Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 30 “Transitioning Well – Momma Knows Best”

I posted a question in our 31 day forum, from a friend/reader who has been so sweet to follow my transitioning well series here on the blog.  Here is her question along with some advice from actual mothers with children who have taken on the 31 day challenge with me:
How do you deal with transitions (changes) that are happening at light-speed? As a working mom of three and military wife, I have the occasional big transition, and I have a ton of small transitions usually all happening at the same time.  Not to mention trying to get 4 other human beings to transition smoothly as well. Anyway, you've sat on my couch and watched it up close, so I know you know.  Is it okay that I stopped having control over the transitions to just letting them happen, sometimes successfully, sometimes complete disasters?

Elaine Mingus from responds:  As a mom of six (not military), I believe moms have to roll with the punches. There will always be days that just seem perfect and then some that just fall apart (Lyrics from Toby Mac's song "Speak Life" - which is a perfect song for days like the one you described). I've trained myself to respond even more calmly the more chaotic a situation gets. In a strange way, if I'm stressed I purposely go into robot mode where I separate my emotional response from the necessary response until I have a safe place to deal with the emotions. If your husband has ever been in combat, perhaps he has some advice on how to handle out of control situations with relative tranquility because he HAS to in a dangerous situation.

Devi Duerrmeier from responds:  I've got two small kids, and we're expats (and I grew up as an MK/TCK moving quite a bit). Here's my input: Give yourself a lot of grace and permission to fail in transition times. Keep your life very, very easy - make sure the freezer is stocked with chicken nuggets and frozen pizzas, and don't feel guilty about using it. Give yourself permission to feel angry and frustrated, express it into a journal or to a trusted friend, but get it out there. Negative emotions always get out, so it's better to let it out in vulnerability with someone you trust, than in anger to someone you need to take care of. Yes, lose control. Our kids don't need to see people that always have it together (or together at all). Kids need to see us at the end of our rope and then what we do in that place. When we moved from Switzerland to Sweden with an 8-week old and a two-year-old, it was the hardest time of my life.  My kids saw a spent mom, a sad mom, and sometimes an angry mom, but they saw me praying, they heard me asking God for help every. single. day. And I hope and pray that these are the things they will take away from transition times in their lives (there are many more to come for us) - that in my weakness, I am strong, there is grace for us in transition times.

Marian Frizzell from responds:  I'm a military wife and mom of four, and I'm writing about transitions too this month.  Marian wasn't able to come back to this question in time for me to write it today but I like her style and I think moms everywhere, in any season, would enjoy reading about her current transition.  Unfortunately for her she has a really funny bee story that will at least make you laugh if nothing else.

Though I am not a mom, I want to close by sharing this letter and family photo: 

Dear Sandi, You are an amazing mother and though I know you are not perfect I have no doubt that your children know that they are loved.  I know you are not perfect because none of us are but you always seem to strive for your best!!  I have had the privilege of watching your family grow since the day you and Mike told us you were pregnant with your first born.  Our time together in Okinawa, as fellow Marine Spouses, are some of my most treasured memories and I can’t thank you and Mike enough for continuing to foster our friendship over the past 15+ years.  We have enjoyed hanging out with your kids every time we come to visit.  Your three are some of the only kids that we would take for a weekend or even a summer – they are that well behaved and fun to be around.  You and Mike are responsible for some of that!!  And, not only are you a great mother, you are an amazing hostess.  I have to share so everyone who reads this will know how great you were to us during the Christmas of 2011.  
My mom died a little before Christmas and we had finished up helping my step dad with everything that needed to be handled.  Since your family only lived an hour or so away you invited us to spend Christmas with your family and that made all the difference in the world to us at that time.  You were so gracious to invite us and you even had gifts wrapped and waiting for us to open along with your family on Christmas morning.  It’s crazy to say but that Christmas is one of my favorites despite having just lost my mother.  I will never be able to thank you for your kindness.  And you do all of this while working from home and usually with a sweet smile.  Thank you for being a great mother, a fabulous Marine Corps wife and especially for being a sweet friend!!!

If you are a mom please share any 
transitioning well ideas with us in the comments!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 29 “Transition Well – Write It Down!”

With only three days left of this 31 day writing challenge I have so much going through my mind.  I know my last day’s post will be a wrap up and I have an idea for tomorrow’s post already.  So that leaves today.  I am so excited about my accomplishment and yet I have so much more I want to say.  I know I don’t have to say it all today, in this post, and that I can continue to write about transitioning well way past October 31st.  So I grabbed one of the many thoughts rolling around in my brain and decided that is what I am going to write about today!!  Gratitude and journaling are today’s topic!

I use to be a disciplined journal writer.  I was inspired by my MIL many years ago and I even wrote a post about it here.  More than writing in my journals, I loved going back a year later, or longer, and sharing some of those thoughts on Facebook.  I would even tag my friends so we could walk down memory lane together and they seemed to really enjoy it.  Sometimes I wrote about a new lunch place we enjoyed and who was on that particular adventure with us that day.  My journals aren’t filled with wisdom and reflections as much as sweet times with my peeps.  I loved journaling and then it stopped.  Three years ago my husband had just returned from a 6 month deployment to Iraq and we were planning a move from Okinawa to Hawaii.  All those plans took an unexpected turn when an unknown mass was discovered in my husband’s abdominal area.  Needless to say there were a lot of details involved in speeding up our move and trying to look for a house to rent while we spent the rest of our time at the hospital.  I will write more later on this subject.  The great, praise God, news is the hubs has been cancer free for over 3 years and he is getting ready to retire from the Marine Corps after 29 years and 6 days of service. I say all that to say that I abruptly stopped journaling.  Worst time ever to stop as it would be so great to go back now and look at all that God did during that time.

