My Not So Perfect But Fabulous Life

using my big words to inspire… & hopefully make a difference

The Jones’ January 27, 2010

Filed under: Being Positive,Faith,Friends,Hope,On being a mom,Unplug — MDunbar @ 7:57 pm

What's on your list?

” We are a tribe of dogmatic individuals who strive 24-7 to have it all but as a society, we don’t know when to throw in the towel.” Ellen Miller

How many times have you found yourself fighting for something that you know you can’t win. Maybe you held on to a project that was in no way going to come to fruition or maybe you tried with all your heart to make others care about something that you were passionate about but to no avail.

We drive ourselves and work very hard. Success, by society standards, is how much money/status/material possessions that you have. I know this as well as the next person. Starting off in advertising sales and working for a society magazine, I was caught up in what I thought was important. After a mission trip to Mexico, I remembered who I was and what was really important. I started to see the things that surrounded me were not at all in line with what was really important to me. People were lying, cheating, stealing. They were miserable people who, from the outside, seemed to have everything. I was a part of that all the while feeling like something was missing.

After returning from the mission trip, I quit sales altogether and had no job in sight. I only knew I had to get out of the environment I was in. Two weeks to the day I received a call from a friend at the church we attended and there was a position that seemed to have been created encompassing everything I had ever done. I truly felt it was God showing me that I had to trust in him and everything would work out. Why was I so surprised and overwhelmed? Growing up my mom always said that if I followed “God’s instruction manual for life” that things would work out like they should.

Well, God knows I am not perfect but I do know what is important to me. I am working very hard to not let the materialistic things get in the way of what is important. It is an everyday challenge to focus on my life and his plan and let go of the consumer in me. Sometimes I fall prey to “The Jones”. They seem to have everything, right? THe surprising thing is, once inside THe Jones’ house, they don’ have it figured out either.

Bottom line is, I know what is important to me. I am focused on being a good person. I am trying to be the kind of wife, mom, daughter, friend that I would want. Do I fall short? Every single day. I am told though, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” My schedule is full of my faith, my family and my friends.

If you looked at your schedule, what ranks highest? Like it or not, it tells you exactly what you think is important.

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Pass It On January 21, 2010

Filed under: Faith,Friends,Give Back,Hope — MDunbar @ 7:00 am

Imagine what one small thing would do...

“Pass it on” I know it sounds like a cliché but it is so true. We take things for granted in good times and are reminded, sometimes painfully in hard times, that we need one another.

I have worked with non-profits, either salaried or in a volunteer capacity, for over ten years. I know that every single thing about a non-profit is made possible through donations and support of those who believe in the cause. It has been very interesting to work at a church in these hard economic times. Two years ago the reality of the world in which we live hit home really hard. Not only was the staff stripped of most of our budget used for specific ministries but we were on a pay increase hiatus. There were many of us who opted out of a raise in order to keep our friends on staff and some positions had to be cut anyway. The people in the church were spread too thin and so they cut back in the only area they could, discretionary income. That meant some families had to cut back on what they gave or stop giving altogether. This directly effected how we began to do ministry. We had to be more creative in what we did. We had to raise funds for some of the things that were funded in better financial years. It was a difficult task and frustrating at times but we had the blessing of seeing how folks came to help. 

I went to warm up my lunch and walked through the Welcome Area to find a member who was taking her lunch hour, once a week, to come in and clean the Welcome Area. Members came up to help out with repairs. Members came to the church on weekends to help clean out flower beds and do beautiful landscaping. Members even donated materials for classes so that we could continue to offer courses. People saw a need and they helped to fill it. One person fills a need not knowing they are helping someone else meet a need. It meant so much to me that these folks cared enough about their church to go beyond and give of themselves. That is what makes my job worthwhile. Seeing people work together, seeing people come to Christ.

A young woman came to St. James to learn more about what it means to be a Christian. She took a course called ALPHA.  She started attending a Young Adult Sunday School class. She started volunteering to help a special needs child as a shadow during Sunday School class. She and a friend led the next ALPHA course. I got to be present at her Baptism, which was one of the coolest, most beautiful things I have ever been a part of. I cried.

It all started with a step. She decided to give back by becoming part of something that was bigger than she. Someone was there for her and now she is there for someone else. It’s the whole “Pass it on” thing. I wish everyone could witness the beautiful change that happens when someone finds themselves and even more, helps others find themselves. It takes every single one of us to make this all work. The volunteers offered a course that a young girl took. Now that same young girl is a vital part of the church and it’s ministry.

I realy on my family and friends and they know they can on me. I can’t imagine where I would be without them. I can’t imagine being alone in this world. The cool thing is, I don’t have to and neither do you. It all starts with a step.

 

If by Rudyard Kipling January 18, 2010

Filed under: Faith,Hope — MDunbar @ 9:25 pm
These are beautiful words that my husband shared with me. He keeps this poem posted on his mirror to help him focus everyday. It is so beautiful to think we could be this kind of person. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
  
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! 

