Wednesday, November 12, 2014

God is Awesome

I may be pointing out the obvious here, but I think it bears repeating:


Over the summer and thru the start of the school, both Hubs & I have felt a real stirring of God's hand in our plans, and a sensation of something to come. Maybe we are just more open to Him, maybe we are anticipating change with excitement instead of fear, whatever it is - the changes have been a blessing. We've seen a new direction in our marriage, a new direction in our jobs, a new direction in our ability to serve and share in our communities. I feel particularly blessed that I am finding renewed faith and hope - something that comes and goes, like the seasons, for me. Since I am feeling particularly honored by God's grace in our lives, I want to share this verse of encouragement with those of you that are maybe not having such a hopeful spirit right now:


One of the blessings that I am seeing is growth in my Mary & Martha mission-business. It is so fun to see new team members as excited about the Mary & Martha mission as I am! What a way to keep the light alive and the ideas flowing!


If you are searching, I'd love to welcome you to the K.E.Y team - this notion is from Ann Voskamp's #BeaKeyWoman blog, which I just adore and struck a real note with me. I love this idea and I think that Mary & Martha is all about being real in Christ. So, our KEY team stands for:

K: Keep
your

E: Eyes

on the 
Y: Why

If you are searching... wondering how you can do something that is both meaningful and impactful to your family's finances. Join us! Right now, you can SUPER SIZE your business kit with some of our favorites! Check it all out at www.mymaryandmartha.com/MARA



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm a political animal ROAR!

Anyone that has known me for any amount of time knows that I'm a political animal. I have, from a very young age, enjoyed politics. It's a chronic illness.

Last night, I happened across a Myers-Briggs-like personality quiz on Facebook. My personality type, also not a surprise is a ENTJ (Extrovert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging).

If you aren't familiar with this personality testing, it is fascinating. Although I generally put little credit into these types of tests, it can be a fun exercise. So, google it when you are bored, and check it out.


The Byline for my ENTJ quiz result was - The Executive. Let that sink in for a bit. It is no wonder that I struggle sitting here at my desk, in my house, with little interaction with people and little attention to detail. I'm good at people. I'm good at concepts. I'm good at vision. I'm frustrated by inefficiency. I'm frustrated by what I perceive to be useless tasks. I want to move forward, always.  I'm one of those strange non-majority rationalists on the top arch of that graph. 





So, put this petty little Facebook Quiz in the context of politics, and what you've got is Eddy's 5 minute verbal barrage of ...

What I would do if I were THE Executive. The President. Now, that's interesting. 

It all started off with a rambling response to media coverage of issues related to gay marriage.... 

Here is where we get it all wrong. You can separate out the issue of gay marriage - the political issue v. the religious or moral issue. Politically, the government should get out of the business of marriage all together. The only reason it matters is that our tax code is so overwrought that under the "law" the inability to marry means that you might not get a tax break or some other health or societal benefits. That's bogus. In a free society, if you want to enter a contract - you should be free to do so. Marriage is a contract, go for it. 

Gay Marriage and the Church. This is where it gets muddy. Just because the government has sanctioned something "legal" doesn't mean the church has to accept it as "moral" or in line with their belief system. Forcing churches to marry people, forcing pastors to hand over sermons, its like a witch hunt. Government has a little "g", it isn't God. So, yes, gay marriage can be legal but just because its legal doesn't mean it is moral. But here's the thing, None of us are sinless, so those who can't stand churches for preaching against homosexuality - get over it. They also preach against hate, adultery, sloth, gluttony, greed, selfishness, etc. etc... and we all still sit in the pews, because at the end of the day, God is the only one who knows our hearts. Forcing a bakery to make a cake for you... this is just dumb. Calling on my ENTJ stressors, this short sightedness is a stressor! Don't we have bigger fish to fry? In a free society, we should be able to contract, do business, and do as we please. Next thing we know, nudists are going to demand service at McDonald's - whatever happened to no shirt, no shoes, no service? 

So, after I let loose on this topic, my poor husband (an ISTJ rooting me on - ROAR), I launched into:

If I were President.....

Government out of the bedroom. Get out. I'm slamming the door in your face. For every "non-regulation" lip service we get from Republicans, we get an equally conservative social issue forced upon us. Done. The government should have no say about your right to do what you want to do in the bedroom, who you want to do it with, whether you want to have an abortion, and what pills you might want to take to encourage or prevent it. And again, just cause you are free to do it by the government, doesn't mean it's moral, see above (To, my socially conservative friends, don't message me on this, we've got bigger battles than this right now). 

Government out of business. Get out. The United States has too many laws trying to deal with too many perceived issues giving the government a power trip. For every law that is passed there should be 2 repealed. Business should be free to do business. BUT! But! What if they.... yes, yes. We've got a system for that. It is called a courthouse. If a product is toxic, they'll pay. If a product hurts someone, the only person with incentive to actually fix it is a company looking to stay in business by manufacturing it. Too many laws have been passed with unintended consequences forcing a ridiculous amount of bureaucratic bloat. I'd fire every CZAR appointed. I'd listen to the Chamber of Commerce, and I'd declare- to steal Southwest's motto - You are now free to move about the Country. 


