Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Which Voice Do You Listen To the Most?

Our “self-talk” pulls some of the strongest weight in our lives.  What we tell ourselves about who we are, how others view us, and what our value is…. sometimes those very thoughts outweigh the verbal words that are actually given out loud to us by others.

On our “bad” days, the words we tell ourselves matter a great deal.  As do the words we tell ourselves on our “good” days. The question is – which ones do you listen to the most?

I know that sometimes when I’m feeling really low, my own thoughts and the voice in my heart that whispers to me – it can lift me up on out of those blues – or sink me deeper into them.

When I’ve had a victory in my life, the encouragement and thankfulness I feel inside, can also implant itself strongly into my character; so that the next time I’m faced with challenges and hurdles, I’m more positioned to deal with them. Instead of falling victim to them.

Which voice do you listen to the most? Which one do you let take root in your heart and soul? The voice that speaks loudly on the low days… or the one that shouts on the good ones?

Oftentimes, it’s the negative thoughts and words that we let stay longer than they should. I’m not sure why that is. 

If we feel conviction, determination, or the need to persevere when life deals us a blow, if we are feeling heartache – those feelings can be used for growth and movement in our life.  But if we are feeling and thinking shame, unworthiness, or inadequacy; those thoughts need to stay in the moment and not come with us into the next day, the next challenge, or the rise out of the sadness.

We ALL feel unworthy and inadequate at times. That’s why I say; those feelings need to stay in the moment. It would be great to say we don’t feel them at all – but I don’t think that’s reality. We WILL feel them. We are human. The key is, to remember we are only feeling them because we are hurting.

So we need to leave them there in that hurting moment and not take them with us.

What we tell ourselves about ourselves matters.  Someone else can encourage us to the moon and back – but if we don’t believe them, it won’t matter. We need to watch how we speak to our own heart and soul. Craft our words wisely and value ourselves enough, to tend to ourselves with love, kindness, grace, and gentle prodding towards growth.

We will have good days and bad days in life. Lots of both.  What will you tell yourself  on those days? And which voice will you listen to in the long run?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Move Those Feet

My grandpa used to have this saying that he got from his dad.  It was, “If you don’t got it in your head, you got to have it in your feet.”

Translation? You need to take action.

A lot of us rely on other people to help us get what we want.  Now, support is important in life.  Networking is powerful. But we can’t sit back, and expect other people to supply us with the information, connections, or life, that we desire. We have to work for it ourselves.

Some of us are naturally gifted in things. But for most of us, we have to work hard at what we want for ourselves.  And there’s something to be said for that. Working hard brings depth of character, compassion, generosity, and authenticity that nothing else in life can give. 

You don’t take things for granted when you understand what it took to get something.

What do we do to serve others, instead of simply just desiring others to serve us?  You build rapport by serving others. You build connection. That’s how you build relationships that stand out.

Whether it’s information you seek, a job, community – whatever. It’s your responsibility to spark someone else’s interest, so that you can start moving towards that goal you have for yourself.

Pay attention to the people in your life. Pay attention to the opportunities that cross your plate. And be intentional about focusing on your priorities for your life.  Be ready to “move your feet.” It’s not painful. Actually, it can be a lot of fun. Yes, it can be hard work – but you will see yourself make progress. You will see yourself grow. And you will see the action you take, pay off.

Reach out. Reach up. If other people help you here and there along the way – fantastic! But, don’t expect it. Don’t count on it. Persevere, work hard, and be diligent.

Having the life you want is up to you. Reaching the goals you want to reach is up to you.

Move those feet.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

When You Can't Find the Right Words to Pray

Earnest prayer. Deep requests. Heartfelt praise. Sometimes our hearts feel things so deeply – there are just no words. We are confounded to know how to express ourselves, and don’t know how to possibly convey our feelings into words.

We want to pray, but we don’t know how to pray.

I love where in the Bible it says,

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Rom. 8:26

Did you catch that? God prays on our behalf. 

Oftentimes, when we find words escape us, we can simply ask the Lord to pray on our behalf. We can have confidence and complete peace that the prayer is in line with God’s will, because He is the one praying!

In these moments when our hearts are feeling so much, oftentimes, our feelings come out not in words, but in tears. As we sift and seek out our own feelings, as we ponder how to come up with the right words to give weight to what our heart is feeling – tears fill up in our eyes. And those very tears are sometimes all we need.

Those tears tell God everything we want Him to know.  They tell Him everything our heart is trying to say. They tell Him the full extent and depth of what we want to say in prayer. Those tears ARE our prayer.

We don’t have to give God a grand gesture in our prayers. We don’t have to have big words. We don’t have to be really holy, and our prayers don’t have to be lengthy in order to be passionate.

