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Calm my Anxious Heart (and help me stay focused on the main thing)

For most everyone (especially photographers), this is the busiest time of year. And for me–it’s very easy to become overwhelmed especially when I’ve already cut back the days I will work (Tues/Sat) in an attempt to  focus more on my first jobs as a wife and mommy. I’ve let some extra things creep in (sessions and in the midst of being overbooked I have been so busy and said yes to more people than I normally would…my church for example has asked me to help photograph, frame and redecorate their halls!) I’ve justified more work to save up for our adoption and all the paperwork and errands for our adoption have also required more of my time…I’ve felt a little—well, that’s an understatement…actually I’ve felt VERY overwhelmed lately. Jean Fleming  in her book “Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World” says…

“As we seek to focus life, a formidable problem becomes apparent. Life loses focus without any effort, determination, or decision on our part. The process of living, day in and day out, tends to dilute and divert focus. We become so busy that we have no time to consider HOW we live…”

Here’s a healthy exercise that Jean recommends to help maintain focus…helping you keep the main thing…the main thing! She imagines a tree where the trunk represents her relationship with Christ. The limbs are the major areas of God-given responsibility (wife, mommy, etc).The branches are the activities and opportunities of life (these things should flow out of your responsibilities). Some times the activities multiply obscurring the trunk and limbs. When this happens, you can feel trapped! Jean says “I must go beyond defining life by activities. I must focus not on the branches, but on the trunk and the limbs. I do what I do because of Jesus and His claim on my life. I don’t do what I don’t do for the same reason.”

AMEN! I need to focus on that latter part…I DON’T DO WHAT I DON’T DO FOR THE SAME REASON! Amen! Amen! Now, I need to get some q-tips, clean out my ears and say it again so I really get it!

Living with focus means pruning your overcrowded tree. Feeling overwhelmed? Taking on too much? Time to prune. And a beautiful, fruitful tree some times has to be pruned a couple of times each year. For severely crazy trees like myself—we need to prune monthly. Yes…I’m a special case;). I feel like I’m not only overgrown but also holding one too many birdnests…and there’s bird poop everywhere. Ok, let’s not take this illustration overboard Andrea;). Seriously, I feel like I might be a special case right now. FOCUS–Evaluate all of the limbs and see what is causing some limbs to weigh so heavy to cause your branches to not thrive and go in the direction they should…and if you look hard enough you’ll notice limbs (and maybe even nests;) that don’t belong there at all. Then prune–and set new direction.

Today I had WAY too much to do—and guess what? It’s still undone. But a tree needed to be pruned before I could go further. Here is my unpruned tree…sadly it is full of tasks relating to work and it is neglecting the other branches…and even my sacred trunk!

