I am pretty sure I am not the only one that has wanted, and needed, a
second chance at something. I can think of hundreds of times when I had the
thought "If only I could have another shot at that"........
Care to join me in reminiscing about those times?
Those times in high school when I suddenly found myself in front of the guy who I had a crush on. Here was my chance. C'mon Sarah....be clever, cute and charming. But all that came out was "Uhhh.... ummmm.... welllll.... hi." UGH. Seriously? What a dork. Boy oh boy did I kick myself after those missed opportunities.
Those days as a college student who couldn't get a grip on life and things were so overwhelming. Life seemed to be spinning around me due to many things and each day I would be determined to get to class. But then many days I didn't make it. Really Sarah? What is wrong with you?! Why couldn't I just go?
Those long, tiring days of mommydom when I had 3 small kiddos, lived far from family and was weary. I was not the best mom those days. I was easily frustrated. My patience was limited. I would wake up each morning and pray that today I would be a better mom. Then somehow, each day, I would not live up to that prayer.
Those years of filling a hole in my life with food. The vicious cycle of low self esteem led to the need for comfort food which then led to self loathing(for eating too much) which brought me back to the desire for comfort. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I just lose weight and be skinny like my friends? Monday will be the start of the next chance for me to get skinny.....
Those times as I was growing up in churches, developing a faith when I thought I had not done enough to earn God's love. Each time we would have confession at school I would say I was sorry and promise to do better.....but eventually failed at that promise. I struggled with finding my worth in the midst of these perceived failures.
Anyone relate? Do you have those days, times or events when you wished you could have a do-over? A second chance? I am betting you can all think of more than a few.
Thankfully, life is full of second chances. It took me a long time to see what those second chances looked like though. Sometimes we think that that do-over should be presented to us pronto! Not so much. Much of the time it is not given to us immediately. Sometimes it can take years to have the chance to change it. The trick is recognizing that second chance when it arrives........
Those crushes in high school were not meant to be. My second chance came in the midst of another second chance. The first time I met my husband he was not, let's say, too respectful toward me. He was a college guy having a fun time at a party and was...well....err.... kind of a jerk. Then months later we met again (actually 26 years ago yesterday!!). He was more of his true self that night...and I gave him a second chance. But I also was getting a do-over. I didn't fumble my words, stutter or look like a dork. I was more mature....more ready to be in a relationship. I am thankful now that I was a dork back in high school......it brought me to Craig.
Those absentee days in college were hard. Lots had happened and what I didn't recognize was that I probably was in a bit of a funk. I was hard on myself for not finishing college. I thought that I was never going to be smart enough or successful enough without that college degree. A second (and third) chance came along years later. I went to school for cosmetology. I graduated at the top of my class and took 1st place in the annual hair show and went on to a very successful 15 year career as a hair designer. Then the third chance........ Cellar Designs. What a blessing this has been to me. I guess I needed to learn first what "success" meant before I could truly experience it.
Those years of being the "imperfect" mom were catapulted into the extreme when I found out I was (VERY unexpectedly!) pregnant with our 4th child. This was not our plan. This was not what I wanted. This was crazy. Another child? Oh boy.....
Our little spirited redhead, Noah Scott, was my second chance for me to review what a perfect mom should look like. He has taught me that imperfect IS perfect. If my older kids can't see that I am a mess sometimes then how in the world can I expect them to grow up knowing that it is ok to make mistakes in their lives? The second half of my life as a mom has been much better. I have learned to lighten up. I have learned to cherish the moments. I savor each second chance.
Food, food, food. My second chance came at age 40. 4 years ago this month I was given access to an amazing tool to help my journey. I had gastric lap band surgery. For many of you I am sure you think, automatically, "ohh....easy way out'. Not at all. The band required me to make good choices each day of what I put in my mouth, how much, and how often. If I chose poorly.......ugh, no fun. If I chose wisely I grew to be a healthy woman. It helped me to break that cycle and take responsibility of how I got there and control of getting my life and health back.
