Friday, May 29, 2015

Be patient, He said.

Patience, defined: An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. 

Patience, synonyms: Endurance. Humility. Poise. Restraint. Self-Control. Composure. Diligence. Persistence. Perseverance. 

Patience, used in a sentence: I HAVE NO PATIENCE!

"By your patience, possess your souls" - Luke 21:19

Let's face it, patience is not something many of us have, no matter how hard we try. We are so busy living our lives, trying to fit as much as we can into each day. Its no wonder why its hard for us to be patient! It seems like no matter where we go or what we are doing, we have to hurry up to hold on. Whether its getting stuck in traffic, standing in line at the grocery store or waiting on a call back from the doctor's office, there is always a time to wait. 

So why is it that it takes so much out of us when we have to have patience? 

I'm fairly sure that having patience isn't a new struggle for folks. But I am also fairly certain that our society today only makes it worse. We live in a world of instant gratification. Fast food, online searches (no need to get in the car and drive to the library), microwaves, streaming of TV shows (without commercials), credit cards (no need to wait until you save enough money!). When we want it, we can get it. Everything is instantaneous. So when we actually have to stop and wait, its hard for us to get a grip on our patience. 

In fact, as I am writing this blog, I am with my mother who is waiting on a nurse and a plumber. Each gave us an appointment time so we adjusted our schedule to account for their visits. The appointment times have come and gone. Yet neither party has arrived yet. We hurried up to get ready just so we can sit here and wait. I just heard the line, "I hate waiting." Don't we all?!

I found myself in a similar situation earlier in the week. I felt as though I was being tried and I couldn't get a hold on my patience. My anxiety was increasing, my leg was jittery, I found myself pacing and my thoughts were racing. I knew I needed to get a grip. So, I decided to open a one-minute daily devotional I carry with me. Guess what the message happened to be for that date?  

First, it referenced the following scripture: "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." - Hebrews 10:36. It went on to remind me that God is in control. He does things in His time and I am not to set a timetable of my own for anything. God sometimes makes us wait not to aggravate us, but to mold our character... after all, he is the potter. 

Just another moment that I do not contribute to coincidence... I am amazed each time situations such as this arise. His message came in the exact moment I needed to hear it. Had I not been in such a state, I probably would have read it and moved on -- not getting consumed by what He was trying to say to me. God definitely has a way of making sure He makes an impact with his timing!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Flies love poop

Have you heard the song Keep Making Me by Sidewalk Prophets? If not, here are a few of the lyrics so you may follow along:


Make me broken, so I can be healed... 
Make me empty, so I can be filled... 
Make me lonely, so I can be Yours... 
'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love,
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me. 

This thought keeps coming to me like a fly to poop - "make me broken, so I can be healed.." In fact, I'd say its been recurring daily for many, many months. But, what does it mean? How can you break something to fix it? And why would you want to? 

We all need "fixed" in some way. We spend so much time blurting out our problems to the first person that will listen. Or we drive to the nearest bookstore, spend money that we don't have on self-help books only for them to sit on our bookshelf and provide a place for dust to land. Really? Is that actually accomplishing anything? The answer is likely, NO. 

We all, myself included, have favorite foods, favorite hobbies, best friends. And we spend much of our time planning and scheduling our life around these things and others. But are they really fulfilling? Do they make us feel complete and whole? Some may say yes to this one. But think again... Im not talking about 'fulfilled' as in scrubbing the surface of your boredom or your current situation. Im referring to that life purpose. The meaning behind your reason for being. That deep down, whole-hearted thirst. The honest answer is likely, NO. 

Why? 

Because friends, money, books, food, etc. are idols. They are just things that take up time, albeit fill an empty space. They are temporary. Bandages that just cover a wound that can't heal with these alone. 

Lately I have realized that I spend a lot of time thinking about the next big thing, the next purchase, the next place I want to visit, the next, the next, the next. But then this thought appears, like that fly on that poop. SPLAT! "make me broken, so I can be healed..." And oddly, it comforts me. It reminds me that I don't need to worry about "the next..." anything. God has that taken care of for me, as long as I remember to take my focus off of those "nexts" and return my focus to Him. 

