What a weekend we had.  One for the memory files, for sure. It doesn’t happen very often, so when it does – it’s a treasure.  Two full days.  At a resort.  With my two beauties.  No boys allowed.

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Me ‘N My Girls

Our friend Sarah helped us find a wonderful rate at a local resort so our big travel time was about 45 minutes.  (Sure beats driving for 6-7 hours to get anywhere else, IMHO!)

We stopped by our local mall – spent a solid amount of time looking through the treasures and finding a few objects our lives wouldn’t be complete without.  Mostly make-up related and a few summer dresses.  Of course.

The accommodations were just amazing.  Customer service was outstanding – and, I may or may not be a little bit hard to impress.  I really do believe that the employees were genuinely happy to be there and went out of their way to make the guests feel welcome and taken care of.  Our casita faced the pool area, but was far enough away that there was no noise to speak of.  {Well, maybe that had more to do with the fact that it was approximately 1000°(F) and most sane people go to the mountains to vacation this time of year.}

We were all looking forward to our getaway!  We had loaded up our creativity-supplies – markers, pens, watercolors for the trip.  I had the need to get my creative on.  I loved every minute of it – geeking out over the recent discovery of #bulletjournaling #bujo (apparently, I do live under a rock) and #biblejournaling!  I took advantage of the down-time to binge watch YouTube videos of experienced #bujo-ers.  Some are SO elaborate while others are simple and utilitarian.  I am probably in the middle somewhere on that scale.  I love to be creative, but most of the time, I don’t have the TIME so rather than do NOTHING AT ALL, I am opting for a simpler approach, with a small amount of sketching.  I’m also learning to hand-letter; picking back up the basic beginner skills of calligraphy I learned from my Aunt Miriam years ago.  She is a legit pro, y’all.

We also found time for a little pampering.  This weekend’s choices were two-fold: spray tanning, and pedicures.  We pale girls really do NOT look like we live full-time in Arizona; more like we only come out at night and are frightening by the sun.  We decided we needed to look a little more bronze and found a spray tanning place on Yelp with good reviews near where we were staying.  So, I texted the business at 11pm and got a quick response from the owner and bam! We had appointments for the next morning.   We showed up, got the run-down, answered a list of twenty questions, signed away our first-born children and, one by one, we went in to get hosed down – er, I mean spray tanned.   So, what did I learn about spray tanning??  Super glad you asked.  Well, I learned a few things.  I learned that when it’s approximately 1000°(F), and you get a spray tan, you feel sticky.  Sticky like the lotion you put on eight hours ago won’t dry.  For eight straight hours, ladies.  Sticky like a mother nature.  I learned that you can’t shower off said spray tan for forever (well, forever meaning 8-10 hours), or the processing of the spray tan will be interrupted.  I also learned that you wear DARK colors when getting a spray tan that you may not shower off from for all day when it’s 1000°(F) because if you wear WHITE clothes, you end up with bronzing streaks from where you couldn’t possibly keep your arms from touching your shirt, shorts, shoes, car seat, linens… I also learned that a shower can actually feel like nirvana at the end of the eight hours of sticky.  I learned that I really do enjoy looking a little bit tan, but that when someone sees you and her first comment is, “Wow, you are really tan!”, maybe the spray tanner didn’t read your choice to have a LIGHT tan.

He he he… It was all just so fun – sticky spray tan and all.  Know why?  My girls.  They are so fun, growing up so fast, learning how to adult… and, we had a great time making memories together.  We decided to make it an annual thing.  So, yep – it’s a thing now.  Minus the spray tan.

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Yummy dip trio – we really liked the onion one and the avacado-hummus best. The hibiscus was fun to try, but we just didn’t love it. (Check out Maddie’s new birks.)

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Well, we ate this caprese flatbread before I remembered to photo it. It was delish.

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The Onyx Lounge @ #FourSeasonsScottsdale

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What. Churros. Dipped. In. Hot Fudge. Yes.

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Get your creative juices flowing girls!

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#bujo

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#bujo

 

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Ready to go out!

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PROOF at the #FourSeasonsScottsdale was amazing! Have a little coffee with your cream, will you?

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#FourSeasonsScottsdale

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#FourSeasonsScottsdale

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#FourSeasonsScottsdale

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Sister Love

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Beauty of the desert…

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Sweet welcome note from our friend Sarah… and some yummy healthy snacks too! #FourSeasonsScottsdale

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#FourSeasonsScottsdale

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Me ‘n my girls.


