Light Changes Things

Before I’ve pulled back the curtains and opened the blinds each morning, everything inside my house is draped in darkness. As I walk down the hallway, my eyes rest on dog hair under the couch that seems to multiply overnight and what is left to be organized in Room #3 (Extension cords? boxes of photos? diplomas and yearbooks? Room #3 holds all those items without a specific place when we moved. In August).

Deep breath.

No matter who you are, whether you live alone or with other people, it seems all this work still needs to be done…after all this work already finished. But as the sun comes up, I can’t wait to open the blinds, as many as possible, because the light streaming in changes things. Instantly, the way I see it all is different.

mountains

Just as the morning light brightens the room and brings warmth, if I am grateful for where I am and where I used to be, unrealistic expectations or frustration over what was left undone the day or year before lessens. 2014 was a challenging year, and a lot was accomplished. Much of the difficulty came first along with fear and anxiety over what was coming next. Somehow, I settled into the upheaval after kicking and screaming a bit, knowing we were carried in the arms of God. Always. Attitudes changed and before we knew it, the dread of WHAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN NOW? became an excited and hopeful What now?!

God has us (even when He feels far away) and will point us in the right direction when we stop kicking Him away. Maybe when situations don’t go as we would like, instead of jumping right into the next opportunity, we take some time to look out from where we are, breathe in some fresh air, and let the light tumble in, flooding us with a new perspective.

Was 2014 a growth year for you? Why or why not? If so, how have you changed because of it?

May your 2015 be filled with health, strength and joy through the challenges it brings.

Content

Christmasornament

This has been the most peaceful Christmas yet. I can’t remember, ever, another holiday time when I felt as calm and joyful as I have felt today. We opened our present (yes, one) after a long, drawn-out breakfast of cereal and berries and Monkey Bread that I made and cannot eat. It’s been sunny and cold today, and I haven’t stepped outside. I didn’t wear my best clothes or think about what else I could be doing. I didn’t worry about who I wish I could talk to or be with just because it’s Christmas. This day has been full of the present–not the one I unwrapped or a list of met expectations. This day has been one of love and laughter of family. It has been pure joy, and that is peace. I am breathing the precious gift of contentment, and I want to stay.

Nothing Changes Unless We Do

Based on a recent phone call, I am aware that my last post on seeing all people as precious brought up some stuff. So, here’s my response:

1) Yes, I am aware that most of us have driven past someone who is stranded on the road.

2) I don’t know anyone who gives money to everyone on the side of the road asking for it.

3) I do not expect to and know I cannot possibly help everyone I see who is hurting in some way or another, but…

4) I can do MORE to help make this world a better place every, single day.

We’ve spent months hearing the news regarding the Penn State sexual abuse scandal and then the devastating Colorado movie shootings last week. Every day, it seems there are tragedies that remind us that life is short and unpredictable and messier than we thought the previous day.

At the gym the other night, I wondered how many people were there trying to relieve stress. It’s ironic that the day’s headlines were plastered on practically every flat screen TV that spanned the enormous room. It seems even at the gym we can’t escape the negative yuck that is swirling around us. Sometimes, we may even feel like there is nothing good or safe or happy in the world. While we can’t ease everyone’s suffering or snap our fingers to take away pain, all hope is not lost.

My God calls us to love one another. There are big ways and small ways we can do this. Every day, choosing to make more of an effort to show love to people all around us proves that we can make a difference. All is not lost. There is hope. There is good in the world.

However, focusing on others is not always easy for me. I am polite. I smile and chat with strangers, but I am usually lost in my own thoughts, which sadly (but honestly) also usually have to do with me. So, this means slowing down my pace in the grocery store or wherever I happen to be and seeing with fresh, interested eyes all that is happening around me.

I heard someone say that nothing changes unless we do. So, here are some easy ways to spread kindness–randomly or not and potentially change someone’s day:

  • Write a thank you note for your mail carrier/ garbage collector and leave it in the mailbox or on top of your trash can/ recycling box (no stamp needed)
  • Buy a box of popsicles and share with those who are working outside on these terribly hot days
  • Open the door for someone
  • If you still write checks, scribble a quick thank you 🙂 in the memo section
  • Help someone load groceries into the car
  • Cut up some fruit and take it to a neighbor’s house/ apartment (it’s a great way to meet those living around you)
  • Write a quick note for your coworker, friend, significant other, or kids on a post-it (they’re inexpensive and you have a pretty good guarantee that it will stay where you leave it)
  • Give a stranger $5 just because
  • Smile

It’s interesting how helping others does something internally for us, as well. Giving someone else a tasty treat can also be a treat for you!

What are some ways you fight negativity and selfishness, in order to bring more love into this world?

