Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Green

This morning I was at my office, listening to my favorite Pandora station, when the managing broker popped his head in to say hello. He immediately commented on all the green he could see. He said it must be my color. I wasn't exactly sure what he meant until he pointed out....

  • my client list was written in green marker
  • my book bag is a fresh green
  • my logo has a splash of green
  • my Zimbabwe memory book is green
  • 2 sets of my marketing materials are heavy on the light green

I occupy one small space in the corner of a gigantic room....a room I chose because the windows provide a peak out among the tops of the trees (2nd floor). The trees, happen to be green.

Then I realized, my favorite shoes are green. My favorite jacket is green. I mostly like the lighter, calming shades. I am not a fan of the hunter green...whatsoever. But yep, I'm pretty green. I just didn't realize that you could step into my office and it would be that obvious.

When I think of what green symbolizes, I think of words like....fresh, new, growth, earth, nature, peaceful, calming, natural, organic and raw. The psychology of green (on the web) also suggests that the negative side of green is that it represents jealousy. Ewe....I hope that isn't me.

I do love green. I'd love to know what your favorite color is.....and why.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jesus and Aunt Peggy

So, I've told ya'll about my stalkers before. I've learned more this week about others of my readers. It is so funny to me that people I don't even know...(not even in the blogosphere) are checking in to read my blog on a regular basis. Some of my very best friends don't even come here. They think they know everything about me without reading my blog. Boy, are they wrong! They miss some of the best stories about my kids. Truthfully.....once I document it here, it is kinda out of my system, and I rarely feel the need to mention it by mouth. Sometimes I do.......but not much.

Today, I got an email from my Aunt Peggy stating how she has been checking everyday and that I haven't updated in a while. Well, here it is exactly... "Ok - you're disappointing me. I log on every morning for your news and you haven't "blogged" for a few days. I'm anxiously awaiting." I feel so special....and also under such pressure. I have nothing special or poetic to say....today. Sorry. But I got to thinking....Peg.....if we're to have a one-sided conversation here, I'm betting you know me better now than ever in my history. Wouldn't you say that is true? And you know my kids without getting to see them but once a year. You're getting to know their personalities, their misgivings, their gifts, their spirits and their hearts. It means so very much to me that you (and others) come here to read about our lives and our hearts. I've always done this.....always written it all down. I've kept journals for years. I've typed out letters to nobobdy....for years and years..... the difference now is that there are readers. I'm so glad that you are here sharing my life with me. I wish you would start blogging so I could be more a part of yours. (smiles)

I am leaving in 8 days to go to the Dominican Republic. I really can't believe it. Everything surrounding this trip is entirely different than when I went to Zimbabwe. This time, I'm going with other people from my church. My total air time is only about 4 1/2 hours. I'll only be away from my children for 1 week instead of 2. I will be doing physical work instead of loving on children in an orphange (although I am hoping to meet some kids). I'll be sleeping in an open-air dorm, with bunk beds, with other women....instead of having a private room all to myself with glass windows. Another major difference is that I will not have access to a computer at all, while i am there....I'm almost certain of this. The ONLY way I will get to check email or blog is if someone else sneaks in a laptop and they happen to share it with me. I'm not counting on this. It will be hard for me. I will not get to receive updates about my kids and email messages to daddy to read to them. I'll not get to pour out what I'm feeling and thinking in a way that brings me much comfort and release. I will take a journal.....but the instant gratification of posting a blog....will not be mine. I'm a bit bummed about this. But I promise I will blog blog blog when I get home.

So I'll just end this post by saying I love Jesus and Aunt Peggy.

Nighty Night!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Satan Invasion

I just thought I'd rush to the computer to post this....because I rarely post when I'm thinking about it and I almost never post about what I intend to. I just don't have time. So when I do update my blog, it is usually because I had a moment, and so I just write whatever comes to me in that moment.

But THIS moment is intentional.

