Friday, November 27, 2015

10 Ways to Truly Enjoy Life

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 And the out-of-date washer and dryer?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?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Not Enough of Me, To Go Around

Some days it just seems like there’s not enough of “me” to go around.

I love to love on others. I try to always give my best and BE my best. But there are just some seasons where I feel like I’m always letting someone down. I feel like there’s not enough hours in the day to do what I need to do, be who I want to be, love on who I want to love on.

And I hate that.

I hate feeling like I need to have two of “me.” I hate feeling behind on things. And if I don’t feel behind on things, I feel behind on taking care of myself and my own emotions and needs.

I’m learning, though. I’m learning that there will never be enough of me to go around. I’m learning that I WILL always disappoint someone – and sometimes, that someone will be ME. Sometimes it will be important to put someone else’s needs and soul ahead of my own. But I need to be aware and recognize, when it’s time to tend to myself. For I can’t give anyone anything, if I’m not giving myself some love too.

I still get a little stressed in these seasons. I want there to be enough of me to go around. But most of the time, I’m learning to make peace with it. I do what I can do. Give what I can give. And be the best me that I can be. Even if that’s not enough for others.

It’s the best I can do. The best I can be. And that has to be enough.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It Wasn't a Gift I Wanted

We’ve all gotten those gifts that we don’t like. Maybe we found the gift ugly, it didn’t fit our personality, we couldn’t use it, or we already had one. The reasons are as varied as gifts themselves. Regardless, it can be an awkward situation to be in.

I have seen people react in many different ways when they receive something they don’t want or need. I’ve seen people blatantly tell the giver they already have one. I’ve seen people comment openly about not being sure what to do with it, and I’ve seen people be gracious and not say anything at all about what they are truly feeling.

I’ve gotten gifts that I don’t really want. I’ve given gifts to people that I end up seeing that THEY don’t really want! Neither is fun. But I think how you handle the situation is more important than the gift itself – for it shows how much you care about the other person and your relationship.

I, for one, HATE, HATE, HATE returning things. So I will avoid returning gifts to a store if at all possible. I usually try to find some way of using the gift if I can. If it’s just really not “me” at all, yes, I have “regifted” something to someone else before. I don’t think that’s a wrong thing to do.  You see, when someone gives a gift, they are giving you love. It is a blessing for them to give, and a blessing for you to receive. They still receive that blessing if I graciously accept the gift. If I refuse it, or reject it in any way, they DON’T receive that blessing! So, if I later “regift” something that is perfectly new and will bring joy to someone else – I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. As long as the giver is not notified so that they still reap the benefit of being a blessing to me.  I never want to hurt someone else’s feelings!

I’ve had a gift returned to me before. Someone couldn’t use something and they wanted me to be able to give it to someone else who could use it more than they. It stole the blessing I was trying to give to them. I would much rather have had them say a polite ‘thank you,’ and give it as a gift to someone else down the road than to return it to me. For it felt rejected. My efforts felt rejected. And that is never fun.

We need to see past the gifts sometimes into the efforts that someone made to give the gift. It is the effort that is the most important! It truly is the thought that counts, and some people put great, great thought into their gifts. You can feel it. You know it. And it means a great deal and shows how much care they put into giving you a gift of happiness.

Gifts aren’t just “things.” They are pieces of someone’s heart. Take great care when you give one – and when you receive one. For a piece of someone’s heart should always be held with appreciation and love.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

5 Ways To Improve Your Marriage

There are so many tips and ideas for improving a marriage. These are just a few ideas I’ve learned from my own 21 year marriage, as well as observing the marriages of those around me.

1.    Don’t criticize your spouse. ESPECIALLY in public.

Criticizing is a harmful cycle to get into. When we criticize, it usually ends up backlashing on us, instead of doing the thing we intended it to do – getting our partner to acknowledge or change a pattern or behavior.  It’s especially embarrassing when I witness one spouse criticize the other in public. I can only imagine how embarrassing it is for that individual, as well!

When we criticize, it creates hurt feelings. Our spouse will have a sour taste in their mouth for us, instead of focusing on the true issue at hand.

2.    Don’t forget small kindnesses.

The longer you’ve been married, the more comfortable you get with one another. Comfort is good, but not so much comfort that you forget what it’s like to tend to one another. Remember when you were dating and you met each other’s needs and did little things for each other? Those gestures go a long way in a marriage. If one spouse is especially tired or needs encouragement, leave them a special note in a hidden spot where they will find it. Do a chore for them, “Just because” they always do it! Think about how nice it would be to go and do something you always do, only to find it already done! Small kindnesses are so inexpensive and easy to do. Their lasting effects on a marriage can not be overemphasized enough.

