My eulogy

A few weeks ago I wrote my eulogy.eulogy

Don’t worry…I don’t plan on going anywhere soon. It was part of an exercise for a workshop I attended. The workshop was called The Power of Life Planning.

At first I thought it was a really weird thing to do but the more the instructor explained it the more I understood it.

The general idea is that if you write out what you would like someone to say about you at the end of your life, you can then work backwards and make sure you put a plan in place for those things to be accomplished.

It was very telling about the people whom I love, what I dream about, what I care deeply about and what I believe my life purpose is. I will reveal a few tidbits but you’ll have to wait 52 years for the rest (…I plan to live to 100!)

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Who I love…

“Tracey loved her family with all her heart…”

I realized after writing with passion about my love for my husband and children, grandchild, great grandchildren-to-come and my extended family that I need to make sure that I am investing my time and energy into those relationships consciously and purposefully. Life can get so crazy that those we love most get pushed down on the priority list.

What I dream about…

“Although Tracey enjoyed traveling all over the world it was at her lake home in a little town called Jefferson that she felt the most like herself…”

So, I am not travelling the world…yet. And we don’t own the cottage in Maine…yet. But these are things I dream of and if I want them to come to pass then I need to start putting plans in place to ensure that they happen.

What I believe in…

“Her relationship with God was so deep and so critical to her that she longed for everyone she came in contact with to have that same experience. At age 14 her Dad wrote a verse in her Bible – a gift commemorating her baptism. It was Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. Tracey took that verse as a charge and tried to live her life intentionally to that end.

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You get the idea.

Writing out that pseudo-eulogy painted a picture of what I would like my life to look like when all is said and done.

It gives me something to work backwards from to make sure that I am building a life of purpose.

Obviously this will look different for everyone and many people will probably have higher aspirations than I do – as it turns out I realized after writing this out that I am not as complicated as I thought I was. I can really make life more difficult than it has to be!

And the other thing worth mentioning is that of course life happens and things change but this exercise is a good place to start to figure out what matters most to you and what you can be working towards.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…crazy idea or helpful tool?

Overwhelmed?

You will only be overwhelmed if you allow yourself to be overwhelmed.
(major life crises excluded – you’re allowed to be overwhelmed then)

Unfortunately, I allow myself to be overwhelmed way too often.

In the past two months I’ve…

  • hosted and spoke at an FTGI major conference and hosted 2 luncheons
  • spoke at an outreach event
  • attended my husband’s 4 day business conference
  • hosted 2 major parties at my house of over 25 people at each of them
  • had 7 people ( including one very tiny soft, sweet baby girl) stay at my house spanning 30 days straight of in-house company
  • had the flu along with several members of the family
  • had to navigate a very bad reaction while trying to wean off medication
  • attended a baby baptism, a baby shower, a first birthday party and a work dinner with my husband
  • attended a plethora of meetings
  • had a daughter on Spring Break

And these are just the biggies, not to mention… cook, clean (which often are left undone) and maintain some of my work schedule.

Let me be clear, I am not complaining. Most of those things are things I really love to do and would do all over again. Some of them were unplanned or snuck up on me and threw me off my game.  But that is life, right?

I’m sure if you listed out everything you’ve done in the past two months your list would be just as long.

Here are some things I am reminding myself of in order to not allow myself to be overwhelmed.

1) Be sure to create margins in your schedule.

Things pop up that need your attention whether you want to give it or not.  Things pop up that you want to be able to jump in on and enjoy.  If your schedule is too packed ~ the unplanned things in life will send you into a tailspin. Creating what I call “white space” on my calendar also allows time to feed your soul – to do something you love like read a book, paint, write, play. When “white space” is missing from my schedule I get overwhelmed.

2) Realize that you are only one person with the same 24 hours as everyone else.

I wrote another piece about this because it is hard to strike a balance but really – You Can Only Do What You Can Do! Trying to do more than what reasonably fits into your life is going to lead to feeling overwhelmed.

3) Say NO to some really good things in pursuit of sanity. 

This month alone I had to opt out of 2 events I really wanted to go to, a radio interview and an offer to co-host a radio show. I have been known to say, “I want to have and do it all” in a passionate moment but in the real world I have to make some hard choices in order not to set myself up for chaos.

