Adventure Awaits

One of the hallmarks of a really good movie/TV show or book is this: did it give you, the viewer or reader, a good thrill or adventure? Did it take you through emotional highs & lows? Did it really make you think? Did it take you to places you’d never been before? Was there suspense? Was there sacrifice? Did it leave you on the edge of your seat? Were you just dying to know what happens next? Did it draw you into another reality for a time? Were you upset to see it come to an end?

What I’ve come to realize is this: our lives, too, are an adventure to be experienced. Maybe not a full-on Indiana Jones/death-defying sort of adventure. (Though this *may* be some people’s reality.) But the human experience is for sure filled with emotional ups & downs, anxieties about what’s next, gains & losses, and unexpected twists & turns.

Now, I’m not a big fan of unnecessary drama, like what’s portrayed in the entertainment world. What I mean by “unnecessary” is the drama that’s produced through deceit, lies, secrets, & “oh, I just couldn’t tell so-&-so about that!” sort of thing. SO MUCH stupid drama can be reduced or eliminated in life through mere *communication*. Nope, not a fan of THAT kind of drama!

According to Google, drama can be defined as: an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. And adventure is defined as: engaging in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory. Ok, let’s drop the “hazardous” part shall we? LOL. But seriously, I don’t want to live a boring life.

In fact… when I graduated college and moved to the town I now live, the all-consuming theme of my prayers were: “God, give me an adventure!” Starting off with a clean slate, new beginnings– let’s rock this adult thing! Of course by “adventure” I thought that meant working as an addictions counselor, attaining my Masters in Counseling, taking part in behavioral research projects, getting my professional works published, public speaking, world travel, moving to a big city with a fancy-pants office…

Yeah, my idea of “adventure” wasn’t exactly the same as God’s. ha ha ha

In fact, God’s “adventure” took a crazy turn in a very opposite direction.

One week after graduating college/moving: I met my future husband. A whirlwind courtship ensued. From first date to marriage: 10 months time. To add to the crazy, we brought home a little honeymoon souvenir, aka our first-born child. We crunched numbers & prayed for direction– but it made no financial sense for me to go back to work after our baby was born– it would be better for me to stay home & raise our baby. My plans/dreams to pursue a career “adventure” came tumbling down with that one positive pregnancy test.

Don’t get me wrong… I did NOT resent my baby one iota! She was one of the most amazing gifts I could have ever received! But with her birth brought a sort of dying to myself… a surrendering of my will to God’s… a giving up process that took me years to really get a grip on.

But now that I’m 16 years out and can see God’s hand in everything a little more clearly, I’m ever so thankful that I gave God the reigns of my life completely. I’d NEVER have painted a canvas like He did. And my life is SO VERY different than I’d ever have imagined. But it is good. And God is good.

I truly believe this adventure He carved out for me FAR surpasses anything I could have created on my own. He knew what I really needed and wanted deep down. He knew that being married young & having (7) children & raising them in the name & power of Jesus His Son was exactly what was going to be the most fulfilling adventure I could have ever been on.

So many twists & turns. So many “what’s around the corner?” ‘s. So many super high ups and super low lows. Being a wife & mom has tried me, stretched me, developed me, & truly made me a better person. All made possible because I surrendered. I gave God my everything. And in giving up my life, I actually found it.

If you’re struggling to give God your everything, may I be a voice of encouragement to you today: He won’t let you down. He will never leave you or forsake you (esp in those dark days). He will show you & lead you down a life path that will not only WOW you but you’ll finally be fulfilled and have joy (not just circumstantial happiness). You will feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. You’ll be riveted. You’ll finally be able to breathe because you’ll be fulfilling what you were put on this planet to do. There will no longer be the lingering thought that “there’s gotta be more to life.” You’ll no longer dread Monday’s & you’ll no longer live for the weekends & holidays. You’ll truly love your life. Even when those hard days come, you’ll see God working and moving. You’ll see Him there with you every step of the way.

