Straws, napkins, plates, oh my!

Straws, paper napkins and plates. Disposable diapers. These things aren’t great, I know that. But because of this plastic straw movement, I feel like a horrible human being (stop with the shamming already people!) every time  I use a plastic straw. Which is pretty much every damn day, because I make a smoothie for me and my family every day for lunch. I used to use plastic straws, I did. But a few years ago, after my kids had these strange coughs for weeks on end, someone told me a secret. She leaned in close and said, investigate your straws.  Say what? So I looked at my straws, the ones attached to sippy cups and the free floating ones I used for plastic cups with lids. What was living inside was like a science experiment. There were bumps and fuzzy things. Apparently, which I didn’t know or realize, if you don’t wash out straws with a teeny tiny special little straw brush, they grow things inside of them. This is especially true given that I live in basically a green house, and don’t have a dish washer.

That day, several years ago, I threw away all my re-usable straws, and didn’t look back.

Until recently. Now when I make a smoothie, I try to locate my plastic straws. The ones that are bent and chewed on. Because, hello, kids. I pop them in my mouth, re-bite them trying to make it circular again, so the smoothie can flow through it.  When they are done, I then have to locate the special teeny tiny wire straw brush, grab the liquid soap under the sink, and proceed to wash both ends of the straw to make sure my kids aren’t sucking up mold with their next smoothie. I’m all for protein rich smoothies, but that could be a bit much. And fine, this extra step might only take me another minute while washing the rest of the dishes from lunch, but it puts me over the edge.

Maybe it’s because of the guilt. And the shamming.

img_2095

Probably because it doesn’t stop at straws.  I have these beautiful cloth napkins, lovely floral things, but do I use them? Nope. I use wet wipes, at the dinner table, every single day, because  a napkin can’t touch the sticky mess that is my kids when they are done eating. And I tried using wash clothes but they end up smelling like funk in 2 seconds, and that doesn’t help the laundry build up issue. And when we have friends over, and I envision using my beautiful white dishes and pretty napkins, you know what I end up doing?  Wait for it, I bring out paper for my guests. While I love having people over to my house, I also think it’s a lot of work. I didn’t used think that, but I guess age will do that to you. And I have three kids under five so trying to wrangle them while simultaneously filling chip bowls and drinks is, well, tiring. So at the end of all that, I would rather not have to do a huge stack of dishes. Or more laundry. Because I want to always have people over. I love having people in our home, and so if using paper products means I’m a little more excited about it, then hello 200 count paper plates from Costco. Let’s cozy up.

Because I am letting go of guilt.

And you wanna know why? Because as I was filling out my #powersheets,  from Cultivate, (click here to check it out) one question was “As you work through parts of your life that need to be cultivated, what are you letting go of?”

Immediately I knew my answer. I’m letting go of guilt.

Will it be easy? I doubt it. Will it be overnight? Certainly not. Will it be absolutely life giving? I think so.

But if I’m ever to even dream about letting go of big guilt that is holding me back from certain hopes/goals/dreams, then I should probably start small. And for me, right now, that means I am using straws. And disposable diapers. And paper plates when I have friends over.

So, I’m sorry beautiful mother earth. I will love on you and protect you and care for you in other ways, and hopefully do better in a different season in life.

Advertisements

Let’s do some of the things we’ve always wanted to do

It’s probably just as easy to start new things, set fresh goals, make some changes any ol’ month out of the year. But here we are in January, the designated start fresh month. And I’m okay with that idea, admitting that there is nothing special or magical about a new year, but sometimes it’s just what we need.

IMG_1822

So this year, I’m trying something called Powersheets by Lara Casey. I must admit, I did gasp a bit at the cost ($60!!) But I am only 1/3 of the way through this book (well something like that, I’m not very good with fractions…?) and I am in love. It’s already money well spent, and I haven’t even come to the goal setting part yet!!  I have spent the last month mulling over the first 30 pages, as there were many thought provoking questions, like these:

“List what worked in the last year”

“List what didn’t work last year.”

“People I’m grateful for”

“What I am saying NO to”

“What I am saying YES to”

Fill in the blank, “I am afraid of _______because ___________. And she gently guides you through these fears, guiding you through how to step out of that fear and into what you were created to do or have always wanted to do.

“Pick a Word for the year” (after pages of helping you how to find your word)

“It’s OK to grow slow”-Lara Casey

She drops some serious encouragement when she says things like “You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should do them.”  Geeze Lara, you are nailing it!

“Comparison isn’t just the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything. Keep your eyes on your purposeful path, celebrate others.” -Lara Casey

She gives space and tools to evaluate many areas of your life on a numbered scale, and then has you check on those numbers and re-evaluate every season.

I could go on and on, but how about if you’re interested in more, just click on this link and go check out her website.

I’m only just recently learning something about myself, I do well with setting goals. I do even better if I set SMART goals, I check in with myself on my goals (and next level is if I have someone I’m chatting with about them and we each are holding each other accountable). I used to think that made me scatterbrained. Or unorganized, or maybe even a little lazy? But the reality is, this is who I am. I am a person who, if I want to accomplish something, change something, fix something or correct something, I need to write it down. I need to be reminded of it. I need to reflect and remember and go back. Adjust. Put more heat on my goals, or heck, take some heat off.  Prioritize, change time frames, but not to give up on them. I think the point is this: Setting goals is a fluid thing. And as I’m learning from these #Powersheets, it’s okay to set some goals this months, and then re-evalute next month. If I set a goal that feels too big, it’s okay to say that it needs some tweaking. In the past, if I’ve set a big goal I can’t get seem to accomplish, I usually just quit whatever it is I was after. So, I’m learning to take baby steps. To think about the goals I have for the YEAR, and then break them down into bite size pieces that I can chew on each week, each month.  So I’m pretty thankful for this girl I just met, Lara, who is helping me do this, one question at a time, one encouragement at a time, one page at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time.

