On the Me{n}U: My Horrible Mommy, Life-changing Moment

It happened. I planned for it. I practiced for it. I dreaded it. I hoped I would never have to face it. I feared every time I heard it happening to someone else.

But a horrible moment happened to me anyway.

I lost my five year old daughter at a water park!

lost

…thankfully, only for a moment.

But it is a moment that will last forever in my memory. I can close my eyes right now and relive the panic. Chest tightening as if embraced by King Kong. Pulse racing faster than an Olympic sprinter. Flashes of what if scenarios playing fast forward in my head…the worst scenarios a mother could think of. Praying like a madwoman both in my heart and on my lips to Almighty God in a way I never ever want to do again. All other faces blurred into nothingness as I searched for that one precious face that meant everything in that moment. A five minute moment felt like forever.

Have you had that moment?

A sliver of time that would change the course of your life afterwards forever. I know you have. Some are fantastic. One minute no baby, the next minute, BOOM! parenthood. One minute, high school student, next minute POW! Graduate.

Some are absolutely foul. A loss. A goodbye. A death.

image courtesy of artur84:freedigitalimages.net

image courtesy of artur84; freedigitalimages.net

Our greatest and worst moments marker our lives. They give definition and character to the story of our existence. My story, your story, is highlighted by our moments, whether we like them or not. And as much as I would love to erase the moment my daughter was lost from my memory, it is a part of me now and will be always. To someone at that water park, I am the mom who could not keep track of her daughter and irresponsibly lost her kid. (Ok, so it didn’t happen quite like that. But they don’t know that. She didn’t wander off. She just didn’t hold hands and in her following could not see us anymore. In that split second of panic, a guard asked if she was lost and took her to the security room just that fast. We were literally two feet away, but she couldn’t see us, so she was lost. And yes, I am STILL embarrassed by that fact.)

How do we embrace the moments in our lives that depict us negatively?

How do we make peace with the memories that reveal such dark times in our lives? What do we do if those memories outshine any good that we have ever encountered? I don’t profess to have the only wisdom on this matter, but I do know what helps me.

I try to remember that: moments

  1. Life is a journey. I can’t have ups without downs. And if I did, life would be dull

  2. Negative moments fuel the positive ones. If I can make it through, the joy that is to come will be that much sweeter.

  3. My worst moments connect me deeply in my relationships with others and with my Savior God. I am forced to be humble, to be vulnerable, to trust, and to receive outside of myself. What a great gift trouble can give if I can view it as such.

  4. Trials of life chip away at the rough and insensitive parts of my life and make me a better listener, more compassionate, more empathetic, and more humble. It’s a tool I can use in my life.

When I can remember these in the midst of sour moments, I can not only withstand them, I can incorporate them into memories with a deep respect.

If I can do that then you can choose to do that, too, because Me {n} U, we’re no different! We both have choices to make. Our circumstances may be different, but the power to choose is always ours.  And if we choose well, we can embrace lifetime changing moments and continue to remain

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A Resolution for You: A Revelation for Me

I was going to write about my displeasure of New Year’s resolutions. I still may. The year is young.

image courtesy of sscreations/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of sscreations/freedigitalphotos.net

Instead, this is my third attempt at sharing my New Year’s revelation. It has everything to do with you. Despite my computer’s thwarting efforts, I insist on being victorious this time around. If you are reading non-jibberish, then please raise your glass or coffee mug as I have in a rousing toast: To Beating Technology!

Ok, back to the revelation of the resolution. Have you ever had a moment when you looked around at life and just said, what in the world? Things are so bad! I just had that moment. Looking at a book marketed for teens, I was blindsided by the mature subject matter, the flippant attitude towards life, and the absurd notion that EVERYBODY lives this way so I should just get used to it. What kind of future is waiting for my kids? Then the realities of life hit. I am all too familiar with the oozing darkness that covers lives with despair.

Death. Heartbreak. Loss. Abuse. Addiction.

Jealousy. Rage. Cruelty. Loneliness. Prejudice.

Betrayal. Desperation. Entrapment. Confusion. Pain.

 Real life is NOT  a cool tv show. Real pain does not need to be poked. It hurts bad enough as it is.

