let myself know just to make the transition a bit smoother. They are also things that I try to tell my children but I am mom and know nothing about being a kid.

Dear Teenage Me,

You are not crazy. Remember the movie Back to the Future? This is a bit like that. I've come to tell you that things are going to get so much better. The following are some things you should know.

1. Friends don't let friends get perms. Just don't do it. I know it's the style. I know that you think big hair is what is in. I also know you want to be Whitney Houston, but you are a white country girl with not a lick of wave in your hair. Plus when it's growing out there is nothing attractive about it.

2. Never be afraid to talk to people. You are a beautiful creation from God. You are worthy to speak to any of God's creations. People are just people. Anyone who doesn't see the beauty within doesn't deserve your friendship.

3. Join the band. Learning a musical instrument is not at all geeky. It is a lifelong skill. Someday when you are older while you may rock at air guitar and air piano, you will wish there were an instrument you could play.

4. The male species is not on the extinction list. There will always be boys. The right boy will support your dreams and encourage you to pursue them. He will also have dreams of his own. The right boy will dream along with you.

5. Do not be afraid to dream BIG. The country we live in was founded on big dreams. If you want to be a scientist be one. If you want to be ballerina be one. You can do anything you set your mind to and more. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I know you may not be reading anything but school books but pick up the bible. Read it and pray and ask for guidance. Here is a clue God's plan is always better than the one you have for yourself.

6. Someday you will say "because I said so", "shape up or ship out", and a slew of other things that drive you crazy about your mom. You may even forever traumatize them with the story of how they were born. But it's OK because it is entirely possible that they will become nuns because of it, thereby ensuring that you don't have to worry about teenage pregnancy. You will probably refer to "the good old days" and not be referring to the 50's or 60's.

7. Lycra is your friend and one day you will not be appalled by a push up bra, it will be your friend too.

8. Don't be a hurry to grow up. Once you are there you will be a grown up the rest of your life. Take time to be a kid. When you are a grown up try to remember how you used to collect willy worms and didn't gross out. You killed them in a jar of course but they were cool.

9. Television goes down hill in the future. Sitcoms disappear and scripted "reality shows" take over. Don't worry you can introduce your future children to good television via DVD. DVD is like VHS only cooler.

10. What goes up, must go down. Just remember that someday things will sag so take care of all your parts. If you take care of them it makes them easier to pick back up. (This is where the padded bra takes effect.)

I'm sure there are more. Things like be careful of the sun but stay in constant communication with the Son of God. People will come and go from your life but God will always stay with you. You are never ever alone. "Stay golden" (Outsiders reference)and "never stop reaching for the stars". (Yeah I looked that one up I was thinking Star Search)

Last but not least a good sense of humor is a terrible thing to waste.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Women, Waffle Cones, and Worship

Great speakers, fantastic music, fun with friends, even an surprisingly good lunch. Those are the things you get when you go to Women of Faith.

This my first Women of Faith I invited myself to go. Actually I heard some friends discussing plans at the ballpark and asked where they were going. They said Women of Faith and I said I always wanted to go. So I finagled an invite that way. But seriously I need to do that more often because I had such a good time.

I didn't have to drive, so bonus! Small town girl here likes small town roads. So four girls piled into a Honda and hit the open road to the big city. First stop? Gas station not for gas but for cappuccino. After we had our sustenance we were on our way. Our rebel of a driver had her Garmin all set up to get us to our destination. She ignored the Garmin for the first 45 minutes of the trip. Yet we made it there and found parking.

We had seats on the main floor. We found our seats and learned so much. We need our monkeys. You know friends to keep you from losing your mind? We laughed and we cried. Then we went to get our lunches. They provided our lunch and while we were herded like cattle to get to the food, once we had it, it was quite good. For dinner the first night we went to a restaurant. It was quite good and although they offered a variety of desserts at the restaurant, they did not have Edie's Ice Cream in a waffle cone. So at the facility where they were holding the event we got in line to get our ice cream right as they were taking waffle cones off of the menu. We did get our ice cream but without the homemade waffle cones.

The next day after lunch we decided to try for another Edie's ice cream waffle cone. The other 10,000 (OK maybe it was only 1000) women there decided the same thing. We stood in line for an hour for our ice cream. They had 10,000 women there laughing and crying they needed 10 ice cream stands. And maybe at least five stands with chocolate. They made 300 waffle cones that morning. They ran out of waffle cones so "10,000" women stood in line while they made waffle cones while we waited. Our mouths were watering at the thought of the fresh made waffle cones and ice cream. Here is something we didn't think of. Warm waffle cones and cold ice cream. Ice cream melts more quickly in a warm waffle cone.

One in our group ran down to see Natalie Grant perform. I told her I would get her ice cream and bring it down to her. I tried to wait for the friend who was waiting behind me. Truly I did. But the ice cream you see, it started melting down my hand. So I trotted right down and passed it off to her. Then sat with my own cone like a little squirrel and gobbled it right up. My friends didn't have quite the luck I did with their ice cream. It seemed to kind of explode on them. On the bright side they did buy new t-shirts so it turned out well in the end I think.

We got quite a work out going up and down the stairs. I quite expect that if I hadn't had two ice cream treats over the weekend I might have gotten some toning to the legs over the weekend. As it is I believe I need to do laps on my own stairs to make up for it.

