Refresh

Refresh

We have been in a McDonald’s that is old and dingy, but then you come across one that is freshly remodeled and your whole perspective changes. They refreshed their look without rebranding, changing their logo, changing the store brand color, or even dramatically changing their branding… they simply refreshed and the company “feels” different.

Where is your business at? Complete rebranding is something to consider with great deliberation. But what about refreshing your online image – social media, web, advertising; your brick ‘n mortar; or simply your marketing pieces. Keep your brand but refresh your look.

Sometimes it is not just our business that needs a refresh, but us. We stay true to our principles and our foundation, but we change our look or our outlook and grow. Change in ourselves. Growth in us will reflect in our leadership and business. Refresh and recharge even relaxation can change outlook which can bring rejuvenation to make an impact on the world around us.

 

A Need to Create

Sometimes in life I find that I have just operated on making things work and doing what I need to do. But this week I was reminded of how desperately I need to create in order for my soul to not feel drudgery in the day to day. I want to pull out paints, pick up a pencil, stay up late just to create something.

We are all created to do something. We have different gifts, passions, abilities that if we do not exercise it seems like something is missing. What brings you joy and makes you feel like you have new energy and new life to give? …Taking care of a garden, making numbers work perfectly; setting a detailed plan in motion; making a meal; building;writing a song; singing a song; painting; lending an ear to a friend; cleaning a closet and making labeled, clearly organized bins – what brings you the most joy?

Whatever your gifts, your passions and your abilities are… use them. The people around you need you to do what you were created to do.

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What Every Office Needs

IMG_05271So, I only worked Wednesday through Friday this past week… so maybe a 3-day work week is what everyone needs!

But in the past two weeks I have decided that an afternoon break around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. is made perfect with toddler MegaBlocks. Every office should have them. I want to be clear that they need to be “Mega” size. The small interlocking blocks can get… well serious (have you seen The Lego Movie?). Large blocks have limitations and you get to be creative without thinking. It is the best way to wind down the day or clear your mind when you are stuck.

To really help make certain you do not get to consumed in your block creation and change it from play to work, add a toddler (preferably a boy) – they will willingly knock it down for you!

Even if you don’t have blocks in your office, find something to play at each day. I’m certain it will bring a smile to your face on even the most stressful day. : )

Attack the Apples

Have you ever heard your breakfast food cry out for help? It does!!

We had apple, eggs, ham, and grapes for breakfast the other morning. The cry of Uriah’s food started in low, but it steadily grew as each food item on his plate was conquered. The finally cries came from the apples – loud and strong: “Help!” Then the mighty Uriah would smile and bite. The apple “help” cry came before every bite. But Uriah would laugh and take a large bite, enjoying his conquest! The food did not stand a chance, but man did Uriah think it was funny.

Listen carefully next time you eat and enjoy conquering the yummy food on your plate!

In the rearview mirror…

Life has its moments where you want to hold on to anything not moving and hope that everything else around you will stop spinning. Within the span of nine days our house sold, my husband interviewed, accepted a job, and we loaded a moving truck. In that order.

A few days after the moving truck was loaded and as many in loose ends as possible were wrapped up, the boys and I took off on our 950 mile adventure to catch up with Daddy. (Yes, we did not take a little move. God asked us to walk away and start a whole new adventure.) Thankful for everything that God had unfolded over the past few days, I was still sad. I think God knew I needed comfort as I drove away from our house and life in Iowa, He graciously allowed it to rain and be cloudy the entire first day driving. Through the rain my sister and I finished loading the car and cleaning the now empty house. When everything was ready my two-year-old and I walked through the house. He started crying at his missing tree-house, the empty space for the refrigerator and ended be moaning the missing washer and dryer. After a few runs across the basement a teary boy & mom left the house to head for Dunkin’ Donuts (some rainy, sad days just need a special treat!).

