Letters To My Children

Letters To My Children

Dear Kids,

We have been praying for you and over you since before you were born. This collection of words that I am about to share are some of the prayers we have prayed and continue to pray over you on an ongoing basis. I am sharing this so that you and others will know the power of God and the love we pour out on you a daily basis because of His grace. These words are a compilation of many sources and scriptures but they are straight from our heart.

“We pray for purity in your life and that of your spouse. We ask for protection over both of you when it comes to your innocence and purity. Protect them Lord, from others and wrong choices. Call them to a higher standard. We ask for wisdom and discernment in teaching and preparing them for a life of holiness and modesty. We also ask that you grant wisdom to the parents of their spouses parents in raising up men and women of integrity, honor, and ethics in all areas. 

Lord, we thank you for our daughter and our son, you have heaped us with bounty and we praise you for entrusting us with each of them. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. You choose them for us and we Thank you for the gift that they are to those around them. We bless each of them and ask that you fill them with whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, having virtue or anything praiseworthy, let them think on these things.

Lord, grant us wisdom. We ask you impress upon them that lying, cheating and pride is wrong. Help us to train them both up to be people of integrity and honesty starting this very day. We ask that You would raise them up to be proactive, and individuals who are for what is right. May they be aggressive for truth and what is honorable. We ask Father that you would fill their life with good relationships and the first one being with You. We ask for favor with our relationship with each of them, help us to express to each of them and for them unconditional love; may they rise up and call us blessed!

We ask for good friends and people who can be their extra council. People that they may feel accepted with and influenced by. Keep their path straight. Give them your blessing by causing godly people to positively influence them at the crossroads they each will face. 

Protect them from evils and everyday disasters that come with it. Keep them safe when they travel and keep them healthy and of discerning spirit in times of distress. Give them sharp minds to use for your glory and to put to use as you see fit. Give them a holy confidence in who they are in you. Make them dangerous for those who are in opposition of your will, so that they each might make a greater difference in their generation. Let them grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with both you Father, and with others.

Lord, we are so grateful for for each of them and Thank you for the life they are each to live and the blessing for such a time as this. Bless them with the blessings of Abraham and grant them favor in this world.”

I am so very proud of my “almost twins”.

Love, Mommy 

I write on a regular basis but my most important writing is written in two little notebooks every six months or so. I write down a story, a poem, an encouraging note, or a prayer and it is addressed to one of my children.

IMG_6033

 

The Oxymoron of Choosing Simple

The Oxymoron of Choosing Simple

Isn’t living simple supposed to be…easy? The dictionary says “simple” means straight forward, uncomplicated, and effortless. Yet, what I have come to realize is that being intentional about a simplified life takes Herculean effort, has lots of complications, and is definitely not easily understood in a world of more, excess, and maxing out on everything.

For example, to simplify my closet, I have had to continually edit it, clean it, create a statement for wearing it and stream line laundry. (I’m still working on the last part.)

What about simplifying the calendar? Well, you have to have a calendar, which means What system is going to be best for simplicity sake? You also have to be able to see what is already scheduled out so you can make sure you don’t over extend and there by take away margin. There it is! Margin. For me, the definition of intentional simplicity means, having surplus, and space. Margin in my calendar, margin in my closet. Simplicity in my finances means space and organization to do what I’d like to do. All of this takes great effort. Simple isn’t easy.

Who we become is shaped more in our ordinary. In our mundane and simple everyday efforts, is the place we find where we are creating our future. My ordinary existence is where I find my fairy tale. It’s where I can breath a little more, give out of my margin, notice my children play and praise God for the simple pleasures of dinner time and laughter. Fighting for simple is tough, messy, and complicated. It is also 100 percent worth it.

Because the opposite of simple is living maxed out, overindulged, encumbered, excessive, overextended, cluttered and stressed. And this is where I have chosen to become a vigilant in the pursuit of simplicity. Everyone’s simple looks different. Yet it still only takes a few quick questions to see where our lives need a little more simple. This spring as you march towards sprucing up and clearing out let’s ask ourselves; what is the end game for some of the patterns we are choosing? How can you and I create more energy, vitality, breathing room, and joy?

What area in your home causes you stress?

What in you schedule is creating complications? Can you eliminate it?

What system do you use for your schedules, finances, menu planning, and chore charts? Are they working for you? How might you create simpler?

