Tuesday, May 26, 2020

You Can't Love the Holes Out of Someone's Life





We all have people in our lives who disappoint us.  It may be our siblings, our spouse, our parents, coworkers, or friends.


Usually, it’s someone we deal with closely. USUALLY, it’s a family member. 


Because we care so much about them, it hurts all the more, when they let us down.


I don’t know what it is, but it feels like for most of us, we feel like we can just “love them better.”  It’s as if we are trying to overcompensate for the holes they have personally in their own character, attitude, and life. We feel like if we just showed them love more often, were more vocal or interactive or… whatever… that the relationship would improve.


If…. “WE” did something better… then “THEY” would no longer disappoint us, fail us, neglect us, or hurt us.


Loving is the greatest gift we can give ANYONE. Grace, mercy, forgiveness.. invaluable. They can heal so many wounds and hurts. But if someone CONTINUALLY hurts and disappoints - nothing WE do, will make up for that.


In fact, if we vow to only try harder, do more, and ignore the fact that some healthy boundaries need to be put up (yes - even in close family relationships) we are only fueling the fact that we will continue to be disappointed, let down, and hurt.


People have to decide for themselves that someone is a priority to them.


We can love to the best of our abilities, but some people will just take advantage of that.


We CANNOT love enough to change someone. Oh, how I wish we could! And I’m not saying to stop loving someone. I am, however, saying there are times where love needs to show different action in the face of habitual behavior.


Sometimes, instead of doing MORE, we need to do LESS. And that is the most loving thing we can do for a relationship.


Sometimes, instead of ignoring an action, or behavior, (and calling it love), we need to call someone on it.


Sometimes, instead of giving, and giving, and giving, and giving - we need to let go. And let God address what needs to be addressed. This can be SO HARD, when you are in close proximity with the person who disappoints you. It can be painful.  But no one can move a heart like God can. No one can get someone to WANT to improve or be a better man or woman, than God can.


We cannot love the inadequacies out of someone else.  We can only simply love. And sometimes that means protecting others in our lives from those very hurtful inadequacies. It means distancing yourself, so that that other individual might gain the space and time to realize they miss you. They want you in their life. And that they’ve taken you for granted.


We allow ourselves to be used. To be taken for granted. All in the name of love.  But love is not weak. It is strong. Yes, it’s patient. Yes, it’s kind. But it’s also long-suffering and it has self-control. Those two qualities might have to come in the form of saying, “enough, I will not enable you anymore in your unhealthy habits.”


Love is so powerful. It is so beautiful. But it also has great strength. True love for someone else, might mean removing yourself from the equation of filling those unhealthy holes in THEIR life, and letting them continue.


We will continue to be disappointed by people. But we don’t have to continue to place ourselves as a target.


Love. Love well. But know when to love well by saying, “I won’t be your excuse for not changing anymore.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Love Is Everything



Love.

Think about it. It’s everywhere.

It’s in the tears that fall from someone’s eyes when we have hurt them, or when they are so burdened for another; that they bring them to the Lord in prayer - over and over and over again. It’s in the tears that fall when that someone dies, or gets hurt.

Love is in the unspoken things that are done for each other. Things like buying our spouse’s favorite brand of cereal or chips.

Ironing their shirt. 

Love is in the music that grips our heart because it reminds us of a certain time and place - shared with someone close to our heart. And it exists in every beat.

It’s in the smells that remind us of a meal lovingly made for us, when we were growing up. It’s in the scent of the cologne or perfume, that lingered long after we were hugged.  

Love is in so many things. The clean sheets and blankets our mama tucked us into, at bed at night. The handwritten note we kept in our closet for years. The dried flower left over from that special occasion. The awkward knick-knack our child gave us when they were a toddler.

It’s all around us. It’s in us. Beside us. In front of us and behind us.
It’s the greatest gift God has ever given us, and we are capable of heaping it into the hearts and souls of those around us. We can give it again and again. We can grow it. We can BE it.

Love.

