squirrel

Thoughts

Controlling your thoughts.

I can’t seem to get my head right since my mother passed away. Her death has changed me. I am no longer a “type A” personality, but rather a MAJOR procrastinator (GASP!). We have a saying in our family where we yell, “SQUIRREL!” when someone is appearing to be easily distracted at the moment. I’m not only being distracted by “squirrels” lately, I seem to be SEEKING THEM OUT. I will do anything other than the task I SHOULD be doing. What is wrong with me?!

I look at my kids’ faces, and stroke their hair while thinking to myself, “It’s not fair that we have to be apart from each other someday.” I can totally see why some people who have been hurt decide to shut themselves off from the outside world. If you don’t let any love in, you won’t let any hurt in either. Being separated from those we love is just all kinds of wrong.

It’s not fair.

This world feels so broken at times. Too often we hear of a hurt or misfortune of others and have become almost nonchalant about categorizing that event under “this world is broken.” We move on to the next task without expecting any change. Just a continuation of hurt, devastation, pain, and struggle to find any sliver of good throughout our day.

I HAVE found it though—the silver lining. It comes to me when I can allow myself to slow down, look up, and be thankful. The next time you find yourself in quicksand… just

SLOW DOWN (stop what you’re doing)

LOOK UP (rest your mind on God)

and BE THANKFUL (choose something in your life to be thankful for).

Today I have “slowed down” by pausing from work to write this post so my kids can read it someday and gain peace. I have “looked up” at God by reading today’s passage in a book titled Jesus Calling, and I am “thankful” for the immense amount of love that resides in my home. I have a loving best friend and husband of 20 years, and 3 beautiful, kind, loving, amazingly bright, healthy children who absolutely love spending time with me. I am blessed. Life may often feel unfair, but right now it feels weighted WAY in my favor.

LIFE LESSON: 

There is ALWAYS a silver lining. You just have to look for it.

self-control

Self-Control

Finding Self-Control and Starting Over

We learn from our mistakes in the areas that matter least; like games, texting, computers. We repeat mistakes in areas that matter most; finances, relationships, kids, school.

Why add more pain to an already painful existence? In this life there will always be pain. Do not procrastinate to avoid pain. You can either choose a little pain now, or a LOT more pain later. 

There are THREE MYTHS in regards to having self-control and making better decisions in life:

THE EXPERIENCE MYTH — “Experience makes you wiser.” 

THE KNOW BETTER MYTH — “Since I know better, I’ll do better.”

THE TIME IS AGAINST ME MYTH — “Compared to THAT person, I’m way behind!”

The Experience Myth Experience only makes us older, tired, poorer, lonelier, etc. It does NOT make you wiser. Only EVALUATED EXPERIENCE makes you wiser. If you can sit down at the end of each day and evaluate what you did and how well it worked for your goals, you’ll be SOOO much wiser than you were before that day began.

The Know Better Myth I saw Suzie do that thing and it turned out bad for her, so I KNOW that I won’t make the same mistake. WRONG. Knowing better does not equal doing better.

The Time is Against Me Myth — Stop comparing yourself to others when making decisions about your life. TIME IS YOUR FRIEND. The clock is NOT ticking. You need to have time to gain emotional balance before trying something again. When you are in pain physically or emotionally, you become very self-absorbed.

<<SELF-ABSORBED PEOPLE MAKE SELF-ABSORBED DECISIONS>>

When you are (emotionally) healthy you have clarity that will help you make good decisions.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Romans 8:28 — And we know in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.

In every instance in the bible there were YEARS between the 1st and 2nd rounds of experiences. They gained a divine sense of destiny and an abiding sense of humility. “I wouldn’t trade anything for what I learned in the first round.”

LIFE LESSON:

If you allow God to use ALL experiences in your life, the experiences will resurface in a POSITIVE way.

 

 

responsibility

Responsibility

Ben Franklin said, “He that is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.”