3.    Forgive and swallow your pride.

Swallowing our pride is a hard, hard thing. But we can’t move forward in our marriages without sometimes swallowing that thing down – no matter how much it hurts. Forgiving and swallowing pride allow room for error. And we all make errors! They allow room for growth. They force us to become more humble and generous.  Marriage should be teamwork. So if your spouse wins at something, you win too. And vice versa. It should be a “win-win” for both partners as they seek to put each other first.

4.    All marriages have bad seasons.

There will be ups and downs in your marriage walk together. You will be “in sync” and “out of sync” with each other. You will want different things at times. It’s normal and it’s natural.  Just because these things happen, don’t panic! They don’t mean you’re headed for a divorce. These are just times you need to work through as a couple. Acknowledge them.  Sometimes the only thing you can do, is promise your spouse you will keep trying to be on the same page as them. Then, you continue to be committed to one another until something clicks and the bad season fades away. It’s a cycle. Because we are human, we all stretch and grow. So do marriages.

5.    Pray.

There may be no greater gift that you can give your spouse than prayer. Sometimes we need to fight for someone we love, when they can’t fight for themselves. Prayer does this.   There may be issues that you aren’t ready to discuss with your spouse, but you can discuss with the Lord. God can prepare your heart (or theirs). He can protect them, give them wisdom, guidance, encouragement…. So many, many things! Prayer can improve your marriage in mighty, mighty ways.

I believe that marriages make us better people. We have to adapt, stretch, grow, be selfless, and I also think they make us healthier people because of that love and accountability we have with our spouse.

The grass is always greener where you water it. So if you want to improve your marriage (and every marriage can always improve), never stop watering. Continue to look for ways to better yourself personally, as well as a couple. 

There is no investment that is greater than family.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When We Give In

I can be a very stubborn person. I don’t like to “give in” if I feel very strongly about my stance, view, or position on something. But over time, I’ve been learning a few very important lessons about “giving in.”

“Giving In” doesn’t necessarily mean I was wrong and the other person was right. Sometimes, it means that I value the relationship more than I value my position of having to feel and “be” right.  It may mean I’m choosing to pick my battles and this particular one wasn’t as hefty as I know some others might be. But it doesn’t mean I was wrong.

“Giving In” doesn’t mean that I’m weak. Like I said, I can be stubborn. I can hold onto my pride if I feel I might be embarrassed, humiliated, or look foolish.  So at times, “giving in” can be the last thing I want to do. But sometimes you have to “give in” for the sake of sanity. For the sake of your emotional and physical well-being. For the sake of relationships.  You have to choose your priorities. I need to realize that I can swallow my pride more easily, than I can repair a broken relationship. I’m learning, that it takes greater strength to “give in,” at times, than it does to hold my ground. Holding our ground can be easy; but to make a choice we wouldn’t prefer or would rather not do? That takes greater strength. And greater love.

“Giving In’ doesn’t mean I’m giving up.  It means I value something greater.  Of course not every situation should demand that I “give up.” If something is morally or legally wrong, I should always stand firm in what I value and believe. If someone could be in danger? Never “give in” to hiding it.  But normally, life asks me to “give in” on a smaller scale. Those issues may be very important to me, but are not life-altering for someone.

We dig our feet in so many times, in life. We can be selfish and stubborn in the quest for someone to simply acknowledge “we were right.” But in the end, “rightness” doesn’t always win. Sometimes you have to let something go, for the ability to simply be able, to move on in life. To get past it and to grow.

You can still be strong. You can still be compassionate. You can still be “right.” But by “giving in,” you can now, also, move forward. And sometimes, that is what is needed the most.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

We Get Hung Up On the "But's...."

We are “hard-to-please” people.  We desire, wish for, and want things in our lives. But then when we get them, they often don’t seem to be perfect for us. They should have come sooner, lasted longer, had different people involved in them.

We get hung up on the “but’s.”

“But…. God, if only I would have moved here 3 years ago!”

“But…. I had to give up this, in order to get that.”

“But… didn’t last long enough.”

We are thankful, BUT, not thankful enough.

We are happy, BUT, not happy enough.

There is always something missing. Something “more” we wish would have been added to the picture.

It’s not enough for us, that we get answers to prayer, because they don’t measure up to what our expectations of them were.

Oh, how ungrateful, and how unthankful we can be!

