A Little Bubble, Perk and Joy

She’s a bit bubbly, and she smiles a lot too.  When she was a little girl, her Daddy nicknamed her “Smiley”.  Her life isn’t perfect, and she doesn’t always feel happy.  She has just as many heartaches, struggles and challenges as the next woman, but she was created with a perky personality, and she can usually find the bright side, in most situations.  Sometimes she even laughs through her tears. She has felt self-conscience about these traits, but she is arriving at a place where she accepts, and even values the positive aspects of her personality.  Who is this woman? It’s ME – Madeline Eatenton.

 

Hello, I am Bubbly, and my bubble, perk and joy isn’t always tolerated well by other women.  I am sure that I’ve annoyed a few women, and sometimes women just don’t like me at all.  Some of these women were created with a personality that is more subdued, and as for the others – your guess is as good as mine. I will call the subdued woman, Somber.  Somber is akin to a regal feline, perched high.  Her demeanor is reserved.  Bubbly is a bouncy, energetic, friendly puppy that just wants to play.  She could be friends with almost anyone.  Somber doesn’t really understand Bubbly, but if she gives her a chance, they can teach each other great lessons about life.  I now have women friends that fit into the somber category.  They are open to my bubble.  We appreciate each other and our differences.  I value their influence greatly, and I believe that they value mine.

 

For my fellow Bubbles – a Somber may have difficulty relating to you, but she’s still open to the possibility.  Beware of another type of woman that doesn’t understand you – she may have a somber demeanor, but she has already decided that you won’t be entering her life.  She will use various tactics and behaviors to make you feel disliked and unwelcome, and her manipulation can be so powerful, that you might believe that you are the problem.

 

Women of all personalities, shapes and sizes are sisters.  We understand each other, and relate in ways that only sisters can.  We can value each other, and realize that there is something to learn from other types of women.  Instead of being turned off by a personality type, try examining her integrity.  Is she open, kind, giving, honest and non-manipulative?  If so, let her add her own unique brand of personality to your life.

 

Fellow bubbly: you and I must learn to temper our effervescence just a little, at least until we know whether it’s safe to pop the cork, and let the bubbly flow.  Remember, when another woman doesn’t accept you, it is not about you.  She may be dealing with her own insecurities, heart issues, emotional difficulties, mental illness, or at the very least, she simply isn’t able to understand you.  You will learn to recognize the men and women that appreciate you for who you are – that Bubbly that naturally exudes a little sparkle and joy.

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Backwards, In-Place or Straight Ahead?

It’s a period of change, or the process of changing from one circumstance or condition to another.  We’ve all gone through it and most of us are going through some form of it right now.  It is transition.

Transition comes in many forms and for many reasons.  It is one of the most common aspects of living the human experience.   A wedding, childbirth, returning to school, a job change, retirement, death of a loved one, relocation, divorce, empty nesting, down-sizing, health crisis, losing a friendship, geographical separation from a spouse and countless other changes.

Traveling through transition can be forbidding.  The emotional pain of letting go and the fear of the unknown, can grip us and sometimes we get stuck or even begin to take steps backwards.  Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life”.  Since we know this to be true, why not stop fighting it and instead, embrace it?  Yes, the key to success during transition is to accept the realities of it – but how?

It starts with our perspective and I’m not going to sugar coat this – it won’t always be easy. If we find ourselves mentally curled up in the fetal position or perpetually with a heavy-heart, we must change the way that we are perceiving the process of change. View the transition as an experience that you are marching forward into.  Look straight ahead and focus on the good things to come.  If you are unable to imagine the good things in your future, go to someone who knows you well and ask for help with seeing the possibilities.  Reach outward to others who are trustworthy and have the ability to help you analyze your circumstances and separate each problem.  Once each problem stands alone, you can more easily deal with it and it will be merely one stepping stone on your journey.  Share your struggles and allow others to shoulder some of your burdens.  Accept practical helps along the way.  Check your outlook and attitude regularly – is your heart heavy or light?  All of this minimizes the internalization of your struggles and will help you to prevent overwhelm within your mind.

