Slowing Down and Being Intentional

I am so excited.

Over a book.

Yes, a book. I read the first bit of it online.

I’ve been wanting to get this book since it came out earlier this year. It will arrive by Wednesday.

It is the book, Chasing Slow, by Erin Loechner. She talks about appreciation. Gratitude. Being intentional.

Yes. I have been attempting to work on those very things for the past several years, but who doesn’t need the reminder? To know there are others that struggle with these things too?

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As I sit here typing, my eyes glance around the kitchen. Notes and magnets askew on the refrigerator, the Keurig needs the water tank refilled, pet nose prints on the windows, and finger prints all over the stove and dishwasher. The counter needs to be wiped down, again, and my feet feel the grit on the floor. Why are my eyes always drawn to the negative? Instead, I want them to focus on my granddaughter playing in her high chair, smiling like only an 11-month-old can, a glass of cold green tea, and the feel of cool air conditioning (after having just recently been fixed).  I am choosing to make a change.

My soul craves the slower life, the more intentional life. I have been blessed with so much, and yes, I am thankful in a big way. But, am I thankful in the-everyday-way? Do I own my things, or do they own me? Do, I schedule my life, or does my calendar rule me? My life often feels hurried and I’m left harried. That is just not what I want.

I don’t want a wild race to next week, or next month, or even next year. I long to slow down and be intentional. I want to savor the days and make them what I want, not what I must. Slowing down is about more than just getting rid of “stuff”, it is also about changing my mindset. I am sure I will try and fail, then have to dust my self off and get back at it. What am I motivated by? How can I make this one life something I enjoy and not just one I strive to get through?

Over the next several months I will be working hard on simplifying, slowing down, and letting go. I plan on posting periodically about this journey.  You will read about the triumphs as well as the messy stuff. I suspect this journey to slow will not be an easy one for me……

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My Top 15 Things On Life

I was listening to a speaker on TED talks yesterday. The woman speaking was in her 60’s and was also a writer (Anne Lamott “12 truths I learned from life and writing”). She said she was surprised that she had been contacted to speak at TED. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say…. Listening to her made me think about what I’ve learned over the years.