I have been doing this incredible bible study (with my women's group) called "Discerning The Voide of God", by Priscilla Shirer. The subtitle is: "How to Recognize When God Speaks". This study, in its simplicity, is unbelievably AMAZING! I am so loving it. I recommend it to any believer. If you are not yet a believer in Christ, this book will not make sense to you....so please wait. I am eagerly doing my studies and my homework. I'm even jotting down verses to review later, and the most remarkable thing that has changed about me is that I am more aware than ever that if I will just be aware that He can and will speak to me, I can hear Him.

This isn't a sermon.

What I have also realized is that any dishonorable thought that enters my mind is from the devil. That freaks me out. I have had at least 3 thoughts today (it's only 1pm) that Christ would never honor. They have involved potentially hurting the feelings of other people in my life, just because they have hurt mine. Well....in my heart I have no desire to actually carry out those thoughts into live action....but the thought still invaded my mind and at least dipped its toes into my heart. That is Satan.

If I feel short-changed....that is Satan, because Jesus will never give me less than what I need.
If I feel abondoned...that is Satan, because Christ will never leave my heart that has begged for His.
If I feel afraid....that is Satan, because the God of the Universe desires for me to fear nothing but to revere Him.
If I feel unworthy.....that is Satan, because Jesus showed me how much I am worth to Him when He died on the cross for me.
If I feel vindictive....that is Satan..... because scripture says that I need not vindicate myself because the wrongs against me will be handled by God....in His time....and I don't even have the right to know the details.
If I feel envious.....that is Satan, because my relationship with Christ alone is the most precious and valuable thing my life could ever have.....and I should not want for more.

It isn't that I thought those thoughts were from God. I just thought they were my own. But as one who is a Christ follower, seeking His purpose, and serving in ways that can bring more of His light into the world....what I recognize is that I am a threat to Satan. I might screw up his plan because I have a word to share. If I testify to the unbeliever in my midst, that person my take up a cross and walk with Christ. I AM A THREAT....and because of that, Satan himself wants to invade my soul, my spirit, my heart and my mind. He cannot mess up my salvation. But he can trip me up and cause me to be a major stumbling block to someone still outside of the kingdom.

Satan has really got some nerve. Beware....that's all I'm saying.

All you or I can really do when we feel the powers of that dang devil invading our spirit territory is identify his presence, shoo him away, pray for redemption, and focus on Christ.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. As always...feel free to leave a comment and share whatever you are thinking.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Small Package Brilliance

Lyla Marie blessed me yesterday, snuggled up in my arms, breathing naturally, with eyes opening occasionally to take me in and feel the room. She is picture perfect, with a sinful amount of dark hair sticking up on her head, perfect skin, soft cheeks and dainty little lips. She is another one of God's magnificent creations, planned in the beginning of time. He knew before they were born, who her parents would be. He knew she would have doting grandparents and a slew of wannabe aunts and uncles (and real ones too, of course).

How does He do it? How does he create life? It boggles my mind. It shouldn't....because I birthed 3 of my own....I see His grace everyday. I am living His dream for me. And now, so are my sweet friends, Joe and Holly. They have welcomed their firstborn. And she is spectacular. I love her already. And I look forward to watching her grow up in the loving home God designed for her.

Welcome to the world, baby Lyla. May you, and every child, know the love that God has in store for you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Asher Knows Right Where God Is

I could not sleep last night because I was in such shock and awe over something remarkable that happened. You might not find this nearly as fascinating as I do, and I'm mostly documenting it here for the diary that this is and so I will not forget it in the future.

Let me start by saying, I never "scare" my children....well, at least, not in the "boo" sense. I always make sure that I state cleary that there are no monsters and no ghosts. I think I do a pretty good job of making strange things seem light-hearted, etc. I just do not want my kids to be afraid, if I can prevent it. So, the next part of this story puzzles even me....and here it goes.