Government get out of the states. The federal government should not be a part of our every day lives and our freedom should be palpable. The states were the source of local governance and they should take back that role. The Federal government should do its job - secure the borders, supply a national defense when necessary. Outside of that, services related to the localities should stay in the localities. When I lived in New Hampshire - there was a difference. In some towns, there was kindergarten, paved roads and trash pick up. In others, no school until first grade, unpaved roads, a town trash dump. You can imagine which towns paid higher taxes and the people who lived there knew exactly what their tax dollars were doing - or not. Do you know where your tax dollars are going? 

Government out of health care. Oh yeah, I'm going there. There are some major huge screw ups in the past few years, but the inability of our federal government to even launch a website should send up so many RED FLAGS that we should all take a moment and pause. Obama ran on big government. Obama ran on nation building at home. How's that turned out for him? How's that turned out for you?


Whatever you think about Obama's policies or political philosophy, "Let me be clear..." government incompetence is here and we should be afraid. Be very afraid. The tentacles of the government are so large and so far reaching, that even the chief executive can't control the behemoth. Abolish the IRS. 10 - 15% tax across the board, no carve-outs, no loops holes, no exemptions. You make $100,000, you pay $10,000. You make $100, you pay $10. You make $0, you pay zero. Mail it in on a post card. Excited by the new appointment of an Ebola Czar? Feel safer? Well, we already had one... and she was, like the new one, a political hack, not a doctor. Sometimes its hard not to laugh - you can't make this stuff up. 
If the Republicans don't come up with a list of things they will do if they govern - or if they take my advice - a list of things they won't do - this country will, as a majority of Americans recently polled believe, go to "hell in a hand basket". It isn't enough to not be Obama, you've got to actually be FOR something. I for one, am for LESS government and MORE freedom. So, Republicans, go forth and sweep the midterms, but unless you can actually come up with an alternative way of governing that impacts every day Americans freedom and paychecks, it won't last and it won't matter. You've heard it here first folks:

Dear GOP: 
GO BIG WITH LESS or GO HOME. 
It is time to be BOLD. 
Truly, Eddy

Monday, October 20, 2014

HalloThanksMas

It is hard to believe that we are already on the "back nine" of October, but alas, we are... and yes, we are still golfing here in Phoenix. You should see my folks, golf-apalooza. I don't golf, but I hear a lot about it.

I've been doing a lot of reflection this weekend as I puttered around the house -- of course, it was all a random stream of consciousness.. something like this:

about friendship...


about being a good friend... keeping friends.. making friends.. allowing for friendships to grow and change. I distinctly remember sitting out with my friend Kayla late last spring, as our kids splashed in the pool, and the reality of her moving to China hit me - I've got to make more friends. I've got to make an effort. I admired Kayla's courage to pick up her young family and move to China. I've made similiarly bold decisions in the past, and I am always happier when I am putting myself out there. But there is effort involved, it is work.  I wouldn't recommend taking up a 2nd job to everyone to meet people, but it is a conduit to involvement. For me, it has worked. It started with a decision - the leap of faith to sign up. I knew it would change me, I knew it would be a challenge. I knew it was outside of my comfort zone. I knew it would lead to moments that made me wonder what on earth I was thinking... but nonetheless, I felt the tug. And jumped. I figure most friendship are like this. Especially as adults - it isn't so easy as shameless walking across the street and asking Susie to come out and play. As adults, its different. You have the spouse factor - will my husband like her husband? You have the lifestyle factor - do they drink? will they think we are pathetic when we start yawning at 9pm? You have the effort factor - will they judge use for the 2 inches of cheerios that flood the floors? So yes, all that....

about forgiving...


I've been hurt. I've had my feelings hurt. I've been physically hurting. I'm feeling fragile. When you feel that way, the instinct is to retreat. To "shelter in place" to use a prepper term. To find solace in the people who love you know matter what, the places that aren't risky, to lick wounds and feed fears. September did this to me. I just wanted to crawl into the fetal position and wait for the storm to pass. It did pass, and I feel renewed just knowing that the calendar has flipped to the next month. I'm heading into a busy time - the calendar seems to be overflowing... and that is a blessing. I'm excited. I'm anxious to lose some down time. I'm interested to see what God has in store. I'm hopeful for the future, despite a significant amount of upheaval in our family life with jobs, commitments etc.

about faith...




having it.. sharing it... losing it... regaining it. Reviving it. I am especially keen on preparing my family for the upcoming season... and I think it is with all these thoughts over the weekend that I wanted to share this:


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mary & Martha Christmas Mini-Guide

I know you've missed me...  so, I'm back! This is just a taste of the Christmas Mini-Guide! More to come!



And a closer look....



Wait! I love that Nattivity!!! Orders at www.mymaryandmartha.com/MARA

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Assessing

My job is to assess risk. I gather information. I prioritize issues. I break it down. I boil it up. I must decide what strategy to employ. I position the case. I pick the number. I roll the dice.

I am employed to make decisions. Hopefully I make good ones that protect the Company. My decisions, at the end of the day are what determine whether I am a top performer or a poor performer.




I'll be honest here - I am lucky. I am really lucky. For the most part, making decisions comes easy to me. It is something that is built into my personality.

When the family can't decide where to vacation- I do.  Where to eat after church? I got that. Date night? I'll handle it. Car to buy? Got it.

I don't labor things. I do them. I am a doer. Yes or no. Now or later. I'll make the call. When you aren't afraid of making decisions, life seems pretty easy. You skim the paragraph and the answer jumps out. You read the headlines and see the meaning. Things are clear. Purpose comes with ease.