When I evaluate my tree—what I’m feeling my time with right now—it does not line up with my trunk or my limbs. My branches are all wrong. WAAAA! (I hate being wrong!) My limbs are filling days with keeping up with work and making room for more work. My tree is saying “my work is more important than my relationship with Christ, my husband and my children”. This is NOT what I want my tree to look like or what I want to say! I don’t FEELthat—and I hate that my illustration is saying that…OK, ok, ok—let me “justify” my tree by saying that I just want to work to raise money for our adoption. ERRRR! Sorry Andrea…no justifying that one. PRUNE. What my tree also says is “I think I can do provide rather than God can provide”. It also says, “I am trusting myself to come up with what we need rather than God to come up with what we need.” Time to do some pruning. My intentions are good, but I’ve got it all wrong…and good intentions don’t get you anywhere when the things that matter are neglected. Getting the shears out…and time to do some painful pruning.
my tree
What am I thinking most about? How am I spending most of my time? Honestly, I am thinking only about editing, ordering and how I’m going to get it all done. How will it all get done? When will the government mail us back our FBI fingerprinting clearance? How am I going to find time to take all the online courses? Ekkk…had to cancel 2 sessions today due to weather…where will I reschedule them??? Time to sloooow down—and the first step for me is to commit to not book another session for 2009. Nope. Not ONE more. I have to trust the LORD to meet all my needs. I WILL trust the Lord to meet all my needs! It may require a longer wait. It may not be in my timing! And it may be agains my will. But not MY WILL be done but the Lord’s! In the process of getting it all wrong, I am neglecting the branches that the Lord has entrusted to me—my God-given roles of being a wife, mom, having a ministry with others and for now—a job (but a part time only 2 session a week job.)
Our limbs (how we REALLY spend our time, who we really make time for, etc) will reflect what we really believe about our trunk and how seriously we take the well being of the roles of our branches. Time to prune to make these things reflect one another. If someone asks me to do something–I need to do a mental check of my pruned tree before committing. I also need to say, “I need to check and see if that’s possible tonight, can I get back to you tomorrow?” The Bible instructs us in Phillipians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Pray about it—and give an answer to others after you have prayed about it. I’M PREACHIN’ TO THE CHOIR HERE PEOPLE…completely for my own soul to hear…this is all for me to process and pruning is just what is in order for today!
My pruned tree to help me focus…
pruned tree
This new tree is pruned and in order. It will not please everyone—but it will please those who matter most to me. It may hurt some people’s feelings if I can’t do something, fit another client in and it may not produce the money I think I need for our adoption…but it will produce fruit. The Lord will provide the rest.

wow, this really spoke to me! I need to do some major pruning in my life, and the whole thinking about it before just answering "yes" to a new responsibility. (My parents and friends tell me to start pracicing a gently "no thanks" a lot) I sure appreciate you sharing what you learned, gotta go make a tree… 🙂

Are These Kids All Yours? - October 6, 2009 - 5:12 pm

WOW- love that!!! I need to do some pruning myself!!! Thank you for that powerful reminder.

Kim - October 7, 2009 - 6:53 am

Oh how this post and the images spot to me!
Thank you!
Blessings from Hong Kong,

amy - October 7, 2009 - 7:21 am

Bless you sweet friend for being vulnerable 🙂 God is teaching me to trust him for fulfillment and not my ways of doing good here and there…still on this journey of pruning but it is beyond freeing! I'm learning to see the beauty of resting in HIM!! Right now I am basking in staying a passionate wife to Ken, and being a voice for Sophie and Cole while serving others. xoxo

Loraena - June 5, 2010 - 1:42 am

I found your blog through Shawnda’s post of your video and wow, I love it! This tree exercise is ingenious. I’ll be doing it soon!

We’re back!

We’re back from a great weekend where we attended the Together for Adoption Conference. It was an amazing weekend!!! Read the highlights here:

We also got to stay in Columbia, TN (very close to Franklin where the conference was) with Richard’s family. Can’t wait to post the fun pictures from our weekend! Today is a crazy day though–grandparents day at P’s school…so we’re busy running back and forth as Frankie baby needed a little nap before the other program begins! Pictures coming soon:)

Troy - October 5, 2009 - 9:47 am

hey there … we were at the conference as well! We live about 30 miles from Franklin…it was amazing … and I saw you peaking into the rooms snapping pictures 🙂

We adopted our son through AGCI and got home June 19th … not sure if you snapped any pics of the nursery, but Silas was in there … blessings on your journey … believe me, it'll be more than you could ever dream of!

Typical us…

My typical girl…

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My typical boy…
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And my typical mess…
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Yes…that black thing in his hand turned out to be a WORM…a dried up, dead one…YUCK….and yes…it made it’s way into his mouth before I could stop him…
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Doesn’t taste good does it?! A little protein? No worries…a finger sweep and gagging mommy successfully removed it…ALL of it.
A little baseball Zambian style:)
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Have a great weekend!
Beautiful Mess - October 2, 2009 - 10:31 am

THANKS! I should have known not to be eating when I opened this and read the earthworm gagging part :))

HA! Too precious!