Last night Shawn was in bed asleep, Asher and I were having our "Asher/Momma lovin time suggled up on the sofa, and Joe was in the master bathroom taking a shower. I got the sudden urge, to, shall we say.....pee....and so I got up and went into the the 1/2 bath in our foyer area that is typically for guests. The 1/2 bath and the master bath share a wall, so I could hear the shower running. Asher, in typical form, came into the dark 1/2 bath where I was. I might have mentioned that I though it sounded like there is a monster in the wall...and so Asher ran out. I followed him right out of there and for some sick reason, decided to carry on the act. Asher and I snuggled up together on the sofa and discussed the monster in the bathroom wall, and I decided to get up and go check it out. Asher was kinda laughing/giggling/fearful. He didn't want to come with me, but just as I approached the bathroom door, he marched up in front of me because he didn't think I should go alone. (Be still my heart.......how romantic!). I held him. We opened the door, heard the monster in the wall, screamed, and ran back out.

I was trying to be silly through all of this, but Asher was still really focused on the major issue at hand...... a friggin monster in the wall is no small problem.

We hid behind the sofa. I could see that Asher was really starting to worry...and so I really was about to relieve him of his worries and turn it all into a big joke. I looked at Asher and said "what are we gonna do?". I could see in his expression, he was immediately trying to process a possible solution. I mean, for goodness sake, when there is a monster in the bathroom wall, afterall, what DO You DO? I dunno. Asher took charge. He really did. I don't know if he wanted to protect me, comfort me, or what......but he took charge.

Imagine a precious 4 year old, afraid but not crying...... afraid but not cowering...... afraid but willing to press on...... I have no words to tell you how this felt for me to see. Here is what happened..... Asher looked at me. His eyes were serious. His hands and arms were in tight formation, his fingers together and stick straight, both of them moving in sync. And this is exactly what he said.....

"Wait Mommy, we have REALLY got to get brave about this"......I asked, "but how do we get brave?".... "God, (mommy), God is with us everywhere!".

I was floored. "Yes Asher, He absolutely is". And oh by the way Asher, that isn't really a ghost, it is just the shower.

I hugged and kissed that boy and praised him for having such faith in God. I cannot even describe it now. I'll tell you.....as much as we do talk about God and Jesus around here, Asher learned that principle at Sunday School. They have really driven it home, week after week. I am so excited that God has allowed Asher to actually understand this. In possibly his very first truly fearful moment, Asher leaned on the trust the God is with him. I am absolutely beside myself with gratitude for this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Valentine

Joe was supposed to be off work yesterday, the first Valentines Day he would be off in our entire 9+ year history together. Chef's usually have a BIG job on this day...as you can imagine. Why he was schedule to be off work, is beyond me....but I was excited. Mom was all lined up to take care of the kids for an afternoon of............. d.a.t.i.n.g? Well....the phone rang at 5:30am....and Joe got dressed, and went to work. DANG! Or.....not?

Joe worked a little over 4 hours. That is 4 hours of o.v.e.r.t.i.m.e....and was still home in time for our date. Mom came over. Joe and I took a little scenic drive, then went to see an awesome (non-Valentiney) movie, "Slumdog Millionaire" and then went to Kyoto for Sushi. Translate that.....Joe ate sushi and wasabi dripped from his brow, while I enjoyed good'ole Teriyaki shrimp with rice. Afterward....this conversation took place, walking out of the restaurant....

Me: Well honey, what do we do now? Mom said she has no time limitations.

Joe: What is there to do?

Me: I have totally forgotten how to date you.

Joe: Let's go out drinkin!

Me: (sarcastic laughter)

We went home to see our delicious boys.

Don't get me wrong. We had a good time. Maybe even a great time. We got to talk without being interrupted. Joe got to eat his favorite meal in the world, without having to make it himself. We didn't have to compete with our children for attention. And we were not in a rush. It was so nice.

This morning Joe left for work before the rooster crowed....and when I woke up, I had this email from him....

I had a great time on our date
I know you are busy with the kids
and real estate and everything
but I’d really like you see you again


Joe Irwin
sous chef cascades
Gaylord Opryland Hotel


Maybe Joe and I can start dating again.