I look back on God’s example in the Bible and He never did anything grandiose or flowery. He always did things simply, with a genuine, loving heart.

What could be more simple or genuine – than our tears?

All I know, is that sometimes when words escape my tongue, they form in my eyes with a glisten, and I think that is perfectly acceptable to God. He knows our heart anyway, and He knows that we are not always eloquent.

I think sometimes, our tears are the exact PERFECT prayer.

So if you, like me, struggle at times with the deep emotions in your heart and you can’t seem to find the right words to bring before the Lord, remember that He sees all and He knows all. He can see and feel your heart.  And if your tears should come at times, as mine do – know that if our God is a God who chooses to pray for us and on our behalf when words escape us, that He too, will accept and value your tears with the weight and meaning which comes behind them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Get Some Distance

It seems we develop patterns in life. We are creatures of habit.  We drive the same way to work and church.  We do the exact same thing upon waking up and right before bed.  We turn to the same comforts when we are sad, and we respond in the same way when someone hurts us.

Habits. Patterns.

It’s no wonder that we find it hard to overcome certain weaknesses or challenges in our lives. 

It’s no wonder, that we don’t always see what others see happening to us and inside of us.

I have found that the greatest catalyst for change in my life is when I change up my days. Whatever it is that gets me out of my normal routine, whether by choice or necessity  - it breathes fresh air and focus into my life. Focus, that was often, so very necessary.

Only when I get away from my habits and routines am I able to see things more clearly.  Distance helps me analyze and see my life from another vantage point.

A needed vantage point.

We can too easily live our lives in our own created bubbles. Even if we are very sociable people, we have created certain boundaries that we are satisfied and comfortable with. So when we have a hurdle in our life, or something inside of our souls that needs a little “tweaking,” we aren’t always in the best position to deal with it, until we can get away from the very things that allow some blindness to occur in our eyes concerning that matter.

Sometimes, our friends and family members can cast a little light onto the issue for us. But we aren’t always in a place where our heart is ready to receive what they have to say.

Distance can give our hearts the strength and the space it needs, to accept that something needs to be dealt with or handled differently. Something needs to change.

We all have things in our lives that need to be addressed from time to time. We all get “pricked” by truths we’d rather not acknowledge about ourselves. But it’s those very pricks that can spur us on to healthier habits, and a healthier place to be – overall.

Get some distance. Get some distance from your routines, habits, and “go-to’s.” Even if for a day. Get to a point where you can see what needs to change.

You owe it to yourself.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If You Can't Like Yourself, No One Else Will Either

We all have a story.   It’s fascinating to me, that most of us don’t know someone else’s WHOLE story.   A lot of us like to keep certain chapters hidden or unknown to other people. We like to tuck those tragedies, hurts, and lonely parts away; for only us to see, know, dwell on, and remember.

But when we do that, we can’t move on. We can’t heal. We can’t become WHOLE.

Some of us don’t even want to.  We don’t know HOW to. We don’t feel we deserve to move on from that spot of deep hurt and pain.

A lot of us are good at acting happy. We give to others, we act cheerful, we encourage, and we show no signs of the unhappiness lurking just beneath our surface.

Or so we think.

The thing is….it shows anyways.  Unhappiness always shows up in our face, in our attitude, in our actions. Somewhere.

If you can’t like yourself – if you can’t forgive yourself – if you can’t find yourself valuable…. it’s hard for others to like you, forgive you, value you, too.

We often sabotage ourselves. What we want the most, we push away. What we need the most, we refuse.  Loneliness and isolation become our friend.

There is no pressure in isolation. No pulling on us to face things we don’t want to acknowledge, or face.  There is a certain sense of comfort in being alone, even if it’s the last thing we need.

We can think we’re good at fooling the world. But we’re not.  We can think we will find happiness or contentment in something we are relying on (which may be different for everyone) – but we won’t.   We can think placing boundaries and walls up in our lives will protect us – but they don’t.

What’s inside still lives inside. What hurts still hurts.

You have so much to give. You have so much potential. Don’t let whatever that hurt is, win over you.  Don’t let it mislead you into living a life less than the one you deserve. 

There is far too much good in this world, and in people, to shut yourself out from the love, the laughter, the blessings, and the richness of relationships.

FACE that hurt. Claim it as a part of your story. And turn it into a strength.

Learn to like who you are – even with those unfortunate moments as part of your story. Respect what you’ve been through, and empower yourself to turn those hurts into testimonies of victory.

You don’t have to be perfect. And people will still like you. You just have to find yourself worthy of being likeable, too.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Don't Lose Your Identity In Your Spouse

When you are first in love, it is so easy to be wrapped up totally in your “other.”  All you want to do is be together and when you’re not together, you’re thinking about being together!

