Finding your balance can be hard. Work-Life balance, a balanced diet, inner balance, a good pair of New Balance.... all are worthy goals, to be sure, but not all come easily. I am more balanced today than I have ever been, and that worries me. Not because I might lose it - I feel pretty sure footed, and if do start to teeter, I've built a life with cushions for the inevitable falls. What worries me is what someone sees who isn't quite there yet. For a long time I was...unbalanced, in many, many ways. I married and divorced in my twenties. If you have ever been in a 'fun house' at a carnival that is nothing compared to the topsy turvy life I lived in my twenties. Bad decisions seemed to pile up like leaves in New England, just not nearly so picturesque. All that time I would see people who looked so very balanced, but rather than being encouraged or inspired, I was unnerved and disturbed by them. Balanced people made me feel horrible and judged. Balanced people made me feel like there was something really wrong with me - something in my core. Balanced people made me rebellious. With hindsight, I can see that it was really the Spirit inside me trying to show me that it was possible to be balanced and happy and full of life. But in the midst of it, I just couldn't see it. What could have been inspiring, all to often ended up being a hinderance. Whether it was friends, or even members of my family, all I could see was how far apart we were. It didn't help that there really actually was judgement from some - we humans are really good at creating balance with a heavy portion of judgement. Not everyone, but enough that I felt justified in my rebellion. I never wanted to be the kind of person that couldn't extend mercy and grace into a situation. Seeing, or at least perceiving, people withhold grace was an effective obstacle for a long time. I don't think I can really explain how I got around it, but I'll try. Over time, attending a church that I really loved, I started to focus on myself and I stopped worrying about others. I started to see that my rebellious attitude and righteous indignation was really another form of judgement. I began to see that my fear, my pain, and my regret was the window through which I viewed all these 'perfect' people. It took a long time but at some point it finally clicked that if I would just clean my own window - not only would I see the world with more clarity - but people could actually start to see the real me. Not the me through the film of bad choices but the real me. The me that God made, the me that Christ saved. So here I am, with a fairly clean window. But there are still those smudges that just won't come off, not in this lifetime. I'm still more selfish than I want to be. I'm still a little judge-y myself at times - mainly as a defense mechanism when I feel like I'm being judged. So silly really. I still care an awful lot about what other people think - that one I think is healthy to a certain extent...but I probably pass that extent, on more than a few occasions. And now that I have this clearer vision, I have more balance, and I worry about the wobbly people out there. I don't want them to feel about me, the way I would have felt about me ten years ago. I don't want to instill rebellion or a feeling of judgement. I don't want to cause someone to crawl further away from who they were made to be. I want to hand out New Balance running shoes and maps. I want to encourage people and tell them - it's just a dirty window - not a soiled life! Let's just make a little pledge - if we have a friend that is making bad choices, if we know someone who is running the wrong way, if we see someone whose decisions have left them in a big mess, let's pledge that we will at least remember, even if they do not yet know - it is just a dirty window, not a soiled life. Let's extend grace and mercy - only to the extent that we have received it. Of course that is immeasurable, so we should have plenty for everyone. Let's try to not be a stumbling block. Let's be over-achievers in the not judging, realizing that they are perceiving a ton of judgement - justified or not. Because, really, we don't want to judge. We don't want to judge. We want to help. No one could have both judged me and led me into the light. It is simply impossible to both judge and lead. Once I was in the light I could judge for myself what needed to be changed and I did. Then God sent refiners into my life. They are with me still today - refining and polishing and showing me those smudges with so much love and kindness that they often don't even know He is using them. I am so thankful for those loving people He sent into my life in Atlanta that just said - you are ok today. You made a good choice today. I don't care about yesterday, let's just worry about today. No matter what, God still wants you in His family. He wants you especially. He wants us all, especially. Their love led me. The holidays are a good opportunity to mend fences, to begin anew, to offer a listening heart and a loving hand. My prayer is that God will reveal anyone in our path that feels like I used to feel and helps us to somehow show them....it's nothing a little windex can't fix.