As I am reflecting on these past 27 days, I am so grateful that I have recorded some of this current transitional journey right here on my blog. Not every one of my posts has been faith based.  However, God is in every detail whether I write about it or not.  It makes me think of this Bible verse:

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not 
yet created may praise the Lord:”
Psalm 102:18 (NIV)

The author of this Psalm is unknown and my Bible notes describe this as “God’s certain deliverance of his people being recorded for his continual praise.”  A record to share with future generations.  A written account of God’s amazing grace and love for His people.  He loves us equally as much today and it’s just as important to record what God is doing in our everyday lives for the future generations to come.  It doesn't all have to be about mountain top experiences – just write what is on your heart and take time to go back and read it again later.  Write what you are grateful for – recording the sweet blessings of day to day living. 

I know I can remember some of the BIG things God has done in our lives and ultimately, in our case, we know that God healed my husband from the leiomyosarcoma that was growing inside of him.  What I wish I had recorded and could remember are some of the sweetest moments during that time.  The small interactions with the doctors and nurses.  The things we had to laugh about or we would have cried or given up.  Those little moments where God was there and we just didn’t know it at the time.  We did take some pictures, to include the picture of his cancerous tumor, and those are great visual reminders of God’s sweet provision.  God healed my husband and we moved forward and enjoyed our three years on Oahu.  Life goes on, and so many sweet things have happened to us since June 10th of 2011. 

I am more inspired today to share about the amazing life we have been blessed with.  One thing I have done for over a year now is post three things that I am grateful for as my last Facebook update every night.  And this has made a huge difference in what I focus on.  Now I want to take that gratitude and write it into a journal that I can hold and share and that won’t get lost among all the shared posts; tags; pictures; memes; and what not on Facebook. 

I love Kristin’s quote above as it is raw and truthful and full of hope.  Side note:  This Kristin is not Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife.     

I referenced my past journaling post at the beginning of this one and I recommend you read it if you want to know how I started journaling; what I use to write in; and what I use to record!!!  I am not sure how I am going to approach journaling this time around but I promise to share all about it in a future post!!

Do you journal?  Why or why not?  What kind of journaling do you do?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 28 “Transition Well - Seek God’s Will”

I was praying about giving advice to a friend, who asked for some recently regarding a decision she needs to make, and God brought some surprising scriptures to mind.  As I was waiting to hear from Him I was digging into my Bible and remembering that I wanted to memorize the scriptures in Philippians 4:8-9 (Quick review at this post).  I struggle with my thoughts and I know this scripture will help me focus.  How I think leads to what I say and do so it is important to think on the things of the Lord. I couldn't remember the Bible reference and God was sweet to lead me there through some of the loose papers in my Bible that I referred to in this post.  God wants us to succeed in finding wisdom and peace in the Bible and He is faithful to help us.  When our thoughts are right, more specifically on God and what is pure, lovely and praiseworthy, we will make the right decisions in whatever circumstances we are in.    

As I have been thinking about how to answer my friend’s request God has been speaking to me about my own need for the same advice.  I have seen many of us struggle with knowing God’s will and making decisions based on it.  This seems especially true when we are transitioning and our future is unknown.  I started this conversation with a friend, and shared it with you all here on Day 20.  That conversation has had me thinking for a while now about God’s will.  I am not an expert but I know the Bible is filled with advice about God’s will for our lives – it’s not a BIG secret that He is trying to hide from us.

We pray for God’s will when we are buying a house; choosing a job; dealing with our “neighbor” and raising our children.  And God is faithful to give us the advice we need.  It’s just that He doesn’t say, in the Bible, buy this specific house; choose this particular job; say these exact words when dealing with your neighbor or in raising your children. 

What He does say is:

I found 11 references to “love your neighbor” and that is without doing an exhaustive search.  I think God’s will is for us to “love our neighbor”!  That is not all that He wants from us but these other verses sure confirm what Leviticus 19:18 says:  Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 5:43, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8.

When we doubt our parenting skills God gives some very simple advice:  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

So what does that really mean?  As I continued to dig I found other great verses that are included in this chapter of Proverbs to give us guidance like verse 8 that says “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed.” And verse 9 says “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” So I feel like we can ascertain that as adults, and those who are parents, we are instructed not to be wicked or condone wickedness and to be generous to others – specifically sharing what God has blessed us with.  And, in turn, we train our children to do the same.  So when you question whether you are raising your children God’s way or not, refer to the Bible and lead by example.

When dealing with your neighbor, who is your literal neighbor and your co-worker, co-laborers in Christ, and the employee checking you out at the grocery store, God tells us, in His Word, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:5 NIV)

What I love is that these are just a few of the amazing scriptures in God’s Word that instruct us in the way we should go.  Lastly, here is a great scripture on wisdom and knowledge: 

In my Bible notes for Proverbs 9:10 I am directed to the notes on Proverbs 1:7 that state that the fear of the Lord is a loving reverence for God that includes submission to his lordship and to the commands of His Word.  It then directed me to Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Now all has been heard: here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Side note:  I know that this verse is from the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we are in a new covenant with God.  However, I believe that we are to consider the entire Bible and not separate the old from the new.  This is just my opinion and please remember that I am on this journey as well and I do not claim to be an expert!)

Please hear my heart, I am not trying to simplify huge decisions and seeking God’s will.  However, I know that I complicate things a lot when I don’t need to.  This simplification gives me peace as I am reminded that I am to submit to God’s authority, which He communicates through is His Word.  I believe this takes the confusion out of my interactions with my neighbor, or how you deal with your co-workers and children, and it helps us make decisions.  If I am not “loving my neighbor”, than I need to look into why I am being disobedient to God’s command and ask Him for forgiveness and the strength to overcome my fleshly desires.  This, of course, is easier said than done.  And, I believe I am going to be on this journey for a very long time. 

The one practical tip I have will not surprise you and may sound overly simplified - I have started reading God’s Word as the last thing I see and put into my mind before going to bed.  I can’t describe specifically how things are different since starting this new habit beyond feeling a new excitement to dig into God’s Word more than ever before.  It’s really that simple – read the instruction manual for all the wisdom you will ever need and you will find peace and be able to make wise decisions. 