 

I Want To Leave A Legacy

Filed under: Faith,Friends,Joy,Rest — MDunbar @ 8:55 pm

For those of you who purchased the book “Inspiration for Girlfriends…” by Miller, you know that we are on a journey to find uncommon joy. That joy that exists even when we are at our worst. Miller has told us how she copes and I have related some stories about my life.  We have been learning about “Cocooning”, a period of time of retreat in which we step back and evaluate our lives, finding out what is important and that which is not. We have even been challenged to dream in away we have not done since that time in our childhood when everything was possible.

I have made a committment to my spiritual growth and development. I know that repetition breeds habit. I want to be the best wife/mother/daughter/friend that I can be. I guess I want to be the best person I can be. In the words of Nichole Nordeman, “I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love?” I never want the people that know me, to not know how I feel about them. I know that this seems fake to some people (who don’t know me) but for the better part of my life, I have been honest. Compliments flow freely from me but they are always honest and true. I whole heartedly feel that we don’t tell the people around us, even the most important, how we feel about them and just how special they are. Everyone has something that makes them shine. You just have to find it. 

God is good. He has blessed my life with so much. It can be difficult at times to remember that when the worldly things tend to drag us down, but there is a reason for it. I don’t have time to take a couple of days to cocoon or unplug. I have too many important commitments like my husband, my children and my parents. I do have a few hours to give to myself. Maybe it is getting my nails done or sitting at a coffee shop and reading. It is a committment that I have not been faithful to and my spiritual life suffers for it. I am rededicating myself. I am taking time for me. I will say no to one thing this week and instead do something for myself. I am trying to teach myself that in doing this, I will be a better person for everyone around me.

What is one thing that you have done for yourself in the past week?

 

Give & it Will Come Back to You! January 6, 2010

Filed under: Faith,Forgiveness,Friends,Singing — MDunbar @ 7:06 pm

I sing in our Contemporary band at church and there are some songs I love to just wail on. I call it my 300 pound lady name “Bertha” that lives inside of me. One of the new songs we sing is by a Gospel Singer named Ron Kenoly called, “Give to the Lord”. It is such a happy, hip movin’, hand clappin’ and praisin’ the Lord song and I find myself singing it all the time now. It goes along with today’s reading that focuses on ways to achieve joy that are so easy even a busy soccer mom of two with a full-time job and full-time family obligations can do them. Miller says there are many more ways to give to others than to focus on money or time.

The first thing is Encouragement. How many times have we been so down and a simple, “Hey, things are rough right now but you are doing an excellent job handling all of it” meant a huge difference. I know I can think of times when a bit of encouragement went a long way. I know I try hard to remind my friends of how great they are even if it with a simple hug. (Yeah, I’m a big hugger.)

The second is “an extra pair of hands“. Recently I had a friend who needed me to help her with her kids for a night. We didn’t get any sleep, and suffered for it the next day, but I felt blessed by getting to wake a beautiful baby boy up and remember what it was like to truly be needed by another person. (The fact that he was bald, dimpled and has a killer smile didn’t hurt either.) Being there for my friend blessed me so much more than she will ever know and I honestly felt honored to help. Again, I was full of joy by helping out a friend!

Miller says an easy thing to do is “offer your seat.” and goes on to tell of a time when she gave a private her first-class seat when he was returning home from Iraq. Totally cool! (I’m an 80’s girl, no judging here.) Such a small gesture can yield such amazing results. Others may have seen her display of generosity and in return done something nice for someone else. He probably told folks about the kind woman who gave him her first-class seat. His family was probably so grateful for such a kindness shown. So many lives can be impacted my such a small thing. Wow!

The final way to have joy is really the hardest for me. Forgiveness. It sounds simple but if you have ever had to truly forgive someone for something that truly hurt your heart, I can bet it was a difficult task. I was eating dinner with a dear friend when our conversation shifted to something she had said to others breaking a confidance I had in her. For years it had festered in me. It always hurt when I thought about it and at times, I shed tears at remembering the pain I felt. I told her that I knew she had betrayed my confidence and she asked me, there in a country diner, over not-so-good pot roast, if I would forgive her. She meant it. I was speechless. I had to let it go, right then and there. I had to truly mean it when I utter those words, “I forgive you.” I did. The peace that washed over me was amazing. I had no idea that I could really forgive someone and He would/could take the pain and anger away. (I am a little dence at times.) Our relationship has been restored and is  better than ever. People, forgive one another. It is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

MIller goes on to say that this just might look like you are being nice but, “It’s much more than that.” I completely agree. It can be life altering and people changing if we take the time to truly mean what we say and do. If we take the time to make the effort.

So far, this year is looking great. I am searching for “Uncommon Joy” by taking time to be present and aware in life and to be there in a way that I would want others to be there for me should I need it. Finding joy in giving to others in a way we would like to receive joy is easy. The greatest thing about all of this is that we are blessed for it.

