Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do You Ever Wish, You Could Help The Whole World?

Do you ever just wish you could help the whole world? That you could help every child who cries, or every person who doesn’t know what it feels like to be loved?

Sometimes, I wish that. I wish that I could help everyone.

I wish that I could give self-esteem, to that teen who doesn’t have it. That teen girl, who looks for value in makeup, hairstyles, beauty, and relationships. Or that teen boy who thinks he has to have a 6 pack of abs, and a beauty on his arm. I wish I could show them that high school doesn’t last forever. That beauty and image are hollow things to fill their hearts with.

I wish I could hug that person who has tears streaming down their face, as they are thinking about trying to kill themselves. Or the person who has no tears at all, because they don’t want to feel. They don’t want to hurt. So they are numb.

I wish I had enough money to help all the Third World countries so that no child would ever starve again, and no mother would have to stand by and helplessly watch.

Oh, how I wish.

Life can feel so helpless at times. The obstacles can seem so overwhelming.

But, I refuse to feel helpless.  Convicted, yes. Saddened, definitely. Empathy, totally. But, I refuse to feel helpless.

Recently, I scrolled through post after post on twitter, of teens who mentioned being depressed, discouraged, and struggling with their self esteem. It may have been something small – but I decided to start replying to some of them and encouraging them. Maybe I’m the only one who will choose to speak to them in their moment of pain - I don’t know. But I refuse to stand by. I refuse to know someone is struggling, and do nothing about it.

There are so many heartbroken people out there. So many, who struggle with their own image. They need love. They need encouragement. They need to feel like they are heard, and that they matter.

I may not be able to help the whole world – but maybe, I can help just one.

For today.

And then maybe tomorrow, I can help another one.

It’s a start.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

There Will Always Be Critics

There are moments in life where we all feel like we just can’t seem to please anyone. It’s as if we are blasted from every side no matter what decision we make. 

We’ve all been there.

Those moments in time, hopefully, have taught me a thing or two.  The biggest thing I think I’ve learned from those “you can’t please anyone” moments are, that there will always be critics in your life.  If you achieve something you’ve worked hard for, there will be those who are jealous and feel like you are “lucky” or you don’t understand what being in their shoes is like. There are others who will deem you lazy or who think you lack perseverance, if you never achieve what you aim for.

It’s that way with almost everything in life.  There are those who won’t cheer you on no matter what you do. They may be jealous. They may be hurting inside and can’t come to a point where they can enjoy seeing you happy. They may be lonely. They may simply not understand.

Critics can hurt. Words do hurt and actions do hurt. So when someone criticizes you for something you’ve done, it’s normal to feel the sting of it. The thing is, we can’t let the sting stay with us for very long.

It has to be enough for us, that we know inside of our hearts that we are on the right path in our life. We have to know that we’ve prayed, sought God’s guidance, used the best wisdom, discernment, generosity (whatever the situation calls for) – that we can. We have to know that we are right with God. And that has to be enough for us. For the critics will shout, they will point, and they will glare at us no matter what.

Don’t let them win. Don’t let them steal your joy or your passion. Pray for them and then take their condemning voices out of your head.

God said we would be persecuted. It’s a given. So when the critics are aimed in your direction, just know that it’s a part of living the Christian life and walking the Christian walk. Stay humble, stay kind, and let God deal with the rest.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Ordinary - Can Become The Treasured

Sometimes in the routine and hustle of life, we can miss the ordinary, common moments that will be so special in our hearts and minds for years to come.

My daughter was singing in the bathroom recently, before school, and I thought about how I’m going to miss hearing that singing in the mornings the day when she leaves home.  It’s something I’ve enjoyed for years, but never gave a lot of thought to how something so regular, would become something so treasured, down the line.

I can honestly say that I think I will feel the same way about my other daughter’s messy room. It already makes me smile instead of scowl, like it used to. She is my “creative–messy,” - that one. I know one day, that room will be spotless…. And empty. And I will miss her mess.

Life. It’s what we make of it.  What may seem ordinary, routine, or even an inconvenience at times, can end up becoming something that makes us smile.  For there really is no boring and ordinary life. Life is all a gift. An intricate gift; complex at times, but unique, special, and worth celebrating all the same.

Photography often shows us this special way of looking at something that might otherwise seem mundane. A stunning soft-focused shot through leveler blinds on the window. A pet sleeping on the couch. A steaming cup of hot soup. Dirt-riddled hands and feet on a toddler that has enjoyed play in the out-of-doors.   

Moments. You can almost smell and taste them.

ALL of life is special. All of life is a gift.

