Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Much Time Do You Spend, With Your Own Soul?

How much time do you spend with your own soul?

How much time do you spend pursuing the things you love? Pondering the thoughts on your mind? Feeling the issues that weigh on your heart?

How much time, do you spend with your own soul?

We can’t gain focus in life, clarity, perspective, or truly know what we think and feel…. If we are too busy DOING life, and not devoting enough time to funneling out all the noises and sounds of it, so we can hear ourselves.

And it can be so easy to forget to listen. To forget to know the sound of the beating of our own heart. 

Doing is often easier than “being.” “Being” with ourselves. “Being” FOR ourselves.  BEING ourselves. In our authentic skin.

We fear that our thoughts might be rejected and our hearts might be neglected.

But sometimes you have to fight for yourself. Fight for the right to hear yourself. To listen to yourself. To KNOW yourself.

I wouldn’t want to do life not knowing who I was. I don’t want to forget who I’ve been, and who I’m becoming. And I want to CHOOSE those things for myself – not let them be dictated by someone else.

So I need to spend time with my own soul. Learn to tend to it. Let it speak to me, direct me, and fuel who I am. Each day.

Step aside. Go to a quiet space. And BE. Close your eyes, and let your heart and soul do the talking while you just listen.  While you listen and learn about yourself.

For no one should be an expert on you – except YOU.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Those Unattainable Standards We Keep Trying To Reach

It can be tiring. Trying to be the perfect person all of the time. I mean, we’re bound to let someone down at some point. Bound to mess up and make a mistake. Yet, still, we strain, and strive, to attain an image that we have in our heads of the kind of person we believe, is “it.” That perfect standard of being.

All we do is end up discouraged. Frustrated.

We feel like failures. Like we aren’t good enough for others. Like we aren’t good enough for ourselves.

Some of us go to the opposite extreme. We KNOW we will never achieve certain standards. So we figure, “why try?”  We don’t try to live up to any standards at all. We’re used to letting people down and we grow comfortable there. We figure that it’s just our ‘lot’ in life, to be the odd one. The outcast.

There’s got to be a medium road in there somewhere. Don’t you think? Can’t we relax the standard of perfection on ourselves, without giving up completely? Can’t we live at ease with who we are, while still striving to be better people?

I think so.

I know so.

I would love to be more comfortable in my skin and able to not worry about saying the ‘wrong thing’ at the ‘wrong time.’ I’d also love to not stress so much about what other people might be thinking of me. At the same time, I’d like to try to continue to better my weaknesses so I can feel good about myself. Maybe I won’t attain ‘perfect’ to others, but I can come pretty close in my own expectations by simply being the best me I can be. The key is learning to let the rest – go.

And that key can be hard to turn.

We don’t have to give up on ourselves. We don’t have to kill ourselves trying to be something we’re not. But we CAN learn to live comfortable in the traits God has given us, while feeling free to not stress ourselves over, what He hasn’t. What we aren’t.

We are who we are. Not in the sense that we should never try to polish up that ‘we’ that we are. Because let’s face it, some of us are a little rough around the edges! But we are unique. On purpose.

If only we can prioritize what really matters in our lives, and filter out the weeds that pull us down on a daily basis. If only we can find life in the middle.

On balanced ground.

How much more freeing that would be.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sometimes You Have to Start Over

Are you willing to admit when you are wrong?

One of the greatest qualities in leaders, parents, and role models, is the ability to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

It sounds so easy, yet it is so very hard to do. Pride is not an easy thing to part with. (When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Prov. 11:2 NIV)

It would be easy to admit you messed up or made a mistake, if the only audience watching, was yourself. But when you have others looking at you and to you – it can be so hard to swallow that pride and admit you made a wrong decision. After all, that would mean you are human and flawed – right? And sometimes, unfortunately, we are much, much too good at acting like we have it all together.

The thing about admitting you are wrong is, that it is very freeing. It’s kind of like admitting you stole that cookie from the cookie jar. You know you did it, everyone else knows you did it, so it’s just easier to say it out loud. Admit it. OWN it. You will gain more respect that way.

If more people owned their errors and mistakes, I believe there would be less insecurity, depression, stress, and jealousy out there. People would be more authentic and know how to relate better to one another. A role model, a parent, or a leader IS human. They do have bad days and they do get sick. They let their emotions get the better of them sometimes, and they listen to bad counsel occasionally. It’s ok. It happens.

It’s life.

But to be an admirable person, you need to acknowledge and admit where you went wrong. Take it head on. Learn and grow from it. Let it make you stronger and better at what you do, while also reminding you that you are no more important than anyone else. No less human. It will help you be more relatable and it will keep you honest.

Mistakes are a great way to keep us humble. They show us that with one breath, everything can change. It’s fun to stand on the mountaintop and feel like you are holding all the power in your hands, but it’s a sobering perspective to be looking up from the ground, wiping the dirt from your face, because you fell and failed.

