Thursday, May 29, 2014

Do You Ever Feel Bad About What You Say?

Do you ever feel bad about what you say? That “off-handed” comment that possibly hurt someone’s feelings? That, “I’m going to be honest” way of speaking that discounts someone else’s heart, in the process?

I’m just wondering. Do you…. Later on…. Feel it? Do you feel what the other person might have felt while they sat or stood across from you, bearing the weight of your words?

It’s good to be honest. I value it highly. But it’s also good to be gentle and kind. Sometimes, in our quest to say what we think – we trample over someone else’s heart in the process.

Sometimes, we don’t realize how our words affected someone else until later. Maybe we were in a bad mood, tired, or something was bothering us. We said something “off the cuff” that spoke of the emotions going on deep inside of us. But with those words, we cut someone else’s heart. We hurt them.

Does it matter?

Do we care?

And even if it WAS unintentional, what can we do about it after-the-fact?

APOLOGIZE. Yes, I said it. APOLOGIZE.  There might be a slight chance that your words weren’t digested by the other individual at all. They might have understood you were grumpy. They might have waved it off with their hands. But if there’s a chance… any chance at all, that they MIGHT have felt a sting from what you said….  we need to offer an apology so that our words don’t continue to burrow and do more damage over time. Because people tend to ponder, think, and stew over what has been said about them. And the effect, maybe small or non-existent at first, can worsen over time, the more that thought is given to it.

So we need to make things right. We owe it to the relationship, and the person we care about.

I know I would never intentionally hurt someone else
. I would never want something that I said or did to live on and become a wound that affected their life. And if someone has said or done something to me that hurt me? I would want them to acknowledge it and take away the sting instead of leaving it there to fester for whoever-knows-how-long.

Hopefully, we replay what we say to others in our heads and hearts. HOPEFULLY, we have a conscience that understands when we may have stepped out of line. And hopefully, we have enough love, concern, and care in our hearts to make it right.

It’s the least we can do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

After The Storm

I love it when the sun comes out just after a furious and angry storm.  The skies have been darkened, they’ve roared with thunder, dumped stinging rain down, and the winds have beat across the earth.

Then, it’s gone. There is a calm. A peaceful smell to the air. You look outside, and the storm has passed. In its place is a gentle ray of sunshine cracking through the sky.

I love that moment.

It’s as if God is saying, “All is well.”

We may be scared during the storm. We may think its fury will overtake us. But it doesn’t. We make it out to the other side. And it’s beautiful.

Just as in life.

Some storms seem as if they will never move on. They are angry, vindictive, and unmercifully beating down on us. All we can do is hunker down.

And then they are gone. And we realize that we are safe. We made it through.

The air smells fresher. The sky seems brighter. We stand a little taller.

And we are thankful.

I wish that feeling would last. That knowledge would take root. For it’s in those moments that we see life a little more clearly. Our priorities come into a little better focus.

We need storms. We need them to wash us clean. Shake us up a little. Sift out the bad. And remind us. Remind us of what truly matters.

We are small, but He is big.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


We sit in an empty room when our children leave home. Alone.

We think a million thoughts and feel a million things in our heart – alone. No one sees what lies inside.

No one can see through our eyes, speak with our lips, or hear with our ears.

No one can die with us. We do that alone.

And we stand before God. Alone.

Alone we choose to love Him and serve Him, or reject Him.

Alone we decide to be honest or deceitful. We decide how to use our words and who to love.

Women give birth, alone. No one else can deliver that child – sure they can help, but it lies inside of her and her alone.

God works in our “alone” moments. He uses those times to whisper, shout, or touch us in some way. He watches and He waits for us to call on Him, think of Him, love Him.

He is there to hold us when we cry alone. He is there to encourage us, when we despair alone. And He is there to rescue us, when we feel weak, tired, and spent on our own strength.

God speaks to us personally, intimately, and only for our ears and hearts to know.


Him and us.

Connection. Do you feel it? Do you see it?

He chose you alone. He died for you. Alone.

Powerful choices are made in those ‘alone’ moments. Never underestimate their lasting effects and influence.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

I Have Changed

I am the same. I’m the same person inside. I have the same passionate heart to help others, the same desire to empathize and put myself in someone else’s shoes, the same ability to dream, laugh, love. Just as when I was a little girl.