The Young Family - October 2, 2009 - 10:51 am

Ha! ha! Sorry to spoil yout lunch;)

Are These Kids All Yours? - October 3, 2009 - 11:33 am

Hey, well…you know sometimes those things are considered delicacies in other countries?? Too cute of a pic though!!! Could squeeze that cuteness.

milreb - October 3, 2009 - 4:58 pm

Thanks for stopping by our blog. Great to virtually meet you. 🙂 So excited for your family. Looking forward to following your journey!


Off to Franklin!

Richard and I are packin’ up the van and heading to Franklin, TN to join 600 other conference attenders with a heart for adopton! I’m so excited to be among these people…and to even meet some precious friends I have met through adoption blogs also with our agency! YAY! I’m also helping during the conference by volunteering my photography services ( as a donation toward the conference. I’ll just be snappin’ away and capturing all the fun…and putting together a fun little slideshow of the amazing weekend after! So…stay tuned!

P.S. When I find some time…I have GOT to post a picture from my crazy day yesterday!!! As it got better in the afternoon—I took the kids out to ride bikes, enjoy weather and I grabbed my camera to snag some shots of them. I was clickin’ away when I saw Frank put something dark in his mouth? What on earth? Well, he sure was making a cute face…so I continued to snap and then it hit me again—WAIT…HE PUT SOMETHING IN HIS MOUTH! So–I ran to do the fingersweep…and found a little protein in there. AN EARTHWORM! AHHHH…disGUSTme! It repulsed me to get it out as much as the thought of it being in his mouth! The joys of boys!

Beautiful Mess - October 2, 2009 - 8:02 am

Enjoy the conference!

an earthworm? WOW! That is crazy! Boys are great!

"A day in the life…" and your adopting?!

OK–it’s only 12:30pm…our big Wednesday only half over. So is my cup half full or half empty? (I’ll go ahead and apologize for the long post…it’s been one of those days!)

Today was my day to get my adoption physical. We have a precious MD who had volunteered to give Rich and I our physicals to cut down on costs—only I had to do a few seperate things at my doctor b/c I’m the lady of the house and our particular home study physicals require a few extra things that I didn’t quite want the MD at our church doing. So…I ventured out this a.m. for a 9:30 appointment–and Richard had agreed to help with Miss L and Baby F as they are both home with me on Wednesdays. The “plan” was to meet me at the doctor so I could painstakingly get through the portion of the physical that the MD at our church wouldn’t be doing. So…I have heard over and over that adoption isn’t for the faint of heart—I’m hanging in there…but today (the first part of it) has definitely felt like a test of whether or not we can add to our family. Have I passed??? Hmmm…I’ll let you faithful blog readers be the judge of that. So…for your entertainment—here’s a peak of our morning:

