Holiday Spirit

By a very generous stroke of luck, I had the house all to myself today.  As I sat on the couch watching television, I listened to this guy share that one of the reasons he loved his wife was because the way she viewed the world was unlike anything he’d ever seen or experienced.  He described how his wife simply loved people, saw the best in everyone and always wanted to help whoever and wherever she could.  He stated that he often wished he could see the world from her eyes.  The wife explained that she was a glass half full type person and made a conscience effort to be positive because she enjoys seeing people be their best selves.

Their conversation reminded me of the many conversations I have with my love.  He and the kids often tell me how different I am and that most people don’t think or view the world the way I do.  Whenever we have family discussions, I am usually the odd woman out.  I’ve always known that my way of thinking, speaking and being is rather different from what is considered the norm in my culture but there is just something in me that wants the best for every person I meet.  I feel that no matter the situation, there is a win-win solution for everyone involved.  Although it can be a tough job most days,  I often feel it is my purpose to love others, to find and make peace, to simply be kind.  I don’t seek attention or acknowledgement, I simply hope that by loving or being kind to someone, they will in turn love or be kind to someone else.

Today is Christmas and I spent the day basking in the quiet of an empty house.  My love and the kids are visiting their family.  I spent time with my family yesterday.  So today was about relaxing and counting my many blessings.  Earlier this afternoon I decided to open some of the cards I received from coworkers and I came across one that made me pause.   You never know how showing kindness or sharing a positive word will impact someone.  There is more than enough negativity and tragedy happening in this world, I don’t need to add to it.  I will be sharing this card with my kids when they get back so that they will know that it is very true that what you put out you will get back.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granting Grace

After nearly thirteen years together sometimes he just works my last nerve!  Last night I was frustrated to no end with my Love so I decided to leave the house to get some air.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway but then I figured since Chick-fil-a was right next to Wal-Mart I deserved a cookies & cream milkshake…heaven on earth!

At the light while waiting to pull out of my subdivision, still fuming, I was going over the events of the past few minutes.  Even though I was in the car by myself and no one would have known, I was silently praying to God to help control my anger as to not start cursing that man out verbally or in the quiet corners of my mind.  

Sitting my anger at that light I clearly heard God say, “grant him grace.”  Ugh!!! God has been doing that a lot lately.  Just jumping into my thoughts, reminding me that in order to complete my circle not only do I have speak my faith, I also have to act my faith.

Grace is one of those words we hear so often that we tend to brush it aside when we are frustrated or angry.  In general, we all know what grace means but in all things Christ-like we have a choice in whether or not we use it.

Like I said, I know generally what grace means but I decided to look it up anyway so that I could make sure it was really grace God wanted me to extend in this current situation with my Love. (Won’t we try to find a way not to do what God tells us to do?  The flesh is weak!)

By definition, grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

In reading the definition, it was the word unmerited that stood out the most so, I looked it up too.

Unmerited – not adequately earned or deserved.

I meditated over that word for quite sometime before I started this post.  No one and I mean no one, not even I, deserve grace.  If I were totally honest I know without a doubt that I sometimes say, do, think and act in ways that anger or frustrate God yet, even though I did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it, I EXPECT God to grant me grace.  To forgive me, bless me and love me no matter what.  So who am I to not give to others what God so lovingly and freely gives to me each and every moment of my life?

I had the most enlightening drive to Wal-Mart! I also enjoyed my milkshake but then went home with a better attitude, helped my son with an online exam, hugged my Love and peacefully went to sleep.

Learning how to listen so that I can listen to learn.

 

Refreshed

It took a little while but this morning I was able to complete my 90-Day study of Awaken by Priscilla Shirer.  I love the format in which this book is written.  Each day begins with a scripture and then a short discussion followed by time to write down your thoughts.  If you are looking for a short daily devotional with high impact, I would definitely recommend this book.

On Monday, when I realized that I was almost done with Awaken, I stopped at my local Lifeway Christian bookstore to find my next bible study jewel.  I had no idea what I wanted to read/study next so I browsed the shelves for about an hour trying to find a book I was hoping would speak to my mind, spirit and soul.  I thumbed through all of the authors I am familiar with but nothing felt quite right.  I then turned my attention to authors I had not read before.  Low and behold I came across a book titled Craving Connection by (in)courage.  (in)courage, I have since come to know, was founded by Dayspring as an online community for women to share stories about their every day lives with God.

I purchased this little gem and brought it home.  I am looking forward to cracking it open in the morning and taking the next step toward building an even closer, deeper relationship with my heavenly Father.

