The Church Search

I would not have chosen to leave our church, but when we moved 90 miles up the road last fall we decided that was too far to drive each Sunday. (Although for a minute we considered it.) There were a slew of things that made it difficult to leave, the most significant being many of the people in our church had become like family.

In 2011 Christmas landed on a Sunday, the question wasn’t if we were going to church, in fact I thought it would be quite special to sit with so many good friends on Christmas morning, the question was ~ what to wear. Our family stays in pajamas all day on Christmas, with feeling like our church is family the girls and I decided to go in our pajamas. (The guys wore suits – to balance our attire.) Our church family had become so much a part of our lives that our pajama decision seemed natural. (Note: except for a few children, we were the only people, in a packed church, wearing pajamas! I still don’t regret that decision.)

For fourteen years our church was a central part of our lives. This tribe came alongside us and our children, having influence in each of our lives. They led us, ministered to us, loved us, and gave us opportunities to grow in service to, and care for others. Consequently our search for a new church is not something we’ve taken lightly; this new community will matter to us.

It was harder than expected to begin the search, in fact we took many Sundays off. (During this time so many kept asking us if we had found a church yet. That, my friends, is a caring question for which we were grateful.)  Kevin and I knew we wouldn’t give up meeting together with a group of believers, so at last we began our church search in earnest. When we did began our quest to find a church home I quickly discovered it was with grieving heart; I missed my people and the connection I felt each week. Going to church doesn’t feel the same here, but I have been known to say, “God is not a feeling”, so our search is about so much more than settling into a feeling. We are not going to feel connected right away anyway, so we will look for the things we’ve learned are important through our home church, they did these things well.

As we talk through our Sunday experiences we’ve focused on these things:

  • Is the message scripture based, and is scripture used in context?
    Teaching the Word is what matters. We’re looking for the Word to be clear and the gospel truth to be heard.
  • Is worship led or performed?
    Worship leaders have the awesome responsibility and honor of leading us to the throne, the cross, to God. Excellence in worship matters, performing does not.  I’m being challenged with a little different worship style, but worship isn’t about me, it’s about God. I want familiar worship, but what I need is to focus on what matters, and that’s not me. This is not a bad challenge for me to be working through.
  • Do the people seem connected to each other, is the atmosphere friendly and welcoming?
    This matters because “the church” is the people. How they interact with each other gives a window into who they are.
  • Is this a church that serves beyond it’s walls?
    Love God, love others ~ this is the greatest command, so this matters.
  • Does what we believe align with their “What we believe” statement?

We have chosen a church to attend each Sunday. We are mostly in that place of “last in and first out” on Sunday mornings ~ we call it hovering. We’re getting closer to the ground, but we’re not quite ready to land. We’re grateful for the opportunity to occasionally drive to our home church, where they did the above things well, and also feeling peaceful about the steps we’re taking to land in a new church community.

If you’ve had to search for a new church home, please feel invited to share your experience by leaving a comment. I’d be so interested in learning about your church search process!

More than pictures

Fifty-nine days ago the move to Marshall was official, and for each of those days I’ve been capturing a photo of at least one moment that has made me happy. I suspected the 100HappyDaysChallenge would be a good discipline for me as I adjusted to this new season with it’s many, many changes. At this point I can report that it is valuable and centering to intentionally look for one thing, view, moment or person each day that makes me happy.

This move has gone more smoothly than I anticipated; the level of peace I continue to feel is unexpected. A friend recently told me I look “so good”, I’ve thought about that compliment a few times. ( Who wouldn’t want to replay that kind of compliment!) I believe that living apart from Kevin for two years was more stressful that I acknowledged, even to myself. We did what we knew was best for Erin and never looked back, but being together is what we were meant to be, so I think some stress lines have disappeared simply because we are reunited. (Truth be told, I’ve also discovered a really  great new make-up foundation, so there’s that!)

