Monday, April 23, 2018

Second Chances

Those who are our leaders are held to a higher standard. It just goes with the territory. We expect them to lead honorable lives, have integrity, and be above moral reproach.

That’s a good leader.

HOWEVER, they are human. And even though I have these expectations for those I follow and admire, I also understand that they aren’t perfect. I want my leaders and teachers to try and lead a straightforward life; but I also need to give them grace and mercy when – heaven forbid – they fall.

We can be so merciless. We can be so hard on people when their mistakes and mess-ups come to light. Repeated wayward choices indicate an unyielding and unrepentant heart. I understand that. But what if it’s one huge mistake and they are deeply sorrowful? What if they truly have been brought to their knees?

Can we forgive? Can we move past it? And most of all, can we let them lead again?

We should. And here’s why…..

We ALL make mistakes. We ALL have made bad choices. None of us is perfect. And who, amongst us, hasn’t wanted some grace and mercy given when we try to better ourselves and move past a huge error in our lives?

We crucify one another so brutally. 

I do believe there should be consequences for our choices. If we break the law, hurt our families, or whatever it is, there will be fall-out and a price to pay for what we’ve done. We need to be held accountable EVEN if we’re terribly sorry. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t regroup, learn from our mistake, grow, and become a more humble leader and teacher, because of it.

I would much rather listen to someone who has felt deep pain and sorrow, than someone who has no need for empathy.

I would much rather follow someone who fell from an honorable place of leadership due to immoral behavior (and has since truly repented), than someone who is legalistic and has no need for grace.

Humility is admirable. It’s approachable. It’s authentic.

Yes, I would love it if most of the leaders I admire, were able to stay on the moral, honorable path in life. But I also love it more, when they can be open about their flaws and their inadequacies in life. Because it helps me feel more normal. It reminds me that we are all struggling in this thing called life. And it eliminates the need to try and be perfect.

Grace. Mercy.  Forgiveness.

We need to be able to give people second chances, because some day, we ourselves, might need one.

Monday, April 16, 2018

When We Look At Ourselves Harshly

I love French fries. I love chips.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Except now, I’m in my middle 40’s and my body is starting to show others how MUCH I love French fries and potato chips.

It’s starting to show how my days are spent more on the computer doing work, than out exercising.

It’s a shift for me.

I used to be very tiny. And I took it for granted.

I’ve never been the best at decorating.

I hate to cook (even though I’ve done it out of love for my family, for years).

I can be a huge dork.

This is me.

I AM middle aged now. It’s crazy to think about. But I have hindsight - and I have vision for the next 20 years, as I strive to do the best for myself I can.

With social media, it can be so easy to see where I fall short. 

I can look at old high school friends on facebook, and see how I have aged, compared with them.

I can see others’ beautifully decorated homes.

The list is endless.

But the blessing of being middle aged, is that it also comes with acceptance. For me, anyways.

I’m ready to give myself grace.

My body is one that shows how my cupboards have been full of snack foods for my kids and their friends. It shows how I’ve dedicated my time online, to give encouragement to others, and impact marriages and families in a real positive way.

My home shows that lots of love has been given here. People have been in and out of those front doors more times than I can count. So it looks a little like the “velveteen rabbit.”

It’s LOVED on.

And honestly? I’d rather have it no other way.

Am I going to give up trying to lose the extra pounds? No.

Am I going to abandon keeping my home pleas-able for those who enter it? No.

We are SO harsh on ourselves. So unforgiving!

We live in a world where comparison is in our face. And yet, we only clutch onto the comparisons where we fall short.

I am ready to love life more. Love myself more.

I am ready to say, “this body gave birth to two children and is no longer a 20 year old body.” And that’s ok. 

I am ready to be less than perfect - but more than free from expectations and standards.

I am ready to relax and truly embrace the life I’ve been given and who I am.

We look at ourselves pretty harshly.  How about we start looking at ourselves with a sense of self-love? How about we acknowledge what we’ve been through in life? Where we’ve been? What we’ve been given?

How about - we start loving ourselves?

I am so ready and motivated. I’m ready to forge forward with grace and mercy on myself.

I hope that for you, as well.

Monday, April 9, 2018

They Are JUST Words

Words. We use them all day long. And how we use them, really impacts other people. We can carelessly throw them around, or use them in such a way, as to really influence and encourage someone else’s life.