What are your thoughts on God’s will for our lives?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 27 “Transitioning Well is A CHOICE!”

I love quotes!  I use them when I blog; I write them in my planner; I include them in my scrapbooks; I buy signs with my favorite quotes on them.  Quotes obviously inspire me!!!  I came across one of my favorite quotes recently and I love it because of the potential in the quote!

"The life you have led 
doesn't need to be the 
only life you'll have." 

Ann Quindlen

I think whether we are transitioning or going through a challenging time we would be wise to remember that it is not always going to be like this.  In my case, I won’t always be surrounded by unpacked boxes.  I won’t always need directions or reminders to get to some of my favorite places.  I won’t always be the new woman in church or at a local scrap booking event.  I also won’t always feel so out of sorts or overwhelmed.  Think about your list of challenges and write them down. 

The good news is that none of these things will be true about my life over the next few months because I am making a choice to move forward and leave them behind.  I will have unpacked all the boxes.  I will make friends and invite the new ones into whatever we are doing so they won’t feel alone.  I will have driven the same way for many months and know it by memorization.  What will be different about your life in a few months due to a positive outlook?

I know this is easier said than done but I know that we can chose our thoughts and choosing positive thoughts will make a HUGE difference in our lives.  I know this to be true for many reasons.  My favorite reason is because of three remarkable women in our history chose to do the same.
Anne Frank was young; was a Jew during a time that this was not popular to be one; she had to hide because of her heritage.  I believe she knows a little about misery yet she chose to see the beauty still around her.

 “This is what the past is for!  Every experience God gives us, 
every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation 
for the future that only He can see.” 
Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom also knew the misery that Anne Frank knew – she even went to prison for helping Jews though she was not Jewish.  Yet she chose to focus on God’s purpose and trusted her future to Him – and what an amazing future she had.  She lived to be 91 years old.

 Mother Teresa saw misery all around her and chose to do something about it.  She chose to get up and make a difference instead of wallowing in her own challenges or being overwhelmed by what was going on in the world at that time.

I think we can all agree that these three women made a huge impact on our world.  Why?  Because they made a positive choice.  And we can do the same.

Are you willing to focus on the beauty that still remains?  Are you willing to trust that God will use your past and give you a future filled with hope?  Are you willing to focus on today, the only present we have, and just begin?  

We have a choice!  How will you choose today?  Will you transition well?  Overcome your challenges? Or will you dwell on your circumstances?

Please share your thoughts or experiences with me!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 26 “Transitioning Well – Jesus Made The Difference” (Sunday Sermon)

Our pastor is doing a 4-part series titled “The Difference”.  Last Sunday I shared my sermon notes about Zacchaeus and how his testimony should be our testimony.  If you missed it you can listen to it here.

This week we covered John 4:3-30 where we come to the very familiar passage in scripture where a Jewish carpenter asks for water from a Samaritan woman – aka the woman at the well.  (Audio of sermon found here.)

John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Take time to read about this encounter and how Jesus was The Difference in her life. 

Here are my key points:

Jesus went out to where the people actually were and willingly made himself weak and vulnerable in order to communicate.

Jesus listened to people’s story – he always addressed people at their point of need.

Jesus was people-centered.  His message was relevant to each person and each situation.

Jesus knows us and each of our situations.

Jesus comes to us to offer forgiveness.

Jesus is calling us to a new way of living and he wants us to share the difference (he has made in us) with others.

What I love about this encounter is that Jesus did not adhere to the social norms of his day nor does he adhere to today’s social norms.  He speaks to all of us – whether we are the woman at the well or a tax collector like Zacchaeus.  He was sent by God to forgive all of us.  He knows everything about us and it doesn't matter what that is – your sin isn't worse or better than the Samaritan woman’s sin.  Jesus came to forgive us and then he wants us to turn around and share this new-found freedom, his free gift, with others.  We are all in need of a Savior!!!

As I have said before, God is the one constant in our lives no matter where we are or what we are going through.  As I have focused on God during this current transition I am in I have found His peace, His peace, through His Word, is helping me transition well in this season of life I find myself in. 

What is your take away from these passages in God’s Word?  
What can you meditate on right now if you are in a transitional period like me?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 25 “Transition Well - Celebrating Traditions”

As a Marine Corps family, without children, we have not established many traditions in our 21 plus years of marriage.  We would definitely celebrate our wedding anniversary every year and maybe not being able to visit the same places or restaurants kept things interesting.  We would always find something great to do and repeat it for the two more years that we were at that particular duty station – that is the only tradition we created.

One thing I have really been looking forward to with the husband retiring in 6 days is to start creating some of our own traditions.  I have no doubt that these simple acts of celebrating life the same way every year will help us plant deep roots where we are.  I believe traditions help us tie our past to our present and carry it into our future!

I think not having kids, which was a choice of ours, also has kept us from creating the typical traditions that surround Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The good news is that now we have two four-legged peeps and we are planting our roots here in Texas.  I am looking forward to creating some of our own traditions and that process started today.  We took the bullies to our local pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin for the hubs to carve.  His home town of Keene, New Hampshire hosts a fabulous Pumpkin Festival every year and he carved a great pumpkin back when we were there visiting in 2007.  So this year, he wants to carve another one just like it!!!!  In honor of his 29 years and 6 days of service to our beloved Corps he will carve the Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA for our Marines) emblem into our newly purchased pumpkin. 
Our small town pumpkin patch was a fun way to introduce the dogs to some little people and to support a local church by purchasing our pumpkin from them. 
I love how traditions connect us to people and memories and they make us feel like we are home, whether we really are or not.  I think one of the challenges of transitioning, like during a move, is that you feel out of place and you miss “home”.  I believe celebrating traditions can help the transitioning process and remind us that we are not alone - we can create “home” anywhere we live.  Another great thing about traditions is that you can invite other people to come along so they can feel connected as well – especially those who are far away from where they call “home”.  And some of them may become part of your traditions for many years to come.

