Flashback – Do You Really Mean It?

**This is all about a conversation that I’ve not yet actually been brave enough to have with anyone face to face.

“You really should learn to say no occasionally.”

I hear this ALL the time.  

That comment usually comes after a discussion of my current theatrical involvement and the person making the statement almost always means that I should say no to the theater “stuff” I do.

But what if I took them at their word?  What if I learned to say no to those things that really don’t hit my God-given designs and passions?

Would the person offering advice be okay with it if I said no to playing for the kid’s Christmas program at church?  Or what if I declined to plan/run an elementary school program for the holiday’s?

In the church, there is a tendency to have expectations of others based on what we think they should be doing with their skills and their time.  If they don’t live up to our expectations we shake our heads and talk about “wasting God-given talent.”  As a Pastor’s wife, I have had people refuse to speak to me if they feel I am not doing what I should be.  Apparently, the fact that my husband is on the payroll leads them to believe that they should have some say over how I spend my discretionary time.

Time to speak out clearly – if I HAVE to learn to say no to things, I will NOT be choosing to say no to theatrical involvements.  It is when I am in the throes of a theater production – rehearsing, directing, whatever – that I am the most truly myself.  I get that over-committing can be dangerous to one’s sanity and even one’s physical health.

But never saying yes to the things one is truly passionate about is just as dangerous.  Maybe more so.

So if you tell me that I should learn to say no, I will thank you for your concern and take a look at my schedule to reevaluate the allocation of my time.  Just be ready for me to say “yes” to those things that are right for me, even if you don’t understand!

Reblogged: It Takes Effort

Nothing terribly profound in what I’m about to say.  It’s just something I’ve been reminded of lately.  Here it is – all relationships take effort.  I’m not just talking about marriage although that is probably the most popular focus of such a statement.  It’s also true of all the other relationships in our lives.

Want to stay close to your parents or siblings after you grow up and move on with your life?  Put in the work to stay in touch.  Want to build stronger, closer bonds with your friends? Take the initiative, plan a get-together and work on those bonds.  Think that you and a new co-worker could be really good friends?  Don’t sit around waiting for it to happen.  Invite them to lunch or out for drinks. Do something!

That work may take the form of making plans.  If you are anything like me, you have let fear keep you from taking chances and putting in the work to make relationships last.  Fear of rejection, fear of not knowing what to say, fear of looking stupid . . . you get the idea.  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a tiny bit braver.  Especially since moving to Iowa.  I could choose to sit around and wait for my friends to contact me and make plans to get together.  Or I can send out a Facebook message or a text to a group of friends and set up the event myself.  And guess what – I usually get at least a couple of people to say yes.  Some of those get togethers last for hours and some are shorter.  Some are filled with lots of laughter and noise and others are calmer experiences.

That work may also take a tougher form – that of mending hurt feelings.  Be willing to apologize.  More importantly, be willing to forgive.  Yes, there will be those who will consistently fail you and you may need to set very clear boundaries with them to keep the relationship healthy. But even the best friend may say something hurtful or do something thoughtless. That includes you and me.  Forgive quickly and apologize even faster.  That’s the tough part of working on relationships but if you can weather the storms, you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Most of all, let your friends know they matter.  A quick note through the mail, a text message, a quick message via social networking . . . any of these can do wonders for building up your friend, letting them know you are thinking of them and strengthening the relationship.

Reblogged: Choosing Happy

Just posted something on here about emotional and relational growth.  How much it can hurt and the fact that it occasionally sucks.

Hate it when my words get tested when they are still fresh in my mind!

Without being specific and naming names (because I’m not going to get petty like that!) it has become clear to me that some people just do not know how to be happy or let others be happy.  They carry this emotional ugliness with them like toxic sludge and they make sure to smear it all over the paths of those they encounter.  They don’t know how to be happy when good things happen to others because they are too busy resenting the person rather than celebrating with and for them!

When you come to the sludge others have left in your way, you have a choice to make.  You can wallow in the sludge, flinging some of it back at the person who left it there, and lowering yourself to his/her level in the process.  You can attempt to defend yourself against the unkind words that spew from their mouths out of habit. If you choose this option, you will eventually become a person who leaves the sludge of emotional ugliness in the path of others.

Or you can look around for those moments of brightness that have been placed in your path by those who have a much healthier, less self-centered approach to life!  You can choose to listen to the voices of those cheering you on to bigger and better things.  You can rise to the challenges before you and face them head on, choosing to work your tail end off to make something amazing happen.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m dealing with some “sludge-flingers” right now.  So far I’ve been able to handle the situation with relative ease.  Now they are choosing to fling sludge meant for me at one of my children.  It’s just not cool to put my kids in the middle of their ugliness and luckily the child in question has a decent head on her shoulders so I am not worried about her.

It would be so easy to start flinging ugly right back at them.  It might almost feel cathartic.  I mean, Mama Bear would LOVE to defend her cub!

Nope.  Not going there.

I am in the midst of trying to realize a 20 year dream and I am absolutely surrounded by people who are cheering me on, working alongside me to help it happen, or who simply love on me regardless of what else is going on.  These people bring so much laughter, love, and joy to my life that I feel positively overwhelmed by it at times.  Truthfully, the joy-bringers outnumber the sludge-flingers pretty significantly (sorry for the rhyme – it was truly unintended!).

So today I choose to step around the piles of emotional “ick” left in my way.  My focus is on all of the loving, positive, encouraging people in my life.  The sludge bearers are wasting their time.  I’m choosing happy!

Reblogged: Epiphany – Sort of!

This thought shouldn’t be revolutionary to me.  But it did stop me short earlier today.  It shouldn’t have.  Unfortunately, the fact that it DID stop me short is proof that head knowledge isn’t necessarily enough to make a heart change.

