I Need Your Perspective

Gentlemen, once you’ve read this post, I believe you’ll better understand the women in your life. And ladies, young to mature, please realize that you’re not alone.  You have many sisters – some who want to encourage you.  As your sister, I encourage you to welcome the next version of yourself and enjoy the next season of your life.

 

My age has never bothered me.  I’ve usually felt really positive about turning another year older, but this birthday was looking very different.  Life has been thumping and slamming me and sometimes I’m not feeling very zesty.  As I approached 55, I also began noticing some physiological changes that weren’t thrilling me.  I definitely wasn’t feeling positive about crossing over into my latter 50s.

 

Thankfully, this isn’t where my story ends.  I began to examine my life.  More importantly, I examined my attitudes about my life.  I was on my evening bike ride and an interesting thought entered my mind.  “Pray for a new perspective.”  Alright, yes – a new perspective.  I began to ask God for this.  The next morning, the same thought entered my mind.  Yes – “Lord, I need a new perspective – I need Your perspective.”  Here’s what I’m seeing.

 

>I’d never believed that I was a noticeable woman, or that I added value to the lives of others.   God began to show me a more complete image of myself.   He used new situations and a clearer understanding of previous occurrences, to help me see myself differently.  He has shown me that I do have value in this world, but that I cannot depend solely on humans for this – I must depend on Him.  I’ve learned that when those closest to me, don’t seem to value me, my value still remains, because God is always the same.

>I’ve realized that I’ve been focusing on things that I don’t like about myself, instead of appreciating the things that I could like.  Most women do this.  I decided to take my new perspective on a trial run.  I selected the gutsiest item of clothing that I could find – a silky, red, form-fitting, lowcut jumpsuit.  I tried it on, and instead of using my critical eye, I purposely looked for things that I liked.  When I chose to focus on my good attributes, I was BaBam! pleased with how I looked.  I didn’t purchase the jumpsuit, but I did take photos.  When I look at those photos, I easily slip into critical mode, finding the tiniest flaw – applying the new perspective is a process.

>I’ve stopped feeling guilty about taking the time to care for my physical needs.  Proper nutrition, hydration, exercise, rest and beauty routines – it all goes a long way toward making me feel better about the woman that I’m becoming, and this helps me to have the energy and confidence necessary for reaching out to others.

> And I’ve saved the best for last.  My MVP (most valuable perspective) is all about inner changes – I’ve been at work with God, and I’ve grown to desire obedience to Him like never before.  I’m no longer afraid to ask God to search me for sin, because I desire more than anything else, to be in close fellowship with Him, and to be representative of His goodness.  This used to be scary – I knew it would be hard-work, and that sometimes I’d have to give up what I want.  God says “that serves no purpose in your life – time to grab My hand and trust Me, rely completely on Me – time to let go of that”.  He enables me to make courageous decisions.  His ways are always best.  His timing is always perfect.  And I respond with “thank you Lord, for what You are making me into – I’m Your workmanship and I praise You for it”.

 

Let’s keep trying to convince the women in our lives that they’re beautiful – inside and out.  It might take some persistence – the self-critical voice in a woman’s mind is loud.  Two last thoughts.  Ladies, we’re not in competition with each other – lift other women up.  Men, there’s nothing wrong you complimenting a woman, as long as you’re a gentleman, your motives are pure, and you’re respectful of your wife’s feelings.  Is she funny?  Is she wise?  Does she welcome others into her life?   Does she look put together?  Does she smile a lot?  Is she a caretaker of others?  Is she thoughtful and kind?  Does she have a fantastic figure or pretty features?  Chances are, she needs to hear this – tell her.

 

I think that turning 55 isn’t going to be so bad after all – I’m excited to meet the next gen of myself and live life abundantly in this next season.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I absolutely love to see your feedback – I review every reaction, share and comment.  You are such an encouragement to me!

