Posted in Write 31 Days

A Call to Arms

The first time I noticed the beauty of a woman’s arms was watching Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With It. I watched that movie over and over thinking how I wanted to look like that. I envied how cut, toned,  and strong she looked.  She was exceptionally fit,  but for me,  it was all about her arms.

Now, fast forward 21 years. My arms were no closer to looking like Angela’s than they were in 1993. The reason for this is because I had done nothing other than wish my arms were strong and toned.  Well, guess what? Wishing for something without taking action to make those dreams a reality is about as useless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

My husband and I made a decision 10 months ago it was time to stop wishing and start doing. We simply changed the foods we ate and the pounds started melting away. Before we knew it, we were down 50 pounds between the two of us, and we did this with virtually no change to our activity level. We were skinnier, but still pretty soft and squishy around the middle.

We knew we had to do something if we wanted to really make a change to our bodies.  Six weeks ago we joined a gym. We made a commitment to each other to work out each morning before work.  It has not been easy. And I’m not talking about the workouts themselves,  I’m talking about getting out of bed,  getting in the car,  and making the 10 minute drive to the gym. No one ever said it would be easy, but we keep going morning after morning.

Last week I grabbed something slightly heavy from a shelf and noticed something amazing.  It took me by such surprise that I couldn’t stop looking at my arms.  I stood there in my kitchen flexing my arms,  first the right arm,  then the left arm,  then the right again just to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Then I showed my husband and he confirmed  it. What I was seeing were several defined cuts in the muscles of my arm. I was seeing definition and toned,  lean muscles.  I was not seeing flabby,  saggy skin.  My mind immediately went back to those memories of longing to have arms like Angela Bassett.  I began to realize that by doing instead of dreaming,  I was making those wishes a reality.

20141009_163849Now I’m on a mission to build on what I’ve started. I can see the beginnings of making a long forgotten dream come true. I’m on a mission to make my arms something I don’t plan my wardrobe around hiding.  I can wear that tank top and sleeveless dress and not be ashamed of the batwings flapping in the breeze. Before last week,  my time at the gym was just a workout.  Now it’s my mission to turn it up a notch because I’ve gotten a sneak peek of what I can accomplish.

Posted in Write 31 Days

This Is My Mission Field

For the Write 31 Days Blogging Challenge, I selected the topic On a Mission for many reasons. Of course, the fact that I’m going to fulfill a childhood dream of doing mission work in January is very much in my thoughts and on my heart these days. But, even more than that, I’ve had a phrase that I’ve tried to focus on for the past few years. For full disclosure, I got the idea from a Steven Furtick sermon I listened to a few years ago. The sermon made me realize that as much as I have a desire to do foreign mission work, my mission field is actually any place I am. My office at work is my mission field. My car in the middle of rush hour traffic is my mission field. The grocery store, the soccer field, the gym, these are all my mission fields. I realized that no matter where I am, I can always minister to those around me without ever saying a word. If I’m living my life as a reflection of Christ, then my actions should  reflect Him. I can show grace, forgiveness, love in every situation I’m in.

Now, do I? Do I shine a light where  ever I am? No, not even close.  Am I able to do it more than I could 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 5 hours ago? You bet I am. When I find myself in a stressful situation, and I can catch my thoughts before anger and rage take over, I’m able to recite five simple words to bring me back to where God wants me.

This is my mission field.

THIS is my mission field.

This is MY mission field.

Whatever the situation I’m in, this phrase serves as a reminder that I don’t have to be in a village in Africa or an orphanage in Central America to show others what it means to love and be loved by God.  My everyday provides me with golden opportunities to do this.

I struggle so much with allowing my emotions to take my thoughts in directions I know my Father would not be proud of. I beat myself up about this fairly often. Each time my mouth explodes with a slew of profanities over a frustration at work, or I find myself gossiping about a coworker, I know I am failing God. But, the beauty is, God knows my heart. He forgives me when I struggle and fall. He also provides beautiful reminders that He’s there in those situations. He makes sure I remember.  And when I remember He’s there,  it’s my job to let others know He’s there, and  it all turns around. My thoughts come back to a more peaceful place and my emotions become less explosive.

