What I Wish You Knew About Me

Who Am I?

I am in a year of seeking to Belong. I want to belong in my own skin, I want to feel like I belong in Lebanon, I want to belong in my community. It may surprise some of you to know that I do not feel comfortable most of the time anywhere. I am a highly sensitive person, and noise, smell, and the general environment around me throw me off very quickly. I have been working very hard to modify sensory input for myself over the past two years as I have learned more about myself. I have learned that I cannot change these aspects of myself, and I am striving this year to find the beauty in the way God has created me rather than always praying I could be fixed.

This year I am in the process of taking out old dreams and dusting them off to see if God intended for them to be put away. Rather than live in regret, I am taking the time to unpack myself, get to know myself, and hopefully fall in love with myself.

moravian

Getting To Know Me

This past year I read a set of books on the History of the Moravian Church. My paternal family is Moravian, and growing up we were a part of the Christmas Love Feasts and whenever I was asked what denomination I was I would reply Moravian. Saying “nothing” sounded lame, and while I didn’t really know what it meant to be Moravian, I felt that it made me a part of something bigger to say Moravian. To claim a nondenominational church was to be a part of something much smaller. In my reading this set of books, I was thrilled to find so much commonality between my life and their history. Moravians are the founders of the 24/7 prayer movement, first missionaries to many areas of the world, and not bound by building their own churches, but rather intent on unity among denominations. These are all values I share. One of the pieces of the history that struck me was the Moravians created a textbook that was sent out to all Moravians which contained verses for daily meditation. This was a boon to the missionaries who could find comfort in the knowledge that they were reading the very same verses as their brethren in every other part of the world.

Bonhoeffer-Pastor Martyr Prophet Spy.jpgIn a biography I read this past year of Bonhoeffer I found, much to my delight, that Bonhoeffer also discovered these textbooks and he required all the students at his secret seminary Finkenwalde to practice meditation with them. As I set goals for myself to get to know myself, to be more intentional, to learn to pray as an intercessor again, I realized there were many aspects of what I wanted that did not have a measurable aspect or restriction of time. These are habits I want to grow in for the rest of my life. So, I bought myself that textbook, it is still published every year with verses from the heart of the Moravian Church, Herrnhut in Germany. They are called Moravian Daily Texts, and I get no stipend if you click through and order, but I would love to share this tradition with you. I am loving it. I am following Bonhoeffer’s plan of meditation using the Daily Texts as my verses each day as he did.

P.S. The amazing Bonhoeffer biography was called Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. You should definitely read it.

I Love Running

The second part of myself I am dusting off is running. I am a runner. I run from conflict and I ran in track in junior high. Last week I was waiting with Davy for the bus and was so cold I started to jog in place. It felt so nice, that when the bus pulled away with Davy inside, I decided to run home. So, I ran up our driveway and then up the stairs. I was exhilarated and happy, smiling, and ready to laugh out loud. Immediately I researched the couch to 5k plan and added it to my workout plan, which was to begin the very next day. I will be sharing more about this in the coming weeks as I establish it as a habit, and please feel free to join me as I work through the 9 weeks.

I am planning on running in a 5k in Tucson in September.

Lifelong Learner

There is always more to learn about our kids, friends, spouses, and selves. I am on a journey to do just that, and learn where I belong in it all. It is shaping up to be a great year.bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-prophet-spy

 

3 Ways I am Making Room for Abundance

Limiting Date Nights to Weekends

The first semester I was really loving my routine of Davy going to bed early, and having time to watch movies or play games with Louis late into the night. I would groggily wake up and get Davy on the bus and then go back to bed for several hours to make my 7 hours of sleep. This semester, though I am in a season of effective morning time, and I just can’t stay up all hours on school nights. So, my bed time is 8:30, right after the kids’ 8:00 bedtime.

I am missing the extra time with Louis, but everyone is benefiting from my good mood and the house being cleaner. For some of you reading this, you are not carving out a date night each week, so hearing that I had up to seven nights a week with Louis in our previous season may be surprising. We both knew that it was a routine not meant to last, but it might be something you want to try rather than lessening your time with your loved one.

