Pray Anyways

She was so sick.

We had walked through days of fevers and lethargy with her and she was wiped out.  At five years old, days strung together with fever is too much.

So Monday night we kneeled down by her bed for bedtime prayers and asked our God for help.  {I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121}

We boldly asked for His hand to hold her and to relieve the pain and the fever and the exhaustion.  We prayed believing.

Then she woke in the middle of the night with another 104 degree fever.  We dosed with medicine and ice packs, and she limped into bed with us.  When we woke that morning, I told her how sorry I was that she was still so sick here on day 5.  She looked up at me, weakly smiling, and offered, Well mommy, we’ll just keep praying and praying and praying until I get better.

She teaches me every single day.  She teaches me about bravery.  She teaches me about persistence.  She teaches me about deeper faith.

And so I crawled out of bed and got on my knees and we offered up another offering of prayer to our Heavenly Father.  {Your prayers have come as a memorial offering to God. Acts 10:4}

Sometimes that is what prayer is: an offering.  Given with every ounce of faith you have.  Or beyond.

Tonight, just one week later, I found myself on my knees at the door of another child.  With an even bigger offering.

Praying beyond any wisdom I possessed but trusting in a God that sees and knows and can answer in ways I can’t even see to ask.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LordAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…  Proverbs 3:5

I don’t know what you are up against today.  But there is an answer.  Maybe one you can’t see your way to through the hurt or tears or anger or frustration or confusion or exhaustion.  God sits exalted above all of the dust and din that surrounds us.  {For everything in heaven and earth is yours…You are exalted as head over all.  Chronicles 29:11}

It may take everything in you to get down on your knees and beg for answers or healing or a reprieve or restoration, but find a way.  And after crying out in the evenings, when the morning comes, and you still don’t see a way out, you keep praying and praying until it gets better.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesians 6:18

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Fashion Fridays: The Work Dress

Today’s post is going to be pretty short because I’m writing this after 10 pm and have a big speech I’m waking up early for BUT I couldn’t miss another Friday.

This is what I bought this week to spruce up my summer work wardrobe:  The Work Dress!

Too many women think they can’t pull it off because of their legs or their middle or whatever, but you absolutely can if the style is right.

Take these two acquisitions I recently made:

1.  This irresistible dove gray dress is sophisticated and simple but interesting.  The tulip hemline is unique and it actually detracts from my knees which I don’t love.  It’s summer weight and has beautiful pleated cap sleeves.  The belt slenderizes my middle and I recommend pair it with Spanx stockings and the coordinating blazer if you want to make it more formal for work.

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2.  This bright but classically cut popover sheath is super versatile.  I wore it to a conference this week with stockings, stilettos, and pebble-colored blazer but you could just as easily wear it to a shower or church with bare legs and sandals.  The bright pink geometric pattern makes it an interesting twist to freshen up your work ensembles.

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Let me know what you’re buying these days.  What’s your must have summer work wardrobe piece?

Come On Out

I am so excited to be speaking again.

I took a hiatus from speaking for the first quarter of 2015 because God had some things He needed to teach me.  I would love to see you if you’re near me in the next month.  Of my five speaking engagements in the next few weeks, only my event this Friday is private.  All the rest are open.

Here are the details and links for how to register if you’re in the area:

April 13 – Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Lunch, Learning to Lead.  Lunch from 11:30 to 1 at 600 Travis.  It’s always so nice to be in my own city with local lawyers with whom I’ve grown up in the profession.

April 16 – Wyoming State Bar, Annual Women’s Forum, Cody, Wyoming.  I have the great opportunity to kick off Wyoming’s annual women’s event called Set Yourself Apart.  I have never been to Yellowstone and I plan to do some exploring while there!

April 21 – Grace Presbyterian Church, Women’s Leadership Breakfast.  Breakfast from 7 to 8:30 am.  I am SO excited about this.  I mentioned to my church that with all the career women, the church needed to host women events at alternative times.  They could not have been more enthusiastic and thus birthed Grace’s first women’s prayer breakfast.  If you live or work near the westside, I would love to have you come.