Get back up. Wipe the dirt off. Straighten your back. Grab a hand if one is held out to you, and start over. Start better. Start kinder. But start again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Have You Lost Your Joy?

Life. Oh, how life can give us a beating! We just feel bruised and battered sometimes, don’t we?

We can let our bruises turn into bitterness, if we’re not careful. That bitterness can morph into anger. That anger can isolate us. And that isolation can make us sad and lonely.

And before we know it, we’ve lost our joy. We’ve lost our smile, and that twinkle in our eyes that would appear when we got excited about something. When we were happy with our lives. With ourselves.

How can we know if we’ve lost our joy for living?

I think we KNOW. We feel it, deep down. We just get afraid to climb out of the cycle we’ve found ourselves in. And fear… fear is powerful.

It’s easy to live our lives learning to throw “no’s” around left and right. “No,” we won’t go here, “No,” we can’t do that. “No,” they won’t ask us. But what if we took the risk, and changed even just one “no,” to a “yes?” “Yes,” I will participate. “Yes,” I will open my home. “Yes,” I will smile.

Before we know it, the mood of our day starts to shift and change. Our attitude shifts and changes. And we start living again. We start LOVING again.

Joy is never found in the “alone.” Sure, maybe we all need quiet times for ourselves once in awhile. But those are temporary. Those bring joy in a different way. Joy in the form of reading a book, or watching a good movie. Joy in the uninterrupted slow pace of drinking a hot cup of coffee. Joy in “me” time for an hour or two. Or a day. But joy is not found in extended “alone.”  For we lose touch with people. With emotions. With relating and emphasizing with others – and having them relate and emphasize with us.

We all suffer bruises and scars in life. But true joy is found, when you keep going despite those very bruises.

We can be wounded forever, or we can be wounded once in awhile – learning from those wounds, and letting them make us stronger.

I only have one chance at this life-thing. I don’t want to waste it feeling bitter, angry, lonely, or fearful.

I want to feel joy. I want to know joy. I want to be joyful.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

We Shouldn't Let Our Low Feelings, Become More Than Low Moments

I saw a saying recently, that really stuck out to me. It said something to the effect of, “Don’t listen to those voices in your head, that speak to you when you’re feeling all alone.”

Or something like that.

And I loved it.

I loved it, because it’s true. We shouldn’t listen to those evil voices in our head that shout to us when we’re feeling down, blue, and lonely, or afraid. But, we do.

We give too much weight to those voices that tell us we are unlovable, unappreciated, not valued, and not beautiful.

Everyone has “down” days. Everyone feels low at times. But those are the times where we should pamper ourselves a bit, not kick ourselves while we’re feeling down!

The voices that speak to us in those moments, they are not our friend. They are not out to encourage us, to make us feel better, or to spur us on. No, they are simply there to laugh at us, point fingers, and sneer.

They aren’t welcomed.

So, when they come, (and they WILL come), we should look them in the face and let them know they are wrong. Maybe we need to re-think some things when we’re feeling better, but we shouldn’t let our low feelings become more than low moments.

It’s so important to remember that.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Just a Glimpse

Have you ever just wanted to catch a glimpse of something?  A glimpse of a deer in the woods…… an eagle in the sky….. that “someone” returning your gaze…….???

Whatever it is, it’s something we crave.  We don’t feel we are seeking much, usually. All we want is a little bit of hope.

Am I right?

I’ve felt that way so many times in my life. Sometimes I’ve been rewarded with “the glimpse,” other times, I have not. It’s hard to be patient. But I’ve learned that sometimes I can jump ahead of myself. I can catch a “glimpse” of something my heart isn’t quite ready for yet. If only, if only I had waited on God’s timing.

We are impatient people. Sometimes we can’t wait because of our excitement. But, more often than naught, it’s because we are self-focused, and self-motivated.

There will always be those things and moments in time where we want to catch JUST a glimpse of something or someone.  And I believe if we’re patient enough, that that patience will be rewarded with something more amazing than we could have hoped for. I believe, that if our heart is in the right place, and if we invite God into those moments with us – that HE will let those touches and glimpses be outright glorious and memorable.

Instead of “just a glimpse,” our hearts will be rewarded, our souls will be enlightened, and we will be changed – forever.  It will never be JUST a glimpse. It will be an unveiling, a peek into what abiding in Christ can really be like. Yes – even in seeking the glimpse of a deer or a moose. God has an amazing way of making those moments extraordinary – never just normal.

I love that about Him.

So, instead of simply craving magical moments – let us crave HIM in our moments. Let’s look for Him to personally touch us with every glimpse of hope that we week in our lives.

To bask in the glow of His love and attention – that’s a glimpse I want to savor.