Love can fuel us, if we let it. I know for me…. it’s what I wake up each morning wanting to feel. What I want to give.

I live for it. I long for it.

To me, love is feeling connected to someone else through a hug, a gift, or a few words of appreciation. It’s seeing the expressions of laughter, adoration, camaraderie, and joy in being together - when you look at a photograph.

I don’t know how people live without knowing the feeling of love in their hearts, and in their life.

A resonating example of love that has always stuck with me - is a video clip I saw of Princess Diana once.  She had been away from her boys, and they were coming to see her after she had just returned. They were running to her, and she stretched open her arms as far as she could. And just waited for them to run into them.

That visual has always stayed with me.

That is how I try to live my life. With arms outstretched. I want those I love to be able to run into them. To feel my love. To know my love. 

And - because my Lord and Savior is love…I feel HIM when I’m either giving or receiving it. And it’s the greatest feeling in the world. 

I never want to live outside of that feeling.

I want to be known for my love. Not just for my family (but OH YES, I want my GREAT love to be known for my family.) But, I also want to be known for my great love for my Lord. 

For my country. 

For the hurting, the lost, the forgotten, and the ill.

You see…love IS. 

Love WAS. 

And love CAN be.

It’s everything.

Reach out for it. Give it. 

Embrace it.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Who Do You Let Shape You?



It occurs to me, how much of who we are - is defined by others.  

Yes, we have our innate personality. Some of us are shy, others were born to talk.  

We have our natural tendencies, of how we wish to go about life. Some of us can’t think clearly without a room being organized and made beautiful. Others of us, don’t see why there is so much fuss given to “things.” If it’s messy - we still know where our things are! 

And yet those things, as real as they are to how we go about and live our lives - aren’t the things I’m thinking of today. No, I’m thinking of those other very REAL things that shape who we are.

Those things that are wound up in emotion. They exist in layers of our heart and soul. Very tender spots that exist so closely to the surface of our thoughts and feelings - yet so very buried to everyone else around us.

The people in our lives may have no clue as to what truly shapes us…. Or who.

There are words said long, long ago - that we still recite in our hearts and minds every morning when we get up.   For some of us, those words are similar to, “you are worthless,” “stupid”, “you idiot”, “you’re not good enough”, or the lack of important words at all.  We craved to hear “I love you”, and so we don’t feel loved, because we weren’t told we were worthy of it.  We crave to hear “I’m so proud of you,” and so we feel incapable, because we don’t know what it feels like to have someone place pride in us for who we are.

If we are blessed, we wake up each morning and recite words like, “you are beautiful,” “you matter,” “you are loved,” “you are a delight,” and “you are worthy.”

Words. Always associated with deep feelings.

And they shape who we are. They shape how we feel about ourselves. They shape our view of the world.

The thing is - whether we are in the “blessed” camp, or the camp where we beat ourselves up with words said from someone in anger, bitterness, or from their own hurt… we forget our own power in our lives. We forget we have the POWER to reject or accept someone else’s words and label of who we are.

None of us wants to waste our life. But some of us DO.  We just can’t seem to overcome the fact that God has a plan for who we are. AS we are. We have let the unkind words so seep into our skin, that we believe them. We believe the nonsense thrown at us from someone who really isn’t in the position to be judge and jury.

YOU - CAN - SHAPE - YOU.

You CAN be beautiful. As you are.

You CAN be worthy. As you are.

You CAN be loved. And you DO have a brain.

Don’t let someone else define and shape who you will be, unless it’s something good. 

You were no accident. And just because there are people in our lives who don’t understand us, don’t love us, or don’t believe in us, doesn’t mean they are right in their assessment of us.

Because EVERYONE is worthy of those things. EVERYONE.

So when you wake up tomorrow morning, and you recite words in your heart and soul as you begin your day… why don’t you dump a few? Replace them with words from people who you know TRULY care about you. And say those things over and over until they become habit.