What are some of your favorite traditions whether they have to do 
with the fall, or winter, or another time of year? 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day 24 “Transition Well - Dependence on God’s Word”

Some days I just need to keep things simple and God reminded me that if I can do only one thing today, it’s to meditate on His Word.  Whether I am going through a transition, a challenging time, or even when things are really good, He reminded me to think on:

My Bible notes say this about Philippians 4:8-9: Paul understood the influence of one’s thoughts on one’s life.  What a person allows to occupy his mind will sooner or later determine his speech and his action.  Paul’s exhortation to “think about such things” is followed by a second exhortation, “put it into practice”.  The combination of virtues listed in verses 8-9 is sure to produce a wholesome thought pattern, which in turn will result in a life of moral and spiritual excellence.

My goal today is to be careful what occupies my thoughts, focus on what is praiseworthy, and put God’s word into practice!!!!

What is your go to scripture verse when you are transitioning or going through a challenge?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 23 “Transitioning Well Through Prayer”

One consistent thought in all of my posts has been to pray – at least in my mind, even if I didn’t type it out on the page.  This got me thinking about the importance of prayer in our everyday lives and how it brings us great peace and how important God’s peace is during any transition.  I have no doubt that there is power in prayer!!!

Among all my journeys as a Marine Spouse I have learned many useful tools that I have packed in my toolbox to take with me.  One practice that a sweet Marine Corps spouse shared with me was her habit of writing out specific prayers for her friends and family.  The first time she did this for me I was so blessed by it.  Praying to God is our unique opportunity to communicate with Him and interceding for others is another privilege that we have as believers.  My sweet friend took this a step further and wrote out an intercessory prayer for many people in her life. Receiving one from her was a rare and sweet gift.  I have never forgotten this practice and I have done the same for others.  I also have done this for myself. 
I don’t know if you are like me but I tuck a lot of things into my Bible – my Sunday sermon notes; notes from other people; sticky notes and a myriad of other papers and they typically fall out whenever I am flipping through the pages in my Bible.  I love this as it feels like a gift every time a paper falls out as I have to look at it before putting it back.  This exact thing happened last night and again this morning with a prayer that I had written for myself to pray while I was doing a study of Abraham some time ago.  I wanted to share it with you all in case this practice sounds like something you would like to do and if you could use a little encouragement this morning.

Dear Lord:  I want to have Abraham’s faith.  He had the faith to believe in “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17b).  Like Abraham, I do not want to weaken in my faith (Romans 4:19) no matter what my circumstances look like.  I do not want to waver through unbelief regarding your promises (Romans 4:20).  I want to be strengthened in my faith and give all the glory to You!  I’m walking boldly, being fully persuaded that You, Lord, have the power to do what You have promised (Romans 4:21). Amen.

I have included the scriptures that I reference in this particular prayer.  I don’t always do this but it was important to me at this particular time.  I wish I could tell you which Bible study prompted this prayer and/or what circumstances were surrounding me at the time but I can’t remember.  All I know is that I feel God’s great peace as I read these words, written in my own writing, some time ago.  I pray it brings you peace and strength today as well.  

Do you write out prayers like mine above?  
Do you do this for your loved ones?  
Please feel free to share one of your prayers if you would like.  

Day 22 “Transitions and Friendships”

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of the action steps to take in your moving transition is to stay in touch with your friends and let them help you ease into your new reality.

If you are anything like me, your relationships are important and you pour a lot of time and effort into those relationships.  I create strong bonds with my friends and having to say goodbye to them has been very difficult.  Here is how I deal with transitioning away from my friends:
I start to prepare in advance.  Before moving from Oahu to Texas, I had over a year to prepare.  And even before I moved one of my other military spouses was moving two months before me.  We did two things to help us with this change – we planned a girl’s weekend and we made sure that we spent as much time together as possible.  We had to be intentional about this and treat it as important as a doctor’s appointment or going to work would be.  One habit that I have been cultivating for years is planning lunch with a friend around our errands.  This means we either drive together and run our errands together and then enjoy lunch or we meet for lunch and run our errands together afterwards.  My friend Jenny and I would drive together; eat lunch at California Pizza kitchen; and then walk to our local Whole Foods to do our monthly shopping.  We chose to do this the same Friday each month so that she could plan for a baby sitter and so I could plan ahead as well.  We knew we could count on each other to “show up” for this appointment and while we got to hang out and chat we were also being productive.  I started this habit years ago and it seems to be catching on.  Now neither the girl’s weekend, nor the monthly outings for lunch and grocery shopping, have helped me miss Jenny any less.  However, I know that we spent as much time together as we could and we have fun memories of those times to get us through the lonely transition of moving away from each other.
(Ginger blogs too - find her here!)