*Image from Google

An Unexpected Lesson (Review)

A couple weeks ago we were on our way to sun and fun. Swimsuits, flip flops, beach towels were packed (sunscreen was forgotten–isn’t there always something?). Despite the packed cooler filled with goodies for the drive, we had to make a stop for M&Ms and kettle chips. Oooh, junk just adds to the fun of going on vacation!

It was my turn in the driver’s seat, and Brian settled in for a nap.

If you’ve never driven through South Carolina, let’s just say there’s nothing redeeming during that journey. Flat and boring, boring and flat. If you have to go to the bathroom, take some toilet paper since you might drive for hours without finding an exit or even seeing a billboard. This particular drive felt like the real neverending story without that almost-cute-but-just-too-strange dog-faced creature (children of the ’80’s, do you remember that movie?).

So, I drove on and on and on and saw a green and yellow car on the side of the road, flashers on. Whew! That sucks. It’s such a hot day, I thought and then actually closed the vents, since the A/C was a little too cold. As I passed, I noticed the lone driver was pregnant.

I continued on. We have vacation to start! Yet, as I tried to forget her, I felt a little less excited about getting there and a little more like a heartless heap of snot.

Why didn’t I stop? What could have I done anyway? Who knows if and how far she would have needed us to drive her? This could take all day!

And then, I realized even if I did nothing else, I could have given her a very cold bottle of water from our cooler packed with goodies.

But I didn’t. And I didn’t go back (I felt better since there was no exit anywhere nearby to turn around, but then I felt even. worse. for her since there was no exit nearby).

About a hour later, I passed someone else whose car was parked on the side of the road with the hood up. As I kept driving, he was walking…walking down this monotonous road on this incredibly hot day. At least there actually happened to be an exit about half a mile away.

Once we reached our destination and for days filled our stomachs with deliciousness, I walked past a woman crying for food in a place where people spend money like it truly does grow on trees. Ah, I didn’t have my wallet with me and couldn’t have helped her. So glad I dodged that one! It can be so… awkward.

You know, I still wonder how it would have been if I would have just stopped to talk to her like the couple I later saw who did that very thing. Oh, and on our initial drive, eventually, that green and yellow car sped past us, but I didn’t feel much better.

I was reminded that I have been on the side of the road with a flat tire waiting for help to arrive. No strangers stopped to help me, either. As I sweated in my car for close to a hour, I saw hundreds of cars and trucks speed past my own with a force that shook me.

I have not, however, been the crying woman asking for food.

If I needed money so I could eat, I would want to be seen and heard and treated like a living, breathing and very hungry person.

We see these kinds of situations everyday. While at times I’d like to jump in and help, it’s true to say that most of the time I don’t. Is it just easier to walk as if we have blinders on or to tell ourselves that it’s “safer” to stay away? After all, we’ve heard the stories of people who make the choice to beg for money instead of taking an available job or appear to be homeless with a nice car parked around the corner. And oh, the dangers! (Really, I am aware that putting myself in certain situations is not safe, but this is not my point.)

Our vacation was fantastic for a lot of ways. One unexpected reason is that I have remembered what I teach my students and apparently, need to keep learning and practicing.

We are all people with very real needs and hurts with a desire to be seen and heard and loved. Everywhere I look, I want to really see and treat people as if they are in fact, precious. And newsflash: It’s just not my job to decide if they are being authentic or not.

So, giving money doesn’t feel right? Well, even a kind word and a smile can make an impact.

Is this something you struggle with, too? How do you decide in those moments how to deal with it?

That Piercing Light

When was the last time you drove somewhere at sunrise?
                                           Sometimes the morning light is absolutely overwhelming. Piercing.  It’s so bright you can’t help but close your eyes, a scary thing to do when driving. You fumble around blindly for your sunglasses but they’re on the floorboard and out of reach. You feel anxious, worried about getting to  your destination. Then, you pry your eyes open a sliver…just enough to see that amazingly, you are right where you need to be.
                                                                                                                                        We don’t always see where we are going in life. There is uncertainty everywhere we turn–the economy, job security, that doctor’s appointment we put off, even the weather. As hard as it is for all of us to remember from day to day, especially during our loneliest, most heart-wrenching of times, God will keep us on track if we just close our eyes and let Him drive.

Truth

Remember being completely happy just being?

Insecurity is a nasty thing that can tear us down piece by tiny piece IF we let it. For me, it comes in the form of tiny annoyances that somehow grow into BIG struggles. It’s a sneaky voice in the back of my mind telling me I’m not good enough. I don’t have a voice. No one cares what I have to say. Whatever lies we are fighting, here is simple, solid TRUTH for all of us from Marianne Williamson (Return to Love). I love this!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God,

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.