Today we closed on the house, received our finally paperwork and officially no longer own it and no longer have a home in Iowa. It makes me sad yet again. I wish it did not make me so sad, because I am thankful for all God has done. In the midst of processing change and what feels like loss, I have seen God’s unmistakable guidance. Moments in this journey that display His fingerprints and help me to rejoice in Him and put one foot in front of the other.

The joy of my husband and the blessing of his work and work environment. God opened not just A teaching job, but a position in one of the best elementary schools (based on test scores and parent reviews) in all of Georgia. He does not just work under a principal, but with a male principal who, with a family of young kids, also left the business world and began teaching elementary as a second career. And on top of it all, he works with a team of teachers that are overwhelmingly grateful to have him, that want to work together, and that have made him feel very, very welcomed.

But the moment that I keep coming back to in my mind and prayers is the image in my rearview mirror as I drove away from our house for the last time. For in the moment I saw God’s voice clearly directing to keep moving forward – not looking to the right or the left, just trusting Him in the direction He had given. I wanted to look back and see the house for one last time, I could not see the house. The car was loaded to the hilt and I had my two precious boys in the backseat. Their faces filled my view. I could not look back.

Each night as we put our Uriah to bed we remind him that we love him, but Jesus loves him even more than we ever could. We also remind him that we want him to follow Jesus because He has the past plan for Him. We do not want Him to miss any of the good gifts God has in store. So even when it is very hard (which it will be because life is hard), we remind Uriah that it is still best to follow Jesus.

So,even through the tears, I cannot look back. I want to follow Jesus. The blessing He has in store for my life and family are found in walking and trusting Him. So, today as everything with our house in Iowa is officially settled I will rejoice in all that He has done. The incredible answered prayers to months of waiting. His perfect timing in our finances and lives. And the blessing that it is that God moved us near my family, in fact we are blessed to spend a little bit of time settling in to our new life by living with family.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Even when life is hard, follow God, His ways are the very best, even when it is very hard.

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Enjoying Life… just a day at a time

Today our second son, born on July 6, is 10 days old. We are at home and we are all healthy. I am SO grateful!

I have been reminded again that God directs and gives blessing one day, one step at a time. He knew, that for me, reaching day 10 at home is met with lots of thanksgiving! But also met with the reminders that God brings good out of the difficulties of life.

When, our now two year old, was only 10 days old, we found ourselves awakening in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. We could not hold our son and could only go near him with rubber gloves and a sterile hospital gown. All we knew was that he had a form of meningitis and we were awaiting more conclusive test results. That morning the Daily Bread devotional (http://odb.org/?tz=-06) was on heaven. My husband looked at me and asked if I could handle hearing the devotional. We were reminded that God gives each of us only one day at a time and this short, temporary life is just that… temporary. Heaven is home. To this day, those few moments of that June 10th morning, vividly remind me of how fragile and precious life is. It is a gift given one day at a time.

Within hours of that same morning, we had test results showing that despite the high fever our first born had no sign of seizures, the meningitis was late-onset Group B (so it was not a viral meningitis) – we could hold our son again, and the outlook for recovery greatly improved. We had one of the shortest stays in the PICU ever seen in similar cases – we left after just four days. The remaining days in the Pediatric ward were generally boring. (In a hospital, boring is good!) A couple fever spikes and extra fluid around the brain and spinal cord extended our stay, but God had given life and time together that would not have been quite the same if He had not allowed illness. Although we would never wish for it, that three weeks together was a blessing that would have been missed if not for the struggle.

So, in this day over two years later I look at my little second son and praise God that I am at home… swamped with work because I planned for him to come next week! (Silly mom, I know better than to think I can plan a baby’s arrival!) But thankful anew for just this day. I cannot control tomorrow for it is not a guarantee – it is a gift. But how precious is today.

I’m thankful, my husband is home loving on his boys, supporting me in the work to be finished, my parents are here and loving on grandkids and helping with the endless list of house chores. I’m thankful again that the only day that I have to handle is today. God has tomorrow and the steps to take between. God holds the journey and the map. I just get to rest and trust one step at a time.

