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16 years in to this thing called marriage…

We know that wedding day was much, much more than a dress and a tux, a bouquet and boutonniere.

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16 years in…

Puppy love has all but disappeared. In it’s place, a richer, deeper, grounded definition of love that’s committed to the test of time.

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16 years in…

We know that real life marriage isn’t so much about sweeping each other off our feet as it is about sweeping the kitchen floor.

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16 years in…

We’re realistic about the fact that people change. In the beginning, we climbed the ladder in tandem. Now, he continues the climb while she heads down in search of green pastures. The challenge lies not in the climbing up or heading down the ladder, but in the commitment to discovering a safe old oak tree for meeting under at the end of each long day.

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DSCN718416 years in…

We actually know what they meant when they said you’re not just marrying each other, you’re marrying the entire family.

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16 years in…

All but one of the grandparents have passed. We honor their legacy, remember we wouldn’t be here without them, and daydream about just one day where we could call grandma over and ask her how she did it with three little ones, six little ones, a husband and household on top of that.

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16 years in…

We know flower girls turn into PhD candidates, junior bridesmaids turn into accountants, and junior groomsmen turn into mental health workers. Long nights talking in the dorm room turn into months of phone tag just to hear her voice; years spent working towards the same degree turn into treadmill time hashing over new, grown-up mama-sized dreams. Things happen, man, things happen. What was once an assembled wedding party becomes a whole line of friends and family gone this way and that. Friends divorce, friends remarry, neighbors divorce, neighbors move out. Marriage isn’t for them, marriage is for them. The fragility, the sacred art of relationship is tested and worked out again and again by 16 years, yes 16 years.

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16 years in…

We recognize marriage is like music. Some days, you’re desperate to sing your own melody. Most days, it’s better to sing in harmony. And on all days, it’s best to work together, composing each bar, each line in tandem, working towards completion of this song we’ve committed to compose together.

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16 years in…

We need our Heavenly Father to make this marriage thing work even more than we’ve ever needed our earthly parents.

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We’re familiar with every reality of married life. It’s not easy folks, it’s not easy. Let’s not kid ourselves. We’re human beings and there’s nothing easy about committing to one human being for a lifetime. Kids run wild, dirt and food cover kitchen floors, people run out of underwear because the laundry’s piled up so high, and ya, we disagree on stuff, sometimes big time, like night and day. But we committed, we’ve committed, to this thing called marriage. We’re in it. Those vows? They meant something. Because we love each other. So we live those vows – day, by day, by day, by day. We decide, we’re doing this. We know, this is real love.

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16 years in…

We understand marriage isn’t so much about romance as it is about cultivating deep, authentic relationship. Because the most romantic thing there ever could be is one human being understanding, accepting and choosing to love another deeply, faults and all.

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DSCN526416 years in…

We know we’ve changed. We’re not the same we once were.

We’re desperate to nurture, cultivate, love on our marriage, even amidst this crazy, crazy world.

No marriages are perfect, but all are real.

So today, we commit not only to what is real, but to what is possible.

For love covers a multitude of things. Love bears all things. Love hopes all things.

The legacy we dream of is a lifetime together.

So cheers to us and all the married alike. Cheers, to living the dream you dreamed on your wedding day. Cheers, to the legacy of “I do.”

pinksig

 

TinyPrincess

Mama was washing breakfast dishes. Tiny princess came down the stairs with a Princess Tiana dress in hand. She’d pulled it down, off the hanger in her closet.

“Put it on mom. Put it on!” said tiny princess.

So mama put the dress on her tiny, tiny princess.

White silk fell off her shoulders. It was too big.

White silk dragged on the ground. It was too long.

Mama had an idea. A shiny green paperclip would do. So she tugged that white silk up at the shoulders, gathered it all together in the back, and pushed it right through that shiny green paperclip.

Tiny, tiny princess was ready to play.

“My pretty princess, mom! My pretty princess!” she exclaimed as she ran around the room, white silk trailing behind.

Tiny princess wanted big brother to see her pretty princess dress. So she grabbed ahold of that white silk,  lifted it up, and began down the stairs to the basement. One step, by one step, by one step and another, tiny princess walked down the stairs to find brother, big brother.