This stuff just isn’t peachie. But it is happening right now.

That thought sends me to a very uneasy place. As a matter of fact, this is how I feel: Hyperventilating beginning…panic ensuing…NEED. CHOCOLATE. NOW! Sad to say though not even chocolate brings adequate aid. I usually try to avoid thinking about the horror someone is facing right in the same moment I get to sit here and write about it. I feel helpless not being able to switch out that person’s life to help them avoid such mind-blowing pain. And if i can’t help, then I would rather not think about it. I would like to start my day over, eating my banana bread and looking at dressy fashions, imaging how great I would look in them (if I were 2o pounds lighter and just a couple years younger. Just a couple I say!) But I can’t. I am forced today to deal with issues.

That’s when I had my revelation. A New Year’s Resolution for you. Ok, not for you exactly but exactly with you in mind. Though I may not be able to physically transform lives–my cash flow situation will not get you out of debt (I am struggling to get my own self out of that!), I have no task force at my disposal to run down and lock up creeps, I can’t make anyone fall in love with you, I can’t bring anyone back from the dead (I am starting to sound like Aladdin’s genie)–let me tell you what I can do.

I. CAN. PRAY. FOR. YOU.

image courtesy of tungphoto: freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of tungphoto: freedigitalphotos.net

Don’t give me that face. I am not talking about making a wish to the heavens or hoping that the luck of the universe will help someone out. I am talking about the generous opportunity I have every day to go before the God of all and ask for His help. I didn’t ask you if you think He can do it. I didn’t even say He would answer how I want Him to. What I am saying is that He can. And if He can, and I can ask Him, then there is HOPE. The smallest light still pierces the blackest dark. This HOPE is a light. This HOPE I can give.

And this HOPE you can have.

I resolve this year instead of flighting from the darkness to fight it whenever I encounter it with His light. I HOPE this changes things for ME {N} U. I know that for me, it already has.

image courtesy of ponsulak: freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of ponsulak: freedigitalphotos.net

Pass me the chocolate and with HOPE let’s stay,

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Christmas Special for Me{N}U: The Same Old

This Holiday Season is full of what some call tradition…

I could call it the “same old thing”.

Image courtesy of kibsri/freegdigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of kibsri/freegdigitalphotos.net

I usually don’t do the “same old” very well.

My husband on the other hand is an expert. For example, he can eat the same meal FOREVER depending on the meal, of course. While he was in high school, my husband was dared by his father to eat only pizza (his favorite food) for a month, thinking hubby dear would surely fail. My husband, and the pizza company, triumphed gloriously in cheesy goodness.

I can hardly stand eating the same meal twice in ONE WEEK! Even the tastiest of morsels have a time limit on my palate. Leftovers make me feel like I’ve been there, ate that–new experience please. I need to trade in the same old thing.

I need something different.

I am guessing this buffet-style of living strikes a common chord with some of you. If not, humor the rest of us and read along anyway. AYCE (all-you-can-eat) chains can be found everywhere. Their appeal, besides the gorge factor, can be found in the tremendous variety that each restaurant offers. Channel surfing can now be deemed a national sport due to the multitudes of viewing options in the digital world (so how comes there’s never anything to watch?) Go ahead…add to this list of overindulgence aka things I often enjoy.

I enjoy variety because I tend to get–what’s that word?–oh yeah, “bored” with the same old things so I continue on with this endless, and admittedly tiring, search for the new, for the trendy, for the exciting. However, I continue to receive a lot of same ol’ –just repackaged.

Take a look at holiday specials for example.

PicMonkey Sample

picMonkey.com

Most of us celebrate “the holidays” in some way and we each have our favorite traditions and mine are typically found in music and movies. I love Christmas music and movies! Take a moment and sing your favorite Yuletide melody with me. (You know you want to spread Christmas cheer!) My husband, the pizza eater,—not so much. He gets tired of the, you guessed it, same old. Same old songs, same old movies, every year. He asks, “How many times can you listen to that song?” And I reply, “It’s not the same song. The last one was a ballad, this was one was sung polka style!” And one of my fave shows can be watched with the main character as a mouse, or as a digitally animated old man portrayed by an actor of many faces, or better yet a puppet! All three shows based on the same book with the same name, and same endings but because of my distaste of the same old, I can keep all three in my holiday watching rotation without boredom because even the smallest variation to me makes the show just a little different, just a bit new. My family and I can chug down cocoa and gobble up popcorn for each and every one of them (hubby joins in for the eating). Holiday traditions know extremely well how to repurpose the same old, which is why I love them.

