Monday, February 29, 2016

How Can I Honor God Through This?

Unfortunate circumstances. Let’s be honest… they “suck” when they happen to us. It can be so easy to tell someone else, “Oh, I’m so sorry!”, when something bad happens to them.  But when it happens to us, it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.

If we breathe, if we live, we WILL go through unfortunate and perplexing circumstances. We WILL have things happen to us that don’t make sense, and have us questioning, “Why?”

Oh, how I hate those times.

I recently experienced one of those circumstances. I tried to think on the “positive.” I tried to hope for a miracle, or some sort of solution… because when I thought about the situation too intensely, tears would come quickly to my eyes. What might have been gone forever – was irreplaceable. And it meant so much, not just to me, but to numerous people.

I kept asking myself, “How can I honor God through this?” I wanted to do right by Him. I wanted to hold myself accountable for how I responded.  If the “worst” I feared, truly came about – how was I going to handle it in a way that brought God glory? EVEN though I, myself, might be hurting?

That is a big question.

It’s so easy to act on emotion. It’s so easy to blame others. It’s so easy to let hurt turn into anger.

It’s so hard to “let it go.”

What’s done is done. I can’t change some things. They are unfair. They hurt.  But they happen. And in the process of them, I can acknowledge how they make me feel, while still holding myself with honor and integrity. I can still muster up grace.

I don’t ever want to be a doormat for others.  I don’t want to be a victim time, and time again. I do, however, want to have a strength from the things that happen to me, that allow me to rise above them. I want to represent my faith and my Lord WELL.

So, those unfortunate circumstances will come. I will never welcome them. But I will endure them, and hopefully, will be better off from them.

You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result. Genesis 50:20 (NASB)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

She Loved "Well"

Something hurt my feelings the other day.

I struggled with the knowledge that things and efforts I do – are not coming across to someone else.  And it hurt.

It hurts to know that you aren’t admired – even if you want to be.

It hurts to know that you aren’t respected – even if you give respect.

It hurts to know that all the time and hours you have put into doing things – has gone unnoticed and unappreciated.

I certainly have a great deal of flaws. I can be lazy at times. I can procrastinate things I really don’t want to do. I can get very distracted when my emotions are tied up into someone else’s pain.

But I’ve always tried to be my best.

I have tried to keep a clean house. Be wise with my money. Be responsible.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve been learning in the past couple of years is that sometimes you have to let someone else’s perception of you go. Even when they think wrongly of you. And that is a tough lesson. A hard one, for sure.

I’m working on it.

I know I’m not perfect. I continue to strive to better myself. I continue to grow as a wife, a mother, and a woman. I probably will continue to emotionally grow until the day I die.  I will probably always fall short in someone’s book. But as I was thinking on this – I thought, maybe that would be ok, if but for one thing.

If despite my shortcomings, they still said, she “loved well.”

I want those who God has placed into my life to know I loved them with every inch of my being. And that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Loving IS a joy to me. Cleaning may not be a joy – but loving, sure is. It’s what I’m made to do.

So maybe my efforts on certain things don’t come through to others. And maybe that stings my heart. But maybe it has to be ok – if they still see the love in my heart. The care that I have for them.

That is my hope and desire. I want others to love being loved by me. And hopefully, that will gain their love for me in return. Even if I fall short in so many other areas – may I rise above in the one that mattered the most.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Liebster Award... Bloggers Supporting One Another

Sweet Gemma, who blogs over at "Love, Gem X" nominated me for the LIEBSTER AWARD.

I guess the Liebster award helps new bloggers find and build a network of support and encouragement amongst likeminded bloggers.  Although I am not a new blogger, I am still new to a lot of people!

I am honored that Gemma chose me to share a little bit more about me and my blog.

According to the rules, I'm supposed to:

- thank the person who nominated me. (Not hard to do at all!)
- Share the award on my blog
- Answer 10 questions, nominate 10 new bloggers, and then ask them 10 new questions.



Here we go with the questions Gemma would like to know about me -

1. When did you start your blog?
Gosh, I've been writing so long now, I'm trying to remember the exact date I started my blog! I started with a newsletter for moms, then transitioned into blogging - WHICH I LOVE! I'm thinking it was about 2005, 2006 ISH. :)

2.  What topics do you write about?
I mainly write on faith and family. But I also write on marriage, self esteem, lifestyle stuff, and anything else that my heart feels led to speak about.

3.  What tips do you have to share with others who want to start blogging?
Do what feels right to you! Forget the rules. If you want to write once a week, once a month, or sporadically - do it. If you want to solely write about your cat, do it.  Forget about the numbers, and do it for the joy in writing about whatever you're writing about.

4.  What are 3 interesting facts about yourself?
Hmmm.. I always struggle with questions like these. I'm not sure what people find "interesting." 
* I'm fascinated by real-life mysteries and "missing persons" cases. To the point where I follow certain cases until they are solved.
*I just learned to like broccoli in the last year and now I eat it all the time.
*My dream is to have my own column someday.

