12 Daily Reminders

I saw this today and loved it. It is so true.

1. The past cannot be changed
2. Opinions don’t define your reality
3. Everyone’s journey is different
4. Things always get better with time
5. Judgments are a confession of character
6. Overthinking will lead to sadness
7. Happiness is found within
8. Positive thoughts create positive things
9. Smiles are contagious
10. Kindness is free
11. You only fail if you quit
12. What goes around comes around

Here’s my take on the above:

Stop running back to what hurt you. Don’t look back, you are not going that way. Yesterday is over, tomorrow is not promised so live for today – moment by moment. Always remember that you have no idea what someone else is going through. Time IS the ultimate healer. I read recently that if you wait on God, he will act on your behalf. I will probably write that hundreds of times because it is so simple, yet so profound. Be patient. Give time its proper time. Overthinking is a tough one. But if you can get past it at least some of the time, you will not worry about 99% of the things you worry about that never actually happen. We can choose to be happy or not. But, I believe that it is ok to let yourself feel the full spectrum of emotions. Have a sad day. Just don’t stay there. If you think you can or cannot, you are right. You can never go wrong with being nice. Laughter is essential to living a well-balanced and fulfilling life. Surround yourself with those who can make you laugh. Don’t give up – slow and steady wins the race. The tide always turns.

Don’t Settle for Less Than This in a Relationship

I am a relationship type of person – through and through. Not just romantic relationships (although those are kinda my favorite) but family and friendships, co-workers and even strangers. How we interact with each other is so incredibly powerful and even more so in today’s digital world where face to face communication is becoming less and less. Nothing beats face to face communication, in my opinion. This is especially true in romantic relationships. I need to feel like I am a priority for quality time together and I also don’t want to be the one always making sure that everything works out that we can be together – since busy schedules do get in the way.
I want someone who is in it as much as I am. If I am making the relationship one of my very top priorities, I don’t want to be with someone who isn’t doing that on their end.  I am the type of person who could totally take control and make sure I get the quality time I need. What I have figured out, however, is that doesn’t feel good to me. And I want to feel good. What feels good to me more than anything is someone that is just as crazy about being together as I am. This doesn’t mean hanging out 24/7 – it means capitalizing when it is possible to be together and prioritizing this time above other things. I am searching for one life together with someone. This means there are kids/family obligations, work obligations, guys nights, girls nights and alone time – no doubt – I need those things, too. But it also means that you consider each other with those things and when there are events or free weekend nights or no plans at all – that you’re doing it all together, and it doesn’t even cross your mind not to do it all together.
I have realized in my many years of wisdom that THIS is what I want and need. And I’m not going to settle for less. I will verbalize it and make it clear (this can be difficult for me, but I know it is important because no one, especially no guy, is a mind reader – another thing I’ve learned) and if it still feels like I’m on the crazy island all alone, I’m going to leave. I am not afraid to leave. I am not afraid to be alone. So I really have nothing to lose on my non-settling quest.
I’ve come up with a few things that none of us should settle for less than in a relationship. This is based purely on what I need out of a relationship. But, it is a start. If you are wondering why you are always pulling the weight or if you need to speak up more about your needs/wants, or are simply wondering if you’re asking too much – the list below in my opinion is more than fair to ask out of a partner.
  • To be a priority – you should never feel like you or the relationship takes the back seat. You should have time together because you both make the relationship a priority. They should fill you in our their plans and what is going on and you should do the same.
  • To know how they feel about you – even if they don’t constantly tell you, you should know how they feel about you. Actions speak louder than words, although it is nice to hear and read, too. Open communication, asking a lot of questions and not being afraid to be vulnerable all contribute to this. If you are shut down, don’t expect them to open up. Tell them how you feel and what you want and don’t want often.
  • Touch – this speaks for itself, but affection should come naturally.
  • Grace – we aren’t always the best version of ourselves. We aren’t perfect and make mistakes. We hurt feelings and can be selfish, too. You should be with someone that loves all of you, even the not so pretty parts. They should be forgiving, understanding and give you grace in these moments. This does not mean you can be an asshole. But it does mean you should be comfortable being 100% YOU, say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and offer the same understanding and grace in return.
  • To be supported and taken care of – nothing should limit your dreams and your partner should support you. In fact, they should make you believe in yourself more. You should feel like someone has your back and no matter what, everything will be ok because you know you have someone to solve life’s challenges with.
  • To trust and be trusted – trust is the backbone of a relationship. Without it, there is no relationship. You should feel trusted because you are trustworthy – so BE trustworthy and honest so you never have to be questioned. If you are trustworthy and honest and still questioned, you are not trusted and this is NOT a fun place to be. So don’t allow that to happen. In reverse, you should trust your partner. If they give you reasons not to trust them, take a long, hard look at the relationship to see if it is really what you want.
  • Laughter – you should have a reason to smile everyday and laugh until your stomach hurts sometimes. Laughing together is an absolute non-negotiable for me. Someone needs to love my weirdness and dorkiness. It’s not an option not to. Always make sure you can laugh at yourself, too.
  • The little things – whether it’s your favorite food, little notes, help without being asked, random flowers delivered to work because they know you’re having a stressful week, a back rub or simply watching your favorite show – all of the little things are truly the biggest things. It can be easy to overlook them, so take time to write down things you notice because they add up and can show you someone is truly trying to take care of you, thinks about you and wants you to be happy. You should do all of this and more in return. Remember – everyone loves differently – so talking openly about how someone shows and receives love will really help out in this area. Speak your partner’s love language for them and allow them to speak yours to you.
  • One life – if you open your life to them, they should open their life to you in return. Even if you are just in a committed relationship and not married, it should not feel choppy. You should feel like one unit and equally involved in each other’s circles. You should talk about the future, what it looks like and how you’re going to get there together.
I know I will not settle for less than the above. I hope you don’t, either. Relationships are messy and complicated, yet also the most beautiful acts of love we will ever experience. However, they are a two-way street. Make sure you give the above and you can expect the above in return from your partner. It will never be perfect or always easy, but this crazy love will be worth it!