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Raw and Unedited

I wrote this today as the snow fell, and it is raw and unedited –

 

Everything I knew well and had become comfortable with, was no longer familiar.  The strong fortress, I’d built by being an attentive wife and vigilant mother, seemed to be crumbling down around me.  I was a woman that found herself in a place that she’d never asked to be.  Depression, overwhelm and heart-ache was my new normal.  He is so quiet, yet I know He’s with me.  I know His promises – He’ll never leave me, nor forsake me.

 

How does this happen?  I don’t take the easy way out.  I’m self-confrontational, loyal to others, dedicated to my callings, and most importantly, I’m growing closer to my Lord and becoming more obedient to Him, with each passing day.  But suddenly, I found myself in deep, dark, despair.  I’m shocked that I’m sharing this with you.  There are only a few that know how far I sank this year – others that know of me, see me smile and assume that a perfect life exists behind the smile.  I tend to smile a lot, so that’s a lot of perfect.

 

I couldn’t see God.  I couldn’t hear His voice, or sense His presence.  Where’d you go Lord?  Earlier this year, a prayer of mine was answered.  I clung to it.  I wrote it down on a little piece of paper and folded it up tightly, placing it in a beautiful teal colored glass on my dresser.  That glass is located right next to a stone that has the word believe painted on it.  After that, I’ve added many pieces of tightly folded paper that contain descriptions of the precious works of God.  That glass now runneth over.  It overflows with hope.  Not hope that is placed in what humans might do or not do, but hope in God and how He is changing me.  Recently, after an extremely difficult 48 hours, I entered my prayer closet and told God that I have no wisdom and don’t even want to think about my problems.  All I wanted, was to climb up into His lap and be with Him, and I was able to ask God to align my desires with His desires.  As I’ve thought about why I was finally able to pray in this way, He showed me that I was trusting Him on a new level.  No more platitudes – I was in the action phase of trusting and believing that He is a good Father.  My heart now yearned for His plan, because I know it’s better than anything I can cook up.

 

This past week, I’d begun to seriously consider quitting my writing.  You see, when I began writing, I noticed that life was becoming increasingly difficult.  I’d associated this for the entire last 3 ½ years, but recently I’ve become very weary and I’d like to exit the battle.  But yesterday, my pastor who was to be away from the pulpit for the day, was called back to preach, when his substitute became ill.  Unplanned, he taught about Esther.  This woman found herself in a position that she never asked for.  This woman was inserted into the most unlikely place, by God.  This woman took on the challenge instead of shrinking back from the challenge.  And to top it off, God is never mentioned in the entire book of Esther, making Him silent, yet we clearly see Him working all over the book.  I took this very personally – don’t shrink back from the challenge or try to run from the battle.  This is written and shared for you.  YOU, the person that I began writing for 3 1/2 years ago.

A Lady for Him

A lady is always a woman, but not every woman aspires to be a lady.  Most females shudder at the thought of the stuffy version of lady-like.   We grew up observing the uptight woman, and made an unconscious decision to be very different – unfortunately causing many of us to swing too far in the opposite direction.  But …  the modern lady is ageless, spirited, sweet and warm.  She encourages and has an ability to make others feel better.  She makes decisions, and lives her life by a set of personal standards, that she won’t violate, no matter what she is feeling at the moment.  Let’s look closer and see what this classy lady is like, and by doing this, we’ll also be able to see what she isn’t.

 

>She promotes others, making them the star of the moment.

>She is sensitive to others by concentrating on their words and body language.

>She encourages, uplifts and compliments, but always truthfully and sincerely.

>She is a student of others and thoughtfully makes them feel cherished.

>She doesn’t make a habit out of complaining.  She can make lemonade out of her lemons.

>She looks for glimmers of hope and is thankful for them.

>She lives out the philosophy of “there’s never any harm in showing kindness or concern”.

>She is a good and helpful influence, in the lives of women who are younger.

>She is respectful, sensitive and good company, to women who are older.

>She is a cheerleader to women who are her life-stage peers.