Yet, I am different. I am new. Changed. Molded. Shaped by life. I don’t trust quite as easily as I used to – due to being hurt one too many times. I am wiser (hopefully.) More knowledgeable. And I’ve added things to my heart, my character, my personality.

My values and morals are the same. Stronger, maybe. But I am changed. And I am changing – even today.

Everything I go through in life changes me. Having babies. Being a stepmom. Becoming a grandma. Being married. Traveling. Writing. Moving states. Leading. Following. Being sick and being well. Walking through tragedy both myself and with those I care about. It all impacts me.

And I love that about life. I love that about me. I love who I’m becoming. I love that God can still teach me something new. That He can still reach my heart right where I’m at. I love that He never gets old.

I love that I feel like an old soul on some days, and a young teenager on others.

I AM changed. I’m not the same girl that I used to be. I miss parts of her. The parts that were innocent, and ready to take on the world. Other parts of that little girl, I’m happy to grow, enhance, and strengthen. But she still lives on in me. She is still a part of me. Always.

So when I meet up with people who I used to know a long time ago; I can say, “I’m still the same me.” And I am. But then again, I’m not. I’m more. I’ve been hurt more. Loved more. Learned more. And I’ve lived more.

I have changed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Schedule and Routine Have Their Place

In the last year or two, I’ve learned more and more how to not be a slave to my schedule. You see, I’m a very organized person and I don’t always like “spontaneous.” Which seems ironic since I married a spontaneous spouse. But no, I like things planned out and well-thought out.  I like to know what to expect and how to prepare. Which is okay for the most part. That’s how God created me after all.

I began to see a problem in my own life when I wasn’t able to be flexible to things that came along. Life IS spontaneous. You can’t plan for that late-night hospital visit or the friends who invite you out after church.  I was getting too stressed when things would change. I believe that if and when possible, everyone should plan ahead. It’s easier on everyone involved and helps no one feel overwhelmed. But when things can’t be planned out or the unexpected happens, I think we need to learn to drop our schedules and “go with the flow.”

Someone made the comment to me once that Jesus was always interrupted when He was on earth. I had never really given that matter much thought, but when I did, I found out that they were absolutely correct! He was constantly interrupted and He handled it with love and grace. Sure, there were times where He needed to get away to rest and pray because He was tired. As should we. But on the whole? On the whole, He welcomed others because He loved them.

I think we need to be careful when our schedules and our routines become like a god in our lives. We become a slave to them where everything is rigid and structured. We can’t deviate from the “plan.” I think that should set off red flags and alarm bells because there is so much in life that is unstructured and unplanned. You just can’t always prepare for it. In fact, I’ve often found that God works best in the unplanned. I think my God is a God of adventure. He loves to take us by surprise at times because maybe He knows if we knew what was coming we would either run or come up with all sorts of responses and excuses. No, He often likes to throw things at us because that’s the only way sometimes that we will learn, grow, lean on Him, or take a risk that will change our life or someone else’s.

I don’t want my life to become about rules, regulation, have to’s, and must’s. No, that would limit my life and how I allowed God to work in it. Instead, I want to do the best I can with my time and what I’ve been given. Then, when the unexpected happens, I want to be as flexible as possible with the situation. There would be so many blessings, lessons, and memories lost if I had shut these out of my life altogether in the name of “routine” and “schedule.”

I still like to have a daily routine. But I’ve learned that routine has its place. And I try to keep it there. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

10 Ways To Truly Enjoy Life

1.     Enjoy that dessert. You don’t have to have 2 cookies – but you can totally enjoy one. You don’t have to have a huge piece of pie or cake, but a small slice hits the spot. And yes, every once in awhile when it’s something that is one of your favorite sweet delights – eat the big piece.

2.     Laugh. Laugh often. Smile. When life gets a little stretched and ridiculous – laugh about the craziness of it all. It will help you relax and put it all in focus.

3.     Make time for what you love. If you love to sew, make time for it. Take pictures? Make time for it. Don’t decide you’ll “get to it” after other things. Make your joys a priority.

4.     Give. Give something to someone else. It feels good. And give often.

5.     Be content with what you have. That small television is good enough. You don’t really need the big one. And the out-of-date washer and dryer? If they are still running well and getting the job done, you are blessed. A content heart is a joyful heart.