Experiencing difficulties is usually not something that we seek out or enjoy but I do encourage you to remember.  As you experience your next transition, you’ll remember and know that you’ll survive.  Think back.  Did you grow stronger and wiser?  Are you more kind, compassionate and giving?  Don’t forget to share this with others as they are experiencing overwhelming stress during periods of transition.

If you have been attempting to march forward through life by the power of your own strength, separated from the One that created you, knows everything about you and yet still loves you with an everlasting love, I would like to tell you just a little of my story.  When I was seventeen, I faced a huge transition – my father’s first suicide attempt.  At that time, I placed my trust in Christ’s payment for my sins and He became Lord of my life.  I cannot imagine experiencing life’s difficulties without my Lord at the helm.  He doesn’t remove the challenges but He supports me while I walk through them and He uses them to mature me.  He is the Living Water that sustains me during the droughts of my life.  If you don’t know Him, I encourage you meet Him.  He never expects you to get cleaned up enough to meet Him.  He says come as you are.  Meet the One that made you, gives you breath, died for you, resurrected Himself and intercedes for you – Jesus Christ.  Meet Him, trust Him and watch Him bring a beautiful metamorphosis out of the challenge of change.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

He’s Not a Fan of That Game

What does every male have that he loves very much?  Two things come to mind immediately, but we’re not going to discuss the one that just made you chuckle.  Today, we’re talking about the females in man’s life – a mother, sister, grandmother, friend, girlfriend, daughter or wife.

 

Just tell me what you want.  What did I do wrong?  I’m so eager to please you.  These are the pleas of a son, brother, grandson, male friend, boyfriend, father and husband.  The men in your life, would like you to know, a woman can relieve a load of pressure from her relationships with men, if she would communicate her hurts, complaints and desires.  When a woman becomes silent, responds with a curt answer or withholds kindness or intimacy, he interprets this as a manipulative game play and he’s not a fan of that game.

 

How can a woman avoid this behavior?

 

>If he has hurt, upset or disappointed you, tell him.  Calmly.  Don’t make him wonder, beg or plead.  The tension is a relationship killer.  If you are too hurt or angry to behave respectfully or warmly, let him know that you will talk about it when you’re calm and then make sure that you do.  Don’t let it build and don’t withhold kindness in the meantime.

 

>Don’t ignore a man and then suddenly use sweetness or flirtation to get what you want.  If it is appropriate for you to flirt with this man, flirt but not because you want something from him.

 

>If you ask a man for input on decisions, then listen to his point of view.  Don’t bother asking if you’re not going to consider his ideas, feelings, tastes or dislikes.

 

>If he asks you where you would like to go out to eat or what you would like to do, don’t respond with “I don’t care – you decide”.  Usually, men don’t want to make this decision on their own.  If you have nothing in mind, ask him to offer a few choices and then pick one.  He wants you to enjoy yourself.

 

>Do you want or need something from him?  Make your request be known.  Don’t make him guess and then get upset when he doesn’t “read your mind” correctly.  Does it need to be done immediately?  Let him know why.

 

>Don’t use social media to display passive aggressive or other negative behaviors.  Your snarky remark isn’t gaining you points.  In fact, it hurts him and he loses respect for you.

 

>If this man is your husband, do not withhold sex as a punishment.  Clearly, intimacy is emotional for a woman, so work out your differences as quickly as possible and then return to a great relationship.

 

Respectful communication is crucial.  Learn how to communicate your hurt, requests and expectations calmly.  The golden rule can be applied here, so speak in the same manner that you would like to be spoken to.  You’ll likely get what you want and need and he won’t be walking on thin ice out in the freezing cold.  Everyone is a winner.

A Little Help Getting Unstuck

Experiencing anguish is a part of living life but what does it mean when we continue to feel the pain at an overwhelming intensity level, even after many months or even years have passed?  If this is you, you might be stuck.  Today, I would like to offer you hope.  With a little help, you can get unstuck and begin living a joyful life again.

