Tuesday, July 18, 2017

You Can't Outrun It


Not all of us have had storybook childhoods. For those of us who did, we can count ourselves blessed and so very, very fortunate.  But even then, some of us entered into adulthood, and were slammed with something that shook our world.

Childhood abuse.  Bullying. An onslaught of people who didn’t love us the way they should have. Being labeled unfairly. Feeling forgotten.  Whatever it was, whether it was in your childhood, early adulthood, or something you’ve dealt with fairly recently…. It sticks with you.

You don’t just forget.

Words and actions can hurt us more than any illness ever could. They are personal. Wounding. And life-long.

We carry them with us. Whether we move from city to city, job to job, or relationship to relationship.

You can’t outrun them. You can’t hide them. They are stuck inside, like glue.

We can try to turn our back on the pain of yesterday. We can try to ignore what happened to us.

It’s all, futile.

The only way to overcome unfairness, and pain from the past – is to face it.

We need to face the fact that a portion of our life was deeply unfair. We need to acknowledge that we may have been robbed of something.

It was wrong. It hurt. But it happened. And it happened to us.

That doesn’t mean that we deserved it. In fact, we most probably did not.

It doesn’t mean we are worthless. In fact, we are priceless and unique.

Stop your running. You won’t be able to outrun the words that echo in your mind and heart. You won’t be able to outrun the past.

Stop. Turn around and face it. Summon up the courage to let the past know that you won’t be labeled or identified that way, anymore.

It’s time to say, “no more.”

Cry. It’s SOOO okay to cry!  Yell at the unfairness of it all. Grieve the loss of your childhood, or of relationships that should have been special. Grieve.

Acknowledge.

Then, instead of running, start to walk. Move forward one foot at a time. Walk. Walk with a new identity; one of knowing that something in life didn’t defeat you. It didn’t win.

You survived. You survived and you refused to let it make you bitter, angry, isolated, insecure, or defeated.

Maybe once – but not anymore.

You are now victorious. A warrior. An overcomer.  This is your new label, your new identity!  Wear it proudly. Wear it with love. And use it to help someone else who may be stuck in the pit – trying to outrun the hurts of the past.

This is the cycle of life. The cycle of love.

Life needs you. But it needs you whole.


No more running.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Choose To Surrender, Or Choose To Fight?


Each of our lives is a story. And like all stories, our lives are full of tragedies as well as triumphs.

I’ve always wondered how some people seem to overcome things in life, while others fall victim to their circumstances. I’ve wondered how some of us find the stamina to change what is happening to us, instead of letting what is happening to us, change US.

I’ve laid in bed crying time and time again, over things weighing on my heart. I’ve pondered them, turned them inside-out and upside-down.

I’ve grieved over them.

And then, I’ve gotten back up. Mustered what little courage I had in that moment, and moved onward.

Because it always seems to me that we have two choices when faced with challenges. We can either choose to surrender, or we can choose to fight.

And I choose to fight.

Sometimes, fighting is simply not waking up feeling defeated. Sometimes, it’s rejecting a label that someone has placed on you. Sometimes, it’s in refusing to accept a situation altogether and doing something about it. Whatever it is, it’s never to surrender.

Some of us surrender. That’s why we don’t become what we dreamed of becoming. It’s why we don’t have the relationships we desire to have. It’s why we feel like a victim all of the time.

Bad things happen to everyone. I mean it. EVERYONE.  The reason why we feel like we have a stacked deck against us, and they don’t? They choose not to dwell on it. So we don’t really know, that they have even dealt with “bad,” at all. They have chosen to fight, by choosing to overcome.

There is no “secret sauce” in overcoming, you know. We all have it in us. We can all make that choice. Even if we can’t change a circumstance, we can choose our attitude. Even if we can’t change our surroundings, we can choose our priorities.

You are more powerful than you know. You’ve had it all along – that “control” of what you will choose in your life. 


What will your choice be? Surrender? Or to fight?

Monday, July 3, 2017

When We Silence Those We Love





We need to let others’ speak into our lives.

Say, you have a friend. And they come to you in full love and gentleness with something on their heart. Maybe it’s a concern for you, or wisdom based on something they personally have experienced, and they want to caution you from heading down the same painful road.

And you don’t accept their words. You reject them. Maybe in anger. Maybe in bitterness. Maybe in disbelief that they can’t wholeheartedly understand your stance in the moment.