On a recent photo a friend remarked that our town seems perfect. When I read that I knew it was time to write a reality check post, lest the #100happydays project projects a false sense of perfection! Let me say that I am engaged in and appreciating the Happy Days challenge, but like that really good make-up foundation I recently discovered, the project may be responsible for making me look better than I really do.

it is wellThis blog is about real life. My heart is to be encouraging by writing about all of life, so let me get real with you today. First, things truly are going well. Second, there is an issue that has been hard, really hard. It’s regarding our youngest son and it’s all sort of tricky to talk about. The bigger picture of life in our new town is that he has been making some decisions and crossing some lines that have caused us to make some difficult decisions and reinforce some lines. Much of it is not pretty and there is no filter to apply that would enhance the picture. I share this because it’s more of a panoramic view, and considering I share my life with others I want to be honest, not deceptive, even unintentionally.

It’s hard to be in a town where no one knows you. Or your family. Or your history. Or your story…or your character. Walking through this would be easier in our community of sixteen years, but that is not our reality so we walk on being challenged to do the hard, right thing. To seek God and not justify, or feel the need to explain, or to be understood. To lean not on man, but on God who knows our hearts. For me, this is sometimes hard, hard stuff. I share this here not to garner words or sympathy or even prayers (though I’d never turn away a prayer!) but to show more than the scrapbook pictures of our life.

The thing about social media is that it’s part of our picture, not the whole picture. Think about our scrapbooks, we pick the best pictures to fill the pages, the things we want to document, record and remember. I never went around taking pictures of my house when it was a disaster or shot videos of my kids arguing, but those things were also a part of our lives.

For forty-one days I will continue to document one thing a day which brings me a sense of peace, joy or a happy feeling. It will remain a very good and important daily discipline, helping to remind my soul that it is well.

A Second a Day, Summer 2015

I have the honor of having my daughter, Courtney as guest a writer today…

This past summer was a huge one – I graduated college, spent some much appreciated time with friends and family, watched a baby start to grow into her engaging and hilarious personality, started a CAREER in engineering (that still sounds weird), parted ways with someone I really care about, moved to a new town, helped my family prepare to move out of my childhood home, and a couple days into June, learned how to properly orient phone videos.

A few days after graduation, I realized I wanted to capture this transitional period as a way to remind myself to be present in the moment, instead of worrying about what the next few weeks and months were going to bring. I started taking little clips of videos every day, inspired by those “second every day” videos you see every now and then. It’s not the traditional second-a-day video, although there are representations from each day over the 3 month period I chose to record. Some days have several video segments dedicated to them; each video is approximately 1.5 seconds long. You would be surprised how much more can happen in half a second, and how much more emotion can be captured.
     This project allowed me to both step back and lean into moments with the people I care about, and the moments I had to myself. A lot of the time, taking these clips gave me the same warm feeling you get when you stop for a second in the middle of an evening with friends and quietly watch the people you love enjoy themselves. It also allowed me to actively look for little moments in each day I wanted to record; this was a great exercise in gratefulness. I noticed things about the people around me; how my sister tilts her head back every time she smiles in surprise, how my grandma’s face lights up when she’s speaking to a loved one. Part of the way through the summer, I started editing, and noticed that my dad was in very few videos. My parents spent two years living in separate houses after he got a new job to make things easier on my younger siblings, who were finishing high school and attending a local college, and he was working during the week while I spent a lot of weekends away. Realizing that we spend a small amount of time together made me more appreciate and aware of the time that we do have, for which I am grateful.
     Finally, during the making of this video I noticed two things about time; how quickly it goes, and how much of it I pretend is inconsequential. I almost always have my eyes forward on an event I’m excited about and I’ve often been guilty of having a countdown going to wish away days until it gets here. One example that presented itself this summer were visits to my then-boyfriend, who lived a few hours away, but also came in the form of visits to friends, apartment hunting, and vacations. Watching the videos back, I was surprised at how much time was between those events, and how quickly they went when they did come. It made me realize that counting down until the next big thing has a way of making you cheat yourself out of the time you have right in front of you. Having visible reminders of the in-between days made me realize that they’re not really in-between at all; those days are what make up most of my life. I’m thankful that I liked what I saw in those days. I’m not perfectly reformed yet, but I’m doing my best to consciously enjoy those days now.
     In conclusion, I loved this summer. It was fun, it was exciting, it was scary, it was at times sad and hard. I got to see a lot of the people that mean the most to me. I had to say goodbye to people, places, and entire chapters, and I got to welcome a whole new part of life. I’m glad I have the opportunity to look back upon it, literally.
You can see the video here.