 

Before we begin, I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting that there is an appropriate amount of time to grieve.  Grief is as individual as we are.  There is a point, where we each intuitively know that our grieving is no longer healthy.  At this point, we must find a pathway to moving forward with our life.  Essentially grieving is healthy until it isn’t.  Are you emotionally paralyzed?  Is your physical health beginning to suffer?  Do you no longer believe that you can or should be happy again?  Have you lost and not regained motivation to do the things that need to be done, or that you previously enjoyed?  Can you see little or no progress from when you first experienced the grief causing event?  Don’t despair, there is help available.  Make an appointment with a trained and qualified counselor, and go to your first appointment prepared to be transparent and looking forward to getting better.

 

I’m writing from experience.  This past year was a tough one – a full year of experiencing one relationship failure after another.  Each situation was unique and caused a different level of anguish but when combined together, I was overwhelmed.  I did my very best to work through the process of grieving, as well as making difficult decisions, but I finally realized that it was time to get some assistance.  Vanity is powerful.  I had been able to tolerate the minor panic attacks and a relapse into adrenal fatigue, but realizing that my hair was falling out in great amounts and that I was eating my grief and gaining weight, moved me into action.  I located a qualified counselor and began sessions.

 

How does a counselor help?  A counselor is unbiased.  They won’t allow you to continue to reinforce incorrect thinking.  They will help you to arrive at the vital acceptance of circumstances that you cannot change.  They will help you to see that you have a bright future ahead of you.  Essentially, you have been on an oval race car track.  Your car only turns left and goes around and around but never moves forward.  With the counselors help, you can get off of that track and begin to move forward again.

 

Sharing this with my readers is difficult for me to do but I believe that God has asked me to be authentic with you.  I’m hoping that there is at least one person out there, that might be helped by this post.  I do want to caution you – be aware that not all counselors are helpful and some will interject very non-biblical ideas.  Have your discernment sharpened and look at things through a biblical lens.  I’m happy to report that I am doing much better – I am a stronger woman and full of spunk according to my counselor.  Best of all, I am looking forward to a bright future.  I am learning new things to better myself, have taken on a new writing opportunity for my church, I’m looking forward to my children’s next phase of life and the next season in my marriage.  You can look forward to a bright future too.  I’m hoping that this year will be a blessed one for you.

Telling Yourself Truths

The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit? – Proverbs 18:14. Careless words and actions can and do hurt – sometimes they cause pain for a very long time.

 

The woman that dishonestly or unfairly vents her thoughts about another woman to her husband, children or others.  The person that tells only their side of the story, to make the other person look bad. That man that comments about another man’s character being dishonorable. The group that chatters together conjuring up stories of sinful activity.  The person, when asked about someone, reacts with a raised eyebrow or even a very slight derogatory comment.  The woman that excludes another woman from her life or makes another woman feel unwelcome without a genuine reason.  The woman that uses body language to ignore another woman. The person that tells half truths about someone to mislead others.  The young person that gossips, excludes or uses unkind words about a peer or another family. Finally, the person that makes the mistake of listening to one side of the story and allows their opinion to be swayed.  It might seem benign – “after all, it will never get back to the person and so what if it does – they deserve it and it makes me feel better”.

 