I have, for many months now, felt a good deal of unease. I have felt the sands shifting. Almost as if the foundation was shaking. I have not faced an big decisions yet but I know they are coming. That unease makes me wonder and all of a sudden the purpose isn't so clear and the answers not as easy.

I have started to wonder. Started to worry..

When it comes to the big decisions - the personal life decisions - the ones that risk safety and security - the ones that involve leaving what I know  - the ones that you dream of making but fear of failing -- those decisions.. will it be so easy? Will I make the right one?


When I assess the risk in my own life, will I shy away with fear? Will I boldly proclaim who I am and what I stand for? Will leap with faith or seek refuge in the things I know and play it safe?

The unease has been foreboding an approaching period in my life where I will be assessing. It is coming. I will need to determine the risk. I will need to make decisions. I suspect the unease is that the Spirit knows what is coming, and He has me preparing. I am fortifying myself to face fears that I have happily ignored for many years. I will trust His promise. I will trust His timing. I will trust that the decision that I am making - it is His. I give it to God. I will end up... We will end up...where we are meant to be. I can either allows the unease and fear seep into my daily life or I can rest easy, knowing my lighthouse will carry me safe to shore.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10

13 years ago on September 10 I had never known fear. I knew summers riding horses on Long Island. I knew weekend train rides to New York City to saunter down 5th Avenue in the pre-Christmas snow flurries. I knew exchange adventures in Europe. I knew packing up my parents Infiniti to head off to Bucknell University. I knew interviewing to get my first job with Travelers. I knew moving into my own apartment in White Marsh, Maryland.

I knew the suburbs. I knew security. I knew privilege.

I did not know fear.

September 10, 2001 was the last day of my youth. It was the last day of my innocence.

Today, 13 years later, I mourn the loss of that innocence. The world then it was sweet. It was untouched. It was insulated. It may have been just a facade but to me, it was real and it was sweet.

Now, we know. We know that there are many people in the world who hate us. Who want to hurt us. We know, without a doubt, that evil exists. We experienced something so cataclysmic that the foundation of understanding was shaken. That morning we came to understand hate. We unite in our fear, and we united to respond to the hate... but as the Towers came down, so did the scales from our eyes.

It is with a horrifying sense of foreboding that I sit here and write to you today. So many feelings from 2001 are swirling in my heart. It may simply be that I know that we are not immune. Having lived thru 2001, there is no amount of preparedness that can quell the panic in your heart when you see something - like planes flying into buildings - that you have never even conceived of - something so truly terrifying that it defies understanding. That fear is so pervasive, so real, so terrifying that it is crippling.

But we can't. We can't live. We can't live with. We can't live with that. We can't live with that fear.

There is only one response to that fear. Only one response that can conquer it, in our hearts, and in our lives. That is hope. Hope for us thru God's saving grace. That is all we have when the lights go out and the evil threatens to consume our souls. God's sweet grace is our light and He tells us: Do not Fear. Over and over He tells us.



So it is September 10th again. I may be sitting here with scales having fallen from my eyes. But I have hope. Hope in God's grace no matter what tomorrow brings. Pray tonight for country. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the souls of those who taken up arms against us so that they may see the error of their ways. Pray to give them hope of something greater than the evil that lives in them. Pray for God's will to be done. Pray for justice and pray for peace. Pray that if we are faced with hard decisions that we go forth with strong Christian discernment and purpose. Pray for healing. Pray for God's love to sweep across the Earth like the great flood and anoint us all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mind over matter or some such nonsense

When you admit just a smidgen of defeat, they take over. They swarm in when they sense vulnerability, and they take up residence... in this case, first in my eyes and the back of my throat. Then after 2 days of non-stop headache, they move.. like little green men they march, down the back of your throat, into your sinuses and then your lungs..



And I hack. And I hack. And I HACK a LUNG up. 

Or so it feels. 


I'll just be honest here. I"m a terrible sick person. I get MAD that I am sick.  But I refuse to stop. I refuse to take drugs. I refuse the doctor. I"m just a royal pain in the you-know-what. And I'm mad. Ask Hubs, he'll tell you. 


There is certainly some Mary Baker Eddy DNA hanging around in these bones. If you don't know, Mary Baker Eddy is the founder of the Christian Science ChurchChristian Scientists see their religion as consistent with mainstream Christian theology, despite key differences. In particular they subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism, believing that reality is purely spiritual and the material world an illusion. This includes the view that disease is a mental error rather than physical disorder, and that the sick should be treated, not by medicine, but by a form of prayer that seeks to correct the beliefs responsible for the illusion of ill health...






I've been guilty of espousing Mary Baker Eddy-like stuff - Mind over Matter! But there are just times when it isn't possible, and that we have to fall back to God's grace as the only healing agent in our arsenal of medicines. NyQuil can get me thru a night, but God can get me thru eternal damnation. I've got a couple of days of a hacking cough. I haven't been to the gym since Friday. I'm tired and I can't stop doing whatever it is that appears too important not to do. But He's got this. He's got me. And because of that, I'm ok.


Oh, and if you haven't seen me in like a week, this is why. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mary & Martha End of Summer Sale! Limited Time Only!

*****Flash Sale!***** For 2 days only, you can purchase any of the items shown in this image for a discounted price! This offer only lasts until August 30 at 10pm CDT, and you won't want to miss out on this amazing opportunity to add that special touch to your home! 
Order atwww.mymaryandmartha.com/MARA or comment on this blog post and we will get your order in! 