I’m good with the same old in a different way. Because it seems new. Shallow? Perhaps, but at least I’m honest. And truth really be told, the same old things aren’t what bores me, it’s the same old feelings. I chase feelings.

This time of year is full of feelings. I reenact the same traditions so that I can recapture those peaceful, loving feelings and share them with my own children and the people I love. Those feelings never get tiring.

In my life, I often struggle to stay content with the same old. Just today I got upset as my house was  compared to someone else’s and it didn’t quite measure up. Not quite big enough. Not quite lavish enough. Does that have to equal not quite good enough? I get sucked in to the lie to buy more to feel full, to look over the fence to find the greener grass, to trade up to be better.

The same old game.

The same old lie.

My feelings need to be controlled. Easy to say but without help almost impossible to do. I have to be aware. I have to be on guard. And for me, I have to pray. I celebrate Christmas because my life center is Christ. I notice that as I am grateful and realize how much God has done and is doing for me, I can’t help but be ok with my present situation. There is a wise word from the Bible which says: in all things, be content. Such a small statement but such a huge task. Did you catch the small but massive word: ALL.

In ALL things?

Without enough money to pay bills? With sickness? With loneliness?

My Fridge with Thanksgiving LeftoversWith leftovers?

Be content. In ALL things.

The only way I have found to do this is to take a page from that carol of Christmas and repurpose my same old attitude into something new. I may not be able to change the story of my life, but through prayer and intentionality, I can change how I think and respond to it. It’s my choice. My attitude. My outlook. My response.

This holiday and in this new year, I am going to do something different. How about you? Settling for the same old? Searching for the feelings of newness? Why not trade it for just something different. And the difference starts with
Me …&…U. Check out this list from blogger Ruth at her site living well  spending less to get you started.

Always-in-Pursuit-7-Ways-to-Be-More-Content-Right-Now-contentment-faith-inspiration

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. And let’s work this year on staying,

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IMG_0542

Between Me{N}U: Enough Grilling Already!

I don’t know about you, but for me…

This summer has taken my schedule, marinated it, grilled it up well done, chewed it up, and spit it back out at me! So much to do. So many places to be. Work piling. Kids tugging. Blogs forming. Time..flying.

ENOUGH ALREADY!

I have some great posts coming soon…but not today.

Lazzy Feet on a Blue Ocean Beach vacation

(Photo credit: epSos.de)

Today, I am going to vacation with my family without guilt and without my dreaded schedule. I will get back to blogging, working, running soon, but sometimes you gotta know when to just let go.

So take that summer! I am reclaiming you for fun in the sun. Give me back my schedule and that spatula. I will do my own grilling, thank you very much.

So I will see you in a bit blog world. Refreshed, renewed, relaxed, but still…

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Summertime ME{N}U: Fake Corn with Real Butter

There are some words I love…

You look great, honey. And so slim!

Mom, you’re the best!

We won!

There’s chocolate for dessert.

And…MADE WITH REAL BUTTER!

Butter and a butter knife

I splurge on very few things. Ok, I tend to look for reasons to splurge on just about anything. But, there are a couple of things in this life for which I will pay top dollar. One of those things is REAL BUTTER, made with real cream. No other junk included. One of the other things is toilet paper. (I refuse to be caught with a cheap product that doesn’t go the distance if you know what I mean.)

I have my favorite brand of real butter and I stick with it whether I have a coupon or not. Why? The taste of course! Oh my goodness the taste! Real butter tastes better in almost everything.

I said almost everything.

