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.

Do you have a HOUSE or a HOME?

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This week I have enjoyed the unique opportunity to assist my son and precious daughter in law as they get re-settled in CA for a new life there~ a new adventure.  What I have loved the most has been watching them transform a “house” into a “home”!

Nate and Kate are no strangers to setting up house as their short married life has already had numerous moves.

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Furniture, bedding, dishes, and blankets are all needed in order to set up house. However,  Pictures and memory-based items make a house a home!

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As I have spent this past week alongside these two I have observed the MOST important aspect of what makes a house a home. KINDNESS.
In the midst of boxes, unfamiliar streets, new noises, and the idiosyncrasy’s of a home build in the 1920’s, I have seen these two show incredible kindness to one another.

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Whether you live in Bend, OR., Seattle, WA., or Palo Alto, CA~ You can make a house a home IF you are intentional about doing so.

Today–look around your home….does is represent your family with all it’s uniqueness’s?  Is your home full of kindness and care?  I pray that it is and that your house is indeed a HOME!  🙂

Birthdays~

I love birthdays, don’t you?  I love having the opportunity to celebrate a friend or family member on their “special day”.  Though most of us may not admit it,  we really do like  to have our “special day” celebrated as well.

Facebook has created a crazy phenomenon that allows ALL your Facebook Friends to know that it is your birthday and within a 24 hour period you may have well wishes and Birthday greetings from hundreds of people! It’s amazing to have greetings from everyone you know, from every season of your life, gathered on one page!!

Birthdays give us a chance to say things to others that could feel awkward saying at other times of the year:  “I love you, you matter, you are special, I care about you, I want the best for you, YOU ROCK!!”  🙂 Birthdays create the opportunity.

Birthdays are often a time we reflect on those that have passed away, our birthday thoughts are bittersweet as we remember many celebrations in days past; we miss them. We may know where they are and that they are at peace, yet on birthdays~we miss them a little bit more.

This week is my nephew, Christopher Smith’s birthday. Because I blog from my heart each week I cannot miss this chance to remember him in my writings. I miss his smile, humor, creativity, love for family, and zest for life.

With this in mind, perhaps waiting until a birthday to share those meaningful and heartfelt thoughts you have for those you know and love shouldn’t wait until a birthday~Today could be a really good day! 🙂 Grab the opportunity……

Tips to Successful Relationships~

Relationships matter!

Relationships can bring us our greatest joys and our deepest wounds. We can’t control how others choose to respond in their relationships with us, but we can establish our own ground rules for having and maintaining quality relationships.

Below are some thoughts to consider as you navigate the relationships in your life:

1.  Surround yourself with positive people- finding like-minded, positive people will fill your cup. Spending the bulk of your time with those who suck the happiness out of you is unwise and unhealthy.

2. Accept people just the way they are – Save yourself the needless stress of trying to change people who don’t want to change. Fight the urge to engage in fruitless conversations, rather look for areas where you can agree and show support.

3. Forgive people and move forward –  holding anger or bitterness affects us much more than the individual we have been hurt by.  Forgiveness is not saying “What you did or said was okay.”  It is saying “I’m not going to let what you did ruin my happiness or steal my joy.” It doesn’t mean you forget it simply means that you choose to let go.

4.   Do little things for those in your life –  A card, a visit, a gift, an email, a text. Simply take opportunities to connect with and appreciate those your care about.  We all feel a little more valuable when we realize that someone has been thinking of us.

5.  Talk a little less, listen a little more –  Our relationships will grow if we move away from being the talker and take the time to listen! A listening ear is the greatest gift we could give to those we love.

6.  Be Loyal – be the kind of person that believes the best about those you love. Everyone needs to know that someone “has their back”. Be that person.

7.  Pick your battlegrounds – don’t pick petty arguments. We aren’t always “right”.  Focus on the things that truly matter and let the small stuff go!

8.  Encourage and cheer them on –  be excited for those you love! Spur them on! Don’t look at their opportunities or dreams with the lens of what it will cost you, rather keep them the priority.