“My pretty princess, brother! My pretty princess!” she exclaimed as she ran around the room, white silk trailing behind.

“Wow, so pretty!” said big brother. “You’re so pretty.”

Then tiny princess grabbed ahold of that white silk, lifted it up, and began back up the stairs to find mama. One step, by one step, by one step and another, tiny princess walked up the stairs to find mama.

“My go outside!” said tiny princess as she headed for the door.

So mama turned the lock and opened the door for tiny, tiny princess. Tiny princess ran to the deck rails and looked through to a field of possibility. Birds chirped, frogs croaked, swans swam, and grasses blew in the breeze.

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What was next for tiny princess? What in the world would she do?

Just then, tiny princess saw a red net across the deck. She ran as fast as she could. “My catch frogs!” she said. “My catch frogs!” Tiny princess was brave, tiny princess was bold. She was determined to catch frogs so she grabbed ahold of her white silk pretty princess dress and began down the deck stairs in search of some tiny, tiny frogs.

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Just then, mama said “Wait! Wait! I’m still wearing my pajamas. Come! We’ll catch frogs after I’m ready.”

So mama picked up her tiny, tiny princess and carried her all the way upstairs.

Tiny princess got up on mama’s great big bed and waited patiently, soaking in the brave, beautiful and kind princess things Princess Sofia does in the kingdom of Enchancia.

Mama got ready for the day. She pulled her long hair into a ponytail, brushed her teeth until they were sparkly white, and put on her green dress with a ruffle on the top. Mama was ready to go anywhere, ready to do anything with miss tiny, tiny princess.

But before she did anything, mama stopped. She looked at her tiny princess on that great big bed and knew it wasn’t time to go frog hunting, not yet anyway. So mama took a deep breath, stood still in the door frame, and soaked in the moment.

Mama saw the beauty, the treasure, the rare gem that was her tiny, tiny princess. There she was – more beautiful than gold, more precious than silver – one shoulder bare, the other adorned with a flower.

Tiny princess. Beautiful. Precious. Set apart for more than mama could imagine.

Mama bottled the moment in her memory, saved it up for all the years she’d walk alongside her tiny, then not-so-tiny princess. For she loved her daughter so.

In the stillness of the moment, mama pondered the love of her Daddy, her Father who calls her beautiful, precious, set apart for more than she could ever imagine.

And she knew what He’d say…

That’s the way I love you, that’s the way I see you.

Beautiful, tiny princess.

Beautiful.

A tear dropped from mama’s eye.

Mama walked slowly to the bed so as to not disturb the peace that was. She brushed tiny princess’ hair out of her eyes and told her quietly it was time to go.

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Mama lifted tiny princess off the bed, took her tiny, tiny hand, and together, they walked all the way down the stairs.

Mama knew it was the perfect time to go frog hunting, so she turned the lock and opened the door for tiny princess. Tiny princess ran to the deck rails and looked through to the field of possibility. Birds chirped, frogs croaked, swans swam, and grasses blew in the breeze – the same way they did earlier that morning.

What was next for mama and her tiny princess? What in the world would they do?

Catch frogs, mama thought, watch grasses blow in the breeze, swans grace water with wings, and birds fly free in song. So off they went. Tiny princess grabbed ahold of her white silk pretty princess dress and began down the deck stairs in search of those tiny, tiny frogs. And mama came alongside, red net in one hand, tiny princess’ hand in the other.

Together, they were brave. Together, they were bold. Together, they were beautiful, tiny princesses.

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Aitkin Band

The fact that my dad’s lifelong career as band director was never celebrated properly bothered me for eight years straight. So one week ago, I took a leap of faith and wrote a post I hoped would rectify that wrong. When I hit publish, I had no idea what the outcome would be, but I did it anyway.

Today, I’m happy to announce that my hopes and dreams for that post came true. The response was greater than I imagined. The outpouring of support? Tremendous, amazing, absolutely incredible.