My Top 15 Things On Life

  1.  Life really is short. I still can’t believe that on my next birthday I will be 50. My son will be starting his senior year of college this Fall. My niece, who will be a high school senior this year, has already started visiting colleges. The late 80’s and early 90’s doesn’t seem that long ago to me……and yet, three decades have come and gone since I started college. Some days it is difficult to wrap my mind around that fact.
  2. Do something every day that brings you joy.  On some days that joy will come from hugging your child, or telling your spouse, “I love you”. Maybe it will be eating a scoop of your favorite ice cream on a hot summer evening or reading a good book. Other days it will be the sweet but simple things. Yesterday evening my husband and I took a short jaunt to Meijer’s after dinner. I got a new shower curtain and new rings for the curtain. That seems crazy, right? To be excited about a new shower curtain. It will be white, and crisp and clean (for all of 5 minutes) but, I’ve been wanting to get that and now I did and it is something to check off my list. Checking things off my to do list brings me simple joy. Not every joy has to be monumental.
  3. My words should bring life to others. The older I get, the more mindful I am that what I say does matter. Not everything that I think needs to be said. I don’t want to be that person that hurts with words. Words have power, and the one who understands that point is wise with what he/she says. Besides, people hear negativity far too often anyway, and some even begin to believe it. I have the opportunity to be life giving, not life draining. Be someone’s encourager.
  4. I don’t have to agree with everyone, and neither do you. It is okay to disagree. It is not okay to act like a fool when you disagree. Stand up for what you believe in, but be willing to give that same courtesy to others.
  5. I can’t please everyone. That might seem obvious to most, but it was an epiphany for me. I do not enjoy conflict and confrontation (does anyone?). I have always tended to be more of a “pleaser”, which isn’t really a great thing. It is okay to say “no” to things. The world isn’t going to end.
  6. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and everything else I do in this life should reflect that. Being a Christian is not something I detach from because knowing Jesus is a relationship, not just a religion. Christ is as real to me on mundane Monday mornings, and Thursday night’s at the grocery store as He is on Sunday mornings. I believe the God of the universe knows me and loves me. Although on some days I might feel small, I never go unseen by Him. (For more on this, see The Greatest Gift of All at the top of my blog’s home page.)
  7. It is important to listen. This is a crucial skill, that I wish more people were adept at doing. Instead of always wondering about how I am going to reply to someone, I need to listen first, and truly think about what is being said. So much can be learned if ears are turned on and the mouth is kept shut. I also need to remind myself that listening with the heart and mind is just as important as listening with one’s ears.
  8. I can do anything for a short amount of time. Life can be, and often is, difficult. There have been many things I have gone through in my almost 50 years, things that I have no desire to ever go through again, but I made it through. Sometimes it is me telling myself, “I can do this thing for 5 more minutes” or “I will get through this by the end of the semester”, or “This is hard, but I need to finish”. Sometimes it is mind over matter. I was widowed at 32, with a 5-year-old son. Those first days of widowhood, I just needed to get through the day. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else besides the fact that I was still breathing, and I had a little boy to take care of. Sometimes the things we go through are so hard. Keep going. It will get better.
  9. It is okay to cut your losses. There are times and situations in life that one just needs to say, “I gave it a chance and it isn’t working”. I often ask myself, “Is this worth it?”. Is this going to make a difference next week? Next year? Five years from now? If it isn’t really important. Let it go. There is a feeling of liberation that comes from letting stuff go. It can be freeing.
  10. Death is not dying. As a Christian, I believe the actual literal act of “dying” is very brief (although the leading up to this, can be long and drawn out or short and unexpected). One of my most beloved authors of all time, is C.S. Lewis. He wrote some excellent papers/books on grieving and death, but one of my favorite quotes of his is, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” We have a body. Bodies don’t last forever. We were made for more than this world. Ponder that.
  11. There is almost nothing better than the laughter of a child. Our 14-year-old grandson is visiting this week from Texas. Watching him play with his 11-month-old cousin, and watching the joy on their faces is so much fun. And how can anyone listen to the laughter of a baby and not smile themselves? In my opinion, there is nothing better. If I am having a rough day all I have to do is pick up my baby granddaughter. She effortlessly makes moments happy.
  12. Time is valuable. It is a precious commodity, that most of us treat in far too cavalier a manner. Once time is wasted, there is no going back.  Another favorite author of mine, Ann Voskamp, reminds us that “life isn’t an emergency”. We don’t need to waste our time running around in circles doing mindless things. Instead, take the necessary time to savor the moments. Make a conscious effort to enjoy them. If you do, you will look back over your life and smile.
  13. Be kind to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” or Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It has been my experience that those who come across as the most unlovable and most aggravating, are the ones that need to be shown kindness the most. It doesn’t cost one anything to show kindness. So be kind to others. It matters.
  14. I am an advocate for those who need a voice. The young. The disabled. The elderly. If I don’t speak up, then who? It is not okay for me to say someone else will do it. That might be the very reason I am here at this time. To be the voice for those who need to be heard. I am in their corner.
  15. Love your family. Share memories. Laugh a lot. Hug. Enjoy holidays together. Goof around. Get mad. Show forgiveness. Make up. Be there for each other.

***What are some of the things you’ve learned? Share your wisdom. ***

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What Makes A Perfect Life?

Today I read an article entitled,  Appeal to the United Nations. The article, dated November 2015, discussed how more couples are choosing elective abortions when they find out that their baby has Down Syndrome. The article went on to state, couples who went through screening and found out their child had Down Syndrome terminated the pregnancies at these rates:

United States: average of 68%

Europe: average of 98%

Netherlands: 74-94% after Down Syndrome was diagnosed in the last 23 years

Iceland: during the period from 2008-12, in which Down’s was diagnosed, 100% of the pregnancies were terminated

Denmark: 98%

Beyond just my sadness over voluntarily choosing to not continue with a pregnancy because a child isn’t “perfect”, are the ethical and moral implications of this decision.

When is it okay to say, “this child won’t be born perfect, therefore it is okay to not have this child”? Who has the right to determine the quality of life or what makes life worth living? Does a genetic difference make it okay to stop a pregnancy?

 

 

Does perfect genetics equate to a perfect life? I don’t believe so…

No one is perfect, and in fact, it is often times our imperfections that make us so unique.

I believe all life is valuable and worthy.

