Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Makes a Great Life is What Makes a Great Story. (ItalyPresentation Pt 2)

Recently, I wrote here parts of the speech I delivered at the EMERGENCE Women's Conference in Bari, Italy. (Yep, I'm an international speaker! BAM! I never, ever saw that coming!)

I confessed in my presentation that after fearing an onset of early dementia, I discovered that I wasn't loosing my memories - I just wasn't really making any. Sure life was good. But deep in my heart I felt something was off. Like I was missing something.
I was in such a disoriented state - I knew I couldn't move forward until I understood why.
So I mustered up every ounce of bravery I could manage and 
I dared myself to take a good long, hard, internal look at myself, my life, and what it is I'm doing with all of it. 

After some serious soul searching, lots of journaling and fist pumping towards the heaven, I learned that my life - my Tribe, my little town, my job ... all of it deserved more intentionality than I was giving it. I was trying so hard to 'just make it through today until the real life started' that I was missing the opportunity to actually participate in my own living. I wanted to stop letting my life happen to me and start living my own life. 

What I found with living intentionally was that life becomes more meaningful and certainly, more memorable. 

But first I had to let go of my old way of thinking.
When I did that the tension that I lived with, struggling to be happy with what I had  vs. feeling guilty for longing for more, was relieved.
No longer did the my mental pendulum swing:
Be grateful. Long for more. Stop being selfish. You're meant for better. Why are you so ungrateful? What about my dreams? How can I be great in this little place? Didn't God want me to be great? Do great? Didn't I have dreams? 

I didn't have to flip and flop in my own head anymore. No longer did I conveniently apply bible versus to twist God's arm into giving me what I wanted. I stopped my perpeual waiting on God to show up and 'do me a solid'.

(insert convenient quote)

That alone may have been the wisest thing I've ever done because turns out God's less interested in pulling clutch favors for me. 

After all this? After I was done being mad at Him for not doing want I wanted (in hindsight this sounds so childish) I was exhausted.

So I took a break.
I stopped fighting Him.
I stopped despising all of it and I jumped off the "poor me" track and found something new; story.

A book, in fact.

I read A Million Miles by Don Miller.
And while my life's memoir wasn't being turned into a movie like his, (Blue Like Jazz), I imagined what if it was. What if the story of my life was written on the pages of a book? Or appeared on a big screen? (Julia Roberts should totally play me!). What kind of story would it be?
A romance?
Would I be a victim?
Or a heroine?

So I began to look.
Look closely at the landscape of my life and it was amazing.
It was as if I had been given new eyes.
I began to notice story elements present in my own life.
I could see that the stage had been set:
I lived here.
The characters had been chosen:
My friends and family.
The plot was being played out:
Family of seven resigns church planting project of 12 years to fulfill their dream of missions only to fall flat and broke.

Now what?

I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what I longed for, what makes a great life are also the same elements found in a great story.

So? I began to live everyday as if my life was a story.
I choose to be the character I wanted my story to have.
And when I didn't know what to do I asked myself, "If I was reading this book, what would I want myself to do? Quit? Or Press on?"

My life became a page turner in my own head.

And suddenly stuff wasn't happening to me as much as I was happening to my life. 
And when I believed that, suddenly my life wasn't out of my control. Nor was it meaningless. It was alive. It was real. 
This was happening. 
Now what?
What should I do?
What can I do today?

If I lived like that? Well, I just knew that my life - my story - would have the meaning I longed for and would give God the glory He deserved.

Stories, are so, so important. 
I know because we tell stories all the time: 
We tell our girlfriends stories over mugs of coffee.
We tell our families our stories about what happened in our day.
We tell God stories when we pray.
We entertain ourselves with stories. That's all movies and television shows are, you know?
Our lives our filled with stories everywhere we go.

Because I decided to live my life fully alive, and because I understand my life to be like a story, I am compelled to write about what that means for me. And maybe that will help you find something in your life that means something to you.

That's why this blog is called To Write a Better Story. Everything I do, write & live out comes from my core belief that my life is like a story. And I want it to be a great one. One that you, my friends and readers, enjoy.

The decision to live my life with intention and purpose, to live my life like a great story unfolding every new day led me to study story elements. Something long overdue for a gal who writes - and what I learned transformed me.

In coming days I'll share that with you.

Thanks for reading today. I hope and pray that you are blessed. Embracing your life - whatever it looks like. Be brave. Face the day. Influence your own life. May you write your own better story!

Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Monday

I hope that this week is a wonderful week for you!
I hope that whatever is on your to-do list gets crossed off!
I hope that you make time to enjoy Spring!
I hope that you grab a cup of coffee with a girlfriend.
I hope you have enough laundry clean to get through the week.
I hope you eat well.
I hope you're happy.
I hope you dream.
I hope cooking isn't a stressor for you but instead, a means to an end; getting the ones you love nourished and gathered around your table.

This is what my family of 7 is having for dinners this week!

Enjoy Menu Monday: 

SUNDAY- this French Toast recipe, strawberries, bacon (made in the oven) & sausage 

MONDAY - HayStacks

TUESDAY - Italian Shredded Chicken (crockpot!) & french fries

WEDNESDAY - Buffalo Chicken Strips (I wanted to make these Buffalo Chicken Meatballs but ground chicken was not available at my grocery store), Asparagus & Oven Potatoes (so easy & so, so good! thinly slice your fav potato, melt 1/4 cup butter with little onion pieces and pour over potatoes. cover w foil and bake 40 min & add sprinkle cheese just before serving! we ate the whole pan!)