Front Loading my Biggest Goals

Every year I make big, year spanning goals. My repeated goal of reading the entire Bible is the main one. This year I am looking ahead and recognizing that I have big things coming–starting a Masters program being the biggest. So, I am putting the goal of reading the entire Bible early on. I am spending my mornings reading large sections of Scripture, following a 90 day Bible Reading Plan. Yikes! Once I finish this, I will have the extra half hour to make changes in the next season of life.

My blog posts are slacking, so along with my goals for blogging, I have frontloaded this goal by creating a list of writing prompts and starting an accountability group to check in with me on whether or not I am writing. This will lead to having lots of content to edit and work with, and I can start building momentum from there.

Finally, I am starting (after I shake this terrible chest cold) my workout plan. The 90 Day Challenge with Bikini Body Mommy and the 9 week Couch to 5K combined will give me a big kickstart on my weight loss and health goals. Then I can reevaluate after the 90 days.

Carving out a Weekend

Louis and I are big proponents of guarding the Sabbath. We sit down each week and make sure that we have a day other than Sunday that we are taking as a Sabbath. Additionally, this year, we are not planning things on Sundays so that we have an entire extra day for flex, and we are doing the same for half of Saturday. Whereas Monday is Grocery Day, Tuesday—Arabic Class, Wednesday—Staff Meetings, Thursday—Skype Meetings, etc. Friday through Sunday do not get assignments or tasks to fulfill each week so that as stuff comes up we have space, but also to learn to say no. Friday is our go to Sabbath, and Saturday is half Home Project day, and Sunday is church. Other than those labels, nothing goes regularly on the calendar for those days.

So far this has not once meant we actually had those days off, but it has given us the space to say yes to things we would otherwise be too busy for.

Peace

In this season I am seeking peace and happiness, charging up for the coming work ahead. These three adjustments have been pivotal in my finding calm in my days and nights, and helping me be a better mom, wife, and a better me.

How I Went One Whole Day Without Guilt!!!

Guilt

So many times I read about how guilt is dragging us down. I know that a lot of guilt and shame that I feel is unfounded and irrational, and it is so common in my life that it makes me feel guilty about feeling guilty.

This year one of my goals is to fulfill fifteen 21 Day Challenges. Last year I did several 21 day goals to get habits started, get organized, or just to motivate myself in an area I really wanted to improve in myself. This year I decided to take it from being something useful I did every now and then, to a common thread in my life. I had a great list in my November brainstorming of all the different habits I would start, and even mapped out the 21 days for the first few.

In January we were traveling and holidays were happening, and my first challenge, the 21 Day Writing Challenge, while well planned out, was not completed by me. I stopped at day 14. As many of us feel at the beginning of the year when our goals that seemed so amazing turn out to be a bit too much, I felt like a failure right off the bat. Quickly I realized I needed to reorganize my priorities to be successful, and I needed to set myself up for success rather than set myself up to beat myself up for failing.

Goal Tracking

In December I started my new Annie-style bullet journal, and started it off with a tracker for almost everything I was currently doing daily. It was a great way through December to make sure I was doing the things I wanted to do every day. Right away I noticed a staggering correlation and continued tracking in January to find the correlation to hold true. Every day that I missed taking alone time, I would raise my voice at one of my family members the following day. I decided this had to stop, and so truly began to prioritize self care, even starting the book I have had in my Kindle for quite some time, The Fringe Hours, which is specifically about self-care.

I began meditating and reading the Bible intensively early in the morning, and going to bed earlier to make time for 8 hours of sleep as well. The results have been amazing!

Do you feel a but coming on?

Well, there almost was one. This weekend the kids and I got sick. The beginning of the week was rough, and David ended up missing a day of school. Midweek David and I were feeling so much better that Louis wanted me to come down with Kyrie to the center to help him out with a double booked hour he had. It sounded simple, and Louis even had thought of goals I have for the year that would be worked toward with this. However, it just was not good timing. So I said no, he would have to reschedule something, I just couldn’t. I did hem and haw about it, but in the end I said no. And initially I felt terrible about it. But I stuck to it, and Louis even repeated to me the reasonable reasons he agreed with me.

I woke up this morning feeling tense that the guilt was waiting right outside, but as I started the day I felt…wait for it…

RELIEVED.

