Tripping Over Today

“We’re looking so forward to tomorrow that we’re tripping over today. God has placed you where you are, right now, totally on purpose.” 31 Days to Thrive, Day 24, from Casting Crowns.

Those words particularly struck me this morning. I was wide awake the night before last, tossing and turning at 3:30 in the morning, with my mind going 90 miles per hour over my to-do list for work.

I was angry at myself for thinking about all of these things, when I really couldn’t do anything about them at that moment.

Even through my frustration, I was praying for God to settle my mind… I knew He had things in hand, yet there I was, wrestling with my thoughts in the middle of the night. Did I really have faith?

Yes, I have faith, I just have weak moments.

So, this morning’s devotional about tripping over today hit home a little bit. All of my concerns were about an event that’s a month away. And while there is preparation and planning to be done, my focus needs to be on one item at a time. Plowing through my list and knowing God is in control. My panic about doing everything right, making sure everything is done, took over and God took the backseat.

Time to change that. Time to focus on today and the blessings and challenges and the plans God has for me TODAY.

I remember an old saying that stated: God is my co-pilot. Well, that needs to change.   God is my pilot and all I need to do is focus on today.

How about you? Are you tripping over today worrying about tomorrow? How do you focus on today?

Being There

As I write this, the world is talking about the shocking passing of Robin Williams. As the TV talking heads are going through his television and movie credits, I realize how many of his movies I’ve seen… and loved.  It is incredibly sad to lose such a great talent.

But through all of this discussion, this man who is being heralded as a comic legend, who entertained millions, has suddenly become very human.  Yes, we tend to put celebrities on a pedestal, forgetting that along with their immense talent, they are human beings, going through this life of ups and downs, marriage, children and everything else.

Obviously, Robin Williams was battling more.  He was always open about substance abuse, but did many of us realize he struggled with depression?  Severe depression.

It’s almost inconceivable that someone who was so loved and admired was in such a dark and lonely place where he was driven to take his own life.  He brought such laughter to everyone else, but couldn’t find the joy for himself. It’s tragic.

I’m almost embarrassed with my last post, when I talk about “wallowing” in my own sadness of recent events in my life.  Thankfully, I haven’t been to the darkest place where I’ve thought of a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  I always knew I’d pull out of this and things would get better.

But I didn’t share with many how sad I was feeling.  I don’t always share, because I don’t want to burden others, I don’t want to come across as a whiner, and I don’t want to be considered a negative person.

Was that mindset preventing me from getting the support and encouragement I needed at the time?  How do you balance reaching out without being a whiner?  How do you invite people in without pushing them away?

Hopefully, more discussion will come from this awful passing of Robin Williams about depression, about how to help others.  One thing I heard this morning was just be there. You may not be able to solve the problem, but you can come along beside someone and just remind them that they mean something to you, that their life has value.

Maybe this is a reminder to all of us to hug your family and friends and say “I love you.”  I hate that we have to be reminded, and that we’re usually reminded when someone else has died. We need make this part of our daily lives.

Life is short.  Reach out to someone.  Touch base.  Just be with someone today and hold their hand, give them a hug…. heck, just smile at someone and wish them a wonderful day.

What a difference we could make if we all did that every day.

Wallowing

I haven’t written in a few weeks because I’m not sure what I have to say these days…. and truthfully, I’m wallowing a little bit. Wallowing, feeling sorry for myself, just a little sad.

Okay, I have good reason for my sadness. Two of my aunts passed away a day apart, and my cousin (the daughter of one of those aunts) has been diagnosed with cancer. There is sadness these days.

Usually, I find a positive spirit, lean on friends and family, and most of all, my faith to get me through.

It’s taking me longer to find that happier place right now.

I want to be positive, so I can help support my cousin as she faces her treatments. I want to focus on the happy memories of my aunts and how blessed we all were to be part of their amazing lives.

I need to get focused, as my job right now is hectic and busy.

Yet, I find myself wallowing… it’s not a fun cycle to be in right now.

So, I’m not doing well at anything because I’m in this state of mind. I can tell I’m getting sick of it, and I think the breakthrough is coming. I can’t stay in darkness.

My aunts nor my cousin would want this.

It’s time to break out of the cycle. I’m trying to keep up with my exercising. I’m having lunch with friends, spending time with my hubby….

Hopefully, I’m almost there. Hopefully…

Do you have any words of wisdom for me?

What do you do to break out of a cycle of sadness? I’d love to hear from you.

Swimming Upstream

Are there times when you feel like you’re going against the tide? Or that your beliefs are counter to the world’s beliefs?

These days as a Christian, I feel like I’m swimming upstream.

I long for a time when people knew it was okay to “agree to disagree.” Everyone is different, we are created different, so we’re all not going to think alike or act alike or be alike. And by not being alike, well, that keeps life interesting!

But if I happen not to agree with someone, I’m somehow called “intolerant.”salmon-swimming-upstream-1

That’s so not true!