I am thankful for the foundation of faith I was given as a child. I knew that God was big, amazing and that I loved Him. What I didn't know till given a second chance was that I was worthy of His love...without doing a single thing other than believe. There is such beauty and power in that for me. The knowledge that Christ was the ultimate second chance for me is so overwhelming.......and I my life hopefully reflects that. I love this song from Rend Collective. It's message speaks to me...
One of the most popular signs at Cellar Designs is one that I can not sell anymore. I was not aware of a copyright when I originally made this specific sign so I, unfortunately, can not make it anymore. But it is all over Pinterest to this day. I get emails daily from people all over the world asking if I could make them one. The first line of this sign is "In this house we do second chances".
I am floored by the power those words hold for many people. I think the whole world has a desire for second chances. I am so very grateful to God for the second chances that I have been given, and still are getting.... all the time! How blessed am I to be have the chance at so many do-overs!
May you not beat yourself up about your first chances at things.
May you recognize the second chance when given it.
May you learn from them both.
May you be grow from those lessons.
It will be of no surprise to any of you that I believe words have great power!
Cellar Designs is full of quotes, sayings, single words and thoughts that are inspiring, thought-provoking, motivating and encouraging. I think that the spoken word has the ability to lift up or hurt someone deeply. The written word can do the same as well. I think that if you surround yourself with positive words and thoughts that your life will reflect them.
This is so clearly evident in the story of my latest sign. A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I would be willing to make a special sign for her....one that spoke to her story and how her life's perspective has been affected. She is inspiring to me and many others. This is a hard story but one that I feel many have learned from and others can as well. It is a story that has been called "a perfect storm", but has a bright vibrant rainbow to view when the clouds faded.
I had met DeDe a few times. Each time I had encountered her through mutual friends or around our little village I had left with these kinds of thoughts.... "She is funny. What a hoot! She has a bit of a special spirit to her. She seems to have great energy. She is someone I would like to get to know better." Our kids are different ages and in different activities and our lives path's didn't cross very often... so that chance to get to know her better never seemed to happen.
I can remember getting an email on December 21, 2009 from a mutual friend. She was sending out a mass email asking for prayers for DeDe. You see, DeDe had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest the night before....the Sunday before Christmas. Her husband, Jeff, performed CPR and the paramedics rushed in. She was whisked off to the local hospital where a ER doctor decided, in order to save her life, they would medically induce hypothermia on DeDe. This was the first time this doctor had ever performed this. First time EVER! It was a relatively new therapy at that time. Bringing the body's temp down helps to save brain function. DeDe was in a coma for 7 days and stayed in the hospital for 18 days.
I can vividly remember getting the email updates on my phone while on Christmas vacation in Minnesota. I prayed and prayed for DeDe to wake up and for healing and for peace and assurance for her family. I remember the joy I felt when I read, finally, the news that she has awoken! I remember thinking what an amazing miracle!
I am sure this was the most overwhelming thing that DeDe and her family had, or will ever, experience. But what I think was also astounding was the explosion of community love that poured out for them. I am sure it took them aback often.....and probably still does. There were hundreds of posts on their community website, greeting card sent and emails that inundated their inbox!
As DeDe healed and life started to come back into focus she read these communications from friends, family and, I am betting, some strangers. She found that 3 words kept repeating themselves....... and those words will now hang in their home as a visual reminder of the miracle of her story.
These words became a bit of a mantra for DeDe. They spelled out to her the reason for this chapter in her story. They had great power. They were the words that pointed out that she had great cause to be grateful, had many things to be thankful for, and was blessed beyond measure.
I for one am grateful and thankful to God that she survived so that I could have the opportunity to be get to know her better....just like I hoped for before December of 2009. I am blessed to know DeDe better....and can only hope to continue to know her more.
This is why I love my job. I am grateful that a gift that was given to me by God can bring joy, peace, happiness to others. To know the story behind the request of this sign, and be the one to make it, is something I will treasure always. Thanks DeDe for allowing me to be a little part of your amazing story!
May you be grateful for the things in your life that can get overlooked.
May you be thankful for the community that surrounds you.
May you be blessed abundantly....every moment of every day.
May you find those few words that can be your mantra.