I have the following bible verse in two different places in my office.

Philippians 4:8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

This verse helps me to refocus my thoughts so that my actions better align with my dream of being a missionary for Christ. Even if that mission field is a small office on Kennedy in South Tampa.

31days

Posted in Write 31 Days

Write 31 Days – On a Mission

31daysThis post is going to be short, but I really wanted to share this new challenge I’m going to take part in.  It’s called Write 31 Days and it’s very different  from the previous 30 Day blog challenge I did. Instead of having 30 prompts over 30 days, this one challenges you to choose a single topic and write about that topic for 31 days. The goal is that the bloggers will dive deeper into their chosen topic.

The challenge was first started by blogger Myquillyn Smith at The Nester,  back in 2009 .  I learned about it on  Claire Wiggins’ blog, WordyLadyWorld. I highly recommend you check out Claire’s blog if you are a word geek. She writing about…well….words. Go see what she has to say.

I didn’t have to think very hard about what my topic would be. It’s actually a topic word that has multiple meanings and its a subject that’s been in my heart and on my mind a lot lately.  My goal for the next 31 days is to share various missions I’m on or hoping to be on, whether it be my new exercise plan, some personal improvement hopes, or our upcoming mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Please check back tomorrow for a little more detail as I dive into my first mission.

Here’s a quick link to my other 30 days of posts.

Posted in Random Writers

Fear Kept Me From This

By Lee Sullivan

Random Writers Topic: Write about overcoming adversity?

I’m in the middle of one of the worst adversarial periods I can remember going through in a really long time. I think it’s for this reason that I’ve been sitting here for hours staring at this blank white page on my laptop. I want to write about overcoming adversity, but right now, adversity is kicking my ass. I’m just not really feeling it and I am completely stressing about the fact that I have this blog post due for Random Writers. Of course, the more I stress about it, the less likely the words will come.

Wait!

What did I just say?

“I am completely stressing about the fact that I have this blog post due for Random Writers.”

Wow, if someone had told me 13 months ago that in a year, I would be stressing about having to produce a blog post- on a schedule- I would have completely dismissed them as insane.

But look at me.  Exactly 385 days ago, I posted my first entry on Purrfectlee.com, and now I also contribute to Random Writers.net on a weekly schedule. I’m blogging and I love it.

I have to admit that I have not gone through my life wanting to write. It has NEVER been a dream of mine.  As a matter of fact, when I’m given any kind of assignment to produce the written word, I freak out inside. I can’t even write a note in a birthday card without breaking out in a cold sweat. If I’m asked to provide a blurb for a brochure or piece of publically shared material, I’m paralyzed. Even producing a simple tweet or FB status where I want to provide content to others causes extreme anxiety from the fear that I’ll make a mistake in grammar or spelling.  

You see, I’m a self proclaimed spelling nazi and grammar queen wannabe. There is something in my brain that completely short circuits when I see the word your where you’re should be used, their instead of there, and than in place of then, just to name a few. I literally cringe when I see blatant misspellings that could have easily been corrected with a click of the spell check feature in most word processing and email software. I can hold my own with written grammar (even though my spoken words often betray me (thank you to the Alabama public school system), but I do freely acknowledge that I often have to research the rules to determine the right way to write (see how I used right and write correctly there?). Let’s just say that GrammarGirl is my best friend.

I’ve been a blog reader for years now, but something happened about a year and a half ago. I started to notice that there are some great bloggers out there who provide beautiful and important content, and they have the occasional typo and misplaced comma. There are others who seem to write only in run-on sentences, and still others that appear to just make up the rules of grammar as they go. I began to notice that I didn’t care. At first these errors were terribly distracting to me, but once I looked past the letters and punctuation and started looking at the message instead, I began to ‘get it’.

A light turned on for me and I realized that not everyone out there cares how the information is presented – just that it is. I started to realize that I was letting my fear of making a mistake, and being judged by that mistake, keep me from doing something I felt a strong urge to do.

For months I had been daydreaming about starting a blog. I had things floating around in my head and thought that if I could just get them out, I would feel better. I imagined using words as a form of therapy to deal with memories from my past, celebrate my present, and even as a form of accountability for my future dreams. I allowed a fantasy to evolve that by writing about my wrong choices, maybe others would make a right choice. I simply wanted to share what life had taught me.

My experiences with my blog have been incredible. I’ve received so much feedback and love from you guys that my heart has been full with joy. I’ve made discoveries about myself that I never saw coming and feel that even my relationship with Gil has grown tremendously because of this blogging thing. 

I look back at how those negative thoughts of fear and self-doubt almost kept me from doing something that has become a way of life for me now. Everyday I force myself to stop, think and create something – whether it’s 1000 words or a photo that needs no words – I’m forcing my brain into action and I’m telling a story.  And it feels so good. Even when my paragraph structure makes no sense and I scatter random commas in all the wrong places, it still feels good.

This is exactly why Random Writers was born. Gil has always said that anyone can write. I have always argued that his statement is true, but not everyone can write well, and this holds people back. It did for me.  We wanted to provide a place for ANYONE to share their thoughts, dreams, fears and wishes and not feel that perfection was a requirement. We hope to give a safe haven to those who have stories to tell but no place to tell them without fear of being judged or ridiculed. I wanted to provide an outlet for others who, like me, have allowed fear to hold them back.

Do you have a story to tell? Are you afraid your words aren’t good enough and in the right order? Then come join me and my friends at Random Writers and let’s make fear our bitch.

Posted in Random Writers

That Was Some Crazy Ass Thinking

Random Writers Week 5 Topic: What is one thing you felt strongly about but changed your mind?)

When I first started my blog I only knew that I wanted to use it as a way to discover my authentic self and simply to get more real with my internal thoughts and feelings. I wasn’t at all sure of where I was going to go with it and I have to tell you, I’ve really surprised myself with some of the things I’ve written. There have been times I sat down to write one thing with a clearly defined conclusion in mind and ended up somewhere completely different, a thousand miles from where I started. For this reason, I feel that I’m a long way from completing this journey but I know I’m on the exact path I was meant to take.

Herein lies my problem. When I started this blog I had in no way intended for it to be a blog about God or faith or religion. I know there were a few posts back in January and a couple sprinkled in since, but for the most part, I would intentionally leave God out of my writing if I could. I had this very strong belief that if I wrote too much about my faith, that it would turn people away. I felt that way because of some of my own ideas toward others who openly and loudly proclaimed their love for Christ.

Let me explain a little bit. There have been times in my life when I’ve been surrounded by ‘in your face’ Christians. I’ve had family members, coworkers and acquaintances who only spoke in a language where every other word was God or Jesus or Heaven or hell. I found myself in situations and conversations with these people that left me feeling angry and this would typically result in an eye roll and quick exit. I think it was these situations early on in my adult life that turned my faith inward and I became much more reserved in what I shared about my beliefs. I know that God wants us to share His word but I was too busy hiding from it to make it known it to anyone else.

There was also a big part of me that was scared to share my beliefs with others.  I always felt that I wasn’t a very educated Christian so, rather than find myself in situations where I had to back up my beliefs, I just remained quiet. Even though I grew up in church, I don’t feel like I retained much of the knowledge that was shared with me by teachers and preachers. I didn’t grow up reading and studying the bible in a way that I should have and by early adulthood, I very rarely ever stepped foot inside a church except for weddings, funerals and Easter services. I just couldn’t explain why I believed and refused to put myself in a circumstance that required it. I found if they were challenging me, they wanted definitive proof and most people just didn’t accept “because the Bible says so” as proof of God.