How complicated are all your tech devices? Are your tv’s different from you phone? Could your stream line and edit computer clutter, music, photo’s, streaming?

Dating Well

Dating Well

How are you energizing your date life? Unless we push ourselves and fuel our creative ideas, most of us will just go into auto pilot. You have a lifetime to unravel the mysteries of their heart, personality, and desires. There are no shortcuts here. Learning the art of dating well is a worthy endeavor to continually cultivate!

And you don’t have to have a lot of money to go on a date. So if that’s your excuse let’s get it off the table right now! The date is about the pursuit, not the event. This is so vital to remember!

When I was in my teens, I would go out on dates often. I had chosen (after a bad break up) to not “go steady” with anyone. Instead of just going solo for a while, I used people incorrectly to go out and do “events”.  I had no intention of pursuing the person and I hurt quite a few hearts.

The world of social and dating apps have only amplified this situation. It is no longer about people, relationship, and soul connections. It is about popularity, how many likes the picture gets, and how cool the place or activities are. How many of us are so focused on getting the picture of the event for our social feeds we are missing the real purpose? Pictures are not bad. I love Instagram and Pinterest as much as the next person. The question is, Are you hurting your relationship by focusing more on the activity than the person?

What habits will you change in order to energize your date life starting today? If you are not in a relationship, I encourage you to do this for yourself! Ask yourself if you are investing in you well? I can not encourage it enough! The positive effects of taking the time to infuse the pursuit of relational (and self) discovery is one of the most beautiful gifts we have as humans!

… seize every moment and don’t let a day go by without thoughtfully planning how to maximize it to the fullest!

Your Implementation Time:

  • How much money do you spend on dating?
  • How often do you date/ pursue relationship development? (Not an event but a person!!!)
  • Carve out time with your significant other to spend time pouring into your relationship ( a retreat, reading a book together, building out goals for your year).
  • Plan time with someone you love without the distraction of ANY technology. I watched someone just yesterday listen half heartedly and text someone at the same time! It is so normal now that, the person telling the story saw no problem with the fact that he was being half paid attention too! 
  • Have you ever turned off you phone completely for dinner? If you haven’t I encourage you to try it; for a whole entire week!

 

“You’ve got to turn the phone off, shut the laptop down, put in the vacation days, … Never stop dating. Never stop the pursuit. I promise you’ll never regret that decision.” – Steve Dahlin

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Children’s Books You Should Have

Children’s Books You Should Have

My sister recently had a very sweet baby shower. In place of cards, she opted for people to bring her books. Cue music here!! I love books! I love the way they feel, I love the way they smell, the way weight, the paper. I usually visit a bookstore or the library on almost ever single vacation we go on. To me it is the most important stop in our journey.

My sister asked me for my list of the top children books she should have. This is of course my personal list and not an exhaustive list at all. It is just a selection. To get you started in curating a lovely shelf of some of the most beautiful works in the composition of words. So whether you are building out a home library, or having your first baby this is the list I believe you should start with! Happy Reading!

Ages 0-5 years:

Brown bear, Brown bear – what do you seeshopping-1

 

Dear Zoo shopping-2

The wonderful things you will be shopping-4

Pout Pout Fish shopping-5

Original Curious George (six book set) shopping-6

Dear Girl, (if you have girls) shopping-3

If you give a mouse a cookie Unknown-2

Dragons Love Tacos (one and two)
shopping-8shopping-7

Giraffes Can’t Dance. shopping-9

The Very Hungry Caterpillarshopping-10

The Giving Tree shopping-11

How to Raise a Momshopping-12

Corduroy shopping-13

Snuggle Puppy Unknown-1

On the Night You Were Born shopping-14

Tickle Monster Unknown-1.jpeg

The Little Engine that Could Unknown-1

I Love You all The Time Unknown-2

Lama, Lama Nighty Nightshopping

Good Good Father shopping-1

I Knew You Could Do It Unknown-3

The Tale of Three Treesshopping

The Polar Express shopping-2.jpeg

Thankful Unknown-4

When Christmas Came Unknown-5

Little Colts Palm Sunday Unknown-6

The Christmas Angel HT_christmas_angel_jt_141209_16x9_992

We Are The Gardeners Unknown

God Gave Us You shopping.jpeg

The Jesus Story Book Bible shopping-3

The Kissing Hand shopping-5

The Velveteen Rabbit shopping-4

Seed and Trees shopping-6

Just Me and My Dad (for boys) Unknown-7

The Tale of Peter Rabbit shopping-7

Winnie the Pooh shopping-8

Green Eggs and Ham Unknown

 

 

 

Identity

Identity

Just a few short years ago I went through a massive personal crisis. I had given up my life career to take on another dream. Motherhood. I loved it. I had prayed for it. I was living it the absolute best way too. I mean, I knew my kids sleep schedules, I faithfully read to them, and created boundaries for proper development. I was loosing myself. But, as I said before, I loved it. After all, didn’t Christ say “to lose was to gain?”

