Friday, August 28, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 8.28.09


Well, the first full week of school is almost finished, and it has been a great time for me to get back into the swing of a full work week. My book is flying along (3 chapters complete and one in the works). I have finished putting the final touches on a the Women's Retreats I am leading in October and November and am gathering up the supplies I need for my booth at the Northwest Arkansas Business Women's Conference which is just around the corner. Woo! No wonder I am dragging a bit today!

I want to take a minute to tell you guys about my latest brain child, though, because I am soooooo excited about it! It's called "Strings Attached." And much like the story behind the meaning of Company Girl, it is all about developing deep, lasting relationships with one another. One thing that I have noticed in the churches and groups that I have spoken to over the last year is that their is a great disconnect. People spend a lot of time connecting online and through FB and Twitter, but have stopped taking the time to form deep, meaningful connections face to face. We are relational beings and are, whether we realize it or not, seeking ways to connect to one another. I believe this is the driving force behind our need to be involved in activities. We are trying to connect, but because we don't get deep with our connections, we continue to feel incomplete and say yes to more activities. I believe that developing trusting and intimate relationships with the women in the pew next to us can help to break the "I'm to busy to breathe" cycle. I know it seems counterintuitive. I promise it works. I have seen it turn churches around!

Ask me about "Strings Attached: An Adventure in Connecting, Communicating and Conquering." I would be happy to share it with you. For more information about it, comment here or send me an email at cari@gps4life.net.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunrise


I wrote this on July 12, 2007. So much has happened in those two years, but the sentiment remains the same. I hope you enjoy this post.

Not long ago, I had the chance to sing one of my favorite songs, "Sunrise," by Nichole Nordeman. When I first heard this song I was simply captivated by it. It spoke to me on such a personal level (as so much of Nichole's music does), that I felt compelled to share it with my church.

So the lyrics to the first verse go something like this:

If I had the chance to go back again,
Take a different road, bear a lighter load,
Tell and easy story,
I would walk away with my yesterdays,
And I would not trade what is broken for beauty only.
Cause every valley, every bitter chill,
Made me ready to climb back up the hill.
And find that, You are sunrise.
You are blue skies.
And how could I know the morning, if I knew not midnight?...

Those lyrics are so true for me. I haven't walked the darkest of paths or known desperate loss or sorrow. I would never look back on my life to date and term it hard. I have the best Mom and Dad in the world, who are still happily married to each other after 35 years. I have two stunningly beautiful sisters whom I deeply love and cherish. I have a husband who is my absolute soul mate and best friend. I have two awesome children who daily remind me that God is good. I grew up in a fantastic town, had the best public school education a girl could get, gained fantastic experiences serving in the military with some of this country's finest men and women, and now I get to work in a place where I daily make a difference in the lives of others. I would not term my life hard. I am richly blessed, but it isn't always easy either. And sometimes I have to work hard at reminding myself that happiness is choice we make, not a gift that is given to us. I can truly say, though, that I am comfortable with the road that my decisions have brought me down. And, while I would not choose that same path for my children or for those that I love, I wouldn't change it either. It has shaped me into the woman I am today.

So as I was preparing to sing this song, I had an opportunity to spend some time with my 12 year old cousin. She is a beautiful young lady. Two years ago, we celebrated Christmas with her family and I can remember the light in her eyes when we pulled up with our two munchkins. She took my 2 year old daughter in her arms and my 3 year old son by the hand and they were off to play. That light is dim now. Her father (my Uncle Justin) was killed in a car accident the following January. She was a Daddy's girl, and she is lost without him. It broke my heart to sit across from her, and watch her eyes well up at the mention of his name. And I had to think, if I were in her shoes, would I honestly be able to sing those lyrics? Or would I be forever wishing for "a lighter load?"

My Daddy is not well. Those of you that know me well, know that this is a constant prayer on my heart. Daily, I pray that the Lord will heal his broken heart. Daily, I pray for a cure for his cancer. Daily, I pray that the Lord will make him whole again. I am forever laying down the burden of the fear I feel each time his hand shakes too much, or his face goes a little pale, or he forgets something I just said...But I am forever picking it back up again. I am driven by the impulse for my children to spend every moment they have with him, so that they can learn from the man that taught me such wisdom. But through all of that, I daily thank God for the tragic experiences that have brought us to this place. Without them, I would cherish each sunrise a little less. Each smile, each memory would have a little less meaning. Each day, I think, would be a little harder to make the choice to be happy..
I often wonder, will my cousin feel that her journey was, at least somewhat, worth it? That the experiences and the steeliness of spirit, and the resourcefulness of character were, in the end, of some benefit to her? Will that spark ever grow bright in her eyes again?