I like to sing. I envision when I'm home alone singing like an angel. I do not sing like an angel. More like perhaps a screech owl? But the women on the stage could sing. Even the six year old girl that sang could sing better than I can. What can I say it's not my gift. But I do love to sing and sing along I did. Even if I didn't know the words. I tried to make a joyful noise. I think it's OK God knows my heart was in it and perhaps to his ears I don't sound so bad.

So a group of women went to Women of Faith. They laughed, they cried, they giggled, they ate waffle cones, and they worshiped. It was a great time and I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm sure not equipped, but am I called?

I have been getting a firm talking to I believe. I have often struggled with determining whether or not I am listening to me or God. How does one know? How do you determine if what you are thinking is God's will for you or your own will for your life. I have not the answer. All I can tell you is that I have been reading Quitter by Jon Acuff. This book is killing me...slowly. Do not misunderstand me. Mr. Acuff is brilliant. I really enjoy everything I have ever read by him. The problem lies in that I am struggling to get through this book that seems to be speaking to me directly. As if somehow Mr. Acuff interviewed my husband or perhaps by best friend who knows everything and did a case study based on my life.

If you know me you know that I am a reader. I read usually a book a week. This book is taking me weeks. Which is a problem because I have a stack of books waiting for me to get to them. I read this book and I have to stop and read portions of it to my husband or my best friend or one of my kids and say "does this sound familiar to you about me?" Let me be first to assure Mr. Acuff that he is not the first person to feel a need to seek counseling because of a blog. While my counsel has come from my friend Christi and not a professional, I too have recognized a problem within myself in this journey of writing. Checking stats can get out of hand. As if this weren't enough I just got back from the Women of Faith conference.

Can I just say here how much I LOVE Women of Faith. It was my first ever time attending and I cannot wait to go back. The speakers were great. The music was great. The company I was in was great. I loved every bit of it. Did you know that I am not the only person to struggle with fear? Because I was pretty sure I was the only one. I learned so much this weekend. Sheila Walsh said “With God you get to come as you are and you don't have to keep your tail straight.” Don't you just love that? For someone as broken as I have been, that just speaks to me. Nicole Johnson said “Often great value is found in the broken pieces.” Did you know that you could still be valuable even when you have been broken? Truly? I guess I knew that when in relation to other people. I can look at someone else and see so much potential. I think I could even speak to someone one on one (never in front of 10,000 people like these women did) and tell them that it's OK God knows everything. He knows your heart, He knows everything you've ever done, everything you've ever thought and He loves you anyway. He wants you to come to him anyway. He can heal your wounds. He can bind your heart. And while I know that that means me too, I tend to forget that. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. I went to church with friends. But you know what? I'm not nearly that special. My sins are my sins and your sins are yours but to God they are all just sins. None worse than the other, yet He wants me and you anyway.

I have talked to my friend Christi about all of this. I asked her how I was to know if it was God speaking to me or me speaking to me. She tried to explain it to me. She also said when I stop trying to put my rules on everything then I would be able to hear Him more clearly. I think mostly the fact that currently I am scared to death at the prospect of what I think He is telling me, it must be Him. Christi also reminded me that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. I'm still not sure what He is telling me to do. But I guess I better stop using the call waiting and the caller ID and just answer the call, whatever it is.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dreams, Attaboys, and Writing

I'm going to be 40. Not like tomorrow or anything, next year in fact. But it occurs to me that I am currently on the front porch of 40 soon to walk through that door and I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

When I was a kid I had all sorts of dream. I wanted to be a ballerina (too short and not enough talent), a fashion designer or buyer (textiles class? Really? I need to know about ALL of the different fabrics?), a hairdresser to the stars (because of course regular people wouldn't pay enough for me to do their hair. Keep in mind at the time I wanted to do this a hair cut cost $5.00), a jewelry designer with catalogs and people having home parties to sell it (turns out when money gets involved, making jewelry is a whole lot less fun. Also have you seen how many people are making jewelry these days? My mother-in-law even makes it).

I started a blog before I even really understood what a blog was. A neighbor suggested it so I made one. Then I sort of took off on it. Writing about whatever was on my mind or whatever story sounded like fun to tell. People started reading it, if you are reading this then you are one of them. Then people started making comments about maybe I should write a book. My family bought be publishing books for Christmas one year. I think I'm better with short stories I've said as much.

You see this is where the problem comes in. It's the Attaboys as Dave Ramsey calls them. My husband and I are doing the Dave Ramsey total money makeover. The attaboys have a place there because you can see where you are going. You can see where you are and how you are going to get to where you want to be. You pay something off you get an attaboy and you feel good about yourself and you want more of those attaboys. It works here.

You would think the attaboys would carry over into other aspects of life. Even as children we want to feel as though we are doing a good job. We bring home a good grade to please our parents. I fully get that. It just sort of backfires on me when it comes to things like writing or even making jewelry. Because I WANT the attaboys. I get to where I need them. I must be doing something wrong because I wrote something and nobody gave me my attaboy. Why? Then I just shut down. Thinking maybe I'm not supposed to be writing because I'm getting too focused on what other people think, instead of the actual writing.

Then I realize writing isn't the problem. I am. I lost focus. I forgot to do it because I love it. I looked for my attaboys instead of the joy of the process. I didn't start writing so I could write a book and become a New York times best seller. It may also just be one of many dreams I have had. Would that be cool? Absolutely! But it's as likely to happen as me winning the lottery I don't play. I write because I can't imagine not writing. Because it makes sense. Pressure and politics and worrying about publishing etc. it's just not me. I would need someone to walk me through all of that. Until then I'm just going to write because I love it. But if I ever win the lottery? I'll let you know.