6:30 – Hubby is off to work for a big conference call at 7am. Ahhh…my helper is gone…
7:30 – Wake up call for P, L and F…today is P’s late start morning b/c of chapel. Shower. Get dressed. Everyone dressed and pressed. Out the door by 8:15.
8:25Oh no! Today is P’s share day at PreK. “Oh P—we have to cut out 3 things you like to eat!” Grab Southern Living. “P, don’t you love cookies like this? Oh…oh P—what about fries like these??? You love those…RIGHT?! No? Are you SURE? Ok, ok—P…what about this? You want a picture of cheezits? There isn’t one in this Southern Living Issue. You have to have cheezits?”
8:27 – Run to recycle bin–pull out empty box of cheezits…cut out picture of cheezits. Ok…we have 3 foods for Parker to share. Cookies. Fries (you DO like them P!) and Cheezits.
8:30 – Everyone buckled in van.
8:35 – Everyone waiting in van—mommy can’t find her wallet from yesterday’s craziness (had 3 sessions yesterday…just 3 b/c my 4th agreed to move to Thursday…had to take Rich’s truck to 7:30 one and babysitters to 11am one and my van to 3:30 one…WHERE DID I LEAVE MY WALLET?
8:40 – Still can’t find my wallet! Call Richard. “Did I leave my wallet in your truck? No? On no. Someone must have stole my wallet out of your truck. I know I left it in your truck. You are a last minute meeting at 9:30 – Phone cuts off. Didn’t charge iphone. Looks like I’m taking L and F to my doc appointment now.
8:45 – Gotta go so P isn’t late for 9am chapel. Van may have left tire marks on corner as I whipped out of neighborhood. “Is everyone buckled up?!”
8:59 – “Hurry Parker—just jump out here…yes 6 cars back…hurry before carpool is over”
9:10 – Looking for AT&T store so I can buy a iPhone car charger so I can call Rich back. Great. No wallet. No cell phone. Realizing I don’t have a $$$ to pay for my doctor appointment…no driver’s liceanse…no insurance card and no $ to get me out of the parking deck…2 kids going to the OB with me now that Rich can’t meet me…nice. No AT&T store. Wait…why am I looking for an AT&T store if I don’t have a wallet!
9:15 – Sitting in traffic on Hwy 400.
9:30 – Get to doc office. Open up back of van…NO STROLLER in back of van! Where is my stroller? Run in doc office with 3 year old holding my back pocket…11 month old on hip…and car seat in hand! Car seat? No stroller and need a place to put baby during my physical. EEK!
9:40 – 10 minutes late for appointment. Get on elevator. L:”Mommy can I push the number?” Me: Yes L, push 4. Too late. We’re 10 minutes late and we have to stop at the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors first. Obviously we need to work on numbers.
9:45 – Ask to use checkin phone to call Rich…I need him to fax my insurance card, driver’s liceanse, and yes–I’m here for an adoption physical…thought I’d add more to my plate:)
10:00 – I get called back…with L, F and carseat.
10:15 – F in carseat…train L to feed F in dressing room so they both aren’t scarred for life from mommy’s physical. F screaming…applesauce all over the place…L loving playing mommy. Doc says “this is for an adoption physical….me: “yes…can’t you clearly see I need more children?” doc doesn’t know if I’m serious but laughs anyway.
10:25Miracle. Nurse pops in…hands me an American Express card and $20…”someone brought this by for you”. Was it Jesus or Richard? God bless my husband’s heart! My day offers hope. Frank still in carseat screaming…Laney is tired of playing mommy…doctor: “my husband’s partner just adopted from Ethiopia…but they had older children” Well, can’t you see I’m crazy…we thrive on crazy. We are crazy. Today isn’t normal. Don’t have my wallet. Don’t have my hubby sitter for 30 minutes as planned. Don’t have a stroller. But…I’m still smiling—so, yes, I must be the type that is crazy enough to have 3 under 5 and says “We should adopt!”
10:45 – Check out…Laney pushes the right buttons in the elevator this time to get to parking deck. Things are on the up and up…that 2 for 2 now.
11:00 – I have money to get out of parker deck! $15 back. Sweet. Dispite penny pinching to save, save, save…I think we need to treat ourselves to a little happy or two.
11:15 – STARBUCKS. BANANA WALNUT BREAD. I needed a pick-me-up. F is sleeping! Poor baby. L says she needs a pick-me-up too. Of course you do dear.
11:25 – Krispy Creme…donut with chocolate on top. Krispy Creme always makes things better.
11:40 – Spot AT&T store. Buy much needed car charger. Ahhhh…my phone back.
11:45 – We are actually early to carpool! Coffee, banana nut bread and donuts. AHHH! We survived! We’re 3 for 3 now. The sun is out. Fall is here. L is playing matching game on iPhone, Frank is in my lap clapping while I sing…ahhhhh….deep breathe.
12:00 – P hops in. Donut waiting in his seat. “WOW mommy! What’s this for?!” Don’t ask P! Oh if he only knew how crazy our morning had been since we dropped him off! “Eat and enjoy sweet boy…and sure…before lunch…today is a special day!”

Yes, this is a day in the life—maybe not typical…but just one of those days that we all have where we can feel defeated before it is half way over. There are so many things to do for our adoption and adding the overwhelming checklist on top of our already crazy schedules often feels daunting. I am reminded though that my life is not my own!!!