Overwhelmed

I know there are a lot of Moms out there... a lot of wives out there.. and lot of women out there........ and sometimes there is just nothing to say other than: I'm tired.



It's the second week of school. Back to school. Back to dragging everyone out of the house, kicking, screaming and on the verge of some tear spilling breakdown due to socks, hair, shoes, or breakfast. Homework has started up. The table is covered in handouts, completed worksheets and fliers that I was supposed to read, sign or pay something or other for -- I've bought T-shirts, signed up for PTO, class helper, cheerleading.. I've washed Ju Jitsu uniforms to return (cause that didn't work out), and my lovely mother spend half a day doing laundry at my house today because the piles were about to drown us all.


Don't even get me started on daycare. The littlest Lewis has been there for 2 weeks, and VOILA! Our first runny nose. Our first cough. Our first rash of bad diapers, and several days of Tylenol... and now, there she is.. crying on the monitor...

Ok, she's bathed and I'm back.....

You know, after the littlest Lewis joined us last December, I've kind of been ON. I mean, I don't really recall my maternity leave. We moved houses, I got yelled at by the doctor by trying to exercise too soon, I felt alive again - happy to have my body back - determined to get my energy back. Next thing I knew, I was back at work, signed up for Mary & Martha, took a vacation to San Diego, celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary, planned kids birthdays, hosted gatherings, went off sugar for Lent, joined the gym, and Voila... here is in the eve of Labor Day, and I feel like I haven't taken a breath.


As a mother, I haven't pined away to stay home with my kids. I don't feel like I missed anything as I worked thru the preschool years for first two. Granted, it wasn't really an option to stay home, so when you don't have an option you just forge on. For the first time as a mother, I'm starting to wonder ~ am I making good choices? How do moms with 3 get it all done? Why can't I seem to find a system? What would my house look like if I stayed home? What kind of mom could I be? Would I be better? Would I find joy in it?

I'd pretty much bet, I'd still be tired. A different kid of tired maybe. But tired nonetheless.

I don't readily give myself the chance to admit that I'm down. Especially since I've been feeling very UP lately. I have been re-energized physically, spiritually, emotionally. My marriage is the best it has ever been (despite my monthly hormonal attempts to pick a fight). My spirit is back. My heart is happy. Even tired, I am finding joy in trying to fit as much as I can into our days.



...... I'm tired. I'm taking a deep breath. I'm looking forward to the 3 day weekend. Sure, we've got 2 birthday parties on Saturday, but that's ok. I'm hoping I get an extra moment to just exhale.......... smile and praise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jaded

There is a tendency in the world today to become pretty jaded to news. Things happen - over there. It doesn't happen to me. Happy little me, sitting in my happy little suburban house, with my happy little salary, and our happy little palm trees overlooking our happy little pool.

We tune out the local news -- the national news. Violence on the screen is normal. Violence in our movies is normal. Violence in our cartoons is normal.  Take out the middle portions of these sentences, and you can deduce it to this: Violence is normal.

What then, of the tendency of our culture, in the past few years to come to this conclusion that the world is capable of healing itself? That history doesn't repeat itself? That if we merely empower those that are suffering that the violence will end. That people are good - and capable of solving all their own problems -- if only.... Why do we, the people living in the world, think that somehow we can declare things to be good - we can right wrongs - we can stem the rising seas - we can declare people as being on the "wrong side of history" to quote our President, and that the forces of good would prevail?



Are we so jaded that WE think WE can make it all better? Because, we've done so well at that over the course of human history. Why do we, today, in 2014, think we can do any better than they did at avoiding evil a 100 years ago? 500 hundred years ago?

For as jaded as I am. The stories that are bombarding us on the news -- ebola, riots, beheadings -- the systematic slaughter of populations - War in Gaza-- the devaluing of our currency... the devaluing of our national character... I wish I could say I am surprised. I am not.

There is real pure true EVIL in the world. Evil exists. Evil is the kind that walks into a school and shoots innocent children. It isn't the result of a a tragic childhood or some mild psychosis. It isn't the gun. It isn't being on the wrong side of history. When the world does not have an equal counterpoint of EVIL - ie. GOOD, then all sorts of really nasty horrible stuff starts occurring... like, I would dare say, the stuff that we are seeing now.

It isn't enough to say that something is "EVIL". We must stand for something good. We must stand up and say enough. We will not merely tolerate people. We won't COEXIST. We have to actually be good. We have to  stand up and say God is the source of all that is good and right. Peace will come thru God and love. We can do more than coexist. We have to do more than tolerate. We have to seek to understand - where understanding has the possibility to exist. We have to love. We have to judge evil as well. Are we not called to root it out?  We have to actually be more than a religion or a country that stands around and says - that's really bad. We have to actually DO something in response. We have to be more than apathetic. We have to stand for all that is good within us, and all that goodness within us can achieve.


This post has a decidedly Christian bent. I am aware of that. This post also has a decidedly political bent. I am aware of that. I am not sure that I even know how these two things are related or if they should be -- but I would merely say this. Prior to the current situation, the evil doers (an "axis of evil" even), knew that if they messed around and starting creeping into countries or peoples or issues that were in any way perceived as aggressive, they'd pay. Americans didn't sit idly by and let entire populations of people get slaughtered. In fact, our President has declared - recently in the event of bringing home Bowe Bergdahl and the American doctors with Ebola, that we don't leave Americans behind. Do we let Americans have their heads hacked off by militants on YouTube? Is that something we allow?