4) Commit my time to God 

He is so much better at knowing exactly where I need to spend my time. Sometimes I get caught up and forget to consult the One who has numbered my days about how I should spend them! I find that if I take just a little time each morning to ask where my focus should be and ask Him to guide my steps life gets a lot smoother. He has designed me to thrive on being busy but He hasn’t designed everyone that way and He doesn’t wanted me overwhelmed or unavailable for the unexpected blessings that come along.

This seems to be a theme for me this year.  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!!

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A little levity! Just smile 😉

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year??

It’s actually a pretty difficult time of the year for many. There are images everywhere of ideal family dinners but for some that is not a reality. There is pressure to buy presents and spend money yet there are those who are struggling financially. There are emotions that the holidays stir up that lay dormant for much of the year.

I understand. There is, however, a way to manage some of the things that make it difficult.

As I unpack the ornaments, I unpack memories with them, sweet reminders of past Christmases. Many of the ornaments that decorate our tree commemorate a milestone…Our First Christmas, Baby’s First Christmas…etc. Many of them were gifts from my mom. While the memories are sweet, the pain of loss is bitter.

For years I would slip away from the activity of decorating to collect myself and shake off the sadness but I have learned over the years to change my mindset. Now, I look forward to the tradition as a way of setting time aside to be with the memories and celebrate all the love that my tree holds:

  • a faded ornament from my grandparent’s tree
  • little treasures made with tiny fingers that are now full grown hands
  • chubby faces of babies dressed like santa and an elf (the things we do to our children!)
  • gifts from friends old and new

ImageHere are a few tips to help you navigate the holidays with cheer!

1. Identify those things that cause stress 

Is there something you are dreading during the holiday season? Are there difficult relationships that you will have to deal with? Is the financial pressure of gift giving stressing you out? Unless you identify the sources of stress you can’t address them.

2. Find a way to limit if not eliminate those things.

If there is something that you are absolutely dreading, you can take control over how it affects you by changing your mindset. Go with a different attitude and you may be pleasantly surprised how things turn around.

You may discover as you dig a little deeper that you are striving to meet other people’s expectations of you which is not a healthy motive for continuing to put yourself in a negative situation. If you can’t eliminate it altogether then consider limiting the amount of time or maybe gathering in a place or time that would be less stressful.

If finances are stressing you out let people know ahead of time that you will be scaling back and giving smaller meaningful gifts instead so that the expectation is set ahead of time.  Maybe it’s my age, but I enjoy thoughtful things my children have done like recording a song for me or putting a slide show together as opposed to store bought things.

3. Carve out some time for yourself

Even if it is something really small, do something YOU love to do this season.  Last night on our way home from picking up my daughter from work we drove around and looked at houses in our neighborhood all lit up for Christmas.  Normally we zoom in and out hardly noticing. While I was organizing my closet the other day I put on Miracle on 34th Street.  I am the only one in my family who really loves that movie so I made a cup of tea and watched (and was still productive!) Ok, so I did two things for myself!!

4. Let something go

Unless you are incredibly organized or not very busy it is likely that something is going to get missed this year. For me, it’s Christmas cards.  I love to send them, I love to get them but I am letting it go this year.  There are just too many things to do and not enough time. Making that decision freed me of having it hang over my head. It just wasn’t in the cards this year. (pun intended)

5. GIVE!

This should really be first but if the holidays are difficult, stressful or sad for you the absolute best thing you can do is GIVE. It’s getting a little late in the game but I am sure there are still causes that need and would gladly accept last minute help. It may be giving of your time or a gift for someone in need but it will be the thing that brings you great joy this season.

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Wishing you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xo

My Story.

This has been my year to be brave.

In the beginning of the year, actually at the end of 2012 ~ this verse leapt off the page to me and I didn’t really know just how much I would need to draw upon it until now.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged; the Lord your God is with you wherever you go ~ Joshua 1:9

For five years I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of my story and my struggle with depression but never in as much detail as this past Sunday.

A few months back my Pastor asked me if I would share my story as the wrap-up of a series called UNMASKED.  It was timely request.  After 7 years now of cycling in and out of rough bouts with depression I finally feel like I have a handle on how to cope with it.

Every time I make it through a rough patch I believe that I am done with it forever although I know that is not probable.  The difference now is that I feel like I have all the tools I need to fight. Until this past year I always felt like I was missing something. Now that I know how to combat the shame associated with depression I believe that I will never suffer as badly as I have in the past.

You can hear my story here. The message begins about 21 mins into the video.

