Monday, October 20, 2014

For you the Single Parent

This picture captures that time in our life. 

I dedicate this post to single parents everywhere. Whether your spouse is in the military and that makes you like the single parent or the one whose spouse travels all the time so you are a single parent most of the time. Sometimes you can be married and still your spouse is not doing what they are suppose to or carrying their weight. Just because you are married does not guarantee you have someone helping you in the way it should be. 

This is a 31 day series that I am participating in even though I started late! Go here to see more 31 dayers. I encourage you to take the time to visit and find a blog that inspires you or teaches you something! Also, Go here for more post in this series of 31 days Brave. Then if you want to read the first 31 I participated in go here. 

Yesterday we were blessed to have late lunch plans with some wonderful friends. We were celebrating Jeff's birthday! Jeff & Tiffany are part of a group that we call our "first friends" that we made here in the Austin area. Such a blessing to see them again and celebrate Jeff.  The events made me think about all our "first friends" and everything that has taken place over the last few years.

Several years ago my husband lost his job. Among many others in our area where we lived at the time. He was without a job for 10 months. Our church, family and friends carried us during that difficult time. My husband was sought after from a head hunter to take a contact job here in the Austin area. It was not permanent. September 7, 2010 he was to report to his new job. I stayed behind since we knew it was not permanent. Obviously, it became permanent since we are all here now! I wanted to talk about that hard decision we had to make as a family that we were going to be apart for a long time. In the beginning, he did come home on the weekends but it was hard. He would leave on a friday night and leave again early monday mornings to get back to Austin. That is tough on anyone. You do what you have to for your family. Our son at the time was only 2 so he was in a mother's day out program and I had my little jobs plus keeping up with our house. It was tough. In October they quickly wanted to hire my husband for a permanent position. Since there were fees involved the earliest he could be hired officially was February 2011.

I brought you up to speed to let you take a peek into what would be one of the toughest seasons of life for our family. Maybe you already feel the feelings surrounding this situation or maybe you can relate to it because you are there now or have been there. Everyday I was a single mom Monday through Friday. In the beginning, my husband would come home every weekend but once he was put into the "on call" rotation that stopped. Plus, he was worn out during the week from making that trip back and forth between cities. I could not travel during the week to see him since I had my job. Part time only but it was still a commitment. The Lord really taught me a lot during this lonely time in my life. I had my son to keep me busy and he really brought joy to my life when I needed it the most. It is a hard thing to go to bed by yourself almost every night or come home to an empty house. Yes, I had my son but without your partner in life by your side it makes it tough. I did not have relief. If the yard needed to be mowed, I did it. Something needed to be fix, I fixed it or I would hire someone. Yes, I had friends I could call on and I did. I was very careful not to exhaust them. Laying my head down at night with no one to "talk" to about my day or to just be with was tough. I can not find another word to describe this season of my life. Tough pretty much sums it up. During that 10-11 months I was simply in what I call "go mode." If I couldn't do it then I had to find someone to do it. My mind was always racing. It is very humbling to ask for help or feel that you are in need all the time. It is also very freeing to find out you can do it or to discover you can learn how to do it successfully. 

A lot of lessons were gained during this season of my life. The one that I take to heart the most is getting a glimpse into the life of a single parent. It is tough stuff! My hats are off to you and you do not receive enough recognition or praise for all that you do. I only had to do it for 10-11 months. The real heroes are the ones in the trenches everyday not knowing when or if they will have relief any time soon. I can only imagine the parents who are raising multiple kids and all the challenges that they must face. You are truly Brave my friends. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

For Inspiration

Go here for more post in this series of 31 days

Today is Sunday which is our very busy day so I thought a little inspiration would be the best post! This is by Amena Brown Be You, Bravely. Look for the phase "superSHEro!" Enjoy! 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

To be more like....31 days

Go here for more on this series of 31 days Brave

I believe I admire children the most in this crazy world. They have the ability to be authentic, care free and they are very much aware of themselves. Yes, I know at times too much. I have learned more about myself in these last 6 1/2 years with my son than I ever have in my life. He teaches me daily. Some  days I wish I didn't have to. Patience being one. Boy that is a topic! My son makes mistakes daily I mean daily. Of course he is still growing and finding his way in the is world. What amazes me is he wakes up without those mistakes weighing him down. Not sure if this is a male thing to forget or just a blessing. I long to be like that. I don't know about you but mommy guilt can weigh heavily on a lot of us. The mommy guilt thing I got a hold of a long time ago. I believe that is because my mom surrounds me with a lot of encouragement and from day one would tell me "you are the best mom for him." Such a comfort to have her in my life. 