“I will pray for you.”

“I MEANT to call you.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“I believe in you.”

“I’m here for you.”

“I understand.”

“That’s too bad.”

Words can be be shifted to mean something very meaningful, or to lack any kind of meaning at all.

We utter words. We write them down, or type them out. We use them on the phone and in person. And yet, our words are hollow if we don’t actually follow through with some kind of action.

People get tired of hearing — merely - words.

I sure do.

I get tired of hearing someone say, “I’m thinking of you.” Yes, it’s so nice to be thought of. But when given by the same person year after year? I’d much rather them actually write me, or visit me - than JUST think of me. Thinking of me doesn’t do anything for my life. It doesn’t do anything for my heart and soul.

“I’m sorry.” This can actually mean the world. But it can also ring so empty, if given time after time without any kind of comforting or supporting action behind it.

What kinds of words do you use? And how often? Do you mean them? Do you throw them to the wind to absolve yourself from getting involved in someone else’s life? In their day?

Words are a powerful reflection of who we are. Uttered carelessly, or given wisely, they are remembered by others, long after we say them. They are stored up in someone else’s heart - even if we, have forgotten all about them.

Don’t let your words be JUST words. Don’t let them get to a point where they mean nothing to someone else. Do something about what you say. Let your words MEAN something, by investing your time behind them.

Then, your words will mean everything. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I think people forget that bumps in life are natural. We cannot get through life unscathed. If you are living and breathing – you are going to have hardships from time to time.

God says, “you will have hardships, AND MANY.” Yet, we act so surprised when those hardships fall on our shoulders.

I’m always impressed by how some people can keep a fantastic outlook and attitude, even though they are going through really tough stuff in life. 

It inspires me.

Conversely, when I see someone fall into a self-destructive pit over every thing that doesn’t go their way?  Well, …it ‘s depressing.  

Some things in life are really just “small” hiccups along our journey.  And it can be easy to lose our focus on that, but to instead, let them balloon into huge ordeals. 

I think “small” issues are those things that mess up your temporary plans or schedule. 

They are things that are hard to go through; but will be resolved in a few months’ time. 

They are issues, inconveniences, hardships, and yes – sometimes painful situations that when you are in your 80’s, you will look back on and see that “that was just a part of your life.” Another curve, detour, or pit stop that you took.

But thank goodness, they are ONLY small. And we need to remember that.

We stress about SO MUCH. Some things are worthy of being upset about. Some battles we need to take up and fight for. But some things? Some things we need to let go of, even if they are uncomfortable for us. 

For they are not worth the joy they take from our lives.

The next time something comes up in your life and you find your temperature rising over it – take a good look at what is going on and decide if it’s a big or a small thing. Not just a big or a small thing for today, but a bit or a small thing in the big picture of LIFE.

Some things are real bummers to go through – believe me, I know. But if you can put it into context knowing that there are larger things to worry about, it will help your attitude tremendously.

Take those bumps in life, in stride.  And remember, there are much bigger hills that you’ll have to worry about. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Who Are You?

Who are you?

Are you the person I see day to day - with the smile on their face and the perfectly “on-point” outfit?

Are you the person who is always ready to help someone else?

Are you the person who always finds out about another person, but rarely shares about yourself?

Are you the person who goes home, shuts the door, and cries?

Just… who ARE you? And can others see the real you? 

Do you feel free to be yourself? Flaws, insecurities, and all? 

Do you surround yourself with friends who help you flourish? Or friends who continue to make you feel like you have to hide the real you? 

Who are you? Do YOU even know? Have you chiseled away at yourself to be accepted, so that you don’t really know who you are any more?

You are WORTH getting to know. You are worth it, to find out for yourself who you really are.

Find out what YOU like. How YOU feel. What YOU want.  

Even if it means others may stop being your friend.

If no one knows you, no one can understand you. No one can be there for you in your darkest moments.

If no one knows you, no one can really encourage your gifts and talents.

You can’t change your DNA. You can’t change your blood. You are who you are. So be alllll that you are. Rise in it. Let it wrap itself around you.

Be you. 

Be you in the fun moments of life and in the hard.  

Just. Be. You. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

It Just Takes One Person To Find Courage For Those Who Can't Find It On Their Own

You can’t fix the outside without also fixing the inside.

