contentment

No More “Shoulding”On Myself

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surrender

Burning bushes have been speaking to me lately. As cold winds of regret whisper quietly in my ear…

“You’re not enough”.

“It’s too late for you.”

“Stop dreaming about more.”

And today I decided I’m tired of “shoulding” on myself.

Heared that term years ago from my Big Sis Meg. And as much as I’d like to say I’ve got the case of the “shoulds” beat-I don’t.

I should be writing in this space twice a week. But right now I can’t seem to find that clearing in my head nor time to be consistent in my schedule -but I’m here today and I always return.

I should have a cleaner home. But I don’t. And I decided a long time ago that I’d rather spend time checking in with each of my children on the daily than tidying up every corner and cabinet in my home.

I should have a book deal by now. But it’s not ready. Still. Not. Ready. Got edits from my editor and it looks and feels like there is still more to mesh, more to grow, more to layer, more to hope for. And as much as I’m struggling with this news-I gotta embrace it.  Pull up my sleeves, grab a new pen and fresh piece of paper and ask the one who is the Author of my life to take me through this process again. Once. Again.

I am His words-poured out. He gets to decide “the how” and “the when”.

My list of shoulds could go on forever-but I’ve had enough of the spinning. I’m sure you’ve gone there too?

Let’s reach out for more of  “surrender” and less of “the shoulds'”.

I shared more about letting go over in the Mudroom. So grateful for this group of writers who are keeping me inspired to hold on to my dream of writing-even it’s by my pinky-toe nail! LOL.

http://mudroomblog.com/saying-good-bye-my-ifs-and-my-onlys/

Here’s to the season of surrender.

Love y’all….

 

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12 Days of a FAMILY CHRISTMAS- Day 5-SELFIES (Photos of YOU AND YOURS)

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image
(Family photo without Hubby).

I’m not sure if we are going to make it to our “Christmas Perfect” photo this year. I was sure hoping we would.

For the past 20 years my faithful Hubby is hit with the Christmas rush that comes with being a UPS’er. The kids and I are lucky to find him awake during these closing days of the holiday-nevermind being available for a photo.

One year he missed our scheduled photo shoot altogether because of his “Elf-like” service and integrityfor the work he does.

“What can Brown do for you?”

Well my-Eric Brown never complains and faithfully rises each morning at 4am.

While at work he tells me he is filled and complete by my creativity and passion for our home, loving on our kids and others, and going for my God’size dream- even if he can’t be present. (WOW-love that man-I’m so not that way).

I want to be right where the action is (all the time) -and you better believe if I’m not I’m complaining “woe is me” every step of the way.”

Guess that’s why God often times allows us to marry our opposites. So that we can get shaped and grow stronger in those weaker, hidden parts of ourselves that our mates stand strong. Lord knows one of my kind is enough.  (Thank you Eric Brown for loving me despite me.)

And opposite is just what I’m feeling this Christmas.

My neighbor sister-friend was sharing with me on our weekly walk to Starbucks about how embarrassed she was of past Christmas newsletters. She shared that she felt like she had presented herself as a”holier than thou”, present-day saint-in her attempt to share Christ and her life with others.

As she talked, it made me think about, why we hide behind painted masks of religion and reputation. Do we really see the wonder of the Christmas story? Or do we just like the nostalgia of our Nativity scene’s. Is everything picture perfect and color coordinated in our lives and families or do we need to send out in our newsletter to family and friends “prayer requests”  instead of “bragging logs?”

(Y’all-one year my husband refused to do the-“Christmas-matching-colors photo-shot”. I was so mad! I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t just wear the colors I had chosen. He would not gave in. It is one of my favorite family photos.
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(Family photo Eric refused to match.)

Instead of the right look what I really failed to realize was I already had the right man. He didn’t want me to make him into something he wasn’t feeling. He just wanted to be himself).

I’m not saying that we should all be walking around defeated and pitiful witnesses of Christ-we are His redeemed and His glory! What I am saying is that I think we should be careful, not to get trapped into seeing blessings through prosperity and accomplishments ONLY. I’m saying let’s share our whole testimonies, not just the pretty parts.

This is the reason why I didn’t send out a newsletter for many of my stay-at-home Mommy years. We were still living in the same house, driving the same car, and wearing the same clothes-BUT WE WERE BLESSED.

Blessed with love, life and laughter. Blessed with discovering that God is not Santa Claus that he wanted us to love him for him-and not just his stuff. Blessed to have the privilege to pour into the beautiful children he gave us and a growing love as a couple. Blessed with the things that don’t have dollar signs attached-now that’s true abundance.

You will see on this 5th day of Christmas a few “picture perfect” photos (because sometimes life is PERFECTLY GOOD and AMAZING) but most times it’s not and we must master contentment in the ” I have everything I need right now moments.”
image

And those seem much more “perfect” to real life.

So pull out and frame those perfect and imperfect moments of Christmas past and present. Thank God for the gift that your life has given and continues to give.

Day 7-Surviving on MANNA FLAKES and Two Cups of COFFEE

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Manna Flakesimages-1

“What do you mean my unemployment claim was denied?”

The woman on the phone, went on to tell me,that I had not responded to a letter that was sent weeks ago in the mail. Because I didn’t respond in the time frame alloted, my account had been frozen.

“So you’re telling me I did nothing wrong?” I asked.

“Yep, well you didn’t call us to verify your current progress by the November 1 deadline.”

“Yet, now that you have adequately verified my status, confirmed that I’ve been consistantly seeking employment and tracking my job search correctly online-that I will not be reimbursed for this week for another 7 to 10 days?”

“Yep.”

“And I have no money available this week to feed my children or put gas in my car?”

I broke.