It’s what I call, the “magical” phase. Everything seems brighter. Food tastes better. It’s as if life comes alive.

And yet, as fun as this time is, it’s also dangerous. It’s dangerous, because it can be so easy to lose yourself.  And if you lose your identity at this point, it can be hard to get it back.

Love is a wonderful thing. Knowing that you have someone else to walk through life with, to lean on, and someone who “has your back,” – well, there’s nothing else like it. And once you get married, and the years fly by, it is such a comfortable thing.

But, you are you still YOU. And your spouse is still who they are. You each have your own bents, your own wishes, desires, habits, and personalities. Some of those will overlap, and you will share common dreams or likes. Others, will not. And the ones that don’t? The ones that truly make up YOU? You shouldn’t lose those.

There are some things in life that are only meant for us. We don’t have to share every thing we enjoy with our mate. In fact, it can be very healthy to have our own interests along with shared ones. It is good for us to do some things on our own. It is good for us, to maintain some sort of independent personality aside from our marriage.

It is GOOD!

Don’t lose yourself in your spouse. Don’t lose your identity or the very things that make you so wonderfully you. Your spouse will actually love you for staying YOU! And you will love them if they don’t cling to you every moment of your life. Can I get an amen?

We all need things that are meant solely for us in life. (Healthy, growing, things.) Just because you may enjoy working in the yard, or running; doesn’t mean your spouse has to enjoy those things or do them with you. Of course, there should be some things in life that you enjoy doing together – and if you don’t know what they are, I encourage you to set out and find some. But, there are some things that you should also set out to protect. Things that are just for YOU. Maybe it’s having your own reading time, coming up with your own ideas for projects (that you don’t have to consult or get your spouse’s input on), etc.

Independence in certain things is not bad. It’s just defining who you were meant to be as a person.

So, enjoy your love. Focus on your marriage. Grow it, prioritize it. But in the process, don’t neglect yourself. Don’t FORGET yourself. Stay true to the things that make you YOU.

You will be healthier emotionally for it, and your marriage will even thrive because of it.

Two wonderful and separate “you’s” in a marriage – make one great “US.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

But I Hurt MORE, Than You!

When my girls were young, they would play dollhouse and Barbies, as most young girls do. I would always feel perplexed when I would hear them play because it always seemed “sad.” I would hear them get into trouble from “mommy,” and one of the more common things, was, I would hear them talk about being sick or injured.  One of them would say, “I broke my leg.” And then the other one would say, “Well, I broke both my legs.” And it would escalate from there.

It was if they had to “outdo” being the one who was injured or sick the most.

We still joke about it to this day in our family.

If one of us says, I got a little sunburned and the other one says, “Well, look at MY sunburn!” Then we respond with, “Well, I broke my leg AND my arm!” It’s an inside joke – reminding us that we don’t have to minimize someone else’s pain or hurt, by showing that we got hurt more.

Isn’t that the way life seems sometimes? It seems like we are a little less sympathetic with other people at times, because we feel like what they are going through is far less, than what we’ve experienced. Or, we have to let them KNOW that we are feeling something far more profound and intense than what they are experiencing!


Why is it so hard for us to simply say, “I’m sorry you’re going through that?” Or why is it so hard for us to sympathize with someone else, WITHOUT bringing up our thoughts that we are going through something, far more difficult?

Who quantifies “hurt” anyways?

If I can focus on someone else, and not what I’m going through, I often find that it hurts less. I don’t feel as if I’m in as much pain.  I can even get through it quicker.

What we focus on is what is spotlighted in our eyes. So it makes sense that if we focus on our hurts, challenges, ailments, etc., that those will take on a bigger life in our lives.  I’m not saying that they don’t hurt. They do. I’m not saying that they aren’t hard. They are. But sometimes our focus can make them hurt MORE, and our focus can make them HARDER.

It’s perspective.  It’s focus.

We all go through things. We all get hurt, frustrated, and even overlooked. But the goal is to move past those things. And if we want to move past them, we need to shift our focus, our attitude, and our time, onto things that bring more life and healing into our world. That way, we can heal from that “broken leg” a little quicker…. And maybe not even dwell on the fact that we went through something tougher than someone else.

Instead, we can just love and help.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

To Be Welcomed In

I remember very vividly the sweet neighbor lady who lived across the street from our family, when I was a child.  She loved to love on us.

I remember going over to her house, and she would let us in her backyard to pick tomatoes. To this day, yellow pear tomatoes (like some she grew), are my very favorite.