Daily Devotion: Sunday Night Anxiety

Scripture: Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Does anyone else have Sunday night anxiety? It’s something I’ve had off and on since I was in high school or college. I’ve had it a lot more lately – to the point of some physical anxiety symptoms that I simply cannot control. From feeling my heart beating outside of my chest to being light headed to shortness of breath, it can really be one of the worst feelings. Most of the time I have no idea where it is coming from and there isn’t even something specific on my mind that would cause anxiety. Other times, I might be dreading a certain meeting, project or unknown at work.

I’ve been digging into scripture to help me get through the worst of my Sunday night anxiety. Once Monday comes and goes, it seems it was never really as bad as my mind made it out to be. I worry about things and waste precious time and energy doing so, when most of the time what I worry about doesn’t even happen. This is where God looks down on me, shaking His head, telling me to trust Him, to wait on Him and to look only to Him for strength and guidance.

The scripture that spoke to me best about my Sunday nights is Philippians 4:6-7. It tells us to not be anxious about anything. And to present all of our requests to God through prayer and with thanksgiving. In return for our faith and obedience, God will guard our hearts and minds. THIS. This is what I strive for in my faith. If God’s hand isn’t in something, I don’t want it anyway, no matter what that means.

Another thing about Sunday night in particular is that it is the Sabbath Day – what God intends for us as our day of rest. In today’s world, do we really observe this day of rest? I do know with 100% certainty that anxiety about tomorrow is not what our Lord wants for us. When worry and anxiety, including physical symptoms, start to creep up on you on Sunday (or any day for that matter), open your Bible. Read what God wants to put on your heart. Then, sit in silence and simply listen. Let the voices calm your mind. Take deep breaths to calm your heart beat and mind. Envision the week to come and get excited about all of the surprises God has in store, if you let things simply be. This is my new Sunday night routine. I’ll continue to keep you posted on how it is going and what I’ve been surprised with along the way.