It’s easy to reject someone else’s words. Easier, for some people, to not even consider what was offered in love, but to put a hand up in a “stop” pose, and let them know you won’t hear any more.

Sometimes when we do this, we think we might have convinced someone that if they still want to be our friend, they must think and act like us. But all we’ve really done is silenced them.

We’ve put a wedge in an otherwise open relationship, and let it hang there in the balance between us. Always.

It exists whether we address it or not.

The beauty that exists in people is the differences. The unique mindset that each person has, and the way they approach life. We each have had our own experiences, lessons, and heartache. And so, each one of us offers something unique to the other.

If we reject that, we reject the person.

No one is entitled to only hear what they want to hear. No relationship that has true love and respect, will ignore kindness offered in the way of caution or inquiry. In fact, we should value it. For true friends hold us in check when we need it the most.

To have the kind of relationships you really want, you have to allow those who love you and want the best for you – to not agree with you. For they will not agree, but still offer love. They will have concern, but still stand by.

That is true love and authenticity.

Will you allow it when the time comes? Will you appreciate the character and devotion that God has brought into your life by the way of others?

Or will you embrace the “wedge” of silence? The one that says, “Our relationship was based on a need? And I no longer have that need for your input in my life, because its different than what I want?”

Hard questions. Deep questions.

Questions that could save relationships.


We are so blessed and lucky to have ANYONE who loves us enough to speak openly with gentle love into our hearts and lives.  Let them speak.


And listen with the same heart of love in return.

Monday, June 26, 2017

10 Things That Make You Uniquely Beautiful



10 Things That Make You Uniquely Beautiful



1.     Your smile. No one has a smile quite like yours and it makes your whole face light up and shine.

2.     Your eyes. The eyes are an opening into the heart and soul. So much is said in someone’s eyes. How much they’ve been hurt, the sparkle of joy and happiness; love…. Your eyes speak for you. And what they have to say is a beautiful part of your story.

3.     Your mind. No one can think quite like you do. Those things your mind comes up with – the way you can create a beautiful piece of artwork, or write an encouraging note – or even the way you figure out how to fix something that is broken – that is a gift. Not everyone has it. Not everyone can use his or her mind in the way that you do.

4.     Your touch. Do you pat someone on the back when you hug? Do you rub their arm in support and love? Do your hands help a child up when they’ve fallen? Your touch shows your heart. And it’s a loving, beautiful heart.

5.     Your sense of style. Do you like elegant clothes, or hippie chick? Do you live in jeans or love long skirts?  Your sense of style makes you beautiful, because it’s unique to you. It says a lot about your attitude and outlook on life. It helps you stand out instead of blending in.

6.     Your laugh. One of the most beautiful things on a person is to see joy and happiness in their heart spill out. Whether your laugh is high-pitched, loud, or full of repetitions – it’s  a reflection of all that is good and merry and right.

7.     Your heart. Oh – yes, your heart makes you beautiful. The heart that is sensitive to injustice and cutting remarks. The heart that desires to please or wants to change the world. The heart that can’t stop dreaming, giving, or loving. The heart that has been wounded and hides. It’s the core of who you are.  It’s so tender in there. So authentic. Beautiful.

8.    You are beautiful in your natural state. Hair undone. No makeup on. That is how God created you. Your authentic self is beautiful. Authenticity is ALWAYS beautiful.

9.     Your personality. That sweetness, diligence, tenacity, patient and forgiving heart….that bubbly outlook on life, that inquisitive nature  - those are beautiful. God wants to use those in you – let them flourish.

10. Your flaws. What are those things that you feel like are flaws? Is it your hair color? Freckles?  Short legs? Big feet? Are you going through something right now that has changed you? Maybe cancer treatment that has cost you your hair completely or an accident that’s left a scar? God has scars. On both hands. And to me those hands are beautiful. Just as you are – you are valuable, worthy, and wanted.


You ARE beautiful because you are unique. God made you just the way you are. Go out and be all that you can be today; knowing that there is beauty woven in every fiber of your being.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Only a Name



Names are very powerful. In Bible times, people’s names truly meant something to them. Maybe without realizing it, they lived up to the meaning of their names. So it was life-changing (literally) when Jesus chose to change someone’s name to a name – and a role – that HE saw in them.