How a person sees herself is absolutely crucial.  The lens through which I see my reflection may be tainted by sadness, pain, abuse, hurt  – all my past mistakes – the things that I have done and the things that have been done to me.  Or, my view can be rose-colored, choosing to see only the good, perhaps in deep denial – hoping to hide my many short-comings from myself and others.  Either version seems a bit “off”.

Reflecting on a quote from a sermon I heard recently, “What you believe about God is the most important thing about you.” Whoa. Chew on that for a minute.

Do you see the connection of what you believe about God and what you believe about yourself?  For me as a believer, what I believe about my Heavenly Father is a direct reflection of what I believe about myself.  Do I see in the reflection, a woman created in the image of the Most High King?  For many, many years, no.

But, God.

There is always hope when God is involved.  I did not used to see someone I liked when I looked in the mirror or caught my reflection unexpectedly.  I used to struggle with self-loathing, toxic shame, and low self-worth.  Basic self-care was a chore.  If you struggle with this, you may understand – taking showers, going grocery shopping for healthy food, preparing said healthy food, cleaning up afterwards, making sure clothes are ready to go for the week, laundry done and put away…  If you don’t really like yourself, let alone LOVE yourself, these things can become a struggle.  If you believe you have no value or worth, then what’s the point of a healthy meal?

As God and I worked my journey of recovery from past hurts, habits and hang-ups, over time, with healing and willingness, I began to see a different person when I looked into the mirror.  I started to actually LIKE her a little.  I thought she had a few cools things going on.  She’s pretty funny, too.  And, she can harmonize.

Do I see Him in my eyes? Him in whose image I am created?  That’s what I should see – that’s what I want to see because I believe that is how He sees me; only love, only compassion, only excitement… sheer anticipation bursting at the seams of His heart – like watching my own child achieve something exciting, reaching a milestone, or maybe just making his bed without being asked.  (He he…) That’s what only my heart can feel, and my mind has not enough capacity to put into words. I’m proud of him because he’s my kid and for no other reason.  There doesn’t really need to be one.

I know that MY DADDY GOD, The Creator, thinks I am amazing because He made me in HIS IMAGE.  I am not a mistake, not wrong, not unimportant in His view.  And, I also know this – He absolutely thinks YOU are AMAZING, too.  He loves you and wants you to know that He moved heaven and earth, for you.  He gave His only begotten Son, for you.  Soak it in, my friend, and let that truth seep deep down, all the way to your toes.  Let it change your thinking about yourself.  I did, and it did.  You are a masterpiece.

Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 GNB (https://www.bible.com/bible/296/2CO.5.17.GNB)

Identity.


So, when I started put thoughts down on this blog (2012), I was in a pretty “in session” part of life.  I had recently left my spouse of 18 years for infidelity and felt released to go on with my life, figuring out what single looked like.  I accepted a promotion to a C-suite position in public sector work – as an HR professional – and was extremely blessed to have that 3 years to focus, learn, grow and dive into something bigger than me and my problems.

Things have shifted again (as they usually do).  I’ve been in a different role in another public organization because, quite frankly, the stress got to me and I needed a change.  I had so much going on… I was now remarried, adjusting to life with a husband, helping my three teenagers with that adjustment while they all bravely navigate between two households on a weekly basis.  We then built a home and moved and have been settling into the new norm.  The change of paths at work was needed, but has not been a bed of roses, not even a little bit.  It’s been a struggle, and I find myself in a season of waiting.

Waiting.  What does that even mean?  Waiting for the bus? Waiting for a table at my favorite Saturday night bistro?  What am I waiting for?  To try to describe the waiting is a bit like nailing jell-o to the wall, but here goes.  Waiting feels like this space of time between the pain or struggle, and the breakthrough.  I know breakthrough is going to come, but I don’t know when and I don’t know what it will look like.  ARRRGGGHHHH!!! (Think Charlie Brown as Lucy is pulling the football out from under him, yet again.)  My friend Elaine told me once that there is so much to be learned in the waiting.  I’m taking that promise as a claim-check, and hanging on to it!

For someone who (apparently) struggles with control, this season is tough.  Rather than feel like a helpless victim of circumstance, I’ve put a few action items together to try to help me make some sort of sense of it all.  I learned from #recovery, that taking action over areas I can control helps me feel empowered, and keeps me moving forward.