>She lives out a set of personal scruples that she won’t violate, even when others are unkind, or the pressure is on.

>She strives to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

>She is able to make tough decisions to do what is right, even when she must sacrifice to do so.

>She is respectful of other people’s time and resources, being on time and taking care of their property.

>She graciously accepts the individuality of others, and doesn’t force her ideas or methods on them.

>She’s courteous and polite, striving to think more highly of others than herself.

>She doesn’t speak or act out to hurt others, and she never encourages someone else to hurt others.

>She doesn’t tear or push others down.

>She is genuine and forgiving, never flippant and spiteful.

>She deals with conflict directly with the person, not complaining behind their back.

 

Wow – what a high calling!  When I was a young woman, my mother cast her vote of confidence, when she told me that I was a classy lady-like woman.  Since that day, my perspective on this has changed.  God has shown me that aspiring to be lady-like for my own image, has a short-lived impact, but being a lady for Him, has eternal impact.  Jesus died and resurrected to save me from my sins and give me abundant life – I’m completely honored to serve in this higher purpose of representing Him to others.  Although I’m far from the perfect lady, I can work toward leaving others better than I found them.   I can leave the calling card that a modern lady has been around.

 

Thank you, for taking your time to read, react and comment.

When the Ugly is Seen, Beauty Emerges

As we accumulate years, greater wisdom can come – but it isn’t automatic.  There’s going to have to be some long looks in the mirror – peering through the self-deception.  And finally, when the ugly is seen, the beauty begins to emerge.

Some of us are naturally introspective, and some of us could learn the skill and then benefit from implementing it.  I myself, can’t seem to avoid it – taking it too far at times.  This is something that I am working on, with the Lord.  But even though I now recognize that I have a weakness in this area, I won’t be throwing this baby out with the bathwater, because healthy self-examination keeps us moving forward.

In my own life, the awareness of patterns has become instrumental.  As I pressed into the work of self-examination, and began to recognize patterns, a familiarity alarm began to emerge.  It’s a built-in warning system that says “you’re getting ready to walk down that road again – stop! think! what are your motives?”, etc.  It’s my chance for a change of course – hopefully a correct one.  Maybe like me, you’re on the journey of determining why there are similarities in some of the more unpleasant occurrences in your life.  I’d like to offer you some questions to ask of yourself.  These have been helpful to me and others that are in my close sphere.

 

>Do I mentally or verbally express negative thoughts about myself, reinforcing a destructive belief?

>Do I trust too easily – giving information or my heart too early in a relationship?

>Do I become devastated when someone turns on me or rejects me?

>Do I have a history of becoming seriously disappointed by other people?

>Do I avoid voicing my needs in fear of losing the relationship?

>Do I long for the kind of fulfillment in my human relationships, that can only come from a right relationship with God?

>Do I have some kind of void that I’m trying to fill with a human relationship?

>Do I regularly allow myself to react to the foolishness of others?

>Does my self-image easily waver, based on the opinion of others, even if I know their opinion isn’t true?

 

I sincerely thank you for sticking with me, because I realize that this is a tough topic.  Self-confrontation is ouchy, but blaming others will only prolong the difficulties that you’ve been experiencing.  You cannot fix others, so trying to control or change them is a pointless waste of your precious time and energy.  Why not work on yourself instead?

God is peeling away the layers of this onion, and He will continue to help me to discern what changes are needed, as I seek Him through prayer and the reading of His word.  This is a process that has no ending – at least this side of eternity.  More important than getting it all finished up, is that I desire change, and I’m willing to faithfully work toward it daily.  I’m sorry that I can’t offer you a flow chart on how this will work for you, but I’m glad to lay myself open.  If you decide to begin this type of work, I hope that this gives you a place to start, and that you’ll know greater peace and joy by allowing God to work out His desires for you, and His best for your life.

 

As always, thank you for taking time to read my writings, and I love to see your reactions, shares and comments – you are such an encouragement to me.

Yay Me!