Who wants to be broken, empty and lonely? I mean, it doesn't necessarily sound exciting. In fact, it kinda reminds me of this lonely tree... sigh... (stop...take a minute to pity the tree, pity yourself, pity your friends, pity your neighbors, pity your dog, pity your friend's dog...sigh again... ok, now move on. Keep reading)


But if we were that tree - lonely and broken - where would our attention be? Right. We tend to draw closer to God in moments like those. What a way to build a relationship! Get knocked down and be at His mercy -- then let him form you into the person He meant for you to be, now that you are FINALLY listening. I can say, after much thought, I know that I would be ok - even better - if I was broken, empty and lonely. 

I don't know that this makes sense to everyone - I think it will when you stumble across that place in life, as I have. But, its a good reminder that even when we are at our lowest, we can be directed to a new path that will take us to our highest. Just pay attention. And give thanks. Every. Single. Day.  




Monday, May 25, 2015

Change in direction

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." ~ James 4:14

I think that verse says it all. We do not know what will happen tomorrow - or even an hour from now. We are here for a short time... Life. Is. Short. Unfortunately, its too easy to get caught up in day to day life and in our routines (I am extremely guilty of this) and forget about what - or who - is important.

I had a flashback this morning as to where I was this time last year. I was living in Pittsburgh and around those parts, Memorial Day weekend signifies the official start of Summer. My partner and I had made the spontaneous decision to drive to Lake Erie (along with about 10,000 other people). If you have never been there, for a Florida girl living in the midwest, Lake Erie was about the closest thing to a beach I had seen in a long time. It was BEAUTIFUL, calming and relaxing.




We sat down on a blanket in the sand and just took in the sights and sounds -- the water was much too cold to even think about swimming. While we drifted away, we decided... "Hey! Its only a couple of hours to Niagara Falls... lets go!" I have always wanted to see Niagara Falls at night -- they light up the falls with colored lights and I had heard that its a spectacular sight. Couple that with a fireworks show at the falls, and I was all in.

Now, for those of you who do not know me, I could never be found guilty of being spontaneous. Yet, this day just seemed different. It felt good to just live in the moment. So much so that we dressed for the beach and ended up in Niagara Falls at night -- FREEZING, walking among those wearing coats, hats, etc. 

The point of me sharing this story is that I realized this morning that at that time, I was living with such a carefree spirit  - in the moment. We didn't have a plan. We didn't know what tomorrow would bring - that life would bring us to Florida a month later, that we would lose my dad, that our life as we knew it would change. We were focused on the present. On getting lost in each other's company and letting life just happen.  

Its those kind of days that bring lasting memories and make our spirit full. When you feel like you are too tied to your schedule or too disconnected with life, make sure you stop and allow yourself to live a little. You don't always have to stay on your path because, remember - someone else knows what you need more than you do and where you are going before you get there. "For I know the plans I have for you... " ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I'll leave you with some beautiful views of Niagara Falls at night... 



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Congratulations on your trip!

Congratulations! Ding, Ding, Ding! You just won a chance at a game called LIFE. 





To begin, you must select a path to follow. But, first, please note that the following items are provided, no matter which road you choose: a mind, a heart and emotions.

Road Number One. 


This road is long and treacherous, with dangerous encounters. This road does not come with all basic needs included. Food and shelter will have to be sought after, clothing, too. Struggles and various tribulations will occur. No steady income. If you are on this path at the right place and at the right time, you may encounter someone who will give you an opportunity. This is called a lucky break. There may be people to help you and there will definitely be people to hurt you. Most who are on this road have great stories to tell - of life, adventure and heartache. 






Road Number Two. 


This road has some trees down, a few road blocks or speed bumps. You will likely have a roof over your head and a bed to keep you warm at night. Some sort of steady income is found. Most likely you will form a family, create a support group. You will see a doctor when you are ill and visit the grocery store to gather items to cook your favorite meal. Kids, baseball games, Disney trips, home movies. Most feel satisfied, though living paycheck to paycheck, with a little emergency money in the bank. The majority, the status quo, with privileges that are not provided to those on road one.





And finally, Road Number Three.


