It's the last day of April and the last day of my month long birthday "celebration/experiment." If you new here, you can read about how I decided to give myself a month-long gift of "permissions" HERE.
Here is how the month panned out:
I woke up on April 1st at a writers' conference in Kansas. It was a last-minute decision to just go rather than "think" about going. At 44 years of age, I've got plenty of experience "just thinking" about things that I would like to do. I started my birthday month out "just doing it."
And it paid off. I had the company of my oldest daughter. We spent some quality travel time singing along to broadway musical soundtracks, eating junk food late at night, and connecting with each other as women. I love my kids. And I love who they are growing up to become.
At this writers' conference, my daughter got to see a little more about the person I hope to become. She got to see connections made in a world that I have spent the last dozen years just sort of sticking my toe in the water. She is now able to hold me accountable for actually stepping into the water. Maybe two or three. Perhaps even learn how to swim.
It also paid off in the connections made. There is a new hope that I won't just be attending more of these writers' conferences; I'll be on the faculty. But it will require stepping out of my comfort zone.
Fortunately, that is what this whole birthday month has been about for me. Stepping out of my comfort zone, stepping into fear, living fully in each moment, putting hands and feet to my faith, and following through with the dreams on my heart.
How'd I do?
Did I chase after my dreams?
Did my life dramatically change?
Sort of. I mean yes. Well, maybe. No, definitely yes.
Well, here's what I learned, anyway:
Just deciding to do all of these things doesn't magically change anything.
Saying I'm going to do things even if I'm afraid doesn't take away the fear.
Saying that I'm giving myself permission to fail when I try something new doesn't take away the anxiety associated with trying.
Saying that I am going to chase after my dreams doesn't mean that life is a big dream.
Actually, all of this life-changing-dream-chasing stuff really is a lot of work.
So this big, birthday gift I've given myself has been quite the job. As God would currently have it, I have the time to put the hours and sweat into this get-out-of-my-comfort-zone business.
And guess what. My life looks different than it did a month ago.
In the area of putting hands and feet to my faith: Brian and I are making plans for future work in missions and ministry. We don't know exactly what that will look like, but we know some of the foundational things we need to do so we are ready when the time comes. In the meantime, we are serving where we are.
In the area of fulfilling work: I'm writing. Specifically, I am completing the messages placed on my heart to write.
Fear: I'm speaking. I'm not just thinking about it, not just acknowledging that God has placed it on my heart, but I'm doing it. I'm booking workshops. God is opening doors. And I'm even getting brave enough to knock on a few.
As far as my comfort zone goes: Well, it's still my comfortable place. It's where I feel safe. And I have days where I need to feel safe. But this last month has shown me that I can trust God to keep me safe when I take the steps that he leads. Putting one foot in front of the other when stepping outside of my comfort zone, when I don't know where it will lead, is a daily decision. In my natural state, it's a scary decision.
But I made myself do it for one month. Guess what. I'm still afraid. But I'm not a slave to it.
My comfort zone is still comfortable. But it isn't where things happen. It isn't where I'm supposed to stay.
Someday when I look back on my 44th year, I'm hoping that I'll be able to see it as the turning point when I stepped out of my comfort zone and into the full life. Into my dreams.
Here's a song that keeps popping up and resonating with me. I hope you enjoy.
Tomorrow is May 1st. I won't be waking up in a different place like I did one month ago.
Except that I will.
What comes to mind for you when I say the word "Home"?
I've thought about this topic a lot lately. In many different ways.
In the next six months I will be writing a column and editing content for a start-up regional magazine that will have an emphasis on "Home."
I'm also involved in a ministry steering committee in the Quad Cities where the objective is to provide a "home" for young women in college who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy situation. These young women have the goal to both carry the pregnancy to term and complete their education.
On a personal note, our home is a physical place, a feeling, and a dream. (That's not confusing at all...right?)
Brian and I have a home. We have a blended family of seven kids. Two live at home with us. Four are in four different colleges. One is gainfully employed and engaged to be married this fall.
Our home is a place. The address we live. Where we "hang our hats." Even though Brian is from the neighboring town (where his story begins), we are proud to be Durant Wildcats. (I still let Brian wear his Wilton t-shirts.)
Our home is "where the heart is." Often this means we are on the road, visiting our kids. Supporting them in their college activities, professional activities, and their giftedness-es.
Our home is in the dreams for our future. This one is a tough-y to explain. We both have a dream to be able to travel in work and ministry. If you look at our pinterest boards, you will see tiny homes and luxury "sheds." We both seem to like a home-based-type of "campground" or luxury shed, allowing us to travel when the work allows. And allowing other ministries to come to where we are. This is another topic. You'll have to ask me about it sometime.
My issue is with this type of home is "camping." My idea of roughing it is a hotel without a continental breakfast and bad pillows.
Truth be told, it is mostly the "pillow" thing.
So I'm writing a chapter for a book about this topic and I'm finding it pretty difficult to nail down exactly how to describe "home."
"Where your story begins."
"Where your heart is."
"Home Sweet Home."
Home is the nicest word there is." (that is from Laura Ingalls Wilder.)