In the Gospels, we are told that a teacher of the law came to Jesus and asked him which law was the most important.  Jesus answered –

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Love the Lord your God.  Not be a perfect wife or mother, not keep a perfect home, not be a model employee.  Love the Lord your God with EVERYTHING you are.

I waste so much time trying to “fix” or “improve” my life by focusing all my attention on those problem areas/strained relationships/personal weaknesses and get frustrated when I can’t get the positive changes to “stick”.

But my focus is wrong.  It’s not that God doesn’t want to affect those areas.  He most certainly does.  But he wants my priorities to be right.  If I can learn to love him with all that I have – my mind, my heart, my soul, my strength – then he will walk through all those broken places and start teaching me, stretching me, empowering me, and motivating me to make the changes as a result of making Him the absolute number one priority in my life.

For so long, I have tried to “be good enough” and all I end up doing is failing those I want to be good enough for and frustrating myself when I do so.  This is the key.  Loving God the way it is described in the verse above will give him the place in my heart that he needs to effect positive changes in every other area of my life.  Think about – focusing on obeying that one law will talk care of ALL the others.  (Now to make sure I don’t forget that!)

Reblogged – Lighting a Candle

This was first published on January 1, 2015.  While it isn’t quite time for a New Year’s Resolution yet, this is a worthwhile goal to remind myself of yet again!

 

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

(Motto of a group called “The Christophers” founded in 1945)

The quote above is attributed to many people.  Just Google it and you’ll see what I mean!  It’s been used by former first ladies, the head of Amnesty International, and others.  The oldest record of the entire quote anyone can find is in the paperwork created when “The Christophers” was founded by Father James Keller.

The fact that this statement has been quoted over and over says something.  Something powerful.  And it perfectly sums up my focus for the year 2015.  It’s easy to rage on social media about things that annoy us.  We argue with one another in the “cyberworld” really well.  But it doesn’t fix things.  And it tends to leave the individuals involved in the argument all worked up.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe others get involved in the argument and then walk away, never to think of the issue again.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.

So my goal for this year is simple.  Whenever I can, where ever I can I am going to “light a candle”.  It may take the form of a financial donation or a shoulder to cry on or educating myself on a particular cause and then sharing what I know with others.  The actions may vary, but the purpose will always remain the same. I’m tired of the arguing. I’m tired of watching people make ugly assumptions about total strangers they are arguing with online.  I’m tired of the stress and grumpy attitude that tends to accompany that kind of negative engagement.  So I’m choosing, in 2015, to be a “candlelighter”, for lack of a better term. It is my intent to brighten up my own little corner of the world one candle at a time.

Flashback Friday – Pursuing

This was originally posted on my blog on July 6, 2012

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Everyone of us is in pursuit of something.  Some of us are aware of it, some of us are not.  Some of us might need to rethink what we’re pursuing and some of us might need to challenge ourselves by pursuing something that requires a little more effort.

When I say everyone, I mean everyone.  The guy sitting in his chair, watching his favorite team?  He’s pursuing that perfect moment of relaxation.   The woman running herself ragged working outside the home, trying to be keep her house perfectly, spotlessly ready for company and over-scheduling her own life and her kids?  She’s pursuing the title of “Best Mom Ever”.  Don’t get me wrong – there are those who pursue good things too.  Enough money to support their families, good health, a healthy relationship.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing, wanting a tidy home, seeking to take care of your financial obligations and so on.  The danger comes when the thing we are pursuing begins to control EVERY aspect of our lives.

So what’s the answer?  Sitting back and pursuing nothing is certainly a horrible idea!  But so is choosing our pursuits based on the preferences of others.  Others don’t have to face the consequences – good or bad- of the choices that I make so I certainly do not let them make those choices for me.

The key is something I’m STILL trying to learn – balance.  If you have relaxed to the point that you can barely get out of your chair because you have gotten stiff from sitting there too long, you’re out of balance.  If you resent the activities your kids are in and don’t really even enjoy your tidy home, you’re out of balance.  If you have enough money to support your family but continue to work extra hours just to chase more money, that’s out of balance.  You get the idea!

Human beings have an intellect.  They can make informed decisions and choose how best to spend their time.  In that choosing, we must be mindful of the fact that we also have emotions, a soul, and the need for relationship.  Our hobbies, passions, likes and dislikes all fit in there to make a complete, well-rounded person.  I challenge myself – and you – to pursue with both passion AND balance.  I challenge us to set goals that will push us to achieve new and exciting things or get us closer to getting all the laundry done on the same day we start it!  Lastly – and maybe most importantly – I challenge us to recognize the seasons in our lives and change with them!

Aside

The Long Haul

The beginning of a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt says “Nothing in this world is having or worth doing unless it means effort.”

But we humans want quick fixes and fast solutions.  I’m four weeks into a new workout routine and have made some pretty significant changes to my eating habits as well as being much more intentional about my water consumption.  My eating habits aren’t perfect – I still “cheat” now and then – but I’m learning and doing a little bit better each day.  I’m doing LOTS better than I was four weeks ago!

But I’d love to see big changes and fast!  In my head I know that quick, radical changes usually don’t last.  When it comes to healthy weight loss, slow and steady is the route to success.

So I have to choose to focus on the positives –

– My sleeping pattern is better and more restful.

– My energy level is great!

– There have been small changes in all of the “measurements” and the scale has nudged a bit in a healthier direction.

– My legs feel stronger and my arms are starting to do the same.

I say these things not to brag but to remind myself that my commitment to living healthier was never going to be a short term thing.  If I want these healthy changes to “stick”, I need to remember that I signed up for the long haul and just keep taking baby steps forward.