Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Introduction to Mom Talks: A 31 Days Series

... scroll down for the introduction to this series ...
click below to go to the post

1:  Grow Your Soul - a few thoughts on your spiritual life
2:  You Reset at 18 - about expectations for adults
3: What Turns You Into an Adult - the secret about becoming
4:  Get Over It - when you have to do hard things
5:  It Takes So Little to Be Above Average - a short list of things to set you apart
6:  Attitude is Everything - yep.  Everything.
7:  Why You Should Be Nice - three good reasons
8:  Reflections All Around You - about your affect on other people
9:  Things You Want Back - three qualities to project
10:  How to Get What You Want - it's surprisingly simple
11:  Beauty Fades - why it's important to acknowledge this truth
12:  Choose Someone You Can Work With - because life involves work
13: You Marry the Family, too - three questions to ask about family
14: Be Generous - it's great for your relationships
15:  Fight Fair - some rules for a fair fight
16:  Apologize - how to give and receive an apology well
17:  The Ones Who Need Grace the Most - it helps to understand this
18:  This One is Safe to Assume - what you should always assume about people
19: The Power of Whatever - the mental shorthand of words
20:  Clean Your Windshield - about dealing with things when they happen
21:  Write it Down - four reasons why you should journal
22:  The Company You Keep - a few words about choosing friends wisely
23:  Three Keys to Good Health - simple advice that works
24:  Say This, Not That - four things not to say and better alternatives
25:  Suit Up! - about what you wear to work
26:  How to Be On Time - some practical tips on punctuality
27:  Take Responsibility - why you should, even if you want to run the other way
28:  In Praise of Fezziwig - the importance of who you work for
29:  When You Feel Out of Control - four tips for when things get crazy
30:  Every Body Stinks - straight talk, no minced words
31:  The Last Mom Talk (just kidding) - closing the series with my most important
"wait, there's one more thing" things

I've given speeches to my kids so many times over the years - urgently ... those final instructions before we leave, the last word before we go in, the quick recap of all things good manners, 
the "oh, let me just say this one thing" - 
in hopes that going over it  one. more. time.  will ensure the best outcome.  

When your eldest turns 21, there's not a lot you can do to deny that the young adults are queuing on the launching pad, and short of doing it all over again, I long to make certain that they know for sure what's important, that they have all the information they need to make the right decisions, that I've passed along as much of what I understand of life's wisdom to them as I possibly can.  

Suddenly, I feel like the crazy woman chasing the train as it leaves the station, shouting,
"Wait!  Wait!  Sweetie, did you pack an extra pair of underwear?" 

By now, my kids call these speeches "Mom Talks", and the shorthand that's developed for them goes:
"Obey the teacher.  No running.  No hitting.  No kicking."
Then we laugh ... and I proceed with my speech.

These days, when it's time for a Mom Talk, sometimes I let the kids give the talk to me.
Inexplicably, they're usually able to deliver the appropriate points in about 15 seconds flat 
while it takes me at least 15 minutes to just warm up.  

I suspect Mom Talks will be one of those things they laugh about
when my children reminisce about growing up together.
As many times as I've given my Mom Talks, even so I wonder if my kids really know what I think.
Do they know what I hold to be most important, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in plain black and white?  
Have I truly conveyed to them the most important things?
Are they sure of what I believe?
Have I given them a firm enough foundation?

Just in case ... just. in. case  ... these dearest, most precious, wonderful young people
I've been privileged and blessed to call my own have missed something along the way,
I've put together a series of Mom Talks to participate in 
the 31 Days Series hosted by The Nester at write31days.  
Are you familiar with this annual October writing challenge?  
If not, click }here{ for an incredible resource 
of over a thousand amazing blog series to choose from and fabulous, inspiring writing.

And then ... would you please come back?
I'll be posting a Mom Talk every day during the month of October,
with topics ranging from spiritual foundation to life hacks to things only your mother will tell you,
and although my target audience is really my own fabulous four, 
you're so very welcome to come along.  
My hope is that if you're somewhere along the wild and wonderful trail of rearing children, 
you'll recognize a fellow traveler and walk alongside me a little ways 
to share some ideas and encouragement.
I'd love for you to join me!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The only thing to fear ...

When I took up walking again earlier this year, it was with some trepidation.  Because, you know, there was that one time two years ago that I saw a snake, and even though it lay right in the middle of the path and pretended to be dead ... it beset me with a case of irrational willies that would not let go.