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No stress over spending money we don't have like at Christmas - rather it is a day set aside to be thankful and that is such an incredibly powerful act. A day set aside to come together with family and friends and simply acknowledge all of the blessings we have in life. I know that it isn't that way for everyone. Not all families get along. It's also a reminder of traditions that have passed, loved ones that are missed. Greg is rocking, right now, in Elijah's room, in the very rocking chair that my Grandma would sit in and eat her Thanksgiving meal each year at my mom's. I miss her so much and I know that it doesn't compare with my mom's ache. Our family had a funeral just this week for my aunt, a beautiful woman who lost her battle just days before the holiday. And it isn't just losing someone - it is also families who just do not get along. Those who dread the tension and stress and look to the Thanksgiving meal with trepidation or dread. I don't know why this is where my head is tonight. I really love Thanksgiving and I so look forward to tomorrow. But my heart is so heavy tonight for those who are struggling. Those who are dreading this as a 'first time without...' Thanksgiving. Those who are stressed and out of the moment and caught up in...stuff. I want to lighten your burden. I want to carry it for you for a while but I'm not sure how to do that. All I can do is maybe give you a few minutes of peace. Take a moment, just a few minutes and as you read this list, just close your eyes and be in the middle of the thought, place, feeling. Take a break from the hectic and harried preparations and just be for a moment... Standing at the peak of a mountain as the sun crests over the range. Feel the warmth of the rays. Puppies running and rolling all over each other. Feel the pure, innocent, joy. Standing on a beach watching the sun slip past the horizon. Feel the rhythm of life. A babies laughter. Feel the hopefulness and happiness. Warm, fresh from the oven, cookies. Feel the sense of contentment and peace. A kitten's tiny body purring soundly in your hand. Feel the trust and rest. A secret smile between you and your special someone across the room. Feel the love, the butterflies. The weight of a soundly sleeping babe in your arms. Feel the hope for tomorrow. A kid that just learned a knock knock joke...kinda. Feel the pride and humor. Fall leaves and spring flowers. Remember the beautfy of this world. Waterfalls. Feel the power and awe. The champions at the World Series, and Super Bowl, and Olympics - that joyful triumphant smile. Feel the accomplishment. Rooting for the underdog. Feel the transfer of will and the encouragement. Playing in the rain. Remember the innocence and silliness of the unexpected. Friends. Feel their love. Chocolate (women especially). Taste it. All the laundry done AND put away. Aaaahhhh. Finally solving the sudoku. Feel the pride and satisfaction. Beautiful music. Hear the hours and hours of dedication - hours and hours dedicated to bringing beauty into the world. I pray tonight for anyone whose heart is heavy. I pray for respite. I pray for peace. I pray for a path through. We live in a broken, yet beautiful world. Glennon at momastery.com calls it brutiful - and that is about right. Life is brutal and beautiful and sometimes the beauty comes out of the brutal and sometimes it's the other way around. Tell lot's of people you love them tomorrow and try to mean it as much as you possibly can. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Sometimes life is so much harder than it should be. There are so many competing demands for my time. There are the things I have to do; eat, work, bathing and feeding the littles, and sleeping. Then there are the multitude of things I want to do; learn how to program, volunteer, exercise, improve my photography, play with the littles, go on dates with my husband, write about all of it, make awesome Pinterest ideas into incredible Christmas gifts, and pretend to paint. I go through this roller coaster on a quarterly basis - I get really excited about the opportunities in front of me. I make plans to move forward. I get started on some things....and then I hit a valley and I feel like there will never be enough time to do what is demanded of me, much less those things that fall outside of demands. Then I get mad - because it is those things that fall outside of the demands that feel like LIVING to me. If I only do what is demanded of me then I don't understand the point of it all. What is the point of it all - there are women in the world, as a matter of fact the majority of women in the world, whose lives revolve around surviving. The point of their tomorrow is to find the sustenance that will allow them and their children to make it to the next day - and the point of that day will be the same, for all of their days. Perhaps it is that fact, the fact that I am in a minority of blessed people who could and should be changing the world because I CAN - it is that, that causes me to burn with the desire for more than meeting the demands. I want to exceed the demands of my small life so that I can join hands with the other men and women around me and EXCEED the needs of others. I want my life to be turned upside down so that I can give the most of myself to the cause of exceeding and the leftover to the demands. I am tired of giving the leftovers of my energy and time and heart to the things that matter the most. How did we let this happen? How did we let the world turn upside down? This broken world has angered me. Over and over and over. I am angry that I know what I should do but I don't do it. Even the leftover is often wasted. Inhale 1...2...3....4....5...6....7...8 Exhale 1...2....3....4....5....6....7 Ironically this tirade is funded in part by my annual practice of focusing on what I'm thankful for during the month of November. It is this gratitude and joy with so much of life, that has triggered an avalanche of desire, and guilt, and need, and drive. I have so much, and I should be doing so much more with it. So. What now? I do not know - I will keep trying. I will shrink it down to smaller points of time. I will make each hour mean something until I get a day full and go from there. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think I have to be productive or crazy busy every hour - some hours will be spent in stillness and silence - and they will be cherished. I just want every moment to be as intentional as possible. I want to live my life intentionally. Do any of you have this figured out - any tips for those of use that get bogged down in the details of life? What do you do that fills you up?

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