Monday, July 30, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Running On Empty

 "No matter how much we love our family and friends, a part of us needs the occasional moment of solitude as a plant needs water.  It is the inmost core of each of us, that part which nobody can define, but which we all recognize because it never changes." ~Anna Neagle

Welcome back my friends!  I'm sure you've noticed by now, if you come here on a regular basis, that I have cut back significantly on the messages I post.  Trying to post on a daily basis just got to the point where it felt more like a duty than something I enjoyed.  It was causing more stress for me, so an adjustments had to be made.  My lack of blogging is also a reflection of how I've been feeling physically and emotionally for a while now.

Do you ever just want to run away, far away, and leave all your cares behind you?  Do you ever just get to the point where you feel like you cannot take one more day of things staying the same way?  That's where I am.  Let me clarify, when I say "run away" I don't mean leave your family for good and never look back.  What I mean is getting away for a little while, to get refreshed and renewed, so that I can come back with a better attitude and perspective.  I cannot remember the last time I had a vacation.  It's been many years ago.  I am one of those people that needs time alone to get my thoughts together and to spend quality time with God in a place that is quiet.

There is very little quiet time around here on our small farm.  The animals here don't understand my need for solitude and quiet, they just know we are the food-givers and the care-givers, so give the food and give the care!  The pressures and responsibilities of life can seem overwhelming at times.  There are many things that have been weighing heavily on me lately; past hurts and losses, the changes we've had to walk through over the last few years now, dealing with my daily limitations and challenges from fibromyalgia, concerns about what the future holds in quite a few areas, what will be required of me when certain things happen and will I be able to do those things, feeling like my shoulders are just not big enough to carry all this stuff.  I remember specifically telling God yesterday, "I cannot do this Lord.  It's too hard."  I am feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.  I need time for me, just me.  I want to go somewhere with me, myself, and I.  I love my family very much and am so thankful for the blessings God has given me, however, I feel like I am not able to give to them in the way I want to because of not having the time to get refreshed and restored.  When you feel that you are being pulled in so many directions, and you don't have anything left to give, then anything that requires you to give more of yourself feels like it just makes the load heavier.

Even Jesus knew how important it was to get away and spend quality time with His Father.  He would make a point to get away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, from the constant pull of others on Him, to spend time alone, in a quiet place, with the Father.  The responsibilities required of Him were much greater than those I have, but the same principle applies anyway; you can't give out of what you don't have within yourself to give.  When we constantly give of ourselves, yet take no time to replenish our spirits and restore our minds and bodies, we are going to run out of steam.  You can only do that for so long until you hit empty.  That's where I am....empty.  I feel like I just have nothing more to give.  It's all used up.  I am at a place now that I recognize the warning signs of overload.  I have got to take those signs seriously or I will pay for it later.  I'm already paying for it. When living with a chronic pain disorder it's crucial to make the necessary changes to reduce the stress and pain levels in your body.  My pain levels have increased significantly over the last few years now.  It's time for a change.  I'm not sure yet what those changes will be, but there will definitely be some.  The first one is going to be me getting away for some quality time with the Lord.  I am trusting He will make a way for that to happen since in the natural, it seems impossible.  He knows the changes I need to make and He knows how badly I need to be refreshed.  He can provide the means for this to happen.

Maybe you're in the same boat I am.  Maybe you're feeling burnt out and overwhelmed.  Maybe you realize it's time for a change.  Here are some suggestions that might help you start those changes:

*Take some time to get away, even if it's just for an hour or so each day, to spend some time with your Father, to get refreshed and restored.  Maybe you can go for a walk, or sit down with a cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning or in the evening.  Whatever it is, take the time to get alone with God.

*Do something special just for you.  When we constantly give of ourselves without getting replenished, it can wear us down and cause us to feel resentful when we have to do one more thing for someone.  God wants us to be cheerful givers, not just with our money, but with our time and talents too.  If you're feeling stressed out and pressured when you think of all you have to do, then that may be a sign that you have too much on your plate, or that you need some time for you.  You matter.  Taking time to do things for yourself is important. You can't give when there's nothing left to give.  Take time to get your nails done, or get a pedicure, or maybe even a new hairstyle.  If you don't have the extra money to do those sort of things, then maybe just take a long, hot, bubble bath while reading your favorite book.  Maybe just fix yourself a cup of hot tea and sit out on the back porch while you watch the hummingbirds going about their business.  Whatever it happens to be, do it for you.

*It's okay to say no.  Don't feel obligated to say yes to things that you know will just add to the long list of things you already have to do.  I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  From years of being in the people-pleasing prison, I finally realized that I was only saying yes because I was afraid that if I said no then I wouldn't be liked anymore, or that the person making the request of me would be upset with me for saying no.  I am the only one who can determine how I spend my time.  Once that time is gone, it cannot be recovered.  Am I doing things for someone because I really want to, or am I doing it because I feel obligated and pressured to do it?