In living a surrendered life, we also will walk through the darkness 100% with God. He grieves when we grieve. He keeps a record of our sorrows & tears (Ps. 56:8). He comforts us. He helps us through all our struggles. He grows us & strengthens us & matures us. We are never alone. There are new mercies every morning. And when we go through hell & back, then we can be there for others when they go through the fire. We can comfort them with the comfort we received from God.

May I encourage you to open your white-knuckled hands and allow God the full reigns to your life. Maybe nothing drastic will happen. Then again, maybe God has a complete life transformation in store. Who knows?! All I know is that in following God (even if that looks drastically different than you thought) you will have a peace & joy & fulfillment & a true inner congruence to your soul. I want that for you!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #surrender #loseyourlifetofindit #trustGodfully #lifeisanadventure #hangonfortheride #bebrave

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Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful

Let’s Talk Comfort Zones

So today I had to do some MAJOR “adulting”. To boot, my hubby was out of town/wasn’t able to get to his phone–> so I had no extra help or direction from him. I did “it” on my own. And to be honest, I kicked some adulting butt. (Really I did.)

I was *totally* out of my comfort zone. But I did it anyway.

Was it easy? No.

Did it feel good? No.

Was I scared? Yes.

“It” wasn’t expected. I wasn’t prepared for “it”. What I *thought* was going to be a simple thing turned into a “you lost your afternoon fussing with ‘this’.”

But because I’ve been working on myself and actively dealing with my insecurities, I really handled it with genuine ease. I didn’t get flustered/confused. I didn’t fumble over my words. I was able to be straightforward & honest.

In a word, it felt very “freeing” today. Not in the moment, but afterward. Something that would normally be crippling was handled “matter-of-factly”. I cannot adequately explain how proud I am at my ability to handle this hard situation.

Perhaps my “hard” is another one’s “simple”. IDK. We’re not comparing experiences here.  That’s dangerous ground (that is, comparison). It seemed hard to me, and I conquered it. Yay!

Feeling strong. Feeling accomplished.

But it all started with stepping outside my comfort zone.

It’d be “comfortable” to have someone else deal with this issue.

It’d be “comfortable” if it wasn’t my problem to fuss with.

It’d be “comfortable” if I could wash my hands of this.

But I stepped out and did something scared.

Honestly, I’m on Cloud 9.

Like I said, in the moment, it didn’t “feel good”. It was uncomfortable. I wished someone else could handle it for me. I thought of my escape routes for sure.

But I stuck with it. Did it scared. Prayed. Believed that God was in control over all things.

If there’s something you’re struggling with today, may I encourage you to take just (1) step forward and do “the thing” scared. I’m right there with ya. I did a scary thing today, too. You can do it as well. From one scaredy-cat to another… we can do this!

#formerscaredycat    #nowbebrave    #takethatfirststep    #doitscared    #trustGod    #youarenotalone    #stepoutofyourcomfortzone    #liveawakened   #livefullyalive    #beencouraged    #loveyourlife

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Things Making Me Smile Today

1) Flowers & chocolates from my husband, surprise delivery in honor of our 16th anniversary today! He is just the sweetest!!!

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2) Happy 16 years with my hunny. Here’s some pics from our wedding (August 3, 2001). We were 22 years old!

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3) Playing in the pool with my kids, soaking in the summer sun!

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4) I freakin’ love the song “Delicate” by Taylor Swift. Do NOT ask me why, for I have no answer. It just makes me happy.

5) The most hilarious anniversary card, from my sister & her hubby. It’s the best. They get me.

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6) A good German beer on this hot day.

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7) Google Duo, so I can video chat with my husband when he’s away.

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8) A new doormat: watermelon!!!

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9) The car of my dreams. Either this, or a ’59 Bel Air. But regardless: THIS COLOR or similar! Forget jewelry. My husband & I already have an understanding that what I really want is a fun car. He takes me to all the local car shows so I can drool.

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10) Humor like this. Or puns. I just LOVE them!!!

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Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Back To School

I don’t know about you, but I’m really feeling the pressure and urgency of the whole back to school thing.