This road is paved, perfect mix of sunshine and shade. Basic needs are met. The act of wanting is minimal. Still, some speed bumps and road blocks may occur, but the speed limit on this road is fairly high. May include kids, baseball games, Disney trips and home movies - but also social events, clubs, and elegance. Travel becomes second nature. Protected and safe. Entitled to privileges that the other two roads do not offer.







Which road sounds best to you? One, two or three? 



***Keep reading*** 

Truth is, in life, we don't get to choose our road. It is already chosen for us before we are even born. We can make the best with what we have, yes. We can also move from one road to the next, based on our choices and decisions in life, true. EACH of these roads has happiness and heartache. It is just up to you to find it.  

Contentment and fulfillment do not come from material possessions, from careers, or even from people. They come from within. Anyone can take the smallest 'nothing' and turn it into the greatest 'something.'  And they can do so while sitting under a bridge, in a college dorm, or from their penthouse suite. 

It is not necessary to be able to understand someone's situation in order to relate to them as a person. Strip away the road they are on and you have a mind, a heart and emotions. Rather than focusing on someone's social status, possessions or lack thereof, focus on true virtues. Humility. Sincerity. Honesty. Compassion. Empathy. Strength. Confidence. Courage. Peace. Modesty. Loyalty. Purpose. Unity. Generosity.


We are all equal. We all came from the same place. We will all return to the same place.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.' - John 13:16

Cheers!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Look straight ahead

She knew she shouldn't expect anything more from him. After all, feeling small was what she was used to. Its her. It has always been her. They have all treated her like a crumb on the floor - that's what she is. The only common denominator with all the men in her life is, well, her. So she must be the reason that causes the abuse; the pain, right?

Sandy was used to this thought pattern. She had spent most of her life bowing to the upper hand of men. It started with her father and continued in every relationship she has had with a man since. 


Looking back was something she never wanted to do. Her past was as painful and dark as her present. Sitting on the bathroom floor of the one-bedroom apartment she shared with her latest man, Rob, she started to cry. She didn't dare look in the mirror. She felt the pain - it was everywhere. Her head, her right shoulder, both of her sides hurt. The pain in her right leg was so incredible that she didn't even think she could stand. But most of all? She felt the pain in her heart. Sometimes she wondered how it continued to keep on beating through all of the hurt. 


Why would God deal her a life like this? Why would he fill her with so much pain? So much hurt? A bruised soul, that's what she is. Wait a minute, God? What made her think of Him? He has never been there for her. If he had, she wouldn't be where she is right now. God was supposed to be good, but her life was so... so... bad. 


On the cold floor, Sandy closed her eyes and remembered being a small child, walking down the sidewalk with her mother to church on Sunday morning. They didn't have money for a car so they walked most places. And it was during those times - for a few short years -  that Sandy's only happy memories were made. They would hold hands, sometimes skipping. Always laughing. 


She remembered the church - lots of smiling people, mostly older. Music - a ton of music! She would sit close to her mom and try to follow along as best as she could. After all, she couldn't have been more than 8 years old at the time. She didn't understand much, and when her mother sensed that, she would always share with her a piece of gum and pull her closer as they listened to the Pastor talk. Even though she can't remember what he said, she can almost physically remember the feeling she got while there. Warmth. Love. Completeness.  


Oh, well. No use thinking of those memories. Not long after they were made her mother died at the hand of Sandy's own father. And look at her now - just like her mother. Heading down the same road... with likely the same ending one day. If only she could change the outcome.

___________________________________________________________


We are all like Sandy. Maybe not the hurt, the abuse, or the pain - but we have all made poor choices, bad decisions, taken actions toward broken roads. Sometimes it was with poor judgment, other times it may have been the best decision based on the knowledge we had at that time in life and the environment in which we lived. Seriously, they didn't come up with the saying "hindsight is 20/20" for no reason. We all grow and learn and then look back at the decisions in our past and shake our head... What on earth was I thinking?! That is how you KNOW you have grown. 