It is never harmless.  It always damages the person that has been hurt, as well as the person guilty of the hurting. It can be a firestorm in someone’s life – taking years to recover but just like a forest that has been burned away, if handled correctly, beautiful growth can emerge.  How can beauty come up out of these ashes?  First, when you are believing a lie about yourself or the situation, you must tell yourself a truth.  Here are some examples.  “They are twisting the story” can become “the truth will come out in the end”.  “They are getting away with ruining my reputation or turning other people against me” can become either “I have earned credibility and other people won’t automatically believe this” or “if they don’t know me very well, I shouldn’t be overly concerned about their opinion of me” and ultimately “God’s opinion of me is the only opinion that matters”.  “I feel like women despise me” can become “I have women in my life that value me”.  “There must be something wrong with me” can become “it is not because of who I am.  It is because of how they choose to behave or who they are.”  Second, you have to trust and believe that God is a God of justice and that He will not allow this to go on forever.  Third, if you find that you are obsessing about an offense against you and stirring the pot of stew so to speak, there are techniques to help you manage this.  Try limiting your stewing sessions to five minutes in the morning and five minutes before bedtime.  If your mind tries to stir the pot during the other times of the day – just remind yourself “not now – later”.  Soon, you may not need those sessions at all.  Finally, do not resort to vindictive or childish behavior.    It might make you feel better in the short run but in the long run, it will hurt you.  These healing actions will protect you from bitterness taking root.

 

Women are especially vulnerable to perceiving that another woman’s grass is greener.  Insecurities or jealousy of another woman’s accomplishments, character, personality, physical appearance, husband, children or even a pure admiration that she might receive from men or even other women, can cause an insecure woman to behave rudely, cruelly or even maliciously.  A husband is the leader of his wife and therefore he is responsible to watch for these behaviors.  Keep in mind, she may be very adept at concealing these behaviors from her husband. Husbands, you can make a difference in this area.  She may not want you to, but she needs you to lead her and hold her accountable.  I realize that a peaceful environment is difficult to give up but coddling bad behavior, emboldens it.  Parents, if you notice that your daughter is involved in this type of behavior, hold her accountable and train her up correctly while you still have influence in her life.  This is not innocent conduct and even words or actions that you might deem harmless, may be hurting another human being.

 

Are you wounded?  Maybe others have excluded you, talked about you, lied about you, rejected you and worst of all, at times, maybe it has affected your children.  If you are wounded, then you know the pain that this can cause.  I offer comfort to you – you probably did nothing to deserve this treatment.  I offer encouragement to you – get back out there and find others that have healthy self-images, because they will be able to love you and they will celebrate everything about you.  I offer reassurance to you – that you deserve to have people in your life that will give back to you.

 

We are raised in imperfect homes with imperfect families and often we have insecurities or emotional problems but the Bible tells us to esteem others as higher than ourselves.  When we do, spirits can be lifted – marriages, families and friends built up.  Let’s be willing to be honest with ourselves and take a good long look at our reflection in the mirror.  Let’s search our memories and our hearts.  Each of us could probably find a time when we have been guilty of spreading or listening to careless words, being unkind or not holding ourselves or others accountable.  Would you join me in committing to not being part of the problem as you move forward with your relationships?

Contentment in All Things

We didn’t allow a lot of television consumption in our home, but on my daughter’s first birthday, we went out and bought several episodes of VeggieTales.  My children grew up on those moral teaching, silly song singing vegetables.  Many times, I sat with them and enjoyed the clever ways that the creators brought their messages to life.  One episode has always been my favorite – Madame Blueberry, A Lesson in Thankfulness.

 

Although Madame Blueberry was struggling with discontentment in the area of “stuff”, the lesson taught me that discontentment is a toxin that can get into the bloodstream of our life and poison every aspect.  The writers of this episode boiled it down – the cure for discontentment is having a thankful heart.  Eighteen years later, I still remember this lesson and try to apply it regularly.  Today, we will address contentment in our marriages.   The apostle Paul teaches us some very important ideas that can be carried into our marriages.  He said that we can be content in all things and that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  I would surmise that this includes being content in our marriage.  He taught us that God might not take away all difficult things but God’s grace is sufficient to get us through and that God’s power will be shown through this.  These principles can be utilized in our marriages to bring us greater happiness, peace and longevity.