I realized a few days ago, that at the end of every workout, I say “yay me!”. I actually calculated that I’m approaching my 2,000th workout since I began losing and keeping weight off 8 years ago. I don’t love exercise, unless it’s a hike or a bicycle ride, so keeping up with this personal regimen is a big deal to me. We each have something that’s hard for us – no judgement here. My hard differs from yours, and vice-versa. Go do something that’s hard for you, and be sure to congratulate yourself with a smile and a mental high-five. Comment and tell me about it – I’d love to hear about your victory!

Unravel My Heart

Throughout our lifetime, many amazing people will walk onto our stage.  A spouse, parents, grandparents, children, friends, bosses, teachers and mentors.  Each of them will play a part in our story.  Sometimes a big part, and sometimes a small part.  Sometimes long and sometimes short.  Sometimes the beginning, the middle or the ending.  With a special few, there will be a rare and impactful connection made between two human beings.

I hope that you’ll be blessed to have these special ones come into your life – those human beings that enter your life, and glide right into your heart.  They just kind of sneak in and quickly begin filling up the nooks and crannies with their uniquely beautiful silken thread design, and you can only hope that you’ve had a similar impact on them.  Sounds lovely, but what happens when that relationship ends due to a death, or other forces outside of your control?  It seems unfair that you can’t continue to enjoy this kindred spirit.  Is it possible to value and treasure the memory of this person, and still let them go?  If so, how do you move past the pain of missing their presence in your life?  How do you successfully move into the new relationships that God is bringing into your life?  Here’s what God has been teaching me along my journey.

 

>If we don’t want to have future regrets, we must learn from our past regrets, and then apply these lessons to other relationships.

>Love as completely as possible.  This means acceptance and appreciation of others, exactly how they are.  Yes, the closer you are to them, the harder this will be.

>Examine our own expectations, motivations, attitudes and actions for error.  Practice implementing the necessary changes.

>Resolve to live peaceably, even if that requires stepping away for a time – sometimes our presence or involvement stumbles others or brings out the worst in another person.

>Practice forgiveness and remember that forgiveness does not let others off the hook for their offense, but it does release you.  Whatever the reasons or cause, whether dead or alive, forgive all that are involved, and do it swiftly to prevent bitterness from taking root.  Forgive as often as necessary, because forgiveness is usually not a singular moment, but instead many moments of obedience.

>If you’ve been hurt, ask God to enable you to pray with pure motives, for those that are involved.  The sweet fruit of peace comes out of this type of prayer.

>Finally, during our waking hours, we must be disciplined with our thoughts, capturing negative or unkind thoughts, and giving them over to the Lord.

 

As you resolve to live and love correctly going forward, you will notice relief from the pain and grief.  God will be slowly and gently unknotting and unraveling the threads that tie this person to your heart.  As you let go, you will find your burden becoming lighter with each passing day, and there is a time coming when we’ll be able to remember without pain or tears, but instead with a smile.

Allow God to untangle and pull that unique design out of your heart.  Let Him give it to you as a gift, to be kept in a special place called “Love Where There is No Space and Time”.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post – I genuinely hope that it has helped.  I love reviewing every reaction, comment and share – you are such an encouragement to me.

Good Grit

It’s Saturday night and I just came across a handwritten very rough post.  I’m doing something that I’ve never done before and sharing this completely unedited.  Honesty, I don’t even really remember writing this, but I do remember living it.

A Long Winter

It’s been a crazy long one.  Early snow, extended single digit temperatures.  The treacherous driving conditions have been my least favorite part of this winter.  I’ve had loved ones in the ditch a few times this winter season.

The early fall snow snuck up on us.  We were so busy with the final stages of getting our house into livable condition, that we didn’t get the snow tires on before a nasty early storm hit.  There I was with no traction, the road slipping out from underneath me.  Not a secure feeling.  Where was the sand truck?  I could use a little grit.

If you’re still with me, this post isn’t actually about the challenges of winter weather – well, not entirely.  It’s about the challenges of a long winter of life.

