Surrender Control: Give It to God

I know I’m not the only one that has control issues. Would it be nice to delegate tasks to others and take some stress off my shoulders? Sure. But then I’d just stress that they’re not doing it the way I would. Who’s with me? But if we’re supposed to have faith in a bigger power and a greater plan for our lives, how do we surrender control?

Surrender Control

This is one of those things that creates a power struggle in my mind. As I continue to build my relationship with God, I want to have unwavering faith in Him and His plan for my life. I want to replace all of my worries with trust. It’s so easy to say I want to surrender control. However, I also want to know exactly when and how everything will happen. I want to know the impact my actions will have. And, on occasion, I think I have things figured out enough to assume I know what is going to take place. And we all know what happens when we assume things…

My mind works on overtime. It likes to analyze things. It’s no surprise I make a good Financial Analyst. It also means I think about things I don’t need to. I imagine all kinds of crazy scenarios that will likely never occur, but I play them out in my head anyway. While that may be great when I’m writing, it’s not so great when I turn every small decision into a cluster. Like what would happen if we move our kids to a new school? Sure, they’ll probably make new friends and do okay. But what if they don’t get the education they’re supposed to or the experiences they need to properly reach their potential, and I effectively set them up to fail at realizing their purposes in life? Sigh.

So how do I surrender?

Step 1: Recognize

Once I realize my wheels are spinning in the muddy gunk of worry and speculation, I take a deep breath. I clear my mind. I tell myself to stop (sometimes out loud). Then I back up and think about what it is I’m really spinning around. After I have that identified, I determine whether or not it is something I can control.

It turns out there are actually very few things I can control:

My choices
My feelings
My attitude
My actions/reactions

It really all comes down to my choices. While they can seem instinctive or out of my control at times, I do choose my feelings, attitude, and actions. Or at least, I choose how long I want to stay in those feelings or keep that attitude. However, I cannot control what others do or what happens to me. And, as much as I would like, I really cannot control the outcome of my choices. At most, I can just increase the odds. For example, choosing to wear a hat outside in twenty degree temperatures will increase the likelihood that I will remain healthy, but it certainly does not guarantee I will not catch a cold.

If it is not something I can choose, I release it (see Step 3), but if it is a choice I can make, I seek guidance through prayer.

Step 2: Pray

Once I’ve recognized what’s really weighing on my mind and that it’s within my control, I pray on it. I lay out my thoughts to God. I identify the choice I have to make, my concerns, and my desired outcome. While many things are outside of my control, I still believe it is important to ask for what I want and be intentional in these requests. After all, I prescribe to the “ask, believe, receive” and “power of positive thinking” belief systems.

Check out my favorite books that expand on these ideas

I ask God for guidance so I can make the right choice. And by right choice, I don’t mean what I want or think is right. I am asking that He reveal to me the choice that aligns with His will and His plans. Then if what I want and what I am supposed to do are two different things, I have to actually accept this and follow through. Control issues and stubbornness – yes, I have them both!

Finally in these prayers, as with most of my prayers, I find something to be thankful for. I give thanks for the situation or the person or even the smallest detail. I also acknowledge the fact that everything I do and ask for is at the mercy of God’s will and timeline. And above all, I want to live my life and make my choices in accordance with His plan.

Jeremiah29:11

Step 3: Release

The last step is for me to surrender and let it go. Whether or not my concern is something I can control, I release it to God. I give Him my worries and place the decision in His hands. For those things outside of my control, I may still declare my desires, but in the end I am still surrendering the outcome to God.

Truly letting go has been the hardest part for me. I can recognize and I can pray. I can even say I give it to God. But letting go and not worrying anymore, no longer dreaming up every scenario and possibility, is significantly more difficult.

I am not saying that I plan to just give up everything and sit around waiting for results. That’s not how it works. I have to be intentional in my words and actions. I have to seek opportunities and be open to signs and guidance. I’m certainly far from perfect. This is one of those things I’m still working on. But by identifying this simple process, it makes it a lot easier to be consistent and work to surrender the control.