 

There are marriages that survive and even thrive throughout all of the ups and downs.  Have you ever wondered why some marriages break apart and end in divorce while other marriages last until death do us part?  It isn’t because one marriage was easy and the other was hard.  One major reason is contentment – either a lack of contentment or a thankful heart.  A thankful heart chooses thankfulness – it chooses to focus on the good rather than the bad.  Whether you’ve been married for thirty years or one year, you are on a path together and you will have beautiful times and at other times, you may seriously question why you chose this person.  Remember, love is not a feeling but it is a choice.  When you are choosing to love in the way that God intended, you are living out the Gospel in your home and choosing to extend grace and mercy to each other.  This is a journey and any couple that makes it to the successful end, will tell you that it was not always easy but it was always worth it.  In every marriage, there is a daily opportunity to overlook each other’s weaknesses and flaws and deal lovingly with your spouse’s sin.  How in the world do we do this when our spouse is creating tension, angst or pain in our life?

 

We must realize and remind ourselves that we are imperfect too.  Each of us has the human condition – sin.  We have a tendency to look out for our own interests and we don’t like being wronged, inconvenienced, embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Also, we all have traits that even if they are not wrong, they still annoy the people that know us the best.  Once we realize this, overlooking our spouse’s faults becomes much easier.

 

I’m not suggesting that you never voice your concerns.  Some things do need to be voiced out of serious concern for the health of your marriage or even the mental, physical or spiritual health of your spouse or children.  How you go about voicing these concerns is crucial – check your motives.  You will never change your spouse and your love should never be conditional.  Only God and your spouse can do the actual work necessary for change.  So, once you have discussed your concerns, you must only very sparingly bring this up again.  For example, you may have concerns about the way that your spouse parents your children.  If it is not an issue of physical endangerment, emotional or spiritual abuse, you can voice concerns for your children’s sake but you cannot force change.  Your spouse may be abusing their body with food, alcohol or tobacco.  It is appropriate to express your concern for their long-term health and even your worry about losing them to an early death but once you have let them know how you are feeling, you have to let it go.  Policing them and harping on them will only drive them further into the abuse.  Another issue in marriage can be the lack of emotional support and encouragement.  Again, I think that it is important to help your spouse understand the deficiency and how it affects you but don’t bludgeon them.   An important part of being content in this area is being intentional about noticing the times that your spouse does support and encourage you.

 

There are areas where contentment is not appropriate.  First, if there is physical endangerment, being aware and vigilant is crucial, especially to protect children who cannot protect themselves.  If your spouse has abused or endangered you or the children, don’t justify this behavior.  Getting yourself and the children to safety is the first priority and then attempt to get your spouse the help that they need.  Second, you shouldn’t allow or enable controlling and manipulative behavior.  Instead, acknowledge it.  Once you’ve learned to recognize it, you cannot be controlled or manipulated unless you allow yourself to be.  Also, controlling and manipulative behavior has probably impaired your ability to trust your own judgement or decision making skills.  If this is you, seek wise counsel to help you make sense of the situation.  If enabled to continue, controlling and manipulative behavior will negatively impact the development your children.

 

If you remember only one thing from this post, remember that you are not responsible for changing your spouse – you are responsible for loving them.  Sometimes loving them means keeping your mouth shut.  Sometimes loving them means holding them accountable.  Sometimes loving them means not allowing them to control and manipulate you or the children.  Sometimes loving them means getting them to professional help.  Don’t exaggerate behavior that can be overlooked and don’t throw the safety net under someone who needs consequences.  May God richly bless you and your marriage with the peace of a thankful contented heart.

The Soothing Balm of Listening

There is an art to listening.  Most of us believe that we are reasonably good listeners but the truth is, we could all improve our skills to effectively listen and show empathy to other human beings.

 

I believe that listening well makes you a far better communicator than speaking well.  Simply put, listening well demonstrates that you put others first.  It is a selfless action to listen rather than being heard.  When a person needs someone to listen to them, essentially they need someone to relieve them of their burdens.  When we listen well, we unlock their mind and allow the burdens to release.  Have you ever been overwhelmed and confused by the challenges in your life?  If you were given the opportunity to unload, you felt better, right?  Since this is so important, let’s look at a few of the most important ways that we can develop good listening technique.

