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Living Purposefully

All of it...

All of it.

It’s hard, isn’t it, trying to do it all? It’s so challenging to balance this thing called life. There are so many needs and seemingly not enough of you to go around. I feel your ache. I understand your pain.


You desire to be that wife, who is able to juggle all her responsibilities with ease. I see you. You’re trying so hard, and you want it all to work out and go well. Wanting to be enough for your husband while your heart is silently breaking in two...


That situation with your kids? I know. You long to make their lives better, and their heartaches and struggles minimal. You want to be a part of every single moment and event in their lives to soak up each experience, but in reality you simply can’t. You want to make sure they comprehend just how much you’ve prayed for them; and the tears shed by you could float a ship. Inside you are wrestling with how to allow them to grow and work things out on their own, while still offering guidance along the way. Maybe you really want to decide for them, and do the hard tasks to make it easier, but instead you put on a strong, resilient face, enabling them to face their own circumstances with grace and courage.


At times I feel exactly like you may be feeling right now. I want to crawl into a quiet spot and just stop All.Of.The.Things. I don’t want to think, decide, predict, figure out, plan, console, serve or care. Decision making is not on my list of fun things to do today. Or any day!

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Are you feeling empty, like a box of cereal that’s been dumped out onto the floor? Some days there truly is just nothing left to give. You are running on empty, yet somehow, you find a way to do what is necessary to get things done. How to you find the strength to do it?

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For me, I rise early in the morning before anyone else is awake. I begin by thanking God for another day. I make a cup of tea, read my devotions and pray for my family and friends. I choose to set my mind in a grateful, thankful mode for the day before the many distracting tasks take over. If you’re anything like me, you have no less than 1,037 things scrolling through your mind at any given moment. I’ve got to take my thoughts captive and not allow any worries or stressors to take over in order to make the best of each day!


With so many people needing me, it can be challenging not to get caught up in being exhausted and a little resentful. Making the time to reflect on my blessings helps me refocus. It humbles me, filling me with happiness to be surrounded by loving people in my life. All that I face and experience is part of my life’s plan, so I know there is a purpose behind every struggle, joy, victory and defeat.

When you can take a moment to think about what is good in your life, the difficulties tend to diminish, allowing you to stand tall and face whatever comes your way. I’m cheering you on, and want you to be encouraged to keep moving forward. This too shall pass, and for each difficult moment, there are dozens of blessed events just waiting for you to enjoy! 

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Ahhhh Siblings...

The other night, my daughter had some friends over.  She and one of her brothers were goofing around, talking and laughing, and messing with each other.  Her friends were cracking up, and one of them was on the ground because he was laughing so hard!  It made me think back to how much fun, and sometimes how hard it was, to grow up as the youngest of six kids.

The memories I have from my childhood are mostly positive ones.  Thankfully, my two older brothers and three older sisters cared for me and seemed to genuinely love me.  With me being the youngest, and four years apart from my closest sibling, I don’t have the same experiences and stories to share as they do.  A lot of what comes to mind first are some of the crazy stories that we all laugh about now!

I clearly remember being the peon of the family.  We lived in a large house in Berlin, Germany when I was young. My siblings would often send me down to the basement to get them drinks.  I was terrified to go down there! Secretly I think they knew that, and they sent me down anyway to torture me!   I can almost hear the creaking of the heavy door, and smell the pungent odor that created scary pictures in my mind of what awaited me at the bottom of the steps.  Somehow, I always made it, and got them what they wanted.  Little did they know, I sprinted up the steps to avoid the serial killer that I imagined was waiting to slash my ankles as I went back upstairs!

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Sharing a bedroom also led to some good times.  My sister, the one who is four years older than I am, loved to send me on missions at night.  My mom  had various candies in a blue, heavy glass bowl in the front room of our house.  Guess who got to sneak around and retrieve sweets for her sister?  Yep, me!  I am laughing now, thinking of her summoning me when we were supposed to be asleep, “Orannggeee, graappeeee, lemmmoonnnn!” she would whisper to me, trying to convince me to run out and grab some candy for her.  Even though I was terrified of getting caught, I would tip-toe down the hall to get the sweets for her.  I tossed them to her as I dove back into bed, snuggling under the covers before my dad could figure out that I had left our room!

