Simple Pleasures

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Family. Quality time. Simple pleasures.
Ice cream. Sunsets. Sweet tea.
Billowing curtains.
Thick grass under bare feet.
Sand between my toes.
Water running through my fingers.
White puffy clouds.
Pretty dresses. Flowing skirts.
Stargazing. Clear skies. Rain.
Swinging. Feeding ducks. A gentle breeze.
Sunshine. Chunky sunglasses. Fruity drinks.
Pumpkins. Watermelons. The smell of baking.
Christmas trees. Twinkle lights.
Fireworks. Glow sticks.
The sound of the ocean.
The view from a mountain.
Waterfalls.
Steam on the mirror. Fresh fluffy towels. Clean sheets.
Wide open spaces. Wild flowers. Palm trees.
Silent, early morning light. A harvest moon.
Porches. Rocking chairs. Story time.
Holding hands. Sparkling eyes. Baby snuggles.
Loving and being loved.

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A Piece of Our Story

ourstoryAs I was praying for a friend in the shower this morning (Yes, in the shower. When you’re a mom its one of the only times you can actually have a complete thought or form a coherent prayer.) I was moved to share the following story with her. As I typed it out on her facebook wall (It was in response to something she previously posted. I promise I don’t just go around giving random bits of personal advice on facebook. :) ) it occurred to me that there are probably many other people our age in similar situations who may also benefit from hearing this piece of our story. I gave her the condensed version, but here’s the whole story.

Shortly after Andy was born, Josh and I moved to the Dallas area to be closer to my family. As a new mom, I was terrified and was sure I was going to need lots of help from my own mother. After living here for about a year, both Josh and I were extremely homesick for Memphis. We missed our friends. We missed the culture. We missed our Tigers. We definitely missed the BBQ. (Texas aint got nothin’ on Memphis BBQ!) Around the same time, Josh had the opportunity to apply for a promotion that would move us back to Memphis! It was meant to be, right? Well, that’s what we thought…or at least really wanted to believe. Needless to say, he got the promotion (He’s so amazing!), we packed our stuff and headed home.

Never once during the whole application/interviewing/moving process did we ask God if He wanted us in Memphis. We prayed for Josh to perform well at his interview. We asked for safety during the trip. We prayed for the people who were kind enough to help us move. But, like I said, we never prayed about whether this decision was in line with the Lord’s plan for our lives.

We spent the next few years in Memphis, loving being amidst our friends, the culture, our alma mater, and enjoying the delicious Mississippi Delta cuisine. Naturally, we grew as people, our marriage grew, and our faith grew during that time as well. As our faith grew, we learned that we are not called to act and then pray for the Lord’s blessings, rather to pray for discernment of the Lord’s will and then act. That’s what we started doing. We started asking the Lord to show us His will for us. We prayed that our actions would be in unison with His plan and for His glory. Boy, we had no idea what a can of worms we were opening.

We started praying to live our lives in unison with the Lord’s will for our life in October 2008. That same month Josh suffered his first pay cut at work as a result of the economy. Another followed in December. By April 2009 Josh’s job had become extinct. Saying that I was scared is an understatement, but it was a strange fear. Because of my faith, I knew that everything would be ok. It was most definitely a stressful time, but the Lord provided for us in the most surprising ways.

Midway through our time of unemployment and just as our personal savings was running out, we received the largest check I have ever personally held in my hand in the mail. My grandmother had sold her house to move into a condo. Because she didn’t need the money and the grandchildren aren’t included in her will, she divided her profit after purchasing her condo among her grandchildren. I will NEVER forget opening that envelope. Or the amazement that followed the days after. She hoped we would put it toward a down payment on our house, but I’m sure she wouldn’t be disappointed to know that her great-grandchildren survived from that money.

In August 2009 Josh heard from an old supervisor. He said if Josh was still in the market for a job he needed to act now. The following week Fidelity in Westlake was having a hiring event. Obviously, Josh wasted no time resubmitting his resumé. He had a phone interview the next day. He was asked to come to Dallas the next week. The day after he interviewed, he was offered the position. Praise the Lord! After months of unemployment, dead-end leads, constant job searching (by this point we had resumes out in multiple states), we were THRILLED to have a job offer. I, however, was not so thrilled about moving back to Texas.

There’s nothing wrong with Texas. In fact, now that I’ve gotten to know it better, I really like Texas. But all I could think about was how homesick we were before. As you can tell, things we’re happening fast. Josh was scheduled to start his job in just two weeks. We had to pack, plan a move, find a place to live, etc, etc, etc. I put it all in the hands of the Lord. I was completely overwhelmed and knew there was no way I could make everything happen in just two weeks. I’ll spare you the details, but let me just say the way everything came together was nothing short of miraculous.

So here we are, right where we started. Working for the same company at the same location. What’s different is this time we know it’s right. We know God wants us here. We don’t know why, but we are confident that this is exactly where we are supposed to be. Oh, and remember that check from my grandmother? We spent the last penny of it the day before Josh’s first pay day. Coincidence? I think not. :)

Moral of the story: Ask God what His will is for your life and make your decisions accordingly. It’s much easier and cheaper in the long run if you just do it right the first time.