 

>Concentrate.  Focus on what is being said instead of how you will respond.  Most of us tend to hear while we are actively thinking about how we will respond or how we can relate to what is being said.  You must completely focus on what they need to say.

 

>Let the other person speak without interruption.  When you interrupt with your questions or your thoughts, the person doesn’t feel a sense of getting to complete their story.  You have interrupted their train of thought and even though you may understand the situation, they may perceive that they were not listened to.  If you are concerned that you will forget your questions or the points that you would like to make, try taking notes.

 

>When they are done speaking, then you may ask questions.  If the person is looking for advice, here is where you may offer it.  If they are not looking for advice but are instead trying to problem solve, try drawing them out with open-ended questions.  Asking questions is also a great non-confrontational way to help someone see truth or error in their thinking.  They are more likely to come to conclusions without feeling judged.

 

>Exhibit pleasant facial expressions while listening.   Natural eye contact with a relaxed smile will make the other person feel cherished.  If appropriate, nod your head but be careful here – you can give the impression that you are agreeing and that may not be the impression that you want to communicate.

 

>Summarize what you have heard in conversational style.  This is your opportunity to make clarifications and prove that you have been actively listening and that they have been heard.

 

>Finally, make sure to follow up with the person at a later time.  Following up demonstrates your sincerity and it shows that you care about and value this person.

 

Let’s look at another type of listening.  Listening to someone who is upset with us.  Too often, we feel the need to defend ourselves.  God’s word gives us much help in this area.  James 1:19 says “so then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”.  Proverbs 15:1 says “a gentle answer turns away wrath, a harsh word stirs up anger”.  As difficult as it is, a confrontational situation can be defused by following these very simple words.

 

Listening is so much more than using our hearing sense.  When we really listen, we are fully engaging many of our senses.  We not only hear but we see the other person’s emotional state and we feel compassion and empathy.  One of the most powerful ways to minister to another human being, is listening to them.  Most people don’t need someone to solve their problems – they need someone to listen.  When we give our time, and make the effort to really listen, we lighten the burdens of another human being.  Most of us won’t get this completely right every time but try putting a few of these tips into practice every time that you have the opportunity.

Sweet ‘n Spicy

The opposite sex can be confusing and frustrating to us.  Sometimes we communicate as if we are speaking in two different languages.  These differences cause needless conflict.  We all know that we can only control our own words and behaviors, so let’s take a look at how a wife can effectively communicate love to her husband by demonstrating that she respects and values him.

 

Let’s start with the most difficult aspect of this post.  Many times a wife is struggling – functioning somehow on an empty love-tank.  She doesn’t feel loved or cherished for a multitude of reasons.  Then add to the mix, a grumpy or even angry husband who is unpleasant and emotionally unavailable.  How in the world is she to muster up the strength and the will to extend love to this man?  Here’s the magic – most husbands when they are feeling respected and valued, will reach to the stars to serve their wife.  So if you are willing as the woman, to do the right thing first, soon you may have a man willing to fill your tank.  He may need some help understanding your needs and desires but if he is feeling love in the language that he understands, pleasing you will be his priority.

 

Here are some practical ways to demonstrate love by respecting and valuing a man:

 

Men need some time to unwind when they get home.  He’s been fighting battles for you and the children and he needs time to decompress.  Don’t dump your burdens on him the moment that he walks through the door.  Be sweet and greet him with a pleasant smile, kiss and hug.  If he has a hobby or interest, give him the gift of time to have fun or accomplish with it.  Later, he will be more willing and able to give you the attention or down-time that you need.  Also, if you are usually following these principals, he will be happy to be your hero when you’ve had a bad day and occasionally need to unload on him when he walks through the door.

 

Don’t belittle him or his ideas. If your husband opens up to you and shares a dream, problem or challenge and the way that he would like to proceed, don’t rattle off all of the reasons that it won’t work.  It is acceptable to show concern but not doubt in him or his wisdom.  Instead, reassure him that you recognize the difficulty in making the decision and support him if you can. My husband knows that I need information, so at this point he will answer my questions and usually, we will commit to pray. If you believe that he is making a mistake, remember he probably already realizes that he is accountable for his decisions, so it is not necessary to remind him of this and doing so makes him feel like a child.

