Directions

I’ve been contemplating this post for a while.  Well, honestly, several posts – but I haven’t been sure of the direction I wanted to take.  Often this blog acts as a journal for me, allowing me to share and process my thoughts.  Sometimes it serves to address a particular topic or event.  Often it’s completely random.

In my life, and probably in yours too, things happen and our focus shifts a bit.  Sometimes it’s a quick detour, and sometimes it’s quite the journey before we realize that we strayed far from what out target was.  I’m kind of in that place – in another cycle of living my life where it really doesn’t look a whole lot like what I imagined a few years ago.  Crazy how that works sometimes…but work it does.

Over the course of my life I’ve gone through counseling several different times, in order to help me “deal with stuff”.  The stuff is the variable here.  And the type of counseling I’ve done has varied too.  But pretty much you go to a stranger, you begin to build trust, and that stranger becomes a trusted confidant.  And then you start to dig through the layers of “stuff” that is holding you back in your current season of life – hopefully with the goal of dealing with it and getting back to a level of normal you set.  Been there, done that.  I’ve worked through issues of abuse.  I’ve worked through financial ick.  I’ve worked through grief.  I’ve worked through issues of weight and body image.  I’ve worked through infertility.  I’ve worked through failed relationships.  I’ve grown, and I’ve healed.  I’ve changed.  And for the most part, it’s all been for the greater good.  Sure there has been some pain – some regrets – some things I can’t take back no matter how badly I’d like to.  But it’s all been my life.

In the past few months I’ve done a lot of personal reflection, and made some changes and choices that have effected more change.  It’s been quite the process.  I honestly believe that change and growth is a good thing.  We need to challenge ourselves, take calculated risks, and take action.  And sometimes that is a complete upheaval – a major change…and sometimes it’s a just a small shift that has the potential for gigantic ripple effects.  A shift in my life and my priorities has precipitated ripples in so many other aspects of my life I wasn’t expecting.

I took a stand in my heart and mind that shifted my focus to my faith in God, and my place in this world as a Christian woman.  Openly doing so, has opened the door to so much more, and has guided other choices and has given me a sense of peace that had been lacking for many years.  It released burdens, and opened my heart to alternatives.  It gave me direction and purpose that was focused on others and not on myself.  It has brought up some questions too, of course.  All changes come with challenges, and I’ve tried to embrace them all.

Most of you know of my Courageous Project with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  I love this with my whole heart.  I love that through the medium of soapmaking I can make a tangible difference for women like myself who have MRKH.  I love that I can donate money to an organization that was instrumental in my personal growth, and that I can continue to touch lives.  Over the last few months, sales have dropped off considerably, and I take responsibility for that.  I haven’t spent much time or energy promoting it.  But in the greater picture – I haven’t done much at all in my soap business as a whole- I skipped a couple of craft shows this summer to allow me time to focus on family and other obligations.  That will be changing soon, as the fall craft show season is starting up in a couple of weeks!

One of my “other obligations” this summer was attending the Seattle MRKH conference.  What an incredible weekend, with some lovely women.  I will be posting about that weekend here on the blog soon – much of the content is already written actually.  So stay tuned for that.

This summer I also worked with some of those same lovely women and together we created a Christian support group on Facebook called MRKH Journey through Faith.  I felt the need to form a community of women who shared both Christ and MRKH…and where we could encourage each other to grow in our Faith and to work toward healing the wound that MRKH often is in our lives.  We have continued to grow and add members, and it’s been a wonderful way to connect on a deeper level with each other.

I’ve had some other big things in my life this summer, big changes, new opportunities, and tons of personal growth.  I hope to share more with you over the next few months some of these directions my life is headed.

Have a blessed day!!!

 

 

Now Serving

It’s no secret that I LOVE to cook, especially for other people.  I enjoy fixing my husband a home cooked meal nearly every night.  I enjoy cooking for potlucks, parties, events, and just because.  But this isn’t really the service I’m thinking about today.

It’s approaching Memorial Day Weekend here in the US, and while it’s officially the kick off to summer with BBQ, camping, gardening, lawn mowing, and that sort of thing – it’s also the recognition of our service men and women and the jobs they do and have done for generations to protect out freedom.  But this isn’t really the service I’m thinking about today.

Today I’m thinking about serving others, and by doing so, also serving God.  I’m here to fulfill a purpose.  To do something bigger than myself.  To make a difference.  To impact someones life.  To enrich my own life.

The happiest people are those who do the most for others. – Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and an adviser to presidents of the United States.  He was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and he became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. His work in the late 1800s and early 1900s paved the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950s.  While some would characterize him as a political machine, it is clear to me that his life work was about supporting and serving the former slaves and setting the groundwork for establishing equal rights among all people in the US.  He instigated great change, and served others.  He was also a Christian man.  This quote is from his autobiography Up From Slavery, “If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian.”  What a powerful testament, to both his own belief, but also to his life work serving the black community.

This is the kind of service I’m thinking about today.  How can I serve others while serving God?  What is my service roll in this great world?  What is my potential impact and how does it fit into God’s plan?  Sure, these are big questions, but shouldn’t we all be asking them?  Do we not all want to make a difference in this world?  We can’t all be as influential as Booker T. Washington and end up on the pages of history texts, or can we?

It starts small, a tiny mustard seed of faith, that grows into a mighty bush.  A flickering thought, a small change we can make today may just incite a movement.  One tiny pebble makes a ripple across still water that is exponentially greater than it’s own size.

As I think about serving others, it seems like such a grand concept, especially compared to someone like Booker T. Washington.  But it doesn’t have to be.

It can start as a simple act of courtesy.  Hold the door open for the person behind you.  Pick up the hat that’s blown off in the wind and return it to the young man scrambling across the parking lot.