And you start shaping your future to be the one you are worthy of having.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Putting Some "Fun" Into Mealtime



With everyone home right now, and parents preparing meals more than normal, sometimes a little “out-of-the-ordinary” can be SO welcome.

We can all use more times of laughter and fun, as we face day after day of “routine.” So here are some ideas to help you love on your kids and family, while also helping reinforce GOOD memories for them.

Not every idea will be feasible for YOUR home, (for example - some of you live in apartments, or don’t have chopsticks) but the ideas are aimed to help you think outside of the box. So let these fuel you on to igniting and sparking some great moments with your family at mealtime.

*Have a picnic on the floor.  Push the couch back a little, pull out a blanket, get out the paper plates and add the food!

*Have dinner inside of a fort you all build together! We once had pizza delivered to us INSIDE of our fort. If you feel comfortable ordering delivery - DO IT!

*Eat out on your deck or back porch.  Enjoy the fresh air.

*Put a spin on eating outdoors by setting up a tent and lantern.  Eat after it gets dark inside the tent. 

*Have festive napkins, glasses or fancy straws. Or let your kids write encouraging notes on everyone’s napkin and place at their designated dinner spot.

*Allow your family to use chopsticks only, instead of silverware. If you need laughs, this one is sure to deliver!

*Make a rule that no utensils can be used at all!  Only hands.  Have finger foods, drink soup out of the bowl, etc.

*Have everyone grab a TV tray and pick out a family movie to watch while eating dinner.

*Switch places at the table.  Everyone needs to sit somewhere other than their normal seat.

*Make normal foods fun.  Add green food coloring to water, use cookie cutters to make shapes in your pancakes…..

*Serve dessert FIRST for a change!

*Have the kids make dinner! Even if it’s Ramen, or carrots and cheese slices, enjoy - because you got to sit down, while they prepared.

*EVERYONE helps clean up. One person does dishes, one wipes the counters, and one sweeps the kitchen. Teamwork.

Monday, March 23, 2020

When You Long To Be Close To God





I have always loved looking up at the blue sky and seeing the scattered clouds dotting the sky on a clear blue day. Looking up has always helped me focus on God, and not on my problems or what is going on down here on the ground.

I have always been especially endeared to when the sun rays come through the clouds and shine down onto the earth. It has made me feel especially close to God - as if He is reaching down to someone here… someone in a hospital, maybe? Someone crying alone in their bathroom? A family who is mourning someone who just passed? Or maybe, someone He is touching with a special seal of approval and protection?  Regardless - I have always loved them.

Recently, I was driving. It was a very grey and cloudy day. One of those days where everything feels a bit damp, and the rain comes and goes in a misty, dreary sort of way.

I looked up. And it occurred to me, that the sky was so cluttered with clouds - that I could not really see the sky at all. I could only see a blanket of grayness up there.

I didn’t like it. 

It felt like those grey clouds dampened my spirt and prevented me from seeing or connecting with God. 

I suddenly connected that grey barrier to all those times when people long to be close to the Lord, and they just don’t feel Him there. They can’t see Him. 

But, just like the sky exists on the other side of those clouds, so God exists on the other side of our emotional barriers - when we can’t feel Him, or see Him.

He is still there.

Barriers come up in life. Often. Our emotions, can even create barriers all themselves. Disguising the fact that God has never moved.

I’m not sure I will ever look at the grey clouds the same again. For they gave me a great analogy. A reminder - to never assume God doesn’t care, isn’t real, or that He’s not right there with me.

They are a new reminder to me, that my Lord and Savior is constant. He is THERE. Even if I can’t see Him.

That alone, gives me such great encouragement and courage. For IF He is THERE, then He is working.  He is loving. And He is listening.

I may see a barrier - but God can always reach right through it.

And for that, I am so thankful.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Learning About Enneagrams




I have been delving into the world of Enneagram types. 

I had been hearing about “Enneagram” and had no idea what it was. Then people started asking me what my number was. So, I finally took the test - without much knowledge of what it was all about. I got my results, proceeded to read about that number, and could relate to much of it.