Below is a Sunday night prayer to help with this. Say this every Sunday night – say it aloud – and if you need it again on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, just keep praying.

Dear Lord, thank you for this day of rest. Please forgive me if I haven’t fully utilized this day as you intended for me – to rest and worship. My heart is thankful. Thankful for a new day, thankful for answered prayers and unanswered prayers that I might not understand until much later, but I know you have a plan and purpose for everything. I know that every good and perfect gift comes from you and I know I take so many for granted. I am sorry. I fail you with every breath I take, I fall short of your glory each and every day. Yet you love me and choose me every single second no matter how many times I turn my back on you or think I can do something on my own. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. I am feeling anxious tonight for the week to come. Please take this anxiety from me, as I cannot carry it. Instead, I place my trust in you, even when I cannot see. I pray for your presence with me tomorrow morning as I start the week. I pray for wisdom and strength to open my eyes to what you are trying to show me. Show me opportunities to show others your love. Use me in your will for others. Be the thoughts in my head and words out of my mouth. Help me to only live in the moment. I can only do this with You. I will wait on you. Surprise me. In tough times, hold me up and wipe away my tears. Please be with all of those who are broken hearted and hurting. Thank you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

10 Lessons from a 10-Year Old

This post is actually three years old. But, it still provides some valuable lessons from the happenings of a 10-year-old.

I got a call from my daughter’s school nurse last week. My mind went to sore throat, upset stomach – all the bugs that go around this time of the year. Instead, I heard that she fell off the high bar at recess. “And we think she broke her right arm.” Oh boy.

Here were the stats at the end of the day:

  • 4 hours waiting
  • 3 broken bones
  • 2 casts (one on each arm)
  • 1 scratched up face

And … 10 lessons learned from my 10-year-old over the last week. Even though each one is pretty simple, you might benefit from the refreshers both personally and professionally. I know I did.

  1. Smile.
    She was wearing a smile in every picture I took of her. The doctor said she was one tough cookie. Sometimes the ability to keep smiling is very difficult. But when we smile, we can make someone’s day without even knowing it and it makes staying positive much easier.
  2. Improvise.
    Her Halloween costume would no longer work with the casts. So, she decided to let her injury work in her favor and opted to be an “injured person” instead. When Plan A doesn’t work, move quickly to the next solution and you might find it better than your original plan.
  3. A lesson that doesn’t kill you is a lesson learned.
    When I pointed this out, I knew I had officially become my mother. But it’s so true. I was at a marketing conference a few years ago and one of the speakers said he would frequently tell his team that “no one is going to die” if they didn’t do something exactly right. As long as you are continually learning and then adjusting, you will get it right.
  4. Don’t be a show-off.
    Speaks for itself. Don’t do it. Ever.
  5. Let rumors roll off your back.
    Her biggest concern was rumors would spread about the accident. What if someone said she did it on purpose? What if someone said she got pushed off? As I listened to the simplicity of her concerns, I thought about how easy it is to get wrapped up in the worry of what others think, no matter how big/small/positive/negative/neutral it is.
  6. Allow others to help you.
    I have become very good at getting just about any shirt or coat over two arm casts. There are other things she can still do on her own. Recognize where you need help and ask for it. It is ok!
  7. Take a month off from busy-ness.
    You can’t really play sports or practice the clarinet with two arm casts. So, she gets a month off from the normal, busy weekly schedule. We are all enjoying this break! Sometimes taking time to slow down and smell the roses is absolutely necessary.
  8. Always sport your flair.
    The best part about two casts? Picking out two different colors! She opted for neon green and rainbow tie-dye. What color is your flair? Make sure you sport it as much as possible.
  9. Do not use casts – or any other item for that matter – to harm others.
    It has been very tempting for her to use her casts as weapons on her five-year-old brother. But we learned in kindergarten that it’s not nice to hit others. That’s still true.
  10. Being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
    After her first day back at school, I asked her if she got a lot of attention and was tired of telling the same story over and over again. She rolled her eyes and said, “Yes. I definitely never want to be famous.” After hitting it big, you might long to be just an ordinary person after all. (Casts might come in handy for the paparazzi, though!) Just kidding.