Violence is real and evil certainly exists. And if we are going to survive it -- we have to call it like it is -- TERROR and EVIL. And we've got to do something.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm strange

The title of my blog entry today won't come as a surprise to some of you. I'm strange. I know. No big shocker here. But as I get older, as I fully embrace myself as a mother, as a wife, as a fully functional adult (debatable), I realize that I do not process things like other women.


So I may not be as strange as the women in this picture, (who I had to post because they are just so lovely...) but here are some examples of my strangeness:

1. I don't worry. That seems really nice. But it is sort of strange, actually. When I think about my kids, heading off into various locations, daycare, after care... husband here, me there. The first thing that comes to mind isn't worry about some tragic incident happening. This is doubly strange when you consider that my profession is based on risk assessment. I know things happen. I know bad things happen. I am one of the people that believes evil exists in the world - in fact, the world is intrinsically fallen. But, I don't worry. I have felt God's blessing in my life. I have just decided it is far easier to go thru life without that constant nagging panic. So, I don't.  (I realize this is far easier said than done. I'm even more blessed that I'm pretty much clueless and usually half the horrible things that could happen never even occur to me. Praise God for that!)

2. I do cry. I am actually a pretty big blubbering mess sometimes. I can't seem to get a grasp on my emotions. What is my trigger? Worship music. Do I have any idea why? I have to think it has something with being powerless, which, when I consider my relationship with God, I am very humbled. I don't do powerless well. I don't do bare-naked vulnerability well. I usually just suck it up and forge ahead. So those lovely souls who can stand up and sing lyrics that make me blubber - those really simple ones like "how I need You..." I admire and wish I could do that. I'm lucky if I can keep my voice under control as a member of the congregation. 


3. I'm not naturally tender. I'm a pretty business-oriented, political, thinking person. As a mom, this gets me in trouble. Thankfully, my husband is always gently remind me that when faced with a crying daughter: "Kiss her owwie, you're the mom." Oh, right! That's me. I'm the mom! I'm supposed to kiss the phantom bumps and bruises (not point out rationally that whatever they are showing me isn't there and that they are fine), I'm supposed to hug and love and supply emotional stability. Stability I've got -- emotional, not so much. Bizarre? Yes. But it honestly doesn't occur to me. 

For really the first time in my life I've started to think about the kind of woman I am  - and even more perplexing, what kind of woman do I want to be?

Why am I thinking all this now? Why does it even matter? I think I mentioned on my blog a couple of weeks back that Hubs and I have set aside some time to read together every week. Last night the chapter was about being a loving Christian wife - and the most repeated word in the chapter was "respect". 

Respectful. Supportive. Loving. Encouraging. Prayerful. Serving. Feeling. When I take all these words in their sum total, they all have a distinctly female ring to them. And yet, not one of them comes to mind when I think of myself as a wife. Don't get me wrong, I am not a raging feminist. I love the door to be opened for me. My Hubs makes me feel protected, loved and very womanly. But it isn't a natural state of my being.


I want... for the first time probably in my life.. to be those womanly things. I want my first instinct to be to kiss the boo boo. I want my first response to be to hug. I want my girls to grow up knowing that you can feel and be strong all at the same time. That compassion is an amazing gift and we need to show it to each other every day. Grace, forgiveness, patience and understanding... I want those qualities to be the ones that make me, me. I want those qualities to be the ones that make me.... strange. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Let's get Real

The idea of a movement of key women from Ann Voskamp's Blog - How Women Can Stop Judging Each Other - A Movement of Key Women - is on repeat this week -  like Let it Go from Frozen, I can't get it out of my mind!  Even when I'm consumed by some other trivial thing, be a #keywoman keeps coming up.

I am sure that God is trying to tell me something ....




So, let's get real.

Let's acknowledge that living in Pottery Barn catalog, whilst beautiful and sanitary, isn't real. Real life is going to happen where the couches have juice box wrappers in the seams and animal cracker crumbs adding a patina of childhood. Real life happens around a well loved kitchen table - where babies throw food, and children test the rules of dinner time. Real life happens when the kitchen doesn't get cleaned up because worship happened. Real life is when we open the door to others and show hospitality - even when there is dust on the window sills and part of us would rather keep that door closed.


For as much as I am visual - Pinterest parties with their gorgeous photos of lavish displays, endless creativity and themes -  all that preparation and hot glue - sound, well, like a lot of work. Do we really need to judge the celebration by the cupcake decoration and center pieces? Do our kids have to have a gift bag that rivals a wedding present? Let's get real. When I was a kid, I remember only a handful of birthdays, and I think there was only one where my whole school class was invited. We played a game, we sat in a circle-- I got a Barbie doll from my best friend and opened bright pink and wonderfully wrapped presents. That, I remember. I can't tell you what the cake had on it, I can't tell you my mother impressed the other Moms with her domestic skills. But I had fun. Why do we think that to be a loving mother that we must give our kids these extravagant parties? These things, they do not equal love. Let's give them real. Let's give them memories of play, and love, and laughter. Lets give them moms in bathing suits IN the pool, Dads that hug, friends that come over for afternoons of dress up in the closet. Let's give them friendship.