I also remember that same sister introducing me to her friends as her little brother.  I was mortified!  I thought she was so cruel to do that to me, and wondered what I had donen to deserve being treated that way.  Now I realize that it is pretty much the norm for kids to torture each other growing up.  As a matter of fact, my brothers once put me in a sleeping bag, tied the top shut, and tickled me until I wet my pants!  My own kids have tormented each other here and there, and they have survived!  So did I, and honestly my sisters are now my best friends!  You can read about a recent sister weekend we had, which truly blessed me!  Check it out here…http://fredericksburgparent.net/blogs/living-purposefully/3328-lake-shehawken.

If any of you are currently struggling with your own kids, wondering how you will survive with the seemingly constant bickering, arguing, and calls for you to play referee, hang in there!  I assure you that your children are simply delving into the realm of figuring out who they are, while establishing some family hierarchy.  The family that plays together stays together.  You’ll see in time that their relationships will grow, even as they irritate and annoy each other. (Not to mention you, sometimes!). Siblings have a special bond that grows stronger with time.  Try to grin and join in the fun if you can stand it!

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PMS

PMS


Please, Men, Surrender….just let go of the fact that you think you know how we feel. Just for the record, PMS is not simply a woman’s monthly excuse to act like a maniac. The syndrome is legit, and in case you think I’m making it up, here is a little supportive material to explain what I mean.

You know that feeling when you get the “bubbly” in your belly? Maybe you ate something bad, or have the stomach flu and your abdomen is cramping intermittently. Go ahead and multiply that x5 for a tiny glimpse of how many of us (women/girls) feel each month. Combine that with having a substance oozing out of you for days, or, unfortunately for some, a week or more. Grossed out? Yeah, tell me about it! It’s enough to make one a wee little bit cranky….

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Have you ever experienced every emotion within a 5 minute span? Try a nice hormonal episode like getting on Facebook for a few minutes. First you’re happy and cheering on that friend who just got a new job, won the lottery or got some new gadget they are excited about. You keep scrolling and bam, you come across a video of some child who just heard their parent’s voice for the first time and now you’re bawling your eyes out because you are so touched by the story. Suddenly you read a post from a friend that causes you to question their moral compass, and you are now distraught and angry. You pause for a moment and wonder next about yourself. “Am I being too judg-y? Does my friend need my help, not my anger? Your head is spinning! Enough of the computer, it’s time to move on.

Next, you walk into the kitchen to make some dinner only to find dirty dishes in the sink and crumbs on the counter. Now you can actually feel steam coming out of your ears, and your heart is beating fast. Must you have a uterus to know how to pick up after yourself? I think not, yet it happens all the time! Now you are irritated and feel angry that first you have to clean up before you can begin meal prep, so you start wiping things off, and loudly placing items on the counter and shoving them noisily into the cabinets. The only cure is to immediately eat everything within your reach. A handful of chocolate chips? Yes, please! 14 graham crackers? Sure, why not! Half a bag of chips? ALL the cookies? Okay!

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After creating a lovely meal for your darling family, you feel the fatigue tugging at you. Your legs are sluggish, and you begin yawning and hear the couch calling your name. You’re so tired from working all day and preparing dinner that you just want to curl up in a ball and take a nap right on the kitchen floor. Just then the phone rings and it’s a company reminding you of your appointment the next day, which of course you’ve forgotten because PMS destroys brain cells!

Are you getting the picture yet? I guarantee you that this is the real deal. Instead of dismissing it, or arguing about who is right, why not spend the time now to try and understand why we feel the way we do? Our bodies are in an upheaval, ridding us of unneeded inside parts. We have physical and emotional changes happening while we’re dealing with the everyday stressors of life. A little empathy and a hug will go such a long way. It will make us feel so much better which in turn will benefit you in the long run. Let’s simply end the PMS wars, shall we??

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Lake Shehawken

Lake Shehawken

 

When my sisters and I recently discussed getting together, we originally thought we would probably just do our usual – meet at IKEA, have lunch, and take bathroom selfies.  It’s hard to plan activities, because two of my sisters often have to work weekends.  For us to be able to have a Saturday to spend hanging out is a blessing. 

About a month ago, we figured out that we would all be able to spend a weekend together because for once, everyone’s schedules were free!  I was thrilled and figured we would have a simple get together, however, another plan surpassed my wildest dreams: we were going to visit our family’s cabin!!