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We homeschool our children, but our oldest two kids (ages 15 & almost 14) take one class at the local public school. Our son is taking a class so he can play tennis. Our daughter is taking choir because she LOVES music & singing.

So (1) class each and (1) sport for my son. That’s it. And I’m SHOCKED at all the stuff that needs to get done prior to starting classes. My head starts hurting when I think of what parents of full-time public schoolers must have to deal with. I truly feel for you! The process is no joke.

Hair cuts, school registration (hallelujah, it’s all online this year! An introverts dream come true!), tennis registration (online, too, for the win!), sports physical, homeschool transcripts made, Freshman orientation, talking with the guidance counselors, getting lockers/combos, getting their tablets, eye exams, clothes shopping, school supply shopping, etc.

I’ve kinda been swimming in school stuff lately.
How are you other parents doing?
Hanging in there?

Shout out to our local school district, though! They have been absolutely phenomenal to work with. What a blessing! Being a homeschooling family, I was a little nervous about interacting with the school corporation. But they have been SO welcoming, SO helpful, SO caring. I’ve asked a bazillion questions and they’ve been so patient to answer each and every one of them. Even with our schooling situation being unique, they’ve been SO accommodating. I honestly cannot say enough positive things about our local school district. They’ve been just fantastic!

This post is rambling, but I suppose I’m in a rambling mood. Working on school stuff now and so I wanted to write about it. Ha, maybe a needed distraction I suppose.

So hang in there mom’s and dad’s! Try to enjoy these last few days of summer with your kiddos before they head back to school. And I hope it’s not too stressful for you as you prepare.

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#backtoschool   #highschool   #homeschooling   #publicschooling   #hanginthere   #enjoyyourkids   #lastdaysofsummer

Fearlessness vs. Bravery

Our goal in life shouldn’t be to “be fearless“.

Think about it… there are things and situations in life that are very much fear-inducing: getting a bad report from the doctor (then following that up: medical procedures), getting our works published, starting that new class/degree, stepping back into the world of dating after the death of a spouse or a divorce, getting that positive pregnancy test, starting a new job, etc. There’s so many variables and unknowns and new things we’re  being faced with. It can be frightening and uncomfortable.

We can’t not feel fear. It’s there. It always will be. It’s impossible to genuinely be “fearless”, that is, to be without fear.

A better, more noble goal is to be BRAVE.

It means we feel the fear and yet still go forward anyway. It means being courageous.

I used to always tell my kids to “be fearless“. That is, until this last week when my little girl had an earring infection.

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As I started to clean her piercing, she started saying, “I’m scared, momma.” Then it dawned on me: of course she’s scared. She’s scared of pain. That’s a very real thing. That’s a very valid feeling. How could I tell her to be fearless? Fear is very real.

So I pointed this thought out to her. I said, “you’re right, honey. This is scary. It could be painful. I’m going to try my best NOT to hurt you, but I *have* to clean this infection or it will get worse and even *more* painful. You know how momma used to tell you to be fearless? Well I was wrong. You need to be BRAVE instead. You’re going to feel this fear, but you have to do this anyway. But you know what? I’m RIGHT HERE WITH YOU. You’re not alone. We’ll do this together.”

She did it scared. She was so brave.

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This week, I myself am going to be putting my “bravery” muscle to use. Today (7-19-18) at 7am, I will be having an ablation procedure on a varicose vein that’s been bothering me for YEARS.

Starting around my 4th or 5th pregnancy, a vein on my right leg became varicose. I then had to begin wearing compression stockings during each of the following pregnancies (I’ve had 8 full-term). It would get so swollen, inflamed, painful, itchy… and to boot, it was ugly. Perhaps I’m just being vein, I mean, “vain”, but I really don’t like the way it looks. [LOL. I had to add that in, apologies. ;-)]

But now that I’m done having children, that vein is STILL causing me problems as it hasn’t gone away. It still gets irritated and flared up and achy. And it’ll only get worse if I don’t get it taken care of now. Plus, having a vein like that increases my chances of getting dangerous blood clots.