A real woman  - a Key woman - doesn't judge. We don't look for flaws, we look for beauty. We are all getting thru the days with God's grace, so why do we fail to show grace to others? There is none of us, no matter how rich, how successful, how organized, how clean - that doesn't need or deserve grace. We are all sisters in Christ - we are all sisters trying to do the best for our husbands and our families - so, let's open the doors and support each other. Like Ann Voskamp says, we are not here to be perfect, we are here to be real. Let's have coffee. Let's hug. Let's cry. Let's write cards. Let's show gratitude and grace.


Perfectionism is slow death to self. There is no community in perfectionism. There is no way to achieving in perfectionism. We are all sinners, we will all fall short of the culture of perfect. Let's show faithfulness, gentleness, kindness.. 

... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,  peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV. 


Let us be key women.

Friday, August 1, 2014

$25 Mary & Martha Product Credit Giveaway!

Celebrate Fall!! Mary & Martha's New Fall 2014 Guide Launches today! Check out all the fun stuff at My Mary & Martha Page and by just following me on social media, you can have a chance to win $25 of Mary & Martha Free Product Credit! It makes shopping the new catalog even sweeter! You are going to love these items in your home! And imagine how easy Mary & Martha makes gift giving?! Contact me to host your event today!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tuesday Nights

Last week I blogged about my "My God Loves Me Love Story". It is a clear example of how God has cared for me in my daily life whether or not I deserved it, whether or not I even recognized it at the time, he has loved me in all my utter failings. He has loved me when I've denounced Him. He has loved me despite the sin of my flesh, the sin of my thoughts, the sin of my hopes. He has loved me when I deserved the ultimate judgment. He loved me all the way to the cross.

My hubs and I decided two weeks ago to start spending Tuesday nights together. Even though neither of us perhaps said it aloud, I will say for me, I wanted to do this because.. .

We are in a really good place right now. I feel very open to God's will for me. Part of it is the desire to be a better Mom and to run a Christ centered home. Part of it is realizing that I am horribly self centered and I want to be more giving, more hospitable. I am business minded and resilient and fail to acknowledge my vulnerabilities as a means to sweep them and my insecurities under the rug. I need God. Recognizing this need is new. I want to know myself as a child of God in a way that I've not desired before. I want to be a better wife to my husband - a supporting, loving wife - a role that doesn't come easy to me.

There are a couple of reasons why this time seems so pivotal right now. I've always admired my Hubs manly faithfulness. Manly faithfulness? That's a strange juxtaposition, but he is. He is quiet but thoughtful. For the past year, I've watch with amazement and a bit of jealousy at his daily devotions every morning. He reads. He prays. He tries really hard. He puts his arm around me at church, or his hand on my knee during each prayer. I know he desires to be closer to me and closer to God. That he wants us together in covenant marriage.

But, he's been doing it alone. I'm a pray at night girl. I pray before I sleep and usually fall asleep doing it. There isn't a lot of thought put into it, and it is haphazard like a lot of other things in my life. It isn't a productive way to pursue a relationship with God. It is an exhale on my day.

But that is changing. I now see that we have been doing it apart. We need to do it together. He needs me and I certainly need him. Until recently we haven't talked about that. We haven't prayed together -- we haven't thanked God together. I know a lot of that comes down to my awkwardness -- for whatever reason, I have a stumbling block on praying aloud - praying with an audience - but I want to.  I pray for Hubs now more than ever. I pray short prayers all day long now. I pray for the future husbands of my girls. I pray for Him to ease my fears. I pray for him to allow me to give me the tools to be a more faithful friend to my Hubs. I pray that He helps me be more giving of myself. I pray that God makes me more vulnerable to my husband's love.

So, we're starting with Tuesday nights. We are reading together. Last night we read about friendship in marriage and while it was really important to hear certain things, I kept thanking God -- I have a great friendship with my spouse. God has blessed us with much and friendship is the crucial glue that keeps us together and laughing. I still have a heck of a time allowing myself to just be  - I am a Type A extrovert with a tendency to control and judge - but God blessed me with my partner in life who is teaching me that it is ok to feel, it is ok to trust and ok to allow for events to unfold on their own. To be prayerful and accepting of His grace. This is all new to me...

So we are reading. My hubs picked the book and it is thought provoking - Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll. Two weeks into our new routine, I have some thoughts on the content of the book itself, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we are praying together - reading together - and talking together - in a way that we haven't routinely done before. It is a small thing but it is doing wonders in my heart.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My God Loves Me Story

Just like in school, I'm not following directions well. The Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies weekly blog post topics included "My God Love Story". Which sounds like a perfectly lovely idea.. but this is what is on my mind today and it is more aptly my, "My God Loves Me Love Story"...

When I was eighteen years old, a ripe young thing, I was blessed with the opportunity to participate in the English-Speaking Union Secondary School Exchange. I left the beautiful confines of the Christian community at the The Stony Brook School (my home as a fac brat) and boarded the British Airlines flight from JFK to London's Heathrow Airport. Now, a little bit of background information for you...


The Stony Brook School, my high school and my home, is conveniently located directly across the street from the train station in Stony Brook, NY. Chapman Parkway, above, is literally directly across 25A from the Stony Brook train station. So, in my youth, if you wanted to go into the the City (as we locals called it and it is THE City such that no other city can ever compare), you hopped on the Long Island Railroad listened to the conductor shout out the stops until you might change trains in Huntington or Oyster Bay or Jamaica, and then bam, you are in a tunnel and heading towards Penn Station. It was rather convenient.