May 7 – Minnesota Women Lawyers, 2015 MWL Annual Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This came the day after my wedding anniversary and the day before our family heads to the Hill Country, but you couldn’t stop me from making my way to Minneapolis on Thursday, May 7th.  Not only do I get to kick off an annual conference that I am so excited the Minnesota Women Lawyers is hosting, but I also get to hang out during the day with two of my dearest friends!  Minnesota here I come.

Drop me a line if you’re coming so I can find you afterwards!

The Real Thing – Awesome Authenticty

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I don’t love bread.

Unless I’m in Paris.

I am not regularly in Paris.

However, I have a searing memory from when I traveled to Paris and wandered into a little bakery and purchased a simple loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, and a bottle of cheap wine.  I took my little lunch on the train to Versailles and picnicked in the gardens.

Ahh.

One remarkable lunch.

Every now and again, I wander into a neighborhood chain French restaurant.  The bakery shelves glowing and gleaming.  Everything looks delicious.  It looks like I’m back in France.

French Bakery

French Bakery

Strip Mall Bread

Strip Mall Bakery

I apparently suffer from selective amnesia because I know it only LOOKS good.  The second I bite into the beautiful bread or pastry, I immediately recognize I am nowhere near Paris.  I am in a strip mall in Houston.

Have you ever served under a strip mall, faux-French bread leader?

I have.

And if I’m honest, I’ve BEEN a strip mall, faux-French bread leader.

Those leaders wear the right clothes or say the right things or use the correct terminology, but it’s not who they are.  They don their faux exteriors every morning like their pinstripe suit and do their best to look like other leaders they think lead well.

If you’re struggling with this like I have, then let me wave the warning flag: people always find out when you are not authentic.  Even the most impressive showman will eventually be found out.  Toto pulls back the curtain on the Great Wizard of Oz only to reveal the show – smoke and lights.

You may not feel like your natural personality or your background or your pedigree lends itself to leadership.  You are wrong.

You are uniquely equipped to lead a team as only you can.  Trying to lead it like someone else is uniquely qualified to do will end badly.

The authors of True North said it better and researched it more, but they offered the same truth:

During the past fifty years, leadership scholars have conducted more than one thousand characteristics, or personality traits of great leaders.  None of these studies has produced a clear profile of the ideal leader.
Thank goodness.  If scholars had produced a cookie-cutter leadership style, people would forever be trying to emulate it.  That alone would make them into personas, and others would see through them immediately.
The reality is that no one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else.

Let me encourage you today to sit down with a pen and paper.  Write down your best attribute.  Your greatest strength.  Don’t overthink it.  No one is sitting there with you.  Write down what comes to you first.

What do you love?  What do you do well?  When do you receive compliments?

If you aren’t showcasing the characteristics you write down, then start today.  Incorporate them into your every day.  Trust what you do well.

You want to be the French bread at Versailles.  The bite that is perfect unadorned.  People will come back for more once they have a taste of the true you.  (And don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you any different.)

When Pinterest Perfect Goes Kablooey

I’d seen the ideas and gotten excited.  I love pretty.  I actually love perfect pretty.

They were on Pinterest.  They came in Better Homes and Garden.  Heck, my creative girlfriend even sent me a picture.

So it was settled.  Despite the most frentic work pace of my life, I had all five of us home the Saturday before Easter which meant I could go nuts.  Set a beautiful table.  Bake til my heart exploded.  Decorate!  (Yes, we pulled our Easter decor out the WEEKEND of Easter!)

My plan was to host a couple of families along with our own for an elaborate Easter brunch.  We couldn’t spend it with Bray’s family as we normally did because of my hectic travel schedule but that wasn’t going to stop me from entertaining in high style.

Until, first, little bit got sick.  Really sick.  High fever sick.  She had 104 this afternoon, her fever ever climbing even though she’s been sick since Thursday night.  Which meant all the invitations got rescinded on Friday because there’s nothing worse than visiting a friend only to catch their kid’s contagion.