Yep, no guilt, just relief as I took care of Kyrie who still is super sickly and I was able to get so much done around the house. I decided this morning that my next 21 Day Challenge is to say no to something every day. If you are in need of learning to prioritize yourself so that you can care for those around you better by being in a better mood, maybe you want to do this with me. I said no to going out today with my sick kid, and I said no to doing the dishes last night. I said no to an extra load of laundry today, and I said no to pushing my exhausted and recovering kid to do homeschool. Everything I said no to was a “good” thing, but not the best thing. One of our mottos is running through my head now, Good is the Enemy of the Best.

I Can be Happy!

My Imaginary Friends

In junior high and the beginning of high school I still had imaginary friends. I knew I was too old for them, so I had released my imaginary ducks in the middle of 6th grade. But I kept 3 imaginary blue aliens from the planet Pluto in my head. These imaginary friends lived in my heads much like the emotions in the Pixar movie Inside Out. When I got to college I did not admit having imaginary friends, but instead moved to the idea of a good side and bad side arguing in my head (instead of on my shoulders). The idea of a shadow version of myself worked itself into conversations a lot in those college years.

The reality is that I am likely to think negative things about myself, and there is no little voice, alien, shadow or other self doing it to me. I am the one with the negative words and thoughts about myself 99% of the time. And it has to stop. I don’t think negatively about my kids like this, but I am teaching them to think about themselves this way by modeling this negative behavior.

I Want to Belong in my Skin

This year my word of the year is Belong. I have a dream of Future Annie, a lovely woman I would want to be best friends with. I imagine spending the next year getting to know her, and then looking in the mirror and realizing she is me. I want to love myself the way God loves me, so that I can love others the way I know God has called me to love them. I have truly struggled with the Golden Rule because of self-hatred, and it is going to change this year!

Guilt, Irritation, and Other Lies

I have struggled with guilt to the extent that I think it has become as natural as breathing. I rarely make it through a day without getting annoyed at someone in my tone, sighs, or stares, even if I am trying to hold it in. I have decided this year that those things will not define me. Every mom has to undergo a learning curve of our lives changing dramatically. My body, my time, my meals, my romantic life, my relationships, my family, and every other aspect of my life have been altered by the entrance of kids. This can be hard, but I am doing good as a mom, and I am going to continue to obey God. If I make a mistake I am going to say sorry and pick myself up to keep moving forward. In this way I am going to learn to be happy and to hold onto the joy that is promised to reside in us as Christians.

Choose Happy, Dream Big

I have not been a dreamer until recently. I did not believe I could be happy. But God told me in a prayer time that I can be happy, and I chose to believe Him. I didn’t read a few books and seek counsel, I just decided then and there that I believed him and would spend the year chasing after the dreams He has put in me, knowing He is going to make me happy this year! I claim the promise, and will wait on the Lord as long as it takes.

How I am Meeting my 2017 Goals

Today is my first day back to blogging, and I am posting this as soon as I type it. It isn’t the most polished blog post, but I am getting back into the habit. I didn’t finish the 21 Day Writing Challenge myself because I was in shock at Kyrie’s healing and subsequent personality change, so I have been enjoying my daughter instead of writing for the blog. This week, however, I was reminded that people want to know how life is, so I am starting off with a taste of how the New Year is starting off with a reflection on meeting my goals. This is my new computer, so I have no pictures downloaded yet, but in upcoming posts I am going to be even better of giving y’all great visuals of life as a mommy missionary.

I Met 90% of my Goals Last Year!

That was a big deal. Yes, there were goals that were unreasonable, but it was way more than I accomplished the year before. One of the keys to success is setting the goals. By setting the goals, I was able to see my progress and it motivated me to keep going. So many times we get to the end of a year or even a season in our lives, and although we were busier than ever, we may not see the successes we had. I have made it a habit to track successes in many areas, and this year I am doing even more tracking.

Also, note that I did not meet 100% of my goals. I made audacious goals, and sometimes they didn’t work out for me. One big goal was to read the whole Bible and to read the New Testament through 5 times. There were so many weeks that just got skipped, so the New Testament was only read 3 and a half times, and I only got through about 80% of the rest of the Bible, but that was pretty good. To start off this year I am following a 90 Day Bible Reading Plan since I know that these next few months are the lightest I am going to have in the near future.

