Monday, April 30, 2018

Just Open the Door

So many times I’ve wanted to move forward in my life, when all I felt like God was telling me, was that I needed to stay put. 

I’ve also experienced God prompting me to go somewhere else in my life, when all I’ve wanted to do, was to stay rooted where I was!

This way - or that way? Here, or there? Go, or stay?

These choices and crossroads in life, often stretch us. 

It can be hard to know what the right thing to do is, when you look back in hindsight and see that God knew better than you, on so many prior occasions.  He’s done it with many of my dreams, wishes, and desires. It can become so easy to doubt your own heart, and question whether or not God is the One leading it.

So what do you do? 

What do you do if you feel like you’re at a crossroads in a certain area of your life? 

What do you do if you don’t know whether to stay at your job or find a new one? 

What do you do when you’re not sure if you’re supposed to stick it out in your home state, or move on to a different one?

Just open the door.

When you’re not sure what the right thing to do is – open the door and ask God for His opinion. Start praying and seeing what He brings to you. Start thinking about the possibilities, even looking into them a bit, and see what God does with that. 

Just open the door. 

I’ve found that when I do this, when I don’t rush into anything but I’m patient, and slowly start doing some research, seeking Godly wisdom from others, praying, and gently stepping forward in a certain direction; that God often shows me what it is that He wants from me. It’s not always what I want for myself, but in the journey – it’s amazing how He can transform my heart and mold it into one that ends up feeling at peace for what He has in mind for my life.

But you have to open the door first.

If you don’t open the door and start asking those questions, how will you ever know how God answered you? 

Opening the door and simply opening your mind and heart, allows God to flood you with His options. It allows Him to truly work not only IN you, but around you. And that can be such an amazing and fun experience to be a part of.

We all hit spots in life where we’re just not sure whether to turn left on the road, right, go straight, or sit down for awhile. It can be perplexing, frustrating, and stressful trying to make sure you don’t screw up and that you make the RIGHT decision. 

The thing is, if it’s the wrong way and you’re seeking God’s will – He’ll let you know and He’ll block you from going down that road.  Or, He’ll reroute you at some point.  He is so good at working His will in our lives, whether or not we cooperate!

So, open that door. Step through it confidently - but humbly. And let God walk through it with you, as He directs your steps and shows you what He has for you, on the other side.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Second Chances

Those who are our leaders are held to a higher standard. It just goes with the territory. We expect them to lead honorable lives, have integrity, and be above moral reproach.

That’s a good leader.

HOWEVER, they are human. And even though I have these expectations for those I follow and admire, I also understand that they aren’t perfect. I want my leaders and teachers to try and lead a straightforward life; but I also need to give them grace and mercy when – heaven forbid – they fall.

We can be so merciless. We can be so hard on people when their mistakes and mess-ups come to light. Repeated wayward choices indicate an unyielding and unrepentant heart. I understand that. But what if it’s one huge mistake and they are deeply sorrowful? What if they truly have been brought to their knees?

Can we forgive? Can we move past it? And most of all, can we let them lead again?

We should. And here’s why…..

We ALL make mistakes. We ALL have made bad choices. None of us is perfect. And who, amongst us, hasn’t wanted some grace and mercy given when we try to better ourselves and move past a huge error in our lives?

We crucify one another so brutally. 

I do believe there should be consequences for our choices. If we break the law, hurt our families, or whatever it is, there will be fall-out and a price to pay for what we’ve done. We need to be held accountable EVEN if we’re terribly sorry. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t regroup, learn from our mistake, grow, and become a more humble leader and teacher, because of it.

I would much rather listen to someone who has felt deep pain and sorrow, than someone who has no need for empathy.

I would much rather follow someone who fell from an honorable place of leadership due to immoral behavior (and has since truly repented), than someone who is legalistic and has no need for grace.

Humility is admirable. It’s approachable. It’s authentic.

Yes, I would love it if most of the leaders I admire, were able to stay on the moral, honorable path in life. But I also love it more, when they can be open about their flaws and their inadequacies in life. Because it helps me feel more normal. It reminds me that we are all struggling in this thing called life. And it eliminates the need to try and be perfect.

Grace. Mercy.  Forgiveness.

We need to be able to give people second chances, because some day, we ourselves, might need one.

Monday, April 16, 2018

When We Look At Ourselves Harshly

I love French fries. I love chips.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Except now, I’m in my middle 40’s and my body is starting to show others how MUCH I love French fries and potato chips.

It’s starting to show how my days are spent more on the computer doing work, than out exercising.

It’s a shift for me.

I used to be very tiny. And I took it for granted.

I’ve never been the best at decorating.

I hate to cook (even though I’ve done it out of love for my family, for years).

I can be a huge dork.

This is me.