I’ve been learning this.  I have pretty dry skin. I’ve been putting on baby oil after showering, and using lotion - but it’s still dry. What I’m coming to learn is, that I need to drink more water. I can’t just fix the problem by applying something externally to it. I also need to address what is going on internally.

The same is true for almost everything. You can get a makeover, or lose weight but still feel insecure and ugly. Why? Because what is going on in your heart and head hasn’t been addressed. Only the result of what was going on in your heart and head, has been addressed.

We try so often to slap a bandaid on things. We have divorce care, but fail to have marriage enrichment classes and date nights to AVOID having to need divorce care.

We go get medicine for whatever ails us, but in some cases, fail to address WHY we are having a certain issue.   

Did you know that you can get sick from stress? From anxiety? Illness can be caused from things going on inside of your head, heart, and soul? And that’s why you can keep getting sick. That’s why you can’t get an external fix. 

You need to fix the INTERNAL.

And often, that is the much harder job. That’s why we ignore it. We don’t want to go “there.” We don’t want to acknowledge that we have hangups. We don’t want to admit that we are flawed.



Go to a place of business and poll the people in the office. How many of them have a doctor for this, a doctor for that, a prescription for this, a prescription for that. How many of them have personally been through a divorce, struggled with addiction, battled eating issues. How many? I bet you not one person can say “I haven’t dealt with any of that.”

We like to hide. But when someone comes out of the woodwork and says, “I’m really, really struggling to overcome this.” Do you know what? Others come out too.  Because, it just takes one person to have courage for the rest, who can’t seem to find it on their own.

You CAN be whole again. You CAN find healing. You CAN find freedom. But you have to go to the tough places. You have to deal with what’s on the inside as well as what’s going on, on the outside.

You can do it. I can do it. We can do it…. together. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

So What If I'm Not Everything You Want Me To Be?

I’ve tried. Oh, I’ve tried so hard. 

Over the years, I was a “people pleaser.” I always tried to say the polite thing. Do the nice thing. And I’m thankful those traits are part of my personality. But, having those traits have taught me some hard lessons along the way. Because, along the way, I got frustrated.

Shouldn’t “so and so” see that I tried hard? Shouldn’t that person know that I was being nice, intentionally? For them?  Shouldn’t that be enough? 

Why do I have to continually convince someone of my motivation? My heart? My character? Shouldn’t they now know fully, who I am?

The frustration came. In waves.

The tears fell. In droves.

I didn’t understand that it wasn’t really about ME. It was about THEM.

I can be nice. I can do something for someone else out of the goodness of my heart. I can encourage, support, advise. And then I have to let those gestures stand on their own. I need to not carry them with me, and wonder why those moments didn’t last as long as I thought they should. 

They had their moment of impact. They hit their target. My words. My actions. But for some people, that’s all they are ever going to do. 

I am not going to be everything that some people want me to be. Because if I were, they would literally suck the life from me. And from you, too. 

Some people are just needy forever.

They need reassurance, always.

And we just can’t be ALL to them. We can’t fill those expectations. Ever.

We can be stronger. We can grow. We can love and listen. We can hope and help. But then we need to walk on.

We have done our best in a moment that was meant for us to do our best.

For them, they want more. But for us, we gave all we were meant to give.

No more convincing needs to be given on our part. No more bending over backwards to repeat what we’ve already said. No.

We will never be enough for some.

And that has to be enough for us, just to know that.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Is God's Presence With Us?

Exodus 33:15 

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

There is no part of my life where I do not want God involved in it.

There is no part of my heart, that I do not want God to be in it.

There is no decision I make, that I do not want God to lead it.

And yet, so often I forge on ahead without asking Him to come along.

You too?

How many times, have we walked (or ran) ahead of the Lord?

How many times have we asked for His blessing….AFTER we had already made a decision?

I know that no matter where I am in life, the safest place to be is where my God wants me to be. It’s the BEST place to be.  

I don’t want to experience anything apart from Him. I want His glory in it.  I want His divine hand all over it. And I want to know, as I’m feeling His presence, that He has personally come down to me, and been with me every step of the way.

Let us pray. Let us ask God to not send us anywhere without His Presence going with us.  Let’s ask Him to hold us back; if something (or somewhere) is going to lead us away from Him.