May those words guide you and bring great power to your life.
I have just returned from a trip to South Carolina. It was a "Girls' Getaway" weekend! Oh, how I needed it and loved my time there. One of my closest friends moved there this past summer. So another friend and I went down to see her new "digs" and soak up some quality true friend time. We laughed a ton, listened to and encouraged each other, shopped, visited Charleston, rode a historical tour carriage ride, worshiped together at their new church and sat quietly together at times. It was perfect.
There are rare few people (outside of close family) who I feel close enough to and comfortable enough with to spend a whole day with sans makeup, in sweatpants....you know... raw. I can with these two women. I don't have to put on that facade that I do other days. I don't have to be worried about what I look like. I don't have to be concerned about what they think. They know me at my core. They know (and like) what makes me tick, what nourishes me, what is at the center of who I am.
So, mask or marrow? That is the question has been rumbling around in my head for the past week. Do people know me by my mask or my marrow? That mask is a facade. It does serve a purpose and is much easier to look at. It provides me with a shield of sorts. It also can enduce pride. I want to be proud of how I look. Two decades of being obese allowed me to be lacking in self pride and become very good at using a mask to protect myself. I rarely was without makeup and dressing trendy and stylish (as much as I could with the clothes available for plus size women!).
I "dolled up" the outside.......the exterior........the facade.
But what about the inside...the interior....the marrow. Bone marrow is such a fascinating, amazing thing. The marrow inside a bone is so rich. It is a flexible tissue in the hollow most part of the bone that is the center of stem cell production. One of the definitions of marrow is "the inmost or essential part". Such extraordinary growth and nourishment comes from the marrow.
Back to Charleston.......
As we sat, bundled up under a thick red blanket on our carriage tour ride of Charleston the idea of mask vs. marrow was the glasses that I viewed things with that day. The architecture of Charleston is beautiful. Streets are lined with amazing stately homes. Each one is different from the next. They are adorned with beautiful shutters, iron railings and balconies, and architectual details. Some are painted, some have a flattened stucco like texture on them and some have gorgeous brick. They are magnificent.
But as we rode past these homes I noticed that if you looked right around the corner of them you would see a different look. The sides of the homes didn't look like the front facade. Many times it was a different material, or unpainted, and in some cases dirty. You can see in these photos that I took the conflicting aesthetics of the buildings.
This house was stunning. The front was immaculate and full of beautiful details.
These two buildings were paintly crisply on the front and made a statement.
But the sides of them were molding and uncared for.
This is a building on the famous Rainbow Row.
It has been freshened up with lovely pale turquoise paint.
But if you look closely the sides of the building are mismatching brick and dirty.
We were nearing the end of our tour when we came upon this next house.....
The tour guide pointed out to us that if we looked back at the length of the house we would see what was typical of the homes that were built back then. This was a home built by a man and his wife for themselves and their 2 teenage daughters at the time...and their 18 slaves. You can see a large main home with the beautiful front, large windows and made of strong brick and 4 people lived their life there. Then behind that is the mid-sized portion of the building which we were told had the kitchen and work areas. It had fewer windows and was dirty on the outside. Then, immediately after that came the smallest portion of the home...... the cramped slave's quarters for 18 people. It has very small windows and was wrought with crumbling brick.
Seeing this and hearing this felt like a kick in the gut. Why in the world did we ever treat other human beings like this? Why would anyone make people live in lesser conditions than they were living in just 100 feet away? But as I thought about this more the "mask vs marrow" theme crept into my thoughts. The front of that house paints a specific picture to those looking from the outside. Then as you walk through the house, through many rooms I am sure you would finally come to what was the heart of that home. In the back was where all the work was done.....all the nourishment....all the endurance and perseverance. The back room of that home was the marrow. It was rich with nutrients. It was the cell production unit. It was free from image. It was raw.
I am grateful for the people in my life who I can show my marrow to.
I need to feel free to show it to more people.
I have a long way to go with taking my mask down.
I will challenge myself to try to see beyond the mask of others.
I realize that my core is where God lives.....it is my servant heart.
May you recognize the difference between your mask and your marrow.