6.     Love. Love freely. Love on strangers and love on familiar faces. Touch them, hug them, love on them.  Love is like a yo-yo. What you give, also comes back to you.

7.     Remember to live life like a child. Dance. Play games. Jump on leaves. Get lost in a book for hours. Put off the chores. Ask questions.  Forgive easily.

8.     Let it go. Let that grievance go. Let that stupid driver go. Let the unkind remarks go. Just let it go.

9.     Do things. Go to the local fair. Fly to another city or a distant land. Take a class. Go to lunch with a friend. Become a volunteer. Do things frequently. It gets you out of the house and into the world. It gets you out of your own world and into someone else’s….

10. Obey the Lord. His laws are for our freedom not to give us chains.  They spare us from heartache and pain. They provide guidance and they give us focus.

These are just a few things that can help you live a more enjoyable life. What would you add to the list?

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Expecting Too Much Out of a Moment

Sometimes our expectations are too high.  It’s easy to do. We want our child to win that solo audition, or we give our husband something that we feel is extremely special – only to find him casually smile and say “thank you” instead of exclaiming and jumping to his feet to hug us for our efforts.

There are so many special moments and occasions in a woman’s heart.  We tend to put high expectations on what the outcomes should be at those times.  But that kind of expectation can put the other individual in a “box” – whether it’s our child, spouse, or even a friend.

You see, just because someone doesn’t act or respond how we feel that they should, doesn’t mean that that moment or occasion didn’t mean something to them.  We all express and feel things differently.  Some people feel more comfortable embracing something privately and quietly, while others can be very verbal and emotional.

We just need to remember and remind ourselves that the power of a moment can be felt in all sorts of degrees and variations.  So try not to feel hurt if someone felt something differently than you’d imagined they would.  Let the moment “be” what it’s intended to be and it will have the potential of being just as special as you’d hoped it would be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Soaking In the Moments

Those moments. You know those moments when they come. They are the moments when you stop what you are doing and take in your life and loved ones. You fully engage in the moment and you smile. You are happy. You are blessed. And you know it. You feel it.

Maybe it’s laying in bed and hearing your teen singing or playing a musical instrument from their room. Maybe it’s hearing your children giggle, laugh, and enjoy each other. Or maybe it’s when one of them is feeling hurt or wounded, and the other one reaches out to them in love.

Sometimes the moment comes amidst activity. You listen to the sounds in your house and they make you happy for you know one day it will be all too quiet.  Maybe it comes in the form of realizing how endearing an action or habit is of someone in your home. You wouldn’t have them any other way.

I love those moments. I love it when I can “still” myself long enough to realize how much I truly love those moments and things about the people I cherish. I often close my eyes and just soak them in.

Oh if we could engage in those moments more often! Those things we often overlook or ignore are often the very things we will one day miss. 

I love to walk by my youngest daughter’s room and see the mess on her desk. For it signals that she has been feverishly and creatively working on something. I love hearing my oldest daughter sing while she is in the shower. I love hearing my husband run up and wrestle with the girls and invite them in to a time of bonding through laughter.  I love hearing both of my girls rock out to their favorite tunes in the car or just “hearing” them around me at home. I’m so glad they are here.

These are the moments I treasure. And there are so many more. So many little things that I cling to. That I love.

I hate that life often lures me away from noticing. From relishing. From smiling and loving. And I’m so thankful that God often draws me back to what my heart craves the most. Those special and unique things that radiate from those who I love the most in this world.

Monday, May 12, 2014

People Are Looking For Something Positive

Negativity. It permeates the very air that we breathe. Our world, maybe in an attempt to buffer itself from hurts and wounds, has gotten a colder heart.

You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it and experienced it.

You get that job promotion and instead of a “congratulations,” someone has to say something trite about how hard they’ve worked and they wish THEY’D get a promotion.

Sucks the air out of your fun, sometimes.

Whatever excitement we are feeling, whatever milestone we have reached, someone, somewhere isn’t going to be feeling it like we are. They are going to HAVE to comment on our new haircut that they don’t quite like, the money they feel we overspent on something, the gift they think we DON’T deserve…. And on it goes.

Where is the encouragement? Where is the love? Where is the positive?

I think people are longing for affirming words in their lives. They are hungering for hope. They want to know they are understood and heard.  They want to feel valued and loved for who they are and what is important to them in life.