*Ask for help.  I cannot count the times I felt taken for granted and resentful because I thought if my family really cared about me then they would offer to help me out with the things I needed to do.  It was foolish of me to think that way.  They could not read my mind.  Yes, it would be nice of them to offer to help, but for me to expect them to do that was just setting myself up for disappointment.  If you need help with something and are feeling overwhelmed and stressed about the things you have to do, it's okay to ask for help.  It doesn't make you less of a person to ask for help.  None of us are expected to be superhuman.

*Get enough sleep.  I have to admit, this is a hard one for me.  At night, after everyone has gone to bed, which is normally around midnight, that's when it's finally quiet around here.  Of course, by that time, I'm so exhausted I can't even think straight, so why in the world don't I just go to bed earlier?!?! It's crazy!  I definitely need to work on this one, a lot.  Maybe you're one of those people who just cannot sleep.  My daughter, Brittany, has had issues with sleep for quite a few years now.  She either has trouble going to sleep, or has trouble staying asleep.  Sometimes it's both.  We really aren't sure what to do to resolve this issue.  We've tried to change her sleep pattern several times, which only resulted in her having a lack-of-sleep-meltdown.  We've tried a few other natural supplements, all to no avail at this time.  I don't get the quality of sleep I would like since I toss and turn the majority of the night because of the chronic pain issues.  This is an area where I need to make some changes.

*Be careful about what you put into your body.  Keep a close watch on what you're eating and drinking.  That old phrase, "You are what you eat" is very true.  If you're putting junk in, then that's what you're gonna get out.  Your body can't perform at it's best if you're putting junk in it.  Keep a journal of the things you eat and drink for one week.  At the end of the week you may be surprised by the what you see.  You don't have to change everything at one time.  Just make a few small changes to start with.  Maybe instead of soda you could start having more water or herbal tea.  Maybe you could even start with just cutting back on your intake of sugar and caffeine.  Maybe you could decide to have fruit instead of a bowl of ice cream.  There are many changes you can make in the way you eat to be healthier, and those changes will ultimately make you feel better too.

*Keep a journal.  I have done this for many, many years.  It really does help to write your thoughts and feelings down.  It's also very encouraging to go back and see how God has worked in my life in certain situations.  Having a way to pour out your struggles and feelings can help you release some of the frustrations we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed with.

*Spend time with people who lift you up and encourage you.  This is such an important key to having a healthy, balanced life.  Life is too short to spend it with people who belittle you and run you in the ground.  If you find that you come away from being around someone feeling stressed and sucked dry then perhaps it's time to look for some other relationships that will build you up.  We all need to have people in our lives who will pour into us and encourage us.  No one wants to be in a relationship where you feel like all you do is give and give, and yet that person never gives back to you.  It's good to give to others, but not at the expense of your own health.  Boundaries are a wonderful thing.

I hope these examples I've given will help you to realize how important taking care of yourself is.  Do something special for yourself today my friends.  You're worth it!  Until next time, be blessed!

"Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life." ~Marilu Henner

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Todays Pearl- I Will Follow Him

We are to be imitators of Christ and ambassadors for Him while we are on this earth.  Let us represent Him in a way that is fitting and honoring of the King we represent. ~S. Hastings

Isn't it funny how you can know something, yet, when the Holy Spirit puts His revelatory spin on it, it shines a whole new light on things.  That's been happening to me a lot lately.  The things that God has been showing me makes me realize I need to take the time to stop and listen to what He's saying, not just brush it off and say, "Yea, I already know all that."  He is showing me that all the things I've been going through are all part of the process of following Him.  Shaping me and molding me into His image is part of the "following" process.  Following Him is not by any means an easy thing to do.  Let's look a little more closely at what it means to follow Him.

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus calls the first of His disciples (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) and tells them, "Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people."  Have you ever stopped to think what it means, what it really means, to follow Him?  What does follow mean?  Most of the time we think of the most common definition of follow, which means to come or go after; proceed behind.  Follow also means, to accept as a guide or leader, to imitate or copy, to use as an example.

When I was younger, much younger, I remember playing a game called "Follow the Leader."  Do any of you remember playing that game?  Well, the whole point of the game was that one person was appointed to be the leader and the rest of the kids lined up behind the leader and followed him/her wherever they would go.  Just as we would follow the leader wherever they would lead us, we are also called to follow Jesus, but in a much different way than in this child's game.  When we follow Him, we are to be like Him, imitate Him, use Him as an example for our life and the decisions we make.