#100happydays after the move

Goodbye house...ErinThe move to Marshall is in motion. A week ago we drove Zach back to college in Minnesota, leaving his childhood home for the last time. This past weekend Courtney and Erin finished packing up clothes, books, baby dolls and Barbies, then Erin said goodbye to her room and her house. Tears and hugs, and more tears and some squeezes ensued, and then Courtney drove Erin back to college before she continued on to  her home in Illinois.

Kyler began school today ~ we are so grateful that Michigan begins after Labor Day! (Also thankful for a late Labor Day this year, we needed it.) What that means is that yesterday we loaded cars with much, finished a few small projects, cleaned and got the house “show-ready”, because Sunday the For Sale sign went in the yard and today the realtor is taking pictures of the house for the promotion pieces of this process.

It was a physically exhausting and emotionally hard weekend. We attended our church for the last time as every Sunday kind of people. The emotions caught me off guard and tears streamed as I worshipped alongside my faith family. A gentle hand reached out from a friend creating a picture of the love and support we have received for fourteen years within this church – these people helped us raise and shape our children. We’re 90 miles up the road – and we’ll be back, but it’ll be different.

Moving is hard. Leaving friends who are like sisters is not easy. Creating new community takes time and investment. Discovering and then building within a faith community requires much, and yet there is so much for which to be grateful. So today I checked out the 100happydays challenge. I loved this line: The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being. I also loved this: #100happyday challenge is for you – not for anyone else.  It is not a happiness competition or a showing off contest. If you try to please / make others jealous via your pictures – you lose without even starting. Same goes for cheating.

100happydaysI believe intentionally seeking to be aware of the small happy moments in this first 100 days in our new (well, actually 98 year old) home is valuable. Focusing on the blessings, having a mind of gratitude will all help float me to the place and person I want to be. Moving is hard, and not getting stuck is important. The #100happydays project for me begins now.

(In conjunction with this project I’m also going to attempt to try something my daughter, Courtney, did this summer. She video recorded a few seconds each day and put all those seconds together in a video. We got to preview it the other day – it was beautiful, touching and funny. It made me want to capture the happy, boring, funny, normal moments for a year. We’ll see if I can do it!)

Previous posts on the moving process are here and here.

Moving ~ Everything’s in Motion

In January I wrote here about doing what matters in 2015. Even as I hung my empty new calendar on the wall, I knew it was swollen with big events that would transform the shape and feel of our family. As I look at the calendar today, somehow January became August and the days are swishing by as quickly as they can.

  • Our child did come home from the program. He did great for a few months, but it has been difficult for awhile nSheri 50 birthdayow and we are working towards what’s next.
  • I turned 50 and discovered it’s not that different from my 40’s! (Check with me on that at 60 :) Kevin threw an incredible party with many wonderful friends and family so it was hard to feel anything but good about this birthday!
  • Courtney graduated from Purdue with a Chemical Engineering degree and we are so, so proud of her! It was an amazing day and I haven’t found time to write about it, but I will.
  • She also has her first job! Whoop Whoop!! It’s an amazing position at a great company – and she has relocated only a few hours away! Our excitement for her and pride in her remains off the charts.
  • Erin, our baby graduated from high school – her graduation party at our house felt like a celebration of her, many friends, family and sixteen years of life in Fort Wayne. It was magical.
  • Kevin & Sheri July 2015 2Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We decided a big trip was not in the cards this year, but we got away and it was exactly what we needed. Living apart for two years has made us grateful for any extended time together without lists and projects.
  • We took an ahh-mazing family vacation with my sisters and some friends. It was an incredible cap on a crazy~full summer.

family vacation3But the day we returned home from vacation I felt as if my heart was breaking; I realized that what is left on the calendar is a lot of good-byes. And now the moving company has contacted me about scheduling the packers ~ the wheels of this move are truly in motion.

Chalkboard countdownI put this countdown on the chalkboard this week. I needed the visual of how many days we have til Erin leaves for Purdue, til Zach leaves for the University of Minnesota, til Kyler starts school in Marshall, til the movers are here packing up our life.

Oh, be still my beating heart.