This is so true. I’ve met so many people (including the one in the mirror) who so often make excuses for reasons why something didn’t get done that was their responsibility. If I can just OWN what I’ve done wrong, and figure out a way to do it better the next time, I’ll make progress so much faster. Rather than making an excuse and continuing down the same path in the same way, eventually achieving the same result (failure to get it done).

Each new day brings with it new opportunity. Every morning, before you allow the day to run your life, choose to be the one in the driver’s seat. Say this phrase,

“WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THE OPPORTUNITY GOD HAS GIVEN ME?”

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Matthew 25:14-28  (NIV) — The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

LIFE LESSON: If you are responsible with a small amount, you’ll be responsible with a large amount.

To avoid not getting your responsibilities accomplished, I recommend PLANNING. Plan your day, asking yourself what that day’s “main event” is. Focus on getting that one thing done and prioritize the less important things under it. One of the best ways I have found to do this is by making a list of everything that is circling around in my head. Get it ALL out on paper or your reminders list on your phone. Then I open my planner that has one week across two pages. Each day is a column and within each day it is broken down by daytime hours. Pencil in the items you want to accomplish and make sure everything has enough time to be completed.  I say “pencil in” because I am usually having to move stuff around before I’m all set for the day. Once your day is planned out, you’re good to go. AS LONG AS YOU KEEP YOUR PLANNER IN SITE DURING THE DAY. 😉

Another good thing to remember is… ANYTHING YOU HAVE TOO MUCH OF, YOU WILL ABUSE.

This is true for time (not planning your day to be proactive about your list), money (not being careful or on a budget so you don’t overspend), possessions (not taking care of stuff you own). I would even go as far as to say responsibility can be abused if you have too much and you don’t know how to delegate to be sure to get stuff done.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO PENCIL IN TIME FOR REST. I am a firm believer in having short ‘rest periods’ throughout the day so I can regroup and recharge. When life starts getting crazy and you find yourself having scattered thoughts because you can’t seem to focus on one thing long enough to complete it well, just pause.

Take 3 deep breaths in this manner:

4 seconds to inhale  •  7 seconds to hold in the breath  •  8 seconds to exhale

Repeat 3 times.

Then go get ’em tiger!  <3

 

advice from old people

Advice from Old People

Evaluated Experience from old people:

1. The most important person in your life is the person who agreed to share their life with you. Treat them as such.

2. You might live a long life, or you might live a short one — who knows. But either way, trust me when I say that you’re going to wish you took better care of yourself in your youth.

3. Stuff is just stuff. Don’t hold onto material objects, hold onto time and experiences instead.

4. Jealousy destroys relationships. Trust your significant other, because who else are you supposed to trust?

5. People always say, “Make sure you get a job doing what you love!” But that isn’t the best advice. The right job is the job you love some days, can tolerate most days, and still pays the bills. Almost nobody has a job they love every day.

6. If you’re getting overwhelmed by life, just return to the immediate present moment and savour all that is beautiful and comforting. Take a deep breath, relax.

7. Years go by in the blink of an eye. Don’t marry young. Live your life. Go places. Do things. If you have the means or not. Pack a bag and go wherever you can afford to go. While you have no dependents, don’t buy stuff. Any stuff. See the world. Look through travel magazines and pick a spot. GO!

8. Don’t take life so seriously. Even if things seem dark and hopeless, try to laugh at how ridiculous life is.

9. A true friend will come running if you call them at 2am. Everyone else is just an acquaintance.

10. Children grow up way too fast. Make the most of the time you have with them.

11. Nobody ever dies wishing they had worked more. Work hard, but don’t prioritize work over family, friends, or even yourself.

12. Eat and exercise like you’re a diabetic heart patient with a stroke — so you never actually become one.

13. Maybe this one isn’t as profound as the others, but I think it’s important… Floss regularly, dental problems are awful.

