Monday, February 27, 2012

One of The Things That I Do Best


I don’t do many things very well in life. I’m not excellent at decorating or sewing. I’m barely marginal at housekeeping sometimes. I don’t have the most beautiful singing voice and I didn’t get a degree – in anything.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to remind myself that I’m a contributing member of society. That what I have to say and offer, matters. I can look at what others are good at and think that their opinions matter more than mine; simply because of talent, or skill.

I may not be the world’s best cook, and I may not be the most athletic person, but I have learned that it’s okay. God didn’t make me that way.  And even though I may not do many things super well in life; I look at my kids and my husband….and I see that they are the best things I have going for me.  They are what I do best.

Loving my children….is one of the things I do best. Praying for them and teaching them values, morals, character…that is one of the things I do best.  I see that now. I see that my husband and my children are the best things that I have ever done. Those choices I made to bring them into my life – life altering and life changing for me. They have caused me to grow in ways that no degree, award, or prize could ever do for me.

They are my best investment.

I don’t know about you. I don’t know if there are days where you feel like I did. Maybe you struggle with jealousy or feelings of inadequacy. Maybe your children are now grown and married and you’re just not sure where you fit in in life anymore.

What I do know is that there are people in your life that God wants you to bless. There are people who no one else can serve, love, or care for as well as you. Because you are the “best” for them. Maybe it’s your children who you are still raising. Maybe it’s your husband, or your grandkids. Maybe it’s a sister, aunt, or neice/nephew. Maybe it’s even an aging relative. But they need your “best.” They need the best of your love, the best of your forgiveness, and the best of your attention and care. You may be the BEST person to understand them or to help guide them.

It’s funny to me that the world so often looks at physical things and talents as what makes a person matter. Yet, God so adequately looks at our heart. And the investments we make in the lives of the people he has placed around us….those are the things He values the most and the ones that in turn, make us feel valuable.

I guess if I had to choose between being a well-paid business woman or a well-loved mother and wife….I’d choose the mother and wife every time. For love is the only thing that stays when the rest fades away.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Easy to Love God When Things Are Going Well





It’s easy to love God when things are going well.  When the blessings come my way, when my prayers are answered, when I’m feeling the “sun” shining down on me.

It’s easy to praise Him in those times. Easy to tell others to hang in there and that God has reasons for what He does.

It’s hard to praise God when things aren’t going well. When the job is terminated, the finances are a mess, and the bitter cold of the world seems to rest on your shoulders.

It’s harder to love Him when He seems so silent in answer to your prayer request. When the blessings don’t come and when everything seems hard.  But that’s when our true faith is able to shine. That’s when what we really believe comes out. That’s when we grow.

I don’t just love God because of what He can do for me. I love Him because of who I believe He is.

I don’t just praise God because all is right in my world. I praise Him because of who He is.

He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the same whether I am blessed or whether I’m challenged. He is the same whether He answers me “yes” or “no.” My view of Him may change – but He does not change. I just can’t always see the reasoning or the full picture.

Ultimately, I trust God. I have faith in Him. I adore Him. I trust Him even when my heart is aching and I wonder why the timing isn’t “now” for what I’m seeking in life. I have faith in Him even when I don’t think things are fair – for I know He wants what is best for me. Oh yes, I adore Him. I adore Him even when life gets ugly.

I believe in my Lord and Savior. And that – for me – trumps everything else I go through.

So it may be easy to love Him when thing are going well, but it’s natural for me to still love Him when they aren’t. I just can’t live any other way.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We Only Have Today




If you could do it all over again – would you? Would you choose the same path? The same man? The same career or lack of it?  Do you sometimes feel as if life chose you instead of the other way around?

Things happen. No one’s life goes exactly as they dreamt or planned it would go. I’m sure those who actually do sail down the path they dreamed of, would argue that life is not perfect and they’ve had many detours, unplanned events, and disappointments along the way. Maybe even their chosen life hasn’t fulfilled the expectations they’d grown inside of their hearts.

What if you could go back? What if you could go back to that crucial juncture in time when you made that life-changing decision….and make a different one?

I was thinking about that very question recently when I was watching “Seventeen…Again” with my girls. 

A lot of times we live our lives with regrets. We look at the past as if our options could have been better, richer, and more fulfilling. When in reality – they may just have been simply different.

Sometimes we just forget what it is we want. We forget what it is we have. And we fail to see the blessings and joys that exist right in front of us.

If we had made different choices in life, some of them might have been better for us. But we still probably would have struggled. We still would have had hard things to deal with. Tough obstacles and overwhelming hurts. That’s what life is. We live, we breathe, we love, we fail, we hurt, and we laugh. Ups and downs.