Let’s ask.

Let’s always seek Him as our companion. For being somewhere without His presence, is an empty place to be; indeed.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Our Low's Are Not God's Low's

Our “lows” are not God’s “lows.”  This thought danced across my mind as I read about how a friend had been struggling in the past year. I read about how they wondered where their journey would lead, and what, exactly, God had in mind for them.

We all go through “low’s.” For some of us, we doubt and question God. But, I think for more of us, we just wonder when we will see the end result of what He has in mind for us. We wonder when the hurt will pass, when the testing will seem to end, and when the rewards will be apparent.

We want to hurry across the field of misery into the promised land.

But, what if what we see as a field of misery…. Is indeed…. God’s promised land for us? What if that’s where all the jewels are? Not on the other side, but in the midst of the lessons, the growth, and the climbing?

We see our low moments as “low’s” in our life. But I don’t think God always does. I think He sees them as opportunities.

I can envision a tender-hearted God with tears glistening in His eyes out of love for me, and what I am going through in the hard moments of life. I can envision His loving arms ushering me through, and staying firmly by my side.  But not because these times are hard for Him. But because they are hard for ME.  He is there in His mercy and grace, because of His deep love for me. He is soft-hearted because He knows how I can struggle and writhe in heartache. 

They are MY low’s. Not HIS. 

He has the advantage of seeing the big picture. He knows I must be chiseled and molded to be the best version of me. Even if I hate it and fight against it.

So He walks with me and listens to me tell others of my tears, my pain, and my weariness. 

Low’s.  The very moments we hate, are the very moments that draw us the closest to our Savior’s side. And isn’t that the very place we want to be the most?

If I can close my eyes hard enough, maybe I can see the opportunity that my God sees - in the lowest moment of my “low’s.” If I can close my eyes, I can feel His heartbeat next to mine, and know I never walk through anything alone.

He is there. And He won’t LEAVE me there - alone. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What Do You Want Your Life To Be About?

I sometimes think about how I will think or feel when I’m in my 80’s.  Will I be in a retirement home, or still living in my house? Will I be fairly healthy and active still, or will I be in a wheelchair? Will loved ones visit me often, or will I feel all alone? 

Mostly, I think about how I will reflect on my life. Will I have loads of regrets on how I spent my time, or will I have great stories to share, and more ones taking place?

I want my life to be about something that matters. I don’t want to live to be a mature adult, and look back and see that I wasted it. That I focused on things that didn’t really matter. When I’m in my 80’s – I’m guessing that how well I tended a garden, or how many books I read won’t matter very much. Those are great hobbies – but they don’t impact lives. And that’s what I want to do.

I want to know that my children and grandchildren value me, because of the time I invested into them. 

I want to know that I tried to help as many people as I could. 

I want to feel content knowing that I gave “my” time to God, and let Him handle the scheduling. I don’t want to look back and see that I was busy with time wasting things…but rather God-causes. 

I want to see that I made a difference in the lives of those around me.

I think everyone wants their lives to matter. The hard part is not getting distracted by other things. Jobs, social commitments, hobbies, finances, illnesses, and other stresses in our day-to-day life, can so easily consume all of our time. They can consume all of our minds, as well. But, we may fail to see that in the process, they are pulling us away from a destiny and purpose that God may have in mind for us.

Look at your normal weekly schedule. What is it full of? Is that just a season or phase in life, or has it been that way for a few years now? If it has, maybe it’s time for a change.

It’s so easy to get comfortable with the way things are – but often times we get so comfortable that we aren’t fulfilling the call that God has for us! We either overlook it, avoid it, or ignore it. And it’s far too easy to do, when that call may scare you.

We only get one chance at this thing called life. We only have this one shot in life to matter – to make our lives count. If your heart is being pulled for the orphans in another country, do something about it! If you wish you could be a part of something larger than yourself, stop wishing and do something about it! God gave you that desire for a reason.

What do you want your life to be about? 

When you’re getting older in your years and you look back on your life – will you have made it an adventurous story by thrusting yourself into the opportunities that were presented to you? Or will you simply sit by quietly in a chair, and wish you’d done more, seen more, and experienced more? 

Ask God today to show you and lead you where He wants you. Ask Him to help you make the most of your life.

 I promise you – He will.


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