Another way I connected with my friends was through setting one day aside to gather at one of our homes and work on stuff.  This habit started out as a scrap booking group in Okinawa with several of us.  However, other friends who didn't scrapbook wanted to hang out with us so they would bring their own projects to work on.  I also did this in Hawaii where a friend, or friends, would come to my house and we would work on our albums and eat lunch at my house.  When that particular friend moved, several others of us turned it into a productivity day and switched between two different houses.  No matter what you are doing, you are at least doing it together and doing it every week.
I also work on staying connected during the transition.  I do this through Facebook, texting, or setting up times to chat.  This was especially difficult as the hubs and I spent over 60 days on the road between leaving Oahu and arriving in Texas.  However, I would do the best I could by texting my friends the minute I thought about them.  They also knew they could count on me to post on Facebook where I was and what I was doing so they still felt connected to me.
I prayed for my future, new friends, in Texas and trusted God in this process.  I have always had an easy time making friends and since I know God created me to be a connector and encourager I know that new friendships are always on the horizon.  I don’t force this process as the friendships that develop naturally have been my favorites.  I have made friends at church, of course, at women’s Bible studies, through my husband’s job when he was active duty, in my neighborhood, at scrap booking stores, at Curves, at salons while getting a pedicure, through my home-based businesses, by attending CAbi shows, Pampered Chef shows, and at 31 Parties.  I have made friends with a sweet nurse while my husband was having a 4.5 lb. tumor removed a few years ago.  I am friends with the owners of the rental house we use to live in.  I have even made friends in prison though I have never been convicted of a crime – more on that one later.  No place is off limits for meeting new people.   I think one way that makes it easy for me to make friends is that I “show up” to places.  You have all heard the saying that half the battle is “suiting up and showing up” and I really believe that is true.  However, showing up can be scary when you are the “new kid on the block”.  As an extrovert, my desire to meet people overrides these uncomfortable feeling of being new.  Yes, extroverts are afraid as well, we just hide it and move forward because friendships are that important to us!!!
Lastly, I continue to be intentional in spending time with my far away friends.  This helps during my transition as these friends are familiar, they know me, and I can be real with them.  I do this with several of my friends by scheduling appointments with them.  I have one friend who I Face Time with the first Monday of every month.  She is an introvert and doesn't enjoy talking on the phone as much as I do but she desires to stay connected to me so she makes the effort as well.  I have another friend who loves talking on the phone and we talk at least once a week and we text each other a lot on the other days.  I use to call another friend on my way home from the prison ministry I was a part of when I lived on Oahu.  She was up late and I had at least 20 minutes in the car – via my Bluetooth of course.  Because we all communicate differently, we all have different life situations, and because my friends are important to me, I try to communicate with them the way that works best for them.  My friends who go to bed early do not get 10 pm phone calls.  The ones who stay up late to study while going to school are the ones that welcome late night chats.  This is how we make different time zones work for us!
And the last thing I do, which is the hardest, is to accept that things are going to change with some of your friends once you move.  The even harder part of this step is not taking it personally.  It’s one of the harsh realities that military wives face a lot.  I have had several friends in my life who just admit, almost up front, that they are horrible at staying in touch via the phone, via e-mail, or even via Facebook.  I don’t like that but I have to accept it.  What I have learned over the years is that some relationships are worth the extra effort it takes to stay connected.  This is where allowing things to happen naturally can be helpful.  I have a few friends who have gone through a lot over the years while I have been many miles away.  We don’t talk often, sometimes not even once a year, and then things change in their lives and they become more available.  The bottom line is that I don’t write everyone off the minute they stop staying in touch and sometimes we reconnect and our relationship is even stronger than before.  And other times, our relationship never gets back to where it was and I have to be ok with that.  I have learned to enjoy the people I have around me during the time that we live in the same city and I know that some of those relationships will go on for our lifetime and others will naturally fade away.  I am working on not chasing after those who choose not to stay in touch beyond the occasional Facebook interaction and I focus on those who are reaching out and wanting to stay in touch.  I would love for everything to stay the same between me and my friends but that is just not how it works and it does me no good to dwell in areas that don’t serve me well.  Just remember that, no matter what, friendships are worth everything you have to go through to make and keep them – whether you are a military spouse and you move a lot or if you have stayed in the same place for many years!!
There are so many great people in this world, just waiting to be your friend, so suit up, show up, be the type of friend God created you to be and enjoy every minute that you have with your friends!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 21 "Transitions – Mourning Is Part of The Process!"

Mourning is a word that usually does not evoke happy thoughts or feelings.  However, since death is a very real part of our lives, literally or figuratively, I believe we have to learn how to mourn and allow it to actually benefit us. 

Not only do we hear about mourning the death of a friend or loved one or pet, we also hear about mourning the loss of a spouse through divorce; mourning the loss of a friendship though the friend is still alive; mourning the loss of a house to fire or foreclosure; mourning the perfect job or career; and the list could go on.  Mourning is a very real and inevitable feeling that gives us the opportunity to recognize our loss and process it the best way we can.  We all mourn differently and the mourning of a parent, spouse or child is different from mourning the loss of a friendship or job.  However, both require us to acknowledge the pain, go through the process, and come out the other side, however long that takes, and have grown because of it.  The mourning process also allows us to have an experience where we can share with others as they are going through it as well.  This gives others, and ourselves, hope!

My real goal in this particular post is to focus on the sort of losses we experience when we move away from a church, neighborhood, or state that we loved.  When we physically move from a place everything around us changes.  This is a lot of change to handle all at one time.  And sometimes we are doing this in a new state, where we don’t know anyone accept for our spouse and kids, if that is the family dynamics you are in.  Other times we are experiencing this huge change without another physical person around that we know.    

I have already talked about how we need to take a break during a transition.  We have discovered that disappointments are inevitable during a transition.  And we have discussed the importance of decision making so we can move on and more.  All of these posts that I have written give us something positive to focus on which helps us through any process, to include mourning.

Here are some action steps that I recommend when your transition includes some big changes:

Plan for the transition to help reduce stress.  Stress is a big contributing factor that hinders us from transitioning well.  In regards to our move, we made a lot of plans, ahead of time, to help us ease into our new place.  We bought the house ahead of time; we packed the proper paper work; we took a long trip to visit family and friends; we spent time talking about all the positives of our new state.  We planned ahead.

Focus on the good memories of the place and people who lived there.  I am very visual so one thing I do is make sure I have a calendar from the place I previously lived so I can be reminded of the fun aspects of that place for the rest of the year after I transition.

Stay in touch with your friends and share the process with them.  Let them help ease you into your new reality.  I will touch more on this in a future post.

Plan something fun during your transition – read this post for more ideas.

Pack your patience and positive attitude along with other important items.  You will be stressed, so will your spouse and kids, so be more patient with yourself and others.  Always look at the positive side of things no matter what is going on. 