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Shame affects every one of us without exception so regardless of whether you suffer from depression or not I believe this message will encourage you.  At least that is my hope and the reason that I have chosen to be brave and share.  As always I welcome your feedback and comments…

September 11th ~ I will not forget

September 11th is a memorial day for our country. It is also a memorial day for me personally.

Last year on September 11th my mom passed from this life to heaven. My brother, sisters and I sang to her as she took her last breath.

This year on September 11th at 1:14 am I am writing this with my laptop propped up on a couch pillow and a precious new life in my arms ~ my brand new granddaughter. Just days ago she took her first breath.

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Gramma T and Ezra burning the midnight oil

After my mom’s accident, in one of my darkest moments, God gave me a promise. I found it in Psalms 27:13-14 after begging God to give me something to hold on to. He did.  The verse says that if I wait on Him, I WILL see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. And I have. Many times over.

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Today, His promise is fulfilled once again. And I am reminded of the circle of life.

Instead of feeling the sting of death on this memorial day, I feel my mom’s presence as I embrace this new, beautiful season of life. A season she embraced when my son Shaun made her a grandmother for the first time. I feel her smiling face as I snuggle his daughter in my arms. I rest knowing that we are both enjoying the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, each on a different side of eternity.

I pray for all the people who suffered loss on this day that they too would experience God’s goodness in some small or big way as a reminder that his promises are true.

We will never forget September 11th collectively or individually.  We must also never forget His goodness even if we are not feeling it in a given moment. We must hold onto the promise that this life is temporary and that He came to redeem all that is broken.

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His promises are true.  We need only to believe.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

3 facts about God-Dreams

Last night our family celebrated Gotcha Day.

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“Gotcha Day” for those not familiar with the term, is the day we “got” our daughter from China. She was a dream that came true 15 years ago. We knew it was what I call a God-Dream because it came out of the blue and was bigger than anything we would have come up with on our own. And it was a little scary…God-Dreams are like that.  It took several years from when that dream seed was planted until we actually had her in our arms but we learned these things along the way.

1. God-Dreams are accomplished one step at a time.

When we had the idea to adopt we had no idea how much it cost.  When we found out how much it cost we had NO idea how we were going to pay for it. So we decided to take one step at a time and pray for the finances to come in for each next step. And they did.  From crazy places. Every cent!

2. God-Dreams don’t always go according to our desired timetable but there is a good reason for that. 

If the adoption had moved along at the pace I would have like it would have happened at least a year sooner than it did.  But the timing was crucial. A year earlier we would not have gotten our daughter because she wasn’t born yet!  Anyone who knows Danielle knows that she is a Metzger and I wouldn’t change one minute of the excruciating waiting time in retrospect.

3. God-Dreams go over and above what you can plan on your own. 

When we started our process we thought that I would have to travel alone to go get her because of financial restrictions but God went overboard and provided a way for all four of us to go on the trip of a lifetime to get her.

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First family photo

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever! Ephesians 3:20-21

Back to school and good intentions

backtoschoolHappy Back to School Day! I call it Back to schedule day because in the summer any semblance of a regular schedule goes out the window.  It’s fun but someone like me needs a schedule to keep myself on track.

When all three of my children were in school mornings used to be really busy.  I only have one in school now and she takes care of herself in the morning so it’s pretty mellow at our house in the morning. I am not a morning person (understatement) and getting myself up and going is enough of a challenge for me so I’m grateful that she is so independent!

The beginning of the school year is like the New Year for me.  I always start out with GOOD INTENTIONS.  I intend to get up a little early to have a few minutes to myself before the family day gets going.  I intend to have the house in order so that the morning won’t be a rush to get lunch or iron shirts or whatever else needs to be done.  I intend to make my bed.

And for the first few weeks I usually keep it up and then something happens.  I forget to set my alarm.  Or I set it but turn it off and turn over.  Life gets crazy and the ironing piles up and I end up having to iron a shirt for Danny just before walking out the door and resort to putting my make-up on in the car.

Yesterday my pastor said something that rang in my head this morning.

Intentions alone will not lead you to your destination.  Direction not intention leads you to your destination

So although I might intend to do all those things throughout the school year I have to actually move in that direction to make it happen. I have to put things in place to make sure that I can follow through on my intentions. It’s like that with anything, right?

I have intended to write a book for years now but that hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Putting pen to paper is the only thing that will get me closer to reaching that goal. Now that I’m back to a schedule I’m hoping to do a lot more of that.

What have you been intending to do that you need to actually start doing?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments so we can cheer each other along.