Just recently, while riding in the car, my partner asked... "Do you know why the windshield of a car is bigger than the rearview mirror?" The answer? "Because there are bigger things ahead of you..." Clever, eh? And how true it is. If we spend so much time in the past (and looking in the rearview mirror), we are likely to miss what is ahead of us... through that big windshield. Who knows, you could even run straight through a roadblock. Talk about God trying to get your attention and you aren't looking!  

You are going places, kid. Keep your eyes looking forward! And don't forget to thank God for your road map. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

You are being watched.

Something I thought about today -- God sees and hears everything. Did you get that? EVERYTHING! Obviously this is something that I already know. Im sure you did, too. But did you ever really think about it? Everything we say, everything we cast our eyes on, even everything we think. Wow. This could sound sirens for many people. In fact, probably for all of us. 

This is what prompted this thought for me today: I spent a huge chunk of my day in the hospital with my mom, while she was going through pre-op for an upcoming surgery. Naturally, tensions run high in hospitals and the fact that we were surrounded by folks who were either having surgery today or who were, like my mom, getting prepared for it, our waiting area was no exception.  

As we sat there - very, ahem, patiently - there was a man who felt as though he should voice his opinion on ISIS and police brutality, as well as the corruptness of our police chief. It momentarily made me feel safe and secure to know that this man was willing to stand up to ISIS if they walked in the door or should there be any sort of racial profiling or shooting by a police officer - until I noticed he had braces on each arm. This man clearly stated, several times, that he would "go out fighting"  in either situation. 

Now, all of this was overheard while he was talking to another group of patiently waiting individuals. And when their family member walked up.... the man instantly hushed. Why? Because he had to focus while he leaned back in his chair, squinted his eyes and checked her out. (Not like that... get your mind out of the gutter here .... remember, God knows what you are thinking! ha!) I do believe he was making sure she wasn't a member of ISIS and, when he realized she wasn't, he asked her, almost accusingly, with his eyes squinted, if she worked for the sheriff's office. As if she was one of "thoooooose people." Her response? "Um, no, I used to work at Wal-Mart until I got fired." Phew. I was nervous. I mean, one minute he was going to protect us and the next he was ready to take out a little old lady! But as he started on a rant talking about the managers at Wal-Mart and their sexual advances and high turnover rates, as well as the amount of people he knows personally who have been fired from the same Wal-Mart, I tuned him out. 

But, my mind, see... it was still going. I was shaking my head thinking "wow I feel sorry for the family that he is sharing his waiting time with." And various other thoughts. Then it hit me. Maybe he is ill, physically or mentally. Maybe he had some sort of trauma he has experienced in the past. It occurred to me that I dont know his story. Maybe his path in life has caused him to be suspicious of strangers... and to lack in trust. Who am I to judge him? 

I sat with this for a little bit, pondering my thoughts. THAT is when I realized...GOD SEES EVERYTHING. I had never really thought that through before. You know, kinda like when your are on a diet and alone and you eat that cookie - if no one saw it, then it didnt really get consumed. Nope, not those calories! God saw my thoughts on this poor man. He saw what I was thinking. And... thankfully he saw me correct my thoughts. This time. 

"The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good." - Proverbs 15:3

The good news is that He is forgiving - so even when you do mess up, as I always seem to do, just remember this. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Are you going to win today?

If I could tell you there are 3 things that you can do to be a winner today, would you believe me? A winner of what, you say? You win happiness and a sense of fullness. There are really and truly 3 things that can make your day and have you walking around like a winner.

We have all heard the following things many, many times... and we all know what we need to do to make ourselves reach contentment - and happiness. But its a matter of actually working towards it. Its easier to hide your smile, to dwell on the things you don't have, and complain. But the truth is, it probably takes more energy overall to be negative that to be happy.

So, since this is nothing new to you, I am not going to beg you to read. BUT, do it anyways... because you never know when something may just change your outlook. Or maybe it will just pass time during a boring spot in your day... its up to you!



1. Smile. If you don't believe me, try it! Its amazing when you put a smile on your face how much it affects those around you and, in turn, affects you. Maybe you are walking by a woman who is feeling hopeless and at rock bottom. Your smile could be all that she needs to see a light in the world. Or maybe the shy guy thinks that no one likes him or his confidence is nowhere to be found. Your smile could make his confidence soar -- and you made the difference in his day! Its that simple. All of that just from a smile.