As of this afternoon…

7,200 people saw the post in their Facebook feed

615 people read the post on the blog

41 people “liked” the post on Facebook

38 people left a personal message for my dad on the blog

27 people shared the post on their personal Facebook page

and…

1 person (my dad, aka Mr. Femling) left a note of thanks for all who made the week so special for him:

“Your comments have raised my spirits immeasurably! It’s easy to get down when you have pulmonary fibrosis and can’t play the trumpet like you used to. I wear oxygen tanks all of the time now so I can still get around and play golf. I always wanted to die directing the band when everything was clicking, as it did many times with you guys, or playing golf. I almost got my wish when I had a heart attack on hole #3 at the [golf course] about 6 weeks ago. As depression started to set in your comments lifted me up and made me want to fight on! The “wall of sound” you created gave me the “chills” many times as do the memories of those times do now. Thanks to my daughter Amy for this great retirement party and to all of my fantastic band students. [Mr. Femling]  JUNE 18, 2014 – 8:07 PM”

I have to admit, I’ve learned some lessons this week. Publishing that post and seeing the positive outcomes was eye opening for sure.

So what have I learned?

1) Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. Sometimes there’s just no getting around it. When I published that post, I had NO idea what the response would be. I had no idea how it would “perform.” I had no proof, no evidence to suggest the post would be a success. For all I knew, the post could’ve died flat on its face. But something told me that wasn’t going to happen. I just had a feeling, a suspicion that it had the potential to produce the outcomes I desired for my dad. So I took a leap of faith. And it worked. Sometimes, in order to get the outcomes we desire, in order for God to produce the outcomes in our lives that He desires for us, we need to take leaps of faith.

2) People really can be amazing. And once in a while? They’ll not only meet, but greatly exceed all of your expectations. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ve heard me talk about expectations. About four years ago, I became very aware of a fault I’ve carried for a lifetime. The expectations I have for myself and the expectations I have of others are simply way too high. Well, let me just say that all of my expectations were met and exceeded with this blog post for my dad! People showed up. They spent time leaving messages that were detailed, heartfelt, and kind. They acted when they could’ve sat idle. They cared when they could’ve chosen to care less. It was a true honor for me, my dad, and my entire family to read the messages people left on the blog. The outpouring of love and support was amazing, each and every perspective unique, and all together an honoring, perfect picture of my dad’s character and career as band director.

3) Words are powerful. I love words. And I take them seriously, probably more seriously than most. In fact, I’d say that when it boils down to it, words might just be the point of my life. Words can lift up, and words can tear down. We choose our words. Yes, we choose our words. We choose how and when to use them, and with whom to share them. If you go in to that blog post for my dad, dig deep in the comments, read each word, and ponder the true meaning of it all, you’ll be astounded, overwhelmed by the content that was communicated in that space. Words have immense power. Why are we careless with words, throwing them around as if they don’t mean anything, joking as if it won’t hurt anyone, blaming when maybe it’s nobody’s fault at all. Why do we withhold words when they have the power to heal, bring peace, joy, encouragement? Why don’t we love, lift each other up, tend to one another with words more often? Why don’t we consider the holy weight of words, every one important, every one filled with possibility?

Yes, these are just a few of the things I learned from the post I published in honor of my dad’s career as a band director. So today, I rest in peace, acknowledging publicly that the post was a success.

Together, we provided a little joy, a little hope, a little reassurance and blessing for my dad, Mr. Femling, in the midst of times that have been tough.

Words of gratitude are extended generously to those of you who read, responded, and replied to the post. You recognized and restored dignity to a man who deserved it.

Amy

**If you haven’t read the post I wrote in honor of my dad’s career as band director, I strongly encourage you to do so! You’ll find it here, at In Which I’m Throwing a Retirement Party for My Dad, Mr. Femling!

DSCN7140On June 12, 2013, I spent 1 hour 45 minutes drafting a blog post I wanted to publish for Father’s Day in honor of my dad, known to many of you as Mr. Femling. I had a plan in mind, a vision of what I wanted to do for my dad. But there came a time, even after all the effort I put into writing that draft, that I felt overwhelmed. This was too big of a task for one person to take on. Emotions and uncertainty stirred up in me as I got further into the post. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to complete the post, publish it, and execute my plan, but I just wasn’t sure. So I dropped it.

The blog post has been sitting in my draft archives for a year, but it hasn’t escaped my mind.