Please don’t ever take it for granted. Not the slow moments, the quiet ones, or the ones filled with noise and hustle-and-bustle. It all carries with it, its’ own beauty.

Beauty of life.

Monday, May 18, 2015

You Have To Understand, That No One May Understand

A husband can always think that he works harder than his wife. The wife on the other hand, will never be convinced that her job is not harder than her husband’s.

A military wife deals with her husband being gone for extended durations at a time. She will never understand how another wife can get so scared and weak, when her husband goes out of town for just two nights.

They are differences of perspective, to be sure. And life is full of them. Someone will always feel one way, while someone else will come along and challenge those very feelings that they, themselves, have conquered or endured on a greater scale.

Neither person is right or wrong. We are all simply living different lives on different scales. We all have different pressure points that are weaknesses for us. God made some of us to be tougher, and others of us to be softer. Both are beautiful in their ability to handle the life they’ve been given.

The thing is, it doesn’t help us when we are the ones going through something and we feel like our feelings are cast aside, laughed at (possibly), or ignored.  We want to feel validated. Listened to. Helped!

You have to understand, that there are some times in life, where no one may understand. Ever.

I know. It stinks. But there are just some things in life where it seems we are meant to go through them, alone. Only with our feelings, thoughts, and our God. And somehow, we have to reconcile with them.

It is good, to see what others have been able to handle. It shows us we have the ability to be stronger and tougher than we thought we could be. It’s also good to learn to be empathetic to someone else’s position and point of view – even if we feel they should handle it better. We are not them. We don’t live with their struggles – so how can we possibly ridicule someone for not being like us?

It is true. There will be times where it seems as if no one in the world understands us. (As a reminder, our God does. And He’s with us in those times.)  During these moments and challenging seasons, try to think of how you will navigate what you’re going through, if there is no one who will ever understand. Will it change your feelings? Will it impact your choices and actions?

Sometimes the times where I’ve gained the most strength, are the times where I’ve decided for myself that it doesn’t matter if no one else understands. I UNDERSTAND. And I’m committed to my viewpoint. Sure, it would be encouraging to get the affirmation of those around me – but it may not come. And if I can understand this and make some choices that will help me help myself, then that’s what I must do.

People will let us down. They will disappoint. But we can always learn how to take care of our own emotions and feelings by setting boundaries in our lives, being proactive with certain choices and decisions, and finding ways to encourage ourselves and help keep us going.

My friend, I wish with all my heart that someone would understand your feelings. But they may not. And they may not understand me. That doesn’t mean they are right and you are wrong or vice versa. It simply means they don’t walk in your shoes and see things from where you are standing.

Hang in there. Keep seeking God’s wisdom and guidance. And use this time to remind yourself to offer understanding to someone else when they seek it. For you will then know, what it’s like to stand in the shoes of the misunderstood.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

When We Are Too Comfortable in the "Wait"

Sometimes, there just needs to be a change. An “action point” that needs to happen in a life. There are moments in time where there should be no more planning, no more thinking and stewing, no more putting things off…. But a time to make a choice.

We can get so caught up in what we want, that we end up wasting time hoping for perfect answers. We often know where we will end up, where we SHOULD end up, but we don’t want to see reality. We don’t want to acknowledge that that’s the path we need to go on.

We are too comfortable in the “wait.”

For most people, the “wait” can seem like an eternity. We grow impatient and we feel like answers will never come. But for others of us, the “wait” becomes a friend. We kind of grow to like it there and we feel happy. We don’t really want the work that we know is coming our way. We don’t welcome the stretching, molding, and pulling that we know will happen when we have to go to the other side of the “wait.” We just kind of would rather sit in the middle. Happily.

But that’s ignoring reality.  We can’t expect to be treated like an adult, yet still want the privileges and lack of responsibility that a child has. We can’t rely on others to support us and carry us along in life. We need to pick up the slack, find our own way and course, and become a responsible and independent person. Whether that is about moving on after college, after a failed relationship, through a change in careers, or whatever.

We need to move on to something. Something positive that will move us forward. Grow us.

When we sit in the “wait” of life, we waste time, and we waste opportunities. Both of which are priceless.

God DOES work in situations. He does prepare people and situations for us. But we also need to do our part and get our feet moving.

Make that choice. Move forward. It’s the biggest favor you can give yourself.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Remember, Often

I like to remember things in my past – often. I like to play them over in my head and in my heart. Not because they were more meaningful than my today, but because they helped form, shape, and mold, MY today. They helped form and shape ME!

I continue to move on in life. Hopefully grow and better myself along the way. But I take the memories of yesterday along with me. I unpack them from time to time, to remind myself of several things.