It’s so sad but these feelings have followed me into my Forty’s and I didn’t even realize it until recently. I never talked about how I felt and that I was intentionally excluding my faith from my blog and my journey to find my authentic self. Well, that’s not true. Back in May I wrote a post about addiction. Near the end of the post I mentioned ways someone might help another who is struggling. When Gil read this post he actually called me out on how I didn’t mention prayer. I had typed it, then deleted it. I told him I had done that and how I didn’t want my blog to become one of those ‘crazy Christian’ blogs. I explained that I was concerned about turning people off with an overtly religious sentiment. I’m sure I spewed out some other lame rationales for not including the suggestion of prayer but I can’t remember them all now.

What it boils down to is that I felt very strongly about not turning my blog into something that might turn a so-so Christian or a non-believer away.

WTH?!?

What kind of crazy-ass thinking was that? THAT is exactly who I should be sharing my faith with. Can you believe how much I allowed the devil to creep into my thoughts and hold me back from sharing a message as powerful as the love of God? So, here’s the thing. I’ve come to realize that I was writing for who I was before. Now, I’m writing for who I want to become. And that person is someone who is proud to say that I love Christ and I’m trying to live a life that would make Him proud. I’m not always successful but that’s the beauty of God’s grace. He will forgive me when I mess up.

I’m not planning to change the way I write my blog but I’m certainly not going to censor myself when I feel God speaking through me. Gone are the thoughts that I need to justify my faith in God by spitting out scripture and passages from the bible to back it up. I’m not teaching Sunday School. I’m sharing my story and my story doesn’t exist without God’s grace. I’m writing this blog for me and I cherish those of you who continue to read each post and those who pop in and out when you can. The last thing I want to do is turn someone away from me or from God because I write too much about my faith journey. But, what if the last thing I do is turn someone toward God because I shared my story?

To read about how my fellow Random Writers’ changed their minds, please check out thier blogs (Gil, Jeff, Lindsey) or read them all at the Random Writers website.

Posted in Post A Week Challenge, Treasure Chest

Monday’s Treasure Chest – It’s YOU!

I missed my Monday Treasure Chest post last week because we were traveling back from St. George and Rock by the Sea, and honestly, when we finally got home, I completely crashed. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of the computer and think. However, on the drive home, I was contemplating about what the post would be about if I actually found the energy needed to write, which I obviously did not. As I thought about my many blessings, one kept coming back to the forefront of my mind. I found myself smiling with joy each time I thought about my most recent discovery in that chest.

My treasure chest has been overflowing lately with blessing of you. Yes, you, there, reading these words. I am so honored and humbled that you’ve taken time out of your busy days or nights to check out what I have to say. I am even more grateful when you tell me about it. Recently, I’ve been left completely speechless and crying tears of delight because of the compliments you guys have given to me.

I had wanted to start a blog for a really long time but my fears kept telling me it would not work.  Once I finally decided to just go for it, I was so blessed by the fact that Gil was there every second of the way offering words of encouragement, praise, and guidance. I could not have gotten this far without him. I, also, could not have done this if not for you and the amazing, sweet, wonderful feedback you have been providing me for months now.

I recently received an email from someone I love and cherish very much. This email left me in tears for hours. These weren’t sad tears but tears of joy and a sudden awareness that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing with this blog. I’m writing about what I feel, what I want, what I need and what I love. I’m trying to say things here that maybe I’ve been too ashamed or afraid to say out loud. It’s strange how I know this is the most public way possible to share my innermost thoughts but something about it also seems so anonymous, and that makes it less scary. I know, that makes no sense to anyone outside of my crazy little brain, but it’s how I feel. I’ve felt demons inside of me start to die and disappear. I’ve felt portions of my soul, which I thought were dead, start to rise again. I’ve felt closer to God than I have since childhood.