The disciples put aside their own lives and laid down what they were doing to follow Jesus.  They devoted themselves to follow Him and learn from Him.  To follow Him requires more than just lip service.  It requires us to make a decision that no matter what we go through, we will follow Him by walking in His ways and living our lives for Him.  Following Him will sometimes mean we go through painful, difficult things.  It may mean that the path we walk gets rough and rocky.  We may have to walk through the mud and mire.  We may have to climb mountains and crawl along a darkened pathway to follow Him.  Jesus paid the price for you to come to Him and become a believer, but the cost to follow Him and be His disciple is a cost that is paid by you.

What would it look like if we were to start living our lives as if Jesus were here living in our place?  Would following Him take on a whole new meaning?  Would the decisions we make about what we say and do be different?  What about the things we spend our time doing?  Would any of those things change if we started living our lives as if Jesus were walking in our shoes today?  The real question comes when we ask ourselves if our lives are a reflection of our confession of faith in Jesus?  Does my life look as if Jesus were walking in my shoes?  Does it look like I am following Him?

Following Him means making the decision to imitate Him and live our life as an example of Christ.  I hope my life is a reflection of Jesus living through me.  That's my hearts desire anyway.  I definitely have many moments where I fall short, but thankfully He's not done with me yet.  I am more at peace knowing that the hard, painful things I've been going through are all part of the "following" process.  Knowing that I am doing my best to follow Him and to walk in His ways, makes things a little easier to bear, because I know in the end, I will look more like Him.

That little game I used to play when I was much younger, yea, that doesn't even come close to what it really means to Follow The Leader.....Jesus.

Until next time my friends, be blessed!

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” ~Matthew 16:24 (KJV)

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” ~ Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” ~Luke 6:40 (ESV)

Here is a link to a great article about what it means to follow Jesus by author and Pastor, David Platt:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Time To Make a Change

"Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast- you also miss the sense of where you're going and why." ~Eddie Cantor

Happy Friday to you my bloggy friends!  I'm sorry I didn't get a message posted yesterday.  Things were just crazy for me.  I left home early in the morning and didn't get back till after five.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted.  This whole week has been another hectic one.  Maybe next week things will finally slow down and get back to a normal routine.  I certainly hope so.

I have finally realized, after striving and wearing myself out for the last month now, that I am not going to be able to continue posting a message every day.  Trying to do that has become a source of stress for me, and added stress means added pain in my body, which I don't need.  I also don't want this to become something that is just one more thing to do.  I really enjoy writing and sharing the things the Lord has done, and is continuing to do, in my life, so I don't want this to become something I am forcing to happen, or feel obligated to do it.

With all that being said, I will no longer be posting messages each day.  I may try to post a quote and a picture, if I get the chance each day, but as far as a message, that will be reserved for once or twice a week, or when I have something on my heart I would like to share with all of you.

I so appreciate all of you who faithfully read my blog.  It means so much to me that you would take time out of your life to read something I have posted.  If you have any suggestions or comments please feel free to let me know what you think.  I love getting feedback from my friends.

As of right now, I am thinking that Mondays and Fridays will be what I'm shooting for, but that may change each week, depending on how crazy things are for me.  I will continue to post a notice and link to my blog on facebook when I have a new message.  You can also sign up to receive my blog posts by email as well, if you would like to keep up with new posts.

Thank you again my friends!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  Until next time, be blessed! 

"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two breaths." ~Ettie Hillesum

"Learn to enjoy every minute of your life.  Be happy now.  Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.  Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family.  Every minute should be enjoyed and savored." ~Earl Nightingale

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Don't Be Afraid To Stand Up

Welcome back my friends!  Happy Wednesday to you!  I was talking to a friend this morning and she shared a story with me about an experience she had at a sandwich shop yesterday, in which she defended the actions of one of the workers when she was put in a tough situation with a customer.  My friend came to a part in the story where she told me that the worker actually thanked her for defending her.  I found myself getting very emotional as I was listening to this and was even brought to tears.  I told my friend that it was a good thing she did by standing up for that young lady.

There are so many times where people are quick to look the other way, or they don't stand up for what's right.  Maybe it's because they don't want to be bothered, or maybe they feel afraid, or maybe they think it's just not worth the effort or time.  I can tell you from personal experience how wonderful it feels to have someone defend you and stand up for you.  I never had anyone stand up for me when I was growing up, and really haven't had that happen very often as an adult, so when I hear of someone doing something like that, it makes my heart sing.

Standing up for the right thing is something not too many people want to do anymore.  It seems so much easier to just go with the flow, so no one gets their feathers ruffled, so you don't make anyone feel bad.  I dare say that Jesus ruffled a few feathers during His time on earth.  There were many who didn't agree with the things he taught, even to the point of feeling so threatened that they conspired to have him killed.  Jesus wasn't concerned about being popular or liked.  He had a much deeper purpose for coming here than to worry about who liked Him and who didn't.  He was here to do the Father's will and to show us the true meaning of love. 