9.  Remember that everyone has baggage –  we all enter relationship with a suitcase filled with past experiences; successes, disappointments, hurts, etc.  Sometimes that “baggage” effects the relationship and needs to be addressed. However, using grace and understanding will always be the most fruitful approach.

10. Let go of friendships that are no longer healthy – some relationships can run their course and a necessary ending needs to take place. To force relationships to continue when the season is over can be exhausting and eventually more harmful than good.  Be willing to appreciate the relationship for what it was, and then release it and move forward.

Relationships are our most valuable assets and worth the effort to keep them strong and healthy! Test these tips out and see if they help create healthier interactions in your relationships. AND–Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

Are They Random or Divine?

Have you ever gone to the grocery store, coffee shop, gas station, or medical office with the intent to accomplish your personal tasks when “out of the blue” you run into someone and find yourself in a short yet richly meaningful conversation?

In those encounters have you ever felt you were a meaningful source of encouragement or that you yourself walked away richly encouraged? I have!  Throughout my life I have had many of these moments that left me pondering, scratching my head and thinking “wow, I didn’t expect that today!”

I imagine I may have missed so many of these “unique connections” over the years simply by keeping a schedule so tight that I don’t even think I took time to look at those around me at all~~no margins to care.

Lately I have been trying to change the way I hustle through my day.  I have been trying to look people in the eye, to smile, or to engage in small chatter as I move through my tasks.  I have tried to choose to really listen, to care enough to pay attention and in doing so I have come to an interesting conclusion.

It appears to me that nothing happens by chance, in fact I believe these encounters are sacredly divine. In a world of disconnect, I suspect that God desires that people find connection throughout their days enough to orchestrate it, IF we are paying attention!  I find this exciting, because we never know what He might do in us and through us within the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.

We all face challenges, hurts, points of sadness, loneliness, and uncertainty.  In some of my lowest points a surprise encounter with a friend or a kind stranger has turned my day around.

Think about your own life…..Has God arranged some of these moments for you?  Imagine what God could do if we were all fully committed to watching and making room in our schedules for those moments!

Next time you go to the grocery store, test my theory and look someone in the eye, smile, and see what God might do! 🙂

Proverbs 16:24                                                                                               

Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

I have a story!

I love a good story! How about you?

Over the course of my life I have found myself encouraged, inspired, challenged, humbled, and mentored through stories of real life experiences that individuals were brave enough to express. Whether the story is of hardship, pain, and loss or if the story is of courage, valor, or success~still my life has been impacted by the telling of a story.

It is remarkable the way we can learn, feel, or be moved to action by what others learn through the changes and challenges others experience in their lives. We can make good choices; even avoid pitfalls simply by hearing of the missteps  and consequences others.  I love this because WE ALL HAVE A STORY; we all have the opportunity to impact others with what our stories have taught us.

Yesterday I ran into a friend I had not seen in years, a fabulous worship leader. However, over the past 10 years she has been plagued with a disease that makes it almost impossible for her to even talk. My friend began to tell me her story, pushing out the words as best she could. She spoke of the incredible challenge and discouragement of losing the freedom to “do” what she had done for the Lord all of her life.  But, she lit up as she talked of what she has been learning and that’s when the rich nuggets of wisdom began to come forth.  I said to her “you need to write your story”.  I new that her experience would encourage fresh growth in others.

Another dear friend has battled being overweight all her life and she has been passionately diligent over the past two years to lose the weight and become a healthier and more confident woman ~  She has taken her story to her blog; honestly exposing her challenges and failures while also celebrating her wins!  I have already heard that many woman have been inspired to follow in her footsteps….to make changes because of her story!

A gal I was privileged to coach 4 years ago walked through the loss of her beloved husband while away in Hawaii celebrating their 30th anniversary; they finished snorkeling and moments later he had a heart attack right there on the beach! We spent a lot of time talking through the first 2 years of her loss; there were hard adjustments, changes, and hurts that arose through that year. Hearing how these elements made her feel helped me to more clearly understand how clumsy I can be while helping others navigate through the loss of a loved one.  Her story really helped me to grow and change.

