Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Choice and What I Know to Be True

This morning my cousin posted this picture of me and her mom on Facebook.

This is one of my all time very favourite pictures of myself. I was three years old, on a motorcycle, at my grandma's house, being held by one of the kindest people I knew - what could be better! I was perfectly blissful!

Fast forward 35 years and life is not always so blissful. I'm not three years old therefore sailor suits are no longer a viable fashion choice for me. My uncles are now all too old - I mean, mature - to ride motorcycles. My grandma passed away several years ago and with her she took her strong but soft hugs, the patented smell of dough rising in the morning that permeated her home and her top secret recipe for the perfect perogy. But I still have a life full of kind people who are willing to hold me when life gets rough.

I like to think that I like change, that I can go with the flow, that I am easily adaptable but that's just SO not true. I can adapt but its never easy or comfortable and the only time I go with the flow is when I become to exhausted to fight the current. I hate change. It makes me uncomfortable. I'm a control freak and I like knowing what comes next but that's not always possible. In fact, most times of change require you to jump into the abyss without knowing exactly where you will land.

Mr. Awesome and I are packing up our Wee Band of Renegades and returning to our home town. We've thought about this a lot and over the past year it has become clear to us that it is time to return. But let's be clear, we are returning to a familiar place but we are not going back to where we were.

So much has changed in our life during the nearly five years we have lived in this Wee Manitoba Town (oops, its a city now!). For those of you who have followed our journey, you know the trials, heart ache, difficulties and challenges we have faced. You also know the joy we have known. You know the victories, the friendships, the random hilarity we've experienced. You, Faithful Reader, know the change, the complete transformation of heart and mind, This Random Mother has undergone. You know that I am not now who I was then. I'm not. And I can't go back. I don't want to go back.

When we first made the decision to return to our hometown I went into Utter Internal Panic Mode. I was terrified that I would automatically go back to the life I had and the person I was five years ago - and I don't particular care to do that. To be honest, I stayed internally panicked for weeks until I had an epiphany; I don't have to be anyone but who I CHOOSE to be.

Now, that's no real great epiphany really but it did remind me of something I heard a wonderful author and speaker say at a conference last fall. I had the privilege of hearing Kay Warren speak about her journey as a mom of a son who committed suicide and how she could still choose joy in the midst of the most heart wrenching circumstances. She said that this decision to choose joy is made easier when you remind yourself of what you know to be true, what you knew before life broke your heart and shook your foundation. In my notes from this session I wrote, God is Faithful. He sees me. He knows me. He loves me.

That's what I know.

I know that God is faithful. Even when I can't see or understand what is coming next, He is faithful. Even when life doesn't make sense and my heart is breaking, He is faithful. Even when I can't seem to think clearly enough to make a sound decision, He is faithful. Even when the change before me is terrifying and so unknown, He is faithful.

I know that God sees me. I am not invisible. I am not insignificant. I am not expendable. My heart's desires are not trivial. I am not replaceable. I matter. He sees me.

I know that God knows me. He created me. He intricately formed me with all the gifts, talents and sense of purpose I need to do what He created me to do. He knows my strengths, my weaknesses, my insecurities and my dreams. He knows me.

I know that God loves me. I am precious to Him. I am in His thoughts, my name is inscribed on His hand, He is always watching out for me. His love for me never runs out, never gives up and is never selfish. He loves me.

This is what I know. I know that change is scary but God is faithful. I know that people judge by what they see on the outside but God sees right into my heart. I know that because He sees right into my heart, He knows everything little thing about me. And even though He knows every little thing He still loves me. Deeply, Endlessly, Unfailingly. God is Faithful.

So, what I know reminds me that even in the midst of Big Scary Change I can still choose joy. In the midst of heart ache and uncertainty, I can still choose joy. In the face of All That is Unknown, I can still choose joy because God is faithful. He sees me. He knows me. He loves me.

God is faithful.

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life; the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right; and the determined choice to praise God in all things.
~Kay Warren

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On Being Successful

Yesterday, Mr. Awesome was on the phone with someone and they asked him how my book sales were going. Mr. Awesome said the sales were going really well and then he tried to move the conversation forward but the person on the other end of the line would have none of it. They wanted details.

"So how many books has she sold? How much does she make per book? Has she been invited to speak anywhere or do radio interviews? How successful is she, really?

Annoyance battled with insecurity for a few moments and temporarily, insecurity won. The truth is my book sales haven't been stellar. Most of those who have purchased books have sent very encouraging messages and have often bought a few more copies to give as gifts. My small but mighty band of readers have been super supportive but I'll be honest, I am a little disappointed at my sale numbers. Feeling down about my sales led to a time of self flagellation at my lack of marketing.

I've joked with friends that I wrote this book in the privacy of my own home and it would be nice if people had the decency to read it in the privacy of their's instead of expecting me to sit and sign and talk about my book. I know that this is completely unrealistic. That's not how this thing goes (and for the record, I do enjoy meeting readers). First you write then you promote. That's the drill. But as you, my dear faithful readers, know I am dorkified through and through. I am awkward and squirmy when it comes to self promotion and the dreaded Accepting of Compliments. I find this Promotion of The Book thing really, really hard. It's unnatural to me yet it's the next thing I must do.

So with all of this neurotic emotional baggage hanging around my neck I asked myself the questions, "How successful am I, really?"


I wrote a book. I sent hours locked away in my room like some kind of half crazed hermit. I drank boatloads of coffee and survived on crackers and grapes (food you can easily eat while typing) for months. I read, reread, edited, revised, screamed, revised again. I contemplated commas, inserted a million forgotten hyphens and agonized over titles, introductions and acknowledgements. And most of all, I prayerfully considered each scripture and each word that I used to lay out the message in my heart. I poured myself onto paper and then handed it over to the masses (and by masses I mean 200 friends and family) to read.

I wrote a book.

So, yeah. I'm successful. The most successful writer ever. I have joined legions of Most Successful Writers Ever who have taken the time, the effort and the heart to bravely follow their passion to write. These courageous souls have not only started to write a book but they have finished writing a book. Starting is scary but finishing is impossibly hard. Every book you hold in your hand in the dream of someone's heart - a dream they had the perseverance to walk out into reality. They just did it (a la Nike).

And so did I.

We gauge success by a million bizarre measuring sticks. Size matters when talking success. Size of house, size of office, size of bank account - but do these things really measure success? I don't think so. Does a huge office bring you peace? Does loads of cash bring you friendship? Does a fancy title bring you love? Not really. I think it's the intangible things that are the only real marker of success.  Are you at peace with what you have done? Do you feel a deep sense of well-being and assurance that you have done what is right?Yes? Great! You are successful. Anything that comes after peace is just gravy.

If you have a dream in your heart you can't be worried about success, accolades or criticisms if you want that dream to be a reality. You just have to do it. Just do the work to move the dream forward. Take the time to plan it out, prepare yourself and then do the work. That's success. Doing. Followed by peace. A sense of accomplishment. Pride in knowing that you saw that monumental thing through. You did the thing you were scared to do. You finished it.

You succeeded.

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.
Vince Lombardi