Another thing I admire about children is their ability to truly be themselves. My son is a prime example of this in our life. He truly believes he can be a jedi so he shows it without a care in the world. He will dress up like one, act like one and even carry a lightsaber just to protect me from droids. He also believes he is smart and can accomplish most things set before him. Whether if it is math, gymnastics, swimming, art or creating the best play tent with momma's old sheets. Don't ya love that? I love that they see life and just go for it. Full force all the way go for it! This attribute or character quality of my son is one I admire the most! I want that don't-care-what-anyone-thinks-about-me-I-am-gonna-go-for-it-attitude. I have some of that but I mean all the way in my life. Especially when it comes to physical challenges. I sometimes get caught up in what if I look like a fool doing it or can't do it right. My mind can go in this vicious cycle sometimes. 

My son is also great at making goals and getting them accomplished. I am weak in this area of my life. Of course it depends on the goal. I have some goals in mind and well, sometimes when it is hard I have a tendency to let up. I am referring to my physical goals. A day or two goes by I think I will get back on that. It can build from there if I let it. My son he has a goal in mind, he focuses on it and won't let up until he gets it done. Bravo to him. 

My BRAVE for today is knowing my weakness and realizing it is okay that I am weak in this area of my life. It needs growth. A lot of growth. I am willing to admit it. Admitting it is great but I have to implement a plan or know the tools to make that weakness turn into a strength in my life. I am building my tool box. It is getting stronger. I am so grateful that my son gives me ideas and inspires me to add to my tool box. It reminds me of the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, " My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That is so true! God's Glory will shine more when he works through someone's weakness. He takes that weakness, works on it in that person, turns it into something beautiful and shows others around "see with me, my power can provide what you need to get it accomplished."

How are you working on being brave in your weakness? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

MOMcon (31 Days)

Go here to catch up on the 31 day series...

If you are following along then you know I have stepped out in faith to start a MOMSnext group. If this is your first visit then go here to understand the full picture. Part of the MOPS organization is a wonderful conference called MOMcon. It is a wonderful opportunity to hear speakers, attend classes, receive encouragement, exchange ideas and see vendors of course. The support alone in this safe place is AH-mazing. I was honored to be asked by our coordinator from our Mops group to go with her to MOMcon. This year the MOMcon was in Louisville, Kentucky. Such a fun city by the way. Of course this year's topics were all around Be You, Bravely. Plus, you include moms from all over the world just for this event it makes it that much sweeter! The weekend was jammed packed full of mastery classes for those of us in leadership and key note speakers.

Our speakers for the weekend were:

Sherry Surrat-President & CEO of Mops 
Jennie Allen-Author, Speaker & Founder of IF:Gathering 
Melissa D'Arabian -Food Network Star, & Host of Ten Dollar Dinners & former Mops moms
Lisa Chan-Author & Co-founder of Cornerstone Community Church
Shauna Niequist- Author & Speaker  (highly recommend Cold Tangerines)
Angie Smith- Author & Speaker(married to Todd lead singer of group Selah)

For worship we had Meredith Andrews
For inspiration & poetry Amena Brown 
Of course Kendall Parkhurst for introducing speakers & inspirational videos-Mops coordinator

From the list above if you know any of them or have heard of them then you know it was a BIG event. That is just the keynote speakers. Then we had a list of women speaking on different topics in the split off time. Some of them have written for (in)courage and one particular writer Lisa-Jo Baker was there with her book Surprised By Motherhood. Which I am in the middle of reading. 

It was an amazing time and it gave me connections for building the MOMSnext ministry that I have started in our MOPS group. I felt encouraged and inspired. It was also an opportunity for me as a wife, mom, friend, sister and leader to grow. They definitely challenge you while you are there for the weekend.