1.     I choose to remember, often, what my God has done for me. He is SO faithful. He has answered so many prayer requests. Loved me through so many challenges and mistakes. Given me strength when I felt so weak and given me peace when I felt in turmoil. He has walked with me, and before me. And I choose to remember, to remind myself to have faith in my today. To know that the same God who was faithful to me yesterday and years ago, will be faithful in my today, as well.

2.     I choose to remember, often, of the love I share with my husband. To remind myself of the man I first fell in love with. The man who thought I was worth fighting for. I like to remember those sparkly, magical feelings of being “in love,” to insert into the ‘many-years-gone-by-familiar-commitment-and-love’ days. When routine and business discussions are common, I choose to remember different days, and moments that I know will come again. They give me hope. They renew my love. They invigorate my commitment.

3.     I choose to remember, often, those special moments in life that made a dent in my heart and soul. These times truly crafted the person and woman I am today. Whether it was the death of a beloved, a priceless moment with my children, or some other monumental moment – I choose to remember the blessings of life. The gifts that I’ve been given. Even through the hard and bad times, these moments are forever etched within me. It would be foolish to forget them – to never learn and grow from them.

4.     I choose to remember, often, with physical reminders and mementos. Material things have their place, but they wrap my home in legacy. Whether it’s pictures, souvenirs from trips, or special gifts given in love – I choose to remember by hanging onto them and keeping them where I can see them often.

Life is a gift. ALL of life. The good and the bad. I think it’s important to remember it, often. As you get older, there is more of life to remember. It’s ok to revisit it. Laugh again, cry again, and ponder.

Let those yesterdays do the work in you that they were meant to do.

Remember, often. And let those memories complete the picture of who you are, WHY you are, where you come from, and what you’re going to do with what you’ve been given.

Our memories are personal. And they are there to be enjoyed. You only get one life. Remember it well.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Stopping Emotions From Becoming Tornadoes

A woman’s emotions. Those emotions that fuel our decisions, choices, and attitudes on any given day.

Those same emotions don’t just affect the choices we make, but they affect our whole family.

Storms and tirades of anger spewed out – radiate throughout our home and land on our precious loved children at times.  Feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, depression, or discouragement rake through as well.

It can be so hard to contain those feelings… those emotions that surge through us.

I don’t know about you, but I feel horrible anytime I look at the aftermath of a ‘lost’ emotion going astray and having its way on my kids or my spouse. But “after” is always too late to do something about it. If only I could have controlled myself in the process!

How can we keep our attitudes in check? How can we spare our families’ the pain of being in our warpath, at the wrong time or place?

There are many ways you can motivate and inspire yourself. There are things you CAN do to set boundaries up ahead of time, to keep you on a more ‘level’ path, so that you don’t explode.

~ You can put inspirational quotes, thoughts, or scripture verses up and around the house where you see them. If anger is an issue, put a verse near your kitchen sink or bathroom mirror that speaks specifically on holding the tongue. Find verses or quotes that speak specifically to the emotion you are struggling with. (Hobby Lobby has great quotes on metal that you can purchase for $10 or less and place in your home as encouragement).

~ Have your family members or good friends gently give you a signal when they sense you are getting a little edgy. Maybe “dad” needs to step in and take over for you at bedtime with the kiddos. Maybe it’s a hug given for no reason – but bring them in on things and allow them to step through the process with you.

~ Pray! Pray together with your husband. With your kids. Pray on your knees, or while you shower or wash the dishes. Pray. Pray often.

~Join a Bible Study or small group. Sometimes having a ‘commitment’ that forces you to have some quiet time, or an outlet to share your feelings is truly all that is needed. It’s like letting that boiling steam out of the kettle. It’s an outlet.

~ Get more rest. Set your alarm while the kids are at school and take a short nap. Go to bed early, if possible, or sleep in later on the weekend while your spouse tends to the morning routine. Rest is vital in maintaining focus.

~ Go on a walk. Go with your spouse, or take your whole family. The little ones can ride in the stroller and bigger ones can walk or take their bikes. But there is something about being out in the fresh air, while exercising, that breathes much needed calmness into the brain.

Whatever tactic you use to guide you and to help you balance your emotions – let it be something that encourages you and inspires you as you learn to change your emotional habits.

Being a mom is grueling at times - with no escape or breaks.  Finding a system to help you process anger, frustration, or stress, is not just smart, but it will be a lifesaver to you during the extra difficult times. You will find you’re able to handle things more how you’d like to handle them – instead of letting your emotions take over all of the time.

Emotions aren’t bad. They are just signals that something is going on a little bit deeper. Listen to those signals and tame the tornado that can devastate a precious heart – without you even meaning to let it happen.