What if this was your last Christmas?

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Can you believe another year is about to close?  It feels like I simply blinked and it was December again! How about you? However, if I take a little time to reflect over the year I realize that within that crazy, busy year there have been some monumental experiences that should not be overlooked; there were so many learning opportunities for me.

One of the biggest “stand out” experiences for me was, unfortunately, a horrific car accident in which my husband and I walked out with our lives and we are beyond grateful.   This unfortunate experience has given me many moments of reflection as I think about the brevity of life; it goes by so fast and sometimes it is stolen from us.

Our car accident has caused me to take a deeper look at my passions, my professional work, my personal life, my meaningful relationships, as well as my physical & emotional health. As I stepped out of the truck that day, badly shaken, my first thought was an overwhelming gratefulness that our lives had been spared but following that I experienced a very clear picture of what really matters in my life~ people.

As you walk through the holidays, how can you navigate the season so that the busyness does not steal from your connection with others? How can you slow the pace in order to share tender moments along the way? Christmas traditions can be so fun, baking and office parties can be invigorating; but taking the time to be certain that those you love know that they matter is really at the heart of Christmas.

What’s tugging at your heart this year? Is there a relationship that needs encouragement? A single mom struggling that needs your touch? Does your spouse need the festivities to slow down so that the two of you can remember what great friends you are; or perhaps work towards being again?

Our unexpected accident has only heightened my awareness that every day is a precious gift!  Truly, the 2016 Christmas season could have been our last! Every day is, indeed, a gift! Instead of chocolate indulge deeply in the relationships that surround and bless your life and in doing so you will have a very Merry Christmas.

We have choices to make~

 

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Can I be honest? There are a lot of sad and disruptive events taking place these days. There truly are concerns that have many people feeling unsettled and uncertain about their world, their leaders, and their futures. I have talked to many of them; they are feeling overwhelmed, feeling sad. There are days when I do as well.

Disheartening events impact us on every level: thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Violence inspires worry, fear, and anxiety. The anxiety created by current events is all-encompassing and can keep us from living fully. And that is my concern. Having such increased social media and television shows/Books that mirror the events in our world only make it more challenging to come up for air!

What steps can we take to help ourselves or those we care about to redirect their anxieties and use that energy in a fruitful, impacting way? Is there anything tangible that we can do? Well, what we know about fear and anxiety is that underneath it all is a lack of feeling a sense of control; being left at the effect of someone’s leadership choices, weather events, or other disruptive situations.

We cannot control all those factors but we can control a number of choices we make that would calm our concerns and build purpose in our lives. We can make some life changes that would give us peace in the midst of uncertain days.

First and foremost, find a place of worship.   Knowing that we have a God who is incredibly mindful of us, taking time to pray about the concerns in our hearts, and locking arms with others of strong faith will make an surprising and powerful difference in how you see the world.

Limit (I mean really limit) social media. By saying this I am not saying that we put our heads in the sand but seeing news stories over and over again is unhealthy. We know for sure that what the media reports is a steady diet of what is going wrong; we rarely hear a story of what’s going right. Do a daily “flyover” but try not to make social media a steady diet.

Keep a gratefulness journal each day. What went right? Where was kindness shown? Who did I help?  What made me laugh?  When we commit to looking for the good in each day it can literally change the way we see our circumstances.

Do something good for others. Give your time where you can impact your community in a positive way! No, we cannot change the whole world but we can make a difference in the community around us.

Always be sure to spend time with life-giving people; family and friends. Talk about things you can celebrate, appreciate, and enjoy. Try to stay out of a host of doomsday conversations; rather ignite hope and vision in one another.

Again, we cannot control all the elements in our world but we can take back control of how we choose to live and navigate our lives and behaviors!  Choose well, choose hope.

 

 I have told you these things so you may have peace in Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power over the world!” John 16:33

 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

How about a Summertime challenge?

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Day after day I go about attending to the different errands on my “to-do” list; hustling and bustling through traffic to accomplish my goals.   It’s very easy to go in and out of banks, grocery stores, gas stations, and even the post office without paying any real attention to the individual who is serving me.

