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.