May you look beyond others' masks to discover their marrow.
May you allow others to get to your core.
May you learn to love your marrow and shed your mask.
I have long been a bit obsessed with doors. I do not mean the classic rock group led by the mysterious Jim Morrison. I mean the ones that are defined like this:
door (dawr, dohr): noun:
1. a movable, usually solid, barrier for opening and closing an entranceway, cupboard, cabinet, or the like, commonly turning on a hinge or sliding in grooves.
2. a doorway
3. the building, house, etc., to which a door belongs
4. any means of approach, admittance, or access
5. any gateway marking an entrance or exit from one place or state to another.
Doors have always intrigued me. I love photos of doors from all over the world. I like how a front door to a home can evoke a specific feeling.
A door is a gateway.
To what? To where? To who?
The options of answers to those questions are endless. I have been pondering these things lately, especially with the New Year's holiday. New Year's always seems to be everyone's day to make changes, review things, and choose a new door to enter. A new approach to how they eat, prioritize, work out, build relationships or manage money. I look at New Year's as a choice of many doors. So I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts on the doors that are awaiting...
Lots of choices.... Sometimes I feel like I am staring at a long hallway with many doors. All of them look the same. How in the world am I supposed to know which one is the best one for me to open? Overwhelming.....daunting....confusing.....but energizing and fascinating as well. Which door would you open?
When I tap into my natural "gotta have control of things" part of my personality (and, believe me, it is a BIG part of who I am!) I wish that every door could have a peep hole or small window. If I could just have a little peek at what is behind door #2 I would feel so much better. I could make a much better informed decision. I could choose more wisely. To have a glance at what is behind that gateway would make things so simple. I like simple ya know! But would that be the best. Some of the best things in life are surprises. 7 years ago, if I had been able to look behind door #4 and see a little red-headed boy that was not planned I would probably have not opened that door. I am thankful that door didn't have that small window.
Some doors are the only opening in a home. They are the only source of light for the abode. Those doors are ones that I think should always be left open. I love the light and would never close that door. Many people all over the world have only one door. Those homes, if the door is left open, are very accessible and exposed. If closed, though, these homes are protected, private and sheltered. All of those attributes are ones I long for in my life. I want to be accessible to others but yet have my privacy. A single door'd dwelling might be a wise choice........
When standing on the threshold of a door it can seem quite narrow. It can feel like you would enter into a tight space with not much space or opportunity. Those doors can be deceiving. Sure, you open some and you do find yourself in a situation that is confining, restricting and limited. But, sometimes you open it and the view gets gradually wider, deep, comprehensive and radially spacious! Those are the doors that you look back at entering with gratitude.
Then of course there is the revolving door! I have felt like I was in a revolving door many times in my life. When I was a first time mom of a colicky, ear infection-plagued infant and my husband was away with the Navy many of my days felt like a revolving door. I just went round and round in circles. But if I take a step back that door served its purpose. I could navigate that "path" with my eyes closed if I needed. I could be on auto-pilot and not run into any big speed bumps or challenges. Familiarity with the lay of the land was a good thing for me. I also got an occasional burst of fresh air but still was protected. It kept my sights set on a short term time line (what was around the next bend?) and not on the big long timeline (when will Craig be home?).
A revolving door can have a positive purpose if you are open to seeing it that way.
One of my favorite doors is a sliding double-wide barn door! You don't need to be a big, able, tough, strong person to open it. Because it is on a sliding path it can be pushed open with 2 fingers sometimes. It is accessible to even the most fragile of folks. It also is extra wide. There is room for many people (or animals) to walk in side by side. The entryway is vast and welcoming. If it were possible I would have a home in which the front door was a sliding barn door. It would be smooth to open for everyone and many could stand at the threshold and feel welcomed in our home.