So here’s to 2019.

May we do some of the things we’ve always wanted to do.

 

 

 

 

Gather.

I was hoping to share with you an article I got published in a magazine. Instead, it’s an article I wrote for a magazine, but they in fact decided not to publish it. I’ve set some writing goals for myself, among other goals, and writing articles was one of them. Turns out, just like the all the real authors say, there is a lot of rejection associated with writing. Not cool. So, while this article was in fact rejected, I have to giggle to myself because I think it’s pretty good. Okay, I’m clearly biased, and maybe it’s just barely decent.

ButI hope you can see how special you are, my dear reader, since I feel like I can in fact share this article with you. It was tempting to tell myself because it wasn’t good enough for a magazine, it’s not good enough for anyone to read. But, I’m choosing to believe that isn’t true. I’m choosing to believe that perhaps it wasn’t the right article for them, but it’s still an article filled with truth, real life, and one woman’s thoughts on gathering.

The topic was simply “Gather.”  How appropriate with Thanksgiving just a month away!

Here is the article….

Gathering is essential. Our need for heart to heart connection is vital to our survival. And it is a silent and powerful way of demonstrating that no matter what we believe,  where we stand politically, or who or what we worship, that we love someone. We value them. When we gather, we are saying that even though we have differences, and life is hard and complicated, being together and making time for each other is bigger than those things.

 

Sadly, I recently lost sight of that. Just this past summer we visited our extended family in California. My husband and I braved the expensive and long international flights with our three kids so we could gather with our family and closest friends. And we usually have a pretty great time. But this particular trip, well, it was a cluster. I am not solely referring to the standard cluster we normally are as we travel internationally with 3 kids under five; as we lug around 3 car seats, 5 pieces of luggage, backpacks, strollers, sippy cups and snacks falling behind us like we’re Hansel and Gretel. People see us coming and they give us either sympathetic nods or annoyed side ways glances, praying we aren’t on the same plane.

 

No, I’m more specifically referring to the actual time with our families that was just not as great as it usually is, and it’s usually pretty amazing.  I still am unsure what exactly went wrong, but I think it was a combination of poor communication, bad planning, and not nearly enough grace for each other.

 

For weeks after we returned my husband and I talked about it. We dissected it, hoping to figure out what went wrong. And we blamed. Oh, how we blamed. As we picked everything apart, and finger pointed, all we began to focus on was our differences. We are all so very different from each other. My siblings, and my husbands siblings, we are all grown up now. Like, full blown real adults, with spouses, children of our own, and even real careers. And as we’ve grown up, thankfully, we’ve changed. We are no longer the immature children we once were; locking one another out of rooms, wearing each others clothes without asking, lurking around corners hoping to scare the other into tears, and taking family game night just a little too far with our competitiveness. Okay, confession, some things some of us haven’t outgrown. Ehem. So naturally, with all that growing up, we see things differently. We believe different ideals, we vote differently, we spend our money differently, we vacation differently, we school our children differently, we have different thoughts and ideas about Jesus, and we are raising our families differently.
That’s a lot of differences.

 

And that was all I could focus on for a while. But I finally decided to talk to the Lord about it, perhaps rant is a bit more accurate, and He listened. Then He held up a mirror to my heart, in the tender way that He does, and showed me my culpability. He showed me how desperately I lacked kindness and grace.  Grace. One thing I desperately needed on that particular trip, but sadly wasn’t able or willing to give. I was too consumed with my own stress, my own life, my own little family.

 

I knew I had to apologize. And I had a feeling, deep in my heart, there was something else God wanted me to do. My pride was telling me that time would heal this wound, and maybe we’d just not visit again for another year, or two. Because I knew if I wasn’t ready for another visit, they too probably weren’t too thrilled about us coming back so soon. But the Lord was prompting me to take a different route. He wanted me to repent, extend grace, and take the path towards reconciliation. And He also wanted me to book plane tickets, and more specifically, not in two years from now.

 

So, I finally listened. We are going to visit my family thisThanksgiving, and we put another trip on the calendar to visit my husband’s family next spring. Sure it means we’ll spend more money traveling, we’ll use all our vacation time visiting family, and we’ll be going back when our hearts are still a little tender from the last visit.

 

But we are going to do it, because I know what else it means. It means we are sowing peace, and choosing love. These next two trips are an olive branch, the best way I can tangibly demonstrate my love for them. I want them to hear me, loud and clear, when I say that I love you. Even when I act selfishly, even though I’m probably not always easy to love. Even though there was hurt and misunderstanding on both ends. Because I am learning it’s essential to choose love, and give grace freely, especiallyin the thick of our differences.

 

So as I prepare for this next gathering, I want to be a little less concerned with what I’m packing, and spend a more time preparing my heart, asking the Lord to fill me with more of Him, and less of me. It’s only with the Lord’s help that I can do that. Because, let’s be honest, if I’m going to brave another international flight with my adorable but legit hot mess of a crew, that’s the only way I want to arrive. Full of grace and love, and perhaps a few half chewed goldfish stuck to my pants as well.