Real and Fake Don’t Mix

Real butter does not do anything for fake corn. I know because I am a self-proclaimed popcorn expert.

courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net: digitalarts

I have learned from the best (my family). We are persnickety about our popcorn ingestion. Real butter is a no brainer. Good popcorn has to have real butter, but the butter can only go as far as the corn will take it. I have tried to cut costs supporting my real butter habit by buying the cheapie popcorn kernels with the fake brand to pop in my air popper (which pops the fluffiest corn). You usually do get what you pay for. Cheapie kernels don’t pop well, the burn easily, and just taste different. No good I say. Not even real butter can mask the nasty of a fake corn. And life is too short to eat bad popcorn.

My Popcorn = My Life

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net: aopsan

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net: aopsan

While snacking on the good stuff and thinking about my life, I see the same pattern as the popcorn. Real and fake don’t mix. With my life, I am constantly choosing whether I am going to invest in the real or try to get by with the cheapie instead. A relationship sprinkled with fake bonds will prove to be unstable and unreliable. An education that has taken shortcuts in order to receive a good grade loses the quality of learning which is the reason for the education in the first place. Parenting when it is convenient for me leaves children of low character and cheapens not only the family but our society as a whole. Keeping up appearances to impress others in my life often leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Being real with who I am, with all my imperfections, whether I impress you or not, never does. I do not want to live a fake popcorn life.

How about you?

Life involves Me & You. I want to let you know that you are better REAL.

We’re not that different and I can hear you telling me that I don’t have to be anyone else. I can be who I am. Leave all the judgers behind. I agree! And you should, too! There’s only One in my life who I care completely what He thinks of me. Only One who can forgive me 100% all the time so that I don’t have to be perfect. I can be REAL. I can be me. And you can, too.

Don’t forget this fact either: Real butter doesn’t just happen. It has to go through a process before it is ready to be used. I am still in process, too. So be patient with me and I will be patient with you. If we all did that maybe we could live a more genuine life.

So as you eat lots of popcorn with real butter remember real is good for you. Real tastes better. You deserve real. Go ahead and splurge on what matters…YOU.

Keeping it real and staying…

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On this week’s ME{N}U: Toast..French or Cajun? Timing is everything

MOST THINGS IN LIFE REQUIRE GOOD TIMING

I burn everything at least once. And my kids never let me forget about it. Bread is most often the casualty. Garlic bread, biscuits, toast…especially toast…they all have been singed under my not so watchful care. You may make a great french toast. I make a mean Cajun toast–blackened that is. The difference? Timing. Timing in cooking is indeed everything. Timing in life is everything.

photobucket.com

photobucket.com

What a difference a day makes

The timing of this post lies almost one week after my daughter’s twelfth birthday. (So forgive any non-sensical wording please. One tends to rebound slowly after dealing with ten to twelve preteen girls hopped up on sugar for several hours.) I love to wake my kids at the midnight that crests their big day. One day my precious girl was eleven and the next–boom–twelve. Just in the matter of a second. How many things in life hinge on one second? Babies are born. Lives are saved by a split second. But how many seconds of our day are wasted on nothingness because we are not paying attention? My assessment, from personal experience, one second too many.

Pay attention to timing

Toast quickly turns from buns to briquettes when we stop paying attention to timing. Life quickly slips by us in the same manner. Missed opportunities. Unseen milestones. Futures altered. Life to death. All in the matter of a moment.

Timing is too precious to forget about. 

I am still a novice in this blogosphere, but already I am keenly aware of a few timing lessons.

Timing can place me with the right people at just the right moment, if I pay attention.

Using time wisely will keep me productive and poised, if I pay attention.

Ill use of timing and its principles will cost me dearly with my goals and with my relationships.

Just this morning because of misuse of time, this blog was delayed and if I had not caught myself, I could have missed a precious toddler moment. While trying to redeem my time and focus on finishing my work, I found myself literally pushing my toddler away from me. To my credit, he was about to jump over my head and onto my laptop which would not have been good for either of us. All he wanted, though, was to sit by me. His favorite line now is “Mommy, I need you.” Heart-melting  I know. Now add big brown eyes and curly brown hair…miss a moment with that! Not this Momma. That would be bad timing.

So, how’s your timing? 

Your life is made of many to do lists and deadlines, moments and madness, that you will have to journey  through. Time, your attention to it, how you use it, and how it uses you is something we all need to revisit in our lives. Don’t worry though. It’ll just take a second.