Then, of course, there is the church door. It can be very ornate or simple. People who enter these doors are hoping to encounter God within the walls of the building. I know that when I am in our church I do. I grew up as a child feeling that a church was "God's house" and was reverant when in it. I do believe that God is present in churches all over this world. I believe the doors to churches are the gateway for many to start and strengthen their faith walks. But I dream one day of going through a different door of "God's house". I believe that the church is not the physical building but it is the people and the earth. I have always been tugged in the direction of a different physical building and imagine that I might learn more about who God is if I chose that door to go through. This door would be one on the front of a poorly constructed tin building in a slum or grass hut in Africa like the blue one below.
I hope and pray to one day be given the honor to open the door to this kind of home.
There are so many "doors" in this life to choose from....so many we have access to, can approach or gain admittance to. How we deal with these choices can define our future. If we stress about them or have anxiety when facing them we will never be able to truly savor the incredible gift of a choice that we have. If we ignore the doors we miss out on many opportunities to enrich our lives. But if we are intrigued by the doors, embracing the potential lessons and fortunes that lie beyond the opening we can be assured of a life filled with possibility, promise and...maybe even purpose.
May you have many doors to choose from.
May you resist the temptation to peek through the small window.
May you enjoy the chance to open them.
May you learn and grow from each and every gateway that life presents you with.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Door Day!
I stopped taking orders in my Etsy shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I didn't even stay open for Black Monday! I turned down many people's requests via email or Etsy convos for signs to make an exception and make "just one more sign" for the holidays.
Some people thought I was nuts. Some thought I was missing out on the best time of the year for online retail sales. Some of the time I thought they were right. :) Was I crazy???
I was talking about my reasons at a favorite annual family bakeoff and my wise uncle said, "you should blog about this". So I am. Here goes.....
It is hard for me to say no. I am a woman who likes to make others happy. I like to please people. I want people to like me.
I am also a driven woman. I want to succeed. I want my business to flourish. I want to help my family with our income. I want to be a great businesswoman and artist.
But......I am also tired. I am a mom of 4, wife of a very patient man, and have many other things on my plate other than Cellar Designs. Balancing all of these things is difficult. The months from May to November were exciting, exhilerating, energizing, fun, creative.........but I didn't do a great job of balancing things. I made mistakes. I am learning.~time to finish holiday orders ~lost potential orders
~ability to make Christmas gifts myself ~loss of potential income
So when deciding whether or not to close up shop for a month many things went on my pros and cons list in my head. It was strikingly unbalanced though. This is what it looked like:
~time to finish holiday orders ~lost potential orders
~ability to make Christmas gifts myself ~loss of potential income
~time to spend with my kids ~GREED
~time to clean house before heading to MN
~not be rushed at holidays
~spend quality time with family
~my kids miss me
~I have been a slacker mom
~I want a break.....a needed rest
The only real reason to stay open and keep orders coming in was greed. It is a powerful thing. It tempted me for weeks and even made me rethink my decision a few times. "Just think what you could do with that extra money", "Can you imagine what December sales would have been like?" were statements dancing around in my head.
I am thankful I made the decision I did.
I can't wait to open back up next week.
I feel renewed and ready to hit the creative ground running!
I am grateful for this rest.
It has been a good rest.
A family filled rest.
A stressLESS rest.
A needed rest.
I hope that you found time this holiday season to rest as well.
****Some details in this post have been changed to protect the privacy of others.*****
I was listening to the radio today on my bi-weekly trek to Menards. Christmas music has been playing since before Thanksgiving. I admit that I tune out some of it, wishing that they would mix it 50/50 with regular tunes. The one song I remember hearing was "Do you hear what I hear?" You know the one I mean....."Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy "Do you hear what I hear?"..... I laughed to myself and thought 'nope...I am not the best listener...just ask my husband!'. Hearing is not my strength...seeing is.
I am a visual gal. I am at my best when I can see something. When I can look at it and see it for whatever it is. I learn best this way. If someone tells me how to paint a cabinet so it looks rustic, I seem to hear half of it. They talk and my brain just gets foggy.
(This might be why school was never easy for me!) But, if someone shows me how....painting layer upon layer, demonstrating different techniques used to make it have a weathered feel, and roughing it up a bit to age it....then it is crystal clear! Then I see the whole picture..the whole story...the whole lesson.