I remember going over, and just visiting. She would be sitting in her chair knitting. Her poodle would happily greet us, and her husband would be tinkering in the garage, making beautiful wood clocks.

We were never an inconvenience. Never rushed.

The same was true when I would visit my grandparents. They would greet us at the door with big smiles and big hugs. Then, they would sit in their rockers, and just visit with us in an unhurried manner.

There was comfort in that. Peace. Acceptance.

I left and I grew up with the feeling that I was welcome. At any time.

I felt wanted. And I felt loved.

I was thinking about that the other day. About how I treat those who grace my doorstep with unannounced visits. Do they feel welcomed? Do they feel comfortable? Do they feel like they can sit and just talk? Do they want to come back?

I want to be the kind of person who never hurries relationships. I want people to feel like they are welcomed in my home – and that they are listened to.

I miss that. I miss that sense of slowness that exists in our homes. It seems we are always hurrying from here to there. I know I’m in and out of my home all of the time.  But when I’m AT home, am I able to relax? Am I able to slow down?

There’s something inviting about knowing that someone is sitting on their front porch and there is an extra chair next to them. There is something adoring about knowing that someone always has homemade chocolate chip cookies ready for visitors. There is something in those things, that invites. That welcomes. That loves.

I want that something. I want to be remembered in some little girl’s fond memories.

How about you?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

He Makes My Dreams Come True

Dreams. I always have them.

I’ve had dreams for my life when I was a little girl.

I had dreams for my life as a young newlywed, and a brand new mommy.

I have dreams as I near the empty nest.

I have dreams that may seem selfish to others, and I have dreams that are spiritual desires in my life, and in the lives of those I love.

So, so many dreams and wishes that come and go in a life.

So many unanswered prayers.  Some of which I will probably always hold the question, “why” in my soul, for. And for others – I am so deeply, deeply thankful that the Lord did not, and does not, answer them.

For He spared me deep heartache.

Every life has a path. It’s easier to see that path when we turn our heads backwards; than it is to see the direction the path is going, as we face frontwards.

It’s easier to see the answers. It’s easier to see when we stepped off and went our own way – only to waste time and end up where we were supposed to go in the first place.

It’s easier to see the blessings. The ‘thank-you’s.’ It’s easy to forget those blessings, too. But still, they sit there – waiting for us to turn around and see them. To acknowledge.

To remember.

Dreams. Wishes. They DO come true.  As you turn around, do you see them? Are you reminded?

Look. Look there to the left of your path. Do you see that moment when you were thankful for answered prayer? And to the right…. Do you remember the moment you were stunned at something you thought would never happen?

Do you remember that dream you had that someone would do something nice for you? Or the one that you never spoke out loud?  Do you remember the medical test you were worried about? The one that came back, “all clear?”

So many answers. Do you see them now?

God does that. God is there.  He IS answering your heart’s cries. He IS making your dreams come true.

One here. One there.

Some little. Some big.

Turn around. Remember. See them.

And thank Him again.

Monday, August 14, 2017

How Do You Let Your Child Go?

How do you let your child go? The one who you gave up everything in life for – for the past 18 years?

It’s 4 days before I make the long drive to take my baby to college. My BABY. The one I asked God for. The one I looked down on, knowing she was a magical gift. A miracle.

The one I worried about every time she was sick, or got hurt. The one I saw blossom before my very eyes into a beautiful young woman. Outside yes – but increasingly on the inside, as well.

How do you handle not knowing where exactly, your child is?  Not knowing how well they are eating and sleeping? Not knowing if they are dressing warmly enough, or if they walk back into their room in a bad mood, because they didn’t have a great day?

How do you handle knowing how tired over the years you were – from driving your child to and fro, from picking up last minute supplies for school projects, or taking them to a friend’s house….only to have a quieter home? One that is void of that laughter and sound?

How do you disguise the tears that want to fall from your eyes – FOUR days before you leave to say goodbye?  Or the fact that your heart is simultaneously breaking, while being proud and excited at the same time?

It’s all so much.

I want my daughters to be independent. I want them to purse their own identity in life. I never want them to HAVE to call mom, text mom, or do something for mom. But I sooo want them to want to!

I want them to miss me. I want them to run home in anticipation of sharing a story with me. I want them to see that my life goes on too… just like theirs. And that I have interests, friendships, and commitments. But they will always be my priority. My deepest loves.

I know their world will grow bigger. And my role will be smaller. How do you successfully manage that? How do you transition with grace into that role?

Four days. Four days where I can ponder my own feelings. Navigate them.

Four days until I say goodbye to one of my very best friends in the whole wide world.

I’m not ready. But I’m willing.

This is my job. My role. To set my little bird free, and watch her fly.

Heaven, help me.


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