 

Letting Go & Getting On… January 4, 2010

Filed under: Faith,Friends — MDunbar @ 4:02 pm

Here is an admission: I can be cheesy. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a silver-lining-kind-of-girl and I usually see the glass as half full. I have to say though, I have never been a fan of the “Yesterday was the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift and that is why it’s called the present!” Maybe it is because it is hard for me to let things go. Perhaps it is because I worry so much about the future. It could even be because I am not a fan of long sentimental bumper stickers that I can’t read unless, yes, I am riding your bumper. Who knows.

It is hard to not live in the past for me. Especially after a year like we have had. We joke and say that the only thing we haven’t had is a fire but now I feel as if I am tempting fate. Yet another lesson I am trying to grasp is letting go and getting on. Getting past the past and living just enough in the now that I am really present for the things that are going on in my life. I always say it is about Making Memories but sometimes we get caught up in just trying to get through what is in front of us. When we do this, we miss what is truly happening and in turn, miss out on the blessing. I also have to learn to let the past stay in the past. I have this uncanny ability to conjure up the exact emotion I felt at any particular time. When I start thinking of all that has happened and allow myself to get down, then the violins start playing and I find myself singing that same old tune, “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me”. Nobody wants to hear that song, not even me! In an effort to “let it go and get on with it” and to document so I can look back and laugh, I am going to list the highlights of 2009 for the Dunbar Family in no particular order: Transmission went out on my car, we babysat a friend’s dog and it died, Hubs was in an awful accident, Dishwasher went out, microwave broke, Hubs lost his job, Raccoons took up residence in our attic, I had outpatient surgery. Whew! That’s it. I am moving on. We are gonna “Win in O 10”.

Today’s lesson is all about giving up what is in the past. Relinquishing the negative things that hold us back. We are also supposed to look towards the future but not with worry and apprehension. Miller says, “Accepting my failures, as well as those of others, is the only way to deal with a fallen world. And moving on is the only way to hope.” That opens up a whole new way to accept ourselves for who we are and not to dwell on who we think we need be. We can be comfortable in our own pimply, no make-up wearing, spit up on the collar, lack of sleep glare and hunched over sore back-from-putting-the-decorations-in-the-attic-all-by-ourselves selves! I can get behind that all day long. After all, my best work is done sitting around in PJ’s and slippers noshing on crappy food while listening to some of the smartest women I know- my “Often-Crazy but Gloriously REAL Girlfriends”! No matter what the future holds, with these women by my side, I can move mountains while wearing a tiara…

 

Positively Perfect in Every Possible Way January 3, 2010

Filed under: Faith,husbands,Joy,Kids,On being a mom — MDunbar @ 7:31 pm

The Positively Perfect: Mary Poppins

 

Mu husband often pokes fun at the various projects I take on and the different non-profit organizations I help. From donating calligraphy, painting or raising funds, I am always busy with side projects. I am also a bit obsessive about how things look and want them to be the best that I can make them. After all, my name it attached to it and you never know who might see it and want to mass produce it and voila! My first million will be made. I will be the first to say though that I am far from perfect. If you know me at all then you know how crazy I can be trying to accomplish all that I want to get done. I have raised my voice at my children. I have cursed when steeping on a Polly Pocket in the middle of the night. I have shot my husband (OK not really but I know I have thought about it before). I am not proud of my silly behavior but I also know that I can always try to make a better choice next time and hopefully will evolve into a decent mother that doesn’t leave her children scarred and in years of therapy. 

Today I have been reading about finding joy in the fact that, “God has his own agenda and it is greater than my own.” I totally get that and I always give it over to God so that he may deal with it but sometimes I think he is much slower than me and I can fix it if I just…take…it…back. That’s when I pull so hard that it hits me in the face (and then comes the cursing again, urg!).  I am trying to learn to put my faith in God’s grace and mercy. That I need to find my treasure in Him and not place it in things like, well, things! My treasure can’t be my home or, deep breath here, my family. What?!? But I AM mom! I am WIFE! I have been defined by how many cookies I bake, rooms I decorate and songs I sing before bed. This is a totally different ballgame. 

If I place my trust and focus in Him, and not stay focused on ME, then I can be joyful regardless of how angry LD is because some game went sour or how some boy called KD a name and now she is having a complete meltdown or even if Hubs gets fired and we don’t know what we are going to do. If my treasure is with Him, then I can maintain a peace that not only allows me to be more focused on being supportive for my family in their times of need but I will also maintain a bit of sanity. This sounds win/win for everybody. I can focus on being the parent that I truly want to be and not get wrapped up in the worldly drama that in all reality, does not or even will not even effect me. It’s not about me! 

This is great knowledge and I hope I can stay focused on giving it to Him and making Him my treasure. I don’t have to be perfect because it really doesn’t matter and after all no one is but Him! Sure, I can still do all of the things that I love (and Hubs can call me Marcia Stewart which I secretly think is cute) but they will not come before what my focus is, “letting go of something by recognizing that it wasn’t mine all alone.” It all belongs to Him. By letting go I am gaining patience. By letting go I am gaining strength. By letting go I have a tighter grip on what is truly important. 

So what are your treasures?