Sunday, June 26, 2016

We Can Impact How Our Children View Life

Texas storms can be fierce.

As I was laying in bed one morning around 4 am, listening to the sky shake and thunder, as rain poured down and the sky lit up… I remembered my earliest memory of a storm.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. And I remember excitedly making hot chocolate, sitting out on our back patio (we had an awning), and watching the storm, all snuggled up in blankets – me, my mom, and my sister.

Good memories.

Warm memories.

And as I lay in bed recently, listening to a storm fiercer than anything I heard as a child, I thought, “Thank you, mom.”  For I wasn’t scared. In fact, I’ve always loved storms. And I attribute that, to a mom who started me out, in expectation and wonder, instead of fear.

I’ve tried to do something similar with my own children. We often, have watched out the windows as lightening flashed across the sky, or sat out on a back patio and observed and exclaimed over the power and might of a storm.

We can impact our children’s view of life. We can influence them, to cultivate an attitude of joy, excitement, and awe - or fear, loathing, and frustration.  We can do this by how we, ourselves, treat circumstances in life.  Our attitudes are “catching.” Our children “catch” moods, views, and perspectives, from us.

Sure, our children aren’t going to adopt the same attitude as us on everything in life. But, we still have powerful influence that we often underestimate.

I never knew that I would end up in a state that had some of the most powerful and earth-shaking storms I’ve ever encountered.  Nor did my mom. But one night is all it took to forever shape and mold my mind when it comes to storms.

One night.

I’m so thankful that was a positive night. A positive moment, and a positive memory.

Lord, may we be intentional with our children, and with our attitudes, as we face little AND big things in lives. Whether they are physical storms, or emotional ones – our children are watching us.

Someday, may they look back as they face something similar, and say, “Thank you, mom.” And may they face whatever it is with wonder, not fear.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Busy" Is a Virus

So busy. We all get so busy, just living life. Just running around doing all of our “have-to’s.”  We get distracted and focused on everything running through our hearts and our heads.

We get into the rut of running through our lives.

We go from paying our bills, fixing our cars, getting our groceries, helping our kids with their homework, figuring out how we are going to squeeze in that next “thing,” and life, before we know it, is on a spin cycle.

It runs us.

And we forget. We forget what we’re really here for. What and who we are living for. What our purpose in life really is.

And we feel empty. Lost, lonely, and afraid.

Because, life is running us. It’s taking us for a ride that we didn’t sign up for. We let it overwhelm us with things that really don’t matter in the long run. Things that are temporal.  Yes, they need to be dealt with, but the importance we give them, well, it’s too much. We let them invade our minds. We get distracted.

And that’s just how satan likes it.

He loves to see us running around like confused little children. He loves to see us forget how God has gifted us and how God can use us. He loves to see us get stressed out. And he’s good at it.

I’m busy, just as you are. And I fight to keep my priorities in line. It’s not easy.  But nothing feels right when my life isn’t in line with the Lord. Everything is just “off.” I’M “OFF.”

I don’t want to live a life where I’m caught up in the stresses of life. I don’t want to forget to put my Lord first. I don’t want to forget what it’s like to hear Him speaking to my heart. I don’t want to fail to see others hurting or in pain. And I certainly don’t want to be so caught up in my own life, that I can’t reach out and love on other people.

“Busy” is a virus. “Success” is a virus. And “image” – a virus. Things we forget to arm ourselves against. We get lost in them.

I want to be a fighter. I want to know the joy that only God can bring into my life, as I go about the daily details of living.

Let me stay in alignment with Him – for I never want to stop hearing His whispers.  I never want to stop seeing His hand.

Nothing is worth that distance.

Friday, June 17, 2016

There's No Courage In Being Cruel

We all FEEL.  We all hurt, laugh, cry, get anxious or stressed, get nervous, act foolish. We ALL feel lonely at times. Rejected. Looked over.  We ALL get jealous. We ALL love.

That’s being human, for ya.

The thing is, I think sometimes we forget that we are all so similar. Sometimes, OUR feelings are the only feelings we take into consideration. The only ones we think matter.

And they aren’t.

We so often choose the harder thing, than to simply do the easier thing – the kind thing.

It’s easier, to think that someone might be having a bad day, than to flip a finger at them in traffic.

It’s easier, to admit the truth, than to live a lie. And it’s easier, to be gentle, than it is to be harsh. And it’s more fun.

There is no strength in being a bully. No courage in being cruel.

Usually, we are hurting ourselves as well as the person we are targeting. And usually, we were already hurting in the first place.

Making someone else feel small, never makes us taller. It only makes us mean.

I want to be someone that my children can be proud of. I want to have the kind of character that people won’t question.

Yes, I want courage. I want the kind of courage that swallows a mean comment. I want the kind of courage that turns the other cheek when something mean is said to me. I want the kind of courage that sticks up for someone that everyone else has abandoned. 