Whenever you stand up for the truth and for what's right, you will have opposition.  I can promise you that.  Been there, done that.  It's never easy to stand up for the truth, or to defend someone else, especially if you're afraid of what others will say about you.  It takes courage and strength to stand up for what's right.  Unfortunately, there may be times when you feel like you're standing alone in doing the right thing.  As hard as it is, I try to remember that Jesus stood up for me when He took my sin and died a horrible death so I could be reconciled with the Father and live for eternity in His presence.  If He did that for me, then who am I to take the easy way out and go with the flow.

I've had quite a few opportunities where I made the decision to stand up for the truth.  It hasn't been easy to stand for truth and for what's right, and unfortunately it hasn't been without some painful sacrifices, but I know it was the right thing to do.  I would do it again if I had it to do over.

Please know my friends that no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, it does matter when you stand for what's right.  It does matter when you defend someone who may not be there to defend themselves.  Maybe you feel like it wouldn't make any difference anyway?  There are many times when we don't see the harvest of the seeds we've sown.  You may never know what a difference you made in someones life by standing up for them until you stand before the Father.  I really believe that each seed we sow will reap a harvest one way or another.  God will bless you for being a blessing to someone else.

Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers.  Speak out for justice!  Stand up for the poor and destitute!" ~Proverbs 31:8-9 (MSG)

"The time is always right to do what is right." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." ~James Neil Hollingworth

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pearl of the Day: A Little Stone Called Serenity

 "In struggling against anguish one never produces serenity; the struggle against anguish only produces new forms of anguish." ~Simone Weil

Hello my dear, bloggy friends!  I hope you're having a blessed Tuesday!  I would like to share something that happened to me last night.  I am aware that by sharing this it may actually make me sound a little whack-o, but oh well, I never claimed that I wasn't.  Maybe this just proves that I am. Haha!

I was outside yesterday evening, after it cooled off, watering some of the flowers in my garden.  The heat during the day has been just awful and some of my flowers look pitiful.  After I was done watering, I sat down on the bench beside my very large, pink rose bush.  I sat there thinking about some things God has been showing me lately, and praying for Him to help me to let go of certain things, and to show me how to do that.  Have you ever known you needed to do something, but you just didn't know how?  That has been my dilemma for quite a while now.

After I finished praying, I got up and walked around the other side of the rose bush to look at the beautiful pink-colored clouds that were painting the evening sky as the sun was setting.  The clouds were a soft, wispy pink with splashes of light purple mixed in.  It was so peaceful looking.  After I stood there for a few minutes, I then turned back around to pick up the water hose to drag it to the back steps, and right in front of me, on the ground, out of place, was one of the little stones I have placed throughout my garden.  I have three of those little stones sitting in different places in my garden, and the one that was now sitting on the ground in front on me was not there a few minutes earlier when I went to gaze at the beautiful sunset my Father painted.  It was so obviously out of place where it was sitting.  There was no way I would have missed it earlier when I was sitting on the bench.  I stood there looking around, thinking that one of my family was playing a joke on me by putting that stone there.  After seeing that there was no one out there but me, I started replaying in my mind when I was sitting on the bench and when I got up.  I even said aloud to myself, "That was not there a minute ago."  Then I started thinking I was losing my mind, or that I just didn't see it, but I KNOW it was not there earlier.  The reason I know is because I am kinda OCD in areas like this.  If something is out of place, where things are already in order, I have to make sure that the out of place item gets put where it's supposed to be and not just sitting out in the middle of things.  This little stone was sitting out in the middle of the walkway that goes through my flower garden.  These three little stones that I bought years ago all have a different word on them.  One has Inspiration, another has Caring, and the last one, the one that was sitting right out in the middle of the walkway, has the word Serenity on it.

My prayer for quite some time now has been that God would help me to let some very hurtful things go and to move on, and accept the things I cannot change.  I have prayed the Serenity Prayer quite a number of times over the last few years now.  All those times I've prayed that prayer, I never really stopped to think about what serenity means.

As I was praying last night, while I was sitting on my garden bench, I believe God heard the cry of my heart.  I know it sounds really wacky to assume that God spoke to me through that little stone, but I truly believe He did.  I am still trying to explain it away, but then I ask myself, "Why am I doing that?"  Why can't I just accept that maybe God did place that little stone there just for me to see it?  If He can part the Red Sea, then surely He can place a little stone in my pathway.