One month ago, I approached my husband and shared what I wanted to do for my dad. I considered the possibility of dedicating a chunk of time for it on the blog in June, maybe even make it a series. But the way I had it all planned out in my mind felt too big, required far too much planning, and the outcome wasn’t guaranteed. While my husband appreciated my thoughtfulness, he assured me that repairing this piece of history wasn’t my responsibility, so after much thought, I decided once again to drop the concept.

But the blog post still hasn’t escaped my mind.

I still feel compelled to act.

DSCN7138So let’s get right to it!

Father’s Day is in two days.

My dad has a rare lung disease and recently had a heart attack. He’s not felt well since.

My dad has been retired for eight years, but I think most people would agree that the end of his career as a public school band director was less than ideal. I won’t attempt to explain, but quite honestly, it was a challenging time for my dad and our family. We tried to help my dad process and manage an unexpected ending to his lifelong career as band director, but by the time he officially retired, we were also two years in to the worst of my sister’s battle with addiction and mental illness.

All of this to say that I believe my dad was not given a proper retirement celebration. None of us had an opportunity to celebrate and honor my dad’s awesome career!

Another thing I regret is that I never got to see him direct his last concert. Under normal circumstances, performing and attending his last concert would have been a big deal.

It’s been eight years since my dad’s retirement, so you’d think I would have gotten over this by now. But it’s always bothered me that he never got the celebration and acknowledgement he deserved for all the years he put in as a band director.

I’ve feared that my dad will pass away someday having NEVER heard first hand the awesome ways he touched peoples’ lives through his role as band director. I’ve feared that my dad will pass away someday with sadness remaining in his heart about the way his career ended. I’ve feared that there will never be true closure for my dad or our family. I’ve feared that I will regret having never done anything about it, that I’ll carry this burden to my own death bed, wishing I would’ve done something to honor and celebrate my dad’s career.

With that in mind, my dad deserves one gift and it’s long overdue.

So today, I’m taking action.

Today, I honor and celebrate my dad!

Today, I turn pain into peace, regrets into closure, make wrongs right.

Today, let’s open our hearts and celebrate a man who passionately pursued his career. Let’s recognize a man who showed up at work, with honor, every single day. Let’s give praise to a man who went above and beyond, a man who communicated without hesitation the integrity and excellence he expected from his students. Let’s let him know his passion was worth the pursuit.

Today, I’m throwing a belated retirement party for my dad! It’s happening right here, right now, in this place, on this space, right here on this blog.

Yes, it’s unconventional. Yes, some will most certainly think it’s odd.

Yes, it’s spontaneous and NOT the way I usually do things. I don’t know the outcome and I don’t know if word of this virtual retirement party will spread like I want it to.

But I’m taking the risk anyway – for my dad.

I can’t change the past, but I can change how I respond to it.

Today, I fight for justice, do what’s right for the sake of another human being who happens to be my dad.

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So here’s how this is going to work!

1) Please share this blog post on your Facebook page so as many people can read the post and participate as possible. If you know my dad and/or live(d) in one of the three cities where he taught, take special note. I need you to spread the word. Simple word of mouth will work, but you’ll have to share the name and URL of my website, Divine In The Daily at www.amybethpederson.com. Thank you in advance for your help. The more we get this post out, the more well wishes my dad will receive and the more fun memories he’ll be able to relive.

2) Please leave your messages and well wishes for my dad right here on the blog! Write what you would’ve written in a greeting card if you would’ve been invited to a retirement party for my dad. Be brave. Be bold. Be positive and encouraging, loving and kind. Share memories you have about my dad when he was your colleague, your band director, or your childrens’ band director. There are two ways to leave messages for my dad on the blog. (Scroll down a little further and you’ll find the comments below this post.) You can leave a message in the Facebook comments section of my blog. If you leave a message using that method, my dad will be able to see your picture and respond to you directly. If you don’t have a Facebook account and/or prefer to be more anonymous, you can also leave a wish for my dad in the regular comments section!

3) If you feel strongly about maintaining confidentiality, but would still like to send my dad a message, please feel free to email me your letters at amybpederson@hotmail.com and I will be sure to forward all messages to my dad.