It was time to start walking again, though, so on one of my first oh-good-grief-just-get-over-it-already forays, I asked God to keep all the snakes off these 22 acres.  With 171 million acres in the entire state of Texas, surely keeping 22 acres snake free is not a big deal.

I felt God's amusement.  

Try again, He said.  

I kept walking.  Okay, God ... how about - just don't let me see the snakes.  They can live here ... just don't let me see them.

 Again:  No.  There's another way to pray about this, I felt Him saying.

By now, I'm standing up on the creek bank, looking down into the mostly dry creek, except for a nice little pool under a tree.  And there are two simultaneous trains of thought running through my head:

                                    Okay, God ...                                      Well, I'm glad there's a little
                                                                                                water left in the creek.

                 It's silly to ask you to remove                               Look at that long tree branch 
         all the snakes off 22 acres.  I know.                             lying in the water.

               I know, it's pretty likely that I'll                             That branch has such a lovely,
              run across a snake at some point.                            graceful curve at the end.

         So, the greater miracle would be                                  
                   that even if I DO see a snake                                         WAIT.

                            Let me not FEAR it.                                Is that a SNAKE?

At that, the "tree branch" disappeared in a furious swish of muddy brown water, and I'm pretty sure God laughed while delighting in His own perfect timing ... and I didn't feel fear, I felt mirth.

Thus my prayer all summer has been, "Lord God, please help me not fear what I don't see ... and what I do see."  
I gave up the walking shoes that left my ankles feeling exposed for mud boots that come up to my knee, and if I need to dispatch a snake, I'm well prepared.  Wearing boots makes you swagger just a little bit, and having a plan evokes a sense of calm.

But honestly?  

It's the prayer that's made the most difference.  

I remember that prayer every single time I walk by that place on the creek bank.  I look down into the creek and expect a snake to be there, in all its graceful curvy-ness, and I remember the little joke God and I shared.  I thank Him for His kind and gentle grace in not letting me see more snakes thus far ... and I ask Him to help me not fear.

I recognize that the enemy really isn't the snake, it's the fear that takes over and keeps me from doing the things I want to do.  Fear can move in, take over, and before you know it you're making coffee, offering it your favorite chair, and staying home to keep it company.  That's when you count the cost.  And maybe you realize what you're missing is preferable to the company you're keeping ... and you go for a walk.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

North Texas Giving Day: Money is NOT the Root of All Evil

It's my great pleasure to offer a guest post today from one of my favorite people,
 my sister Sandy!  She'll tell you a little bit about an annual giving event 
hosted right here in North Texas in support of local charities.  
Take it away, Sandy!

If there’s a list somewhere of most misquoted quotes, then “Money is the root of all evil” has to be somewhere close to the top.  But that’s not what was actually said.  The real and true quote is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…”

Money itself is not bad.   It’s an unhealthy focus or obsession with money and the things money can buy that gets us into trouble.  North Texas Giving Day - click }here{ to visit the North Texas Giving Day website - is a prime time to prove that a lot of good can be accomplished by money when it’s used for higher purposes than increasing account balances or acquiring more things and stuff.  There are hundreds of charities in North Texas accomplishing so much good right now, right in our own communities.  Do your research, pick one (or more), and help them out!  Today’s the day to celebrate what North Texas Charities are doing and a little bit (or a lot!) of your money can enable them to do even more of it.

Shameless plug alert!  Here are a few pictures and information about my favorites that could use your support.

Powered to Move

click } here { to visit the Powered to Move website 

Powered to Move empowers people with physical and intellectual disabilities to develop physical fitness by participation in local 1 mile, 5k's or longer running races, biking and other physical activities through the support and/or power of able-bodied volunteers called Wingmen.  Powered to Move also provides accessible sports equipment grants using a sliding scale based on income.

To give to Powered to Move click } here {

Act Beyond

click } here { to visit the Act Beyond website

Act Beyond is on a mission to catalyze church planting movements among the world’s unreached people groups. In keeping with that mission, discipleship training courses designed to equip local churches to more effectively execute their own mission as a part of the Great Commission are held in Act Beyond's Plano home office. Through this training, local believers are equipped to start discipleship groups in their own neighborhoods while also praying for the international work of Act Beyond.