I don’t think things have changed that much. Today, names still matter. If your name means “mighty one” you carry that knowledge internally with you, and you tend to live up to that thought and image. Yet, if you were named a name that came with a meaning such as, “forgotten one,” that can be a meaning that can ingrain itself into your heart without you even realizing it, as well.

There are other names that hold negative connotation to them; mother-in-law for example. I don’t know who the woman was, who first gave this name a bad rap, but it’s forever the butt of jokes. And how about “step mom?” It’s very hard to overcome the bad publicity on that name.

A mother-in-law gets a bad rap because I think, in the history of mother-in-laws, the reputation is that she just has to intrude a little.  She just can’t hold her tongue. It’s the way of the woman.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

I know many wonderful mother-in-laws who are an asset not a detriment to their families. I also know of people who claim to have had the most caring stepmothers ever, enter into their lives. These women are cherished. So, holding a certain title or name doesn’t have to label you for life.

You can put a new meaning and connotation onto the name, or the title that you were given – and you should.

Don’t let a history that comes with a name, change who you are or who you can be. The true way to win the battle of a bad name, is to change what the name means by living out the testimony.  It’s only a name after all, and we certainly don’t have to live up to bad press just because it simply exists! Defy the odds and prove you are different just by simply living it out. After all, a name doesn’t make you who you are – you do.


So, whatever name you were given – change the meaning to a positive one. Defy the odds and make your role, your name, and your life – a positive one. You can be blessed, and BE a blessing – WITH the meaning of a name you were given, or in spite of it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Exactly Who You Are, Is Just Enough

When the world says you don’t have what it takes, do you know that you are enough?

We have all gone through those times where we felt like we just didn’t measure up. Those times make us feel so small, and so alone.

The world can tell us we don’t have what it takes. It can tell us that we don’t have the right image. The right talents. The right personality.  It can take every last ounce of our efforts from us….leading us on, only to reject us and spit us out in the end. And that leaves us feeling so low and so unworthy, doesn’t it?

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt rejected and “spit out” at some point. I promise you. But you know something?  I’m here to tell you that the world is wrong. Those “others” in your life? They are wrong.

Don’t listen to those voices. Don’t give room in your heart to the lies that make you feel like you are alone.

Because you aren’t. There is a WORLD full of people just like you. People who have felt what you are feeling. People who have tried, what you have tried. People who want to be loved and accepted – just – like – you.

You ARE beautiful. You ARE worthy. You ARE loveable and you DO have what it takes. You were made to be exactly who you are.

Sure, maybe you can improve on certain areas – but your core identity – that’s YOU. That’s who you are supposed to be. You have something to add. Something to give. Something to share. Your opinion DOES matter.  You DO have a place in this world.

And there will be people who will discover those truths and love you just as you are.

Because, you know what?

Exactly who you are is just enough.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Being a Mom Is Only a Part of Our Children's Identities



I was reading a devotional. I don’t even remember what the whole devotional was about – but it took a turn where it was talking about our children and the path their lives would take. Then I read this line…

“Don’t ever forget that you being their mom is only a part of their identities.”  (Youversion – Tightropes & Teeter-Totters)

WHOAH.

As I enter into the season of my baby girl just graduating from high school and gearing up to go off to college next year; that sentence hit me like a ton of bricks.

And the tears welled up in my throat.

Not because that sentence made me sad. But because it rang so true. It’s something I’ve been trying to prepare myself for.

I know that my children are the world to me. But knowing that, I also have to know that when my job is done raising them, that I may not be the world to them. And I have to be okay with that. Sure, I hope I’m always a priority with them. I hope they value my thoughts, my time, my company.  But they will have a larger life than just the role I play in it.

So different than when they were babies.

I can see it. I’ve been with my husband now longer than I lived in the home where my parents raised me. And although nothing or no one can ever replace “mom and dad,” there is so much more to life than the circle and neighborhood that you grow up in.

So I have to face it. I have to prepare myself to adjust and transition my place and role in my children’s hearts. If I’ve done my job well, they will never not want to be with me, love on me, talk to me, or care about my well-being. They will never go out and just forget me. But, if I’ve done my job well, they will also be able to live independent lives. Ones that are generous, merciful to others, compassionate, joyful, and intentional. They will be able to function and love developing friendships and relationships that are separate from the close bond that I hope we will always share.

It’s a strange thing. Yet somehow, should be so natural.

I will always be a mom. I will always be THEIR mom. But that part of my identity can’t become their WHOLE identity. It would cripple them.

