Sunday, October 12, 2014

My addiction to met expectations

I recently read the first few pages of a book titled How to Make Your Life Work: or Why Aren't You Happy by Ken Keyes and was struck by the idea he presents about being addicted to having expectations met which creates chronic unhappiness.  I had never thought of it this way, but as I've pondered the thought I have become increasingly aware that, yes, I have this addiction.

Consciously or unconsciously, I have expectations on just about everything.  I expect to wake up to a quiet house and to have some alone time before I get going on my day.  I expect the people in my family to pick up after themselves.  I expect to get places on time.  I expect to make good decisions 99.9% of the time.  I expect those good decision to reward me with a trouble-free life.  Those are the ones on the top this morning.  There are a million more swirling around inside of me.  Sometimes these expectations are met, but certainly not always.

If I stop and think about my level of unhappiness and where it comes from...I mean, if I really dig down deep I'm pretty sure I'll find that it is floating on top of disappointment that things did not work out the way I expected.  This disappointment fuels stress, anxiety, fear, and a host of other toxic emotions that just become a cesspool for chronic dis-ease.

My friend Lisa shared this Tony Robbins quote with me yesterday:
 "Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.”
 I'm going to start here: when I recognize an expectation I have that hasn't gotten met, I'm going to choose to appreciation instead of some of the other things I've chosen in the past like self-recrimination, blaming, complaining.  Care to join me?

I've joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge in an attempt to get myself blogging again on a regular basis.  Daily blogging means imperfect posts that often feel uninspired, but there you go.  I'm blogging and that's what I'm going for.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I'm going to let you in on a little secret:  I love dessert.

As a kid, back when we would have church potlucks where everything was homemade from scratch, usually from some famous family recipe, I would hit the dessert table first.  I didn't want to miss out on the cherry pie, the chocolate chip cookies, or the maple butterscotch cake.  When I would get home from school, I would make snickerdoodles and eat so much of the dough that I never really cared to have any cookies once they were baked, at least until the next day.  Put a plate of chocolate chip pecan cookies in front of me, and you might just find it empty when you come back.

My sister once made me a batch of the delectable chocolate chip cookies where the dough rests for 24-72 hours so the flavors meld and are baked with a sprinkle of sea salt on top.  She still makes fun of me for eating at least two for breakfast every day, not to mention the ones I had for mid-afternoon snack and then the before-bedtime snack.  I love all desserts, but a batch of salty-sweet chocolate chip cookies are my downfall.  I just can't resist.

We sometimes have apple cobbler for lunch or cookies and smoothies for supper.  Of course, I make the cookies healthy by reducing the sugar by 75% and adding ground flax seed and an extra cup of oats.  Dropping the sugar down by that much takes them out of the dessert category and into the meal category in my opinion so that even in the days when I am much more diligent about healthy eating in our family I feel like we are still within the bounds.

So next time you see me at a pot luck dinner of some sort, don't be surprised if you see me head to the dessert table first.  I promise I'll leave room for carrot and celery sticks.

I've joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge in an attempt to get myself blogging again on a regular basis.  Daily blogging means imperfect posts that often feel uninspired, but there you go.  I'm blogging and that's what I'm going for.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Change = discomfort

It's a given.  If things are changing in your life, you will be uncomfortable and you will try to find anything that will make you comfortable again, sometimes even choosing things that you left behind because they were harmful.

Discomfort  bad
Hard ≠ bad

Sometimes you will have to go through the discomfort and the hard to get to the healthy and the good.

Familiar  good

Especially if familiar means you go down into that negative place, only because it's the only path you've ever known.  Trust me, there are other choices.  You may not be able to see them because you have a wall of fear all around you, but there are ways to get around that.

Good  best

Good can be an ok choice, but good can get in the way of the best.  Baby steps.  Today choose one thing that is best.

Busy  good

Keeping busy does not necessarily mean productive or fruitful or good.  Often times staying busy is just masking shame which is trying to keep you tied down in familiar patterns of self-hatred and condemnation that, while they may be familiar, are definitely not your friends.  Busy also can be a wall that keeps you from seeing what your best choice may be. Take that into consideration.

Messy ≠ bad

Learning to operate with new tools while things are changing around and within you can get messy.  The mess can feel overwhelming.  It can feel daunting.  It can feel bad.  Ask a wise and trusted friend about this. Let them help you determine if your mess is bad or not and if there's anything you need to do about it.