It was 2 years ago when I found myself feeling quite convicted about the fact that I could be so busy minded that I rarely acknowledged those who are so helpful in the service industry. It’s been 2 years since I began to challenge myself to slow down, to take time to get eye contact and start a conversation with whoever served me in some way.

Over the past 2 years I have had the joy of hearing coffee baristas thank me for being kind or being patient. I have gotten to know any of the sweet people at my local Albertson’s store; their stories, their challenges,  even sharing stories from their family life. I was recently told that I am known as “the nice lady” there.   I have learned how powerful a compliment, a thank you, and a smile can be in the middle of someone’s workday.

Cost to me? Time, it takes more time to engage with people. It does take me longer to do my errands but I think it’s so worth it.

I don’t share any of this to make myself sound “so nice”.  I have really had to grow in this aspect of my life. However, summertime is a time when these folks work even harder, there are more tourists and activities that can put stress on those who serve our needs each day.

So how about a summertime challenge? What if you commit to taking a few extra minutes out of your day to connect with those at the grocery store, Starbucks, gas station, and eateries? Watch and see how when you encourage them you will also feel encouraged.

There’s a lot of busy, irritable people out there! How about we shine our light anew this summer?  🙂

Sometimes we just need something Sweet~

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Last week my heart felt so heavy as I watched and heard about so many devastating events that caused death and sadness to countless people in many parts of the world. I watched the news in the morning and listened to the news while in my car while out doing a few errands. I could feel the weight of the concern on my heart.  I prayed. I cried. I prayed again.

Sitting at a traffic light a young Jr. High boy, riding on a scooter, stopped at a cross walk, he pushed the button and when he did he noticed an older homeless man a little way up the sidewalk.  Without hesitating, this young man pulled out his wallet, grabbed $20.00 dollar bill and handed it to the homeless man.  He turned, jumped on his scooter and headed across the street to the other side.

That little sweetness lifted my heavy heart.

I like to treasure hunt, when I can, at our local Goodwill.  This particular day I heard one of the employees loudly say ” Hey, there’s the birdman.” Then I watched a wonderfully kind interaction between them.  The “Birdman” was a tiny, hunched over, toothless man who comes into Goodwill to find bird houses.  In his hand was his treasure for the day ~ a bird house made completely out of rocks~ he was beaming!

As I made my way through the store I looked up and only the “birdman” and I were alone in the  same aisle.  He walks my way, puts his hand on my shoulder and says “honey, have you ever imagine the stories that the old items in this store could tell?  Stories of joys, memories, sadness, and celebrations?  Isn’t life precious?”   and he walked away.

That little bit of sweetness lifted my heavy heart!

Sometimes we just need something sweet, something precious, to remind us to appreciate our lives and the people in it.  I was grateful to have experienced these “sacred moments”.

In the midst of reports that break our hearts let’s not forget that there are still multitudes of precious, good people! 🙂

I wish you “sweetness” today.

Thank You~ 200th Blog Post!

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A few years ago I decided to risk writing a blog to begin to chronicle the many lessons I gain from everyday living. Challenges, changes, observations, and coaching moments could probably sum up the content of my Blog~

“Seasons and Assignments”

This will be my 200th blog post!! I am now officially convinced that our lives are full of wonderment and celebrations, fresh understanding and opportunities to grow.  As I read through the lessons I’ve been learning and have documented in my blog posts, I can relive my sad experiences, growth points, and fresh revelations about God, life, leadership, and relationships!!

I wanted to take the opportunity in my 200th Blog post to say “thank you” to my faithful readers who have commented and encouraged me every step of the way.  Your feedback has been priceless and inspiring to me!

It is my desire to be a source of fresh ideas, amusing stories, and tools for life. It is my hope that my experiences will help to build hope and direction as you walk out your own life experiences!

I wonder if you might be willing to, once again, give me some feedback.  What blog(s) that I have shared have meant a lot to you over the years? Which topics have spoken the most to your own life experiences? What themes would interest you in the days ahead?  Your feedback will help to keep me on track, inspired, and ready to “share life” with you for another 200 blog posts!  🙂

Again, I thank you for walking through the Season and Assignments of life with me!