Here’s what I’ve done recently and what I am doing:

  1. Get certified. Study for and sit for the SHRM-SCP exam and pass.  DONE.  This is a milestone for my profession that honestly should have been accomplished about 15 years ago.  I kept kicking that can down the road.  “I just had a baby.”  “I have three little ones at home.”  “I don’t want to.” “My husband just started a new shift.” “My toe hurts.”  Lots of really legit excuses.  He he he… This one took a while, a small investment and dedication.  It was a commitment.  I took an online prep course that was 30 hours in total, spent approximately 1,000 hours a day in personal study time, reviewed nearly 1,000,000 flash cards, and took the practice exams about 100 times, each.  I had scheduled the exam for about 2 1/2 weeks after the class was over at a proxy test center in my area.  I arrived, got frisked, and was chastised about the contraband (a tissue in my pocket) (they take their jobs seriously); I was allowed to take only photo ID and locker key into the exam room.  I was ushered to an old PC in a room full of old PCs and other test-takers.  I sat down in front of the computer and thought – let’s do this.  I prayed silently – God, I’ve put the work in.  Help me finish this task today – bring the information to my remembrance, and help me to be careful as I read and thoroughly understand what the question is asking.  Then, something happened.  The first question was something I felt confident about.  So was the next one.  And, the one after that.  I thought, this is really weird.  I didn’t feel this confident with the practice exams at all.  But, now, I actually felt good about my answers. 
    IMG_2964I PASSED!!

    For someone who pretty much skated through school by the skin of her teeth, not really diving in to studying the actual material, or go beyond the minimum requirements, and getting the appropriate resulting grades, I suddenly learned what all the straight-A kids felt like when they took an exam.  Weird.  Not that much stress.  At the end, the computer told me that I PASSED and boy did that ever feel good!!!  REALLY good.  An investment in ME. #accomplishment #SHRM-SCP #killingitatlife

  2. Update resume and obtain review and feedback from two trusted colleagues.  IN PROCESS.  This one is tricky because I’m not necessarily looking to leave my job, but I do want to position myself for the next thing if/when God brings it along my path.  Plus, what better time to update my resume with the little letters at the end of my name now earned.  Kerry Mader, SHRM-SCP.  Hmm, nice ring to it.
  3. Think differently.  IN PROCESS.  Romans 12:2 commands, “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], SO THAT you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]” (AMP, emphasis mine).  I’ve put this verse into action by setting up a semi-professional executive coaching situation with a family member of mine who is working towards becoming an executive coach.  Win-win!  For starters, I’m reading a new book called, “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, along with using the companion workbook.
    IMG_3100Designing Your Life – Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

    So far, I’m really enjoying it.  I would sum it up as a book that introduces the reader to a design mindset.  This has been freeing for me so far – as someone who struggles with perfectionism. (Maybe I’ll do a full book review at the end of my process, if that’s something of interest.)  At this point, my coach and I meet about every other week via phone due to distance and in person when we’re able.  He has a unique mindset and very different experiences in life than I do, I respect his wisdom, and so I think that it’s going to be extremely valuable to have this exchange and accountability.

  4. Seek God.  Honestly, why isn’t thing one in the #1 slot?  It should have been.  If I’m being real, and I am, it wasn’t at the time.  I have a really amazing resiliency (that’s code for stubbornness) for trying to do it all on my own.  It’s a very clear pattern in my own life, as I know it is for so many. (Here’s an older post on that very theme.)  I am now earnestly seeking God – I spent the better part of a day this week seeking Him, learning, growing, healing. I needed a level set, a refresher.  One of the key things that I am pressing into right now is my identity.  How do I see myself?  More on that in a future post!
  5. Write again.  Write until there are no more words for today.  I’m picking up the blog again.  I have a story to tell, hope to spread, and a light to shine.

I look forward to the future!  Be blessed and know you are loved, Kerry

The 2018 update.


We all have one. A place – cabinet, closet, cupboard, hidden room behind the fridge, cellar in the garage – to keep the food stuffs and maybe several seldom used small kitchen appliances.  It may also be home to 6 jars of pickled peaches that you spent HOURS on during the summer of 2006, or that gotta have it spice that expired in 2010 (which was three moves ago).  Just sayin’.

I’m going to just tell myself that the majority of households in the U.S. have the same issue… that space gets messy after just a short period of time. There are levels on the continuum of “messy”.  No judgement here.  I’d give mine a pain level of about 7 on a scale of 10.  Something must be done.