It seems time is slipping through my hands like sand and I cannot stop it. There are so many people to have lunch or dinner, coffee or wine with. We have couple friends we are aching to spend time with but see limited dates remaining on the calendar. I have a moving/garage sale to organize and of course a few more kids to move to college. (I find myself grateful time and time again that we are only moving 90 miles up the road ~ it is this relatively short distance that brings me a level of peace. Friends…we will be back for those dinners – and our little town has a great brewery for those of you who like us and beer or pizza!)

This week is focused on the baby who is preparing to leave not only for college, but to move away from the home she grew up in. I’ve held her as she’s said some tearful goodbyes to friends over the last few days. She’s packed up her attic full of baby dolls and clutter, and she’s found her way into my big bed at night since her daddy is away. Last night we held hands in the dark as she talked about how hard it will be to go away to college – even though she is so excited and ready. Be still my heart.

The next week we’ll help Zach, our boy man-child, pack up and move to a house in Minnesota. He will likely be staying in Minnesota for the summer next year for an internship, meaning it’s another last with this boy who has such a big chunk of my heart. This momma stuff is not for the faint of heart.

There is much good to come from this move. Living with my husband is at the top, I’m grateful he has a job he loves and at which he is so valued. God is about to grow and stretch me ~ that can be uncomfortable, but it also leads to new places. Also, I’m not moving across the country, I’m moving a bit up the road…all good stuff.

I like to write with a purpose but as I wrap this up, I’m not sure of the purpose of the words on this page. Maybe it’s just to record what’s going on in our lives right now. Maybe it’s to preserve this snapshot of life.

As I think back to the original post in January I wanted to make sure I focused on what matters, whether it was packing boxes or sitting with a friend. Eight months later, in the midst of all the chaos, it’s a good reminder for me to do what matters.

Whatever season you are in, whatever you may be counting down…still your beating heart and consider what matters, then do that.

Heart1

Coming Home

It’s happening. After two and a half years, our boy is coming home.

Yes, I am excited.
Yes, I am a little anxious.
Yes, I am confident.
Yes, I am at peace.

After his being away for so long, it does suddenly feel like it’s all happening quickly as I hurry to wash sheets (we’ve been using his room as a quest room), make sure I have a jacket that will fit him in the car (the winter weather we have is quite different from the warm weather he has been living in), and plan a menu that will bring him sweet reminders of our home.

On top of all that this week, I took my youngest, Erin, on her final college visit on Monday and yesterday she has made her decision for the fall. It’s all a little emotional here for this momma this week.

Last night Erin and I went on our first weekly dinner date, just the two of us. We needed a plan to maintain our bond and dedicated time together once Kyler returns, so weekly dinner dates it is! It’s my job to balance his needs and her needs. Before he left for the program things were chaotic and there was MUCH focus on the squeaky wheel that was coming off the wagon. She needs to know that in her last few months before she leaves for college, when her emotions are also all over the board, that I’ve got her back and she has my attention. Then there is my oldest, Courtney, who is graduating in a few short months from college. She is in a phase where nothing is exactly solid, where her whole life is about to change, so yeah…I need to be there for her too. And of course, Zach, my 20 year old, going to school 10 hours away…he sometimes also needs me.

Today I am pondering and resting in the timing of the reunion of our family. Courtney and Zach, though at separate universities in different states, are on Spring Break at the same time…and they are both coming home. Courtney is traveling with me, what a great blessing this is to us. My mother-in-law is traveling home with Zach and will also be here when we arrive back home. Kevin took the week off from work and will be with us all week as we re-establish this family unit. I believe the timing is not coincidence. I believe it is a nudge from God reminding me he’s in this. And of course he would be, he is the one who grafted this broken branch into our family.

This is the life of a momma ~ my momma life, your momma life; balancing needs of others, knowing it’s all going to be OK, even when you can’t see your counter-tops. Pausing in the midst of a swirling season of motherhood and treasuring up all these many things and pondering them in your heart.

Today I’m carving out moments to do just that, because tomorrow I begin the travel to go bring our boy home.