So, what does serenity mean?  The word serenity means the state of being serene.  What does serene mean?  Serene means calm, peaceful, and untroubled, being at ease with the state of ones life.  The first line of the Serenity Prayer goes like this, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."  That has been my heart's cry for a long time now.  My heart has been broken by some things that have happened and it has been so hard for me to accept that those things are the way they are.  I have wanted, desperately, to change the way things are, but I have learned, the hard way, I cannot control others, only myself.  As much as I wish I could change some things, I have accepted the fact that only God can do the deep work that will bring the changes that He desires.

I have been trying so hard to accept the things I cannot change.  Wondering why it has been so hard for me to let those things go.  What I realized last night is that my attitude has been wrong in this whole process.  I believe God used that little stone, Serenity, to show me that my attitude needed to change in this process of accepting those things that I can't change.  Instead of having a crappy attitude, and being down and discouraged, I need to change my way of thinking.  I need to adjust my attitude to one of serenity; one of peace and calmness about the way things are.

God is well able to take care of all that concerns me.  If certain things don't happen, it's because He has a different plan for my life.  The trust factor has been the biggest struggle for me.  As I am learning to trust Him more, I know that peace will reign in my mind and my heart as I keep my eyes on Him and walk in His ways.

Serenity.  I am looking at the Serenity Prayer in a whole new light after my experience with that little stone last night.

Until next time my friends, be blessed!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pearl of the Day: I'm Waiting.....

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. – John Ortberg

Good Monday to you my friends!  I hope you have had a great weekend!  My week off did not turn out the way I was hoping.  I think I need another week just to recover from the last one.  I had a very difficult week and weekend, not only physically, but emotionally as well.  My thoughts and emotions have been all over the place.  I've been struggling with increased pain levels and feeling completely exhausted.  Much of the physical issues have been a result of the emotional stuff.  It's interesting how certain things will trigger your emotions to come flooding to the surface.  Things you thought you had dealt with.

The season I've been going through for the last few years now has been one of waiting, and waiting, and get the picture.  I don't do well with waiting.  Never have.  I have made the mistake, many times, of relating waiting with thinking that God is saying no, which is not always the case.  I try to remind myself that waiting does not always mean the answer is no, it might mean that it's not the right time, or maybe God has something better for me.  Of course, when you're feeling desperate and you're tired of waiting, you don't always take the time to think about things like that.  You just feel forgotten and alone.  Our feelings can do a number on us when we are already struggling with negative thoughts.  

God has a way of using the things we go through to grow us in those areas where we struggle.  Letting patience have her perfect work is something I have not enjoyed, at all.  Maybe one day I will actually get to the point of enjoying where I am, on the way to where I'm going.   I'm not there yet.  As a matter of fact, I think I've got a really long way to go.

There are many good days though.  Days when I don't try to get ahead of God and what He's doing, when I take the time to examine my thoughts and sort through what's trash and replace them with positive things, and try the best I can to be content with where I am right now.  This morning is one of those days when I actually took the time to stop and think about what I've been thinking about.  I discovered, after several weeks now, that I have allowed my thoughts to go places that have caused me nothing but pain and heartache.  I have not only been fighting against my own negative thoughts, but against the junk the enemy is trying to force in there as well.  I cannot tell you how many times over the last week I have had the thoughts, "You are just not important enough.  You don't matter.  You are nobody.  No one cares about you.  You're not anything special."  Unfortunately, I entertained these thoughts far too long.  They have tried to pull me down to a place I have fought to get out of for many years.  I refuse to go back there.

Just as I've been decluttering and reorganizing things in my house over the last few months now, I am learning that I need to do this with my thoughts as well; on a daily basis.  Just doing it once in a while doesn't cut it for me.  It's so easy to dwell on whatever negative, discouraging thoughts pop into my head.  Taking the time to examine those thoughts can help me decide if it's something that needs to be thrown out as trash, or looked at a little more closely.  The majority of the time, it's junk that is trying to pull me down and beat me up.  It's time to take out the garbage!

I've allowed myself to wallow in this pit of hurt and discouragement for the last few weeks now, which has caused nothing but more problems.  It's time to kick this stuff to the curb!  I'm done worrying and fretting over stupid stuff.  God has a good plan for me, and whether it happens on my timetable or not, it's still good.  Things may not turn out the way I would like, but He knows what's best for me and I've got to trust Him.  If He chooses to open certain doors then that's great, and if not, then I pray He will give me the peace to let those things go because it's obviously not something that will benefit me.

Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work." – Peter Marshall

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." ~Galatians 6:9

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Sabbatical Time For Me

 "You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world." ~William Hazlitt

Hello my friends.  I won't be posting any new messages here for about a week.  I am taking some time away from things here, as well as facebook, to refocus on the Lord and what He has to say to me about some things I am struggling with right now.  I need a time of refreshing and renewal to get my mind and spirit in agreement again.  Thank you for your understanding.

