When You Don’t Know What to Do

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On Saturday night I went to bed at a decent time, with plans to get up on time the next morning. That might sound like common sense, but it’s not always – or even often – what I do. Most Sunday mornings start off late and get more stressful every minute between rolling out of bed and stumbling into church.

But this week I was determined to be different.

And it was – but not in the way I expected. Despite going to bed a little early, I lay in bed for hours, WIDE AWAKE. This is not normal for me at all. I have family and friends who fight insomnia on a regular basis, but if I’m good at one thing, it’s sleeping. Just not Saturday night.

In hindsight I think the large quantities of tea and a before-bed Diet Dr. Pepper are mostly to blame. But the myriad thoughts and questions swirling in my mind didn’t help. More than other recent seasons, this back-to-school time has brought with it an overwhelming number of decisions to make.

Do we lead a small group this session?
Do we make Annalyn continue piano lessons?
Is it time to start potty training?
What should my next book be about?

These are big questions, you guys – and not issues that can be figured out overnight. Which is probably why, as I tried so hard to go to sleep (as if THAT ever works!) the other night, I focused instead on what my girls should be for Halloween and the possibility of throwing a Back to the Future party. Important things, you know?

No, not at all, but much easier and more fun to think about when I feel like I’m drowning in questions!

On top of those questions, I’m also in the process of working with a designer to refresh the look of this site – which brings with it lots of questions only I can answer.

[Side note: Speaking of my blog redesign, this site will be dark from August 31 to September 10. No new posts, no looking up old ones. And my plan is to reveal the new site on September 11. I’ll miss you while I’m gone, but we’ll have lots to discuss when I return!]

What do you do when you have a big or difficult decision to make?

When You Don't Know What to Do

My nature is to research, so I look up all the information I can find about the topic at hand. Sometimes that means crowd sourcing, like I did last week when I asked my Facebook friends for advice about getting my daughter to practice piano without yelling. Sometimes it means Pinterest surfing, like when I fell down the rabbit hole of Halloween costume ideas late Saturday night. Other times I will ask just a few trusted friends for their opinions, like when I wasn’t sure how to treat the stinking lice that showed up on my baby girl this summer.

From there I usually make a pros and cons chart, either mentally or literally. Some decisions feel so overwhelming and complicated that only the physical act of writing down the angles and considerations can help me sort things out.

But I know the best thing I can do is pray about it.

This month isn’t the first time it’s happened, so I shouldn’t be surprised that the lessons we’re teaching in Kids City at church are exactly what I need to hear. This month’s theme? WISDOM. Of course.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
(James 1:5)

Just ask. I know that. I know that later in the book of James, it says “you do not have because you do not ask.” If I need wisdom, guidance, ANSWERS, then I simply need to ask for it.

So I am. I’m still researching (go ahead, ask me how many articles I’ve read about potty training readiness!) and seeking the counsel of a few friends, but I’m praying that God will guide my decisions and make my paths straight.

Annnnnd, I’m going to take a poll. Because I’ve got one more decision to make, on top of all those others. And for this one, I want YOUR opinion!

Can you help me decide: What should I write about for my 31 Days series in October?

If you don’t know about 31 Days, it’s a challenge that a lot of bloggers take in October to write about one topic for each day of the month. In 2012 I wrote about giving up on perfect, in 2013 I wrote about giving up on fairy tales, and last year I wrote about turning lemons into lemonade. But this year, well, I’m not sure which topic to choose. I’d love to hear what you think!

Which of these topics sound most interesting to you?

a. The intersection of pop culture and faith
b. #sorrynotsorry – Why I’m done apologizing (for some things)
c. Another series about life’s fairy tales
d. Something else entirely!

Please, tell us in the comments what sounds most interesting to you! (And if you’re doing a 31 Days series on your own blog, I’d love to hear what you’ll be writing about, too!)

Leaf photo source

On Being (or Not) a Beautiful Cake

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A couple weeks ago the girls and I drove to church in a light rain. Mark was a few minutes behind us, driving separately so he could help with tear down after service (our church meets in a school). As we pulled into the parking lot, I hesitated. How was I going to get the three of us inside without getting soaked?

Finally, I decided that a.) I really needed to buy one of those giant golf umbrellas and b.) I would park by the front door, run the girls in and then go back to park the car. Surely my seven-year-old could corral my one-year-old for the three minutes it would take me, right?

Heh. That was never going to happen, but it was the best plan I could come up with that morning. So I put the car in park and hustled the girls to the front door, scooting them inside as I rattled off directions: Just stand here. Hold your sister’s hand. I’ll be right back. No, stay here. I’m coming right back!

One of the door greeters — and a friend — said good morning right about then. He often looks amused as we bumble our way into church, one of us with crazy hair because she pulled out her ponytail again, one of us with tangled hair because she screams when I get close to her with a hairbrush, and one of us with wet hair . . . because who has time for a blow dry? But this week, the greeter simply smiled and said, “Do you want me to park your car?”

Limp with gratitude, I handed over my keys and stood with my antsy girls as he jogged through the drizzle to my car. In less time than it took me to smooth our hair and clothes, he was back. I thanked him and we were on our way.

