new background

Monday, December 11, 2017

Boundaries: Speaking Into People's Lives

I've read this years ago, but I'm reading it again for a college course.  The book called Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, is a must-read.  When applied, it is life changing.  Something that it provoked, and that many of us wrestle with, is how and when to speak into the lives of people we care about. 

This question came to mind, and I believe it is key to understand about ourselves prior to having a conversation with someone: Is my concern rooted in love or rooted in fear? And how do I know?  The answer may vary depending on the person whom concerns you.  People affect us differently.  Often we think that love is the driving force to confront, or persuade, but if we are honest, we may discover that fear is an underlying motivation.  It is worth considering this every time, because fear is deceptive and destructive.

When you see a family member or friend intertwined in destructive behavior or dysfunctional thought patterns, understand that their perspective of reality may be drastically different from yours. More than likely (you can count on it) this is true. What one sees as normal, another sees as abnormal. And regardless of what you think, it is only from a place of being "rooted and grounded in love" that people will respond to truth (Ephesians 3:17 NKJV).  

It is not good enough if I think I am coming from a place of love.  What matters is that the person knows and feels my love for them first.  If I am not sure, I need to ask.  What a concept!  I think most of us would rather not know and hope for the best, but doing so allows us to live in an illusion, not in reality.  

If your relationship is strained or without joyful fellowship, you will not be well received when you correct.  Find opportunities to love first.  Love is shown mostly simply through undivided attention without offering advice to fix or improve.  Listening is absolutely necessary for building relationships of trust.  Being closed-off to hearing a new perspective will disqualify you from having influence. Truth is: you don't have it all figured out - and you never will. So to assume you know what's right or best, you have already made error.

Thinking Your Way Into Your Own Life - First
What are the thoughts that continually roll around in your head? Our thoughts drive us to react or respond.  Do your thoughts produce toxic emotions of fear, worry, despair - or do they produce emotions of peace, hope, joy?  Reaction comes from a place of fear.  Response comes from a place of peace.  We all fall short in this area.  What's important is that we are honest and gracious with ourselves.  Time cannot be rushed in the process of self-awareness.  It takes a brave person to consider openly, how your thoughts and behaviors affect people.  

Maybe once a day, recognize and catch your thought before responding.  In that moment of waiting, give yourself a chance to respond in a way that is better for you and better for all those around you.  In small successes, we will dare to do it again.  

Remember, that people are drawn to others who are open about their struggles more than they are drawn to those who appear to have it all together.

Monday, August 28, 2017

New Beginnings

Sometimes, uncharted waters. Sometimes, back to the grind of monotony and stress. New beginnings can be scary and challenging. The beauty of starting new is the opportunity to reflect back on what worked, what didn't, what could be better, or what should be improved (removed). In many scenarios, there is little control over how or when things start, but we certainly have control over how we carry ourselves through change.

I recently took a 'leave of absence' from a 20 month long bachelors program. Prior to that, it was 9 months of grueling stress, while keeping up with four kids, a marriage, a degree, a home, work, and all the extras that come with little people. The last four weeks allowed me time to disengage from stress, and gave me time to reflect. It gave me the chance to enjoy my kids, keep up on mundane tasks such as meals, cleaning, laundry, etc., and gave me time to enjoy family and friends. Mundane never felt so good.

What I realized is that the last 9 months was a vicious cycle of overcoming and survival. My home had spun out of control. This didn't happen, however, without great effort and success in other ways. I did very well in school, and whatever time I had left was spent conversing with my kids, cuddling over a feel-good show, books, or staying up way too late with my husband. Everything else could wait. And it did.

Thinking back on what life was like in 2016-2017, it caused very unpleasant feelings. I never want to go back to that. Never again. How do I go back, when the feeling of what was, and what will be, plagues with a great big pit in my stomach? How am I going to do this!? This question tossed around in my head for weeks.

After speaking with my husband about wanting to quit, he helped me see that that was not the best solution. "You're in the thick of it," he said, "half way through! There's no way you're quitting. If we need to minimize and cut back, well then, we need to do that. But you are not quitting. We'll get through this." After that, I knew I had to change my tune. All this time, I had been asking the wrong question. I could either cave to stress, quit, or do something about helping me become successful. For me, the answer is in: focus, schedule, simplify, prioritize. Here's where this applies to all of us:

The call in your life is far greater than the complications that arise while striving toward success. Success is not written without, first, great struggle. When self-doubt causes you to question yourself, look to the person(s) who knows you most, and who sees your full potential. Stay clear of people who cater to weakness.

I'm back at it again. The new course started Wednesday, called Research Methodology and Statistics. Yikes. It will be another hard nine months of pushing through adversity, toward the finish line.

Whatever it is that you're staring new: a new job, school, baby, marriage, etc. Let go of those things in life that just keep you busy, unless it is truly what you need to do now, or unless it feeds your soul.

As far as being a parent, and thinking about my kids...what do my kids need, more than anything, at this point in life? Is it sports? Extra-curricular activities? A slew of classmate birthday parties, and class events? Another reason to race the clock, get packed up, againafter a long, exhausting day? Or do they simply need time in the day to enjoy a moment that is unscheduled? A moment to smile and be well. Yes, I'm sure that's it.