2. Gratitude. Waking up each morning and jotting down even just one thing you are grateful for can set your mental attitude for the day. Be appreciative. And definitely remember the small things. Keeping a small notebook with you allows you to write down grateful thoughts when you have them AND ... ready for the added bonus? You can pull it out and read it when you are feeling down.



And last but not least - 

3. Be Prepared. If you are prepared when you start each day, you will be able to act like a ninja to whatever comes your way. And when I say be prepared, I mean, be prepared by having everything ready for the day. Your clothes picked out, your lunch prepared, know where your keys are, etc. THEN... make sure you are prepared mentally with your attitude to start the day. Being ready, prepared and confident in everything that you can be to start your day means that you will have a greater chance of holding on to your confidence throughout the day. 

Remember: YOU are the only one who decides how YOU feel. 



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Coincidence?

When it comes to reading, I am the slowest. It takes a certain book to grab my attention for me to not have to read, and re-read, and re-read again just to comprehend what I just read three times over! Perhaps that is why I am a slow reader! haha Or maybe that's why I jump head first into a book when the book and I finally click! 

The reason I am mentioning all of that is because  I stayed up last night finishing the 2nd book in a series called Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury. These books are just awesome... and really get you thinking. She writes of angels coming down to perform "missions" and make sure things happen in the manner in which they are supposed to in order to reach an overall goal.  

This would mean that there are no coincidences. Is that possible? Come on, now, follow me here... 

Two cars are pulled off the side of the highway for a fender bender. Every car on the highway is hitting their brakes trying to see the who, what, when, where and how of the accident, as if it will make their day complete. And then there is me. Stuck in the middle of all of this nonsense, watching the minutes pass by on the clock, knowing that there is no way I am going to make it to work on time. This situation just aggravates me. And, well, I usually have a few choice words for all of those people hitting their brakes. (Hey, I KNOW I'm not the only one who feels this way!!) I get worked up, irritated, and let this ruin my morning. How do I know that someone (ahem... an angel, perhaps) didn't know better than me... and that I could find myself in some serious situation if I had arrived to work early? Maybe this accident was to slow me down? Or maybe it was just to slow me down so I can have more time with my thoughts? 

Or, how about you wanted to watch your favorite show on TV and just when you sit down and hit the power button, you realize the cable is out. Irritating, right? You are mad, yelling at the cable company (as if they can hear you), and you feel like your whole night is ruined. But then you start talking to your spouse or your kids.... and decide to play a few games. You end up laughing and talking and feel great when you go to bed that night. Would you have felt that way if you watched your TV show? Would you have made those special memories with your loved ones if the cable hadn't been out? Probably not. Coincidence? Or did someone know that you needed a night... without the TV?

I have felt this way A LOT over the last year of my life. It all circles around losing my dad. I lived in Pittsburgh, he was in Florida. My partner and I decided at the last minute to take a long weekend and DRIVE to south Florida. Who does that?! Definitely not something I would do. First, its a LONG drive. Second, its a LONG drive to only have 2 days before you have to do the LONG drive all over again in the opposite direction. It was really such a spontaneous thing. But, here is what happened. 

The day before we went, I took my car for an oil change. During that time, I was told everything looked good and that I only needed to replace a tie-rod. So, I did. Then we hopped in the car and headed for Florida... you know, that LONG drive. ha!

While visiting, my dad looked at my tires on my car and insisted I get them replaced before driving back to Pittsburgh (he was always looking out for us.) So, we did. The mechanic had my car ALL day and then called to tell me I needed new brake pads. I honestly felt like they were just trying to convince me to spend more money, since the last mechanic in Pittsburgh didn't mention the brakes at all. So, I told him to just handle the tires and Ill come pick the car up. After all, we were heading back to Pittsburgh the next day. 