I hope you will have a wonderful week.  Take care and remember, you are greatly loved!  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fancy-Free Friday

 The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Happy Friday to you my friends!  Well, today's post is a short one because I am in the last stages of getting ready for a big yard sale tomorrow morning, so I still have plenty to do.  My dining room is packed full of boxes to be loaded up and transported to our yard sale spot tomorrow.  I cannot see my kitchen table at all because it's loaded down with stuff.  I told my husband this morning that I will be relieved when this yard sale is over.  I will finally get some kind of organization back around here.  I am still praying that the weather won't be as hot as the weather report is calling for.  We shall see how that goes.  I'll let you know how things go tomorrow.

Have a great weekend my friends!  Stay cool!  It sounds like a cool down is coming the first of the week around here.  I say, "Bring it on!"  I'll leave you with some pictures my daughter, Taylor, took of the flowers she and I planted in the spring.  Until Monday, be blessed!

Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom.  They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.  ~Jim Carrey

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament.  Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beauty... when you look into a woman's eyes and see what is in her heart.  ~Nate Dircks
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.  ~Judy Garland

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.  ~Jim Morrison

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Watch Your Words

 "The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm." ~Unknown

Hello again my friends!  I hope you're having a good week and that you're staying cool.  The temperatures around here have been H-O-T!!!  I'm not much on the hot, humid weather, but it is the middle of summer, so I guess that's to be expected.

I have always been a big advocate for justice.  I love to see wrongs made right.  It stirs up a righteous anger in me when someone is wrongly accused, or bullied.  I want to come to their defense.  Maybe it's because of some of the things I went through as a teenager and I know how it feels.  I remember after my mom and my step-father got divorced when I was thirteen years old, we went from living in a nice apartment to living in a single wide trailer that was run down and dumpy.  That's all my mom could afford.  My mom was a waitress and she worked her butt off, but we were still poor, and no matter how much she worked, that didn't change.  I remember the front door of the trailer having a big hole at the bottom of it.  Looking back, I'm really surprised we didn't have problems with animals getting in since we lived close to the woods.  We had no air conditioning, which felt like living in a sardine can that was baking in the oven.  I remember some neighbors we had, who were probably just as poor as we were, yet they thought it was amusing to call us names.  Not only did they call us names, but they would throw things at the trailer we lived in and shove things through the windows.  There were no screens on the windows, and the windows were always open in the summertime, so it wasn't difficult to do.  I remember one time standing next to one of the windows and all of a sudden something that looked like a broom handle came flying through the window at me.  These people called us names like, sewer rats, and retards, among other things, which I will not repeat.  This was not the only time where I had people call me names when I was a teenager, as well as being accused of things that weren't true.  Going through those things was very difficult for me because I was already struggling with self-worth and rejection issues from my childhood.  I cannot describe the depth of hurt and pain I carried around for many years as a result of those things.

The Bible says that there is the power of life and death in our tongues.  Those hurtful words that were spoken about me most definitely had the power of death in them.  I think the majority of people have no idea how their words affect someone else.  I've had my share of experiences of people saying hurtful things to me and about me, and I wish I could say it's not a big deal to me, but it is.  It's not easy to deal with and I still struggle with it a lot.  Whoever thought up that little rhyme that goes, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me" must have been living in denial.  Words do hurt.  They can crush another person's heart.

The damage that's done by spreading rumors and gossip can be even more damaging than speaking something directly to someone's face.  Once the damaging words are out there, there's no getting them back.  Another person's reputation and character are attacked and damaged by rumors and gossip.  Don't believe everything you hear.  If you know the person being talked about, then give them the benefit of the doubt, or even better, stand up for them.  I'm sure they would be very grateful.  There's nothing quite like having someone stand up for you against the lies of others. 

I am learning that just because someone says something ugly about me, that doesn't mean that I have to let it define me.  What others say about us does not define us, unless we allow it to.  I know who I am and even more than that, God knows who I am.  He knows my heart.  The people closest to me, my family and friends, know my heart.  I cannot control what someone says about me, but I can control how I let it affect me.

Weigh your words carefully before you allow them to come out of your mouth.  Once those words have been released, there is no getting them back.  Will they bring life or will they bring death?  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny." ~Author Unknown

"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." ~Proverbs 15:4

"But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned." ~Matthew 12:36-37

"A perverse man stirs up dissension and a gossip separates close friends." ~Proverbs 16:28

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pearl of the Day: Part 2-What Was I Expecting?

Happy 4th of July my friends!  I would like to take a moment to thank all the men and women who have served, or are currently serving our country.  The freedoms we enjoy have not come without a price.  God bless you and your families! 