4) I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to get some pictures from my dad’s years teaching band. If you have a picture of my dad (and you?!) at any point during his band directing years and are willing to give me permission to use it, I would love a digital copy to include on the blog. I realize my dad retired before digital photography became popular, so simply take a photograph of the photograph, and send it to me via email. All photographs can be emailed to amybpederson@hotmail.com. *If you email me a photograph, I assume you also give me permission to share it publicly within the body of this blog post! I am looking for oldies, but goodies! Please send as many photographs as you’d like! This could be great fun for my dad. Marching band, pep band, concerts, solo and ensemble contests, jazz bands, staff or department parties, whatever!

5) If you have any other creative ideas for making this even more fun, please feel free to send me a message with your idea(s) at amybpederson@hotmail.com. Want to make a cake and send it to my dad? Great idea. Want to bring dinner to my parents or send a gift card so they can go out to eat? Great idea. Want to send balloons and flowers? Great idea. Want to dig up some old VHS footage of concerts and transfer it to DVD so we can have it to view for a lifetime? Great! Have connections and know the person who has footage of the last concert my dad directed? AWESOME. WE WANT A COPY. Please share.

6) Return to the site throughout the week. I will leave this post at the top of my homepage for at least one week, so it will be easy to find. If all goes well, people will be posting new messages for my dad throughout the week. And I’ll be adding fun photographs you won’t want to miss! So come, mingle, peruse, share memories and enjoy the fun!

So that’s about it! As I type this, I admit, I’m more than a little nervous. There are no guaranteed outcomes. But I believe, whether five people respond or 50 respond, they have something to say that will bring my dad joy, peace and freedom.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you in advance for the kind words you’re about to leave for my dad. Because he deserves to hear how awesome he was, how awesome he is.

May this post be filled with words of encouragement, of blessing, of thanks and gratitude for a man whose career as band director was amazing, incredible and remarkable.

And before I leave this space to y’all, I’ll start us off on the right note! Our son started band lessons this week, and guess what he decided to play? Trumpet.

Amy (Mr. Femling’s daughter)

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THANKS FOR THE SUBMITTED PHOTOS!

The Marvelous Mirage rock band, together after 42 years! Photo taken October 6, 2013. Submitted by Tiffany Femling.

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Photographs of the 1988-89 school year! Submitted by Joel Kosman

Aitkin Band

Aitkin Pep Band

Aitkin Jazz Band

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Yesterday was a little ridiculous.

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. Left the house for work at 6:55 a.m. Conducted FIVE therapy home visits back to back, and returned home by 2:15 p.m. For the next 2 hours 45 minutes, I did laundry, cleaned up kids’ messes, unloaded a grocery bag full of one kid’s school stuff, did some finances, went to the park with three kids, made dinner for said three kids, cleaned it all up, and got the oldest ready for an out of town baseball game. At 5:00 p.m. daddy arrived home early. He kept the toddler at home, and I left with the two oldest for a half-hour drive to the baseball game. A train stopped dead in the tracks forced us to reroute, which caused us to be 18 minutes late for pre-game warmup. The 5-inning game started at 6:30 p.m., running long and late, not ending until 8:30 p.m. It was a great game for my son and we won, so of course, everybody planned to stop at Dairy Queen on the way home. One chicken tender basket, two small blizzards and a $13.84 receipt later, we took our seat to eat. Dear son refused to be the first to leave this time, so he escaped outside where all the boys were sitting. His two best friends were the first to leave. I finally convinced him to go after his second friend left, but not before he made a “dirty dinner” of ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper which caused desired outcome of friends laughing – and grabbed a ketchup packet and squished it to splatter all over his white baseball pants. Yay. We got home at 10:00 p.m. I informed the kids they needed to go to bed as quickly as they could, took a shower and crashed on the couch by 10:26 p.m. Forced myself to get quiet and in the Word for a few minutes, looking up passages on freedom. Began drafting a blog post, but literally fell asleep writing. Lugged my body up to bed by 11:30 a.m. Exhausted when I woke to toddler yelling “mommy mommy mommy” at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Frazzled yet?

In need of a lifeline?

I sure was.