New Year’s Resolutions: Be More Me

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning, if you purchase something from a link, I may receive a small commission.

 

It’s New Year’s Eve. That time when you reflect on all that has happened the past year as you hopelessly attempt to find a place for all of the new things you’ve been gifted. And you might even contemplate your hopes and resolutions for the new year as you remember the mass quantities of cookies you consumed over the past week.

2017 has been a wonderful year for us. Troy and I both took on new responsibilities at work. We made it to a couple different concerts and even went on a couple mini vacations without the kids. We took the kids to the beach for the first time. My parents and sisters visited.

It was an especially eventful year for A. She had her first dance recital, played tee ball, and started Pre-K. T has grown so much in the past year. His curiosity never ends, which gets him in trouble when he does things like climb the pantry shelves or climb on top of his dresser during nap time (see the pattern?).

I wrote multiple short stories, entered a couple in a Facebook group’s contests, and have begun to narrow my genre and desired target audience. I started this blog. I submitted my first children’s story to a couple different traditional publishers (still waiting for good news). And, most importantly, I have strengthened my relationship with God, continually learning and growing in my faith.

Was 2017 perfect? Of course not! But all in all, it has been great. So what are my expectations for 2018? What are my resolutions? I plan to keep the momentum going. Let’s build on where we are and make things even better. I want to keep being me…a better version of me…a me-er me (yes, I’m making up words now).

How can I be more “me”?

Stay Healthy

Insert the typical resolutions. I want to eat healthier. Not all the time. I don’t do diets. I just want to make healthier choices most of the time. I’m not going to be the one giving up pizza or ice cream or carbs. I know the ramifications, and I’m at peace with this decision.

I plan to keep my commitment to exercising 3-5 times per week. This has been my status quo, but in the past few months, as life got busy, I let this slip a bit. And I felt it. It’s not about changing my physical appearance. I feel better emotionally and mentally when I work out. It’s a great stress reliever, even if it’s just 30 minutes over my lunch break.

And that brings me to the last piece of this resolution. I need to remember to take care of my mental and emotional health too. I need to do a better job of recognizing when I am stressed or mentally drained. Then I need to remove myself, at least temporarily, take some time to relax, regroup, or otherwise take care of me.

Pursue Purpose

The more I write, the more I am certain it is something I am meant to do. That doesn’t mean I want to make it my full time job. I don’t aspire to be the next J. K. Rowling. I just want to write each day and complete any stories I dream up, even if they turn out to be terrible.

When I do have projects that I am proud of, I will attempt to have them published and shared with others. While it is not my goal to become famous or make money from my writing, I still feel it is important to share it with others in hopes that it may have a positive impact on even just a select few.

Grow Faith

Finally, but most importantly, I want to continue growing my faith and building my relationship with God. I will start using a prayer journal (this is the one I bought) so I can be more intentional in giving thanks, asking for help, and declaring my desires. While I know that everything happens through Him, I still need to work on letting go of the control I like to have over my life.

I look forward to all that 2018 will have to offer as I continue my journey to discovering who I am meant to be. While there will certainly be downs with the ups, I trust that whatever God may place in my life, it will strengthen me. Best wishes as you strive to achieve your resolutions. May you have a blessed new year!

Finding the Christmas Spirit

I love the holiday season! The lights and decorations, the beautiful Christmas cards, loads of desserts, giving the perfect gifts to loved ones, experiencing pure wonder and joy through my children’s eyes. As they get older, though, my hope is that I can help them keep the true spirit and meaning of Christmas in the forefront of their thoughts through the season.

Here are a few ways we keep the Christmas spirit alive

Christmas Story

No, not the movie. The Bible story. We have multiple books that tell the story of Jesus’ birth. We read them multiple times in December, as well as periodically throughout the year. My two year old son (T) doesn’t grasp it yet, but my four year old (A) asks plenty of questions. We discuss why an angel visited Mary and Joseph, why they had to travel to Bethlehem, what the star meant, why King Herod was mean, etc. Yes, she’s this curious about everything, and all of our story times are filled with a multitude questions. I love that about her.