I want the kind of courage that loves the unlovable.

Mean words are only a symptom of a hurting heart. They only demonstrate a lack of understanding.

Maybe we have anger inside of us. Maybe we were wronged. Ok. But hurting someone else is never the answer.

If you truly seek to be courageous … seek to overcome.

And courage, you will find.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I Want to Be Brave

I want to be brave. I want to have the courage to stand up for what is right. I want to risk, for someone I love.

I want to look fear in the face, and forge forward.

I, soooo, want to be brave.

I’m working on it. That bravery thing.  I’m learning to set boundaries in my heart, in my mind, and in my life. Boundaries that give me peace of mind, freedom, and strength.

I’m learning to pick my battles. To fight for what’s important, to sift away, what is not.

I’m learning to trust God more. Even when I don’t understand. I cling to Him with every inch of my being.

Sometimes, God has to be brave FOR me. In those moments, I feel like a little child. But I also feel so safe… tucked away in His mighty hands. Knowing He has it all safely in His hands, and that He will gently place me on the other side of the “unsafe.”

And I learn. I learn from Him, how to be braver. Wiser. More discerning. More loving. And more humble. Because I never can feel too safe, too secure, or too wise – that the ground beneath my feet, might not crack, and shift.

I want to be brave. I’m striving to be brave. And hoping that today, I’m braver than I was yesterday.

Maybe in my wake, others will learn to be a little braver too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When You WANT to Believe

We WANT to believe. We want to believe in things and in people. Sometimes, we want to believe in something or someone so much, that we ignore common sense. We ignore the facts that are right there in front of us.

I pray often, for wisdom and discernment. My instincts are pretty good and I listen attentively to them. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be led astray on occasion. I can. Especially if I WANT to believe something.

That is when we are the most vulnerable.

Believing in people is good. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. But it can be dangerous at times. It can be dangerous if we give money to someone, when we don’t have enough to pay our own bills; because we believe they have changed their ways, and won’t misuse it again. It can be dangerous, if we enter into another relationship, even though we know deep inside that that person isn’t right for us.  We can harm ourselves over and over and over again.

In 1 Kings 3:10, the Lord tells us that He was pleased with King Solomon for asking for wisdom. And so I try to remember to ask Him for it in my life, as well.

I know I’m an emotional person. I have passions and feelings that, although most of the time, I trust them – they can indeed lead me astray. So I try to pray for wisdom, clarity and perspective.

In this cold, cold world – it’s important that we still have hope. It’s vital that we still believe in the goodness of man. But we also need to have a balance of common sense. For it will protect us. It will guide us.

It’s okay to WANT to believe in something or someone. It’s even okay to be vulnerable and open. (I believe more people need these traits!) But do so cautiously. Do so with prayer. And do so with wisdom and counsel.

They are there for your own protection.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Friendship Is a Two-Way Street

Investment. It’s what relationships are all about. We need to invest into each other’s lives.

You know those sayings, “It’s the friend you can call up at 2 am, that matters.” And, “look for the friends that will drive 5 hours, to spend just 1, with you.”

I know them too. And I like them.

There’s a side of my heart, though, that is unsettled. I see people posting these beautiful graphics, with these quotes, on facebook, twitter, and instagram. And I want people to digest that we need to be more like this “friend” they are speaking of. But, and it’s a big BUT, for me; I sometimes get the feeling, that people want this kind of friend in their life, but they fail to see they need to BE this kind of friend, as well.

We can look for that friend who we can call in the middle of the night. But, are WE the friend who can be called in the middle of the night?

We can feel so blessed and thankful for those who come 5, or even 10 hours or more, to come and visit us. But do we go and visit others who we say are important to us? I’m putting an “exception” on families, here. For families, (most of them) usually come first. I’m talking about friendships.

When was the last time, instead of telling a friend who is long-distance, that you miss them – that you actually booked a trip to see them? Or do you just keep inviting them to come and see you?

It’s a two-way street. And to be honest, most of us drive along it, like it’s a one-way. 

For most of us, if we want our friendships to flourish, we rely on the other party to do the work. To do the investing. And if they don’t….the relationship withers, because we don’t do our part.

I will admit, I’m guilty here, too. I am unable to see as many people in my life that I care about, as I would like. But, I also know, that I’ve gone to extra lengths to be a part of special events in some of their lives, because they mattered to me. And I’m glad I did. I will never regret it.

So – as you seek authentic friendships in your life, I beseech you, to BE the kind of friend you seek. BE the one who writes a note of encouragement. BE the one, who attends the wedding.  BE the one, who sends the flowers, or gives the phone call. Be that one. Don’t just want that one. 

Everyone needs someone. That someone, may just be you.