While all my days aren’t as rigorous as yesterday, they all have some variety of busyness, craziness, or chaos. I’m in a season of busy, as I’m sure many of you are.

This season of busy requires us to be focused, disciplined and patient to not only survive, but thrive through it. First of all, we need knowledge and awareness of what makes us tick, keeps us sane, grounded and functioning properly. Second, we need discipline to implement the things that make us tick, keep us sane, grounded and functioning properly. It’s up to us to fight for those lifelines, those things that keep us healthy.

It’s taken me near 38 years to determine, very decisively, my lifelines.

GOD

In an ideal world, I’d have an opportunity to attend a worship service, Christian concert, or Christian speaking engagement every day. Worship and community centered on Christ centers me, grounds me, helps me remember there is greater purpose to this life. Unfortunately, attending one of those events on a daily basis isn’t possible. So I rely on other things to fill the gaps – prayer, listening to Christian music in the car and on my iPhone, reading scripture, engaging with a Christian community on Twitter, reading blogs written by Christians, and listening to faith talk radio in between speech therapy visits.

EXERCISE

I’ve been exercising faithfully two to four times per week for more than eight years now. While I certainly exercised prior to that, I never did as faithfully as I have these eight years. What I’ve learned from eight years of exercising is this – I’m in desperate need of it. I exercise primarily for mental health purposes. Exercising makes me feel better 100% of the time. When I go 3-5 days, or worst case 7-9 days without exercising? I feel like crap. Yep. Just being honest. When I exercise, I feel free, empowered, strong and inspired to live better. And yes, maintaining my weight and losing a couple pounds here and there are side benefits.

MUSIC

Music is something I didn’t really realize I needed regularly in my life until this past year. I grew up in a musical family. My grandma was a master pianist. She taught lessons and played at church. She died when I was 10, but I’d give just about anything to have a moment to sit and listen to her play now. My parents met in college band, my dad was a band director, I was in choir and musicals in high school, and played flute through college. Music has always been a part of who I am. It’s not so much that I just need music. I need music that feeds my soul. At this point in my life, the best way for me to access music that feeds my soul is in the car on my way to work out and in-between speech therapy visits, or on my iPod when I’m working out. I’m an eclectic, preferences ranging from Eminem to Sara Groves, Elton John to Amy Grant – and everything else in-between.

WRITING

I’ve been a faithful writer since early junior high. Writing is the way I process life. Writing is the way I make sense of the world around me. Writing is the way I get clarity. Yep, I’m the person that writes a sentence when one word would suffice, several paragraphs when one paragraph would suffice. When I started blogging two years ago, I realized something important. When I start a day writing, the whole day is much better than if I don’t. When I end a day writing, I feel much more peace than if I don’t. My brain automatically generates language around my life experiences. I draft sentences and paragraphs in my mind all day. If I don’t get them out, they remain stuck in my head, of use to nobody but me and my ruminating mind. It’s better if I grant myself freedom to get it all out. Focusing on whatever topic speaks to me most in the moment helps me remain true to myself, regardless of others’ response.

So why have I shared these lifelines with you today?

Because identifying what makes me tick, keeps me sane, grounded, and functioning properly has been crucial to my health and wellness as an individual.

Here’s the key…any day when I fight to fit in ALL FOUR lifelines is a much better day than when I miss one, some or all of them.

Today, while the oldest two were at basketball camp, I got in a workout first thing. I turned my music up loud. Writing this blog post was a welcomed, self-imposed activity during my daughter’s afternoon nap. And tonight? Some quiet time with God before bed. Today will be a much better day than yesterday because I’m intentionally including all four lifelines in my day.

I’m not sure if you’re the kind of person who thinks like me, but if you haven’t done so already, may I suggest thinking about your lifelines?

What do you need to function properly on a daily basis? Perhaps your lifelines aren’t activities or habits you need to keep, but people you need to engage in order to maintain wellness. I don’t know what it is that fuels your soul, what it is that keeps you going day by day, but whatever it is, find it.

And when you discover those lifelines?

Fight for them. Fight to fit them in your day.

Your life depends on it.

Amy

  1. Monica Anderson Palmer says:

    This was so needed! Thank you…this post is one of my top 5 🙂

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