Galations 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” This life we live is NOT ours…when I became a believer I surrendered MY WILL to live MY LIFE the way I WANTED. Last night after I put baby F down I sat outside and for the first time in YEARS and read a few pages of my Southern Living magazine outside enjoying the Fall weather along with the sound of my almost 4 year old and 5 year old playing INDEPENDENTLY. “WOW,” I thought. “We could have stopped there…with 2 kids just a year apart…and this would have been what life would have been like.” Nice. I started dreaming and had to shake my head out of this fantasy of such a relaxed life…and remember…

My life IS NOT my own.

If I truly believe in eternity and in the living God, then I also believe I will have eternity to rest, dance and sing praise to my Creator. This life is short. Too short to not live “in faith in the Son of God”. There are 147,000,000 orphans. Too many for me to sit around reading my Southern Living and enjoying the sound of 2 children playing in the background. How can I stand before my Creator one day and answer for the 147,000,000 orphans in the world while I sat back and watched…or worse ignored it. What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? What does it mean to crucify your own will? What does it mean to live a life for Him, through Him, living as He would live?

And the even more miraculous part is…I DO NOT want to sit and read my Southern Living magazine. As tempting as that may sound…it would be short lived. What if instead I get to one day sit on my porch and watch children run around laughing that otherwise wouldn’t have a home or family to love them. And even more—what will it be like to have my adopted children in my home and to realize there were 146,999,999 left behind that will never play soccer, build a fort or even have a daily meal? My life is not my own…

Help me Lord to live as you would. To not get caught up in the things of this world or my own flesh. Help me not to choose the easy path…but the road less traveled. To trust you in the big things…like coming up with the cost of our adoption…all the way to the little things…like losing my wallet and how in the heck I’m gonna get out of the parking deck. And to laugh when I later find my wallet in Laney’s school bag. Yes Rich…I found it. In Laney’s school bag…*I* put it there when I picked her up in my babysitters car after my 2nd session…working extra to help pay for our adoption…and therefore much busier than ever. My life is not my own. He will carry us through…WHEN we are doing HIS will.

Mamma said there’d be days like this…and yes…even among crazy days and possibly an already crazy life…we are adopting. There will be crazy days no matter how many kids we have…and we aren’t gonna let crazy days or how crazy we may look be our meter for what we can handle or if we can open our home to grow…because it will not be by our strength, but through Him. We are gonna keep our main thing—the main thing—keep our eyes focused on Jesus the perfector of our faith…and continue to run this race with perserverance. We are going to adopt a PRECIOUS child…who I am literally dying to get matched with…fly across the world for…and welcome into our hearts and home FOREVER…and we are going to continue to hold our hands out remembering that our lives our not our own and saying “My life is not my own…what can I do for your glory…use our family for your glory.”

1:30pm. All 3 children are napping. I have my wallet. I have my stroller back in my van ready for our next outing. And we’re setting off for a dermatologist appointment for Laney for a checkup. Just a check up. Life is good—and my cup is officially half full:)



Beautiful Mess - September 30, 2009 - 11:53 am

That is crazy and encouraging–LOL fun! Sorry to laugh but I know it is all going to be worth the craziness! You are an encouragement to me!

my favorite part: can't you clearly see I need more children;)


Are These Kids All Yours? - September 30, 2009 - 3:14 pm

AMEN for days like that- make you appreciate the slightly slower ones 🙂 Oh praise God that you have answered the call of a little one who needs you, of God who wants all of our hearts to be open to Him, and of your willing testimony.

The Young Family - September 30, 2009 - 6:54 pm

Yes…days like this you see it is the Lord carrying you through!!! It WILL all be worth it in the end!

McAndrews - October 1, 2009 - 3:07 am

And you were still smiling at 6pm. Well done….

[…] SO–today was ONE of those crazy days. Like…one of those I had about 2 years ago and I posted the comical run down here. […]