When Life Blows Up~

 

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We all experience ups and downs in our lives. We all walk through good seasons and challenging seasons. Often times we’ve made choices that have ended up having negative results and we’ve had to walk it out. For many of us unexpected losses, a job, marriage, the stock market, sickness, etc. have “happened upon us” and it takes a lot of courage to keep moving forward with hope.

However, there are times when our lives can feel like they’ve blown up! Challenges and changes can come with such intensity that we are left with heavy dread and hopelessness. It’s easy to get into a downward plunge that can emotionally spiral out of control.

You may be thinking, “Wow! I’ve never really felt that way” or you may be thinking “I’m in that season right now”.

Almost 9 years ago when my Nephew was murdered I was ill prepared for the emotional trauma that would follow for my sister, my family, but also for me personally at so many levels. My church theology I had believed all my life that If you prayed for your family no harm will come to them was completely shattered. The depth of sadness took me to a really dark place that felt too heavy to bear. My outlook, in the midst of that season was new to me and with all my counseling and coaching experience I had zero answers for myself.

I have friends whom, right at this moment are going through a “life tsunami” that feels dark, hopeless, and incredibly uncertain. I ache for the process they are walking through because there is no magic wand to turn it all around.

There are some really key elements that are important for all of us whether we are walking through a hard season or what feels like a tsunami and I’d like to encourage you with a few:

  • Don’t isolate yourself! None of us are great at cheerleading ourselves in tough times. We tend to be hard on ourselves and negative in our outlook. WE NEED GOOD PEOPLE especially in these times.
  • Choose to forgive well-meaning friends or family who are clumsy in their efforts to be a source of encouragement. Statements like “Oh, I know just how your feel” can sound like nails on a chalkboard! Try to see their heart in their clumsy efforts and don’t become angry.
  • Take care of yourself! Rest, exercise, eat good food, don’t over medicate with alcohol, be careful about what you watch, read, and listen to (a lot of stuff available to us can be dark and emotional which is not helpful) and find cup-filling activities that can give you joy  even in the midst of an over-whelming season.
  • Find someone to talk to. Find counselor, a coach, a trusted spiritual advisor. Journal your thoughts and try to find 3 things to be grateful for every day no matter how small they might be.
  • Lastly, don’t be mad at God. I hear this so often and even said it myself during my darkest time “Where were you?” “Why didn’t you change the outcome? “ “But, I’ve trusted you and tried to be a good person!!” These comments and more feel very real at the time but they are not truth. We do have a God who cares deeply for us and wants to walk with us and comfort us in our darkest moments. We live in a world where there is illness, hateful people, tragedies that affect everyone on the planet! But, if we lose hope in God and separate ourselves from Him in anger or distrust we will miss the very comfort and hope we are longing for.

You may have a shattered faith, or have never had any kind of a trust in God and I am not assuming all my readers do. All I can pass on to you is what I’ve learned and experienced; the only way I climbed out of one of my darkest seasons was by the strength, hope, and kindness of God and I would be amiss to give you tidbits of good ideas and then leave out the greatest source of hope and healing I have ever known.

Seasons of challenge can be very real. To all of us in a season of calm; extend your hand and heart to help carry someone in a life tsunami. Don’t judge.

There’s a verse that I love. It’s a tough one to read in the midst of an overwhelming season but it’s beautiful to read it in hindsight and know it is true.

 

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire (of life) you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

 

 

 

 

A Better Way~

 

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Sunday afternoon I made a quick trip to the grocery store to grab a few items for a family dinner later in the day. I had just come from attending my first bi-lingual church service where the pastor shared an inspiring message about how we are all family, that even with our differences and disagreements we are all family.

As I looked around the room I knew there were those with whom I could not converse as I speak no Spanish and they spoke no English~ but yet as we caught eyes we knew we were family! This was a rich, rich reminder that served as an important backdrop to the remainder of my day.

Walking into the grocery store a ragged young man with piercing blue eyes sat in the gusty wind in front of the store. He had a dirty jacket and an old blanket. I said “good afternoon” in a perky fashion and made my way into the store.

I barely had a foot inside the store when I felt a huge dose of sadness that overwhelmed me. Here I was ready to buy amazing food items for our dinner and all I could do was pass him quickly and give him a perky Hello? Was giving him a smile the extent of my human ”family” connection to him? Ugh! I felt so disappointed in myself!

As I paid for my groceries I purchased a $50.00 Grocery store certificate and a Starbucks coffee. I was anxious as I rounded the corner and saw him still there huddled up in the cold. I sat down beside him and gave him my offerings, His beautiful blue eyes welled up with tears and he said, “ I felt invisible today” Thank you for paying attention to me. I hugged him and we said goodbye.