What about you? Would you go back? Would you trade your testimonies, your hardships, your unhappy moments for an easy lifetime? Would you still be the same person you are today without them? Or do you cherish the sunrise a little more because of them?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 8.21.09


Hola, Ladies!

So sorry to have missed our coffee last week, but I was off inspiring future company girls! :)

This time last week I was in Huntsville, Alabama speaking with an organization called Inspired Girls. Check them (well, I mean us now, I think...long story) out at www.inspiredgirlsevents.com. What a wonderful opportunity and blessing it was to be able to share my story, testimony and life learnings to bring teenage girls into a closer relationship with God and with each other! And, they loved me (which always helps!) I came away from the experience with the joyful exhaustion that comes from doing that which you are called to do, and doing it well.

This week has been a whirlwind of activity. I returned home only to be hurled back into the realization that my life did not wait for me while I was off fulfilling my dreams. My sweet babies have returned to school (1st and 2nd grade) and we are now shuffling through homework and PE clothes and tired munchkins every night. But all in all it has been a fantastic week for me. One of renewed vision and purpose (check back soon, I will be blogging about it shortly! ) and crystal clear focus on my dreams and mission in life. I am so excited! I can't hardly wait!

What about ya'll? What has this week held for you?

Let me add this final thought for you this week...I found this quote when I was looking for something to close with in my last presentation. It has been crucial to my being open to the new direction my life is taking. Perhaps it will help you too!

"We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impression to proceed in ways different from those we may have thought of."

John H. Groberg

Friday, August 7, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 8/7/09

Good Morning, Company Girls! (And all my other friends that follow me....)

Today is my first morning with the Company Girls, and I must say I am excited!

But I am a little sad...Charlie's sister and brother in law have been visiting for the last week. It has been a wonderful and unexpected stay-cation, and I am just not ready for it to end. Nevertheless, they are heading home today. We will see them again in October, when I head to Maryland to lead a women's retreat for Burtonsville Baptist Church. It was so lovely to get to spend time with them and to watch them with the kids. It is just a little bittersweet to see them go.

So I am gonna keep this short and go have coffee with my OTHER guests. Have a wonderful Friday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thank You for the Morning Glories


The cool summer here and loads of rain have been optimal weather for the wild morning glories that grow in my flower bed. They are a riot of blue blooms this morning and I thought, in honor of their beautiful smiling faces I would repost this story I wrote 3 years ago when we found out that my son has a chronic allergic disorder that makes him very ill. I hope you enjoy it.




Have you ever tried to get rid of a morning glory? It is not easy. Just when you think that you have weeded them out, here sprouts a new one, weaving it's vines all over your favorite flower and letting you know just how not in control of your environment you are.


Life is like that too, isn't it? There are just some things in life that keep coming back to you until you finally stop fighting them and embrace them. Sometimes, you have to stop trying to weed out the things you don't want to be there and be thankful for the experiences.


Take this week for example. Tuesday morning, my son woke up about 4:30 am throwing up. I thought, "great...stomach virus...not what I need today." I was scheduled to teach dissection to the 5-8th graders at his school at 1, Charlie was on pager, work was piled high on my desk and I had just come back from a three day trip with the kids to Sheridan. What I did not need was a sick child to try to work around. So, as I am running around, trying to come up with some antidote to his illness, trying to work out in my mind some way to get it all done, Xander goes running past me to the bathroom again, and again...and again....by the fourth trip to the bathroom in less than an hour, all that worrying about how I was going to fit everything else into my day was replaced with how do I keep fluids down my son. 


By 7 am, I had passed worry and anxiety to plain ole scared. By 830, we were at the doctor's (still vomiting every 15 min, and at this point having to be wheeled around in a wheelchair because he was too weak to walk). By 915, we were admitted to the hospital with no idea what was wrong. After a night in the hospital on IV fluids, Xander is doing much better, but we are still home from school.


I guess the point is, I did not want this little trip to the hospital or the 4 days off work, or the 4 days stuck at home, inside with a stir crazy boy and an even more stir crazy me. But it has made me slow down and appreciate some things a little more. I am really thankful for my son and his improved health. I am thankful for our health insurance (even though I am always complaining about how crappy it is). I am thankful for our house (even thought right now I feel trapped inside it). I am thankful for my job that keeps me from being trapped inside the house (even though I have been complaining about never having enough time).


But, I am especially thankful for the morning glories that greeted me and my son with their unassuming blue smiles when we came home from the hospital (even though they are climbing all over my hibiscus and petunias).....
Alexander said, "Mom, look God made these new flowers grow here. I like them, they are my favorte color. Aren't they pretty?"


Thank You, God, for those morning glories! I think they may just be my new favorite flower.
There was an error in this gadget