If you find yourself in relational messes wherein you say or do something selfish and/or hurtful, apologize. Get good at apologizing now.  Need some help?  Here's a great "formula" to use until apologizing for selfish behavior comes naturally:
 I apologize for  ___________.  It was unloving because ___________.  Will you forgive me?
I can't see through this screen into your world, so know that these are basic generalizations.  If you or someone you know is in trouble and needs help, please get it.  Don't know where to go?  Leave me a comment here, and I'll point you in a helpful direction.

P.S. I've joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge in an attempt to get myself blogging again on a regular basis.  Daily blogging means imperfect posts that often feel uninspired, but there you go.  I'm blogging and that's what I'm going for.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I like movies with a happy ending.  I like it when the good guy wins and the story lines end up tied up in plausible, pleasant ways.  I like the predictability of the happy ending without knowing exactly how it's going to get there.

Life doesn't feel like that.  Oh, I know life isn't a movie, much less a feel-good movie.  But these movies do mirror a part of THE story where God works all things out.

Right now, life feels chaotic, broken, uncertain.  A series of events have left me unsteady.  I drift in and out of anxiety, fear, and doubt daily.  It's hard for me to remember when I'm in this point of the story that there is a happy ending coming when I can't see how I'm going to get there.

The problem is that my focus gets off.  Instead of focusing on God who loves me and cares for me lavishly, who has told me that there will be trouble but that I don't have to fret, who fills my day with good things if I only have eyes to see...I look at the negatives: the things that need fixing, the places that are dirty and piled with stuff, the unsorted laundry, the messy kitchen and unmade beds, the projects left undone, the relationship struggles, my mistakes and my inability to keep up with it all and to fix it all to my liking.

All of these light and momentary troubles somehow have obtained the power to absorb my attention and distort my perspective.

Pretty Woman is one of my favorite happy-ending movies.  I know it's an unrealistic story involving prostitution, but there's a bit of Hosea hidden in there, and I just love the scene when Julia Roberts as Vivian is firmly approached by Hector Elizondo, the hotel mayordomo, for her disheveled appearance that doesn't quite fit the hotel's clientele.  Once he hears that she has been unable to purchase anything respectable to wear because the shops on Rodeo Drive won't attend her because of how she looks, he takes her under his wing and proceeds to bring to life the beauty and passion that has always been there in's just gotten muddied and distorted by the world and the lies that have been heaped on her.  And after a second shopping attempt is successful, Vivian emerges poised and beautiful and confident. If you've seen the movie, you know the ins and outs of her complicated relationship with Richard Gere and how that all turns out, and while it's far from a perfect analogy of God and his love for us, it does speak something profound about the power of perspective and kindness and love.

I just need to remember that God sees past all of my outer trappings that make me unappealing to myself...No one has rejected me or refused to help me recently because of how I look, how my house looks, or how my relationships look.  But I do often refuse to help myself give myself a break and show some love and kindness, to "allow" God to be bigger than it all so that everything I see goes through His perspective, His Truth.

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My favorite five

Today I'm simply going to list my top 5 movies.  No time to tell you why, however, so that may be a blog post for another day.  So, here they are in no particular order:

1. Pretty Woman
2. Ever After
3. The Matrix
4. The Game
5. Annie

Surely there's a theme running through these titles...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Advice or what I wish I would have known sooner

Love wins.  It's messy and fraught with uncertainty and pain.  It doesn't look neat and tidy. There aren't a list of rules or formulas by which to live.

When my kids were young, my primary focus was making sure they were doing their chores and behaving well.  If one or the other wasn't happening according to MY plan, MY timeline, MY agenda, MY expectations, then there was some sort of consequence.  Granted, I thought that those things were really God's plan, timeline, agenda, and expectations; but the truth is they were all designed to keep me ok inside.  I mean, I didn't want to fail as a parent and I didn't want my children to be ax murderers (or worse), so I had to make sure I was carefully watching and correcting every. single. mistake.

I once heard Sally Clarkson tell a story about a young mom who came to her very distraught because she couldn't get her two-year-old daughter to obey her.  Every time she asked her to go wash her daughter to go wash hands, her daughter wouldn't (or didn't) obey.  So the mom would reprimand and discipline her daughter and tell her to go wash her hands again.  Apparently the daughter was not very compliant as the mom was asking Sally for help to get her to obey the first time, every time.

Sally lovingly showed the mom that the best way to handle a two-year-old is with lots of love and affection, kissing the little hands and face that need washing, and with lots of hugs and snuggles and "I love yous" go to the bathroom together to get those sweet little hands clean.