We are where we are for a reason. No amount of looking back will change where we currently are in life. No amount of reliving the past, or hoping we’d done things differently will change today. Only we can change today and make it better. Only we can be better.  Will we?  Will we grasp onto what we have and make the most of it? Will we flourish?

We only have today. Let’s make it count for something.




** Originally Published March 2011 Emphasis On Moms Publication

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feeling Useful




I remember talking to my grandma just a month or two after my grandpa passed away. Grandma had moved into a retirement home and I had called her to see how she was doing (she lived in another state.)  I had been very concerned about her.

I will not soon forget the excitement in her voice as she shared with me her excitement in the fact that she now had a “job” at the retirement home. When I inquired what it was, she proceeded to tell me that when she went downstairs for mealtime, she would grab the hand sanitizer and bring it to those who were unable to walk.  She would take the hand sanitizer to those in wheelchairs, walkers, etc and give them a chance to use it like the rest of the residents. That little “job” was so appreciated by the residents who she ministered to! She paid attention to a need that they had, when no one else had. She was welcomed and embraced for it.  In addition, she felt useful – and needed. Something that was crucial at this tender time of transition in her life.

We all need to feel useful. We all need to feel like we have something to give this world. The older you get, the more that need lives inside of us, I think. There is something so beneficial that happens when we pour ourselves out and minister to other people. Whether it’s by making a meal for a mom or family in need, driving someone somewhere, babysitting, answering the phone, delivering fresh vegetables from your garden – or administering hand sanitizer to those who can’t walk up and get it themselves….being able to fill a need in the lives of others somehow fills a huge need in ourselves, as well.

I think that is why it is so important that we teach our children very early on to give to others. This world is so focused on “me.” We need to focus on “them.” Our children need to understand, know, and feel what it’s like to impact someone else’s life in a positive way. They need to see how fulfilling it is to give of yourself and focus on a cause greater than yourself. It will give them something meaningful, long-lasting, and deep that they won’t be able to get any other way or by doing any other thing in life.

Our world has needs so great that it’s hard to count them. There are so many hurting, lost, lonely people out there. You may feel like you don’t have much to give – but to someone out there, you have a GREAT deal to give! You can give your time and your heart. You just have to look for the need and you’ll find it.

I’d encourage you if you’re feeling like you don’t matter much or that you are often overlooked in life, to instead focus outward instead of inward. Find ways to give of yourself to others. I bet you will find that value and love you are seeking in the process.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

When Your Flame Feels Like a Flicker




God tells us that we are lights of the world. I love that analogy. I love feeling like I’m a light. As a girl who adores warmth and sunshine – I love feeling like I bring light into other people’s lives, as well.

But I’ll be honest. Sometimes I just don’t feel like a light. I don’t feel like my flame is burning very brightly. In fact, sometimes I feel like my flame is more of a flicker. It feels like the winds of life keep blowing on me and I’m just struggling to stay lit. Are you there with me? Do you understand those moments?

It’s natural, I think. We can’t keep our own flame alive. We’ve got to rely on outside influences to help keep us burning. We need God’s Word first and foremost.  We need Christian community, and we need encouragement, love, and support.  Without those things, our flame will indeed; flicker.

I think we are meant to shine brightly. Even in the tough times in life. Sometimes we are the only light that someone else will see. And even if that light is burning on low fumes, it’s still a light for someone else. A low light is better than no light at all! But, a bright and strong light is even better. So we need to be vigilant about making sure that we get what we need in life to keep a roaring fire and flame going in our hearts.

Everyone has low times in life. They are sometimes seasons to help us see things and grow – and sometimes signs and symptoms of things that need to be addressed.

If your flame feels more like a flicker today – see what you can do to get it roaring again. For feeling on “fire” for the Lord is the most amazing thing ever and it’s a feeling that has to be fueled in order to stay lit.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ambition Can Cost Us Our Friends




No amount of ambition is worth stepping on someone else to reach an open door.” 

These words came to me recently when my heart was hurting and breaking for someone I really cared about. Someone who was going through a great deal of hurt due to the actions of another.

Ambition. A lot of us have it.

We want to be bigger. Better. More. Anything than where we currently are. Sometimes our motives stem from a good heart. Sometimes, our own pride and ambition get in the way.

People matter. I don’t think anything is more important in this life than people. The relationships we form are everything. And how we treat others means far more than most of us stop to think about.

We are all human. And being human we are going to let each other down. We will make mistakes, say the wrong, thing; disappoint. We need to be careful, however, when our own agenda and ambition ends up tromping over someone else’s heart. 