Don’t forget to live

We get so busy in life that we sometimes forget to live. We spend time capturing or recording a memory instead of just living in it. I read this last week and it was too good not to share on this topic.

Here is Bob Moorehead about the importance of the little things:

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person might not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.”

Let’s live this life. We only have one.

Discerning God’s Will

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I am always trying to discern God’s will. I have found that this is not an easy thing to do – at all – and as humans we tend to find what we’re looking for. We justify things, telling ourselves it must be God’s will. I cannot sit here and write this with a definitive answer. I don’t have one. If I did, I wouldn’t continue to take wrong turns in my life.

One thing I know is that God’s will is perfect, which is why it’s truly all I want. My problem is that I cannot get out of my own way. I know He must get so frustrated with me because I screw things up by trying to take over and control in an attempt to keep my expectations at bay and limit disappointments. Yet, I still worry. I still get scared. And I still feel disappointment. My very own subconscious strategy is working against me.

Something I read recently opened my eyes about this topic. It said that the mature Christian does not need to know what’s in it for him or herself. He or she asks for God’s will and says I am willing to do anything without even knowing what it means for me. This was really a different perspective for me to soak in. We are all inherently self-centered so of course when thinking of God’s will for MY life, I think about ME. Right? I mean, I also think about those that are most important to me, like my children and the rest of my family. What is really crazy are the stories in the Bible where parents left their children to follow God’s will. And God blessed them for it. We cannot even imagine that in the world we live in today. I can’t even come close to imagining that.

God dwells in each of us – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is also such a big concept for me to grasp. There are voices in our head and if we listen, all three will talk to us. I’ve been working really hard at this. We don’t have to speak or think to pray. We can just listen. The toughest part is deciphering God’s three voices versus the other two voices in our head – our own and Satan’s. Satan isn’t always dressed up in a red suit and horns. He has a way of telling you what you want to hear and how to make all of your earthly dreams come true. It can be the voice of laziness, self despair or greed, telling you it is ok. And the downward spiral begins when your own voice begins to believe it and then begins to tell yourself that is must be God’s will. I have listened to these voices go back and forth and it is still hard for me to know which one to listen to. But, as I pray and allow this quiet time to stop and listen, there are things that have become a lot more clear to me.

Discerning God’s will also becomes easier when you think about life only in 24-hour chunks. He gave us 24 hours in a day for a reason. I tend to get way too far ahead of myself, which is when I totally get in the way. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is not promised. So, all we have in this moment is right now, today. We can forgive in a day. We can forget in a day. We can love in a day. We can give in a day. We can be sad in a day. We can be hopeful in a day. There are good days, bad days and better days. But it is always a new day. We can’t dwell in the bad days for longer than 24 hours. God gives us hope for tomorrow and we only have enough in us to successfully get through one day.

Come what may. As I started focusing only on the next 24 hours, I also tried to stopped forcing or chasing anything. I will do my best and do my part if I feel I need to take action (again, sometimes I do this and I absolutely shouldn’t), but otherwise I know that God’s will will be done. Because I pray for it to be. That means that I get to take the back seat and let him drive. I pray a lot on my way to work in the morning for God to surprise me today. This is HUGE for me because I’ve never liked surprises in my life. It’s why I can’t watch Iowa football without covering my eyes for at least three quarters of the game and for sure during every 3rd down no matter what side the ball is on. It is why I don’t care if someone tells me what happens at the end of a movie, why I read a few of the last pages before I get to the end of a book and why I tend to sometimes make impulsive decisions so it is definitive and done and I no longer have to wonder. I’ve realized over the past few months, however, that this is no way to live. God certainly does not intend for me to live this way. He wants me to walk in His path and delight in His will. There will be horrible times and times full of pain, but He promises to give us strength to get through these times. So, embracing the day, being surprised with what God has in store because I am walking by faith and not by sight and sitting back to let life come to me is my ultimate focus. What I do not wait for, however, is God’s calling to help others. I pray for him to open my eyes and see where He needs my help and if there is a heart that He can touch through me. This has seriously been as small as a smile, giving grace to someone, listening with love, talking about my story, or paying for a soda in the break room for someone because the machine wasn’t taking cash.