But then, after I told my family my number,  I was told by my girls, that that was not who I was at all. That I was a different number. And I pushed back HARD on what they told me I was.

So I dug deeper.

And you know what? They ended up being right.
One thing I will say about the Enneagram, is that it makes you face your “junk.” And that’s not easy. But the thing is - even if you’re in denial about who you are? Other people see you that way, anyways. Our own mindset and framework don’t change how others view us.

For me, I was focusing so much on the negatives of my number, that I overlooked all of the really powerful parts of who I was. Parts, that in a healthy way of living, overshadow and outplay the negatives.

And let’s face it - we all have negatives to our numbers, anyways, don’t we? For some of us, we struggle with pride. Others, envy. And others anxiety. It doesn’t mean that THAT struggle is who we are. And that’s exactly what I was pushing back on. I immediately thought that my struggle, was what everyone saw me as. And you know what? It only proved my number in a deeper way!

I’m still learning a lot about the Enneagram. I usually don’t dive this deeply into personality tests - but this one encompasses so much more, and it focuses a lot on “motivation.” 

Identifying your type; your strengths and weaknesses, can really help you trouble-shoot your own trouble spots and weak areas. It can help you set new boundaries for yourself in your weak areas, and actually, feel freer to simply be how God created you. It can also help you as you work with others. To understand them, and have them - better understand you.

I have never encountered a more impactful analysis of our personalities.

If you are now curious, and have not taken the Enneagram test, here are a couple of words of advice.

  1. Take the test. That’ fine. But then QUESTION the test. So many people test wrong. Listen to podcasts, read summaries of the different types, and focus on the core sin and weakness. For that will probably nail you down quicker than anything else. 

2. We don’t ALL relate to everything about every type. Mine said something I was emphatic that I wasn’t. And I learned that that is because I am in a healthy living version of my type. (That’s a good thing!) But, also, that that part I hated IS a part of me - and can become a BIG part if I’m not careful. So knowing that potential exists, is a really powerful thing for me, to help me not get to an unhealthy spot. 

There will be some characteristics of each number, that aren’t you; because we all live with our bents a little bit differently. So know that not every facet of a number, will resonate with you.

3. Do a lot of research over time. I heard someone say that the type you push back against the most in your spirit - is probably the one you are.

4. Let it BETTER you. Don’t just focus on your negatives. But truly let it better you to learn how to handle those things that trigger you in your life. Let it help you implement ways to help keep you in a healthy form of your number, instead of an unhealthy version of it.

Each one of you is so unique and special. Each Enneagram has something amazing and different to bring to the table. 

Whatever number you end up being - embrace your number, Know that every number and every person is uniquely gifted, special, and valuable. 

Live in your strengths. They are a gift.

And, happy learning.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Sibling Relationships




Back when my girls were in junior high/high school - they once told me that they knew a lot of kids who didn’t like or get along with their siblings. 

That made my heart so sad.  

At the time, I thought they were probably overreacting. I was sure that there were more siblings who got along than they thought. But then I started witnessing some things that showed me there indeed can be a “disconnect” sometimes between brothers and sisters.

For example, my youngest had a program in which she had a part. We had two showings that particular day. One in the afternoon, and one in the evening. My plan had been to go and get my oldest out of school as she had expressed  an interest in watching her sister. I had always encouraged my kids to support one another so I wasn’t ever shy about taking them out of class so they could watch each other in plays, programs, award ceremonies, etc. I did this because if they showed an interest and wanted to cheer each other on – I wanted to encourage that! I wanted that support and love to flourish. 

On that day, my daughter did indeed watch her little sister in her program. Then we had to go back for the evening show and my youngest didn’t have her big part – she only participated in the big group as a whole, for the evening showing. Still.. I felt my oldest should watch and support her. 

But she had other ideas. 

She wanted to sit with some friends which was okay with me, as she was getting older and I wanted to affirm that. But that was when things started to change. Most of her friends weren’t staying inside for the performance but were going to “roam.” I didn’t like that… and I didn’t allow my daughter to participate. She was not happy with me, and she felt alone (even though she could have come and sat by me), but I held my ground.