To give to Act Beyond click } here

Joni and Friends Texas 

Click } here { to visit the Joni and Friends website

Whether or not you’re familiar with the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, who at age 17 broke her neck in a diving accident resulting in quadriplegia, you’ll be inspired by the after shocks of that tragedy-turned-triumph.  Forty-seven years later Joni is still going strong (she’s one of the longest living quadriplegics who has also survived breast cancer), and heads the amazing Joni and Friends International Disability Center located in Southern California.  But wait!  The Joni and Friends Texas office is right here in North Texas, and serves Texas families in many ways, including offering a one week Family Retreat camp during the summer.  You can make a donation that does tremendous good for Texas families affected by disability with your donation to Joni and Friends Texas!

To give to Joni and Friends Texas click } here

Anna's House

Anna’s House, most widely known as a “food pantry”, supports those in need in the Anna/Melissa and surrounding communities by providing food and other tangible items such as diapers, toilet paper, shampoo, etc. to those in need.

click } here { to visit the Anna's House website

The Samaritan Inn

Click } here { to visit The Samaritan Inn website

The Samaritan Inn, located in McKinney, Texas, is the only family type shelter in Collin County.  Their stated mission:  We are a comprehensive homeless program that helps willing people gain dignity and independence.   Wow.  Just WOW.

To give to The Samaritan Inn click } here {  

Since the point of all this is to encourage giving and participation in North Texas Giving Day, feel free to re-post this on your Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, or wherever you wish with a plug for your own favorite charity.   According to the Communities Foundation of Texas, who sponsors the event, “North Texas Giving Day is the nation’s single largest giving event.  In 2013 more than 75,000 gifts totaling $25.2 million benefitted more than 1,350 nonprofits.”  Let’s make this year’s event the most successful North Texas Giving Day ever!!
Oh…and the source of that controversial quote?  It is centuries old.  Many would contribute it to Jesus, who arguably inspired it.  But the person who actually penned those words was the Apostle Paul as he was writing to his much loved apprentice and friend, Timothy.  You can read the full quote } here {,  or search the scriptures for I Timothy 6:10.   

Sandy Setliff is a Realtor® with JP and Associates Realtors®. 
She specializes in residential real estate sales 
in Anna, Melissa, Van Alstyne, McKinney, Allen, and Frisco, Texas. 
She can be reached at (214) 620-1615 or via email at sandysetliffhomes@gmail.com
To search for homes for sale click }here{
For a free valuation of your property click }here{   

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mercy Hunting

Oh, hello.

Welcome to my blog ... I was here back in June ... you might remember me?

We had a great summer that started off with a rocking Benefit Concert
the culmination of a semester of work of some pretty wonderful and talented young people.  

Then LtDan and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary with a fab weekend get away.

Next thing we knew, it was time to celebrate LtDan's birthday
 and we reeled in the years with Steely Dan.
Superb.  That concert was just ... superb.

We wrapped it up with our annual vacation trip to the beach.

And alas, here is why I need to blog regularly, because with all due apologies to the wonderful people in my life, the rest of the summer is a blur.  A blur of undoubtedly good stuff, but a blur nonetheless.

I also felt a little bit stuck, creatively speaking.
  I listened to lots of great podcasts and read some excellent books ...
and felt stuck and intimidated.  

All the creative stuff is jumbled in my head and I'm trying to figure out 
how to blog well and run life well, too. 

So I think it's down to what Kat says to do in }this{ encouraging How They Blog podcast:
blog badly ... 
don't get caught up in the tyranny of perfectionism,
and just do it.
There's great freedom in that.

So here I am ... free ... and blogging badly :o)

In addition to the wonderful fun big deal things we did over the summer,
I also got back to walking several days a week.
But it isn't just taking a walk every morning, it's a daily hunting trip.

Do you know this verse from the Bible?

Brand new ones.
Every morning!

Over the summer I started mercy hunting on my morning walks.

My goal is to find at least one thing that delights me  
to celebrate the abundance of God's mercies.

I filled up my phone with the pictures I snapped of these abundant mercies ...
Here are some of my favorites

As with any kind of hunt, Mercy Hunting heightens the awareness of your surroundings
and pulls you more firmly into your one and beautiful life.
Maybe best of all ... the more you look, the more mercies you find.  

I'll be using the instagram tag #mercyhunting ... want to join me?  I would love that!
There are way too many to count all by myself.