The beautiful nativity scene my husband’s grandma gave us is set up in the living room. This sparks daily games of “Who’s that?” and “What’s he doing?” with my son. My daughter has started fielding these questions on occasion. My heart swells knowing that she is learning and retaining this information.

Giving to others

I want my kids to find joy in giving to others. To realize that giving feels as good as, if not better than, receiving. We do this in a few ways.

Each year, I participate in the toy drive at my work. I pick a tag and bring it home to show the kids. We go to the store, usually the following weekend, and they are in charge of choosing the gift. Since the recipients have been much older than my kids (10-13), it has been difficult for them to gage age-appropriate gifts. So I typically narrow it down to a handful of choices for them. We also talk about how some kids do not have very many toys and that not every family has the money to buy Christmas presents.

Our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy, always has a request at some point during his stay that the kids sort through their toys. They find toys they no longer play with or can do without so they can be given to other kids. We talk about toys they loved at one time but may no longer have time for. They have to justify whether they really use a toy or if they’re just nervous to let go. Then we discuss how they are helping others feel the happiness they felt.

New this year, the kids have asked to give each other gifts. When my daughter asked me if she could give her brother a gift (and then he parroted the same sentiment), my heart melted into a pile of goo. Luckily, I had a couple extra books stashed away for future gifts. I let each go into my bedroom with me and help wrap their sibling’s present. A was so excited after wrapping T’s gift, she wanted to wake him up to show him. I eventually convinced her to accept my offer to allow them to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. This is when my sisters and I exchanged gifts, and I look forward to continuing this tradition with my kids.

 

Cut back on the gifts

I was so excited for A’s first Christmas! I bought all kinds of toys, clothes, and books. Everything was wrapped nicely with gift tags. Except for the bigger toys, which I, of course, assembled ahead of time. She was seven months old. I could’ve given her an Amazon box, it would have been a great day. The story was similar a year later. She was so overwhelmed between presents from us, Santa, grandparents, aunts/uncles, school, and other random people in our lives. By the end of the day, she could hardly tell you what she received, much less what she was excited about. It was then that I decided things had to change.

This will be the third year Santa will deliver 4 gifts for each child: something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need. I’m sure you’ve seen this floating around online and social media. Although, I think many people do this as the gifts from parents rather than from Santa. Here’s my take on it. I can explain how some families have money to buy expensive gifts or choose to do so while others don’t. What I can’t explain is why Santa gives so much to some and so little to others. The thought of this conversation breaks my heart. I wish more would consider this situation.

Not only does Santa bring less, but they also receive less from me and my husband. I would rather buy a handful of gifts I know they will love and appreciate than a heaping pile of every must have toy just to keep up with their friends. They still receive more than enough, and they never complain.

Earlier this month, A asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her, “I just want to enjoy time as a family.” She informed me that’s not a present. My response? It’s better than any present I could get. We had a brief conversation about gifts you don’t see, and she decided that spending time together was something she wanted, too.

Giving thanks

Last, but certainly not least, we practice thanksgiving. We talk about our blessings and give thanks to God. We discuss highlights of our day, as well as things we would have liked to do better. This is no different when it comes to Christmas, giving thanks for those that gave to us. And beyond giving thanks to God, they also express their gratitude directly to the gift givers.

 

I hope that you and your family have a blessed Christmas, filled with joy and gratitude. Keep in mind the reason for the season and keep that spirit alive for both yourself and your children. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

WTF: Women Talking Football

Football season is upon us! Cue the choir of angels! Raise your hands and give praise!

In southern Louisiana, I don’t get to enjoy everything that I love about fall. The weather cannot be categorized as “cooler” until sometime in October, my hoodies are collecting dust somewhere in my closet, and the leaves seem to change from green to brown sometime in November. The good news is I can still find pumpkin spice everything, and I get to enjoy a new level of football glory.

Why football? It’s a hard-hitting physical game. It’s a complex strategic battle. The long passes, the breakthrough runs, the defensive stops, and the field goals. Eleven men on the field for each team, executing their individual assignments to achieve a collective goal. One seemingly minor decision can have a significant impact on each play. A game that can be changed by a matter of inches. Oh, the possibilities!