With chagrin, when I heard the story, I knew I had been that mom.  I was the one who was looking for immediate obedience and oftentimes becoming a harsh mama to enforce the rules and regulations of the house so that my children would obey.  Harshness and intimidation seemed to produce obedient children, and since that was, as I was given to understand, a most important result of correct parenting, I used it regularly.  And sadly, there's still some unrighteous fruit being born of those years of misguided methods.  Thankfully, God has opened my eyes and given me an increased awareness of what love looks like and how to be a loving parent, thereby showing me how to allow His healing to come into those damaged relationships.

Hearing Sally's story was a turning point for me.  I began to examine my parenting and adjusting as I became aware.  I read her books: Mission of Motherhood, Ministry of Motherhood, and Heartfelt Discipline.  Later I was introduced to other parenting books like Parenting with Love and Logic by Cline and Fay and Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk.

I became increasingly aware of how little love I was demonstrating and how much fear was dominating my parenting: fear that I wouldn't train my kids well, fear that I wouldn't teach them what they need to know, fear that my mistakes and their mistakes would overpower the plans and purposes of God.  Sometimes that fear looked like love.  I wasn't a bad parent, I know.  I did lots of good things with and for my kids.  I didn't beat them or berate them.  But I didn't lavish love on them simply because I didn't know how.  I thought correcting them and letting them know what they needed to do better WAS loving, and there is place for that in love, but I was doing those things mostly out of FEAR of how their mistakes were going to affect me and not LOVE.

Today, I am a different parent, I hope.  I've turned my course towards one of developing relationships based on love instead of on rules, fear, and perfectionism.

So, what do I wish I would've known sooner?

How to dial down the fear and trust in God.  How to let His love be the source of my attitudes, intentions, and motivations.  How to really know that my mistakes would in no way derail God's love for my kids.  How to parent from a place of love instead of fear.

Now that I'm aware, I repent often (to God and to my kids) for my unloving, unrighteous attitudes, intentions, and motivations. I cry out to God for more grace and increased awareness of His love, allow Him to parent my heart, turn to Him moment by moment.

I have a messy house since love moved in.  Chores aren't always assigned which means they aren't usually done; rooms aren't always picked up.  The dust is getting thicker by the minute, and my kids aren't obeying the first time every time. I'm on a steep learning curve, and I've had to let go of a lot in order to focus my energies on this new way of living.

But love is happening.  Relationships are happening.  We are laughing and enjoying one another more.  We are learning what loving responses look like and how to stop the unloving ones.  And in the process, hearts are mending, love is flowing, and I am letting go of control and trusting God more each day.

1 Peter 4:8 "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins"

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Learning this new way of relating in love is challenging.

In the past, I resorted often to irritation, frustration, anger, intimidation, withdrawal...all tools I used to send messages to those around me (i.e. my kids) that what they were doing was not acceptable in my book and that the behavior needed to change in order for me to be ok.

I was powerless, or at least acting like I was.

Then I was introduced to books like Parenting with Love and Logic and Loving Our Kids on Purpose and, most recently, Empowering the Transfer of Moral Values.  I became increasingly aware that these tools, while seemingly effective at getting what I wanted done, were creating distance, pain, and brokenness in the relationships most important to me.

I didn't want to do that anymore.

So I've gone on a journey of learning to love my kids, of allowing God to parent my heart and root out those self-focused tools and replace them with His love.

I'm far from perfect, and some days it's so hard to put down the old tools and pick up the new ones because learning to do things a new way is time-consuming and "inefficient" (i.e. my agenda is not happening in the time-frame I think is important) and requires me to trust God like never before.

However, I never want to go back to the old way of doing things.  Things are messy on this journey: lists of all sorts have gone out the window as God knows they keep me from fully embracing this season of learning to love selflessly, learning to rightly relate to Him and my family.

I'm grateful that He's opened my eyes to the fruit of the old tools so that I can stop doing those things and embrace love instead.

Friday, October 3, 2014


I haven't had much space this past year to move past the thoughts in my head to the keyboard at the computer.  Truth is, the words have ended up on pages in journals as time spent at my desk in front of a keyboard and monitor has been minimal.  Email gets checked on my super smart phone as does Facebook and Instagram which leaves little other reason to sit at my desk. So this space here has been neglected and a part of me that has enjoyed blogging has too.

Part of that also comes with this season of life where God has me focused on rightly relating to my children and husband.  I can't be relational when my back is to them, and I'm facing a computer.  I admit, my phone does distract me, but it's much smaller and somehow usually easier for me to set down and focus on the person at hand.

I hope to be more regular about my writing now that I've managed to find some space again in my head for it and share more about this journey into loving my children and my family well.  It all started with a blog I read over here.

See you soon.