5.  What are your hobbies?
If I have to exclude writing..... taking pictures, shopping, and some traveling.

6.  How often do you write?
I write best, whenever something is stirring passionately in my heart and soul. I keep articles on hand, to use later.  However, I have written on-demand, for the occasional assignment.

7.  What has been your best blog post?
People seem to like this one - "Northern vs. Southern Sayings" 

8.  What are your goals for your blog?
To always be improving, for one. To stay true to my own voice.  And I'd always love more feedback on my posts. 

9.  What did you want to be when you were younger?
A singer. But who didn't? Then, temporarily, a policewoman. (Thanks to watching Heather Locklear on TJ Hooker.)

10.  How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Honest, compassionate, sweet.

Drummmrrooooolllll...... time for my 10 nominations!

1.  A young friend of mine who just got married - Emily at Sail with the Scales
2.  My dear friend Lyndsay at Scripted Heart 
3. A real warrior - Joanne at The Simple Wife
And some of my fellow San Antonio Mom Bloggers...
4. Patti Tucker
5. Pam Luttrell
6. Christina Ochoa
7. Tori Johnson
8. Aquila Mendez Valdez
9. Sarah Frye
10.  Michelle Cantu

Ladies.. please answer these 10 questions.

1. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
2. What inspires you?
3. What's your favorite form of social media for drawing others to your blog?
4. What is something your readers probably don't know about you?
5. What's been the coolest opportunity you've received - thanks to blogging?
6. What's your biggest challenge as a blogger?
7. What is your favorite blog to follow... and why?
8. What goals do you have for yourself, as a writer?
9. How does your family feel about your blogging life?
10. What advice would you give to those new bloggers out there!

Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why Do I Spend Time Online?

As I was scrolling through my twitter feed recently, the thought occurred to me, “Why am I on here? Is this worth my time?”  It was a good thought, in the context that when it pops up, (and different versions of it have popped up at different times, over the years,) it teaches me to take a look at my priorities, my focus, and where my balance is with online and offline life.

It was also a good thought, because almost immediately after that one, another one came into my head. “It’s a mission field.”

Why do I spend time online? Yes, I enjoy it. But I wouldn’t enjoy it if there weren’t people involved. If there was never feedback. No, I enjoy it because of the people involved.

My passion is to encourage. Impact. Love. Help. Give hope. And when I interact online – whether it’s twitter, facebook, instagram, my blog, or email…. I can do that.

Africa may be a mission field.

India may be a mission field.

Panama, Guatemala, and Europe – all….mission fields.

But so is the online world. It IS a mission field because all of the world is pretty much on it! You can reach someone in Thailand, Phillipines, or your neighborhood. You can talk to a high school student, a leadership “expert,” or a doctor. 

You don’t know who, or how many, read your words. Your thoughts.

And it matters.

It matters to me, when someone takes a minute to reply to my words. So, I know, it probably matters to them, when I take the time to respond to theirs. Even if it’s in the form of a “like,” or a “follow.” It lets them know their voice was heard. They are not alone.

They are seen.

Yes, we can all spend too much time scrolling on our phones or our computers. But we can also spend too much time watching television, reading magazines, or daydreaming.

I may not always be talking to someone at my front door, but I may be talking to someone half way across the world. And to me, that is pretty cool.

Everyone needs someone. And if people are online, then online is where I want to be. To help. To love. To give hope.

To make a difference.

No matter how silly others may think it to be.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We Are So Good AT Judging Others

We are so good at judging others. I think at times, we all feel we are “experts.”   Yet, I have learned, a layer on the outside doesn’t always tell the whole story of what goes on, on the inside.  We may think we know what is going on with someone, but we can be wrong. 

Our judgment calls, can not only be misplaced, they can damage someone’s reputation – not to mention  - hurt them deeply.

We need to be careful.

I understand that people don’t act the way they should sometimes. Whether it’s someone who we don’t feel is grieving a personal loss, or someone who isn’t handling something with the character and integrity we feel they should – we don’t see life through their eyes. We don’t feel life with their heart. So, we need to be careful about how we spread our words about them, to others.

I believe we should take care of each other. We should hold one another accountable. At times, that means confrontation – as much as we might hate it. But hopefully, those times only come after great deliberation, prayer, thought, and wisdom have gone into exploring the person, their actions, and the situation.

We need to remember, that we can always be wrong.  We can speak unfairly, judge unfairly, and dislike unfairly -  without knowing all the facts.

Life isn’t always clear-cut. People don’t always see things the way we do. And they certainly don’t always respond in the ways we think they should. That’s why grace and mercy are such important qualities to incorporate into our lives, as we love on one another. They keep us balanced, open-minded, and able to forgive issues that might otherwise become big issues.

God says to, “judge not, lest ye be judged.” I know I hate being judged. I hate feeling like people misunderstand me and misrepresent who I am and what I’m about. So, I know I would hate to do that to someone else. If we can give each other the benefit of the doubt without jumping to conclusions, it will give us the time needed to gather more facts and information. Information that may shed a whole new light on what is going on.