As they should.  As WE should.

Saying something positive isn’t hard.  “Cute shirt!” Two words. Instead of saying, “Wish you would have bought ME something!” Negative words that totally change the atmosphere of a relationship and bring the “awkward” with it.

“I’m happy for you.” Can we be? Can we truly be happy for someone else? We can be! Even if we still have dreams and wishes for ourselves, we can be happy for someone else, because that’s what love does.

If we could but change our words into positives instead of negatives, I think we would feel better about ourselves and the recipient of those words would feel better, as well. 

What we long for, we should give to others. I know I sure long for positive encouragement in my life, so I try to give it to those I come across.

How about you?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

When You Think of Me, Pray For Me

We all go through hard seasons in life. Those days that are especially challenging and draining. Whether it’s a spiritual or physical battle… these seasons wear us down. It is in those times that we often really rely on the support and prayers of others to get us through.

But, there are other times in life. Times in life, when maybe nothing is really wrong, per say, but we just have a lot on our minds. You could say that we have a lot to pray about. Maybe it’s a family member or a loved one going through something, maybe we are waiting for God to answer a prayer request and although we are safe, unharmed, and life may be going fairly well…this request still ways on our hearts. Sometimes, our plates just get really full and we could use an emotional break. We feel the tidal wave sweeping over us and we know something needs to give before we either get sick, or blow a fuse.

But, we are still physically well. Our marital relationship is fine and we are not currently having any huge arguments or heated debates with our kids.

Life on the outside is fine. But on the inside, we could really use some encouragement and prayer.

No one else may know that we are feeling weighed down on the inside with all our thoughts and prayer requests. No one else may understand why we are beginning to feel emotionally taxed with all that we are having to deal with. But it’s still there. It’s still happening, and we could still use a lift.

It’s in these times that we can pray for one another. We may not know what is going on in their hearts and minds, but if they come to OUR mind… we can pray for them. It may not be a life-threatening situation they are in. There may be no real “crisis”…. But they still may be going through something that is important to them.

So often, someone else comes to my mind. I wonder why. I may not have thought of this person for a long time. I may not have seen them for a long time. Yet, in my thoughts, they are there. And I know God often does that to help us keep one another strong. He does it, to encourage us to take just a moment to say a prayer for each other.  But how often, do we wave those thoughts away and continue on with our days?  How often do we “intend” to write or call to check in with someone else when we feel God may have placed them on our hearts? And more than that, how often when we DO pray for someone else, do we let them know?

I know that I have been so touched and encouraged when someone has let me know they said a prayer for me. I have felt cared for and I have felt protected by God. We can let God use us in the same powerful way in someone else’s life.

We can love on each other, protect each other, encourage one another, and even spur on God’s movement in someone else’s life… by our prayers.

Let’s not pass that up.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pay Attention To Me

Sometimes my sweet cat bugs me for attention. If I’m in bed, looking at my phone or my computer, she will walk over my chest between me and the electronic device.

If I’m doing my Bible study on the floor or folding laundry, she will plant herself right on the book or the towels – so that I cannot ignore her.

And as I type this on my desktop, she is stretching up off the floor and placing her paw on my elbow and leg.

“Pay attention to me!”

Sometimes I wonder how much attention she needs. I feel like I pet her, love on her, feed her, and tend to her basic needs. But she acts as if she doesn’t get enough. She needs more. And then I think about how much I pay attention to other things in my life, compared to her. Obviously, my children get more attention. My husband gets more attention. The show I’m watching, the food I’m cooking – they all take my attention away from her.

And I think about my Lord and how many things take my attention away from Him. How, just like my sweet cat; God tries to come between me, and the busyness of my life.  Maybe He comes in the form of a storm to hinder my plans; or He cancels a lunch date with a friend. Sometimes, God may take something away from me all together. A car. A computer that dies. A phone that cracks. Sometimes, God may allow me to get sick so that I cannot “do” and “be” and “go” all the time.

He says, “Pay attention to me.”

Pay attention TO ME.

I may think, “But, God, I had devotions this morning. Or I prayed to you at lunch. I went to Bible Study or church last week.” But in comparison to the rest of my life? He’s not getting as much attention or devotion.

I want God to be my priority. I want to think of Him in all I do. Speak to Him, everywhere I go. Love Him with all I am.  I want it to be a fluid relationship. An easy one. Never forced or done out of obligation.