Driving out of the parking lot I looked his way only to see him weeping; hands covering his face. I was thankful for God’s graciousness to me by challenging me to respond to the amazing teaching I had received hours earlier – I was sad that God HAD to remind me.

What difference does my faith make in my day-to-day interactions?

I pray I can better live out the truth that” they will know we are Christians by our love”. Thought I’d be honest about my own struggle.

What’s Your Word for 2020?

Dianna Salciccioli

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Words are powerful. Words can encourage us, give us clarity, and words can be a powerful catalyst for change in our lives.   What do you feel when I say “broken”,” hopeless”, or ” powerless”?  What do you feel when I say “impacting”, “empowered”, or “inspirational”?  Isn’t it amazing how words can actually have an emotional impact on us!

As a Coach I always like to ask my clients if they have a “word” for the year, a word that would serve as a laser beam to keep them on track with what they’d really like to accomplish or apply to their lives.

If you were asked to stop and consider a word for the coming year what might that word be?  If you look back over the past year; what you experienced and what you learned, and then you look toward the year ahead….what kind of person do you want…

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Red Bell Ringers~

 

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It had snowed that day and was probably 24 degrees. She stood there ringing her bell for the Salvation Army. To be truthful, I am suspect that weeks before I had seen her with a sign on the corner of the roadway; her sign said “anything will help”. I was actually happy to see she was willing to “work” in order to earn money for herself.

She smiled her toothless smile and I put a few bucks in the red pot! Then I said “ would you like a coffee?’ to which she replied “a small black coffee would be wonderful. I smiled and expressed to her that I was talking about a really yummy coffee like a Mocha with whip cream. She stared at me for a moment and then said, “I haven’t had a coffee like that in over 10 years”. After completing my shopping I purchased her a coffee and a $15.00 Gift Certificate so that she could have another during the holidays!

Arriving at home I pondered the simplicity of blessing people. It’s not scary, it’s not complicated, and it’s truly cup-filling if you care about people. I don’t toot my horn to make it sound like I’m wonderful by any means but rather to express that the Holidays can be lonely and sad for many people. This is a beautiful time to choose to walk out your kindness for others! It could be a fresh, clean blanket for a homeless man, a coffee for a stranger, or paying for the groceries of the single mom with whom it’s obvious she is struggling to pay. There’s just so many ways to show love!

The holidays are a prefect time; it will fill your soul!

 

Luke 6:38 says:

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

 

Have a heartfelt Christmas season!

Fake Flowers~

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In the warm summer evenings my husband and I love to take an evening walk after dinnertime. We love waving at neighbors, chatting, and enjoy looking at the hard work that our neighbors have poured into their yards during our very short summer season.

At the very beginning of our walk there sits a small home, probably built in the 70’s. The yard is immaculate and is often a place where a family of deer will go to sit in the cool grass on a hot day.

However, there was always one thing that confused us as we walked by this lovely little yard; on a small fence that surrounded the yard there was always a big vase of fake flowers. In Spring the flowers were pink and yellow, in summer a mix of red and greens, then in the Fall they were orange, yellow, and brown. We would always chuckle and wonder why these home owners would place this vase of fake flowers in their yard when it was already lovely with real flowers!

Mr. Rea and his wife, we later learned, are the owners of that little home. Mr. Rea is an older man, probably nearer to 90 than to 80.  Every day Mr. Rae would walk a loop through our neighborhood stooped over so significantly that many of us would feel concerned for him. Mr. Rae was known in our neighborhood as a friendly old man; he would say hello to those he would pass. It was always a treat to see him.

Two weeks ago the fake flowers disappeared.  A “For Sale” sign was placed in front of the yard. We haven’t seen Mr. Rea in a while. Taking a walk last week my husband and I looked wistfully at the spot where we had always viewed those crazy fake flowers before and we wished, now, that there was still a tall vase of fake flowers sitting there.

Times passes quickly and you never know when you may have your last interaction with someone in your life. This is a good reminder to share a smile, say hello, and to show kindness as you go through your days leaving you with no regrets.

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OUCH!

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Isn’t it so easy to be offended? So often we can take a simple statement and add layers of meaning to it –especially if we’ve experienced hurt before.   We can apply the identical angst in our present relationships to those of the past and so often we are misunderstanding others because of this.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote some really good thoughts about this very topic in her devotional “Embraced”. In it she gave such good advice that I want to share it with you! We women can get offended and read into comments so easily—the enemy LOVES this! Because of this I just had to share her wise words!