THURSDAY - Taco Bell Fake Out Crunch Wrap Supremes  from AmandasCooking (I made sure to prepare extra taco meat on Monday so throwing these together was a snap! Also, I used my George Forman grill to make them toast!)

FRIDAY - the family was YOYO

SATURDAY - we celebrated the warm spring day with Hot Dogs around the fire pit, chips & salsa and lemonade. And don't forget the s'mores!

If you love menu's and recipes be sure to check out OrgJunkie - her Meal Plan Monday link up is the biggest I've seen.
I appreciate you visiting my site today. Please stick around and read a bit. My post on Saturday was a huge hit! Over 200 page views because I admitting I don't fix my kids problems.

Follow Stephanie Sikorski's board For My Recipe Box on Pinterest.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Learning to Duck

Getting along with people is hard. It has been my whole life. As a toddler, stuck in the throes of the terrible twos, no one understood me and even up until, well just yesterday, I have found people difficult to deal with. And it’s not just me. It's everyone. With so many different types of people and their unique personalities, it's no wonder we have disputes and lawsuits, grievances and cold wars. 

Getting along with people is hard and yet we have a responsibility to do it. The optimist in me would like to believe we all know this and thus practice workplace professionalism or strive to be good neighbors. It’s not that easy though. If it was we'd love where we work and live. 

That’s what's tough about life. Wouldn’t it be easier without all the other people mucking it up? We’d be lonelier for sure, but at least things would go our way.

I was reminded of this when I recently intervened between two fighting preschool students. One complained, "She won't play with me!" and the other said, “She won't leave me alone!". Neither understood why the other wasn't complying and the tension was mounting. "I don't want you to play with me!" "But I want to play with you!" Round and round they went. 

I suggested that one child walk away. "If you don't want to play," I said, "then don't. You may choose to go find something else to do."

So she did.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is Your Story Being Written as You Hoped?

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Italy. As an associate with the NLI Network I attended Summit and, while there, our EMERGE team hosted a one day Women's Leadership Conference. It was my honor and joy to speak at that conference. 

I was asked to speak on Story; Is Yours Being Written the Way You Hoped.

Well, don't I know a little about that?

You see a while ago, when I was floundering and flopping through my own life, I was forced to take a long hard account of myself. I was grieved with the answers I wasn't getting to some soul searching questions:
Why was I so disappointed with how things were turning out?
What about my dreams?
and most harshly, Did I even like where things were going?

First, it's painful to admit not being okay with one's own life and secondly, facing that truth left with me no choice but to engage the wrestle. And if you're a fan of Jacob you know his wrestle left him with a permanent hitch in his walk.
Not cool, God.
Not cool.

This was a very stressful time because on the one hand, I felt obligated to be thankful for the I've had. To complain that I didn't like the way it was going seemed disrespectful to the Maker of the Universe. The last thing I wanted to do was appear to be a selfish, ungrateful child. Yet, I knew something needed to change. I talked about all this and more in my presentation at the EMERGENCE women's conference in Bari, Italy.

I confessed, through the help of a translator, that it all began the time I felt sad because I was unable to remember some things, facts if you will, about my life.

My family would say, "Do you remember that time we took that trip?" and honestly, I would think "No."
And other times my mommy-friends would talk and say, "I'll never forget when my baby smiled for the first time!"
But me? No!
I could barely remember what it was like when they were babies! How could I remember smiling? or Cooing? or any of those super cool baby book kinda things?

This absolutely concerned me.
First, I was grieved.
Then I became a hypochondriac believing I had an early onset of dementia. 

That is when I really began to tailspin into fear.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Menu Monday

Here's what is on the Menu at our house.
It's not fancy.
Nor impressive.
But it is planned out and prepared with love.
Its one way I take care of my family.
I hope your kitchen is warm and your table full of those you cheerish.
Feeding my family isn't glamorous but its a responsibility I've learned to do as a way to serve them, nourish and care for them.
Plus, they're always hungry so somebodys got to do it! Bon A Petite!

Sunday - Brunch Enchiladas, Fried Potatoes & Doughnut Holes

Monday - Tacos
  • Nuff said.
Tuesday - Cheddar Chicken.

  • While this is hardly a quick dinner it was FANtastic! Served it up with some mashed potatoes and honey glazed steamed baby carrots. Delish!

Wednesday - Chicken Tenders & blue box macaroni & cheese.

  • I needed a quick dinner and the kids love this.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mother's Super Powers

My kids think I have super powers. And I'm okay with that. In fact, it's tradition where I come from. My mother used to tell me she had eyes in the back of her head. I believed her until I caught her watching us in the reflection of the kitchen window. I thought she was busy doing dishes but truth is she was spying. 

Hopefully I'm a little more sneaky than my mom. Nevertheless, I have a feeling as my kids get older they might wise up to me. Until that day, I plan to use and promote my paranormal powers with great candor. 

What is this super power I speak of? I'm like a walking human lie detector. My kids absolutely and emphatically believe that I can tell whether or not they are being truthful simply by looking at them. 

Crazy, right? 

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