We own a cottage in Northeast Pennsylvania on Lake Shehawken.  I remember stories about my mother getting into a rowboat at the age of 5, with her dog, and going out on the lake for some fun. The cabin she went to was small, and I envisioned the four of us girls being in that cabin for the weekend. Deep down I wondered what shape it would be in, and if we would all have room to sleep there. Would we need to pitch a tent to make it work?  Either way, I was so excited just to be heading out with my best friends – my sisters! 

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Giggles, stories, singing and snacking made for a great first leg of our 5+ hour ride to the lake.  After a couple of hours on the road, we stopped at a Sheetz gas station to stretch our legs.  Much to our surprise, a company was there giving away free f'real milkshakes, and they were delicious!  We were so happy!   I asked the girl who represented the company what the shirts she was holding were for, and she said that whoever follows their company on Instagram would receive a free shirt.  Of course one of my sisters and I did and we got free f’real shirts! It was a great pick me up that gave us a boost of energy to make it the rest of the way to the cabin.

   

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It is hard to put into words how much I love spending time with my sisters.  I simply adore each of them, and thank God for giving me such sweet women to walk this earth with.  They are loving, supportive, funny, helpful, giving, understanding, creative, strong women who always know what to say and do to make me feel deeply loved. I am so thankful for our time together, and I will always remember the sweet memories we made together.

That evening, we arrived on the road the cabin was on and instinctively rolled down our car windows.  Each of us inhaled deeply, letting the scent of Shehawken awaken our memories.  We could not wait to see where we'd be staying!  It turns out we were in a different cabin than the one our mom used to visit.  Our cousins, who graciously shared their space with us, waited up until we got there, and we brought our things in to get settled for the night. My sisters and I were able to sleep in the same room.  There were two single beds, and a set of bunk beds. I was on the top bunk, and my sister below was wide-eyed and looked terrified as I climbed up to go to bed.  She thought the whole thing was going to collapse on her!  Sis, I’m not that heavy! We had a lovely lake view from our bedroom window.

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One of my sisters and I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and headed straight out to the lake.  The silence and calm view was so refreshing.  We laughed as we boarded the row boat and took off onto the lake.  Who has time to sleep in, when there is so much to see and explore?! We felt like kids again, with boundless energy!

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Here is the cabin I remembered visiting as a little girl.  This is the cabin I thought we would be staying in, and is the one my mother used to frequent.

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Sitting on the dock is a wooden urn which holds the remains of our beloved mommy, who passed away four and a half years ago.  We brought her along, as this was a favorite place of hers.  What a sweet sentiment we received, as our cousin’s husband greeted us near the kitchen on our first morning there, saying, “Good morning, girls! I’m just enjoying a cup of coffee with mom…” as she rested on the dining room table.  Family just understands, and lovingly allows us to celebrate her life with us!

Here is the cabin we stayed in with my cousin and her family…

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Venturing out in the row boat, canoe and kayak allowed us to experience first- hand the beauty of nature all around us.  You don’t see much of this in Northern VA!  I could seriously get used to a slower paced lifestyle such as this.

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This hammock clearly was a favorite spot for us all!  It was such a relaxing place to soak up all the loveliness around us…our second cousin had it made for her mom while in Guatemala on a Peace Corps visit.  So beautiful!

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It was great waking up so early and heading out to enjoy our surroundings.  We found it funny to have been boating, hiking, swimming and relaxing on the lake only to realize was just 10:30 a.m. instead of 4 in the afternoon like it felt!  We crammed so much into our two days at Lake Shehawken, and hope to be able to do it again soon.

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Telling jokes in the yard by the grill, getting metallic temporary tattoos, relaxing by the water and sharing family memories made this short weekend at the lake a blessing to all of us. 

Two meaningful events happened that touched our hearts deeply.  While the four of us girls were out on the lake giggling and enjoying our time together, a big blue heron slowly flew overhead, deliberately making us stop and take notice.  We feel as though it was a clear sign that our mommy, who loved those birds, was with us.  Also, there was a large white eagle feather on the ground beneath a huge pine tree in the yard where we gathered for lunch.  My cousin told us a story of how a bald eagle frequents the tree there.  Two of my sisters were blessed to see it fly over them as they sat outside chatting.  Another sign, we feel, from our aunt and a cousin, who are both deceased, which was a gift as well.

As the weekend came to a close, we weren’t ready to leave. We packed up and gave thanks, and prepared for our journey back to VA.  As we climbed in to the car, tears flowed as my sisters and I reflected on the incredible gift we received in our weekend at Lake Shehawken.  Precious memories were made and I am so grateful!  Until next time… 

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You choose...