So, when assigned to the quaint Benenden School in Benenden Kent, it never occurred to my sheltered 18 year old mind, how would I get from the train station to the school. It would be, of course, directly across the street.... or not.

The English-Speaking Union gave us orientation. They put us on the plane. They welcomed us in their London headquarters, and then, they shuffled us off to our respective train stations in London. I was sent to Charing Cross. I said goodbye to the other students who were on different trains. From there, I was left with my 3 large Eddie Bauer duffle bags and told to disembark the Southeastern train at Staplehurst, Kent.



My memory is vague. I know I was tired. I was anxious. I was afraid of missing the station. I was afraid of missing a train change. I told the conductor where I was trying to get to - and he shuffled me off the train at one point and helped me on another. My train car was emptying. With each stop more passengers disembarked. I could hardly read the signs on the stations as we flew threw them, in many the train did not stop. It was raining. I learned later, for England, it was raining hard. It was past dinner time. The sun was down. It was dark. I did not know where I was headed.

It felt like a long time later but finally the conductor came to me and said: "Staplehurst next". He motioned that he would assist me getting my bags off the train. I stood up. Fatigued from the flight, the train and the nerves, I noticed not one soul left on the train. The train lurched to a stop. My bags and I were dropped at Staplehurst Station. A couple others got off the train and quickly headed up the stairs and out of sight.

I dragged my stuff into the rain shelter. I looked American. I mean, really American. Blonde hair, blue-eyed, baseball cap wearing American.



A voice: "Miss? Do you need help?"

There stood a nicely dressed gentleman. A man in a suit. A man with a Barbour jacket on. A man who knew I didn't belong here. I man that could have very easily taken advantage of me. I needed this man's help.

I told him I was going to Benenden School. That I was an exchange student. He told me to stay where I was and he would get the bell hop to assist getting my bags over the foot bridge (see photo of bridge to cross - imagine.... rain, dark and a years worth of 18 year old girl luggage!).

I waited. I had no option but to trust this man. I was from New York. I knew not to trust strangers. But I had no options. I was completely at this man's mercy. I said a little prayer - God help me - and he was back.

"The station is closed. Is someone picking you up? How are you getting to Benenden? Well, with this rain, your ride might be waiting in the car."

Yes! That's it. He or She is in the car.

"Lets get your bags over there." And there he went, grabbing my two large duffles and dragging them, step by step up the stairs and we scurried across the bridge.

There was no one in a car. There was no one at the station. There wasn't even a light on.

"Do you have a phone card? Do you have someone you can call?"

Surely I could call a taxi. I had some money. But I had no phone card, and if you are in England you know that pay phones operate on phone cards. I was stuck. The true reality of the situation had not occurred to me. Later I learned that Staplehurst is a 7.2 mile drive thru the rolling country roads of Kent to Benenden.

I shook my head. I had no one. I had not a single person I could call. I couldn't even call if I wanted to. I didn't have a name or a number. In my mind, I was going to hop off the train and scuttle across the street to my new school. I never imagined this. I could call my parents and cry, but that wouldn't help.

This man.. in his suit and his English manners... he looked at me, and he said: "Term started last week. You are late. I have to go by Benenden Village on my way home. I am a father of one, and I'm on my way home from a business meeting in London. Let me get my car, I will drop you."

I don't remember saying yes. I just knew I had no choice.

I let this man load my life into the "boot" of his Audi and got myself into what should have been the drivers seat. I was so overwhelmed I couldn't even process what was happening.

Off we sped thru narrow sunken lanes. Hedges on both sides. Rain pounding on the windshield. He spoke of his family. He asked about my exchange program. How did I get choosen? What organization? I remember talking but more than anything I remember feeling completely at this man's mercy.


We arrived into Benenden School. We drove around the dorms and pulled behind my assigned House. Out came my House Mistress who scolded me about not showing up on the train I was supposed to be on! And who was this man? Why didn't I call?

This man... he handed me his business card. He said that I should call him if I ever needed anything. Come over for dinner. Meet his family. I put the card in my pocket

Girls watched thru the kitchen windows as the House Mistresses grabbed my things dismissed my ride and got me out of the rain. I was making a scene and got a reputation. I was quickly ensconced into what would become my life for the next year. Uniform and all.


I wrote Graham Tardiff. I wrote a Thank You card. The card was "returned to sender". 

I called Graham Tardiff. The phone number was "disconnected".

I still have Graham Tardiff's card. I would post a picture but out of respect for Graham Tardiff's privacy, I won't...

If you need Graham Tardiff, all you have to do is pray. 





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oh Sweet! Paper Bakeware Giveaway!

I am riding a tide of Legoland overload and Mary & Martha National Conference, and guess what? Thursday is our favorite day in my house! So what better way to celebrate than with a Giveaway?! 


This is because I love you, and also I'd love to hit 200 Likes on my Facebook Page, so enter, share, tweet, lets get more women introduced to the amazing message of Mary & Martha. Open your home to host a Gathering, and let me bless you with the hostess rewards! 


The Mary & Martha Mission: 
We empower women to share their love of God and makes a real difference in people's lives. 

What We Do:
We provide shared experiences and inspiring products that WELCOME, SERVE and CONNECT people, while bringing them closer to each other and to God.

Why You Should Join:
Mary & Martha is more than a business -- we're a community that laughs, prays, cries and celebrates life together. 