  1. When I’m tired or stressed I’m likely to interpret interactions way more emotionally than I should. I should wait to respond until I’ve had time to rest!
  2. Believe the best before assuming the worst. The person you are in a seemingly conflict with probably didn’t have an intent to hurt me!
  3. Clarify, Clarify, Clarify! When in doubt, don’t assume anything. Be brave enough to ask! Our past can cause us to add commentary that in all truth –doesn’t even apply to this situation.

If you are like me, you will find these steps so full of truth! Be unoffendable as much as possible. So many times we are lacking all the needed information when we indict others intentions!!

 

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

James 1:19

Mothers of Teens!! READ THIS!!

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As a 20 year Life and Business Coach I often have incredible mother’s who secretly connect with me and share their fears and challenges of raising kids between the ages of 12 and 17.   Yes, I’ve raised 2 boys….Yes, I’ve learned a few things along the way but~~~However,  I WAS that difficult teenager. My poor, wonderful parents had to face the challenges I threw at them for many years.

Because I WAS that girl I want to give parents 10 things to remember while parenting your pre-adult children:

  1. Hormones cause brain damage—those hormones cause emotions that will settle down in a while but they cause boys and girls to become incredibly emotional and dramatic—this will pass!
  2. It’s not personal. I knew how to hurt my parents with comments like “you’re the worst parents ever!” “I hate you!!”   I promise you, I said all of that and more!  I did not mean a word of it!  I was just mad I wasn’t getting my way!
  3. The insecurity of a teen is real! I remember wondering “ where do I fit in?” “do I fit in?” Why are all the popular girls skinny while I have wide hips?”  Seems silly but for a teen these challenges are real! Be patient and help your kids find something they are really good at! Once you find your niche’ it’s easier to navigate peer pressure.
  4. Stay an adult! Don’t argue with your child at their level!! Do you remember believing you knew everything until you  grew up and had a family of your own?? In hindsight we would all say “wow, we didn’t know anything!!”
  5. Don’t make the “bad boy or the bad girl” attractive by demonizing them. When I was told I couldn’t date a certain boy I ran away from home because I knew my parents “just didn’t understand him” which made the attraction even bigger! Find a creative way to bring that person closer to your home and they may self-select out!
  6. Your kids know your family values! Even when I was misbehaving I knew I was doing all the wrong things, I just wanted to fit in- to be cool!  Pray for your kids- for safety, for wisdom, and for purpose!!
  7. Don’t let your teens cause strife in your marriage because they will play off of that! I would walk a mile to the end of our driveway to “talk” with my dad before he got home! During that “talk “I would let him know how mean mom had been!! (I know, I was awful. My mom got very hurt during those years)
  8. Some situations may be more than your teens bargained for –sex, porn etc! Don’t shame them, keep the conversation open and focus on the cost of the behavior.  Being shamed or being told they are “bad” will only cause them to feel they are damaged goods and they will act out.
  9. Cover them in love even when they hurt you. Love is actually what they are crying out for! This takes patience and maturity on your part.
  10. Don’t let yourself go to the “worst case scenario”, don’t decide they will never be a good adult, don’t decide they will get pregnant, don’t decide they will become a drug addict! That kind of thinking will make you respond out of fear rather than faith!!

At my 10 year Class reunion I had my fellow students ask the simple question “so what do you do now? To which I replied “I am a Pastor’s Wife”……my classmates looked a little surprised! My teen years were certainly a winding road but God had his eyes on me all along.

God has your kids too! Have faith, pray, love, and work hard to be as unoffendable as possible! Your teens love you- but they just want their way!

Lessons from my Yearbook~

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Summertime always seems to make me a little nostalgic. I am a beach girl; I was raised in Santa Cruz County where hanging at the beach and outdoor fun was always a huge part of my summer experience.

So recently, while digging out some old photo albums of my boys my eyes caught a glimpse of my old High School yearbooks. It’s been well over 30 years since I cracked open those books full memories. Being a “people person” I took a little time to Google and Facebook some of the names of past friends; I love to see what others have been doing and always hoping that they have had a good, meaningful life.

Looking at the young faces of friends I was reminded of so many memories, conversations and frankly, shenanigans! I found many friends were living their best lives while others had faced some significant challenges. Life can have some unexpected twists and turns for sure!

I decided to go back through the yearbooks with another filter, looking for those that I could remember as students who weren’t in the IN CROWD. I could distinctly remember those who were loners, even those who got bullied. I was able to pick out those girls who were criticized and misunderstood; my heart was sad. No one wants to feel unexpected or misunderstood. Junior High and High School can be such a brutal time.