14. Don’t take anyone else’s advice as gospel. You can ask for advice from someone you respect, then take your situation into consideration and make your own decision. Essentially, take your own advice is my advice…

15. The joints you damage today will get their revenge later. Even if you think they’ve recovered completely. TRUST ME!

16. We have one time on this earth. Don’t wake up and realize that you are 60 years old and haven’t done the things you dreamed about.

17. Appreciate the small things and to be present in the moment. What do I mean? Well, it seems today like younger people are all about immediate gratification. Instead, why not appreciate every small moment? We don’t get to stay on this crazy/wonderful planet forever and the greatest pleasure can be found in the most mundane of activities. Instead of sending a text, pick up the phone and call someone. Call your mother, have a conversation about nothing in particular. Those are the moments to hold onto.

18. Pay your bills and stay the heck out of debt. If I could have paid myself all the money I’ve paid out in interest over the years, I’d be retired already.

19. If you have a dream of being or doing something that seems impossible, try for it anyway. It will only become more impossible as you age and become responsible for other people.

20. When you meet someone for the first time, stop and realize that you really know nothing about them. You see race, gender, age, clothes. Forget it all. You know nothing. Those biased assumptions that pop into your head because of the way your brain likes categories, are limiting your life, and other people’s lives.

hands folded in prayer

Prayer

Have you ever wondered…

…Is this working? Is anyone out there? Am I doing this right? Is prayer just talking to God?

If God already knows what I need, then WHY ASK?

The purpose in prayer is to surrender to His will more than your own. Before we get to what you want, we must first surrender to Him. You should be more committed to His will than your own because he sees the world and your life more clearly than you will ever be able to see it. Thank God we don’t always get everything we ask for b/c we don’t know what else God is working on.

God’s will be done – because it’s bigger than just you.

Every single time you pray you need to remember that you are a forgiven person and you should forgive the people around you. And you are not intending to do evil. It’s not about getting forgiveness and emptying your sin bucket so you can go out and fill it up again.

HOW TO PRAY:

  • Declare God’s greatness.
  • Surrender your will.
  • Acknowledge your dependence.

– PROVISION (remembering that everything comes from God)

– PARDON (thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins)

– PROTECTION (from temptation and evil)

Don’t start off asking for what YOU want.

To the best of your ability, try to keep the following things in mind during prayer:

  • Be alone
  • No one else sees you
  • Isolation from the world around you
  • To your unseen father
  • Don’t think you are going to move God in your direction
  • You don’t need to beg or plead
  • He knows what you need before you ask him

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES:

Luke 11:1  — Lord, teach us to pray.

Matthew 6:5-10 — And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (with peace). And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Matthew 6:12-13  This then, is how you should pray: (MEANING: here is a new model and direction and way to move when you pray) Our Father in heaven, hallowed (majestic, separate, holy, big) be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

LIFE LESSON: Why Pray? The reward is PEACE.

Just try it. The next time someone makes you red in the face with anger, try praying for them. If you can honestly get your heart to the place where you can ask God to bless them, you’ll be rewarded with an overwhelming peaceful feeling in your gut. Believe me, I’ve had my share of wanting to fight back with fire—but it only makes me get MORE fired up. The only way I have been able to find peace during a hard time with another human is by praying for them. And when you pray—remember you have been forgiven—therefore you should immediately forgive others. I think prayer and forgiveness go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. That is why prayer brings such immediate and immense peace to my soul.

Don’t know what to pray? Try this simple prayer on for size: “God, let Your desires be my desires.” And then sit back and enjoy the path in life you are on, because it’s more than likely the path God wants you to be on, which means your life will be lived to it’s fullest potential.

WANT MORE?

Here’s a great video from one of my favorite pastors, Andy Stanley from North Point Community Churchhttp://yourmove.is/episode/red-letter-prayers/

Until my next life lesson… may you find peace and love in this crazy thing called life.