What did you do for Valentines Day?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Official

I am so excited. I am about to jump out of my skin. Fear has really held me back from wanting to tackle this effort. Thanks though to God's perfect timing, and the Paralyzed series of messages that Pastor Pete has been teaching at Cross Point Community Church...... a new "me" is emerging....and I'm pressing forward. I'm leaning into God, and I'm letting the spirit prompt me to do things I'm not necessarily comfortable with.

I am working with The Community Foundation to create a charitable fund to first help provide a clean and reliable water source at the orphanage in Zimbabwe that I have blogged about. I'm unveiling the fund today. And guess what......it has a blog......please go visit it, here. I'm begging you!

I'll have more news to announce in the coming weeks, as I seek a partnership, etc. This is God's work and God's plan. I'm just obeying Him for the way He is choosing to use me. And I'm blessed. I am so thankful. I am humbled. I am afraid. I am weak. But I am going to do my best.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Boys

Here's a little video for friends and fam who are keeping up with the boys. There is such joy around this house, despite the financial crisis, despite the rise in unemployment, despite the unclean water in Zimbabwe that breaks my heart regularly, and despite the increasing cost of gasoline.

Enjoy...

video

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Toot Toot

I rarely post anything about my career here, as you know I like to keep this blog mostly about faith and family. But my career is a huge part of my life and much is stirring within me.

First, let me say that I believe with my full heart that we can be stewards of God in our careers...and not just that we can be, but that we most certainly should be. Real Estate professionals can be in it for themselves, or in it for a greater purpose. My greater purpose is Christ and the coming Kingdom.

When I was a young adult, raising a child alone, what I really wanted to be was an attorney. I so desired to go to law school and my vision was that I would be an advocate. I'd work in some way to make things fair and square. Law school was not in God's plans for me, nor was it in my budget, however while I earned my Bachelors Degree from Belmont University, I did get to take many legal topic classes regarding contract law, negotiating, etc. It was a thrill for me.

I also have a thing for finance and money management. Can't explain it, just like it. In fact, I do our own complicated taxes. (Secretly, I love preparing tax reports). I've done payroll taxes for small businesses in the past. I've assisted in educating people on how to prepare for the future in saving, planning, retirement, etc. I administered the details of managing Trusts and Estates for wealthy people and their heirs. Let's just say that I have seen some very interesting scenerios play out over... m.o.n.e.y....(for which the love of, is the root of all evil).

I LOVE people! I just do. I was told once long ago, when I was about 23 or 24 years old, by an upper executive that I will go far and succeed because I have the ability to adapt to any person. I guess that is a gift. It does indeed feel like a gift. It doesn't mean that I like everyone or that I can connect with everyone, but it does mean that I am able to deal with people in their preferred way. I'm not perfect....but I pretty much figure out how and when to relay info, in what medium, and with what tone. I partner well with men or women, and I relate well to the professional or to the creative eccentric type. I just LOVE people. I love that we are all different. I'm okay that not everyone agrees with my faith and I respect the boundaries that are expected of me. I also get that not everyone will like me. It's part of life.

I am a strong negotiator....because at the root of any negotiation is the attempt to make a good thing happen with positive results. I'm fighting for what my clients want or need. I'm aspiring to pull together the most profitable transaction for them...and when profit is not possible, I strive for the resolution of an issue that might otherwise be negative if not resolved. Not everyone who sells a home makes money. Not everyone who buys a home gets to steal it. But I work so hard, and with the right and fair mindset to make things happen for people....and I do so without being greedy. I want and need to get paid, but I am not willing to compromise my ethics, my morals, and my stewardship to put dollars in my pocket. Remember that above mentioned stint I spent managing trusts and estates? I've seen money hurt too many people for me to want that to be my focus. Needing and desiring a paycheck is one thing.....hurting others end result to get it is absolutely not an option for me.