It could be a difficult person that you live with, a failing relationship, a death, financial struggles.  It could be anything, and you just need a little grit to stop you from slipping around and going out of control.  You need traction so that you can get to where you are going.

I haven’t always been gritty.  It’s been acquired after too many chances to let the pressure of trials, perform a transformation in me.  I used to run, beg and plead to get out of the work of transformation.  But the pressure is how I developed a little spunk and pluck.  I stopped running away and instead I started doing the work.  Looking in the mirror is a good place to start.  Complete honesty is a must.  I’m learning to sacrifice my perceived rights – my right to have it my way or my right to get what I want or what I think that I need.  I’m learning to do the right thing even when it feels impossible or seems unfair.  I’m learning to take full responsibility for my sin and not blame shift.  I’m learning that I don’t have to take responsibility for another’s sin.  Every bit of this drives me directly to God.  If He is faithful to convict me, He is certainly faithful to walk me through confession, receiving forgiveness and turning in a new direction in repentance.

This is where your grit becomes attractive.  This is not an angry, judgmental, religious person.  This is a humbled yet tenacious follower of Christ who has credibility.  When they tell the truth, it comes from a place of love, because they’ve struggled.  Good grit is soft, but not wimpy.  It doesn’t stay paralyzed by fear.  It’s bold, but with the smooth finish of a confident hope that comes from knowing that God has a perfect plan

He’s God and I’m Not

Brilliant!  But, do I have a post that will offer something more substantial than a snappy title?  Actually, when I dissect my own nature, attitudes and struggles, the concept presented in this title, is massively substantial.  I’d like a chance to explain, and I’m hoping that by sharing what I’ve been learning and applying, it will help you to experience peace – the peace that surpasses all human understanding.

I’ve had a taste of it from time to time, but unfortunately the taste is gone too quickly.  As I get older, there seems to be more opportunities to long for it.  I’m speaking of peace.  True peace.  It’s very different from the “mind over matter” kind of peace that comes when I successfully distract myself, push a situation out of my mind, or when I have time to go to a quiet place.  These can be useful and very nice, but the peace that puts my mind, heart and soul at ease, is very different.  It’s like a supernatural tranquilizer.  There’s either no angst or worry, or it’s very short-lived, and at the core of this, is the very simple fact that He is God and I am not.  It is an unwavering trust, belief and knowledge, that God will bring beauty out of my ashes.  Sure, I could get impatient, cook something up, hatch a plan to manipulate my circumstances or the people in my life, but even my most extraordinarily crafted plan, pales in comparison to what God has for me and others.

What does this actually look like?  It’s complicated, but it’s simple.  Here’s what it’s looking like in my own life.

>When I have anxiety, I examine myself for control-freak tendencies.  Am I wanting to control the actions or methods of a person, or the outcome of a situation?  Stop.  Confess it, and give it to God for proper handling.

>When I see a problem in someone’s life or attitude, I examine myself, looking for a large piece of wood.  In other words, while I’m trying to remove the speck of saw-dust in someone’s eye, is my gigantic log swinging around and whacking them in the head?

>When I see a need for change, I remember that just because I’ve pointed something out, doesn’t mean the change will happen immediately, or that it is even necessary.  Frankly, I may have been wrong.

>When someone has hurt me, blame-shifted onto me, or gossiped about me, I remind myself that I don’t need to seek vindication or vengeance, because God knows the truth, He loves truth, and He will set things straight in His perfect time.

>I work hard to keep my life caught up, bills paid and spending under control, because crisis management steals peace.

>When I’m worried about my children, I remind myself that God loves them even more than I do.

>When my children’s attitudes or choices concern me, I remind myself that I have no right to expect them to be further along on their path, than I was at their age.

>When others are unkind, I remind myself that I will have zero regrets, if I control myself and allow room for God to work it out.