The Big 50 Birthday Post

Sheri @ 50I woke up this morning to my 50 year-old self. Just like when I was 5, there were no big changes to report. But kind of like my 5 year old self ~ I am super excited! This morning Barb, my friend of over 18 years (who arrived in town yesterday) and I are getting ready to celebrate the Big 5-O by spending the day running around town blessing others in big and small ways!

Firefighters will receive morning bagels, nurses a basket of lunch goodies, a meal will be delivered, a dog’s adoption fee is about to get paid, notes are being sent and so much more! There are also a few friends here in my town who will also be out blessing others today!

But it’s not just happening in my town, my sisters, husband and kids are helping to spread kindness in Wichita, and Minneapolis, at Purdue University and the University of Minnesota, even in the Dominican Republic someone is going to receive an Act of Kindness today to celebrate these amazing 50 years I’ve been blessed to have. 50 Acts for 5o years!

If you received on of these Acts of Kindness and want to share about it ~ leave a comment! It seems to me that taking up space on the internet to share something good is, well…a good idea. :)

On Turning 50 ~ Part 2

50The countdown is on ~ in less than a week the BIG 5-0 is going to be upon me and I have to admit I’m getting downright giddy!

A few weeks ago I wrote here about turning 50 and my plan to undertake 50 Acts of Kindness that day. This plan is, in part, my antibody to feeling self-centered and entitled that day…because I can be like that sometimes on my birthday. When Erin, my youngest, who will be 18 in a few short months, heard this she said “That is the opposite of how I’m feeling about MY birthday! I’m SUPER excited to have a full day devoted to me!!” She informed me of her plan to stay up all 24 hours on her 18th birthday so she doesn’t miss a moment of celebrating HER! Then she made some remark about different life stages and that she liked hers better!

But enough about Erin, let’s get back to ME! (I can feel Erin’s influence) On Monday, March 2, my husband, three older kids, sisters and a few friends are all in and we are hitting (maybe touching is a better word) our communities with 50 Acts of Kindness! I began prepping many of my Acts of Kindness yesterday and it made me soooo excited to go out, with intention, and bless others!

If you want to join the 50 Acts of Kindness Extravaganza – I would LOVE it! Drop by here on Monday and share what you did on the Birthday post. (If appropriate, take a picture and email it to me at shericarlstrom@gmail.com, I’ll post those here and include them in the video I’m hoping to get made of the day!)  

I believe, without a doubt, that this is the best way for me to turn 50!

(This whole idea came from my friend Sara Norwood – who did 38 Acts of Kindness on her birthday in 2012 (you can see the video of her day here.) Inspired by her, my friend Cathy did 50 Acts of Kindness on her birthday and now me. Sara has inspired 100 Acts of Kindesss! Which is why I’m sharing this here ~ maybe we’ll create a little kindness surge!!)

Acts of Kindness ideas:

  1. M&M’s for the Mailman – “Thanks for driving Miles & Miles to bring us our mail!”
  2. Coupons on grocery shelves – taped near the products
  3. Meijer gift card to the person behind me in line at Meijer
  4. Leave a sticky note on public bathroom mirror – confidence booster / inspirational
    “You ARE beautiful”
    “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.“
    “You’re braver than you believe.”
    “Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.“
    “Your mistakes do not define you”
    “You are enough”
    “Remind yourself that it’s OK not to be perfect”
    “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you”
    “You are valuable”
    “You are worth it”
    “Life is short, smile while you have teeth!”
    “Beauty is confidence applied directly to your face”
  5. Buy coffee for someone
  6. Note of Encouragement to mom taped on changing tables in public restrooms (Target)
  7. Write a note of appreciation to someone and drop it in the mail on March 2
  8. Cookies and thank you note to police officers
  9. Cook a meal for someone – Stromboli / salad / cookies for Rachel
  10. Put gas in someone’s car
  11. Quarters taped to a vending machine
  12. College: Write a thank you note on a sticky and leave it on your tray when you place in on the conveyor belt in the dining hall
  13. bake a cake for someone
  14. Tweet or Facebook a genuine compliment to someone
  15. Bring donuts to someone – Rise & Roll
  16. While out, compliment a parent on their well-behaved child
  17. Write a genuine compliment on someone’s blog (not mine)
  18. Compliment someone in front of others
  19. Go into a restaurant and leave a gift card on someone’s table (Applebee’s)
  20. Popcorn and $1 taped to Red box
  21. Make a drop off donation at Charis House/Rescue Mission, etc…
  22. Leave a REALLY big tip today
  23. Bring a donation from the needs list from a charity
  24. Bring someone flowers
  25. Bake bread and deliver it to a fire station
  26. College: Sit with someone who is eating alone
  27. Donate a needed item to an animal shelter
  28. Pay the adoption fee for someone at the animal shelter
  29. Help someone load or unload their groceries
  30. Go to a nursing home and help paint nails / read to people / visit
  31. Hold the door for someone
  32. Smile – be friendly
  33. Thank a veteran or service man/woman for their service
  34. Leave $1 bills tucked in places at the Dollar store
  35. Deliver balloons to a hospital and ask a nurse to give to someone alone
  36. Deliver a treat to a nurse station at a hospital and thank them for taking care of everyone
  37. Leave a gift card in a book at a bookstore
  38. Give someone your awesome coupon (40% Michaels,15% 20% 30% Kohls, Family Christian, etc..)
  39. Leave art supplies for kids in a hospital waiting room
  40. Put carts away in a parking lot