When I got into my car after church that day, I looked at my clean floor mats and wondered if my friend had noticed how neat my car is. (Mark and I have an ongoing debate about the required level of cleanliness for a family vehicle.) (Because one of us is a nut about keeping a spotless car.) (It’s not me. In case you were confused.)

Then I turned the ignition and glanced at the dash, and I thought, “I sure am glad I had the radio on K-LOVE!”

As if my friend would have cared if I’d had the radio tuned to the pop station, like it so often is.

To read the rest of this story (I promise the cake part is coming!), join me at (in)courage.

Photo source

WFMW: New Seasons & New Art (and a Discount!)

WFMW: New Seasons & New Art

For the first time since beginning preschool, Annalyn is not excited to start the school year. Buying a new Frozen backpack helped a little, but she’s still not very pumped about the second grade. I think it’s because until back to school night, we won’t know who her teacher is or who her classmates are.

She adored her first-grade teacher and loved being in the same class as her kindergarten friend for a second year in a row. And the thought of losing both of those comfortable relationships in second grade has her worried.

We’ve had lots of conversations about it – about how she’s loved all her teachers and will probably love her new one, too; about how she might be in the same class as her favorite friends and there’s no sense worrying about it until she knows for sure; about how even if she’s separated from her friends, it will be okay (IT WILL BE OKAY!) and she might even make new friends. I even slipped in the fact that if she’s in a different class than some of her former classmates, that might even be a good thing. (Punk kid who picked on her AND taught her bad words? I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU.)

The truth is, though, that I understand her anxiety about the changes coming with a new year. I’ve been feeling a bit of that myself, as the release date of my book grows nearer. I feel like things are going to change in a big way next year – probably in a good way, but certainly in unknown ways. And while I’m as excited as a seven-year-old with a new Elsa and Anna bag, I’m also a little nervous, too.

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This verse in Habakkuk is one of my very favorite and has been for the past decade. As my life has twisted and turned down a path that I never would have imagined, with changes and surprises around every bend, this verse has been an anchor. Yes, yes, I know the Lord has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me. And those words are big and bold on my living room wall.

But this little verse in a little book of the Old Testament? Well, they’re not just comforting but also exciting. I’m going to be UTTERLY AMAZED at the work He’s going to do! Something I never would have imagined! And I don’t have to. All I have to do is sit back and look – look at the Master’s creation and be AMAZED.

When my friend Jennifer opened a new shop and invited me to shop for a new print, I chose this one in about 8.3 seconds. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one I wanted to frame for my home, the one I wanted to place somewhere I’ll see it every day and remember to be still and know He’s God – but also to wait with expectancy and excitement.

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The fun news is that Jennifer is offering all of my readers a special discount to her new shop! So even if these words don’t float your boat, you are likely to find something at Studio JRU that does. The thing I love most about Jennifer’s art is the variety and the heart behind it. I love reading her posts at (in)courage and learning the story behind the art, and I love that no matter what mood I’m in or room I want to brighten, I can find something in her shop that fits the bill perfectly.

To find your own piece of encouragement or inspiration, visit StudioJRU.com. Jennifer is offering a 20% discount if you use the code newshop! (exclamation mark included). Happy shopping – and happy back to school!

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What reassures you during seasons of change?

 
Works for Me Wednesday :: Giving Up on Perfect

It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!

When You Feel Like Leaping with Joy

When You Feel Like Leaping with Joy | via givinguponperfect.com

We’ve entered a new phase in our house this summer. We’ve graduated from animated Disney movies to live action Disney movies. Which is basically just a fancy way of saying Annalyn and I have watched no less than three – count ’em! THREE. – High School Musical movies.

You guys, they’re not actually THAT bad. And, thankfully, the same seven-year-old who keeps bugging me to find the fourth High School Musical at a Redbox or the library also not-so-secretly likes watching Elmo with her baby sister.

And, let’s not forget, it gives us gems like this:

You guys. This scene was, by far, the most cheese-tastic one of all! Zac Efron singing (and dancing to) “Bet On It” made me laugh so hard! I mean, it is ridiculous. Right? I’m not alone in this, am I?

But as I tried to contain my giggles (so as not to offend the daughter) and ended up snorting instead (because REALLY. Just watch it!), I wondered why I found it so laughable that a teenage boy might need to dance out his feelings.

Okay, yes, fine. This particular situation might not be so realistic. But haven’t you ever felt emotions so big that you couldn’t contain them? Feelings so strong you want to put them in a song? A situation so intense you just need to dance it out?

Maybe not. Maybe your feelings don’t come with the urge to belt Broadway tunes and flash jazz hands, but maybe they do beg to be shared somehow – in a Facebook post, from the rooftop (or the front porch), with a “Hallelujah!” or a “Yeehaw!”

When that happens – when you have such great news, such relief or pride or gratitude or just plain JOY – don’t play it cool, friends. Shout it out and share it with us! The world could certainly use a little more leaping with joy, couldn’t it?! I promise not to let a single snort escape, no matter how you choose to celebrate.