College Football

The young men and women (yes, women are playing at the collegiate & semi-professional level!) playing college football are mastering their skills. They are taking what they learned through high school to a whole new level. Some are preparing for a career in professional football. Some are using their earned scholarship to make earning a college degree a possibility. And many others are simply enjoying the chance to play while attending school.

Another dimension to college football is the turnover. Most players are on a team for three to five years. Additionally, in our “what have you done for me lately” society, coaches are moving from job to job every few years. So while Alabama is a dominant force continually in championship contention, other teams have claimed the title in recent years as well. No one team can stay on top forever. We can talk to Nebraska, Michigan, USC, and many others about that.

NFL

Confession: I haven’t always been that interested in the NFL. I watched the Chicago Bears when I was younger because my dad was, and still is, a loyal fan. I remember watching the Super Bowl each year, but I was more interested in the commercials and halftime shows. My first year out of college and living on my own, I would put on a game when there was nothing else to do on a Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t really care. I didn’t have a particular team I supported. I became a New Orleans Saints fan almost by default as I was living in Louisiana, and their story of recovery from Hurricane Katrina was inspirational.

While the turnover isn’t as high as in college, it still occurs between trades, the draft, and retirements. It’s exciting to see how players progress from college to the pros. Some do better than anyone could predict (like Tom Brady) while others are never able to live up to their hype. Since it is the professional level, the players’ skill set is much greater, providing the opportunity for big impact plays.

Fantasy Football

The concept of fantasy football confused me when I first heard about it. Then a group from work decided to start an all female league and I had to learn quickly. For those that are not aware, here are the basics: you draft NFL players to form your team; each week you decide your starting lineup as you play against someone else in your league with the goal of scoring the most points; and you can trade or add/drop players throughout the season. Most people play for money, but you could play for pride as well.

Joining the league gave me a reason to watch the NFL and pay attention to specific players. It is now a common interest for me and my husband. Being in an all female league is the key, though. We have been doing this for eight years. Only half of us have participated for all eight years, but the excitement and interest still remains. Each year we take a break from being wives and moms to eat, drink, laugh, voice our opinions on players’ names and looks, and draft our teams. Then throughout the season, we get to smack talk, discuss the matchups, and criticize player performances. We bond over it and create lasting memories.

Football may not be for everyone, just like The Bachelor isn’t for everyone. I can tell you, though, that it is not just for men to enjoy. I encourage you to check it out through different aspects. Maybe NFL isn’t your thing, but you find yourself oddly intrigued by the college game. Ask questions and at least get to know the basics. There are still things I don’t understand about the intricacies of the game. You may find a new interest, or at the very least will be able to follow some conversation when football fans in your life talk about games and players. Game on, ladies!

5 Books Full of Self Love Awesomeness

What is your initial reaction when you hear the words “self development”? Did you just roll your eyes? Most of us know that we need to take better care of ourselves, but doesn’t it sound like a lot of extra work? We have heard the typical “better you” lineup: eat healthy, exercise, take some “me” time, read more, keep a journal, meditate, let go of negativity, drink daily. Okay fine, I added the last one for fun. Beer yoga, anyone? Seriously, if you know of research that says drinking daily will improve myself, you need to drop that info in the comments!

Maybe you do these to some extent. I have attempted all of these, though I’m better at some than others. And maybe, like me, you feel there is a step missing to find that special spark in your life. After my son was born a little over two years ago, I started to feel like something was lacking. My family was complete, and I was happy in my career, yet an unknown absence loomed.

Around the same time, my MLM team was focused on self development. In fact, we were challenged to watch the movie The Secret and discuss our takeaway points. I rarely back down from a challenge, so of course I watched. By the way, it turns out MLMs are not really my thing, but I do still love the company, their products, and the people I met in my journey.

That small challenge sparked a drive to find my purpose and become a better version of myself. I began searching for guidance on Google and Pinterest. I watched videos recommended by teammates. In the end though, good old-fashioned books were the most beneficial for me. Well, that’s half true. As I was still trying to figure out how to be a mom of two and get back to work full time, I didn’t have much time or energy to pick up a book. What I did have were short bursts of time while getting ready in the morning or before bed, nursing, and pumping. I used those moments to listen to books through my phone.