Taking my time and loving it. And always staying,

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On this week’s ME{N}U: New and Improved Lemonade for Life

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

What a dumb metaphor. I am sorry Mr. Elbert Hubbard circa 1915. This metaphor contains a huge flaw, besides being painfully quaint. When life gives me lemons, I usually just want to throw them back and yell, “I didn’t ask for any stupid lemons!” You probably already agree but what can we do? Life. Sometimes it brings bad things, sour things, distasteful things that we can’t throw back. But taking just lemons and making lemonade…bad idea. Let me explain my take on this by sharing with you a personal story first.

Taste this, Mommy!

My daughter made me lemonade once when she was ten. She was so proud on that hot day. “Here Mommy, I made it myself!” I should have taken the cue and braced myself. But I didn’t, and yup you guessed it.

http://studentministrygames.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/wednesdays-wild-game-pucker-up/

studentministrygames.wordpress.com/

It was nasssssty! 

My entire face shrunk in with a shrivel as I squeaked out, “Thanks, honey. You’re the best.” You know what the problem was? All lemons. No sugar. Bad combo.

You can’t make good lemonade with just lemons!

Understandably, life is not always pleasant. Bad times, aka lemons, always seem to sprout when and where we least want them. But the lemons are not the problems by themselves. It’s how we prepare the lemons that make the difference. Some of us pick the lemons just to suck on them. All we can do is suck the sour out of the situation. Tell everyone how bad it is. Express how it can never ever get better. Repeatedly. Confirm our suspicions on the fact that we have the worst problem ever. Lemons really do suck. I am tired of the face shrivel and overall displeasure of living in such a way. Aren’t you?

So let’s make that lemonade…a New and Improved lemonade.

First, cut up the lemons. Take your problem and cut it down to size. Most often any problem will overwhelm us if we continue to look at it as a mountain, but if we can break it down step by step, we can conquer Everest a bit at a time.freedigitalphotos.net, piyato

Next, add some water. Water for us can represent clarity and common sense. Both items in a crisis are very hard to deliver to oneself if you are the one in crisis. Get a friend, a wise friend (not the one that you only want to come around when he gets a double-dog dare). Share the problem with her and see if she can offer a sensible step or maybe even a whole different perspective. Word to the wise here: don’t use too much water or in our case don’t tell too many people or harass those one or two friends repeatedly just because you have some lemons. Remember, they’re just here to help. It’s your lemons. It’s your lemonade.

Sugar-1Thirdly, and most important in my world, ADD SOME SUGAR! For the love of all things sweet, add some sugar. Life is easier to handle when you can laugh at yourself or the situation. Give or serve someone else who is worse off than you are. Taking your eyes off of yourself can help you gain a greater perspective. Gratitude is also a way to sweeten an otherwise wearisome task. Have you ever tried to give thanks in every situation, no matter what? Challenging at times yes, but always an option…if you really want to make things better. Find a way to sweeten your situation.

Next to last, add some ice. Ice cools things down. Maybe in your life crisis, you need to step away from it. Let it cool down. Let yourself cool down. Take a vacation, even if it’s just a cold drink, to relax and refocus. I personally pray. I actually pray first which would be like adding the ice first which is fine to me because I love a good, cold lemonade. If you do pray, let me just suggest that you check out who you’re praying to. Prayer in itself is good; prayer to Someone who could actually make a difference is better.

Finally, shake or stir it up. Do something about it. You see the steps, now take them. A lot of times we want others to do our work for us or fix our problem or scrub our houses. Oops, sorry, the house comment was for another blog. Check Just Peachie’s 31 day challenges for that. Anyway, learn to become the key to your own success. And most often success comes by working at a task until it is done to perfection.

Kinda like lemonade. If you’re going to make it, make it good. I mean, you’re going to get lemons anyway, whether you like it or not. That really is life. You can’t throw those sour moments away, but you can make lemonade…some of the best lemonade you’ve ever had. You may be surprised just how sweet the outcome will be.

Try it today: Cut your life issue down to manageable parts, get a wise friend to help, find some sort of good in that moment in that situation, let it chill, then do something to work it out. You may just rediscover how good life can taste.freedigitalimages.net, dusky

You keep connecting and I’ll keep staying,

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