What’s your story? We all have one ( or easily MORE than just one story).  Are you brave enough to tell it or write it?  An honest story told to the right listener or reader can be life changing!

Take time to ponder your life/ your story.  Pay attention to the nuggets of Gold you have learned from them; and at the right time…give them as away as a gift!

“Health” Club~~

One of my favorite jobs these days is working with a great team at our local health club. It is in this role that we get to serve and support our members in various and often times, creative ways.  What I love the most is seeing the effort the members make to become or stay healthy; it’s inspiring…especially those amazing folks who are standing at the door at 5:15 am! Wow!

So what really is HEALTHY?

The Dictionary says “a sound and vigorous mind, healthy recreations, prosperous or sound, robust, good well-being, and restorative in nature.”

These terms churn up many thoughts as I take inventory of my own life.  Am I healthy?

1. Do I have a vigorous  mind?  do I allow concerns and fears to cause anxiety and restlessness within me? do I take the time to read, learn, dream, or try new things?

2. Do I have healthy recreations?  do I give myself permission to take time away from my diligent work to regroup, refresh?

3.  Is my life prosperous or sound?  do I make intentional decisions to use my time in a way that prospers my family, faith ,  and finances?

4.  Do I have a strong sense of well-being?  Do I surround myself with healthy people? do I speak encouragements to myself or do I feel critical of who I am?  Do I feel my life has value?

5.  Is my lifestyle restorative?  do I live a life that depletes me and those around me? do I run in a manic pace? or do I live life with a rhythm that allows me to work hard and yet still remain balanced?

Being healthy is so much more than what you weigh, how big your muscles are, or what your BMI is…though these elements do matter there is such a broader sense of what it truly means to be a healthy person.

Are YOU healthy?  Ponder the questions I have asked myself and if you see a need to make some changes then bravely do so!

This is your new healthy season! 🙂

The View From My Handlebars~

     Having downsized from acreage and a large home to a condo in the heart of our town has been both refreshing and interesting.  For years I had been afraid of what a change of this magnitude would have on my life, on my sense of stability.  Having been raised all of my life on a 54 acre apple ranch I grew up having the option to find a private place to read, dream, draw, or hum a song our two; I could get completely alone. This season of my life is teaching me something new.

As I realized how close we would live to virtually “everything” I committed in my heart to walk or ride a bike to shop, meet friends for coffee, hit the Farmers’ Market, deliver gifts, or any necessary outing that I calendared. Finding my cool cruiser bike on Craig’s List for a mere $100 was a valuable find!  I named her Dixie and we’ve been doing life together consistently over the past 2 weeks.

Riding my cruiser has shown me some really cool things:

  • 1.  I am able to be “alone”. While the breeze blows through my hair I pray, sing, and  dream while dodging traffic, baby strollers, dogs and their owners. I feared this experience would be impossible but I have been able to enjoy the flurry around me without letting it steal my privacy!
  • 2.  My day slows down.  When completing errands using my Explorer I tend to dart here and there yet when riding I have to allow these responsibilities to take extra time, I have to be okay with things taking a little longer.
  • 3. My favorite “aha moment” has been realizing how many amazing things I have missed about my town. The view from my handlebars has been amazing. I’ve visited streets with amazing homes & yards I never knew existed, I’ve seen architecture I’d never laid my eyes on, I’ve seen cute backyards prepared for the dearly loved children, I’ve seen intentional crosses on the sides of streets acknowledging that someone loved had died in a car accident, and I’ve seen flowers along busy streets that are beautiful!! I just never slowed down enough to notice!  “Dixie” has afforded me the opportunity to see my life, my town, from a fresh perspective.

This season of my life is unique and I am grateful for it, but I just wonder how many other meaningful things I may have missed over all these years because  I didn’t give myself permission to slow down, to simply notice all the lovely, sad, amazing, and beautiful things that have been right in front of me.

Do you need permission today? Well, permission granted!!!  Take some time to see what life looks like from behind your handlebars.