I lost 25% of my body weight last year!

The main key to what I did was to decide I was going to work out and use a meal plan, and then to do it. So many times it is just too easy to let ourselves slide, but by thinking about the end, and recognizing that every day was a day I had to spend on my goals, I was able to go above and beyond my goals.

This year I am doing it again, and I have great news! Bikini Body Mommy just started Challenge 6.0, so you could join me and workout, too! I use the meal plans as well, and do the bonus ab series. This plan is working for me, it is easy to begin at any weight range or activity level you are currently at. Please feel free to join, I just started this week, and the challenge just started last week, so you can jump in and be a part of the community.

Because I had success I feel so much more motivated to keep making new goals, to keep striving for the joy I feel when I exercise, read, write, and spend time doing all the things I love doing. Meeting goals even helps me persevere through the harder, less fun parts of life.

Our Front Room Is Clean!

We just came back from America after one month of family focused trips and health related doctors (See Kyrie’s health update by CLICKING HERE if you haven’t already). We brought back 4 checked bags, 3 carry on sized bags, and 4 personal bags and put them all in our front room. We arrived on a Sunday night and we had nine days to get that front room presentable for our first Arabic class. Our teacher comes to our house, and we already have a very American house, so we didn’t want bags out and about.

I decided to be rational, calm, and logical. Denying my emotional side the chance to freak out, I made the backup plan of throwing everything in my room the day of Arabic if I wasn’t able to clean, and I set to work steadily going through the bags. If something came out of the bag it had to have a place right away. I finished by the end of the first week with all the checked bags. Huge bags are now empty in my kitchen waiting for me to brave the cold to reorganize the maid’s room for them, and my front room is sparkling, swept, mopped, and I even have decoratively set the table. Yay for being clean. I am not good at it, but I have built habits and routines to do it.

Thank You For Everything: The Procedure Was Successful! Kyrie Rebekah Is All Better!

Dear Friends and Family,

    We cannot express with words how overwhelmed we have been from the outpouring of support, prayers, and encouragement from our sending community. Let me give a quick summary of the issue and then an update on Kyrie’s improvement:

For an in depth timeline of the past 21 months CLICK HERE

  • March 28th, 2015: Kyrie was born with an imperforate hymen that blocked fluids necessary for menses. Shortly after being diagnosed, a cist appeared in the area of the hymen causing sores, puss, and continual pain.
  • We applied for the procedure to be covered with our insurance at the time and was denied.
  • We attempted a painful out-patient procedure without anesthesia which was unsuccessful.
  • We applied for two international insurance companies and were denied because of a pre-existing condition requiring a surgery they wouldn’t cover anyway.
  • We attempted the painful out-patient procedure again without result.
  • November 2015: Our family returned to Lebanon
  • The pain grew steadily worse and Kyrie began sleeping 15-20 hours a day to manage the pain.
  • We attempted to get the surgery done in Lebanon but there was no one at our Lebanese hospital who was equipped to perform this uncommon procedure on a child so young.
  • December 2016: We returned to America to have the pediatric urological surgery with a specialist.
  • One week prior to the procedure the bulge from the cist subsided.
  • Prior to inducing the general anesthesia we attempted the painful out-patient procedure one last time and this time it was successful!!!
  • We asked our specialist how it was possible for the cist to subside enough for the procedure to be successful and he answered, “You must have had a lot of people praying for you. God must not have wanted her to be put to sleep.”


Kyrie did not have to go under and she has made a 180% change. She is bubbly, laughing, and awake all the time.

She is ALL better!

This is possible because of God’s response to all of your prayers and support. God has shown a sign of His provision in the wilderness. Though our sorrow and struggle has lasted for countless nights, His joy has come in the morning. We could not have gotten through this period of our lives without you all being an ever present comfort to us. We can’t wait for you to meet our joyful little delighted daughter that has been encased in pain for so long. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

With Deepest Affection,

Louis, Annie, David, & Kyrie Liss

 

Merry Christmas

This is Day 11 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge!

Here are some pictures from our time with family and friends so far this holiday season:





This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence