Friday, February 28, 2014

Sometimes You Have To Ignore the Advice





People love to give advice. Everyone is a ‘pro’ based on their own experiences at something.

When a young lady is pregnant for the first time, every mother in the world loves to shower her with advice. You “need” to do this, and you “ have” to do that.  Often, this poor young lady is overwhelmed and confused. Whose advice do you listen to? And when you actually try it…why doesn’t it work?

Children are individual. What works for one, obviously doesn’t always work for another.  You have to filter advice based on the advice-giver, and based on your temperament and your child’s temperament.

The same is true for advice on business matters, relationship matters, financial issues, shopping ideas…. you name it.

I’ve learned through trial and error that sometimes, as well meaning as people are, they are simply giving me wrong advice. It may not be a wrong method….but simply a wrong method FOR ME.

I cannot emotionally navigate some things like someone else can. I cannot invest the same amount of time, perhaps, that someone else can. My personality may be different, my goals may be different, and my unique delivery of “said” advice may simply just come out differently.

So, sometimes you need to ignore the advice from others. “This works for me” may simply be just that. It worked for them. And that’s fantastic! But it may not necessarily work for you.

You have to know yourself very well. Know your boundaries and limitations. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know what you want to get out of a situation and where you want to go with it. Know how much you want to invest – whether it’s personally, physically, or emotionally. KNOW.

Once you know these things, you will know when to file advice away, and when to use it to your advantage and blessing.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sometimes




Sometimes in life, we want a new beginning. A fresh start.

Sometimes, the “others” in our life, won’t want this for us. For selfish reasons, they won’t be happy for us as we make changes and head down a different course. They won’t be cheering us on, or supporting us. Even if they love us.

Sometimes, we have to know in our own hearts that what we are doing is right for us and leave it at that. Let that be enough.

Sometimes.

If life were perfect, everyone would be on board with every decision we ever made. They’d invest in us and agree with us. But that’s not the case. Wisely so. Sometimes, the “others” in our life know better than us. They see the mine bombs we will have to navigate and they see the web we will have to untangle ourselves from. They simply want to help us avoid getting hurt.

Sometimes.

It can be hard to know which voices to listen to. It can be hard to know whose motives are pure and whose are selfish.

Every big decision we make in life needs to be taken into great consideration before decided on. No “rush” choices or changes. No “hasty” departures.  But thoughtful prayer. Time. And learning who to trust, and which “advice-givers” don’t have our best interests in mind. It can be tough.

Sometimes.

God is always there to listen to our hearts. Always there, to send someone objective into our lives just when we need it the most. Always there to wipe away our tears when hurtful words are aimed our way – and He’s always there. Period. He’s ALWAYS there. If you seek guidance, He’ll give it to you. If you need a new direction in life, He’ll show you how to find it.

He is FOR you.  Not sometimes. But always.





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Monday, February 24, 2014

Find Where You Fit




For a long time, I was going through some internal struggling. I didn’t have the motivation I felt I should have had in my life and I felt like my gifts were being wasted. I felt like my days weren’t as emotionally satisfying to me as they could have been. I wasn’t being used in the “zone” where I felt most comfortable and at-home being just who God created me to be.

So I decided to do something about it.

Let me just tell you, that if you go to God and want to make more of your life – He WILL honor that. It just may take time. 

Sometimes God is preparing you for the place where He can use you best. Sometimes He’s preparing others for your arrival into their lives. Either way, HE is faithful and we need to trust Him and His timing. Even if it can seem frustrating at times.

My God WAS faithful. And I have seen new excitement and energy enter my life. I feel like someone who was walking through life in black and white and now suddenly it’s all color.

Surely everything isn’t going to be perfect when you “arrive” into that fresh new zone of “you.” There will be hurdles, setbacks, and disappointments just like anywhere else. But there will also be a newfound joy for life and for being yourself. There comes a new awareness of how you function best and where.

I look back and I don’t despair over any season of my life. Not anymore. Because I see how God is always working. Working on me and working for me.  And once you enter your new season and phase of satisfaction and joy, knowing you are right in the place where you should be…. that’s something pretty exhilarating.

We need to fight for ourselves. Not in a prideful way, but in a way that betters the world, for we aren’t good to anyone else if we aren’t functioning in the form that God intended us to. That’s different for everyone, but usually you know when things are just “off-kilter” in your life. You feel like a circle trying to live life in a square. It doesn’t fit. YOU don’t fit.

Find where you fit. Seek it out. Embrace it. Love being YOU in it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Smile That Lasts All Day



I am now living in the land of “warm.” It’s not perfect, but it’s refreshing.

For years, I lived in the land of “cold.” I’d watch the weather forecast and we’d be sitting in the “blue” zone. Oh how I longed to live somewhere in the red, orange – or I’d even accept the yellow zone!

And now here I am.

I watched the weather forecast on Halloween Day, 2013 and I was in the orange/red zone while I looked at where I used to live and there it sat – in the frigid blue zone.

I was so happy, I can’t even tell you.

It made me smile.

It made me smile BIG.

I smiled for hours. And then a few hours later, I remembered, and I smiled again.

It was Halloween. And I was in shorts. For the first time in my life. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and I was happy.

It may seem like a small thing, but do you remember smiling over small things? Do you remember being happy over something “small?”  It can change a whole day. A whole outlook.

Small is only small if we view it that way with our heart. Something “small” can become huge if we allow ourselves to view it that way.

As I did.

I’d dreamed of something. Longed for something. Wished. Hoped. And God granted my wish.

I know it will come with imperfections over time. But for a moment in time, I allowed myself to feel thankful. Blessed. HAPPY.

And I smiled. Over something small.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Life Isn't Always Smooth Sailing - Sometimes All You Can Do Is Row




I got  an email recently from someone who was struggling in a certain season of life. Life wasn’t going real smoothly for her and she felt like she was just keeping her head above water.

We all are familiar with those chaotic seasons. Especially young moms. We feel like we should have things all pulled together when in reality, we feel anything but.

It seems like we all think life should be smooth sailing all of the time when sometimes all we can do is concentrate on rowing. And that’s okay. It’s okay to only concentrate on rowing sometimes. Keeping the children fed, changing diapers, cleaning the house – it all seems so mundane. But it occupies our days and our minds and there are seasons where if that’s all we have time for, if that’s the only thing we feel like we can get accomplished – IT’S OKAY!

Life isn’t a perfectly oiled machine. We don’t run like clockwork. Things break, people get sick, plans get changed and so much more is out of our control. I think sometimes that God likes to keep us unbalanced for a reason. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t also times where things DO go well and seem to run smoothly. And when those times come, we can be blessed and thankful and get refueled and recharged.  But we can be guaranteed that our days won’t always be that way.

It’s the rowing in life that grows our muscles. Those are the times where we see just what our priorities are and what matters to us. It’s in those times that we dig deep and see what we’re really made of.

Some day, someone else will be rowing their boat and dreaming of calm waters. It will be our strength that they may need to help them not drown in the storms and waves they are battling. The very storms and waves that we had to navigate ourselves at one point.

Struggle IS a part of life.
We can bank on that. It’s miserable when we are going through it but when we reach the other side; it is often the struggle that makes us who we are. It’s up to us to choose what the end result will be. A stronger person or a battle-weary one?

One of life’s biggest lies is that we should be able to do it all. We can’t. We won’t be able to – ever. Something will always give. Something will always suffer. Don’t let it be you, don’t let it be your family, and don’t let it be your faith.

Row. Row hard. And before you know it, the sun will come out again and the waters will turn to ripples instead of huge waves.  Then you can turn your head back around and see what God helped you survive. You will see. You will learn. And you will grow.
           
           
           
    
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Monday, February 17, 2014

The World Really Needs REAL


We put our best foot forward for others. We look our best, we act our best, and we showcase our best. We spiffy up our houses so they look their BEST.

But we can’t all be at our best all of the time.

I’d venture to say we live out of our natural state far more than we live within our best state.

In a world where we have glossy images in the magazines, everyone’s successful highlights in social media online, and brand names calling to us, telling us we will be worthwhile if we own them…..everyone desperately needs something authentic, genuine, and REAL.

We need someone who isn’t all polishedand yet is still insanely warm, gracious, and loveable.

We need people who have wrinkles and wear generic clothes, yet are still stylish.

We need to see that someone can cry and not be ashamed. Have a different opinion than us and be gracious about it. Eat fatty food sometimes and love it. REAL.

Real life is flawed, messy, and confusing at times. Real life is full of learning situations, hurt feelings, and apologies. Real life trips, drops things, laughs at awkward moments, and says the wrong thing at the wrong time.

The world needs REAL in its role models; in it’s heroes. Not polished and perfect. But real.

Let’s see someone stumble over their words, say something that is politically incorrect (but the truth), and dare to own up to their actions by apologizing.

The world craves real. It NEEDS real.

Let’s be real, applaud real, and support more authenticity and genuine hearts in those we adore and emulate.

Real life can be funny, attractive, and desirable. And it’s freeing too – to not have to have it all together.

Real. If you reach out, you can almost touch it. It’s there – waiting to be found.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Don't Understand




Sometimes we think we’ve done everything right. We’ve sought out God in our decision first before taking a step, we said the right thing, and we felt like we were in the right place. It all just felt so “right.”

And the answer was “no.”  It was, “not now.” It was “not this one,” or “I have something else in mind for you.”

We are left feeling frustrated, discouraged, disheartend….confused.

Where did things go wrong? What should we, and could we, have done to change the outcome? Was it us? Was it them?

We don’t understand.

There are so many times like this in life. Everything felt so right and yet the outcome ended up all wrong. What do we do in those times? Where do we head when we thought we were on the right course?

I know several things that reassure me when I doubt myself in those instances.

I know that my God is ALWAYS faithful. So I have to trust Him. Even if I don’t understand.

I know that God is not the author of confusion. So if I feel confused, it’s not coming from Him. It’s coming from another source.

I know that God’s timing is always perfect. He is never late. So maybe I am early. Maybe I’m not quite crafted yet as He intended. But His timing is always perfect.

I know that God is FOR me. He is cheering and rooting me on. Therefore, He is on my side. As long as I am seeking His will and His heart, then I know I can’t go wrong no matter what the outcome is. He has my best interests in mind.

I know that God is a personal God. Therefore, I know that He sees every detail of what I’m going through. He knows my desires, my hurts, and my frustrations. He will not ignore me.

I know that God works all things together for His good. And I know that HE is good. He is love. He is just.

We may not understand why some things happen. Sometimes we look back, and we see in hindsight why things happened the way they did. Other times, we may never know. But we can trust in the One who loves us.

We may still hurt. We may still be disappointed, and that’s okay. That’s human. But we need to remember that God never lets us down. Even if we don’t see why He’s withholding something from us.

He sees. He knows. And He loves. He has the biggest heart there is. He will NOT drop us. He will NOT laugh at us. He’s working on our behalf. We just have to trust.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God Knows Better Than You


If it had been up to me, I would have been a lyricist writing songs in the music industry.  Instead, God channeled my love for writing into writing articles. It began when I became a young stepmom and sought out encouragement as a mom.

I never would have dreamed that I would become a stepmom, but God used what I experienced, and He helped turn that into an encouragement ministry for others.

God knew better on both counts of my writing and my mothering.

He knows better than me on lots of other issues as well. Oh, how rich hindsight is!

I know I have cried (bitterly, sometimes) over not getting my way. Over delayed answers to prayer and over unmet expectations. Yet, God has always taken care of me. He’s blessed me and He’s been faithful – more than I deserve.

Oh how little we think of Him and His ways at times! We always seem to think we know better. We think our ways are more accurate than His and our control is more steady.

And yet, we are so wrong.

Whatever situation you might find yourself in today – remember – God knows better than you. He knows how to use your hurt for blessings. He knows how to use your misdirected paths for greater good and He knows how to strengthen you when you feel so frail.

God knows just what people to bring into your life for a season. He knows what to withhold from you (and when) and what to bring your way to encourage you at just the right moment.

He loves you.

So wherever you are; whatever you’re experiencing….don’t give up. There is always hope. Always a fresh new tomorrow. Always a change that will occur in your life waiting just around that corner. Always a blessing that you can look forward to. It’s His gift to you and me because of His great love for us.

And that’s something you can bank on.



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Sunday, February 9, 2014

They May Use a Different Word, But It's the Same Thing (England Vs. America)




We recently had a young acquaintance from England come and stay with us for a month. It was a fun and eye opening experience as we immediately noticed all the differences in products and in the terms we used to identify those products.

I guess I assumed that since we both spoke English, that there wouldn’t be that much of a difference in how we spoke. But I was wrong. There were so many different terms for things that I started to keep a list, and even then, I couldn’t keep track of them all!

My post on the differences between North and South America (You can find that here:) has been so popular with my readers, that I thought it would be fun to do one on the different names for things from England to America.

So here goes:

In America, we have turn signals. In England, they call them “indicators.”

In  America, we have Netflix. In England, they have “Lovefilm.”

In America, our kids go to school on a yellow bus. Have as long as I can remember. In England, they go to school on white and black busses and they are double decker busses!

I buy boxes of granola cereal at the store here in America. In England, they call it “crunchy nut cereal.”

In England, they refer to America’s “shopping carts” as “trolleys.”

In America, we cook on a stove. In England, they call it a “hob.”

Commercials in America are called “adverts” in England.

Popsicles? Those are ice lolleys.

A simple game of tic tac toe? That is called “nots and crosses.”

I get tons and tons of plastic bags from the grocery store. In England, they call those “packets.” And they fold them into triangles to save space and for neat storage. (I was taught how to do this and it really is handy!)

In America, we have q-tips. In England, they have “earbuds.”

In America, we have Chapstick. In England, they have “lip ice.”

In America, we have ping pong. In England, they have “table tennis.”

When I need to fuel up, in America, I go to the “gas station.” In England, they fuel up at a “petrol station.”

A simple piece of pecan pie (said as pee-kon pie) is pronounced “peekun” pie in England.

One of the funniest differences I ran across was when we were playing a game and our guest needed an eraser for his pencil. He looked at my husband and asked if he had any “rubbers.” You guessed it. An “eraser” in America is called a “rubber” in England. We had to explain to him that “rubber” means something entirely different here!

A trunk of a car in America – in England, is a “boot.”

A ketchup packet at your local fast food restaurant is referred to as a “sachet.”

“Posh” in England is simply referred to as “rich” in America.

And instead of getting the “mail,” – you go and get the “post.”

Lastly? “Just now” really means “later” if you’re from England. Try and wrap your head around that!


The differences are plenty. But it was fun to see that so many common items like band-aids are referred to by an entirely different word if you’re from England.

Oh, how the world gets smaller, the more we learn about each other though! And what deeper understanding we gain in the process.

We are all the same. We just come at life from a different perspective.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Bracelets, Bracelets, Bracelets!

I don't know about you, but as the mom of two teen girls, I'm constantly on the lookout for "girlie" gifts. Whether it's a little something for Valentine's Day, Easter, a friend's birthday, or their own birthday - I'm always on the hunt for cute stuff.

Jewelry, especially, is always a good way to go. No girl (or woman for that matter), can ever have too much jewelry.  That's why, I love the idea of a "bracelet club." If I find a birthday comes up at the last minute, I could easily give a gift subscription to Simply Bracelets "bracelet club." What it is, is you sign up for only $9.95 a month and each month, a bracelet is delivered to you in the mail. That's it. Suuuupperrr easy!

My girls never get much for them in the mail; wouldn't it be fun to give a girl the gift of a fun bracelet delivered to her each month in the mail? And $9.95 is a great, low price.  In fact, why not treat yourself? You could sign up and get yourself a free monthly gift!

Simply Bracelets sent me a gold bracelet this week. The little seahorse is so cute, yet elegant. It's a piece that you can choose to wear simply, and all by itself, or pair it up with other trendy bracelets.

I think the bracelet club is a great gift idea for any trendy young lady. It does the shopping for you, and it adds a little cheer into their day.

Please stop by my friends over at Simply Bracelets and have a look around. Consider getting your granddaughter, starving college student, teen daughter, or young mom-friend a bracelet-of-the-month gift. It would be a fun way to say "I love you."





Discloser: I was given a bracelet free for this post. But all comments and opinions are solely my own.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Modeling Imperfect




Our kids have a lot of pressure on them. They feel like they have to look a certain way, be a certain size, have certain things and maintain a certain image. It’s a lot. Even if they know in their hearts that’s not what brings true value and love – still, they have to fight it with every breath for it’s so prevalent. So THERE.

They have enough pressure in their lives without feeling it from us as their parents too.

They can feel like they have to maintain certain grades, a certain attitude, keep certain morals, succeed in a certain way ….and more. Without meaning to, we can give them the impression that they not only need to be perfect, but they are only loved if they come across as perfect.

Hollywood actors and actresses LOOK perfect. Models LOOK perfect. Most of people in real life LOOK perfect – for that’s the only face that is put forward.

That’s why it’s so important for our kids to see our flaws. For us to be authentic enough to share our failures. To be confident enough in who we are so that we can model imperfection to them.

Our kids need to know that you can be imperfect and still be loved. Still beautiful. Still wanted and valued. Still worthy. They need to know that imperfections can be laughed at. Forgiven. Even embraced at times and made to be strengths. 

And it needs to come from us. From those people who love them the most. The ones they are watching so carefully and closely.

We need to be ok with our own imperfections if we ever want to expect our children to be secure in their own.

Everyone can use growth in their life. We can all work on certain issues within ourselves. But we also need to understand that sometimes the very things we don’t like about ourselves are the very unique things God put into us for a reason.

We are all different. All flawed. All set apart from others in one way or another. Usually we try to hide it or disguise it in some way. But it’s that very imperfection in us that makes us all the more loveable and special. 

It also makes us more relatable to someone else who sees their own inadequacies.

Being imperfect is being wholly human. It’s being real.

Let’s start modeling that for our kids so they can find freedom in being completely who God created them to be….instead of pressured to be someone they were never meant to be.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Some Things You Don't Think Will Ever Touch Your Life




Some things you don’t think will ever touch your life.

When I was growing up, I never in a million years would have predicted that I would become a stepmom.

I never thought I would have been so personally touched by suicide. Not just by friends, but within my own family.

I never thought I would grapple with fear and anxiety.

I never could have dreamed how becoming a mom would affect me so intensely and irrevocably.

I never thought I’d be touched or impacted by so many things. Good. And bad.

You just don’t think some things will come close to your home turf. You don’t think you’ll have to deal with certain “hills” and “battlegrounds” in life.

Until you do.

Until they DO touch your life. Deeply.

Then in that moment, we all have a choice of how to step forward. Do we let ourselves become people who are stripped of courage, faith, love, and hope? Or do we become people of resolve, trust, insight, and compassion?

I have found that in my weakest moments; in my moments of deepest hurts, that later on, God has indeed used those in my life to either make me stronger – or He’s used them to help someone else in my life, through what I went through.

I’ve learned that although I wish some moments had never touched my life, they have always shown me deeper blessings and truths at some point. In some way.

You see, God isn’t about to leave us the same. Unchanged. He wants to get our attention. Grow us. Speak to us. Move us. We can’t sit still and stay untouched by life. Someone, somewhere, at some point will get to us.

And no matter what happens, we will be changed. We will be impacted. And we will be touched. By not only what happens to us – but by what happens to those we love.

That’s how it’s supposed to be.

No one should ever be left untouched. For if you don’t hurt, you don’t love.





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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nice and Toasty




When was the last time you relished in your life? The last time you felt warm inside because you were so happy?

I’m there now. I feel nice and toasty on the inside. There is a glow in my heart that has come from deep thankfulness for my life.

It’s not perfect. It has flaws. There are still future hurdles to cross. But I’m content in my “now.” I’m thankful.

It feels good to feel good. It’s been a long time. There were spurts, but they didn’t last.  The cold wind would always creep in and steel away the warmth that wanted to live inside my heart.

But it’s here again. I feel it.  I’m embracing it.

Sometimes it just takes a matter of perspective to see and know what you have in life. Sometimes it takes a change. Sometimes….sometimes, it’s choice. We each have the choice to see what is good and what is loveable in our lives.

There is so much to love about our lives. Do you see it? Are you aware of the good? Or does it pass by unnoticed?

Look for the beauty. Look for the good, the lovely, and the loveable. And you will find it. When you do, you too, can feel nice and toasty inside from knowing you are blessed and you have blessings.

You can feel. Happy.

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