Enter this Giveaway for a chance to win Oh Sweet Bundt Pans, Oh Sweet Large Food Trays and Oh Sweet Large Cups. You will love that you can bake up to 400 degrees, freeze and throw away this cute bakeware. Perfect for baked gifts or parties. No pan to return! Two Bundt pans = 1 cake mix! 

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Preamble of my WHY


I've been running. Physically, in the past 10 days, I've been to San Diego, Phoenix, Kansas City and Phoenix again. I've been reading, Jack Canfield, Lysa Terkeurst, Psalms, Hebrews. A not so conspicuous recurring theme, ok, God has been smacking me over the head with it:

What is my story? What is my Why?



Now, I've sat through a number sermons that have encouraged me to write my testimony. But my Why is more of a testimony of where I've been and how I accepted Christ as Lord, it is the question: How do I live now? How do I now act? Am I being obedient in my calling?

Jack Canfield calls it your personal mission statement - it is the one sentence that encompasses the goal of everything that you do. Now, it all sounds really simple and easy. One sentence. Everything. All tasks, all moments, all purposeful intention should be put towards furthering your Y. Your personal mission.

I've always been wildly jealous of those women who just know......... they were born with this intense burning desire to pursue a certain talent, professional or mission. They seem to be hardwired with an intensity and passion for their calling. They have no doubt. They just march, step by step, towards their goal in relentless pursuit.

I am not one of these people. Oh, I wish I was. I remember in my college years wondering what I was doing. I remember sitting on a balcony in Baltimore lamenting my lack of drive. Wondering what I was intended to do? What am I going to do when I grow up?

And now, I am all grown up. With a loving husband and three beautiful daughters. Sometimes I look around and wonder: How did I get here?! I didn't just stumble onto this blessed life and  yet, I am still full of awe of what I've become and where I've landed.

At Mary & Martha national conference this weekend, the theme was: 

Embrace your Place. 


Maybe my Y isn't a big ambitious goal. Maybe I'm not going to win an Olympic medal (pretty much no chance of that), but maybe my calling is sitting here just waiting to be fulfilled, as a mom, as a contributor to my family, as a Christian in my community. Maybe my calling is to be the best I can be in the place that I am. It isn't glamorous, but it is real. Jesus was real, so I am in good company in my humanity. Maybe my mission is right here and all I have to do is obey. Act. Embrace it. Do something instead of sitting here wondering..

I don't have my one sentence personal mission statement yet. I am putting pen to paper and working on that, so stayed tuned. But I have written down 5 goals that I have in the next year. These are personal goals, and they clearly cannot be accomplished without strengthening my relationship with Christ. They involve acting, doing and obeying:

1. Be a more patient, engaged, Christ-loving mother and spouse
2. Make my house more than a pass thru, make it a home, practice hospitality
3. Take care of the body God gave me, be healthier, lose 50lbs
4. Use the gifts God gave me as a leader, in all my jobs and in the community
5. Work towards more financial security

I've got a lot of work to do but I am renewed in the Spirit and ready to obey. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mary & Martha Summer Sale Giveaway




There wouldn't be a Giveaway without a sweet summer sale! Check out these amazing items that are up for grabs at deep discount! Pick 3 Bakeware for $15! A great selection of jewelry, home decor , great gifts and napkins and placemats on a roll! Prices are fantastic! 
Now, the Large Nested Basket Giveaway. What is in it?! Some great Mary and Martha swag, that's what! 





1. The Large Nested Market Basket. $56. Metal Tag Reads: gather together. Approx. 15 1/2" square, 5 1/2" deep. Keeps newspapers in orderly stack, makes a great catch-all for your throw blankets, or stacks rolled towels neatly in your bathroom. 


2. Holley Gerth Collection - $28. This inspirational bundle includes a set of 10 All-Occasion cards and envelopes, Holley Gerth's book "Opening the Door to Your God Sized Dream", and a charming canvas wrapped block, with its message to "let your light shine".


3. Beauty Mug. $10. Inside mug has message: "He has made everything beautiful in its time". 


4. Good Things Pick 3 Paper Bakeware. Super cute orange, turquoise and black. Oven safe up to 400 degrees. Great presentation, no clean up, and perfect for baked gifts! $28


My kids are going to be really excited for you if you win this giveaway! In fact, depending on the day, you could win them too!


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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mary & Martha - a new (ad) venture!

I am super excited to announce that I am a new independent consultant for Mary & Martha! My own sister mentioned the company to me, and within hours, we both felt the pull on our heartstrings to join together in this mission - to empower women to create meaningful entertainment in their house - to serve God and to serve others. We can't wait to get started with two open houses in the next couple of days!!

Mary & Martha is an opportunity to share fellowship with other women, to love on women, and to combine your work and faith. If you feel like this might be a good fit for where you are in your life, I'd love to have you join my team!

Maybe sales is a bit much for where you are in your life right now, certainly a supportive get together with friends where you earn free and discounted products would be a welcome joy. Be a Hostess in May and receive these amazing incentives. Contact me to book and the calendar is filling up fast!!

Live in the &
~ Mary & Martha ~

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by http://www.scribd.com/marallewis"  style="text-decoration: underline;" >marallewis

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Out for a stroll

Slow and steady wins the race...



Weight loss since Ivy was born: 55 lbs
Weight loss since January 1: 23 lbs
Weight to loose to reach my next goal: 15.5lbs

Can I do this? I think so! You Fit on Shea Blvd better open soon though, just sayin.