As parents, we shouldn't have to force passion into our children. We often fill up their days, so full, in order to see that they are well-rounded, amazing, "best of the best," and good at everything, but there are two problems with this: first of all, no one is good at everything, and second of all, when we fill up their lives, they don't have a chance to find passion for themselves.

Life is full. Think about what you need now and through the next year. It's easy to focus so much on the future, that we lose the importance of today.

God, be with us as we embark on new beginnings in our lives. We need you to guide and steer our choices. We need strength to get through the tough stuff, resilience to keep fighting the good fight, and continued support and affirmation from the right kind of people. If at any point, something has to give, please kindly and clearly bring this to our attention. Sometimes, we come to a decision that is not in our best interest. Trusting that you keep our best interests at heart, we humbly ask that you make clear to us what is burdensome, hindering, distracting, or keeping us from coming into our full potential. For all the good you have done, and continue to do - Thank you! In Jesus name, amen.

Make time to smile and be well. 😊

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I'm sorry, no

An ocean of words to say at times, but no ground to lay them on.

Thoughts, dreams, and fears roll around, like a singer without a song.

The dreams I used to see grow dim, to endless possibilities.

I clench, rile, embrace, push back, to all things - full of doubt.

It's difficult, to focus on what fills me up the most.

I'm used to feeling tapped and broke, while chasing winds that trap.

Words escape me presently, though few of them remain.

Words like "minimize," "prioritize," ensue incredibly.

I will not compromise the goal, to live life fully me.

So letting go, while painful, bleak, is the only way I'll be:

Better. I am today, to consider a new way.

Capable. To do what's hard. It breaks, but also shapes.

Consider life with less and less. Less of everything.

Less time for good to get in the way of greater, great, best.

Less time to worry over things that may or may not be.

Less time for anything, that is not true to me.

More time to value people; value passion, talent, rest.

More time may seem impossible, when life gets full so fast.

The only way for greatness to rise up and stand a chance,

Is the moment I stand tall and say to good, "I'm sorry, no."

I'm sorry, no. I wont let time slip by to less important things.

My husband dreams of conversation, slow, without an end.

I'm sorry, no. No time for extra things, unless they're extraordinary.

My children seek my time, affection, wrapped up in books and blankies.

I'm sorry, no. World news, while you're important, my heart you do not own.

It belongs to people closest to me, who need a hand to hold.

To a world of endless options; the leech sucking lie of "more."

One thing I'll say to you, and that is, "I'm sorry, no."


copyright 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Sometimes you're so desperate to escape yourself, you're willing to discover new terrain, no matter how dangerous or uncertain.

Criticism, no matter how playful, if it is all you have to measure yourself by, in the end, is simply criticism. Any positivity you feel about someone, unless properly communicated, is no good to anyone. It's a pretty little present, sitting in the corner, that unless given, is worthless.

Give endlessly in affirmation. Give generously, words of hope, praise and support. People need it more than you'll ever know. Especially those closest to you.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Heartache from a 9 year old

You came to me with a broken heart - a hopeless reality of sibling hardship. You shared that you often don't want to come home after school because it's all just too much; the fighting, the disrespect, and all the noise. Your lip quivered and your face gave way to restricted tears. It was everything in me not to fall apart, but it wasn't my turn. My heart needed to be strong so that you trusted me with yours. I sat and listened; identified with you. I told you "being the oldest is very hard." That struck a chord in you. Tears fell harder, but still restricted.

I cant even tell you how proud I am of you.  Your patience is beyond a normal 9 year old boy. You are screamed at, belittled, and shut down, minute by minute, by your sisters and brother - and sometimes by me and Dad, in effort to keep you from sharing too much, so not to make your siblings feel less smart. Its not fair. Majority of the time you handle yourself so well. But just like any human being, you can only handle so much, and then you break.

Tonight you told me the honest, harsh truth that you wish life were different; that you wish everyone would respect each other and be kind... and that you wish you didn't have to live here.

It's nothing I do not know, but hearing it is hard. Yet, Im thankful too, because no matter what you feel inside, positive or negative, I'm thankful you choose to share with me. Unfortunately I don't have all the answers on how to make it better, but I will do my best to figure it out with you.

You said, "I wish I was free to live." That's a big statement.  It meant more than your words could communicate. I know what you meant, and I also did not have the words to confirm this. We prayed tonight. I asked God to fill your heart with hope. I shared that life as we know it will change, and get a bit better as siblings grow; that 4 and 2 years old are hard ages to reason with. There's a whole lot of crying and screaming that one day will turn into conversations.

You thanked me for listening and for talking with you. I forgot until that moment that that's all you needed from me - to be present and to listen to all you had to say. As a parent, I wanted to do more. I wanted to build you a separate room, where you would have the freedom to be yourself, and a place to go from all the negativity. Unfortunately, I cannot rescue you from this life. It has to run its course. Siblings do not go away and we have to find a way to make it good. 

I asked what we could do to help you feel lighter, and to help you feel happy again. You asked if I would spend time with you, and maybe a friend or two. I asked if you wanted 3 friends. You smiled and asked, "this weekend?" I said "sure, we can make that happen."

A day with friends is in your near future.

I love you son. Life is real hard sometimes, no matter what your age, and no matter the situation.

I am always here for you. Thank you for trusting me.