No “goal” is worth chewing up and spitting someone else out along the way. No “prize” worth crushing another’s spirit. For people matter more than attaining certain standards and images that we have set up for ourselves.

We were put here for one another. To support and hold each other up.  If only we would all be a little more cognizant of how we affect each other when trying to reach our own dreams! If only we would “use” one another less as a stepping stone!

There will be many open doors to opportunity in our lives. Some will be on higher roads than others. Some will lead to richer opportunities. But none of that really matters if you check your morals and values at the door to get there.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Girl Power




As my girls get older, I find myself treading new waters of trying to find a good balance in being “mom” and in letting them have their own identity and independence that is separate from me.  It’s very well known that mothers have a hard time separating from their daughters. In return, daughters can often feel suffocated or that “mom” is being controlling or pushy which ends up putting a wedge in the relationship once they are grown.

In my heart, I want to find the perfect balance. I want to be close to my daughters while letting them feel like they have their space. That’s not always an easy feat!

I think though, that I have found one treasure that might help me do this. One little secret way of staying involved and a participant in my daughters’ lives as they grow up, while still letting them feel like they are successfully separating. That is by tapping into my “girl power.”

You see; I am a girl first. Before being a mom, a daughter, a wife…I am a girl. Female. I love girly things. Having two daughters, I understand their love for girly things, as well. I understand how a bad hair day can affect your whole attitude and outlook for the day. I understand how sometimes the only thing that seems to make something better is a piece of chocolate. And I understand the silly, giggly things that only other females can understand.

Some of the closest and most joyful times I have with my daughters, as they are becoming young women, is by simply enjoying being girls together. They don’t feel like I’m being “mom” all the time and yet I’m able to have a “voice” and an “ear” as we engage in girl fun together. We try on clothes together and love to be in dressing rooms near each other so that we can showcase our pieces and get opinions.  We hunt for deals. We paint our nails and toes together relishing in the color selection. We’ve even had a pedicure and manicures done together! Girl time. Girl fun. Things that we will continue to engage in together as they become women. Things that don’t put one person in charge over the other or stress sharing endless feelings and emotions --- yet somehow encourage conversation and sharing just the same. 

Whether it’s lunch out at a favorite spot, getting a new purse or earrings, or going to a movie together – girl time with my children has become a precious jewel and treasure. I hope that as they get used to doing these things with me that they will continue to seek me out as they do them for years to come. Bonding time. Laughing time. Loving time.

Girl time.

It’s one of the best ways to stay connected and the most fun without a lot of pressure. Exploring and enjoying our God-given natures as females…together.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Showing God My Love on Valentine's Day



On Valentine’s Day, everyone thinks about how to show that special someone (or someone’s) how much they love them. We give candy, flowers, jewelry, and romantic gifts to let those people know they are valued, loved, and special.

I was being contemplative today, on love. What love means to me – where it began – who shows me love. And of course, my thoughts went immediately to the One I love and cherish the most….my Lord and Savior.  He doesn’t need to do anything for me on Valentine’s Day because He already has shown me and given me the greatest gift of love anyone could give. But how about me? How can I show Him how much I love Him on Valentine’s Day? Is there a gift I can give to God?

I think there is.

I think I can show God my love on Valentine’s Day by not complaining. I think I can show Him my love by appreciating what He’s given me and who He has placed in my life. I think I can show Him how much I love Him by talking to Him. I can tell Him how much He means to me and I can show Him how much I value the fact that He listens to my concerns and cares.

I can TRUST HIM.

I can pay attention to God by reading His Word and listening to what He’s trying to say to me. I can notice and acknowledge when He sends me a beautiful sunrise or a gift of encouragement through a person – knowing that it came through Him.

If I say I love God – what better day than Valentine’s Day, to show Him and to give Him my time? Instead of using it for “me” tasks, I can be a servant for Him and use it for “God” tasks.

You see…..there are many ways to show Jesus how much we love Him. And of course, as with anyone we love – we shouldn’t do it just on Valentine’s Day. I just find it ironic that we often forget to include Him in on this very special day devoted to love. For if it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t know what real love is. He was the best example and the first example.

On this special day, won’t you take some time to show and tell God just how dear He is to your heart?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil


See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  I remember seeing and hearing those words as I grew up. They’d often be matched with monkeys covering their eyes, ears, and mouth.

Somehow, over time, those monkeys faded away. Maybe it’s because it seems like no one really cares as much about seeing, hearing, and speaking evil anymore.