You choose…

There are times when it is very difficult for me to find words to adequately express my feelings.  When things happen that shock and upset me, I have a hard time knowing what to say, because it all seems so trivial in light of the horrific incidents that took place.  I feel such sadness and compassion for those who are hurt by such events, yet struggle to know exactly what would be helpful to them. I sometimes shy away from posting a response at all because I don’t want my opinions to take away from the love of Christ within me.  It’s hard for me, especially when I’m passionate about trying to live my own life by loving others and treating them with kindness, and in the way I want to be treated.

As I look at my family and friends, I am reminded of how each of us is an important part of the world we live in.  I am blessed because everyone brings their unique personalities to the table, and as we live, we learn and grow together.  We’re different, and rightfully so!  If we all thought the same things and did everything the same way, this would be one very boring life!

I find it meaningful to live for an audience of One. I share my Christian beliefs with anyone I can because my life has been positively impacted by becoming a believer.  I do not share it to shame anyone, or to cause others to feel bad about themselves or their choices on how they live.  I just know what works for me and want to extend the same opportunity to others so they too can experience such a deep love, should they choose to do so.

With that said, none of us has the right to judge another for their lifestyle choices, or their belief structure.  Nor should anyone be hated, discriminated against or injured due to the color of their skin, yet this continues to happen right before my eyes.  How are we supposed to fix such a broken system?  Why are we constantly hearing such heart wrenching stories of turmoil and separation within our country?

Lately, so many events have transpired making it clear to me that our nation is in need of a revival. We need to stand up and let it be known that hate will not be victorious.  During struggles and desperation, we need to lean on each other to try to make sense of the tragedies.  I’m having difficult conversations with my family and friends to gain new perspectives on what they think and feel.  I’m also trying to embrace ideals that differ from mine, even when they do not line up with my morals, because I know that only by listening and trying to relate to where others are coming from can I begin to see the meaning behind their feelings.  It doesn’t mean I will compromise my beliefs and way of living, but it does mean I am willing to give them an opportunity to help me recognize where they are coming from.

I want to know that my family and I are safe, and that we can go about our lives without fear of being hurt or discriminated against. As a mom to three biracial children, I think about how others perceive them.  I wonder if my sons will be more of a target to law enforcement due to the fact that they are not Caucasian. They deserve the same rights as anyone else on this planet, regardless of how they look. I want each and every person in the world to feel like they matter and have purpose, and have the right to live life without having to look over their shoulders all the time. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. 

Often, we are given information that is hard to accept and believe.  Should we address it? Forget it? Take a stand?  I personally am going to do all I can to make sure that I am living my life as I know I should by treating others as I would like to be treated.  I want to look at everyone and see human beings, and not let my view of them be swayed by media hype or lies.  I choose joy and to be a peacemaker, knowing that it will make a positive difference.  Regardless of where we stand politically, spiritually, or personally, several things remain unanimous:

                *Hurt people, hurt people.  It’s hard to believe it when you see others acting erratically, but it’s true.  When you are suffering, sometimes you lash out at others not knowing how much you are hurting them.

               *Kindness matters.  We simply need to treat others with love, respect and kindness.  ALL others; regardless of how they look, or act.  Even when people are ugly towards you, you should respond calmly and with class.

                *Each life is important.  We may not agree with differing lifestyles and choices, but no one is beyond the capacity to show respect and consideration for others.

               *Stand up for what is right.  No matter what others say, or how you seem to be influenced against it, take a stand for what you know to be the right thing.  Someone has to, and why not have it be you?  Right is right, even when no one is doing it.  Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.

                *Love wins, every time.  No matter how much hate, darkness, pessimism and negativity is floating around in the world right now, love will conquer all. 

Today is a great time to begin to look inside yourself to see if you are going to be a part of the problem, or do you choose to be part of the solution?  Are you with me?  Let’s make a positive difference one day at a time!  Has anything happened recently to bring a new level of consciousness to you?  How are you handling it?

 

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About Tammy

tammy

I am a happily married mommy of three, who is living my life in hopes of making a positive difference in the world. I will share my ups and downs with you all to encourage and support you along your journey.  Live with purpose, and choose joy!

Pouches' Community Corner

Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (BACA) exists to create a safer environment for abused children by empowering children to not feel afraid of their world. Imagine how an abused child feels when a group of large bikers rides up to their house, inducts them into their club and then escorts them to court to testify against their abuser.

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