Coming from a family of 6 girls I was fortunate to have a regular solid posse around me but I would still get dressed for High School full of anxiety for the uncertainty of the day. I always tried to have a smile on my face but there were many days I was dying with insecurity inside.

My third year of college I got to experience what many of the students I had identified as disenfranchised at my High School experienced every day. I transferred from a college in Northern California to a college in Costa Mesa, Ca. The leadership used the first 3 days of school to take the entire student body to a mountain retreat. I was new, knowing no one so I was not excited about this experience. When I checked into my room no one acknowledged me, at mealtimes no one at the table spoke to me, during the free time activities no one invited me in. The experience of being desperately lonely while being surround by people who are connected to one another is really the worst kind of lonely. I sat alone and wept.  I understand that feeling now.

Certainly I am older and wiser now but if I could I would  go back to those in my High School Yearbook who experienced this on a daily basis. I wish I could go back and lighten their load; help them to feel excepted. I wish…….

Truth is, everyday we have people around us who are in need of encouragement, acceptance, and connection. I noticed it in High School but I was so focused on myself that I overlooked their hurtful experience. In this season of life I now better, you know better. Let’s pay attention, reach out, include and care. Lonely is an awful place to be.

No Harm on Our Watch~

 

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Last week Greg and I had the responsibility and joy of keeping our two grandchildren in our home for 8 days (ages 5 and 2) while their mother and father took a well-deserved vacation on the island of Maui.

Prior to having the children come I spent countless hours preparing for our week together; fun crafts, food that children like, and ways to help them sleep through the night. (the sleep through the night part was mostly for Greg and I !! )

Once the children had been dropped off and their folks were on their way I felt the weight of making sure these precious gems were not hurt on our watch. Whether climbing the structures at the park, driving them to fun activities, or walking along the sidewalk; I felt the deep responsibility to be mindful of where they were at all times, to be certain they weren’t in harms way.

Midway through the week we had only had a couple of bumped heads and lips but nothing that required any doctor’s care; Greg and I were so relieved. Nevertheless we were also a little tired because we were mindful at all times that it was our responsibility to be sure they were safe; we were their protectors.

It was during this time when the Lord spoke to my heart and helped me to see at real truth. He let me see that the love and concern that we were pouring into these two little ones was very similar to the way He watches over me, over us. Psalm 121:5-8 says it this way:

The Lord watches over you.
    The Lord is like a shade tree at your right hand.
The sun won’t harm you during the day.
    The moon won’t harm you during the night.

The Lord will keep you from every kind of harm.
    He will watch over your life.
The Lord will watch over your life no matter where you go,
  Both now and forever.

Well, we made it through all 8 days without a crisis and had an incredibly fun week with our grandchildren yet I was also grateful for being reminded that our own Heavenly Father is mindful and watchful over us each and every day; I take great comfort in that!                                                       You should too.

The Treacherous Road to Hana~

 

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I returned home from Maui just a few days ago; Greg and I had such a good time. Getting away and being in vacation mode can give couples a chance to play, to reignite friendships, and to remember how good it is to just be together.

Our friends on the island encouraged us to take a back road to Hana where we would come to a State Park and would find an incredible hike leading to a magnificent waterfall. “How are the roads?” we asked. They smiled and said “not that bad.”

Greg and I embarked on our journey to the high country passing through a couple cute towns, trees blossoming all around us, and we even found a little coffee shop for some incredible coffee cake! Then we continued to drive…….and drive…..and drive.

Halfway into our journey the houses disappeared, the roads became one lane only, and we found ourselves on high drop off cliffs; if another vehicle had come in the other direction there would not be anywhere to go.

As we continued along the one lane road became a dirt road and tighter than even before; this was a risky adventure. Greg and I laughed ( and prayed) as we wound up and down this ever changing terrain. Had I known how insane this road was I probably would have said ‘No” to going! However, after we experienced the amazing hike and wound our way all the way back to Kehei we both felt like we had such a scary, fun, crazy day!!

I’ve had the joy of spending time in this season of my life leading couples through a robust pre marriage assessment. One of the main points that comes through in the assessment is that in order to stay close, intimate, and connected couples need to regularly experience shoulder to shoulder adventures and activities; it makes a world of difference. Without these connections the relationship can feel stale and more like a partnership than a friendship!

Are you a married couple? Do you look for adventure opportunities together or has the relationship lost it’s zip? Though I’m not sure I’d recommend you the back road to Hana, find away to experience life together. Go have some crazy fun!!