I am certainly not perfect and I am a big, huge sinner like all of us who fall short of the Glory of God. However, I am trying to get better and meet the person God created me to be – 24 hours at a time.

Insomnia and Divorce

Before I had kids, I didn’t think about sleep really at all. I pretty much always got enough of it and if there were a few nights I stayed out too late, I could catch up. And being in my early twenties, I could still go out and then go to class or work the next day and somehow function.

Then I had my daughter. I knew people said that babies keep you awake at all hours, but as a young mom, I don’t think I fully comprehended what that meant. In those moments in the middle of the night when I could hardly keep my eyes open to save my life, I learned that sleep is one precious commodity. I vowed to myself to never, ever take sleep for granted again. And thirteen plus years later, I still do not take it for granted.

At the point of getting separated, both of my children were very much past the waking up in the middle of the night stage. So, I had a few years of some very good sleep – of which I soaked in every single moment.  I didn’t think I’d ever have to face a sleeping shortage again. Well, I was wrong. I don’t know if anyone else who has been through a divorce experienced insomnia, but I sure did – and still do – to this day.

As I sit here writing this post, I’ve probably yawned ten times. Like bringing out the big guns yawns. I’ve been awake since 2:30 this morning when I woke up and simply could not get back to sleep.  I’ve adjusted to this lifestyle of many sleepless nights at this point. When I do have a night where I wake up less than two times, or a morning where I am able to sleep in a bit, I take full advantage. I take Benedryl, Advil PM and melatonin on occasion to at least help me go back to sleep if I wake up in the night. I usually do this when I know I have flexibility to sleep in the next morning. However, this strategy also backfires on me. I’ve learned that I can take one and it might work, but two gives me worse insomnia. That really annoys me.

There are several reasons why I link my insomnia to divorce. The most obvious reason is because it started at the same time. Also, at the beginning stages of divorce, it is rather difficult to live in what I call the limbo or in-between period. This is where you have made the decision to move forward, but so many pieces have to fall into place before you can really feel like you have somewhat of a normal life again. If you have kids, add a multiplier of stress to this time period.

I was numb for a long time even before my divorce, as I had to be strong and cope with things that wouldn’t have been possible for me to get through had I not blocked out emotion. It must’ve been a flight or fight instinct in me that pushed me to that point, as I really don’t think I would’ve been strong enough to get there on my own based on how emotional and sensitive I am at my core. Because of this, the transition or limbo period wasn’t as difficult on me as I have heard it’s been on other people. I think my limbo period just started years before my divorce, so I lived in it for a long time without even knowing it. While this might’ve made it a bit easier from an emotional standpoint, it was still a change with many, many unknowns.

I slept better when my kids were with me (and still do) because that seemed more normal. It was when I was alone that I never slept. I would even turn into a bit of gypsy and stay at my sister’s house or my parent’s house just to get some sleep versus zero sleep. I would avoid staying alone overnight if I could. The odd thing is I wanted to be alone and I spent many days all by myself because I didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone, but when it got closer to bed time I would go stay somewhere else.

I remember the first Christmas Eve following my divorce. I didn’t have my kids, so after church I went to my third story condo all by myself and that’s when I cried – ugly cried to be exact. I knew I needed to stay there because I had to be Santa Claus and be there in the morning when their dad dropped them off to see what Santa delivered. That was a moment in time I will never forget. Looking back, getting through the year of firsts – just like with the grieving process – is what helps you get closer to a feeling of normalcy.

Eventually I just made myself stay alone no matter what. Some nights are still better than others. I get scared easily, so if I wake up to noises, it’s over and I’m not going back to sleep. But for the most part I am doing much better than in the beginning. I know if I continue to give time it’s proper time that one day I’ll be sleeping like a baby again.