On to greater heights...😊

Throwing Up Hands

Remember those times when you’ve gone to the store and the item you wanted to buy (socks, perfume, underwear, sheets) comes all neatly tucked in a package? But, you wanted to see it up close.  Touch it.  Hold it up to see how it looked.  Ever so gently, you open the package, careful not to tear it.  You take the item out thinking you were going to remember how it came out so you could fold it back and replace it in the package just as you found it.  With your smooth operation, no one would be able to tell the difference.

Then there is just one problem…after you’ve examined the item, try as you might, it just won’t fold up and fit back inside the package.  You get one side in and just when you think you’ve got it…the other side pops out!  After a while of struggling, you throw your hands up in defeat, toss the item and its package on the shelf and walk away.

Isn’t it funny how life some times works that way too?  You are doing your thing, living your life and all seems well until an issue or problem pulls you out of your neat little package.  You try several different options to try to get your peace of mind back and the situation under control but nothing seems to work.  You work out one thing and something on the other side pops out.  When all is said and done, the only thing you want to do is throw your hands up in the air and walk away. If you are anything like me, you like to wrestle with a situation until it is fixed.  I do not like to quit.  When something in my life isn’t working all I want to do is dig in and fix it.  But then, I am gently reminded that I don’t have to wrestle and that I can throw my hands up and walk away.  I can do this because my faith in God allows me to trust that without my help, pushing, wrestling and Ms. Fix-It attitude, He can work things out for me.

My Love once told me about a saying his grandfather had.  His grandfather would say, “there’s no point in you and God being up at night worrying about something. He’s going to be up anyway so give it to him and get your rest.”

Give it to God…:)

The Difference

Writing is something that I absolutely love to do and I was inspired to write this post after reading Awaken by Priscilla Shirer this morning in my quiet time. Today was Day 10 of this devotional entitled The Difference.  The scripture reading for today was from Numbers 14:24 (NIV) and it reads…

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to and his descendants will inherit it.

For much of my life and especially as an adult, I’ve been told that I was different.  That I think differently, talk differently and pretty much do my life differently than the norm.  For the longest time this bothered me.  I didn’t want to be different.  It seemed that whenever my thoughts and opinions differed from my friends, when I chose to eat healthier or when I spoke about God and openly practiced my faith, I was getting some side-eyed glance or turned up nose from someone.

At one point in my life I can remember being so annoyed with being different that I just started going along with the norm.  When asked, I agreed with the group even when I knew I didn’t share the same thoughts and opinions.  I made choices and decisions based on what others said I should do and lived the way they expected me to live.  The more I went along with the norm the more my head, heart and body ached.  I seemed to always be physically and emotionally drained. I was tired and unhappy.  I’d gained weight and developed anxiety.  A few years ago as I sat talking with a friend about my struggles, stress and sadness, she said to me, “there is no way you can please everybody.  Sometimes it becomes about self preservation.  People are going to do what they want and you will be stuck in misery trying to live down to their expectations.”

Live down to their expectations…wow!

It was in that moment I realized I was more miserable living life trying not to be different rather than simply accepting myself for who I was and living life to my own expectations.  So people talked about me and made fun of me.  Yes, it was furiously annoying but I was and am much more happier just being myself.  My quiet time this morning, reminded me that God purposely made me unique and different for a reason.  No one else can be me.  The path and life God has for me is for me and no one else can walk my journey.  Since that talk with my friend, I’ve been living my life according to me ever since and have been better for it.

At church this past Sunday a gentleman sitting next to me said to me, “you must have a good life because you are always smiling.”  When I woke up Sunday I really was not feeling as if I was living a good life.  But after a moment of thinking about it, I had to agree with him.  I do have a good life.  We survived a hurricane with no damage to our home; my love, my son and my family are healthy and well and I am gainfully employed.  I may be different but I am soooo very happy!

A different kind of spirit…:)

 

 

Taking A Look Back

So…I have been a little stressed about life and my finances.  While, I am far from poor and not where I hoped to be at this point in my life, there are a lot of good things happening in my life.  This past weekend, I lost sight of those good things.  I am certain we have all reached a point in life where we look back on our life plans and think, “man, I haven’t done nearly what I thought I’d have done at this point in my life”.  That was me just a few days ago.  But then a simple act happened that hit me right in the face.

We had a relatively quiet and restful three-day weekend.  I started getting a little tense on Saturday after getting up and paying some bills online.  I’d just gotten paid on Friday and by Saturday the amount in my account started shrinking fast.  Still, my love and I, decided to drive out to a small historic town to have lunch and to just enjoy the day.  It was nice but still I was focused on my finances like, “wow, I work hard and just like that my hard earned dollars are out the window.” Sunday, our son had a football game so we drove out to enjoy that as well.  By Monday, I was still trying to get it together and we decided to get our weekly shopping done. While out, we somehow ended up in the neighborhood I lived in prior to graduating college.