I AM middle aged now. It’s crazy to think about. But I have hindsight - and I have vision for the next 20 years, as I strive to do the best for myself I can.

With social media, it can be so easy to see where I fall short. 

I can look at old high school friends on facebook, and see how I have aged, compared with them.

I can see others’ beautifully decorated homes.

The list is endless.

But the blessing of being middle aged, is that it also comes with acceptance. For me, anyways.

I’m ready to give myself grace.

My body is one that shows how my cupboards have been full of snack foods for my kids and their friends. It shows how I’ve dedicated my time online, to give encouragement to others, and impact marriages and families in a real positive way.

My home shows that lots of love has been given here. People have been in and out of those front doors more times than I can count. So it looks a little like the “velveteen rabbit.”

It’s LOVED on.

And honestly? I’d rather have it no other way.

Am I going to give up trying to lose the extra pounds? No.

Am I going to abandon keeping my home pleas-able for those who enter it? No.

We are SO harsh on ourselves. So unforgiving!

We live in a world where comparison is in our face. And yet, we only clutch onto the comparisons where we fall short.

I am ready to love life more. Love myself more.

I am ready to say, “this body gave birth to two children and is no longer a 20 year old body.” And that’s ok. 

I am ready to be less than perfect - but more than free from expectations and standards.

I am ready to relax and truly embrace the life I’ve been given and who I am.

We look at ourselves pretty harshly.  How about we start looking at ourselves with a sense of self-love? How about we acknowledge what we’ve been through in life? Where we’ve been? What we’ve been given?

How about - we start loving ourselves?

I am so ready and motivated. I’m ready to forge forward with grace and mercy on myself.

I hope that for you, as well.

Monday, April 9, 2018

They Are JUST Words

Words. We use them all day long. And how we use them, really impacts other people. We can carelessly throw them around, or use them in such a way, as to really influence and encourage someone else’s life.

“I will pray for you.”

“I MEANT to call you.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“I believe in you.”

“I’m here for you.”

“I understand.”

“That’s too bad.”

Words can be be shifted to mean something very meaningful, or to lack any kind of meaning at all.

We utter words. We write them down, or type them out. We use them on the phone and in person. And yet, our words are hollow if we don’t actually follow through with some kind of action.

People get tired of hearing — merely - words.

I sure do.

I get tired of hearing someone say, “I’m thinking of you.” Yes, it’s so nice to be thought of. But when given by the same person year after year? I’d much rather them actually write me, or visit me - than JUST think of me. Thinking of me doesn’t do anything for my life. It doesn’t do anything for my heart and soul.

“I’m sorry.” This can actually mean the world. But it can also ring so empty, if given time after time without any kind of comforting or supporting action behind it.

What kinds of words do you use? And how often? Do you mean them? Do you throw them to the wind to absolve yourself from getting involved in someone else’s life? In their day?

Words are a powerful reflection of who we are. Uttered carelessly, or given wisely, they are remembered by others, long after we say them. They are stored up in someone else’s heart - even if we, have forgotten all about them.

Don’t let your words be JUST words. Don’t let them get to a point where they mean nothing to someone else. Do something about what you say. Let your words MEAN something, by investing your time behind them.

Then, your words will mean everything. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I think people forget that bumps in life are natural. We cannot get through life unscathed. If you are living and breathing – you are going to have hardships from time to time.

God says, “you will have hardships, AND MANY.” Yet, we act so surprised when those hardships fall on our shoulders.

I’m always impressed by how some people can keep a fantastic outlook and attitude, even though they are going through really tough stuff in life. 

It inspires me.

Conversely, when I see someone fall into a self-destructive pit over every thing that doesn’t go their way?  Well, …it ‘s depressing.  

Some things in life are really just “small” hiccups along our journey.  And it can be easy to lose our focus on that, but to instead, let them balloon into huge ordeals. 

I think “small” issues are those things that mess up your temporary plans or schedule. 

They are things that are hard to go through; but will be resolved in a few months’ time. 

They are issues, inconveniences, hardships, and yes – sometimes painful situations that when you are in your 80’s, you will look back on and see that “that was just a part of your life.” Another curve, detour, or pit stop that you took.

But thank goodness, they are ONLY small. And we need to remember that.

We stress about SO MUCH. Some things are worthy of being upset about. Some battles we need to take up and fight for. But some things? Some things we need to let go of, even if they are uncomfortable for us. 

For they are not worth the joy they take from our lives.

The next time something comes up in your life and you find your temperature rising over it – take a good look at what is going on and decide if it’s a big or a small thing. Not just a big or a small thing for today, but a bit or a small thing in the big picture of LIFE.

Some things are real bummers to go through – believe me, I know. But if you can put it into context knowing that there are larger things to worry about, it will help your attitude tremendously.

Take those bumps in life, in stride.  And remember, there are much bigger hills that you’ll have to worry about.