I am thankful for today.

Matthew 6: 25-34 (NIV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Wait for it… WAIT FOR IT…….. W A I T…….

Whether it is a holding pattern in flight, a phone call on-hold with customer service, a checkout with a long line, or a hot car in a traffic jam… waiting is not on most people’s top ten list of things to do.

But sometimes waiting is the best place to be. That is the place where this week finds our household – waiting to hear on a job for Tim, waiting to hear on the sale of our house, waiting to see what doors will open and what doors will close, waiting to know where the next 60 days will take us. In short, life is just in a waiting zone.

And in the midst of the waiting, we were reminded of abiding and remaining in Jesus as we (Tim and I) read John 15:1-11. In Him, there is great joy, peace and extravagant love in all circumstances. I know that some of that sounds, well, “churchy” or surreal in contrast with how we view difficult circumstances, but I do not know how else to describe the intangible, incredible, gifts that only God can give. And His gifts are only experienced when we are remaining close and finding our life source in Him.

As human people, we get anxious. I have had some conversations with people recently where after answering that we are just at a waiting point, the other person almost seems to grow anxious on our behalf… pressing for our plan. The action steps to be taken next – in short they say, “What are you doing? I’m anxious for you, and you are just telling me you’re ‘waiting’! Come on you cannot just sit still and wait!”

But waiting is trust in action. Waiting requires patience, and some days, trust and life has to be surrendered to God every five minutes. If He rules the universe I can certainly trust Him five minutes at a time!! Waiting is an action. You take the steps you can take to prepare for whatever God has, but only God can provide the outcome.

In all circumstances, God gives peace and joy. When I am resting in God – remaining close to Him I am at peace. I can agree with Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits for Him, and in His Word I put my hope.” I know His Word is true and that God is faithful – ALWAYS. He will prevail with good plans. “I am confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

However, if in the next five minutes I take my eyes off the truth and reality of God, I am sinking in the “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?” So, life is not rosy and perfect in the midst of waiting, but it a place to learn and grow.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, waiting should be a part of my daily life – anxiously anticipating and preparing for the return of Christ. So, if this short-term, temporary period of waiting teaches me more about hoping, resting, and preparing that is a good outcome. I want to be able to continually say my “whole being waits for Him”.

When life is more comfortable, this period of life is a chapter in our story and I feel in a more stable place, may my heart still long for Jesus to come back – even more than how I long for short-term, temporary life answers today. May I prepare fervently for Jesus, because one day He will make life stable, fulfill my every hope and the waiting will come to an end – Jesus will return.

Isaiah 64:3-4

For when You did awesome things that we did not expect,
    You came down, and the mountains trembled before You.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Wait

Sometimes you should order takeout…

Ever have nights, where despite your best attempts, dinner is announced by the smoke alarm?

Pizza is a meal that is made in mass quantity in our house. I usually try to make no less than four pizzas at a time – we eat one and then I put frozen pizza in the oven for easy use later. However, tonight I think buying Red Baron would have worked out better.

Pizza 1… Well, yep, it was announced by the smoke alarm. The cheese overflowed unto the bottom of the oven and at 500° it does not take very long for the smoke to start billowing out the oven vents. Windows open (praise the Lord it was in between torrential down pours), fans turned on, and the smoke alarm still goes off!! For real! …Uriah is now in tears, because the alarm is so loud he got scared. Let’s sit down and eat. Suppers on!!

Pizza 2… Oven has been cooled, cheese charcoal bits have been chipped off the bottom of the oven, oven reheated. Although this time, the second pizza has been waiting nearly 40 minutes to be put in the oven – toppings have marinated well with the crust, the flour on the pizza board has been soaked into the crust making a difficult transfer to the pizza stone. BUT, I have gotten smarter (or so I think) I have covered the oven rack with foil and then put the pizza stone on top of it.