Today's message is the conclusion of my two part series on expectations.  There have been many times throughout my life when I've felt frustrated, disappointed, discouraged, and even resentful when my expectations weren't met.  I've even gotten to the point of thinking it would be better not to have any expectations at all, that way I wouldn't be disappointed when they weren't met.  As I thought about that idea, it became clear that without any expectations, life would become monotonous and depressing.  I don't know about you, but I already work hard enough trying to keep a positive attitude because of the chronic pain issues I live with, so having no expectations isn't the answer for me.

Okay, since having no expectations isn't really the answer, what is the solution to dealing with the unmet expectations we have?  I believe the first step is to take a closer look at our expectations to see if they are realistic or unrealistic.  I struggled with self-worth issues the majority of my life, and have just recently, in the last year and a half, learned that the majority of our thought patterns stem from how we see ourselves, as well as the past experiences we've had.  I've found myself, many times, comparing a current situation with one from the past because I was having the same negative, hurtful feelings I had from the past.  Sometimes we place unrealistic expectations on others as a result of our own insecurities, which means we are looking to others to give us our worth and value; that's the wrong place to look for those things.  Your worth and value do not come from any outside source.  Our worth and value are found solely in God.  He created you for His divine purpose and He loves you and sees you as a priceless treasure.  You may not feel valuable, but you are.  Our feelings have nothing to do with how God sees us.  Our feelings can be deceiving and lead us to believe things that just aren't true.

Another thing we tend to do is give the power we have for our own happiness away.  We do this by placing expectations on others to keep us "fluffed up" and happy.  We seek out other people who will constantly feed our insecurities and keep us built up because we struggle with self-worth issues.  So, instead of looking at the real problem, which is our own insecurities, we mistakenly place unrealistic expectations on others to keep us happy, and when they fail to make us feel a certain way, we resort to blaming them for not being there for us, or not being a good friend, or not caring about us.  It's a vicious cycle that I lived for many years.  I always looked to others to keep me built up and when they failed to do that, I would feel worthless and unloved.  When you look to others to keep you fluffed up, it's just a temporary fix.  There will be no lasting change in the way you feel about yourself until you realize that you have insecurity issues that need to be addressed.  Then you can begin to change the way you think.  No one can consistently make you feel good about yourself.  I can tell you from personal experience, if you are placing those types of expectations on someone else, it will suck the peace and the life right out of them.  It will get to the point where they no longer want to be around you anymore.  If you've ever had another person place expectations on you that you just could not live up to, you will understand how much pressure it can create in a relationship.  So, take a closer look at what you're expecting from others, and from yourself, to see if it's realistic or not.  You may find that many of those expectations are impossible for anyone to live up to, which will only set you and others up for failure.

I've also found that sometimes people will have certain expectations of other people, yet they do no hold themselves to the same expectations.  Having a double standard for things like this will cause resentment and hurt in a relationship.

Many times we have unrealistic expectations about how others should think, act, and feel.  We oftentimes base these expectations on how we think they should respond, which is based on how we would respond in a particular situation.  The problem with this is that everyone is different and does not think, act, or feel the same way we do.  There have been quite a few situations where another person responded in a way that caused me hurt and even caused harm, however, what I failed to realize is that they responded the way they did because that's how they think, and expecting anything more was only setting myself up for disappointment.  The way people think and the background they come from shapes how they respond and react to things that happen.  Many people come from abusive backgrounds, which can definitely hinder logical thinking, and cause them to respond in a way that is hurtful.  Does that mean we should just let people treat us any way they want?  No, not at all.  That's where boundaries come into play.  There should be consequences for other people's behavior when it is causing hurt and harm.  Many times we can talk to someone about how they are treating us and work through things, and at other times there may be people who get offended and defensive because they feel that we are attacking them or judging them, which may not even be the case, but because of their negative way of thinking, that's how they see it.  In cases like this, sometimes distance may be the best answer to allow others to work through their own issues.

Once we've looked closer at our expectations, established whether our expectations are realistic or not, we can then begin to take the necessary steps to make changes where they need to be made.  One thing to remember is that there are only certain things within our own power that we can change.  This does not include other people.  What we can do may include taking the initiative to go talk with someone about the expectations we have that are not being met, and discuss what can be done to rectify the situation.  This person may not even be aware of your expectations, so try to be patient in sharing your feelings with them.  Another thing we can do is to ask ourselves, "Am I expecting perfection?"  We may need to lower the expectations we have for ourselves, certain situations, and others.  Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we are on others.  You are not superhuman.  We all have our limits and to expect more than what you can do is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.  And finally, we may need to come to terms with the fact that the expectations we have may not work out the way we want them to.  I've had to do that with some of the expectations I've had about other people, certain situations, as well as about God.  Sometimes our own expectations have created our disappointments.  There are certain things I've decided to trust God with because they are out of my control.  As much as I want to see things work the way I would like them to, I know I have no control over any of it.  That doesn't mean I am not still dealing with the disappointment and hurt from those unmet expectations, but I am learning to see things from a different perspective.  Here are a few expectations we are sure to win with:

*God knows my heart and He loves me, therefore I will expect Him to do what's best for me.