For a perfectionist, as I am, this simple issue can weigh heavily and cause frustration.  The thinking there is if it can’t be perfect, then why even try or start?  I am working to have less perfectionist thinking because I do think in the long run, and even the short run, the benefits far outweigh the costs.  If I don’t tidy the pantry because I don’t know how to do it with PERFECTION, I still have a messy pantry at the end of yet another weekend.  If I allow the fear of not getting it perfect to keep me from even trying to tidy a little bit, again, I still have the same messy pantry, and along with it a sense of defeat starts building.  This time, I’m going in with a little bit of grit and telling myself, “Let’s DO this.”  Oh, and I enlisted the help of my two awesome kids to help because summer break. Ha!

I did invest a little bit in my pantry by building on a few things I already had and adding to it with similar items.  But, you certainly do not have to spend money to improve your space.  My grandmother used to use old cereal boxes, cover them with contact paper, and use them all over her kitchen and sewing room for organization.  Use what you have, or invest in some new things; it’s up to you and your budget!  Get creative!  Pinterest has amazing ideas.

So, here’s a few photos of my pantry mission.  And, you’ll notice a few kitchen drawers made this post as well.  It felt SO AMAZING to have a beautiful pantry that I didn’t stop there!  I tidied up several drawers.  I feel like my kitchen dropped a dress size and just feels sassy and free!

My original wire baskets with the copper handles, as well as the white canvas lined silver metal baskets, all came from Threshold (Target).  I had also previously purchased the two canned goods racks from Amazon.  I think the white canvas bins also came from Target but I’m not 100% sure on that one.  I went on a trip to my local At Home furnishings warehouse store.  I forget how big that place is!  We were able to find very similar dark brown metal baskets with copper handles in various sizes which I used throughout the pantry.  I also found several adorable smaller lined wire baskets with spiraled copper handles.   I think they are so sweet and break up the space a little bit.  I had also previously purchased large Mason jars with the intention of using them for dry goods, but just never got around to it.  Now is the time!  Again, no judgement here for sure. If you are in the same boat, we’re both in good company.

Finally, on the drawer project, I did find some shallow drawer dividers of various sizes that I used to make the kitchen drawers so much more functional and organized.  I bought some at At Home, and then ended up buying more on Amazon.

I’m glad I dove in.  It might be something simple, but what a huge difference.  I feel so happy when I look in there.  I also found two fun pieces of wall decor that just seemed to have my name on them.  My sweet husband said, where are you going to hang these?  I told him, the pantry (of course).  He just smiled.  He’s a smart man.  My two teens came home and saw the wall decor, commenting that they’d never seen anyone decorate the pantry before.  But, they’re smart too; they like it.

The pantry is still sighing a breath of relief.

 

Tidying the Pantry.


Orange Sky. Scottsdale, AZ. Best food for miles. Best server ever. *Ask for Elyssa. Best view of God’s painted desert and a sunset that was accentuated by the atypical clouds last night. And best of all… three years with this sweetheart.

Celebrating 3!

Am I on a path at all?


Staying on the dirt road would have been safer (although I would have still be in disobedience) because the road is packed, and traveled by trucks, combines, tractors, etc… so that over time, it is hardened and although the rain creates a little mud on top, and mud puddles, there isn’t a huge danger of being stuck in the mud.  The field is NOT a path at all.  The ground is meant to be worked each season and a harvest planted in the fertile, rich, loose soil so that the plants can grow.  The rain very much causes that ground – right next to the road – to be drenched with the water so that it soaks down deep in preparation of the seeds that will be planted and will need water to grow and produce a harvest.  Those two places – the dirt road and the field are the SAME DIRT – there is nothing different about the dirt itself.  The difference lies in the purpose and function of each.  I guess you could say that if you don’t choose to be on a PATH, you are still choosing something… No choice is still a decision.  Probably not the best one, definitely not a purposeful one.  Today, I choose to choose my path.  Not to wander in the field.  For my great-grandfather – Englebert Mader… his path was very much in the middle of the field – he was making his path with a horse and a hand-plow.  I’m pretty sure that he also had a set jaw – angry, determined that this ‘talk of religion’ was something that he neither wanted nor appreciated in his wife, Mary.  I think my moment of surrender in the mud might have been a little like his own – both actions, him falling to the ground, and me surrendering my boots – both moments were our unique acts of surrender, a turning point, a lesson learned deeply.  His act changing the course of lives for generations to come.  My act being a result of his act in some way – setting me on a path for my life and it’s roads and fields.  I’m so very grateful for what great-grandpa Mader decided that day.  I am so very grateful for my Dad and what he did for me that day – a moment in time to be remembered and recounted about 35 years later and to bear so much more meaning than it did at the time.  I can’t wait to meet great-grandpa and talk about it all.  Then, I’m going to talk to great-grandma and give her a big hug for putting up with and praying without ceasing for Englebert – and will tell her all I have to tell – giving the honor and glory to my Father in Heaven.