Hot tears, waiting all day for permission to fall, began to flow.

She waited for me to collect myself. It was too much.

How many times did she make this call today? Is this what people experienced when our government shut down. What about that single-parent-momma who’s food stamps are denied because of a hiccup in the system-simply trying to survive-denied?

“I’m sorry ma’am, there is nothing else I can do.”

Lord, what?

She was talking ,but I wasn’t listening. I just responded with “ummhumm’s” when I was suppose to- quick and short “yes” or “no” answers.

Did I forget to mention that before this conversation, I drove 40 miles roundtrip to the Unemployment office, played “ring around the roseys ” (with all the other unemployed no-claimers of the week) in search of a parking spot, put on hold for two and a half hours, only to be told….”

“Due to the heavy volume of calls, an unemployment advisor is unable to respond at the moment. Leave your number and we will get back to you as soon as the next consultant is available. Thank you for your cooperation…” 

“Cooperation”..this was chaos?

After a long cry, (yesterdays post) a long prayer, and long SOS text prayer request to my village-I dug in corners of my house and pockets, found quarters and headed to my nearest Starbucks.

I needed a drink! Praise the Lord, I’m saved and I was choosing coffee.

Cup 1

You know that instant connection you have with a person, the very first time you meet them? Within moments, you sense you’ve found a kindred spirit-that’s Leisha. We are currently, attended a Beth Moore study, David, Seeking A Heart Like His.(INCREDIBLE by the way,Beth gets down, she is a theological,God-fearing, teaching alive AND living out the word diva-LOVE HER!!)

Leisha was at the cafe, enjoying some quiet time for herself. We spoke casually about the study and what we had on our agendas for the day. It was nice to have somebody else to focus on instead of myself for awhile. Her smile and soft eyes drew me in. Her spirit steady and knowing.

“So why are you here?”She asked.

“Ahh welll…” Did she want the real answer or was I going to give her the casual “I’m fine.”, fake answer.

Before my mind could decide, my mouth started speaking for me.

I didn’t mean to. But I told her everything about my discouraging job search and unemployment situation.

Leisha listened carefully,tenderly to what I was saying, but most importantly what I was not.

“And what do you need?”

That was kind of her. It’s one thing to listen to a person going through a difficult situation, it’s another thing to roll up your sleeve, reach out a hand and help pull out a person in a difficult situation. I knew I liked her. Hope I didn’t sound to desperate?

I told her I was fine for now, but that I would keep her updated.

(Leisha would later send me an email-repeating her offer and identifying the specific ways ( money, gas or grocery)-she wanted to be a blessing if my claim for the week did not go through. She also shared that she and her family had experienced tough times too. And that she had been on the receiving end many times before.)

Cup 2

“got a groupon for Starbucks today.” The text read.

Even though I had already had my first cup, the day I was having,  automaticly required me to endulge in another. I also knew emotionally, I was on empty and that both Nya and I needed a playdate today.

I’ve known Shaqwonna for over seven years now. Our daughters are close friends, we love to craft together, share Pinterest ideas, sit on my porch and eat chocolate, and we hold each other accountable, to a radical and beautiful life of simplicity with style (even on a shoestring budget).

We are Sistah-friends who decided a long time ago, together, not to allow the challenges of being on a, one-income-and-blessed-to-be-a-stay-at-home-mommy lifestyle, demean our worth and quality of life.

“Girl, you are going to be okay.”She said confidently.

God’s going to work it out, right? Hang in there, and enjoy your Carmel Macchiato on me.”

She was right. I didn’t know how, but the warmth of her heart and warmth of the creamy, sweet cup I held was making everything “all right”-right now.

__________________________________________________________________________

“Is this Velynn Brown?”

“This is she.”

“I was able to speak to a Manager and your claim has been reinstated. Like I told you earlier, it usually takes 7 to 10 days, however we are going to make an exception. Your claim, will be granted today-manna.

__________________________________________________________________________

Manna (Hebrew: מָ‏ן‎) is an edible substance that, according to Abrahamic doctrine, God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert-(and a substance he continues to give, for those of us going through a season of our own kinda-desert).

Embrace the Fog, it’s Faith in Droplets

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Fog
fôg
noun
Foggy Morning

1. a thick cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at, or near the earth’s surface that obscures or restricts visibility. 2. something that obscures and confuses a situation or someone’s thought processes.

What about the fog that drops down and suspends itself over our hearts, dreams, and lives?

I can’t see when I feel…

-betrayed-

Somebody I love dearly, lied to me, straight in my face.

-afraid-

Do you really think you can become a author? You can’t even keep up a weekly blog.

-less than-

“Sorry, your card declined ma’am.”

-confused-

God, why? Why would you take my cousin so soon, he was on 26 years old?!!

Fog forces us to slow down, usually when we don’t want to.

Making our eyes search for the familiar we take for granted.

The faithful stop lights at our everyday intersections, the yellow dashed lines that keep us on the right side of the road, the car in front and behind that allows us to set, safe-spaced boundaries.

Truth is, I don’t get to decide the weather forecast. If I did, it would be set in the mid-80’s, with a slight warm breeze, and nothing but clear blue skies.

But all I have is today, and today started off  really foggy.

And it force me to…

-confess-

Laser in on the places I keep trying to hide.

-write-

Yes, I may have missed a blog post,  but I wrote today and I’m not missing out on the God-story you keep writing in me, with others, for your glory.

-search for true contentment-

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;never will I forsake you.”

-remember that this Earth is not our real home-

“Cousin Michael, enjoy Grandmommy-

you get her all to yourself for now. You always said you were her favorite. 😉

Please tell her she is missed and loved.

PS. We already miss you too.”

Clearer Day-Michael