My old neighborhood served its purpose.  My friend, who owned the home where I lived, at the time, was taking a job three hours north and needed to sell.  I was in school and didn’t want to quit.  With no other options, my friend suggested public housing.  I wasn’t ready to live there and didn’t plan to stay long.  The first time my name came up, I turned down the housing.  But with time running out, the house being on the market and could be sold at any point, I swallowed my pride and accepted when I was offered housing a second time.

My son and I moved in.  I worked super hard, finished school, found a teaching position and got out of dodge withing three years.  The neighborhood is now being demolished.  On Monday, seeing nearly all of the buildings gone, humbled me with the quickness.  I sat there in the car, looking around at my old neighborhood thinking about where I’d come from and all that I had accomplished in fifteen years.  I was reminded that I have no reasons to be stressed or worried about my life or finances.  Living in public housing, seriously wondering where our next meal was going to come from and praying I could just hold out long enough to finish school was my reality back then.  If I could just finish school, I knew I could make a better life for me and my boy.  I’ve come a very long way and God has been there for every up and every down.  Somehow, we always had food.  The lights never went off.  I had gas to get to and from school.  The rent was paid every month and I never had to borrow a dime from anyone.  We were faced with situations I thought we’d never survive and we had outcomes that I know for a fact were not of my hand.

Needless to say, that simple drive changed my perspective within a matter of seconds.  It never hurts to take a moment to look back over your life and in doing so, focus on the number of times you should have been down and counted out.  Those days when you knew you were being careless and shouldn’t have survived the night.  God kept you for a reason.  Don’t lose sight of that.

A brighter day…;)

The Brighter Side

The Brighter  Side

 

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently.  She and I talked at length about some personal things she has been going through.  For the most part, I simply sat and listened.  As she talked, thoughts ran through my mind about a few ways she could probably fix a situation or two she had mentioned.  What kept me from chiming in is a promise I made to myself a long time ago to not interrupt someone who was in the middle of sharing with me what they felt were trying or difficult situations.

I had a few challenges as I was growing up.  One of the things that bothered me most was when I tried to talk to someone, a friend or family member about my challenges they didn’t actually listen to what I was saying.  A number of things happened that made me never want to talk to them again.  I was either interrupted while I talked, given some off-handed solution to the situation, told that as time passed it would work itself out or to simply not worry about it.  Nine times out of ten, none of those things worked.  Common sayings or general statements like that don’t help anybody.  As I have grown, I have come to realize that when my friends come to me with problems or frustrations, what they really want is for someone to listen.  They don’t want solutions, feedback or extra conversation.  They just want to be heard.  So, I do my best to keep the promise I made to myself to not interrupt or give unsolicited advice.

If asked, at a moments notice, I know that I could probably think of all the things I felt went wrong in my life or situations I thought were much too difficult for me to handle.  There are definitely some things, if given the chance, I would go back and change.  Well, since that is not an option, I focus on what I can do differently now that I am older and hopefully wiser.  When given the opportunity, by request, to share my thoughts with friends who are experiencing a difficult time, here are some things I often share:

  1.  The thing you feed the longest is the thing that is the strongest.  Be aware of the activity going on inside your mind.  Basically, when we constantly turn over in our minds the problem or situation we are going through, the longer it takes to see a solution or a way out. The more we think about it, the more it takes root in our minds and in our spirit; therefore, the longer it will take to get rid of.  So, be aware of how much you feed the problem.
  2.   Pray and pray often.  Make prayer apart of your daily routine.  I like to have my quiet moment, meditation and prayer time first thing in the morning.  For me, this helps to start my day with a positive purpose.  Often I read a scripture or reflect on something that stays with me and helps me to stay focused and purpose driven all day.  When the tough times come, my mind and spirit are prepared to deal with the issues in a more relaxed and positive way.
  3.   If prayer is not your thing, try positive affirmations and gratitude.  Use index cards, sticky notes or whatever writing material you are comfortable with to write down quotes, positive thoughts or things that you are grateful for.  Put these where you can see them throughout your day to remind you of the things that are going right in your life and you will be less likely to focus on the things that aren’t going so great.
  4.  Shift your mental thoughts.  When your mind starts to wander to those things and situations that are overwhelming you or causing you frustration, force your thoughts to something positive.  Deliberately, shift your mental thoughts to something you enjoy or a goal you’ve set for yourself.

While, I know that there is no quick fix to any problem or situation, the goal is to know and understand that there will be situations and issues that will cause us to struggle.  But, what we want to do is be so prepared that when they do come they do not cause damage to our mental health with depression or stress.  Nor to our physical health with weight gain or joint pain.  Find those things in life that you enjoy and that make you happy.  Do those things and do them often. Build up your positives so that your negatives don’t overtake you.

Finding the brighter side…😊