 

Don’t sulk. Women are especially in tune with the needs of those around us. Most men are not tuned into the intricacies of relationships. Don’t punish him with the silent treatment or cold shoulder when he does not live up to your expectations. Most men absolutely despise feeling like they must walk on eggshells around their wife. Stop playing games and just tell him exactly what you need or want.

 

Embrace his physical needs and realize that he was created as a sexual being.  Don’t rebuff him or view him as a sex maniac when he demonstrates his attraction for you. Men face a tremendous amount of sexual temptations each and every day. Some men expend their sexual energy on pornography, fantasy and other illicit sexual experiences. If you find yourself exasperated that he has his hands all over you, just relax and enjoy it.  If he pours his sexual energy into you, then he most likely is not pouring it out elsewhere.

 

When a woman is willing to be soft and responsive, amazing things can happen.  Do you remember the old saying “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice”?  Try using the grown-up version – sweet ‘n spicy.

With the End in Mind

What do you want to be known for and how do you want to be remembered?

 

I want to be known and remembered as a courageous woman.  Since the day that I put my trust in Jesus Christ, courage is probably the character trait that God has transformed the most.  Like many of you, I have been reminded throughout my life of everything that I am not capable of doing, what would be too hard to do, what I shouldn’t do or what wouldn’t be normal to do.  Now, at this stage of my life, I am no longer content with living a safe life.  Jesus came and sacrificed, so that we could have abundant life – I want to live life abundantly.  I want to do great things so that God will be glorified.  I want to be courageous so that others will see the difference that Christ has made in my life.  I want others to want that difference in their own lives.

 

This looks different in each Christian’s life, but here is what it looks like in mine.

 

>I am fighting life’s battles using God’s weapons rather than my own.  Instead of manipulating people and circumstances, I am fighting battles for the people that I care about, with the power of prayer and the influence of genuine unconditional love.

>I am expecting and believing that God will bring good out of difficult or horrible circumstances for those that love Him.

>I am challenging my children to become independent of me – to work hard and take on responsibilities that stretch them and cause growth, respect for others and maturity.

>I am learning to love others based on how God calls me to love, without putting requirements, demands or expectations on the relationship.

>I am loving others even though it means that I will get hurt and I am loving even those that have hurt me.  This doesn’t mean that I like everyone and it doesn’t mean that everyone is worthy of my trust and my friendship.  Trust is earned and sometimes destroyed.

>I am learning to do what is best for others, even when it requires that I sacrifice my own desires.

>I am confronting legalistic religiousness in myself and others, because it seeks to extinguish a thriving relationship with God and others.  I am no longer hiding my true self out of fear that I will be judged by others who are using unbiblical standards.

>I am writing and getting the word out about issues that I am passionate about.  Sometimes, I tackle controversial subject matter and hitting the post button can be scary, but even if I take it in the chin, which I already have, I will do this until He makes it clear that I am done.

 

Often, I look back and remember a younger version of myself – a young woman who could be paralyzed with fear and dread of the unknown, and I am so thankful that God didn’t leave me there.  When I became a mother, I couldn’t imagine ever letting go of my children and not only allowing them, but actually encouraging and sometimes pushing them to spread their wings.  Along the way, He prepared me for each new step that they would take.  When my husband had a massive heart attack and my children, 5 & 9 years old asked me if “Daddy was going to die?”, I found courage that I’d never had before.  I told them that no matter what happened, we would be alright and I knew in my heart that it was not a lie.  In an age, when our world seems to have turned upside down and fear threatens to consume my mind, I can turn my eyes to God, the Creator of this very same world and know that He is still on His throne.

 

So, what do you want to be remembered for?  Whatever it is, live each day intentionally with the desired end in mind.