12 minutes later – we smell pizza – ready to come out. Due to the wait the cheese has made everything melt worthy and the pizza is falling off the stone all over and unto the foil. It takes two of us to get the foil, the stone, and the pizza out of the oven. The next challenge was to remove the stone from the midst of the overflowed pizza. Then the foil needed to be pulled away from the pizza so it could be free. Good thing we don’t eat food based on looks in our house.

Thankfully, flash baking crusts for frozen pizza somehow remained uneventful… except for a bit more smoke from fresh flour spilled on the bottom of the clean over. But, hey, I think we at least have 2.3 salvageable pizzas for the freezer, and who doesn’t love to clean the oven multiple times over the same meal.

Enjoy daily “adventures”! At least design projects went well for the day… and I sure am glad that my family laughs with me at my mistakes and messes.

Enjoy the moments, good and bad of your day!

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Anxiety or Joy

Ps 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (NIV)

What supports and upholds you in your day? Sunday morning I had a choice to make from the very start. I woke up with a very poor attitude to start the day. I sat on the edge of my bed wanting nothing more than to complain about everything… including a restless night with my toddler. The day was going to start miserable if I did not do something instantly. So, I decided to pick up the devotional that was sitting by my bed, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It was about choosing thankfulness when we want to complain, ugh… Thanking God for everything and every circumstance so that our heart is transformed to be like Jesus instead of stepping through a land of complaining which leads to rebellion and regret.

Oh dear, you cannot read that and then choose to complain. So, I thanked God that my energy could only come from Him today. Thanked God that we are waiting. Thanked God for the projects and work He has provided to LeA’Tev. Thanked God for all of the amazing provision, blessings, and gifts He gives daily. And I thanked God that we are at a point in life where walking by faith seems more tangible then at other moments in life.

Then God provided tangible blessings and evidence of His supportive love from friends and family among three different states. What a joy when you realize God has prompted people to pray for you through their own circumstances, through brief meetings with them and through their dreams.

A good friend sent verses that challenged and encouraged my faith in God, including Psalm 94:18-19. Even when we think we are teetering and liable to fall, God is willing to uphold us with His love and replace our anxiety with joy. I am so thankful for the challenges of the day for without the challenges we sometimes miss seeing the blessings of God. Before we complain we have a choice of anxiety or love and joy.

Today, who can you show God’s love to? Who can you encourage and support? What a blessing it is to be a part of showing God’s supportive love and a joy to receive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Letting things go.

We are officially listing the house with a Realtor today. The sign will be in the yard in just a little bit. We chose a listing price $3,000 under the appraised value and are asking God to bring a fast top dollar offer quickly.

We really do like our Realtor and she does a great job at being realistic and then offering advice, but as she left Tim looked at me and just said that made me sad. I agree. Although, God began the process of letting go of our house a long time ago, it is still sad.

It is an inanimate object. A thing. The only good a house can have is if it is used for the glory of God, and that is and was our dream for any place that God has and will allow us to live in. But it will not change the fact that this house will hold a special, sentimental place in our heart. If we ever have straight up cash to pay for housing, we would build the same house all over again (OK we would change a couple minor things – like what doors we use, but pretty much we’d do it all over again).

The process of designing the floor plan, building a house, making house decisions is a process that we were told over and over takes a toll on a relationship and always goes over budget. What we learned in the process of designing and building this house is that we were able to keep our budget, we work well together, and we like what we can design together. We would have lived here till we died if God did not allow life to be altered.

But today we are reminded that relationships and loving each other is far more important than our location, our house, or the things that surround us. We are learning that we are not and do not need to be in control – that is God’s job alone.

We do not know where we are going, where the next job will be, where we are going to be living next, but we do know without a shadow of doubt that God is in control and He knows the answer to every question we hold. We are given today to walk, to trust, to grow and to let go of everything that hinders us.

God is Powerful. God is Good.

“O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress and You will hear and deliver us.” 2 Chronicles 20:6, 9

Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And He will make straight your path. Proverbs 3:3, 5-6 (paraphrase)