You’ve probably noticed that in order to respond correctly, there must be a shift in thinking and action.  I emphasize this point because this is where most of us get into trouble.  I’m a thinker, and my mind never seems to shut down, so I literally repeat the following statement as often as needed.  “The only person that I have control over is me.  The only spiritual work that I’m responsible for, is my own work with God.  That other person is not accountable to me – they are accountable to God.”

There you go – it’s that simple.  I said simple, not easy.  He’s God and I’m not.  This is where transforming peace can occur.  There’s incredible peace in knowing that the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God is bigger than anything going on in your life, and He’s definitely not wringing His hands in worry.  Take your thoughts captive to Him.  Cast your anxiety on Him as many times as you need to, and then replace your concerns with truths about who God is, and His endless love and mercy.

A Lifetime of Love in a Moment

Is Mother’s Day a difficult day for you? In my last post, I’d promised a Mother’s Day post, but as this day approached, with mother’s recent passing, the words weren’t coming very easily.  I decided to write a letter.  A letter to Mom.   I hope it will help to heal your heart and bless your relationships.

This pulmonary disease was tough, but you were tough too.  The medicines were a necessity, but I despised them.  They took away your appetite and they wreaked havoc on your body.  You’d go down on the scale and then back up a little, barely hovering at 100 pounds.  You’d get weak and then a little stronger again.  I know that you mourned the loss of your strength and endurance, and I mourned for you.  Those trips in and out of the hospital were the norm, but you’d always rally back.  Mom, the biggest part of me believed that you’d overcome this disease.  After all, you’d overcome so much during this lifetime – surely, you’d win this battle too.

I sensed that it was to be meaningful, but how could I have known that it would be the last lucid conversation that you and I would have?  At least the last conversation, this side of eternity.  You didn’t know that I’d gone into a more private room, shut the door and sprawled across the bed.  I was settling in, to listen deeply and intently.  You’d always been one of the strongest women that I’ve known, but this time, there was a new kind of strength.  It seemed as though you’d made a decision, and you were trying to protect your baby girl from it.  Mom, this time the strength was different for me too.  You see, during the past several months, you’d given me a gift.  You’d allowed me the privilege of ministering to you.  When you asked me to pray for you, read and explain Scripture to you, you thought that I was serving you, but you were actually giving me a treasure that I will cherish for my lifetime.  You were actually helping me to grieve your death.  During our last conversation, the baton was being passed.  I reminded you that we were now talking woman to woman, that I was a big girl, and you could tell me anything.  I asked you what you really wanted, and you told me that you wanted peace – that you wanted to be with Jesus.  You’d begun the process of letting go of this world, and you’d helped me to begin the process of accepting that I must let go too.  Just a mere fifty-four hours later, you left this world.

Mom, this disease was horrible, but it never defined you.  You were the vessel that God chose to give me and my brother life, but you were so much more than that.  You were strong, smart and wise.  You were kind, thoughtful and always respectful of others.  You were gifted in ways that made me marvel at the work of your hands, inspired by the creativity of your mind.  You made everything more beautiful, including any room that you were in.  I’ll always remember your pursed smile, and how you were the belle of the ball.  You were never able to grasp how amazing you were, but you so easily spotted amazing in those around you.

In that conversation, my mother and I celebrated our last Mother’s Day.  I told her how I felt about her, and what she’d meant to me.  She told me why she was proud of the woman that I’d become.  It was a lifetime of love in a moment.  I miss my mother, but I have joy.  It’s the joy of having known this woman, and the knowledge that she’d placed her trust in Jesus Christ.  Only eight short years ago, my mother realized her need for the Savior, and she trusted His death on the cross as full payment, for the debt that she owed for her sins.  She understood that her salvation came through the work of Christ alone.  She became completely reconciled with God.  Now she is released from suffering and she is in His presence.  Sometimes I reach for the telephone to talk to my mother, but then the realization comes, and I simply ask Jesus to tell my mother that I love her.  He comforts me, and it becomes more of a lifetime of love in a moment.