treat yourself

We spent Thanksgiving this year at Jeff and Karen Riddle’s home. They are dear friends of ours who mentored Jeremiah and I and five other couples early in our marriage when we first moved to Dallas.

Karen had her first son Ryan and daughter Amanda at the same age I had John and Rebekah and they are also 2 years apart (now teenagers).

Sitting in comfy chairs around their outdoor fireplace, Karen and I talked about life and raising children. She said a lot of great things I will always take to heart and one truth really stuck out to me. She said that in all the busyness of life in this stage, to make sure I’m treating myself to one thing each day.

My eyes lit up when I heard her words. One thing… I can handle that, I thought.

It was great to hear that it was perfectly fine to do that. And it wasn’t selfish, but would help keep me sane!

Whether it’s getting coffee at Starbucks, shopping for an hour, writing, painting my nails, or even the smallest thing that I enjoy… taking the time to treat myself will really help in navigating the crazy waters of balancing two kids and meeting their daily needs.

I stared at the crackling fire, thinking hard on the wisdom there. Fresh into having two kids, I already feel the weight pressing in at times and the stress. Some days you just want to scream because you need time for yourself.

I haven’t figured out what all I can treat myself to each day but so far in the last week I took 30 minutes to buy a pair of jeans at our new Old Navy, got my hair cut and styled, shaved my legs, and took the babies along with me to get a peppermint mocha.

Obviously, finances don’t always allow for me to do those things every week, so I’ll have to get creative, but taking the time to do them refreshed my spirit and helped get me through the day. And I think they helped me be a better wife and mom.

I’m really thankful for women like Karen who encourage younger moms who haven’t quite been there and done that yet. It definitely helps to know you’re not alone.

How do you make sure you’re treating yourself and what does it do for you?

Savoring Solitude

1150829_algarrobo_beach_2Before we left on Friday for a Labor Day weekend getaway, the one thing I needed more than anything else was rest and solitude time away from the busyness and baseline stress that comes with living in a big city… and that comes from life in general.

As we drove into the wide open spaces, I felt my burdens lifted away. Jeremiah blasted the radio and rolled the windows down. John loved the breeze against his face. We sang, laughed, and talked. It was just the beginning of our journey to getting refreshed and encouraged again.

All throughout the gospels Jesus withdrew in solitude away from the crowds and the disciples to be renewed in his relationship with God:

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them” (Lk. 4:42).

“Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him” (Mk. 4:36).

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Lk. 5:16)

Knowing that Jesus did this often, speaks volumes to me. How can I expect to live life apart from being alone with God- just me and him? How can I expect to love others well if I don’t separate myself from people from time to time? How can I expect to be renewed by staying in the same place day in and day out without ever getting away? A few things I’ve noticed when I choose not to withdraw to my “lonely place” is:

1.) I worry, worry, worry

2.) I’m not sensitive to God’s leading in my life

3.) I carry stress and don’t easily serve others

4.) I don’t share the gospel and what God is doing in my life

5.) I am mean and sin more

It’s crazy to think that choosing not to withdraw has led to those things in my life, but it makes total sense. Solitude time is examining life, confessing sin, being refueled in God’s word, and most of all resting in Christ for his strength. Life is just too hard not to make room for his presence in my life.

While I’m far from being perfect, a few practical things have helped me when it comes to making solitude time:

1.) I write it on my to-do list. Since most of the time, I get done what’s on that list, my quiet time is non-negotiable as well.

2.) I pretend like there are no dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, voicemails to return, and that not one person needs me.

3.) I leave my phone off, shut down my Mac (no emails, facebook, etc.)

4.) I go somewhere quiet with my journal, Bible, and pen and most of the time, I do this when John is asleep.

5.) I try to be still and pray in the car on the days I commute to work.

Well, I’m sitting on the couch in my pajamas listening to the sound of waterfalls trickling into the pool. The morning breeze is so refreshing and the birds love it too. The past few days I’ve been renewed in God’s word and renewed physically and emotionally. I’m sad we’re at the end of our journey at my parents because the time away has been so sweet.

But I can say I’m ready to travel back to Dallas and face the realities of life again with a better perspective than when I left.

Finances, Debt, & Freedom

piggy20bank1It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on finances. Can you tell the very word makes me nervous? Maybe it does for you too especially in our economy’s present condition. Well the good thing is that for us, right now, things are going really well.

Jeremiah and I are down to $1,000 left on his school loan and around $10,000 towards our car. A year and a half ago, we were about 30-40K in debt. Now, we’re $11,000! Jeremiah has mentioned how simple it would be to pay the whole car off in a matter of months but with the season of life we’re in (with him in school, internship, ministry, etc.), it’s best to wait and chisel away at the debt as we can.

We would not be where we are without the help of Dave Ramsey and my Mom spurring us to take his 12 week class- Financial Peace University. Finances is just one of those things, like sex, that not too many people discuss and many families don’t talk about growing up. So the result: ignorance. And it’s bliss. I’ve been there.

I’ll never forget a few months ago when our community group at church sat down and we went through each couple’s budget- every detail from car maintenance to cosmetic allowances. I hadn’t done that with anyone, ever in my life. But something about it was so freeing. There was accountability there and we knew we had each other’s best interest in mind. Our goal was to steward whatever resources God had given us the best we knew how.

Even now, I admit the struggle to constantly be aware of what I’m spending. What I’m saving, etc. It’s not easy or always black and white to know what God would do in this or that situation. But I do know for sure, that plummeting away at this debt is bringing him glory. It’s getting us farther away from bondage and closer to freedom.

We can’t wait for the day to call Dave Ramsey’s radio show to say, “WE’RE DEBT FREE!”

Hotel Zaza

I hopped in my husband’s car, anxious to know where he was taking me. We’d just gulped down our iced green teas and pita with humus from Tempest Tea, my favorite tea shop in uptown Dallas. “We have to go, your appointment’s at 7:00,” he said.

We arrived at the entrance. “Go to level two and I’ll see you in an hour,” he said. A concierge greeted me and rode with me to the second level. This was it. This was Hotel Zaza– the exquisite luxury, boutique-like hotel in Dallas. I strutted my way down the never ending hallway- assuming I was in the right direction. At last, a sign for Zaza Spa was in the distance. All my troubles seemed to fade.

Before I knew it, hot stones were infiltrating my back. So much pressure released. My burdens disappeared and I smiled for the 24 years that had just passed. Thankful for the tiny joys in life. And most of all, grateful for the moments my heavenly Father gives each new day.

Especially from my husband.

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