So, where is the BRAVE in all of this for me? Many places! First, going to a place I have never been with someone I barely know and second the willingness to say "yes" I will commit! I love going to new places. I do! I prefer to experience them with people whom I am already familiar with and well, know my quirks. Don't you? You know the saying "if you really want to know a person then travel together!" I know my coordinator and love her but close friends we have not arrived there yet. That is okay. I knew every meal would probably be eaten together and all those questions that typically get asked were going to emerge and they did plus some. Where did you meet your husband? Where did you go to college? What career did you do before becoming a mom? and beyond that!  I don't mind answering questions. For me, it was being transparent and adding another person to my circle. Then add in rooming together. This is where my quirks appear. I like the fan on for noise and the temp to be cold(that is just two quirks!). I like snuggling under the covers but mostly my body temperature after having children is not the same! It is easier to room with someone who already knows this about you or is just like you in that sense. I know it probably sounds a little silly. For me, it is/was a stretch. Not wanting to be the only one who likes it that way or better yet freeze out my roomie! I did enjoy my time with her. She too loved it cold and the fan on. So no big deal! More importantly it was just fun getting to know her and experiencing the city together along with MOMScon! Second, committing to going to MOMScon made it real for me that I am stepping out in leadership! I was representing our group and the church associated with it. That is BIG! I wanted to use my time wisely since they could have sent anyone to go. I was able to connect with ladies who work for Mops International and talk about how to make MOMSnext better in our community and widespread. I believe this experience alone will continue to have an impact on me personally plus growing with our MOMSnext group. MOMScon was a great opportunity to tap into resources and grab all the knowledge that I could to bring back with me! I am so very grateful that I was able to go and was asked to go! Such a blessing!!!! 

I pray that I honor God during this MOmsnext adventure and that I will be used to the fullest. That is BRAVE! 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

ROC Race (31 Days)

Go here for intro of 31 days & other posts in this series...

Have you ever heard of something called a ROC Race? The Ridiculous Obstacle Course! If you haven't then think of that show wipe out. That is exactly what it amounts to! So, this year back in January I decided to join Camp Gladiator. Ever heard of that? It is basically outdoor fitness group or some call it a form of boot camp. Anyway, I fell in love with the people and the trainers. They made it so fun. Plus they really cheer you on to run an extra lap or lift heavier weights or do one more burpee. I have never ever considered myself the athletic type. I mean I am not built to do anything that requires a lot of running like soccer. Though I can kick. I say all that because my definition or what I believed to be an athlete has changed this past year. It has taken awhile to realize I do not have to be the fittest or smallest or thinnest or whatever to be an athlete. In my mind I always associated an athlete with the Olympics or some great sport such as European Soccer! You know people who received awards or medals of some kind for their hard work and were recognized for their talent. This was not me! 

*This is the definition of an athlete: :  a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.

Camp Gladiator or CG has given me this confidence to think and believe I can do things that are beyond me. Ya know, busting out 30 burpees or lifting 50-60 lb sand bags while throwing them across the parking lot. I know it probably sounds super crazy and may not even make sense to you. I understand that! It truly is something you have to try once to see. After awhile of doing many hard things you realize maybe I could do an obstacle course race and it kinda sounds fun. Then your battle buddies (that is what we call each other at cg) chime in "let's do it together!" You feel empowered! All of sudden you find yourself on a team! A team that believes in you and will help you when you think you can not do it! Sign me up. I can get on board with folks like that. Right? RIGHT! 

That is exactly what I did 6 months ago. I signed up with a team to test my skills mentally, physically and emotionally! Plus, for your first obstacle course race this ROC is perfect to test out to see if you would like that type of racing. It is fun and people dress up all kinds of crazy. Then add Austin in the mix it becomes super weird! We love that about Austin. Some obstacle courses are more serious and require a lot more training, such as Spartan!  

Race day is approaching and well I am not exactly where I want to be weight wise or physically in strength and agility. I mean they had a rope climb and monkey bars. Adult size monkey bars...eeeeekkkkk!!!!!!! So, I had fear around that. I also had fear and insecurity around being the biggest. I know what your thinking. Oh it doesn't matter!  Yes yes it does. I am here to tell you it does matter!!!!!! When you have to hoist yourself over a 6 foot wall with zero ridges in it for footing, it matters! Or Hold your body up and swing across monkey bars and land perfectly, it matters! I could go on and on. I am not here to argue about size and whether I feel that I fit in with a group of "fit" women. I am talking about extra weight on you is just that extra weight and it can  have an effect on your performance in such situations. It did mine. I am being honest. Okay? 