*His mercies are new every morning, therefore I expect His mercies to never run out.

*He has promised to never leave me, nor forsake me, therefore I expect Him to always be there, no matter what.

*Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for me, therefore I expect Him to come back and get me when it's ready.

*God knows the plans He has for me. He said they are plans for good and not evil, plans to give me a future and a hope, therefore I expect that He is well able to bring to pass all that He wants in my life.

Our expectations may not always be met, but there is One who will do above and beyond all we expect or imagine.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pearl of the Day: What Was I Expecting?

"Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life."  ~Marilu Henner

Do you struggle with disappointment and discouragement because of unmet expectations?  Do you feel like your faith is being pushed to the limit because of unfulfilled dreams and desires?  It's so hard when you have expectations and desires about certain things that have not come to pass.  There have been so many times where I have been disappointed when things didn't turn out the way I was expecting or hoping they would.  As a matter of fact, I've had to come to terms with some situations over the last couple of days that have not turned out the way I was hoping they would, and quite honestly, I don't know if they ever will.  I've had to take a good hard look at the way I've been dealing with these things.  I've discovered some pretty interesting things that I would like to share with you over the next couple of days.  I believe it will really help you if you have struggled in this area as I have.

Expectations- something looked forward to, whether hoped for or feared; anticipation.

We all have expectations.  Having expectations is not a bad thing.  We have certain expectations of people, life, ourselves, and even certain expectations of God.  We go through each day with expectations, whether we realize it or not.  We normally base our expectations on past experiences we've had, our belief system, and sometimes how we were brought up as a child.  The expectations we have can either be realistic or unrealistic.  Let's take a look at some examples of realistic expectations:

*I expect to have electricity in my home since I am paying the electric company to provide it.
*I expect my husband to be supportive and understanding of me when I'm going through difficulties.
*I expect my van to start when I get in it to go somewhere.
*I expect others to treat me with respect and consideration.

Now, let's look at these same expectations with a different twist on them that will make them unrealistic:

*I expect to have electricity in my home at all times, even when there are major storms that blow trees down on the lines, since I am paying the electric company to provide it.
*I expect my husband to be supportive and understanding of me when I'm going through difficulties, even when I give him the silent treatment and expect him to read my mind without telling him what's bothering me.
*I expect my van to start when I get in it to go somewhere, even though I ran out of gas coming up the driveway earlier.
*I expect others to treat me with respect and consideration at all times.

I know a few of those examples are a little far-fetched, but the point I'm trying to make is that our expectations can go from realistic to unrealistic by failing to realize that things do not always go the way we think they should, or the way we would like them to.  I would love it if other people always treated me with respect and consideration, but you and I both know that it's unrealistic to think that will happen all the time.  Even though I try to treat people the way I want to be treated, that doesn't mean they will treat me the same way.  I am only setting myself up for disappointment if I believe that will happen.

We have no control over other people and how they choose to respond to certain situations.  We also have very little control over life in general.  We have no control over God.  The only control we have is over ourselves, and even then we have to be careful about the expectations we place on ourselves because they can be unrealistic and distorted.  This can be a very big problem for some people, especially if you have struggled with self-worth issues.  I've struggled with these things myself.  The expectations we place on ourselves and others, based on what we think should or should not happen, can cause us to feel powerless and discouraged when things don't go the way we want them to.

This is where I will close for today my friends.  I will pick back up with the conclusion tomorrow.  I have really had to take a closer look at the expectations I have of others, my life, myself, and God, over the last couple of days.  It has definitely been a learning experience for me.  I would like to leave you with this:  Even when others fall short of your expectations, that is not a reflection of your worth and value.  Your worth and value are not determined by the way others treat you or how your life is going.  Many times we mistakenly base our happiness on the things we have no control over.  Don't give the power for your own happiness away.  You are the only one who can determine and control your own happiness.  Until next time my friends, be blessed!

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.  If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.   If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.  If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.  The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.  Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.   For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." ~Kent M. Keith

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hey there my bloggy friends! Just wanted to let you know that I will be posting a new message in the morning. Things just didn't work out today for me to get today's pearl on.  Thank you so much for your understanding and your patience.  I hope you will stop back by tomorrow for Tuesday's Pearl of the Day entitled, "What Was I Expecting?"  Until then my friends, be blessed!