So I signed up with Audible (affiliate link) and immediately downloaded any self development book that sounded remotely interesting. I stopped listening to some 10-30 minutes in because there was no connection at all. Others resonated so deeply, it was as if they were written specifically for me. I don’t read/listen as much these days, but I do still find it an important part of my growth.

My 5 favorite self development books

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Overview: Based on the film by the same name, The Secret addresses the law of attraction theory, which states what you think about, you bring about. It highlights a number of people throughout history that have followed this approach and gives a variety of examples from people today.

Why I like it: Yes, technically I watched the film rather than reading the book, but the content in each is the same. I love the idea of the law of attraction and was able to put into action immediately. I also love the focus on gratitude. Being thankful for what we have today can drastically change our current mood, as well as what comes to us in the future.

Favorite quote: “This is your life, and it’s been waiting for you to discover it. Up until now you may have been thinking that life is hard and a struggle, so by the law of attraction you will have experienced life as hard and a struggle. Begin right now to shout to the Universe, ’Life is so easy! Life is so good! All good things come to me!’”

The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today by Joel Osteen
Overview: This book puts a twist on the law of attraction, stating that whatever follows the words “I am” is what you manifest for yourself. It helps you hone in on the gifts God has given you and love what you have today in preparation to receive greater gifts in the future.

Why I like it: Not only did this book propel my desire to live more positively, it inspired me to strengthen my relationship with God. It provides a whole list of wonderful affirmations to arm yourself with. Joel encourages you to focus on the positive rather than the negative and to remember that any obstacles in your path are temporary.

Favorite quote: “Beauty is not in how thin or tall you are, how perfect you look. Beauty is in being who God made you to be with confidence. If you’re a size 4, great. If you’re a size 24, great. Take what you have and make the most of it.”

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell
Overview: Drawing from his own experiences, the author provides guidance and insight on how to appreciate the gifts you have been given and use them to pursue your dreams. We all have a blank page and a blinking line waiting for us to start they story of our life. This book helps you break down that story into chapters and even paragraphs so it doesn’t become paralyzing.

Why I like it: With each new concept, I could easily identify areas in my life to apply them. Not only does the author discuss pursuing your purpose, he provides help for overcoming negativity from others (or yourself). He makes it clear that it’s not about having all of the answers. Instead focus on having the courage to start and the faith to figure out the rest as it comes.

Favorite quote: “Better to have a stomach full of butterflies than to feel like your life is passing you by.”

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Overview: After her sister commented “You never say yes to anything,” Shonda resolved to begin saying yes at every given opportunity. This book details her journey, and illustrates the profound impact this decision has had on her life.

Why I like it: It’s TV genius Shonda Rhimes. It’s funny. It makes you want to start saying yes and fight that silly fear monster that has kept all of us from say yes at one point. Plus in the audio version, she plays the audio of her 2014 Dartmouth commencement speech, which is awe-inspiring in itself. Google it!

Favorite quote: “Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth. Let your heart beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion.”

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Overview: This book tackles topics including self sabotage, fear, the law of attraction, working toward your goals, and learning to love yourself. The author takes concepts others in the life coach and personal development arena have addressed, provides her personal experience, and makes it relatable through some tough love.

Why I like it: I love this unapologetic, direct kick in the pants. It’s like getting life advice from your best friend, assuming your best friend is funny and enjoys occasional profanity. Through this book, you are encouraged to own up to the B.S. that keeps you from achieving your goals and loving yourself.

Favorite quote: ““You are a badass. You were one when you came screaming onto this planet and you are one now. The Universe wouldn’t have bothered with you otherwise. You can’t screw up so majorly that your badassery disappears. It is who you are. It’s who you always will be. It’s not up for negotiation.” And because I love this book so much, here’s another: “Deciding means jumping in all the way, doing whatever it takes, and going after your dreams with the tenacity of a dateless cheerleader a week before prom night.”