"A house is made of walls and beams, a home is built with love and dreams."
Perhaps you can help me.
How do you describe home? Is it a place? Is it a feeling? Is it a dream or where you have been called?
I'm curious and I'd love to hear your response.
So maybe you have been following me on Facebook and you click over here on my blog every once in a while. If that’s you, you know that I posted this entire big “to-do” about April being my birth month, how I’m middle-age-and-all, and the birthday gift I gave myself that would take the entire month to unwrap.
My gift: Permission.
Lots of permissions, really. But mostly, permission to fail. For ONE MONTH, I was going to do a bunch of things that I’ve always dreamed of doing, but always stopped short because of fear and failure.
But not this month. My gift to myself: permission to do it even if I was afraid. And permission to fail if I tried.
So I had this list of things. Things I am working hard at. Things that don’t really look like adventures. Things that look like work. Work in the middle of every day. And every day last week I spent working on “every day” and none of it looked exciting.
So I resorted to chocolate.
Not just any chocolate. INSPIRATIONAL chocolate. The kind of chocolate you have to unwrap and read your “adventure” or newest “to-do” that would be sure to bring inspiration to your life.
I had a whole bag of this “inspiration.” I got to the end of an unexciting day and figured I couldn’t go wrong by embracing the adventures meant just for me as I popped each piece of chocolate in my mouth.
Start a game of tag with friends.
Coin a new catch-phrase.
Accept a compliment.
Watch more cartoons.
Build a bridge with chocolate.
Start a game of tag with friends.
So keeping in mind that all of this chocolate inspiration was coming at the end of a day that seemed to not be super filled with inspiration, here were my thoughts:
I don’t think Brian and the kids would appreciate me waking them up to play “tag.”
My kids are constantly telling me “MOM. Don’t ever say that again.” Probably not going to coin any new catchphrases anytime soon.
I did wake my husband up to ask him to compliment me. I know he compliments me ALL THE TIME, but for some reason I felt I needed to get it at the exact time I unwrapped and ate the chocolate. Which he didn’t entirely appreciate, but I totally accepted.
I have movies I want to take my nieces and nephews to. But cartoons aren’t really a luxury I give myself without an excuse.
Building a bridge with chocolate. I give it away all the time. Not a totally new adventure for me.
Start a game of tag with friends: Well…I saw this one a couple of times. I could see it as a sign that it is something I’m supposed to do…assuming the chocolate gods know their stuff. But again…at the time I like to indulge in the sweet treat, I’m going to assume that no-one else would be excited about a game of “tag, you’re it.”
So. Here I am with no real adventures to report this week.
Except I ate a lot of chocolate.
I should have just ate Chocolate for the sake of chocolate.
No agenda. No adventure. No hidden motives.
P.S. TAG, you're it! What adventures do you want to spend a little time checking in to?
Over the last few years, I have been given the opportunity to share with individuals and groups on the topic of legacy writing. This type of writing is not meant for the purpose of mass publication. These books are not meant to reach an audience of strangers who may never recognize your name.
These books are meant to be a legacy. For people who recognize your name because it might be their name.
I'm actually writing a book on writing these kind of books. (Say that five times real fast!) I decided to do this because I am being asked to speak on this topic more and more.
But you, my dear friend visiting me here in my neighborhood of the world-wide-web, do not have to wait for the book to begin your written legacy. And I don't want you to wait. If you wait, you'll forget.
You won't mean to forget. But the inspiring thoughts, the emotions that surround the key events you face, the raw feelings ... those things will fade if you don't capture them in words right away.
And you don't have to write a book to capture the words. One easy way to do this is to start a list. This isn't a "to-do" list. It's an "I want to remember this" list. Or an "I don't want to forget this" list.
This type of journaling is easy and there are lots of really great articles on the subject. I'll look some of those up and share them with you.
But here's what you can do to get started:
Jot down the date. Make a list of the things that happened that you always want to remember. It can be simple. It doesn't have to include a lot of commentary. But you are welcome to include why you hope to never forget the things you write.
Here is the thing about waiting to write things down: You'll forget.
Even the important things. You'll forget.
An example of this in my own life is my early mom years. I used to keep a scrapbook for each of my kids back in the day when photos were printed, not saved on a drive somewhere. I have hundreds of photos that are printed, that I meant to caption in a scrapbook. And some pictures that I did caption. As I set up graduation party decorations and scrapbooks and that sort of thing, I can tell the difference between the photos that I wrote on or under as they were printed or happened, and those that I waited for more time to write about.
The ones I waited on did not capture the heart of the story behind the photo as well as the ones I took care of right away.
So maybe you don't take pictures every day. That's okay. I don't either. (My kids would argue otherwise.)
But you can document each day. Make a list or keep a calendar. What did you do today that you want to remember?
You can pass on a written legacy of you life and lessons learned. You can pass on the "praise-worthy deeds of the Lord" through your lists of remembrances.
"We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done."
Psalm 78:4 NIV
Welcome to a page of my journal....a place where I will randomly post stories that document my life, and some tips for helping you to document yours.