Don’t dwell on all the great things of the past and ignore all the great things happening in the NOW!  So many of us spend so much time talking about how great such and such was that we miss out on how great the here and now is.  Look for great things right where you are.

Be realistic about the previous house, neighborhood or church.  This is similar to not dwelling from the previous point.  We lived on the island of Oahu and though it is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit it was never going to be our permanent home.  So when I start to miss it I remember the beautiful view we had from our deck in the back yard, I remember my sweet friends, I remember our weekly walks along the beach and then I also remind myself that it was not paradise to us and we can enjoy living anywhere God places us.  The memories will always be a part of my life and my new life will be equally as beautiful, if not better, because I will invest my time and energy here just like I did on Oahu.  And I remind myself that God is here as well – God is everywhere.  I can learn to be content anywhere and with intention, I can create great memories right where I am.

Lastly, turn to God and trust Him through the process.  This process takes time and God is always available.  Allow yourself to mourn, with God, and ask for His sweet provision as you move from mourning into gladness.

Do you have any other tips that you have found helpful during 
a physical transition like a move?      

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 20 Transitions – Making Decisions and the Will of God

In the past I have struggled with making the wrong decision so I would become so paralyzed that I wouldn't make any decision at all.  From a logical standpoint we all know that this is just plain unproductive.  However, some of us have made this such a habit that we can’t seem to break away from it.

My husband, who is a Marine, has taught me something that has proven to be very useful when it comes to decision making.  Make a decision, right or wrong, just make a decision and move forward.  Obviously in battle Marines don’t have the luxury of standing around deciding if they should shoot a “target” or not.  Their years of training and experience has prepared them for this moment and they make a quick decision – shoot or not shoot.  There is no room for thinking about what to do or that it could cost them their life.  The good news for us is most of our decisions are not life or death so we can relax a little in this process.  This is also something we can learn and become proficient at.

Decision making is a huge aspect of transitions and even after making the decision to move forward in a transition it will be just one of many decisions you will have to make throughout the process.  Don’t get me wrong – some decisions do deserve more time; our patience; and prayer.  However, eventually you have to make a decision and move forward with it.  Even choosing to do nothing is a decision. 

Prayer is a huge part of my decision making process!  I pray for God’s will; I read and meditate on God’s Word; I seek wise counsel; and I wait to see how God reveals himself in my circumstances. 
So my struggle and my question is how do I know that I am really in God’s will when I am moving forward in a decision?  This is a question I ask myself a lot.  And, I am still learning how to “exercise my decision making muscles”.  Please know, before you read any further, that I am by no means a spiritual expert nor am I an expert on all the things of God.  I am just a woman who has experienced many opportunities where I have made decisions and grown from them – good or bad.   I say this because there are scriptures in the Bible, talking about God’s will, that I believe answers this question.

I was asking for prayer sometime in the past 6 months, on a Facebook post, and a dear, sweet friend, sent me a private message about praying for God’s will in regards to making decisions – specifically the right retirement home for us to purchase.  I am sharing her message to me, along with a link to watch a webinar, taught by Malcolm Smith, on this very subject.  Malcolm’s webinar is in two parts, due to equipment issues, and it is over an hour long.  However, I think it is worth it and I think it’s important to watch in reference to what my friend says in her message!

Message from my friend:

Dear friend, I want to encourage you concerning God's will, and this house hunting business.  The New Testament says nothing about 'finding' God's will.  Instead it reveals how His will is to present the Gospel to those from every nation, to renew His children's minds so that they bear fruit and to instill in them boldness to talk openly with Him. In short, His will is Jesus expressed in and through us.  To be in Christ and to grow in maturity.

It isn't like we are on a highway and we need to find the right exit or we've missed it.  The evangelical community spends so much energy searching for God's will, when He's living in them, and if we'd just realize that and live in contentment about that, we could have more peace. But everyone is always searching and second guessing.  I wanted to say that I don't think God cares what house you pick, as long as you love your neighbor when you live in that house.  He desires good things for you, so if you find a house you love, YAY!  Praise God, but don't stress yourself out trying to figure out if it's THIS one or THAT one.  "Oh, no, what if we pick the wrong one?"  or, if you get in it and then something isn't quite right you start thinking maybe you were supposed to have picked the other one and you missed the signs.  You'll drive yourself crazy with that line of thinking.  Most of us have driven ourselves crazy trying to figure out the 'will of God' when Jesus is the will of God and we live and move and have our being through Him and His life in us!.  I hope that makes sense?! 
So, relax, pick the house you love and fits your criteria, and then REST in knowing that God will use you in that house, or any other house.  You will be, as you have been, in His loving care and 'will'.
I love you and I am so excited that you have some real options for house hunting when you get there!  God provides for those birds every day, and you are more valuable to Him than they are! 
I am back with some scripture to back myself up!!  I want to keep things on track where they belong and not just me running away with my mouth!!  The Greek word for Will, when it's used in these verses, is eudokia which is translated for 'good pleasure' and 'a gracious purpose, a good objective'.

What is the gracious desire of the Lord? 

Ephesians 1:5-6 (AMP) He planned in love for us to be adopted, revealed, as His own children through Jesus Christ with the purpose of His will [because it pleased Him and was His kind intention].

In Hebrews 10:10 Jesus is talking about how he came to do God's will, which is the Gospel [verse 5 establishes that it's Jesus talking] so in verse 10 according to His will we have been made holy through the offering made once for all of the body of Christ. 

When the 'will of God' is talked about it's always like that - Jesus was the will of God so that His good pleasure and kind intention could be realized; that we'd be in Him and Him in us, which is fellowship.  It never talks about will as something we have to find and do.  Other than living out of the Life we've been given.  Ephesians 5:17 says, "Therefore, don't be vague and thoughtless and foolish but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is."