When I started writing back on January 1st, I had big plans and big dreams for how this project would progress. After 30 days of writing every day, I had proven to myself that I could do it and all the fears I had simply faded away. You guys were reading and commenting and telling me that you liked what I had to say.  You were telling me that my words touched you and you told me how you felt the same way but couldn’t find the words to say the things I was saying.  I was flying pretty high and very satisfied with what I had accomplished when February rolled around. But then, I began to fail myself. I began to find reasons not to write as often.

I don’t know what happened. I blamed work, kids, exhaustion. All of the same things that were there in January but I somehow managed to still make the time for me and for this blog. I still thought about writing every day but I could never find the motivation I needed to sit down and type. What really sucks is that the motivation was there, I just kept ignoring it, kept pushing it aside and giving something else a higher priority. You guys kept providing the motivation I needed in the form of conversations and emails, comments and feedback, and questions about when I would post again. I don’t know why I let my dream start slipping away, but I did. I feel ashamed and thoroughly disappointed with myself.

“Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

~Mumford and Sons

As I sit here and write, I think about all the things I want for this piece of my world. I want to tell my tale and find out more about myself, but there is so much more I want. I want to share my experiences with you. I want to grow in my faith in God with you. I want to talk about my marriage, both the good and sometimes not so good parts of it. I want to share both the uplifting and heartbreaking stories that have made me the woman I am today. I want to open myself up to you in an effort to share who I really am and who I really want to be.

I am going to pour my heart and soul into this dream of mine. I am going to love and nurture it with every ounce of passion I have. Maybe if I do those things, and do them honestly, maybe you can find some piece of my life and experiences that inspire you.  Maybe you won’t make some of the mistakes I’ve made. Maybe you’ll find some peace within yourself because my words helped to heal an old wound. Maybe you will find the inspiration you have been looking for to pursue your own dream because you see my courage in the pursuit of mine. My main objective with my writing is still to find my authentic self. But how awesome would it be if I play a very small part in helping you to find your authentic self as well?

Posted in Post A Day Challenge

Valen-What?!?

Gil and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We celebrate our Valenversary instead. Valen-what you ask? Valenversary. Gil and I met on February 15th so we choose to celebrate that day instead of the traditional Valentine’s Day holiday. Get it? Valen-versary. I know, we are complete dorks and we are ok with that.

For weeks now I had planned to write this open letter to my husband on our special day. I have thought about the things I wanted to say and I even made some notes along the way.  I struggle with choosing words that say what I feel. I have a really hard time expressing my emotions with written words. This is one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog. I thought the exercise of writing daily would help me to move past whatever it is that blocks my ability to convey my sentiments outside of my head. I also realize from my blogging experiences that I have a really long way to go.

For every momentous occasion in our lives that call for a greeting card, Gil always writes the most beautiful words to me. And what do I do? I sign, “I love you”.  That’s the best I can do. Really, it is. I have the worst case of greeting card anxiety ever recorded. Ok, maybe I’m the only one so I guess that makes my last statement a very accurate one.  I don’t know why the words won’t come but they don’t.  And guess what? They aren’t coming for me now either. I was off to a great start and then I lost it. It was just gone. I am going to save what I started because if the words ever find their way back to me, I feel like it’s going to be a great post. But in the meantime, I still want to tell my husband how I feel on our special day.

While researching quotes for the blog I was going to write today, I found this poem by a man that may or may not have ever existed. His name may or may not be Roy Croft.  After reading the poem, I think maybe I wrote it in a previous life. Maybe I used up all my good words in some former iteration of myself and that’s why I struggle today. I know, I’m being silly but the truth is, this poem says everything I want to say.  Just because the words aren’t mine doesn’t mean I don’t feel what they say. So, here it is, an open letter to my husband, for our Valenversary.  

Dear Gil,

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

You came into my life six years ago today and filled a void in my heart that I didn’t even know existed. Thank you for rescuing me. Thank you for being my best friend.
I love you.