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?  🙂

This Christmas….

 

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Sitting in my living room looking out at the blustery snow storm outside, I am pondering what Christmas is like for you this year.  Each year the “feel” of the season may be markedly different from the last.  I have a dear friend who, last year, grieved her inability to carry a child; this year she is in her first trimester of a stable pregnancy.  I have a colleague who is walking through the first Christmas without her spouse by her side.  I have a client who is reveling in the birth of her first grandchild and yet another who just found out that she will no longer have her job in 2016.

The “feel” of the holidays can ebb and flow against the filter of what’s presently taking place in our lives. We all want to be sensitive to others while also being grateful enough to celebrate the joys in our lives as well.  This can be a fine balance that I have not mastered but attempt to be mindful of.  Five years ago was a “blue” Christmas for me as our family was walking through the pain of a dramatic loss in our family.  I don’t think I was resentful of the joys others were celebrating, I just didn’t have the enthusiasm to celebrate that year, I understand the challenge.

What I have learned over the years is that there is always elements of our lives we can be grateful for–some unchangeable areas where our gratefulness can be expressed:

  1.  We have an amazing God who loves us, forgives us, gives us grace, and watches over our lives every single day!
  2. We live in America.  We are not a perfect nation and have much to learn but as of today, we are free to worship, to work, and to travel freely.
  3. We all have friends.  Some years we may not have as many friends as we’d like but if we were honest, we all have one or two dear people who love us and this is a real gift!
  4. If we are breathing and our heart is beating, we still have life within us and the opportunity to love and impact the lives of others around us.

I don’t know what your holiday filter is for you this year but it is my prayer that you will take some time to ponder, even list, the good things in your life as you navigate Christmas Day.  May you begin a New Year with a fresh perspective, renewed hope, and a grateful heart.

Merry Christmas to you all. 🙂

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.

A Posture of Gratefulness

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Forever Thankful

Being forever thankful,

Is what God wants from us,

Never forgetting from where we came,

Or His boundless, saving love

All of heavens blessings

Poured down from heavens gates,

Everything we have in life,

He’s given with extra grace

We need to always thank Him

For this, and so much more

Not only for tangible things,

But because He is our Lord.

As you enter into the season of Thanksgiving, whether facing joy or pain, may you never lose your gratefulness for who God is in your life. There’s powerful hope in a grateful posture.

He sees you.

He cares.

Things we might regret~

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This past week I had the privilege of traveling with my mother and her sister on a road trip to see one of their lifelong friends a few hours away.  This would be a 3 day trip full of laughter, meaningful conversations, shared memories from days gone by, and lots of reminiscing.   I enjoyed the time I had with them all; each of them are so precious to me.  One of the comments was that “time has just gone by so very quickly”, I even see this in my own life as I am celebrating 30 years of marriage this week.  Life does indeed move forward quickly.

Since I returned from the road trip I have been looking at my own life and asking the question, “am I doing all I can to live this life well, with purpose and meaning?”  As I think about that question my answer is “yes, some of the time.” I could do better.

I began to ponder the question, “What might we all regret when we get into our twilight years?”  and I came up with a list of things to consider.

1.  Not stopping to appreciate the “moment”.  Living life so busy-minded that we miss so many amazing moments all around us.

2.  Not traveling when we could have.  Seeing and experiencing other cultures makes a huge difference in our world view and can create memories to last forever.

3.  Holding grudges.  How sad to live life as a hostage to hurt feelings! Gotta let it go!

4.  Not having taken time to get to know God~ to invite Him into our lives. He gave us the very breath we breathe; how amazing to have a life knowing and trusting in Him.

5.  Not having taken time to volunteer.  Life is so much richer when we take time to come alongside those wanting to make a difference!

6.  Not spending intentional time with loved ones.  It’s a sad truth to realize that we don’t know how long we get to have those we love in our lives.  It’s best not to put relationships off “till tomorrow”.

7.  Caring too much what others think.   We will never please everyone all the time.  As much as we may try, there will always be those who see us through a filter that we cannot control.  Care more about being the best YOU that you can be!

8.  Working too much.   Decide when then work day needs to be done.  Disengage and fill your life with life-giving activities and people.

9.  Never having taken risks to pursue a dream.   Do you have a dream in your heart? Are you playing it so safe that your dream will never be realized?

10. Worrying too much.   Life is complicated and uncertain.  All of us could focus on areas of concern and find ourselves consumed with fear and worry.  However, worry robs us of joy.  We will regret having spent our days burdened and concerned.

It was fun to hear of all the ways my mom and her sister intentionally built memories from childhood till now.  When life was hard for them; they created space for joy and laughter.  When life has been joy-filled they have intentionally celebrated those moments with gratefulness.  No matter what stage of life you may be in; ask yourself if there’s anything on my list that YOU may regret someday.  If there is there’s no time like the present to turn it around! 🙂

In case I forget to say “thank you”~~

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People.So many precious people have helped me to become who I am today.

Recently I have been reminiscing about my life.  Being a grandma can cause that! I have been thinking about the many, many wonderful people who have been in my life over the years helping me to become the person that I am today. And, I am so grateful.

I am grateful for my Sunday School teachers that I had as a child; through their loving committment and stories on the felt board, I learned the stories in the Bible from the creation of the world to the resurrection of my precious Saviour!

As I reflect I am reminded of the many, many people who poured into my life over the years; especially my early “formative years”, I am overwhelmed.  It took their time, effort, patience, and talents to pour “life” into me.

I am grateful for my Youth Group leaders who helped me navigate the challenges of being a teen; prayed for me, and spoke life into my insecure soul.  For you it might have been a job; for me it was my salvation.

I am grateful to amazing college professors who were willing to challenge my “status quo” and help me to see life, God, and my future with greater vision! You took me from a passive student to a Baccalaureate speaker with a big vision for the future! I am forever grateful!!

 As an adult, I am grateful for friends brave enough to challenge me, pray with me, encourage me, and speak into my life!  You may never know how deep your impact has been; but I do. You have been a gift from God to me!!

Then my heart turns toward the family God has given me.  Your love, patience, humor, and support is irreplaceable and priceless. Without my Mother, Father, Sisters, Brothers in Law, nieces, and nephews, I know my life would have such a different story.  You are such a rich part of my life story and I deeply value you.

Then I ponder on the influence and impact of my husband and sons ( and their amazing brides). Without all of you; I wouldn’t stretch as much as I have.  You make me want to grow and live a life that honors all that is good and wholesome!

Little Scout Jubilee~ Your very existence strengthens my resolve to have good priorities and to live a life that makes you proud of your Mimi.  Thank you Sweet Pea!

And finally–but not least–my Savior who chose me,, sanctified me, healed me, raised me up, and led me. You are the greatest influence of all.  You have led me down roads I could never have imagined. You have blessed me beyond my wildest dreams, and you have help me navigate situations and events that, without you, would have taken me out!!

Today, my heart needed to simply say “thanks”. I am eternally grateful for everyone who has impacted my life! Thank you!!!

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