Sometimes we just need something Sweet~

images

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.

Things we might regret~

images

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! 🙂

When Life Feels Uncertain~

index

Our lives are full of uncertainty. Pick up a newspaper, watch your evening news!  There’s change and challenge all over the world.  Weather, finances, government policies, and global conflicts swirl around our lives every day. For some, uncertainty at this level has left them paralyzed with anxiety and fear of the future.   Uncertainty is so uncomfortable; our minds want clarity and good closure.  Certainty is almost always preferrable to the unknown!

Yet, we all experience uncertainty in our lives in a more personal way; health diagnosis, job changes, relational challenges, and financial transitions just to name a few.  Times of uncertainty are really challenging to navigate because our head and emotions tend to respond negatively to the discomfort; thus anxiety can set in and hold us captive.

So, how can we find a way to thrive amidst uncertainty?  Is it even possible?  In her blog on uncertainty, Katherine McHugh says “disorienting storms of life are not just about survival, they are about learning to thrive.  It is not in spite of daunting circumstances that we grow, but because of them.”

Scripture puts is this way:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2

There are many moments of uncertainty in life. There always have been and there always will be. Sometimes things turn out the way you want them to, sometimes they don’t. Yet, accepting the uncertainty rather than trying to fight it, trusting God to guide and lead you, remembering that you cannot predict the outcomes, and watching for opportunities to grow and learn in the middle of uncertain times really helps.

My life has been full of seasons of uncertainty.  I’ve moved 11 times in my marriage, lived in 5 different cities, we pastored in 5 different churches, served 9 years in a non-profit organization, and have built our own Coaching Company from the ground up.  We have faced physical challenges, family changes, and relational transitions.  Many of these seasons of uncertainty left me anxious, fearful, and discouraged as I walked them out.  However, now that I’m older I am able to look back and see how all these situations have played a big part in who I am today.  Some situations turned out as I’d hoped, some disappointed me, and some were a complete surprise to me!

If I could speak into the life of my “younger self” amidst a season of uncertainty I would encourage her to catch her breath, spend time with God, look for the good that can be gleaned, spend time with life-giving people, and fight the urge to need to know NOW!  If I had consistently made those choices I can only imagine that my experience would have been a bit different!

Are you sitting in a season of uncertainty? If you are then it is my prayer that you will begin to walk in greater confidence that there will be a resolve and that there will be “nuggets of wisdom” to pocket in the days ahead.

Remember:

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

Could It Be Time For A Needed Break?

 

index

More often than not, we finally take a break long after the need for it began to arise!  However, what would it look like if we would give ourselves permission to take a break BEFORE we needed it!  Well, perhaps it would be helpful to list some of the telling signs that show us that we are “spent”:

1.  Even upon rising in the morning we feel a sense of dread rather than hope and anticipation. We dread the tasks of the day;we just feel tired.

2.  We find ourselves having a shorter fuse than we normally have. We will react strongly to situations that we would have navigated better when we had greater life balance.

3.  We start to sabotage the “good systems” we have had in place~ excercise, rest, quiet time with the Lord, and “screen free” time. We make excuses saying that we just don’t feel like taking the time.

4.  Often our food choices start to waver.  We start eating foods we know make us feel bad. We tell ourselves “We’ll start eating better on Monday”.

5.  We can begin to feel apathetic.  We can waste our time surfing the web, watching mindless television, ignoring  phone calls, and even turning down invitations from friends.

These are just a few of the signs that we are in need of a break!

Now sometimes we need a break at a time when we cannot take a vacation; cannot disengage from our responsibilities. So, how can we find ways to re-group and catch our breath?  Here’s a few:

1.  Get offline.  If we are overwhelmed the last thing we need is to burden ourselves with media information, mindless games, and even an over-dose of Facebook.  We need to give ourself a chance to breathe!

2.  Take a “staycation”.  Use local attractions to your benefit; live music, picnic in a park, go to a Museum, take a hike, rent a Kayak, take a cooking class, simply take the opportunity to make a refreshing memory.  It’s amazing how activities like these lift our spirits and give us a fresh attitude.

3.  Read or watch something light-hearted~ something that causes rich laughter.

4.  Take a spiritual retreat.  Set aside a full day – somewhere private or peaceful where there would be time to rest, read inspirational thoughts, pray, journal, eat chocolate, a dream again.

5.  Grant permission to say “No.”    We are often exhausted by maintaining activities that have served their time.  Allowing yourself to re-think the activities that fill your weeks and to say “No” to create greater bandwidth is a gift you give yourself!

For all of us; learning when enough is enough will be key. Learning to recognize when our energy is expiring will help us to take that needed break BEFORE we need that break!!  🙂

Be Well~

 

 index

 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

This verse is action packet with some of the best advice you’ll ever be offered!  Yet, in a world that’s filled with busy schedules, heavy responsibilities,  political posturing, financial challenges, and even relational loss. We find our minds constantly carrying the “burdens of the world”.  I know I sure have to catch myself!

Something we may not truly understand is that focusing on all that is stressful and unhappy can actually make us sick!!

In a recent Washington Post article, Kendall Powell stated;  “If stress is chronic every day, pumping out hormones without any escaping or fighting, then it’s not good for your immune system,” comparing its response to infection. The bottom line is that “chronic stress makes it more likely you become infected and that infections will last longer and be nastier.”

WebMD says is this way; “Chronic worry and emotional stress can trigger a host of health problems. The problem occurs when fight or flight is triggered daily by excessive worrying and anxiety. All of these systems interact and are profoundly influenced by your coping style and your psychological state. It isn’t the stress that makes you ill. Rather, it’s the effect responses such as excessive worrying and anxiety have on these various interacting systems that can bring on the physical illness.”

Our Creator knows us very, very well. He knew that excessive worry and concern would cause us to live our lives partly broken, unable to become the best versions of ourselves. I imagine that is why He filled His Word with verses like these:

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Isaiah  41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
So,
How are you today?  Is it time to lay down the heavy backpack of stress and worry?  Time to turn and lay those things that burden your soul on the altar; choosing to put renewed trust in the One who knows you the best?  I challenge you, and myself today, to CHOOSE TO BE WELL!  🙂