So He can feel my love. KNOW my love. So He doesn’t have to tap me on the shoulder, or disrupt what I’m doing to get my attention.

Pay attention. Learn. Know. Seek. Love. And be loved in return.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Online Vs. Real Life Living

We read so much about others, anymore.

You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. Everywhere we go, people are scrolling on their smart phones. At their child’s basketball game, while waiting for a haircut, while waiting for church to start! It’s everywhere.  And most of the time – we are reading about others.

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Tumblr. News. Email.  We’ve become “scanners.” Our eyes scan up and down feeds; waiting and stopping only on that picture or words that catch our eyes and heart.

Why are we so interested in others? Do we think their lives are more beautiful than ours? More mysterious? More “happening?” Or are we actively engaged in loving them, cheering them on in their milestones, and crying with them over their missteps and tragedies?

There is a wonderful thing about online social life; it can bring people closer together. It can quick-start a conversation when you see someone in real life, because of something you saw or read about. It can reunite. But there is also a real danger involved in reading and watching the lives of others all the time.  We can feel like we fall short. We can lose our desire to speak and communicate and grow in real life – instead relying on the harbor and shelter a screen can give us from the fear of rejection.

The thing about online life and real life? There needs to be a balance.  Enjoy following and hearing about the things in other people’s lives online. Let those things inspire and motivate you. Never let them make you feel “less than” or “boring.” Everyone has boring days and not-so-glamorous days and those are the ones we fail to share. It’s always good to remember that. And in the process of enjoying the facet of online life; don’t forget to live “real life.”  Meet new people. Talk. Communicate. Hug. Connect. Love and be loved. This is the real outlet where your heart will get filled and fill the heart of others as well!

It’s too easy to lose sight of reality when we see things in print that only tell a part of a story.  Words on a screen can be only a sentence or a paragraph long, but real life can speak volumes.  Blend both into your heart so you can stay focused on your priorities, values, and self-worth. You don’t have to give up one or the other – just keep them in check.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Preparing Yourself To Let Go of Your Children

When is it that you begin to let go as a parent? When is that crucial pivotal moment in time, where you just know the “letting go” process has begun?

Is it when you first send your child off to kindergarten?

Is it when they have their first sleepover?

Is it when they become a teen? Or when they begin high school?

Is it when they go out on their first date? How about when they first begin to drive?

Each one is a transition. Each one is a step in the process of letting our children go. Trusting that what we have taught them has sunk in and that they will use their heads, be wise, discerning, and responsible. Each one is a test – in a way – for them and for us.

Some parents rejoice at each transition. They embrace the extra freedom that comes their way. And the independence that your child sets out on also comes to us, as parents. Once again we can reclaim some of what has been lost in the child rearing years. We can reclaim our own life, dreams, desires; a little bit again.

But each one also brings bitterness and pain. For me, I cried when my children went off to kindergarten. I missed them. I knew that that was the beginning of me no longer being the “great” one person they adored in their life. They would start to question my views, my thoughts, and even get irritated with me at times as they grew.

True growing pains.

Then when driving came into the picture, my heart about broke.  I was so excited to see my daughter’s enthusiasm and excitement. I rejoiced with her at this milestone in her life. But inwardly, I knew. I knew there was now something new to worry about for her. And more than that, I knew this step – maybe more than any other was the catalyst in me having to let her go. And that was painful for me.

Our whole lives as parents - our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. To love and devote ourselves so wholeheartedly and entirely to our children, that they can successfully leave and separate from us at the right time. LEAVE AND SEPARATE FROM US.

I just don’t always want that.

I am so thankful my children seem to have good heads on their shoulders. I admire their intellect and trust they will be responsible young adults. But with each separating event, I miss them. I miss their presence in my life. Their dependence on me. Their beautiful faces are seen a little bit less.

But that is the circle of life. And I have to trust in their love for me. That they will still want to involve me in their lives as they move on from being dependents to independents. That we can become friends and I can become more a confidant instead of an authoritarian. That I will be sought after and welcome to share in their joys and sorrows.  That is my goal.

Yes, our children were meant to leave us. And after I have a good cry, I can rejoice in their excitement over heading out into their life.  But their footprints will never leave my heart and soul. And I will never not miss having them around me constantly.

For that is the heart of a parent.