And that’s the last thing I want.

So, I sit back and cheer them on. I hope to be a part of as many moments as I can in their lives. But I live and I love not just as a mom, but as a person. A woman who also has other identities and roles in her heart and life. None maybe as important – but still, they matter. And they shape me.

May the part of the identity in my children’s hearts that I play a part in, be one of the strongest and most beautiful. But may it only be a part. Because I want them to be whole people; their OWN people.


Nothing could be more beautiful than that.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Letting the Rough Edges Show




We like to be polished.  We like to have our homes all clean before company comes over.  We like to have our hair done, makeup on, and a cute trendy outfit to walk in, when we go out the door. 

We like to have our “image” in-tact. A smile ready on our face.

Polished.

Inwardly, for most, there are yearnings, longings, doubts, and hurts.

Inwardly, for most, we want someone to know those very things we are afraid to put out there. Those things that we feel might make us seem needy, odd, or desperate.

We want someone to reach out to us, FOR us, and be there WITH us.

But we don’t give others the chance, because of all the polish we lather over our lives.

I get it. I do. I want people to think I’m cute. I want people to like my home. And I want to be adored, just like the rest of you. I don’t want to be embarrassed or rejected. I don’t want to know that I fall short of someone’s expectations, or that I’m just not “love-worthy” enough for their lives.

But the thing is, I just can’t relax and be free in who I was meant to be, unless I let that polish wear off a bit. Or a lot. I can’t trust that someone will be there for me, unless I know they accept through the ugly, as well as the beautiful.

So, you have to unapologetically, let your life show for what it truly is.

Not everyone will open their arms to you.  Not everyone will love you without judgment. But the ones who step forward, who are willing to? Aren’t they worth the risk that you took to be vulnerable?

I kind of prefer a rustic look rather than a polished one, anyways. I see the beauty in the rough edges.  Not everyone does.

I mess up all the time. I forget things. I let people down. This is what living is. We are flawed.  So, why do we cover that up? Let’s own it. Repair it, when we can. And watch to see who God sends to help us be the best US, we can be.

THEY will be our polish, you know. For a true friend brings out the best  – and then, the shine is lasting.


I’d much rather have that kind of glow. The kind of glow that comes from being loved with an authentic love. Even if I have to wait for it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Need It a Little Bit More





When was the last time somebody made you cry?

I bet it only took you a minute to remember the hurt someone caused your heart. But how about if I asked you when the last time was, that YOU made somebody cry? Could you answer as readily?

Most of us don’t realize when something we say or do causes somebody else to shed some tears. Most of us, aren’t that cold. We’d never blatantly cause hurt to someone.

The thing is, we may cause someone to cry, without realizing it.

We are human. We get irritated with others. We get impatient. We grow frustrated. After all, our lives are busy and hurried. We are low on time and low on sleep. We don’t have time for slow or stupid drivers. We don’t have the patience for the new worker at the store. We don’t want to be inconvenienced. We don’t want to clean up after other people’s mistakes.

Yet we never know what someone else is going through. Our actions may be the last straw for them. Our words could be the fuel that lights the fire that has been burning inside of them. The one that really stems from other issues. Other hurts.

I don’t ever want to be someone else’s last straw. Do you? Even if I’m not the source of where their tears are coming from, I don’t want to be the one that causes them to boil up and over.

I want to be the one that brings healing. The one that softens the hurt. The one that gives hope.

I know I can’t always get my words and actions right. I can’t always see when someone else is hurting (although I sure hope my eyes try to be open to it.) But, I don’t want my unhurried, unthoughtful words or actions to rub someone who is already raw, in the kind of way that stings their heart and soul all the more.

No.

And let’s just admit, that we are all a little careless with one another’s feelings! We all lack a little grace and mercy to allow others the room to move about life with awkwardness and missteps.

There are streets full of people ready to cry right now. People who are hurting. People who are stifling that hurt down, trying to forge on… until they run into one of us and we don’t handle their run-in with us, with any care at all.

And so the tears fall.

No, we aren’t responsible for the origins of pain in someone else’s heart and life. But we ARE responsible for how we treat every person we meet. The one who drives next to us on the freeway, the one who stands next to us in the grocery store, and the one who lives on our street.


Decency. Respect. Thoughtfulness. GRACE. Every individual needs these things in their life.