So, I did it. It was tough in some areas for me. The running for one. A few obstacles I could not accomplish. I could not do some due to being an overweight chick and others were just because I did not practice enough! I have to be really transparent here. It was even tough on how I felt about myself. Really. It played a huge role for me that day. Here were a few scenarios that played out that day for me. 

*I was the slowest in running which meant last to do whatever obstacle there was to do
*I would fall a lot! 
*I was the biggest chick there that day
*I could not hold myself up on the rope to do the Tarzan swing
*The team would often have to wait on me 

I will tell you my team was very supportive. It did not matter to them if I was last or I could not do an obstacle or if I failed the obstacle. Yes, they loved me right where I was and met me there. That is a beautiful lesson in itself. However, still I so wanted to do soooooo much better. I really wanted to feel that I have come far in my physical fitness. I have but not as far as I had hoped. That is okay for now. 

So, where is the Brave in all of this you ask? I am sure I could point it out in many places throughout this post. I believe there to be a myriad of them. For me the greatest was honestly doing the race and being at the race. I have never run a 5k before less alone an obstacle course one. Putting myself out there was a BIG step for me. It was a risk. People watching you do the course, people taking your pictures and well, you felt like every obstacle threw off your balance. That is a true statement. You are on big inflatable pieces of equipment and you are suppose to run across without getting hit! What?! At least it is in the books. It has also given me an opportunity to reevaluate some things in my life. That subject is another day or post. 

For now, Brave means embracing the athlete in you or maybe awaken her in my case and realizing you can go beyond what you believed about yourself. It also means dropping the perfection mask, allowing yourself to be transparent and yes sometimes uncomfortable. You will grow from it. It could change you. 

Go on my sisters awaken the athlete & see what she can do! 

If you are interested in trying CG let me know! I do not have to be in your home town to get credit. Yes, we are in a contest. Stamps for buddies that come and try! Seriously, it will help me win! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Let it Go (31 Days)

Go here for introduction of 31 Days Brave!
Go here for 31 Days to Serve (2011)

Sometimes Brave looks very different in the Christian world of following Jesus. actually, I would say for the most part it is different! Something alarming happened to me last week while I was leaving the grocery store. I had my son with me who is 6 years old. It was not a busy day at the store. It was quiet. Needless to say we enjoyed our little outing and felt very accomplished practicing our math skills at the store! While heading to our car I see a "gentleman" in a nice suit about 3 cars down from ours rushing to get his stuff loaded in his car.  We were walking down the aisle paying close attention to drivers and such. Usually when I get in my car and I see someone in a cart ready to pass my car,  I wait. I wait for them to do just that. It is not worth causing an accident of any kind! This "gentleman" had no desire what-so-ever to wait for us. In fact he rushed so much that he almost ran us over. I have my son on one side of me and the driver on the other side of my cart. He pulled so close to my cart that he almost scratched his car. Rolled down his window to say "excuse me?!" More of a get-out-of-my-way kind of excuse me. I wish I was one of those clever people who knew exactly what to say when faced with verbal conflict. I mean clever in a way that is nice and yet gets them to be quiet. Then my mind races to one of my favorite movies  You've Got Mail. Meg Ryan's character is not good with zingers but Tom Hank's character is a pro. This is sometimes how I look when face to face with such a problem.

Anyway, I was trying really hard to keep my son from having to engage with this person. I looked at him and said "yes, excuse." Yeah, I was dumbfounded so real words were lost on me. Now, maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut. We will argue that another day. I truly believe that this "gentleman" already had a certain mind frame and no matter what I said or didn't say he had an agenda. His agenda was to "prove" something. I kept on walking down the aisle and he was shouting all sorts of ugly words at me. I could hear out of my left ear while I occupied my son with my words. My son had already began the conversation by commenting on how mean the guy was and that he didn't care. My son was correct. I began communicating to my son while that may be true we still need to do what is right. Sometimes that means walking away from a verbal fight.  I will tell you his words stung. I may be christian but I am not immune to hurt. I even told my husband how much it hurt. Of course hubby wants to know make of car, description of man and anything else I can remember. He wouldn't do anything but it is in their nature to want to protect and fight for us. Such a gentleman!