Everyone has layers. We aren’t all good at letting other people see inside of those layers. So let’s be careful about how we label one another. Let’s be careful how we identify someone. For we could be so wrong.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My "Life Verse" Changes

Most Christians have a verse that they claim is their “life verse.” It’s one that stands for something personal to them, or the outlook they want to have in their life.

I, too, have claimed a “life verse.” Except, as the years have gone by, I have found that my verse has changed. With each season of my life, I have gone through different things – had different outlooks – and changed, as well as grown emotionally.

So, I have claimed different verses that resonated more deeply with me at each one of these seasons/phases of my life.

So, far, I am on verse #3.  Each verse is still very much a part of me. I still look at each verse as an extension of who I am, and what I want to be about. It’s just that the verse I may have at that moment in time, is one that seems to soak into my skin and into my heart just a little bit more, because of what I may be going through and feeling in life.

When I was a little girl, my life verse was Romans 8:28.

“All things work together for good, to those who love God, and to those who have been called according to His purpose.”

I had such an optimistic and positive outlook on life. I believed God could change ANYONE if you believed hard enough. I just knew that everything would be all right, because I loved God.

I still know that things will be ok, because God has them all in His hands. However, growing up, and living life have shown me that not everyone changes. Not everything turns out as it should. But somehow, I have to trust God in those moments anyways.

When I became a young woman, I changed my verse to Proverbs 16:9.  I believe I first read it when my sister sent it to me, as I had moved from Oregon to Nevada.

“In his (or her) heart, a man plans His course, but the Lord determines His steps.”

I still very much love this verse.  It resonated with me, because so many times, I would have an agenda, a dream, a path I wanted to go on in life…. But God had other things in mind. It was something a young girl who was growing into a woman was discovering. That life doesn’t always turn out like you want it to.

I’ve been searching for a new verse for a couple years now. I’m feeling like I’m in a different and a very much thankful spot in my life. I am so aware how faithful God has been to me in my life. And I feel so humbled and indebted to Him.

I stumbled across this verse recently, and fell in love with it. I have claimed it to be my “this season” verse.

Psalm 139:5

“You surround me on all sides and hold your protecting hand over me.”

I can’t tell you how much the Lord has protected me over the years. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had challenges, hardships, or scary times. I have. But ultimately, God has walked through those with me and He has always taken care of me. He has protected me, loved me, and blessed me. He has been so faithful.

And I’m so aware of His presence and love in my life.

Do you have a life verse? If not, I’d encourage you to claim one. It’s amazing how a verse can give your life extra focus or direction. It can reassure you as you go through tumultuous moments, and it can shower your heart with love, wisdom, or guidance.

If you do have one, leave me a note in the comments. I’d love to hear what your verse is and why you chose it.  And for each one of us, may we always hear God speak clearly and personally to us through His precious Word.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I Want to Choose Grace and Mercy

I’m trying to become a more gracious and merciful person.  There are so many things in life that have the potential to rile me up, get me stressed out, or hurt my feelings. And I’m just “over” most of it.

I’m tired of being jealous. I’ve grown weary of feeling “ticked off.” I don’t want to waste a lot of energy in becoming worried all of the time. So, I made the conscious decision to try implementing more grace and mercy in my life.

Being gracious and merciful to someone else when they make mistakes, neglect my feelings, or act indifferent towards me – has made a big difference in my attitude. It has helped me focus less on what hasn’t happened to me, and more on who I want to be.

It’s helped me be more forgiving. Understanding.

It’s helping me learn to let more things go. And let’s face it, “letting things go” is one of the hardest things we do in life. Our wounded pride just wants to hold on to so much.

I still struggle with some things, of course. I’m only human. But I think I’m getting better at giving people second and third chances. I think I’m getting better at saying, “Yes. They didn’t do right by me. But I’m going to love them anyway.”

And for me, that is HUGE. I’m a very loyal person and when I feel betrayed, I tend to remember. That person never quite holds the same spot in my heart and life again. And that’s just not what I think God wants from me.

I’m learning that people are going to let me down. They are going to disappoint. Neglect. Forget. Hurt. And I have to make the choice of how much I value the relationship. How much I want to love despite the disappointments.

I want to choose to love. I want to choose to understand that someone did indeed, let me down, but that I can move on from it. Truly move on from it. Not just SAY, ”I’m moving on, and hold it deep down inside forever, anyways.” But move on, knowing and remembering, and choosing to set it aside.

Grace. Mercy. Love. Forgiveness. They all go hand-in-hand.

I feel better about myself when I choose to instill these qualities in my heart.  I feel better forgetting about what entitlements I wasn’t given – but instead focusing on, enjoying and knowing I can be the kind of person I seek out in others.

Oh, to find more grace and mercy in life.  I fall so short so often. I, too, disappoint others. I wish I didn’t.  But maybe someone can let my shortcomings go, as I seek to let theirs go, as well.

Then, we all win.