So, there it is – a small snipit – glimpses of our past – carried forward to our present – giving us confident expectation of good – no… great – things to come for our future generations.

Kerry (Mader) Sikes
December 27, 2011


Connection.
How do we connect with others in real and intimate ways if we have been hurt? have trust issues? and more importantly how do we help others find their way to connection?

On Friday at Celebrate Recovery, one of the ladies receiving her step study completion chip said it so simply and eloquently. “I KNOW now that I belong. I REALLY belong!”  She is connected!

For me, in order to feel truly connected to others I have to stay connected first and foremost to my Heavenly Father. being a farmer’s daughter myself, the way the message translation says it resonates with me.

Vine and branches.

While I was studying for this devotional, I went to the best resource EVER – PINTEREST, of course, and looked up vine grafting, and vine pruning to brush up a little on my less that thorough knowledge of these topics.  I found a few tidbits I thought were interesting:

A grape vine when it is planted, looks pretty awful.  It looks dead.  There is no green, no leaves, no fruit.  The vine gets planted in the right season and later on, when the vine started to grow, those young tendrils are strapped to a support structure, so the center of the vine can grow and its two main tendrils can branch out.  Once these tendrils are of a certain length, the are wrapped to the horizontal structure, creating a T shape.  The point at which the vine branches out is referred to as the Head, or CROWN.  I love that Christ chose an image that points to the cross.  This growth, pruning and training process takes several years – there is no faster way to make the vines grow – they grow as is in their nature to grow.  Some do grow faster than others, however; and I learned that the pruning for the more aggressive varieties, is also more aggressive.  I thought that was very interesting.

John 15

1 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. (Ouch! There’s that painful pruning we go through in our steps and in recovery.) And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. (Did you know that a fruit tree HAS to be pruned of some of the baby fruits it starts to bear? The branch may produce 12 apples, but the farmer will come along and take off many so that the remaining fruit will grow larger and be healthier!  Wikipedia says, Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.)  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. (We are not the original branches! The original branches are Israel, the chosen people… but the best news ever is that this verse talks about in-grafting! Genetically modified!!! That’s us! We are bonded to the vine by the farmer. He takes us, the branch, and carefully cuts open the vine and inserts the branch into the vine and then lashes it up, bonds it. It will grow as one after the grafting has been complete!!) 5 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, (I love that!) the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

11 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. 17 “But remember the root command: Love one another. (‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭1-17‬ MSG) Fruit bearers – that’s US!  Praise God that we have the True Vine so that our supply doesn’t come from within, it some from The Vine itself.

One thing I love about God is that He is an unfailing, never ending Source. He pours out everything He has, everything He is and when we use that Source, we also never run out. Never. No matter how crappy my week is, no matter how down I feel about life, when others around me need to hear Hope, or Healing, I have it because I am not getting it from Kerry, I’m getting my supply from the Distributor Himself. I’ve noticed when I start to feel used, or exhausted its because I’m trying. I’m trying! I have to stop trying and start relying. Themes in this scripture? Connection. Supply. Source. Relationship. What’s it all for? It’s for our Joy to be complete as we fulfill His command to LOVE.

Making it personal.

Write about a time that you felt or knew that you were relying upon Christ as The Vine, The Source.  What happened? What was different about the situation from the past when you relied upon other methods or coping strategies?

How can I practice or exercise my dependence on The Vine as The Source for everything I need in a purposeful way?  What are some ideas that you would be willing to share with everyone?

Why is it important to be dependent on The Vine and The Source?

So blessed to be sharing these notions with a group of vine-dwelling sisters – all of us on our unique journeys of recovery – helping as servant leaders at Celebrate Recovery – to show others how to plug into The Source, The Vine.  October 10-12, 2014.

thoughts from The Vine