Since it says therefore, you have to read the verses that come before, and it's all about how Christ came for us and redeemed us—God’s will!  He says, “Awake O sleeper! Arise from the dead and Christ shall shine upon you and give you light...  "

He is our light that shines - that's the will of God.  I hope that encourages you!

Malcolm Smith has a teaching on this very topic of God’s will.  Here is the link to webinar 3 Part 1 of this two-part series.  He has technical difficulties in the first part so that is why it's in 2 parts!  When it stops, you go to the second one!!

I am interested in being shown the verses that say we do need to be searching for the will of God.  And if it's something we are never quite sure of how do we know if we found it or are in it?  That's the burning question. I have always been confused with the 'perfect will of God" and the "permissible will of God" and where that all comes from. Those terms are never used in the bible.

The bottom line is about how loved we are and how much confidence knowing that can give us as we walk with Him each day.  We can learn to quit second guessing everything and just trust.  This is true peace!  I’d love to hear what you think after watching Malcolm’s webinar.

I’d love to hear what you think about these scriptures that 
were referenced and what you think of Malcolm’s webinar.   

Day 19 Transitioning Well – The Church Body Is A Familiar Thread (Sunday’s Sermon)

One thing I believe that has helped me through the current transition I am in is by finding the familiar in my new and unfamiliar place.  Though where I live changes, at least in the past it had changed about every three years, my God has stayed constant.  So usually one of our first orders of business, after we move, is to find a church body to connect with.  We do this for many reasons but one is that though people are different and new when we move, God, and His word are not.  And when you find a church where the Bible is being shared than even in an unfamiliar building, around absolute strangers, we can find comfort in God’s word.  Since today is Sunday I wanted to start a habit that I hope to continue every week from here on out and beyond the 31 days challenge.  I want to call this Sunday’s Sermon and it will be based on the notes I take in church, along with a link to the actual sermon.

I am a note taker – I learned this skill from the very first church I was a member of, which is the same church that the hubs was saved at and where we learned to serve together.  I can’t comfortably sit through a service without taking some sort of notes now.  And, if the bulletin doesn’t provide room for notes I will write all over it or dig up a piece of paper so I can write!!!  Taking notes is important to me because I really want to pay attention to the sermon and listen for God.  My goal is to look over those same notes throughout the next week and allow God to continue to speak to me on the topic. 

This particular week we started a new series called “The Difference” and it will be shared in 4 parts and Part 1 is at this link if you would like to listen to the less than 30 minutes of Sunday October 4th’s sermon about Zacchaeus’ encounter with Christ.  I took a whole page of notes but I am only going to share the one point that really grabbed me.

The sermon starts in Luke 19:1 and continues through verse 10.  At the end of the sermon Pastor Jason sums it up like this:

Zacchaeus’ testimony should be our testimony.
God sees me and sees my future.
God knows me and my struggles. (Psalm 139)
God loves me.
God has forgiven me.

Jesus’ purpose, here on earth, was to bring salvation.  Simply stated, Jesus came to find you and me, the lost, and restore us!!!   I think this little nugget could keep us busy for weeks.  It’s such a great reminder that God knows everything about us so we can’t hide from Him; we can’t out sin His love for us; and He came to give us Life.  He gives us this “life” when we surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to do the work in and through us to restore us!!

Chew on that this week and let me know what you think of the sermon, if you had a chance to listen to it, or what you can glean from Zacchaeus’ story!!!  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 18 – Transitions Made Easier Through A Morning Routine

I shared my detailed nighttime routine back on Day 4, along with a brief description of my morning routine, which helps in transitioning well.  As I shared in that same post, I learned this concept through my Life Coach Julie Muller, and, like my nighttime routine, it has served me well.  If you have read a handful of my transitioning posts during this series you will have already picked up on the fact that I am in a huge transition myself as I tackle these 31 days of writing.  Because of that, I am still working on establishing my new routines and I currently don’t have an established morning routine.  I will share both my previous routine and my perfect day routine and maybe I will visit this topic one more time, towards the end of our 31 days together, and I will give you an update regarding my morning routine.

When we lived on the island of Oahu my husband was an active duty Marine so our schedule worked around that reality.  

Here is our previous morning routine:

4:45 am alarm goes off
5 am I get out of bed; contacts in; teeth brushed; dress in workout gear
5:20 am workout together at home (Beach Body DVDs)
6 am breakfast (Hubs made us smoothies on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays; on Tuesday and Thursdays we ate egg muffins that I made (Pinterest recipe) ahead of time and put them in the freezer; weekends would vary)
6:30 am hubs leaves for work; I would start a load of laundry and clean whatever area is on my daily cleaning schedule.
7 am shower and get ready
8:30 a.m. in my office (Quiet time; Bible study; check e-mails; etc.)
9 am snack
11 am lunch

And this is basically as far as I got back then.  I need to implement a middle of the day routine to help me transition from morning to afternoon and then onto dinner time.  Afternoons are the 2nd hardest part of the day for me – I struggle with being lethargic most days and I am working on discovering the cause of this.  Because of being so tired and afternoons being hard for me I usually lose my motivation to do anything and I end up wasting a few hours on Facebook.  On particularly hard days I would take a nap as well – which I have learned not to see as a waste of time. 

The above schedule usually ran like clockwork, M-F, up until about 9a.m.  Then some days I would leave to attend a women’s Bible study; run errands; do lunch with friends and on Thursdays I was part of a ministry that went into the only, all women’s correctional center on Oahu.  So when I left the house on any one of those particular days it was hard to come home and be motivated to pick up wherever I left off!!!
Here is my new, ideal morning routine:

6 am wake up
6:30 am workout
7:10 am breakfast
7:30 Clean
8 am Dressed and Ready
9:30 am in my office
Quiet Time, pray and Bible study
10:15 am Morning Papers (I may try to cover this topic in a future post.)
10:30 am write (Either journal or create a blog post or both)
11:30 am Lunch

I’d love to hear if you have a morning routine and how it is working for you.  If it is working for you I would love to hear your tips on how you are making it work!!!!  Please share links in your comments if you have written a post on any of these topics as I would love to read what you are doing to schedule your days to be productive!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 17 "Transitioning - Plan Something To Look Forward To!"