So, back to Menards.... Today I was being helped by courteous guy, Robert. He was a young man who was creative with his hair and accessories. Robert had a perfectly cut mohawk and several piercings. He was knowledgeable about the product I was ordering, extremely professional and a generally cool dude. I liked Robert.
A woman and man came up to the desk I was being helped at. I had monopolized Robert's time so I told him if he wanted to help them quickly I would be happy to wait. He thanked me and asked them if he could help them. They were clearly irritated about having to wait and were rude to Robert. He was patient with them and had to go check with his manager to find the solution to their problem. As soon as he left the couple started to talk about him. They made several awful remarks about his appearance and drew the conclusion that he, because of how he looked, was a screw-up. The woman said "I can't believe Menards would have a guy like him up front helping customers".
I was so saddened and angered by this. They had not spent one bit of time allowing themselves to really know Robert. They were angry about a problem with an order before they even walked in the door, were shocked by his appearance and automatically judged him. It was like seeing hatred in action. It was so very troubling.
It got me to thinking. Why didn't they see him like I saw him? Could they not see that he was just a regular guy who chose different accessories and haircuts than they did?
When looking at him couldn't they see that he was someone's son, brother, grandson
or husband? This is true for many different kinds of people.
People are rude and judgemental of many....
When looking at an overweight woman can't people see her heart? I have been that obese person and felt the weight of the stares from people. Why is it when a baby has rolls it is "sweet", "tubby wubby" or "scrumptious"..........but not when they are older?
When seeing a young woman with multiple piercings don't they see that she is interesting and might have something important to say? Why is it when a little girl gets her ears pierced for the first time it is "wonderful", "fun" or "exciting"..........but not when they are older?
Why is it that when a little baby's mom spikes his hair into a mohawk after a giggle-filled bath it "cute", "funny", or "adorable".........but those were not the words used by this couple this couple today to describe Robert's hair.
When I look at someone like Robert it is like looking at that cabinet I was shown to paint. He probably has many layers, has a whole story and has learned many lessons. He is beautiful today as he was when he was a baby. He is a fine human being that is deserving of love and respect. He is someone's son..........
He is God's son.
May you look at each person you meet as if they are that adorable little child.
May you see their whole story clearly.
May you show them love.
Do you see what I see?
I am a mom. It is what I firmly believe I was put on this earth to be. Oh, I know there are many other things that I was intended to do and be, but this.......this mothering thing.....it is my greatest purpose. Little did I know that I would be QUADRUPELY blessed with this purpose!
The other day my oldest son turned 20! Seriously? I just was driving the car yesterday with him and we were singing "The Wheels On The Bus" at the top of our lungs........ well maybe not yesterday. It sure seems like it was though.
Zack was a little boy that was filled with curiosity, wonder and knowledge. He found great joy in knowing things. But he also loved music. From the time he was a baby music could bring him to extreme levels of excitement or peace. He giggled and danced to every song on "Barney" but also would fall asleep to a lullably tape in his room.
Knowledge and music. Sometimes the two don't always compliment each other. Too much knowledge can restrict someone from just letting go of the stresses of life. Music requires that release. So, for Zack, one of my prayers has always been that he find that happy balance between the two.
On his birthday he got to be part of a worship team for a large campus ministry fellowship night at the university he attends. My daughter, mom and I went downtown and snuck into the large lecture hall to watch him and the band lead worship. What I saw brought tears to my eyes. There was Zack, at a fine university that challenges him academically and is growing his "knowledge base" exponentially, playing guitar and singing with such joy, growing his "spiritual base" as well. It was as if I was seeing my little 4 year old guy singing "The Wheels On The Bus" in a grown man's body. It was such a blessing. I turned to Taylor, my daughter, and said "he is in his happy place".
This was the one thing moms all over the world long to receive. We yearn for, hope for and pray for our children to be happy. We look forward to the day when we can see our children be exactly who they were meant to be. We desire to see them hit a sweet spot.
I experienced this last week. I received the best gift ever......
My son was happy being....simply....himself.
May you get the privilege to receive this kind of gift.
May you be able to recognize it when it shows up.
May you be grateful for that gift.