What I didn’t expect was to meet someone a few years ahead of me and that to see her wondering around in her existence would rock me influentially. She had done something similar to her life as I had. Yet being a few year ahead of me, now that her children were in a different place and no longer needed her, she was “lost.”

What now?

For someone who loves this question (I am an excellence coach after all) the fear that gripped me was a new one! Instead of seeing her dilemma as an opportunity to grow, I saw her situation and panicked. Like a deer in headlights. Like a kid on halloween night. Like my toddler when he thought there was a real tooth fair and had a screaming meltdown that he didn’t want sissy to put her tooth under the pillow because no one should come sneaking in to his sisters room in the middle of the night! Not even fairies! That is the kind of panic I had.

I would question my value, and my identity for close to four straight months after this incident. What was I doing? What would I do?

Push forward to a new season and goal setting and I had absolutely no motivation. “My role could be replaced. My job, millions do. My value, only God knows.” I was not in a good spot, and my husband was worried. Right in the middle of this, someone else shared a story with me.

What they said at the end of their story brought me to a huge “aha moment” and as you plan out your 2020, I hope it can help you create magical moments for your self.

“My Identity had been centered on what I did, what I could create, make better, and do. The problem is that changes. What is my true value if I can shift it or not do it and it doesn’t matter? What I didn’t realize is that I needed to ground myself in what doesn’t change. My value doesn’t change just because my role does.”  — quote from anonymous friend

However so often this is what society tells us.

Example:

  • If your good at something, you get more notice and possibly more money. Therefore my value is worth more.

This is where my role shift started to create fear. I was not being noticed, I was not making more money, and my job would be nonexistent in a little over 13 years.

But wait…

“My value doesn’t change just because my role does.” 

Do not create your identity on things that can shift! Ok. So what doesn’t shift? I mean, the whole world shifts!

The son doesn’t….Wait I meant sun. But actually….The Son doesn’t!

If you are a believer than you know,

“…living life with Jesus makes you better at living life.”  – Andy Stanley

And this is probably the biggest reason it does. He grounds you. When the world is spinning, when the stock market goes up or down, or your phone need updates and crashes, and your roles shifts at home. You are still His!

Your are:

John 15: 15.      Christ’s friend.

Gal.4:  6-7.         An heir of God.

Col.3: 12.            Chosen of God, holy, and dearly beloved.

1Pet.2: 5.           One of God’s living stones and being built up, in Christ, as a spiritual house.

1Pet.2: 9-10.     A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession

This does not change!

Goal setting and even the formation of certain lifestyles without knowing who you are creates a lack of motivation. Worse than that, it creates fear. One of the biggest enemies in life is fear and it is on the rise.

Anxiety is one of the leading diagnosis right now, and 95% of teens say they are worried every day.  Could it be we are struggling to see who we are? If you are struggling with motivation could it possibly be that you have stepped into the trap? The trap of believing you are what you achieve or do.

Once you know who you are, no matter what circumstance comes your way you can meet it with confidence and peace. Sure footed and grounded in the knowledge that you are loved, important, valued, and royal! That is a great place to start for creating the formations of ones life and the goals for ones year.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

Celebrate Now!

Celebrate Now!

Life can be so hard at times. Things can be thrown at you that you are unprepared for, and that knocks the wind right out of you. Things that despite your best efforts you have no control over.

I have a saying personally about this.

“We don’t get to write our stories. God does that. But it is what we do with our story that matters!”

I know from experience that it is said every third sentence is negative in some way. And as I become more and more aware of it I am in awe with how often people focus on what is missing versus what they have.