I’ve caught myself, many times, saying, “But….” And yes, I did feel the feelings and thoughts of those very “but’s.” I do wish some things were different. Stronger. Longer. Gentler. More beautiful.  But I do not want to diminish the gift they already are! I do not want to think so much on what didn’t come with my answered prayer, that I fail to see what did!

A “but,” is only our refusal to accept what is. It’s our denial and stubbornness at play. It’s our pride.

God does SO much for us. He sends us jobs, money, friendships, healed relationships, new homes, and sooo much more. His timing and His ways are perfect. So we can forget about wishing that our answered prayers had come sooner, lasted longer, or arrived in a different package. They are just how God wants them to be for us.


May we stop getting hung up on those “but’s…..” in our lives. They only interfere with our joy and blessings. 

Let’s notice them when they come, and stop them in their tracks. Before they start arriving too often.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's Not ALL About You... But Sometimes a Little Bit About You

“It’s not about you.” We hear that so often. And it’s true.  We shouldn’t be “me” focused, in this life. Those who give to others, love on others, and focus on bettering other people’s lives and making a lasting impact for good… they are happier.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need anything. It doesn’t mean we are content to be ignored.

For everyone needs love.  And everyone needs to feel valued.

Everyone craves touch.  An encouraging word.  Someone to notice them.

Some of us may not need it as much as others; but we all need it.

We need each other.

So, although it’s important to not get caught up in our own crisis, problems, and our own little world – it’s also important to have a support system, people we can talk to, and those who will invest in us.

No one should go through life all alone.

We can thrive on giving and loving; but an empty well still needs to get filled up from time to time. And we can empty ourselves into others so much, that we don’t notice when we start feeling dry, until we’re already there.  And as good as we can be at listening to positive speeches, reading motivating words, or relaxing… we still need others to recharge us and invest into our lives.  We need to know that we matter!

So, if you are a giver – good for you. I bet you have a content heart and life. But allow others to give to YOU once in awhile.  If only for your soul. 

We all need to feel loved in addition to loving on others. Let yourself be loved. Let yourself be encouraged.  Make changes in your life, if needed, to make sure that you get that emotional connection that your heart craves from time to time.

You may be surprised. Sometimes we think everyone already has all the friends they need in their lives. But, most people always have room in their lives to love and be loved on by a new friend. Invite them in.  Open your heart.

And get that well filled up.

It’s NOT all about you. But sometimes, it’s a little bit about you.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Our Own Insecurities Can Sabotage Us

Insecurities. Ohhhh – those blasted insecurities! They can balloon into monsters in our hearts and lives. They can get out of control when WE don’t feel we are in control. They can ruin relationships. Hurt, feelings. Cause misunderstandings. All because we react to circumstances based on those same insecurities.

If we feel like we don’t have control of a situation….

If we jump ahead of a situation and react based on how we FEAR someone will act…..

If we let our feelings be hurt because someone didn’t choose to act or respond in a way we think they should have….

If we don’t feel as important as we want to feel….

….. we can let those insecurities damage our reputation. Because we let them rule and take over our heart and head. We let them tell us the way things SHOULD be. And we react. We REACT before we have all the information on someone or something. We REACT before we let ourselves calm down. We REACT before we really think about a situation and try to understand.

And we sabotage everything.

No one else sabotaged our relationship. WE did. Out of fear. Out of feelings of inadequacy. Out of loneliness. We did it to ourselves.

 Sometimes we have it all. We have the love of those in our lives. We have their trust. We have their loyalty. And then we damage everything by the way we handle things. By the way we react. The very things we fear start to happen. We lose their trust. We lose their loyalty. Their time invested in us.

It’s so frustrating to everyone involved.

Insecurities are never our friend. They are issues that lie within our own souls that need to be resolved. Healed. Addressed. Oftentimes, those insecurities are never echoed by those around us. They are merely shouted at us from our own voices. From Satan.

We are ALL flawed. We ALL mess up. It’s what makes us human. Unique. That doesn’t mean we aren’t still valuable. Gifted. Loved.

Listen to what God says about you and who you are. You are lovely. Beautiful. Delightful to Him. Made for a purpose. Repeat that to yourself over and over. And chase those insecurities out the door. Or at least squash them into smaller voices. Don’t let them ruin the beautiful things and relationships you have in your life. Don’t let them chase you into a corner where you only hear them speaking. Step out into the open and leave them in the shadows. Today.

Your life is a gift. It may not be wrapped perfectly –but it’s a gift just the same. Let others enjoy that gift. And let life be imperfect. That’s what makes it a beautiful story.