Some, need it a little bit more.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cutting Costs When Planning a Wedding

My daughter got married in 2016.  I am so thankful that she was “on top of her game.” She was so organized, resourceful, and had done her research.  She made things so much easier for me!

As any parents, who have a child get married do, we learned a lot along the way.  Her wedding was in no-way cheap. But we also ensured that we didn’t go into debt throwing a beautiful day for her.

I had a reader suggest that I write a post on how to cut costs for a wedding. And although I am in NO way a professional, I WILL share a few things, that hopefully, will help other brides out there ,who are seeking to save some pennies (or dollars!)

1.     Decide what will be most important to you down the road. Will it be the pictures? Will it be the wedding dress? The venue? Then, once you have figured out what matters the most to you, invest the most into these things and cut costs on the rest.  In 20 years, you will still have your wedding pictures or video, but you may not remember what your punch tasted like, or what color your table linens were!  Prioritize.

2.     Flowers can get expensive quickly.  We cut costs here, by ordering ours from Costco. They were beautiful and very fresh upon arrival.  You can also get flowers at your local grocery store.  We also cut costs on boutonnieres and corsages. You can get some just for the parents and the pastor or ringbearer and groom. Instead of carrying fresh flowers, the bridesmaids can carry a single flower, or something else altogether like lanterns. 

As for decorations, you can limit your use of flowers to what matters the most to you. For the rest, use fake, or substitute candles.

3.     Sales. Take advantage of sales! Hobby Lobby often has 50% off sales where you can get your wedding items ½ off. You can also get signs, candles, d├ęcor, or anything else you may need at ½ the price if you simply go at the right time. They rotate their sales, so just keep an eye out and you should be able to hit it.

If there are any bridal garage sales in your area – go! We went to two at some nearby venues and they saved us huge costs. We got drink containers, linens, lighting, signs, and more. Some items the brides ended up not even using, so they were brand new! And you get that at fraction of the cost, because brides and grooms don’t really need 50 vases – right? So they want to get rid of their stuff.

4.     Linens. Check online. It’s often about the same price (or even cheaper) to BUY your own table linens than to rent them. And then you have them to resell after the wedding or use again, if that’s your preference.

5.     Music. DJ’s can be costly. Again, it’s what matters the most to you. But you can make your own playlist and just put someone in charge of managing the music timing to the events going on during and after the wedding.

6.     Use family and friends.  Do you have a friend who is great with video? Offer to pay him/her a little bit to video your day – instead of hiring a professional.  Does someone you know love to cook? Ask them to help you with some food.  Someone have a knack for decorating? Love to do hair? Use your friends and family. Most of them will be honored you asked, and love to be a part of your special day.

7.     Make your own.  Pinterest is phenomenal for “do-it-yourself” wedding ideas. Some are easy, some are not. But if you are creatively talented at all, you may want to make some of your own things to cut costs down.  My daughter’s flower girls got inexpensive dresses at Hobby Lobby, to which she made her own faux flowers and glued them onto their dresses. They did not look “handmade” but were darling. My husband also made a huge LOVE sign out metal and wood that was phenomenal.

8.     Food. Again, caterers are costly. If you know people who will contribute to make things – go that way. Or, you can do ½ and ½. Purchase some food yourselves, and supplement with some homemade things like deviled eggs, chip dip, or punch. Jimmy Johns, Chick Fil A, and Subway offer sandwiches for more casual food, and some restaurants offer fancier fare. But you need to decide ahead of time to give them time to prepare. And usually, you will have to pick it up yourselves.

9.     Makeup and hair. Do it yourself! Or, have a friend help you out who is gifted in that area.

10.  Venue. A lot of couples are getting married in venues instead of churches. To cut costs, get married on a weekday. The venues are much cheaper on weekdays, and actually, caterers, photographers, etc often offer discounted prices on weekdays as well.  You can also look for venues that include things to help you cut certain costs – cake, silverware, linens, tables, lighting, pastor, etc.

These are just a few helpful ideas. The best way to cut costs is to keep your mind open. Prioritize. Be flexible. And allow room for changes. Plan early, and stay organized!

Lastly, don’t forget that so much planning goes into the wedding day, and not as much into the rest of your life. Premarital counseling is very important. If you need to cut costs on this, some pastors do a few sessions for free, if they are already marrying you. Or, you can go online and take a few compatibility tests and purchase a book/workbook to go through together.

Best of luck to you all. Marriage is a gift. Always treasure it.



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