We see evil all the time. We watch horrid images on the news and in movies. I actually detest the month of October on television. It’s hard to find anything that is not “Halloween” related. Every single movie that seems to be on for the whole month seems to be focused on hauntings, slashings, and everything gore and scary. I hate it, hate it, hate it.

We hear evil all of the time. We hear it on the radio. Evil words that come out in the form of an energized song where the artist talks about all of the things he plans to do to a woman. We hear it – again – on the news – and in television.  We hear our leaders spewing evil towards one another in the quest to get ahead or put themselves on top or over someone else.

We speak evil. Again – our leaders (who should be speaking words of encouragement, empowerment, and hope) speak evil. Our enemies speak evil over us. WE speak evil.

I’m just wondering – what happened to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil?” It’s not an outdated notion. It’s relevant. Today. In fact, those words (to me) are timeless. They are truth. They are basic.  Everyone should live by them.

So what happened?

Look around you. Today as you go about your life, pay attention to where you see evil, hear evil, and where evil is spoken. Stop and pray each time one of those moments crosses your path and ask God to replace evil with good.

We don’t have to continue to passively sit by in a society that now embraces evil. We can reclaim the ground that was stolen – and we can fight to bring back what is moral, upright, and honest.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Art of Borrowing



With the way things are in the economy, sometimes it becomes necessary to ask those around you for help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We were made to be here for one another and SHOULD help each other. Sometimes we’d be surprised at just how much making an effort, helps someone else.

Whether it’s needing to borrow tools, childcare, money, or time – borrowing can be a tricky thing.  If it isn’t handled with integrity and respect for the person doing the lending, it can even put a dent in relationships – sometimes damaging them for good. So let’s go over a little protocol.

1.     If you need to borrow someone’s car or something tangible that they have – give them a deadline when you will have the item returned by. It doesn’t show a lot of respect for someone to keep something for months and months without thought to the fact that they might need it back. Also, make sure you return the item back in good shape. If you borrow a car, don’t return it with an empty gas tank or all dirty inside. Show your thanks by putting at least as much gas as was in it when you borrowed the vehicle and clean out or wash the car. 

The same goes for other items. Always wash or return an item in good shape.


2.     If you need someone to watch your children, don’t take advantage of their time. They are probably saving you money by allowing you the option to use them instead of a daycare or babysitter. Be punctual when dropping off and picking up your children. Bring over snacks or extra supplies to help supplement what they might be using while caring for your children. If you’re not able to purchase extra diapers or things that might increase your expense more than you can handle, bake some cookies or do something else that is a gesture of your thanks.


3.     If you need to borrow money…..don’t take it for granted.  Write down how much you borrowed and when and keep a record of it. Don’t let months or years go by without not only paying back what you borrowed, but failing to mention it. This again, shows a lack of respect towards the person or people who were generous with you.

             If time goes on and you are unable to pay back the full amount, figure out a      way to make a small payment or even come up with a pay schedule.

Continuing to ask to borrow things or asking to “have” things from another person is rude, selfish, and careless. Most people don’t mind helping someone out if they are really down and out on their luck. But they don’t like to be taken advantage of. This can be especially awkward if the lender is a family member. They don’t want to ruin their relationship with you by speaking up so they remain silent. Don’t mistake that silence to be a sign that they are okay with the situation as it stands.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

Continuing to borrow things from people can often put a wedge in relationships. Once or twice is okay, but anymore often than that it can get to be a strain.  Think of ways that you can earn a little extra income if it’s possible or a way that you can give back to the person who has been so generous with you.

It feels good to not have to rely on others. It feels good to support yourself, even if it’s not on the level that you would prefer.  But if you truly have a need and someone else can fill it temporarily, show class and respect by doing whatever it takes to care for someone else’s time and belongings as much (or more so) than they do. It is a reflection of who you are as a person. And the reflection and image you give off – says a lot. Your reputation will precede you and will affect you in your future. Give it weight and effort by holding yourself to a high standard. For courtesy goes both ways.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Finding Identity in What We Do

I'm guest posting over at Dawn's blog today - "Beneath the Surface."  I'm talking about what we do when we find that something we've identified with in life (job, mothering, dream, etc) has ended. What do we identify with then? How do we know who we really are when something has become such a part of us that we are lost without it?

Won't you stop by her blog and take a minute to read my thoughts? Thanks!

~ Dionna

Monday, February 6, 2012

Life Is All About Feelings




Life is all about feelings. That’s what I think, anyways.

Feelings.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about how you feel when:

~ you are wrapped in a really warm, heated blanket.

~ when you lift your face up to the sunshine, close your eyes, and feel the warmth of the heat to not just your skin…but your soul.