Examples:

  • Complains about wanting a new car, even though they have three.
  • So sad and focused on the fact that someone is missing a family gathering and not focusing on the people that did get to come.
  • Complaining about being sick in pregnancy, failing to see the beauty of growing life!
  • Saying that the next year they will have a lot to celebrate but have nothing to celebrate right now.
  • A lack of health is a hard one because someone was complaining about being sick the other day and I felt like maybe they had a “right” to be negative. And then I thought about the joy in my niece right now despite chemo therapy and being very sick. She loves life so much! Everything is an adventure in her eyes. She is doing hard things right now and still she smiles more than all the rest!

We get to choose our attitude and how we are going to walk out our stories in life. We can either be sad or we can be joyful in all circumstances. We can find things to complain about in almost every single thing in life. Or we can choose to see the silver lining in it and celebrate! Do not wait till it is perfect or till everyone can finally show up. Because it won’t happen and you will walk around waiting your entire life to celebrate!

We have a New Years party every year and whoever shows up, whoever joins in, we meet them right where we are and we celebrate! We eat pizza, we drink Champagne, and we laugh. We ring in the next season with joy of where we are and the possibilities of where we are going.

As you step into 2020, Are you going to choose to celebrate this season? Where you are right now! Can you see beauty in where you find yourself? Are you missing out on some of the wonderful things amidst the trials and struggles and hustle?

Life is so unbelievably beautiful. Sensing the beauty is the biggest healer of negativity. Let us all start appreciating the things which we find ourselves in, instead of crying over things which aren’t. START MEDITATING. START CELEBRATING! Bring in some “Happy Realizations.” Do not allow others negativity to start a running contest of who “has it worst.”

Brene Brown says it perfectly. “Don’y get me wrong — we all take turns being frustrated and exhausted. We’re human. Our motto is “you’re free to piss and moan — just do it with a little perspective.” Works like a charm!”

Romans 15: 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Psalms 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

This New Years I am focusing on purging negativity in my life. Part of that is seeing the beauty in everything and experiencing joy in the ordinary. A normal life can be pretty extraordinary. Happy 2020!

 

Playing in the Rain

Playing in the Rain

I was meeting one of my good buddies early one morning this week at a coffee shop to catch up on life and sharpen iron before the days activities began.  The alarm woke me up a little before 6AM and as I rolled out of bed I heard the rain hitting the roof.  When rain hits Atlanta you might as well double your commute time… never fails.  I hurried my morning routine, pulled out of the neighborhood and headed to the interestate.  Not a mile down interstate 400 did I see the sea of red across all 6 lanes as commuters begain tapping their brakes.  Frustration settled in a little but I turned on some music to help pass the time.

Breakfast was at one of my favorite spots in the Perimeter area, a French-style restaurant called La Madeleine.  I’ve been going here for close to 12 years.  A mentor of mine invited me there for the first time in my final semester of college as I was looking for my first job.  Before 7:30 in the morning it is filled with the movers and shakers of the business world.  As I left the restaurant I was surprised to hear a piano being played and looked next to the front doors.  There was a young girl wearing headphones and was completely lost in the music as her fingers danced over the keys.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a piano donated to the restaurant and sat outside for anyone’s use.  I chuckled at how long that must have been sitting there without me knowing.

I got in my car and rolled down the windows so I could hear her play – it was beautiful.  I wished I hadn’t had to jet for another meeting.  It would’ve been nice to sit there and listen to her a little longer while the rain came down on my windshield.  As I drove away I started thinking about her playing that piano in the middle of the rain and was really encouraged.  It was 8AM on a Tuesday morning.  Wet, rainy, drab, and grey.  Most of us (myself included) can begin to look at the day through a negative lens when the weather is unfavorable.  Not for this girl.  She was lighting up that parking lot with music and probably touching a lot of lives.  I have no idea who she was but I’m grateful she was playing that piano.

It reminded me to create beauty even when situations and circumstances are unfavorable.  It doesn’t take much most of the time… just a little creativity and having the right positive mental attitude.  I don’t know what season you find yourself in as we head into the holidays but maybe we can all take a little lesson from this girl.  Go play in the rain and inspire beauty and joy despite what might be going on around you.  It’s silly, now that I think about it.  That piano may have been there for years and I’ve walked right past it.  I can’t play a lick but now that I know it’s there, I might have to go play a few keys the next time I go to breakfast.  Is there a “piano” you need to play over the holidays?  Don’t forget to play in the rain.  And the great thing is, the sun always comes back out again.

-SD-