Today is a FABulous Friday for us here at The House of Traquair.  One reason is that it really doesn't matter what day it is right now because the hubs is retiring and, currently on terminal leave from the Marine Corps. Everyday could be Friday for all we know – tough life I know!  And the second reason is because we adopted two bulldogs yesterday from the San Antonio BulldogRescue – a 5 year old male named Chip and a beautiful, 6 year old female named Hope.  An added bonus is that I now have two snuggle bugs in my office as I type this post!

We have been planning for this canine acquisition for over 4 years now. This beautiful dream of ours came at a really great time as we are in the middle of our BIG move.  We all know that transitions can be really tough, especially ones that require a lot of coordination and where the future is not clear.  This is why it is helpful to have something to look forward to during your transitions, and at the end of them.  It makes the challenges that come with transitioning a little easier to endure. 

Our goal was to get our house completely unpacked before adopting our pair of bullies.  That plan changed a little since Chip and Hope were ready for a furever home sooner than we expected.  Flexibility is another key component to transitioning well.  They came home with us yesterday (October 16th, 2014) with a few boxes left to unpack and, they don’t seem to be phased by this at all. 
Having something to look forward to while traveling, moving, and unpacking has been good for me.  Every time something got hard throughout our journey these past few months the hubs would remind me that there was a pair of bullies just waiting for us.  And, now that they are here, none of that challenging stuff even matters anymore.  Once we all settle into a new routine I will refocus my attention to the rest of our goal of settling into our new home with my two favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, to look forward to. 

Are you in the middle of a transition right now or working towards a BIG goal? If so, what fun stuff, or rewards, do you have planned to help you stay the course?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 16 Transition Tip #5 - How To Encourage Others

I believe I am a natural, born encourager.  It’s just something that I don’t have to work at – it’s a very real part of me.  And this topic of encouragement hits close to home right now as I am transitioning and I know several other people who are going through BIG transitions as well.  Though encouraging others may not come as natural for you, we all can learn to do it with some helpful tips.  We have already talked about encouraging our spouse during transitions so today we’ll explore how to encourage the other people in our sphere of influence – these peeps are our friends; co-workers; family members; neighbors; co-laborers in Christ; etc.  I tend to get more creative when I am encouraging these groups of people. 

For me encouraging others is fun because there are so many different ways to do it.  The most obvious way to encourage people is verbally - I mention this in the post I wrote about encouraging your spouse.  This is an immediately satisfying way of encouraging others, for both giver and receiver.  And we have already talked about being positive and focusing on what we are grateful for in Day #8’s post of mine so once that is a habit, verbal encouragement will flow out of your heart and mouth so much easier.

When verbal encouragement isn't possible, due to the distances that separate us and/or our busy lifestyles, than this is when modern technology comes into play.  Whenever I think of someone I almost immediately send them a text if they are texting types.  I usually just say, “I was thinking about you today and praying that your day is going well.”  Or, I personalize it more by mentioning something specific about them or what they are going through at the moment.  The text doesn't have to be long or require much of a response – just a simple “You are on my mind” text is easy to send and means so much to the recipient.  I know this because I have been on the receiving end of these texts a lot over the past few months.  I especially love the texts I get from my really fun friends that include photos of what they are doing at that moment or who they are with.  My faves are the pet and kid photos!!!  Being silly, and thinking of someone, can really help encourage them because they know that they are not alone in their transition and it makes them laugh.  I do the same thing with Facebook – I just post a quick note on a friend’s FB wall so they know that I am thinking about them. 

E-mails are also a great way to encourage someone, especially our older generations who may not be on Facebook or using texts to communicate.  I want to get better in this area as we have at least a handful of people not on FB who don’t know my daily comings and goings like those who are my FB friends!
(This green package was sent to me by my generous friend, Gloria, with hair products inside.)

However, my absolute favorite way to encourage people is via snail mail.  You know, this is the fun mail that comes through your mailbox – that “catch all”, oddly shaped box that usually only holds bills and junk mail!  Yes, that’s a mailbox and it loves getting fun, snail mail just like you do!!!!Sending snail mail can seem overwhelming or time-consuming but it’s a great way to get creative if you enjoy that sort of thing.  You can stroll through a card store or the card section at most retailers and find the perfect card that SCREAMS “You mean the world to me!” or you can create your own cards at home or with friends.  

Many of us are familiar with creating cards through beautiful stamps using matching ink and paper.  I also have friends who are fabulous photographers so they use their very own images to create cards – either by printing the photos and attaching them to blank cards, and selling them in their Etsy store, like my friend, Lacey.  Or they create a card, on-line, that can be sent with their own “artwork” on it. 
(My very creative SIL, Kat, created this beautiful card.)

I have discovered an easy, time saving, less expensive way to do this through a Contact Manager program that is part of a system called SendOutCards (SOC).  I will tell you up front that I am a distributor for SOC so if you check out the link and sign up for a monthly subscription, I will make money.  I share this option as I know time and money are very important resources that a lot of us don’t have extra of but we all still want to stay in touch and encourage our loved ones.  So I love recommending SOC to people I know, just like I would recommend a great movie or a fabulous place to eat.  Check out the SendOutCards system here and let me know if you have any questions or need help.  You can send a couple cards for free from my personal site so take advantage of that opportunity to encourage someone in your life who is going through a transition right now!!
(My friend Jenny created this card in her SOC system.)

Do you still send snail mail?  If so, who did you send your last card or note to and why?

If you are a fan of showing gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of life I will be taking part in a Gratitude Challenge for the month of November and I’d love for you to join me.  I did this two years ago and it was amazing.  Please join me in sharing gratitude with the world during the month known for THANKSGIVING!!!