Acknowledge the workers in your life – the janitor who cleans the bathrooms at work, the mail delivery person, the trash collector, the greeter at the store, the cashier at bank, the city bus driver, the cops and firemen, all those people who make your life pleasant – and safe – just by doing their job.

Adopt a random act of kindness project.  Pay for a strangers coffee or bus fare.  Leave a generous tip to a hardworking waiter/waitress.  Deliver anonymous flowers to the widow down the street.

Volunteer in your community.  Is there an organization you can join  – a historical society, community improvement group, neighborhood watch group, intramural sports, railroading club, master gardeners, etc.  Get to know your community, and volunteer for positions of action and/or leadership.

In my life…I try to be courteous and friendly, I do random acts of kindness and pay it forward kinds of things regularly.  I am active in my church, helping out with potlucks and organizing things.  I work with our teen girls ministry as a mentor, and am very active in our women’s ministry as well.   In the MRKH community I spend time conversing with and mentoring younger MRKH sisters, and building bonds with sisters around the world.  I’ve also partnered with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation with the Courageous Project to raise money to support and empower women with MRKH.  All these areas of service fuel my spirit, and I often feel that the payout for me is much greater than the work I put into it.

I grow.

I pray.

I heal.

I forgive.

I praise.

I love.

I rejoice.

I serve.

It bears repeating I think, that today I’m thinking about serving others, and by doing so, also serving God.  I’m here to fulfill a purpose.  To do something bigger than myself.  To make a difference.  To impact someones life.  To enrich my own life.

What are you serving today?

Girl Time

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve begun to accept that I can’t get through this life without my girlfriends.  They are there for me time and time again, even when I think I don’t need them…I really do!  And in the last few months in particular, I have made a conscious effort to make girl time a priority.  And my SOUL appreciates it!  No really, it is more important…vital…than I ever expected it to.  I need to laugh, I need to talk, I need to listen, I need to connect on a level that no one quite gets – except my girlfriends.   And you know what, my girlfriends need this too.

This past weekend I did my annual first craft show of the year.  Stress, long hours, hard work, a booth neighbor with migraine inducing lights shining RIGHT IN MY FACE, and hours and hours of talking with the public.  But at the end of the day, I got some much needed girl time with my dear friend Yvonne.  We got caught up on our lives, we talked about snow and spouses, we talked about firewood and flooding, and we laughed and cried a little, drank some wine and had some really good long hugs!

Also last weekend, my best friend on the planet, Eileen sent me a text – Hi Honey, how are you?  Are you ok?  My BFF-ESP kicked in….  Awww…how does she always know???  Because she knows me so well, and we really are connected soul-deep.  I assured her I was fine, told her about the craft show, the lights, and the girl time.  We set a phone call date for Tuesday.  On Tuesday we laughed and got caught up on the last week or so, talked about spouses and work obligations, summer plans, we laughed and cried a little, we talked about priorities and standing up for myself.  We made plans to talk again next week.

And also last weekend, we had Girls Night In at church.  Its our new women’s ministry group where we host a monthly get together for ourselves and women in the community.  We laugh and play crazy games.  We spend some time in the sanctuary talking about God and the role of women in the bible, and in our lives.  We eat fabulous food, and we laugh and talk and pray.  This month we also planted flowers to celebrate spring, and talked about some options for service projects – and you know what came out as the favorite idea?  Working with organizations to support disadvantaged women and children in our area.  Not sure what that will look like exactly – but I’m sure some “drive” of some sort to collect things women and children need – diapers, clothes, feminine hygiene products, toys, blankets, and the like.  I’m excited to work with my friends over the next few months to make a difference in some local lives.   Working on projects together brings us all closer – to each other, and to God.   When we are serving others, we are serving God.

And while I wasn’t able to participate because of my craft show, this past weekend was also another fabulous gathering of girlfriends in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was MRKH Day  – A day of Education, Sharing, and Support for people with MRKH.  This special day is sponsored by the OB/GYN department, Gynecology division of Michigan Medicine In cooperation with Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  A full day of MRKH information and support…for those of us with MRKH and our parents and partners.  The full day conference event is followed by an evening social – you know, the after party!  I haven’t had a chance to attend an MRKH conference yet, but from all the reports of those who attend…they are incredible.  While we all enjoy the online support groups, Facebook friends, and the incredible opportunities for “instant support” we can find on the internet – nothing quite compares to meeting another MRKH woman in person – and a whole house full of them….MIND.BLOWN.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my local girlfriends…wine, chocolate, giggles, tears, talks, phone calls, texts, the whole shebang…but when you have something in your life like MRKH…well, you’re always just a little detached from all the other women in the room.  You can’t quite relate to the period talk, or the parenthood talk, or the grandchild stories – and how in the world can they truly relate to us?  They try…with valiant effort…they ask thoughtful questions and try to understand my perspective…but they don’t quite get it.

The first time I got to meet another MRKH woman face to face, 3 of us got together for dinner.  It was effortless – we instantly connected and could relate to each other just like life long friends.  We laughed, talked about diagnosis and treatment, life choices and having our choices taken away.  It’s been close to 3 years since that encounter….I’ll let Jen tell it, as I think she summed it up perfectly!  http://humoringmylife.blogspot.com/2014/08/mrkh-meeting.html  I’ve met up with others since then a handful of times.  And each time it’s the same kind of instant connection.  And each time I spend some girl time with MRKH women, I heal just a little bit more.

That’s what girl time is about I think – it’s restorative.  It’s a chance to look at life from different angles….share the heavy burdens….get some insight from trusted friends.  While I love my husband and family dearly, and love to spend time with them – nothing quite compares to girl time.

I’ll leave you with this song by the incomparable Reba McEntire – it’s a new favorite!