For many years I worked in the restaurant industry as a server and/or bartender. I worked in fine dining and I sold pizza and beer to Nashville's up and coming elite. This is customer service through and through. I was a fantastic server. I knew which customers wanted me to be a "part" of their evening, and those who wanted me to speak only when asked. I knew how to cater to and pamper people so that they could have a most enjoyable evening. When things were not perfect, I took the responsibility to make it right. I earned great tips. Sometimes my biggest tips where when I had to right a wrong. I suppose people appreciated that I would take care of them, even in a negative situation. Not that this matters, but I could also carry very heavy trays high above my head, and could carry 8 pitchers of beer in my 2 little hands. This......was a sight to behold. Just ask any man!

I later spent a few years doing skincare, both in a spa and then a clinical environment. I love to learn.......and obtaining that liscense was very fun for me. I dealt with women who wanted to be pretty, some who just wanted to be pampered, and others who just desired some fellowship with an unofficial "therapist". You name her...I met her. I loved it. I loved the one-on-one. I loved the consultation aspect. I loved teaching women how to take care of their skin, educating them about ingredients and regimens. And they loved me.

God was giving me real world preparation for the Real Estate world. From finance and taxes, to personal attention, to relating to people, to customer service, to contracts and negotiatiating, to teaching the process and the "how to", HE, through life and career experiences, taught me EXACTLY how to be a fantastic Realtor. An honest, supportive, strong, knowledgable, and dedicated Realtor.

I am now celebrating having my Real Estate license for almost 8 years, and my Broker's license for just over a year. This week, I earned the CRS Designation (Certified Residential Specialist), which I am so proud of. This designation requires more than any other I have earned, in that actual sales and experience are part of the criteria. This basically implies I have real experience and I know what I'm doing. That's good news, eh? Anyone can drive people around and show houses. I have more. The "more" is hard to explain, but I have it.

I'm writing all of this out because this market is frustrating. Many people in the media will suggest that Realtors are/were part of the problem. I am not and have never been part of the problem. I have always counseled people to not over-extend themselves on a mortgage loan. I have always recommended that people have a full grasp on what they can actually afford, versus what someone was willing to loan them. I have ALWAYS done this and I will continue to do this.

Although this may all sound like I am trying to toot my own horn, it isn't really that. I'm just putting my experience on display. People in this market need a solid Realtor with experience and knowledge, with patience and with creative ideas. People in this market, need ME, and I need them. I currently have 3 listed clients (with 1 or 2 more on the way end of Feb beginning of March). I have anywhere from 3-8 sets of buyer clients, depending on the daily changing of circumstances. I desire a significant increase of business this year (and further more). Please remember me, and refer me to your circle of relationships.

If you read all the way through, God bless you!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Funk

I have been in a blog Funk.

Good morning. Here are some bits and pieces....

**We went cold turkey on Shawn's bottle. At the age of 2, he still refused to hold the bottle on his own. But for some reason, he was totally willing to forego the bottle altogether and live by sippy cup alone. He went from warm milk, to cold milk....and no one is helping him. He's just cool like that. I love him! This successful transition took place about 2 weeks ago.

**Asher loves Shawn, for real people. He hugs this boy till Shawn gets almost mad. But they have now found their playfulness fully together. They run together, chase, scream, giggle.....it is so much fun. Joy.

**Shawn is confirmed to have open-heart surgery on 3/31. The only thing at this point that would push that back is if there is an emergency surgery or transplant that day for another child. And it IS Vanderbilt.....so that could happen. But we are ready. The hole in Shawn's heart needs to be closed.

** Funky things are going on in the lives of some of my friends. Painful things. It is part of the reason for my recent silence.

********I DO HAVE GOOD NEWS*********** I have been meeting with The Community Foundation about establishing a charitable fund for children, including the orphanage in Zim that I recently visited. They definitely need a clean water source asap or more kids will get cholera and most likely will die. The fund is called "The Wellspring Fund". I am just the thinker upper of this fund.......it will NEVER benefit myself or my family. But I will soon begin the fundraising efforts and I am praying that God will provide through many of you. Stay tuned.