The ablation process is outpatient. It’s routine. It’s pretty low risk. If there IS any sort of issue, the hospital is literally next door. It’s pretty painless (thank you lidocaine). Success rate is high. I’ll have a gorgeous/pain-free leg. Woot woot.

BUT… I’ve never done it before. This is all new territory. I’m not going to lie, it’s giving me butterflies in the belly.

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But I’m going to feel the fear and do it regardless. I’m going to be brave and step boldly into this new experience. I’m going to focus on the fact that I won’t be alone during this procedure: my hubby and God will both be with me. (Plus, my hubby promises to take me out on a lunch date later and buy me a tenderloin from the most amazing food truck in our county. #worthit)

So anyway… I leave you with this: be brave (rather than striving to be “fearless”). Do the scary thing anyway. Trust that God has your back and that you’re not alone. Stop focusing on what could go wrong, and instead focus on what could go right!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

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#bebrave    #youarenotalone    #Godiswithyou    #feelthefear   #doitanyway   #doitscared   #liveawakened    #livefullyalive   #livebyfaith

Today’s musings

1. I SO want these made for my birthday!

Flamingos are my absolute FAVORITE bird. In fact, during the warmer months, YES, I have a few plastic pink flamingos decorating my front yard. They are just adorable. They make me smile. 🙂 Wonder if my little 11 year old baker daughter could make these… hmm…

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2. This article: http://life.ca/blog/mindful-learning/

Though I don’t adhere completely to the Unschooling movement, I do agree with many of the ideas they promote. Mindful learning. Life learning. Relax. Enjoy kids where they are developmentally right now. Lots of learning is in fact occurring during play. As a parent, model being a “lover of learning”– kids will follow suit. Learning happens as a by-product of living. Don’t over-commit to activities (either for ourselves or the kids). Look after/make time for ourselves in order to avoid burnout.

Just a really good article.

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3. Silly pranks.

We had friends over for the evening yesterday and our oldest daughter made brownies for dessert. Get it? Brown-E’s? LOL. They seemed to appreciate our humor.

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4. Drawings from a child in the Sunday morning class I teach at church.

The church we attend recently opened. It has been an incredible blessing to our entire family!!! A couple times a month I help teach the elementary grades class. One of the first weeks we were open, this adorable little Kindergarten girl came into my classroom. She was super quiet and reserved. Hardly said a word. She was wearing a pink t-shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it. Being a Francophile, I began telling her how much I loved her shirt. She still didn’t say much. But as the Sunday’s keep rolling by and I keep spending time with her in class, she has truly come out of her shell and has been kinda like my little buddy. This past Sunday, she gave these pictures for me to “take home and hang in your kitchen”. Melt.my.heart. She is just the sweetest thing. And you can bet these two pics are hanging in my kitchen right now! It’s just such an encouragement. I love being able to make an impact for Christ with these precious little kids!

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5. I love chocolate. Yes, yes I do!

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6. On the topic of chocolate…

We didn’t have real brownies for dessert (LOL), but we did have chocolate cake with homemade chocolate frosting. Be still my heart. My 11 year old daughter who loves to bake make these for us and our company. It was wonderful.

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7. My homemade chili… aka “Mezzo Farte”.

For anyone with music training, you’ll appreciate the name of my chili. 🙂 Back when I was in High School, our choir had a chili cook-off competition. I won 3rd place for my chili, Mezzo Farte, with many a snicker to boot. It’s a family favorite and super easy to make. We always love our chili poured over rice, basmati is best. Try it and let me know what you think!

Mezza Farte Chili
-saute one onion in a drizzle of olive oil, until golden brown
-add 1/2 lb of ground beef, cook well, drain any excess oil
-add the following: 1 large can (46 oz) of tomato juice, 2 (16 oz) cans of kidney beans (drained), 1 T + 2 t chili powder, 1 t salt, & 1/2 t ground black pepper
-stir well, bring to a boil, drop to a simmer for 1-2 hrs or until thick, stir occasionally
-doubles perfectly!

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Savoring the ordinary, enjoying the here and now…

~Momma Duck