New Beginnings

sunny beginningsWhen I was younger, one of my favorite times of the year was back to school or the beginning of a new semester. I relished shopping for school supplies, often coordinating my pens and folders by color or theme, and the potential for success that lay before me. I made similar resolutions each time usually related to organization, time management, and procrastination (or more specifically, not procrastinating). I absolutely adore new beginnings of any kind. Naturally, celebrating New Years and making new year resolutions is something I really enjoy.

This year I put a lot of thought into what my resolution would be. I’m not really a fan of the generic goals like lose weight, get finances in order, get healthy, etc. All of those are great, but they basically predetermine your failure. They’re just too generic. There’s nothing measurable or concrete about them. Yet, I kept coming back to the same generic statement. I just want to be a better person. I’ve been hovering around this thought for a little over a year, but haven’t done much about it. Why? My guess would be because it’s too generic and I never formulated an action plan. So, to make my new year resolution, I decided to break down this concept of being a better person. If it goes well, perhaps I’ll continue expanding and elaborating on the same theme each year. For now, year one of becoming a better person, here’s what I’ve come up with.

I took a look at my life and picked out the major pieces that define who I am as a person. After all, how could I improve who I “am” if I don’t know who I am to begin with. I came up with these subheadings to “me”: spiritual, personal, wife, mother, entrepreneur, friend. I ultimately decided to sufficiently improve me, I would make a small, daily goal for each of these categories. In effect, instead of making one broad resolution, I’ve made several small daily resolutions.

  1. I will pray the Rosary each day. (This will probably require getting up a little earlier so I have the time to myself.)
  2. I will read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. For example, today is the second so I read chapter 2. Following my chapter I will play a round of “Bible Roulette” to allow the Lord to speak to me/learn a little more about the Bible.
  3. I will read at least one chapter of something I enjoy each day. (This one kind of stresses me out. I have no idea when I’m going to sit down and read for pleasure, plus I’m really bad about not taking time out for me, but I think this will be a much-needed daily “recharge” time for me.)
  4. I will greet Josh with a smile and a kiss and tell him I’m glad he’s home each day. (This sounds obvious but after several years of marriage and dealing with kids all day, Josh doesn’t usually get the welcome he deserves when he walks in the door.)
  5. I will spend individual quality time with each boy each day. (Research shows that just 15 minutes of quality one-on-one time with a child does wonders.)
  6. I will do one proactive activity for my business each day. (I’m not focusing so much on building new business right now, since the baby will be here before we know it. However, I definitely don’t want to lose all my momentum in the meantime, so this is what I’m starting with.)
  7. Each day, I will attempt to brighten one person’s day.

So those are my 7 daily goals. I got a new planner (the kind with both a monthly and a daily view) to help me track my goals. Each day, as I complete each goal, I will write the corresponding number in my planner. This will allow me to see which goals I’m struggling with and help me get back on the proverbial horse after I fall off. For me, tracking it the most important part of goal setting. It’s really easy to set goals, but sticking with them and eventually achieving them all comes down to the tracking. I think I’ll also report my progress here in my blog, since its important to have some accountability. It’s much to easy to make excuses to myself, but if I have to tell someone else what a slacker I’ve been, I’m much more likely to stay focused.

It takes 21 day to form a habit, so if I find I’ve accomplished (accomplished meaning successfully made it a true daily activity…like eating) one of these goals, I may replace it. I may also modify these goals as needed. My tracking sheets will speak for themselves.  But, for now, this is my plan to become a slightly better person this year.

Here’s to a great 2010!

Russian Roulette

Despite the arrogance of my last post, it really does hurt to watch people I care about suffer. I get so angry with them because I honestly believe they choose to be in the situations they’re festering in. Nevertheless, it breaks my heart to watch them slowly and almost systematically destroy their lives. Believe it or not, that is not an overstatement. People seem to have so little comprehension of the fact that the choices they make today will most definitely affect the rest of their lives. At the very least, every choice has the potential to do that.

Lately, I feel as if I’m the one who’s trapped. Trapped in some viewing room watching people I love slowly torture themselves. And, somehow, they don’t even seem to realize they’re doing it. How is it possible to sabotage your own future and not see what you’re doing to yourself? How is it possible to be so blind to your own situation that you can’t hear the truth that a trusted friend tries to share with you? How is it possible that when I reach out to try and help, all they see is someone who “acts older than she should,” someone who just needs to “lighten up?”

There was definitely a time when I was “lighter.” A time when I too made insanely stupid choices. But, you’d be a fool to assume that I would go back to that time if given the opportunity. I have no idea how I managed to escape primarily unscathed. Don’t think for a second that I don’t realize how lucky I am to merely have a few emotional scars from that period of my life. I just don’t understand how so many can be so blind. Sometimes it feels like everyone around me is playing Russian Roulette with their lives. I pray everyday that they also emerge unharmed, but the thought of what that chamber could hold terrifies me.

Hello world!

My name is Mary and this is my first attempt at really blogging. I’m married to my college sweetheart, the mother of two very active boys, both under the age of three, and proudly self employed. Working from home has definitely proved more challenging than I envisioned, but I’m very motivated by both the opportunities it allows and those it promises. I always have a million things floating around my head, and often don’t have an adult to share them with, as I’m at home with the boys during the day, so I’m excited to have a venue to voice the randomness that abounds! I have no plans for the course this blog will follow, but I expect it to be some strange concoction of me, family life, working and my business, odd thoughts, movie and/or product reviews, and anything else that pops into my head! Enjoy!!