Matthew 18:1-2, 10  At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them…See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Around The Bend In The Road

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One of my passions in life is to listen to people’s stories. To know people through their stories. To see people through their experiences. To try and understand the meaning behind the expressions.

Everyone has a story inside them. With some, the story leaks out slowly, while with others, it pours out, causing a flood of emotions. Some stories bring sweet memories, and some bring bitter tears. Funny, sad, mesmerizing, sweet. Stories of what is right, as well as some difficult lessons from regrets. Anyone that has lived for any amount of time on this spinning orb, has that story.  Their story. The story that only he/she can tell.

The stories become real and personal. The words wind their way through time and memory, etching meaning into the mundane as well as the miraculous.

This week I am going to begin to tell a story. My story.

I hope you will join me.

 

When The Clock Strikes Midnight

More sand has slipped through the hourglass. All the pages have been turned on the calendar. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. One whole year has come and gone…We are on the doorstep of 2017.

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I am thankful for this year. I am thankful for the bad days that made the good ones seem so much better. I am thankful for new friendships. I am thankful for good doctors appointments. I am thankful for my home and family. I am thankful for the love in my life. I am thankful for a new daughter in law and a sweet grand daughter. I am thankful for baby giggles and smiles. I am thankful for loyal pets. I am thankful for the students and families that I have met this year. I am thankful for safe travel. I am thankful for disappointments and struggles, that grew me stronger. I am thankful for the experiences that made me wise and discerning. I am thankful for goals that I’ve accomplished, and for those I am still working on.

Life has its ups and downs, that is just the way life is.

I’m just glad to be a part of it.

Happy New Year to You!

 

 

Showing Grace

We always have a choice.

To show grace to others, or not.

Yep, I get it.

Sometimes people do things, and we think we are justified to let them know they are wrong…even if we don’t express those thoughts with words. Many times actions speak much louder than our words ever could. We take the moral high ground, because we are right after all. That’s what we think. We didn’t make the poor choices. We didn’t make the wrong decisions. The “unforgivable sins”. If we act like everything is okay, doesn’t that appear like we are condoning whatever it is? That attitude is so easy to slide into. That we are better because we didn’t do those things.

And yet, it is when we show grace to others, that we are the most like Jesus. Choosing to love….in the midst of the mess. Choosing to forgive…is not accepting less.

When we acknowledge our own brokenness, the darkness of our own hearts, our own poor choices, mistakes, and mess ups, we begin to understand the amazing grace shown to us by Jesus. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He didn’t say, “I’ll wait until you are perfect.” Instead He said, “I love you”.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s A Wonderful Life

Yes, it is true. This movie is one of my all time favorites to watch during the Christmas season. I wait for that time when George Bailey realizes that his life really did make a difference, and that things would be different if he had never existed. Most of all he realizes he truly does have a wonderful life.

I agree with George Bailey. Sometimes all we need is a reminder……

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Top Twenty Reasons It Truly IS A Wonderful Life: 

*Celebrating Jesus’ birth, the greatest gift of all (all other gifts pale in comparison to God entering time and space to make a difference for all eternity)

*Remembering The Light of the world (the baby born on that day so long ago, that grew into a man that shattered the dark– of hopelessness, and separation of man from God—because of His love for us)

* Christmas music (my favorites are O Holy Night, and White Christmas)

*Family, both near and far ,that I love and love me right back. (family in different states who don’t let the miles get in the way of showing love)

*All the kids home for Christmas (even though they are young adults)

*A new daughter-in-law (our first Christmas together)

*A new granddaughter, seeing everything for the first time. (is there anything more precious?)

*Sweet baby laughter (I could listen to this all day long)

*White lights (simple and pure)

* Hot Chocolate (home made, not from a packet)

*Snow on the ground (preferred over the ice)

*A warm house (yes!)

*New opportunities (one year is ending, a new one getting ready to begin)

*Friends (I am so blessed)

*The nice UPS guy--(we see him a lot)

*An “A”in my grad class (Hallelujah!)

*Time off from school (rest? maybe?)

*Watching Christmas movies with the family (fun times)

*Outside twinkle lights (it “looks” like Christmas)

*The night sky—Silent Night, Holy Night (there is nothing better than the winter night sky, cold and clear)