So, today's BRAVE for me was "just let it go"(is that song in your head?)! Not easy to do when my instincts are to at least fight back for myself. I have to remember this guy was wanting a fight so it would have been easy to get tangled in his trap. That is exactly what it was, a trap! I do think it takes a level of Bravery to walk away but more so to not let those words penetrate you. It did hurt but it did not make me think less of myself. That is really the BRAVE part. Believing in yourself even when others want to convince you otherwise. 

I will tell you this...he did not use cuss words but attacked my appearance. So, there were some words of truth. I do need to lose weight(working on it) but it was how he was using it to verbally attack me. Yes, along with what he said made it worst. Just grateful my son did not hear those words or how he using them to attack me. My son thinks I am beautiful so no need to let his vision be tainted by another. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days Brave INTRO (or what is left of it)

Other Post in the series 31 days

Day 2 Let it go 

Day 3 ROC Race 

Day 4 MOMScon

Day 5 To be more like...

Day 6 For Inspiration 

Day 7 For the Single Parent 

 31 Days of Serving (2011)

Be YOU, Bravely 

I was suppose to start this topic on Oct 1 but unfortunately my brain completely forgot the 31 day challenge had begun in October. I guess I kept thinking I had more time or maybe I was in denial that October was already in full swing. That is okay. I still start from here and continue to participate until day 31! You can go here for my first 31 Days from 2011. The experience was life changing for me. Here are the AH-mazing 31 Dayers! I encourage you to check them out. Plus you never know you might find another blog you love to read. 

The topic for this time or what is left if it is about Being You, Bravely. It is actually the MOPS theme for the year 2014-2015. I am on the steering committee for our MOPS group so we have known about the theme for awhile now. I say all that because I have been stepping out in a lot of areas of my life to Be Brave. So when the MOPS theme "just happen" to be parallel to my life it made sense to write about it.  No, this is not about climbing Mt. Everest or competing in some crazy around the world boat race or even swimming the Atlantic. Though those are very inspiring it is not the type of Brave that I am referring to. I am talking about Brave in my world. It looks different in everyone's world. 

Brave for me looks like this....

Last year(2013-2014) in MOPS(mother's of preschoolers) I was a DGL or discussion group leader. A DGL helps make connections, prays over one another, arranges outings and of course leads the discussion at the table in regards to the topic spoken that night. I loved it! It was an awesome experience for me. I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. The sad part came to me when I realized I could no longer be a DGL since MOPS only goes through Kindergarten age. My son was already in Kinder at that time. So, now what do I do? I knew GOD was not done with MOPS in my life. I also knew stepping up to be a mentor mom at one of the tables was not the right fit either. I did not believe it was my time to lead in that area. I need more experience or years and of course wisdom. What positions were left for me then? Really, nothing! I prayed about it and spoke to our coordinator concerning that the mentor position did not seem right neither did being a DGL for a MOPS table. We both agreed that it didn't seem it was my time to exit this precious community of women. 2 weeks later I receive a phone call from my coordinator. She was so excited about possibly the idea of starting a MOMS NEXT group for 2015-2016 and felt that the Lord was laying my name before her.  Just an fyi a MOMS NEXT group is for moms who no longer have kids in preschool or most of their children have moved on from that stage and so has she. It can range from moms with children in Elementary all the way to College! Such an awesome extension for MOPS! Anyway, I knew in my heart God had so much more for me to grow and learn. I also knew that MOMS NEXT needed to start now! This year 2014-2015! I immediately told my coordinator "we start now!" My excitement was so overwhelming that I almost cried. 
Scary? Yes. 
Exciting too? Yes. 
Not a freakin' clue what I am doing? 100% YES!!!! 
However, God sent me down this path and I knew without a shadow of doubt he would put me in front of the right people who had the tools I needed to gain the knowledge. 

That is my Brave. I said "YES" & I believed!  I will keep you posted how our year is going with MOMS NEXT. The blessing in all of this is my table has grown from a few to now 10 women. A typical table has 6 moms. Who knows we may have to start a second table! That would be awesome! We meet on Monday nights with the other Mops tables. The bonus is all our speakers/topics pertain to both groups. I am very excited for this journey. 

So, what about you? Have you thought about the Brave in your world?