Part 1: Unprepared (and a little thing called jet lag) HTW-2018

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Seven years in the Girls Scouts gave me two takeaways. Two things that have rung true in my heart and as clear in my mind since the first day I heard them:

1.) Make new friends and keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.

And 2.) ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the sweet tune of friendship with many sliver and gold friends. And I strive to be prepared- as much as possible- for whatever situation I may find myself. My husband often shakes his head when I come out the door, ready for a day trip, with numerous bags filled sweatshirts, raincoats, towels, snacks and water, and a very large first aid kit. My answer to his playful mocking is always the same, “ALWAYS BE PREPARED.”

But “always be prepared” goes beyond physical plans and material items. It’s a combination of a prepared heart, mind and body that makes a person as prepared as they can be. And even then, no person is ever 100% prepared for anything. Because stuff happens. Needs come up. Priorities shift. Unexpected opportunities are offered. Energy levels fluctuate. Uncontrollable events occur and unforeseen situations happen. Little annoyances can turn into hefty distractions. That’s life!

You do your best, and let God take the rest.

This is where my hike begins. Unprepared in many ways.

After a wonderful two-week vacation in California, our family returned home late Tuesday night. I had exactly ONE and 1/2 days to prepare and pack for the hike.

Laid-back, Californian-thinking must have taken over my mind, because I wasn’t one tiny bit worried about the little amount time I had or how unprepared I was to do the laundry (at the laundromat since our washer had conked out the week before), go grocery shopping, run errands, and pack my pack.

And I forgot to account for a little phenomenon called jet lag. We ended up sleeping in Wednesday, taking up 1/2 day of prep time. Still.. I was excited for the trip, not worried about anything, and the kids and I took off to conquer the to-do list. I am sure a little adrenaline and a lot of caffeine helped compensate for the loss of energy I was starting to feel.

Oh, how quickly reality rips through vacation’s rosy veil. And the veil was completely gone by Wednesday night after something occurred that left my heart turned upside down and inside out. Ugly roots of things that I thought had been weeded out of my heart, started to sprout, twist around my joy, and took on an exhausting presence. A cloud of fear settled over me. Lies taunted me. My confidence was questioned. My spirit was in fight mode. I believe it was a spiritual attack and my heart felt less and less prepared to leave the next day. BUT… I knew from experience that the hike was exactly where I needed to be. The mountains give you and God an amazing arena to fight together and work through these types of heart issues.

That night, jet leg destroyed my sleep. I tossed and turned, dwelled and worried. The very little sleep I got was interrupted by bad dreams. No amount of caffeine or bursts of adrenaline was going to make up for severe loss of rest. By Thursday morning, my energy was drained and my pack was still empty.

If you have followed my hiking stories in the past, you know that I usually prepare months in advance, checking off items on a thorough list, and on the morning of the hike I’m thoroughly packed, and often I’ve already packed and unpacked several times. This was different.

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With caffeine-induced energy and a lot of prayer, I started going through the list and throwing things in gallon-sized bags for waterproofing. There would be just two of us this year and we were planning on staying at the Joe Dodge Lodge the first night, camping trailside the next, and spending our final night at Carter Notch Hut. The camping component required a few new items in my pack for cooking and sleeping outside.

Knowing I would have a night in the lodge to reorganize helped as I struggled to decide what to bring. In the end, with an hour to go, my pack was finally packed (as best as I could) and I threw a bunch of other stuff in three shopping bags, just in case I needed or wanted them. Then I put all of it in the truck to deal with later. It was a jumbled mess. I was a jumbled mess of emotions- excited, exhausted, worried, full of anticipation- and I felt extremely unprepared. The good ole’ Girl Scout motto offering me guilt this time instead of comfort.

My husband. My kids. I love them!! They saw my weariness and my increased anxiety. They cheered me on, reminded me how much I loved hiking and how fun this trip was going to be. In our kitchen, they circled me in love and in prayer. Their sweet little hands laid on my knees as they prayed protection over every part of my body. I took in the scene. It was the first beautiful view of my trip. I breathed in the sweet air of the Holy Spirit.

Everything was going to be okay. It was going to be better than okay. It was going to be great because I was heading to the mountains. Three whole days on the trail with one of my best friends, challenging myself, seeing new things, exploring new peaks. And I knew most of all that God was going to bring something new out of this. In my weakness, He’s made strong. I took renewed strength and comfort in this fact. I was going to return from this hike stronger, more confident, and reenergized than how I was leaving. Nothing- no matter how much more I could have prepared, no matter what attacks against my heart and mind, or the crazy shiftiness of jet lag- could ever take that from me.

 

 

 


Keeping It Together-Part 2- How are you?

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I love talking to people. My favorite part of a conversation is when it moves away from the polite “Hi, How are you?” to a deeper level of sharing.  I love when people open up and talk about the unique challenges they are facing, what they are interested in and share their hopes and dreams. It allows me to feel like I am not alone and inspires me to move towards my own interests. Conversations like this do not happen overnight. They are built on trust and authenticity. Today, I want to invite you to be honest and ask yourself “How are you? How are you really doing?”

The first step in “Keeping It All Together” is stopping. Let’s hit the pause button for a moment and start to evaluate where we stand physically, mentally and spiritually. This is an opportunity to be completely honest. Let’s allow ourselves some grace in this process too. Our responses will serve as a starting point for our work in finding a better balance in life.

Let’s begin….

According to research conducted by the Barna Group 1,  

 56% of moms feel overcommitted.

62% of moms are dissatisfied with work/home balance.

70% of moms are tired

80% of moms are stressed out.

95% of moms want to be better in one area of life.  

You are not alone! The world is filled with overwhelmed, exhausted moms and I do not think we were created to live life this way.

Ask yourself the following questions. If you can journal your answers, great. If you only have time to read and think about one or two of the questions at a time, that’s great too. There is no right or wrong answer. Remember no pressure or judgement. We are working on lessening the burden not adding to it.

  1. On a scale from 1-10, how tired are you? Can you pinpoint the reasons why you are tired- baby in the house, lack of sleep, dealing with stressful circumstances….?
  2. On a scale from 1-10, how overwhelmed do you feel? Can you identify sources of stress? 
  3. Is your current schedule working for you? Are you satisfied with it or do you wish for a change?
  4. Are you using your gifts and talents wisely?
  5. Are you overcommitted? Are the commitments things that you once enjoyed but now wish you could get out of?
  6. Are you surrounded by family or a community that supports you and you can depend on for help?
  7. How would you describe your relationship with God? 
  8. Is life what you thought it would be? Are you enjoying your life?
  9. Are you making time to take care for yourself or explore an area of interest?

Every couple of months or so, I go through these questions again. Each time, I hope the changes I have made in my life or family’s schedule will be reflected in my answers. If not, I don’t stress it. It just means there is more work to be done or that I am in a particular season of life. Remember GRACE is key here! I would also encourage you to pray as you work through the questions. Ask God to give you eyes to see dissatisfaction and areas that need His strength and healing.

Now that we have taken a good, honest look at ourselves, we can move on to the next step. In the next post, we will work to identify what our priorities are and look to see how we are spending our time. Do our priorities and time match up?

PS  If you can find six minutes, watch the following video clip from Barna Group. I do not think you will be disappointed.It’s for every woman trying to maintain the perfect everything and still falling short.