Why?


For one, I didn’t want to encourage my daughter to be what I term a “hoodlum.” It was dark outside, and I hadn’t wanted her roaming about without adult supervision. I didn’t care how old she was, she was still a minor – and there was still plenty of room for danger and disaster.  I also wanted her to invest in what her sister had invested in. That’s what a family does – you stay and you support one another.

I came to this conclusion: I think a lot of kids might not be close, because they are not encouraged or instructed to invest in each other’s interests. Whether it’s basketball games, plays, or award ceremonies doesn’t matter. We should have our children there to support each other, out of pure love and devotion. Love doesn’t always do the “fun” stuff. It does the boring, the hard, and the inconvenient stuff too. 

Life isn’t always about “us.” If we let our children ignore what is going on with someone else in the family, we are only encouraging them to become more “me” centered. They will always seek “what’s in it for me.”  No, they may not be happy about it, but they will learn to put the time in that is needed, to grow bonds with their brothers and sisters. They will know what their interests are, who their friends are, and how they can help them when they need it the most. Sometimes, they may be our biggest tools, in letting us know when something is wrong or out of character with their brother or sister!

I do understand there are times to give kids a break. If my child has been to every single one of their siblings sports games, and they have a friend show up and can hang out for awhile in a safe atmosphere – I’m okay with that. But that is going to be the exception – not the norm.

For me, I felt that encouraging my children to develop a relationship that would be strong and “other centered” was important. Someday, they won’t have me around. The kind of relationship they have with each other, will be something that will truly be an asset in their life, and something that can be a strong foundation against the tides of the world.

I would encourage all parents to nurture sibling relationships between their kids. Make sure they are taking turns in cheering each other on in their interests and endeavors. After all, that’s part of what being a family is all about,  and if you want a close one--- it takes commitment and time.

Even on the part of our kids.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Dear Friend: I See You




I’m writing today, out of the deep love in my heart for you. If only you could see what I see in you! I see so much potential in you. I see the heart that for some reason, you try to keep behind closely-guarded armed-guards.

I see the sensitivity in you.

I see the smart mind that you have.

I see your desire to be loved, accepted, valued, and understood.

I see how you try to shake off the fears you hold inside of you. I know the insecurities you battle wage their ugly head far too often. They hold you down. They hold you back from relationships.

I know you have been hurt. Deeply. You’ve felt rejected. And you probably swore internally never to put yourself in that position again.

But my heart aches for the days in your life that go wasted. The ones that are devoted solely to protecting your environment - to racing against the time of life… that you’ve forgotten the most important part of it. 

People. 

Relationships.

And that you are not the only one who has felt what you’ve felt. Or endured what you’ve endured. 

Other people may just have had different support systems. Or different ways of handling those very things that hold you back.

I love you. I want you to be all that you can be. I want you to see that YOU are your own worst enemy.  The very things you fight against - are the very things you need in your life the most.

They are the very things that will free you.

God.

Community.

Vulnerability.

Service.

I pray you will find the courage that I know lives inside of you. The courage that will help you say, “No more” to your normal vices and “go-to’s.” 

I pray for you so often! I pray that you will see you can have more for your life.

It might seem scary at first. Foreign. It may be very uncomfortable. 

BUT YOU CAN DO IT.

No more hiding. No more pretending. No more lying to yourself.

Seize your life today. Don’t cuddle in the arms of the lying comforts of the shadows anymore.

You ARE loved. You ARE valued. You DO have something amazing to give this world. 

Step out into the open. 

Please.

The world needs you. But it needs you WHOLE.

Fight for yourself today. See yourself as you are. And love yourself enough to get help for those wounds that stay open in your life.

Don’t let anyone say, when all is said and done, “What a waste of a life that could have been so much more.”

Victory is yours - but you have to stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Stop fighting against yourself. 

And start fighting FOR yourself.