 

On Turning 50

On turning 50One month from today I will be 50 years old.

It feels different from 30 or 40 ~ I didn’t mind turning either one of those ages, embracing each one, feeling more grown up and confident. I’m not quite sure about 50 yet, I keep looking towards it, making efforts to befriend it, but I admit I am a little unsettled about this particular milestone.

To be clear – I’m grateful to be turning 50, the breath in my lungs is a gift to be sure. And, really it’s quite possible that this feeling that I can’t quite get a handle on has more to do with the many changes happening in my life this year and less with turning 50…time will tell.

Each “big birthday’ I’ve asked myself this question. “Is there anything else you really could have wanted at this point in your life?” As I’ve taken inventory of many incredible blessings, even when resources were rather scarce, the answer has always been a resounding “No.” I’ve done and have experienced more than I really could have hoped for. Even when I list what I would consider the basics, I know I am blessed beyond measure…

A wonderful husband who loves me
Four healthy children
Income that more than supports us
A home
Vehicles
Insurance
Good friends
Sisters who are like friends

…the list goes go on and on. (This year  ~ inspired by One Thousand Gifts, I am naming my blessings in a journal; an effort to seek to see and value the many gifts that are mine.) So what is it about 50?

There are things that matter to me that I haven’t yet tackled so that contributes to that unsettled feeling, these include more consistent writing, doing more with this blog (like getting a logo and publishing more places), a small business I’m conflicted about. Many moons ago I declared I would lose 50 pounds by 50 ~ I’ve lost 15. But as I re-read “I will be 50 in two years and six weeks and I want to be strong, I want to be flexible, I want to have energy, I want my skin to glow, I want my pants to fit, I want to be healthy. I want to feel good every day when I go to my closet to get dressed.” I realize it’s OK that I haven’t lost all the pounds ~ I’m strong enough, I’m getting more flexible due to the yoga I’m doing in my basement, I sometimes struggle with energy in the winter months so I won’t worry so much about that right now. My skin – well Coco Chanel said, Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty, therefore I’m making peace with the changes that have, are, and will take place with this face! And lastly because of the recent downward trend on the scale, getting dressed is not the problem it was. Maybe 50 will be about moving forward and continuing to make peace.

I have many fabulous, incredible, beautiful friends who have gone to 50 ahead of me ~ Barb, Cathy, Cindy, Alex, Dawn & Elise come to mind immediately. I’ve always said if that’s 50, then I’m on my way! 50 is Fabulous, 50 is the new 30 (in many ways, I can promise you it is not, but I’m grateful for that attitude!) These ladies have led so well, I’m grateful for them blazing the trail in front of me, they are nothing short of inspiring in each of their own ways. Because of them I should be confident. Maybe part of the uneasiness is that I know what I’ve done to this point in my life has mattered, and I’m so incredibly uncertain what this next stage looks like and I want it to matter.

A few years ago inspired by The Birthday Project, a friend and her sisters did 38 random acts of kindness for her 38 birthday, she and her sisters made a video of the day, you can see it here!  I shared this with my friend Cathy, and when she turned 50 she did 50 Random Acts of Kindness with the help of her family and me. It was so fun receiving text message all day as everyone enjoyed spreading kindness all day in various locations.