~ that first moment of grief when you are told someone you love, has passed on and your body is consumed so much that sobs start shaking within you until they pour out – loudly.

~ when your child runs to you with open arms and jumps into your outstretched arms with a smile on their face and a heart innocently open to yours. When you are their “everything.”

~ How about that moment when you first locked eyes with your spouse?

~ Remember the moment when you laughed so hard that you had tears coming out of your eyes. Afterwards, your belly hurt from laughing so hard, but you felt utterly, completely, happy in the moment.

~ Take yourself to the moment when a news story grabbed your attention with riveting, heart wrenching devastation. You wanted to help, but felt so helpless.

You see – life is all about feelings. Why then, do we try so hard to shield them from everyone else around us? Why do we try to bury them, hide them, or at the very least – minimize the impact they are having on us?

I LOVE feeling life. I love how it feels to laugh. Yes, sometimes I even love how it feels to cry. For even though it hurts, I’m alive and I’ve loved and it feels good to feel those things. I have a right to cry over someone who has meant something so dearly to me. I have a right to laugh and smile – merely enjoying the beauty of life.  More than that – I think God gave me those feelings because they are also a part of Him.

The Bible tells us that God grieved. He loved. He enjoyed the company of others.  God felt life in its fullest. As should we.

Life IS a journey of the emotions. It’s a path full of feelings. Let yourself feel them. Let them teach you and guide you.  The world may minimize some feelings, but they are very real and very powerful. They are like a chain – tying one part of our life to the other.

Let yourself feel. Let yourself love and mourn.  For no one else can feel the moments of your life…quite like you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Today's a Really Bad Day.... For Somebody



I was on the freeway heading to hear some hard news. It wasn’t going to be what I’d call “the best night of my life.” Yet I knew that for me, personally, I’d be okay. Others close to me, might have a harder time.

As I was looking out the window while my husband drove, I looked at the cars that we passed. I wondered what kind of a day it was for them and that’s when it hit me. I wasn’t the only one having a rough day.

At any moment in time, we pass hundreds of people who are going through all sorts of things in life. We just never pause to give it much thought.

Today might be a really bad day for that husband and father as he heads to the hospital knowing his life is changed forever because of a sudden stroke that hit his wife the previous evening.

Today might be a really bad day for that grandparent who is heading to the courthouse to courageously take custody of their grandkids with great heartache over the choices their child has made in their life.

Today could be a really bad day for that young girl who decided to end her marriage and knows she’s making a mistake – but doing it anyways.

Today could be a really bad day for that person who just lost their job, their house, their self esteem.

It could be the person sitting next to us on the plane, the cashier at Target, or the young girl who comes home with our daughter. We just don’t know. We don’t really know what is going on in the lives of others because we are usually so good at hiding it.

Today could be a really bad day for that person who inattentively cut you off in traffic or was rude to you in line at the grocery store. It could be a really hard day for that teacher who treated your child less than fair in class.

We all have them. We all act irritable and snappy at times. We all make mistakes while driving our car.

What a difference a smile would make. A, “that’s okay – go ahead.” Or “Can I help you?” What a difference a quick prayer for the other individual would make in their less-than-ideal day!

We all go through tough times here and there. When I’m lost in my thoughts and not paying as close attention as I should to my actions, I would love to be extended grace, mercy, and kindness. So it’s the least I can offer to someone else.

Today might be a really bad day….for somebody. So cut them some slack and offer some forgiveness and gentleness. It just might be the very thing they need.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'm Right Where I'm Supposed To Be


Sometimes I get impatient. I want to be somewhere down the road in my life. Somewhere that I imagine is further or better than where I’m currently at.

Recently, I was sharing with a friend of some visions that I had for myself and my future. Even as I heard my own voice speaking, God spoke to my own heart about what I was saying and where my heart was at.  You see, where I want to be may not be where HE wants me to be. And that’s something I might have to contend with.

I am right where God wants me. Love it or hate it – it’s the truth.  If I happen to hate it, I need to take a good hard look at why. Is my vision more about me than it is about Him?

God has me where I am for mighty reasons. I may not see them, but I need to be aware that they still exist. He has plans for me right where I’m at.

If God has plans for me right where I’m at, then right where I’m at is the best place to be sitting. For His ways are always higher than mine.

Wherever you want to be in life, remember that God has you where you are for His very own perfect and divine reasons. He loves you. He is for you. So trusting in His plans will never lead you wrong.

You are valued and you have purpose.
Let God reveal to you what that purpose is by being available to Him right where you are. For you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

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