Unfazed, Saturday we gathered around the family kitchen table to decorate fun and festive Easter eggs.  Mercy.  There were dye and glitter and stickers everywhere, and the durn eggs wouldn’t take the color and they got dropped and cracked and, well, you get the idea.  This is the platter of the eggs that made it, and I’m not posting it on Pinterest.  (You won’t get many followers if you do… Not that I actually post anything of mine on Pinterest. Ever.)

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Next up, the kids wanted to HELP in the kitchen Saturday.  Y’all, I appreciate the joy that should bring me, but three five year olds baking is just not a joyful experience for me.  And I consider myself a relatively joyful person.  The baby particularly wanted to help, so I agreed to put him to work.

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(He is clearly joyful.  This may have been captured when he ordered me to let him lick the knife since he’d been relegated to sorting candy melts.)

Three things had to be baked Saturday.  The zucchini bread (which is a classic for me) with a twist – dark chocolate.  (Feel free to ooh and aah, this actually turned out, just slightly undercooked.)

Next were these little chicks made out of Oreos that I saw in BH&G.  The problem was I couldn’t find the yellow candy melts, so we improvised with mixed color Hershey melts (see above sorting project), and I couldn’t find the white beads for the bottom so I made the executive decision green sprinkles would look as good.

It was not the melts or the green that tanked this project.  I have found that if you use candy eyes for any project it tanks itself.  Y’all, sorry to use Texas-twang twice in one post but this is a grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-shake-you kind of a y’all, why do they make candy eyes?   I guess if they looked realistic you’d feel weird eating eyes, but candy eyes are FREAKY!  Plus the Oreos wouldn’t stay together.  Plus the melts were so sticky that half the jelly beans beaks got covered by the melts so the noses are in weird spots.  And the green, well the green clearly didn’t have the same effect.

Here’s project number two (you can see the magazine image at the bottom; ahem, I have a bone to pick with the editor):

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Finally, project three were whimsical butterfly cupcakes.  They looked adorable and super easy.  I have made a zillion cupcakes.  The kids desperately wanted to help, but I desperately wanted to have one of my Pinterest-y ideas turn out so I only allowed them minimal involvement: they inserted the pretzel wings and put some of the heads on.  Aside from the candy grass I had to use as antlers (do butterflies have antlers?  what are those things?  those little antennae?), because who sells black licorice (and really, who should?  it’s gross. why I am using a zillion parentheticals today?), I followed the instructions to the tee.  I did make every row have one different butterfly (see the third butterfly?  i’m just embracing the parenthetical. go with me.) because I meant to illustrate a big life lesson about how we’re all different but still beautiful and delicious, but I was worried that might just make me sound like Hannibal Lecter plus I was really wiped from all the failure.

butterfly cupcake

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Where was I?  What was the point of this post?  All the slang and parentheticals have me off my game.  Oh yes, how my life is REALLY far from perfect pretty.  But you know, it’s pretty all the same.

We have weird crumbly Oreo chicks and sick kids and butterflies with antlers, mercy, but it was good.  (I won’t even go into how BREADY our beautiful Easter brunch full of Pinterest-y recipes was.  Seriously with the bread in everything.  What happened? Where was the MEAT?!?)

And little bit is still sick.  She rallied from Easter egg hunting in the dark, since our kids wake at 6 am and spy the eggs and cannot be contained inside.  You can see the poor thing has a cool pack on her head.

Easter

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After mommy melted down because the team didn’t LOVE the coordinating Easter outfits I had so lovingly selected for all five of us, we all headed out to church to celebrate what Easter is really all about (the Passion, not the Pinterest).  She went downhill fast during the service though.  You can see from picture one, taken at 10:30, to picture two, taken at 12:30, how she tanked completely and her fever spiked again poor thing.

 

Easter

Easter Sink

They’re off school tomorrow so she can get the first appointment with our pediatrician and maybe the insane amounts of sugar in our house will hold her over until then.  I have a hard week, a really hard week, with work and my first of six speaking engagements this month, but I know God is good all the time and this season will teach me something just like my Pinterest kablooey reminded me what this weekend was really all about.