Now it’s getting close to my turn, I’ve been blessed with much so I’m going to share some of that on my 50th. I’m hopeful that the JOY that will come from blessing others will be the gift I really need. I want to walk into this next decade with confidence, intention and JOY…50 Acts of Kindness will be a heck of a start! I’m working out the details for that day, but I’m certain it’s going to be a great day!

I have a feeling I’ll have more thoughts on turning 50 and because sometimes I write to sort out my thoughts and feelings, this subject might just show up here again before the big day. If you’ve turned 50 please feel especially invited to share your own thoughts on this landmark birthday!

Doing What Matters in 2015

As I consider this New Year before me, the words BIG and transitional come to mind.

In 2015:
•   Kyler will complete the program he has been in for over two years and return to our family the first part of the year. If I’m speaking honestly, for the first 18 months he was there, I was certain he would never return to our family, so his coming home is HUGE ~ and will be full of adjustments for all of us. The healing, trust and relationship he has been building with us is a blessing we did not think we would experience. This is good, good news.

•   I’m turning 50. What the heck.

•   Courtney, our first born, will graduate from college. (Whoop Whoop!)

•   A few weeks after that Erin, our baby graduates from high school.

•   There will be a graduation party in our backyard. Consider this your invitation since I’ll be so busy!  (Just kidding Erin, I’ll have time to make your graduation announcements special too…because it matters :)

•   Kevin and I will celebrate our 25th Anniversary.

•   We are selling our Fort Wayne home and moving to Marshall, Michigan. We’ve been apart for two years while Kevin started his new job and Erin finished her last two years of high school. Kevin and I will finally be living together again. Thank goodness.

•   After 16 years in Fort Wayne we will move away from our friends ~ many who are like family. We will leave our support system, our amazing community, our church. This is a BIG transition that I am not looking forward to making.

•   The baby will start college. After spending the last few nights watching old home movies, I am perplexed by how quickly these cherubs grew up and also a little sad; I miss those sweet voices and little hands; the messy house and chaos were so worth it. As we watched video after video I was surprised by how much I wish I could go back and do some things differently ~ a column for another week.

•   Sometime in all of this Courtney will begin her career as a Chemical Engineer and will likely move to a new city where we will help her get settled and ready to begin her next phase of life.

•   Zach will come home for the summer but leave again in the fall ~ continuing his education 10 hours away in Minnesota.

•   I will have to adjust to a new, small town. I trust it will be good, but I’m mindful that this has the potential to be difficult. At the same time, I’m also appreciative that this new small town offers our returning boy, who has been through much, a fresh start. This could a huge blessing being swirled into some hard stuff.

Before any of that happens, there is painting to do, a storage room to de-clutter, three attics to sort through, closets and cupboards to clean. Our Marshall home we purchased last summer is almost 100 years old (think teeny-tiny closets) and the square footage is about half the size of this home, so there is much to decide regarding what makes the move and what simply has to go. Ready or not I am going to have to attempt to live more simply. Something I will likely appreciate, but has the potential to be hard. I may write this year about having to go through the process of getting rid of things.

So the calendar feels swollen with much, the lists could fill a notebook, yet my heart is peaceful right now. I keep hearing this in my mind “Do what matters.” I hope this holds as my mantra for the year. There will be much to do in 2015 but I want to make sure I do what matters. Right now, my mother-in-law is here for the month, so what matters is coffee with her in the afternoon, yoga mats side by side as we try to make it through beginner yoga videos, conversations, lunches, puzzles, a game of bowling and tennis on the Wii, even just sitting together. I won’t get this time back so I don’t want to miss it while it’s here. So while she’s here, this is what matters.

I may have needed to write this column for me – so I have something to come back to when my mind gets cluttered, my heart begins to race and panic sets in. Sometimes the thing that will matter will be packing boxes – sometimes the thing that will matter will be sitting in the high school gym with a friend watching a basketball game. It will be clearing clutter and meeting for coffee. It will be both.

It’s going to be a big year, full of transition…may I be found doing what matters.

What’s going on for you this year that matters?