After all, how could I, when I’m doing leaps of joy of my own today?

Even though the official release of my book is still five months away, I’m excited to reveal the cover to you now! You can actually pre-order the book on Amazon, too. Can you believe it??!!

I’ve been so nervous to show you the cover and reluctant to show my excitement…

…because the actual launch is still so far away
…because it’s not just MY book and I didn’t write THE WHOLE thing myself
…because lots of people write books these days
…because I don’t want to brag
…because because BECAUSE!

But then I thought about young Zac Efron really COMMITTING to that song in High School Musical 2 and his jubilant leaps at the end of the most ridiculous song. And I decided that just maybe I was the one being ridiculous. That just maybe you all would want to celebrate with me. That just maybe it’s time to let the joy, joy, joy that’s down in my heart out to play.

So … YEEHAW and HALLELUJAH! My book has a cover and a home on Amazon!

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Do you have any good news to share today?
How can we celebrate with you today?

Photo source

Just Keep Swimming

This post was originally published a couple years ago but seemed relevant this week since I have been on vacation and forced to wear a swimsuit.

When I left my house last Friday morning, I had packed my husband, my daughter and myself for more than a week. I managed to get all of our shoes, underwear and toilet articles in the car and only forgot a few things.

Unfortunately, one of those forgotten items was my swimsuit. And since we chose our hotel based on its promised water park and super slide, that was a problem.

Luckily, though we were several states away from home, we were there to visit friends. So I ordered a clearance suit from Target and had it shipped to my friend’s house. I picked it up yesterday and we headed back to the hotel.

Nervously, I opened the packages and pulled out the plain black swim suit pieces. (As in a tank and a swim skirt, not a bikini. Please.) I stepped into the bottom and thought, “Well, that’s not what I was hoping for.” Then I wriggled myself into the top and though, “THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER.”

And then I did the thing I swore I’d never do
(and until this week, had never done). I said – out loud and in front of my daughter – how awful I looked. Specifically, I said, “This is hideous.”

Because I’ve struggled with body image issues as long as I can remember, I’ve determined to be uber careful about how I talk about myself in front of my daughter. I know it probably won’t prevent her from wishing for fuller lips or longer legs (or whatever the must-have attribute of the day is 10 years from now). But if I can find it within myself to model a healthy self esteem, maybe it will help a little.

(For the record, my parents did everything they could to help me feel beautiful. As a matter of fact, my mother still insists on calling me her beautiful baby girl. So I’m aware that, as a parent, some things are out of my hands. But I want to do the best I can with the influence I have anyway.)

But back to the other day.

As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I was horrified. And it wasn’t one of those instances where my child completely ignored what I said or remained oblivious to my personal stress. Oh no. She looked at me, confused, and said, “Why did you say that? You look beautiful!”

Oh, my heart.

I promise you that I did not look beautiful at all. AT ALL. I won’t tell you what I think I looked like, because I really am trying to stop talking to or about myself in an ugly way. But not only did I not feel pretty, I really did not look pretty.

But I’d promised my family that I’d go swimming with them. And my worn-out, stretched-out suit was safely at home, hundreds of miles away. So I really didn’t have a choice.

I tried to make the best of the situation. You know, getting on with life? I grabbed a pair of my husband’s gym shorts to cover up. BUT THEY DIDN’T FIT. (Is there anything more humiliating than not fitting into my husband’s pants? I THINK NOT. . . . Fine. I’m sure something might be worse. But not this week.) So I grabbed a t-shirt, sucked in everything I could suck in, and walked to the elevator with my family.

When we got to the pool, I was beyond relieved to see that we had the whole place to ourselves. Still, I felt terrible. I smiled and played with my daughter, but inside, I was curled up in a ball and covered with a large blanket. I didn’t want anyone – even the people I loved most – to see me.

As I stood in the water, telling my kiddo that yes, of course I wanted to watch her jump in, two annoying tears slipped down my face. Since I had yet to get my head wet, my husband wasn’t fooled and asked, confused, “What is wrong?!”

I didn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell him.

But I didn’t keep crying, either. Slowly, I focused more on my family and less on myself. And I swam a few laps and did a few minutes of water aerobics moves. It wasn’t very long before I felt strong (because swimming is hard, yo) and remembered how to relax and have fun with my family.

And when we went back upstairs and I eagerly went to peel that hateful suit off my not-perfect-at-all body and COULDN’T GET IT OFF? Well, all I could do was laugh. Because really, that’s way better than crying – and being stuck in that soaking wet, octopus-like bunch of polyester was the kind of irony that I couldn’t help but appreciate.

I may never put that swimsuit on again. And I may think twice before booking a hotel room in a place that boasts of a super slide. But despite the horrible feeling of wearing that thing and slipping up in front of my kiddo with the “hideous” bomb, I didn’t let it ruin my day.

Although there was no saving my hair after that.

What’s your least favorite thing to wear? And what’s your favorite? (My favorite is, hands down, yoga pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt. Comfort over style IS my style!)

Photo by janfredrikf