Well, my dad came home from work that night and took a look at my brakes just to be safe... guess what he said? Yep... I needed them. He also said that he would feel much more comfortable with us making the trip back if I could stay an extra day and get the brakes done. This meant calling work, changing plans, etc. But something told us we needed to listen. (well, that and the thought of driving through mountains when the brakes need replaced was a bit scary) 

This extra day allowed me time to spend with my mom and dad... I was very thankful for that. When we left for Pittsburgh the next day, I hugged my parents and went to get into the car. To this day, I cannot explain it, but something told me to hug my dad again. And let it consume me. I remember this thought clearly. So, I walked back over to him, threw my arms around him and hugged him hard. I can remember the way he felt and his scent so vividly, even at this moment. When we pulled out of their parking lot that day, I specifically remember thinking... "wow, that is one of those memories that isn't going to fade" and "where did that thought come from?!" 

I didn't know it then, but my dad would suffer a massive heart attack less than 2 weeks later. That was the last time I was ever going to spend time with my dad. And the last hug I would ever get from him. 

Now, do you think that was coincidence? I don't. Not for a second. 


I love you, dad.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Define Humility.

So I always start my day by reading a few things - my devotional on my phone, the desk calendar when I get to work, etc. I almost always take something away from what I read. Or, at the very least, I try to. Hopefully. I mean, after all, that would be the purpose. 

So what happens when everything I read in my morning routine follows the same theme? I knock myself slightly in the head and say... "HELLOOOOOO, are you listening?! Im seeing a pattern here!" It could clearly be coincidence, right? Or perhaps Christian writers and publishers work together to make sure the universe comes into alignment with the same theme across the board - no matter what you read or what day you started reading it. Seems highly unlikely, in my opinion. Or, here is a thought, maybe its God actually trying to tell us something. Sneaking ideas in our head like a subliminal message when you play a record backwards. Maybe? 

Im not going to lie. I am very new to my faith. I dont claim to know a lot about how God works or why He does the things He does. But Im no dummy. Im learning every day and when I get the same message in more than one place... you better bet Im listening. 

With all of that being said, today's flashing sign for me says "humility." First off, lets get proper here... Just so we are 100% sure what we are talking about. According to dictionary.com, humility means, "The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc." There ya have it, folks. Humility basically means to be humble. 

I am humble. Really, I am. Ok, well, I think that I am. Wait, Arent I? 

I read that "we need to flee pride...envy and jealousy." And with that, also "avoid causing strife, and the anger, bad temper, irritability, and self-centeredness that prompt it." Ouch. Well, ok, I thought I was humble. But I do have moments when I am envious or jealous and it is bred from moments of selfishness and it does lead me to being angry and irritable. And sometimes I am these things and dont even realize that its all because I was jealous, envious or prideful. Phew. These are all thoughts of our sinful human nature, right? 

Sometimes we forget about our blessings. We get tied up in our small daily struggles and forget about the bigger picture. We forget that when our life doesnt look like we want it to or work out the way we want it to, even when compared to someone else, it isnt our life to begin with. Its HIS plan and HIS path for us. Getting frustrated because things didnt turn out the way we wanted them to for ourselves is when we need to remember this. Speeding tickets, family arguments, missed promotions, etc. These are the small speed bumps in life that we need to realize are just part of the plan, despite how HUGE they feel in the moment. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, you will likely see just how BLESSED you are. Think about it - at least you have a car to drive to get that speeding ticket, at least you actually have a family to argue with, and at least you have a job, even if you didnt get the promotion. Its all about perspective. Give thanks for what you have. 

We are on a different road than those around us. We are each unique. Stay humble, keep your focus on God and remember  - you are blessed and you are continuously growing into the greatest form of YOU. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Unscripted.

Ok, I have thought and thought about what I could possibly say to grab your attention and get you to stay on this page and subscribe to my blog. I mean, I could say, "HEY! READ ME AND I WILL GIVE YOU $50!" Or maybe "If you dont read me then you will have bad luck for the next 6 years!" But, in all honesty, Im just not going to pay you, nor do I have any say in your status with the one who gives out luck. What I can tell you though, is that I have a lot to say about a lot of things. No script. No set idea. My life has so many various aspects and my mind - its all over the place. So I have created this place to reflect on all of the colors in my life and how they blend together to form my perfect painting. Multifarious Blends. 

So, welcome. Kick off your shoes ... Be still. AND READ!