You don’t have to believe as I do. But I ask that you respect my views, even if you don’t understand them or think they’re outdated or ridiculous. I may not understand your views, lifestyles or beliefs, but you’re a fellow human being. Because I don’t agree, doesn’t make me intolerant. It just means I don’t agree. Feel free to live your life as you choose.

But please do me the same courtesy. Allow me to have my beliefs. We can discuss what each other believes and why, but we may not come to a meeting of the minds. Does that make us enemies? No. It means we’re citizens of this world with opposing viewpoints. Respect mine and I’ll respect yours.

This day in age though, if I disagree with someone, I’m intolerant, hypocritical or worse. All of that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love people. I may not love what you do or how you live… and in turn, you may not love what I do or how I choose to live, but don’t call me names for it. Let’s just agree to disagree.

Maybe that way, none of us will feel like we’re swimming upstream.

Family Reunions: From Angst to Fun

A note from Becky:  As a lot of you know, I come from a large extended family, and enjoy time with them, as well as with my husband’s family.  Summer time seems to bring out the occasions of family gatherings, including graduations, weddings and family reunions.  My friend, Jennifer Slattery, provides a guest post this week talking about family reunions.  Enjoy!

reunion

“I don’t want to go.” I crossed my arms, a very mature pout taking residence on my face. “Tell them I’m busy. The house is an absolute mess, and if I don’t tackle it soon, all sorts of critters will take up permanent residence in the pantry.” Except the reunion wasn’t for another month, giving me plenty of time to clean, if I chose. “Then there’s the Johnsons. They’re expecting a baby,, and they’ve already got two toddlers underfoot. What if Melinda ends up having a C-section and really needs my help? Besides, we’re on a budget, remember?”

Though the above situation is fictional, it’s symbolic of what my attitude looked like for more than a couple years. An attitude that didn’t please my husband in the slightest, nor should it have. This was his family, after all. Our daughter’s family, and, well, mine, too, thanks to the glimmering rock on my finger.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like my in-laws. Rather, I was convinced they didn’t like me. Which may have been true to some extent. After all, I didn’t attend the family get-togethers with the best attitude. Seriously, who wants to be around a scowling, defensive adult? We expect to leave those types of encounters behind in junior high with our pimple cream and blue-glitter eye-shadow.

It’s funny, how negativity worked. Convinced my in-laws hated me and thought I was the worst thing that had happened to my husband ever, I brought a swirl of negativity into every situation.

This tainted my perceptions and caused me to view normal comments as attacks and casual questions as interrogations.

Because that’s what negative thinking does-it skews our perceptions, heightens our insecurities, and leads to all sorts of miscommunication.

This continued for some time until one day, in a moment of frustration, I made a comment to my mother-in-law. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember her response: “We’re only treating you like a daughter.”

This took me aback and caused me to reevaluate years of interchange, and as I did, I realized the problem wasn’t with my in-laws, but rather with me.

It’s been years since receiving that a-ha moment, and my, how things have changed. I’ve come to see how incredibly caring my extended family is; caring and hilarious. So much so, that I now look forward to and cherish those reunions I once dreaded.

I think we all have tendencies to bring negativity into certain situations, carrying with us lies we’ve come to believe and that, if unchecked, we project onto others. But most often, when we cast those lies aside, we find those situations that gave us the most angst can actually become times of joy and peace.

What about you? Do you get along with your in-laws? I think many of us go through an awkward merging stage, of getting to know one another, meshing different personalities, attempting to unite or tweak different family traditions. But family is family, which means, you’re stuck with those people for the long haul. You might as well learn to love them. J

For those of you who don’t get along with your in-laws, did my experience resonate with you, even a smidgeon? Pause for a moment to consider your attitude and perceptions. Are you bringing any negativity in thought or action into the situation? How might things be different if you set those aside, viewing the encounter through an untainted lens?

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Slattery will be celebrating her nineteenth wedding anniversary with the man of her dreams and her best friend this summer. The two of them enjoy taking long, leisurely walks together, going on coffee dates, and foregoing dinner for a gianormous tub of frozen yogurt. When Jennifer’s not spending time with her hubby or their hilariously fun teenage daughter, she’s most likely attached to a book or her keyboard. She writes missional romance novels for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for her personal blog and Internet Café Devotions. You can visit her online at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com or dive into one of her fictional worlds by purchasing her debut novel, Beyond I Do.

beyond I doAbout the book:

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiancé or tear them apart?

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Transitions in Life

What’s the old saying? The only thing that is constant is change.  Something like that.

I’ve been thinking recently about transitions in life.  Although we may say we wish our kids would stay little, or that we could stay in high school or college forever, or that we could stay 25 years old and not grow older, we know that life doesn’t work that way.

And it’s usually for the better. When we don’t go through the transitions in life and go on to the next stage, we’ll miss something wonderful that God has planned for us.

My niece just graduated high school, the last of her siblings to do so. My niece was such a cute baby and I wanted to coddle her forever.  Her big sister and I were very close and I have memories of her toddling to me and lifting her arms so I could pick her up.

Precious memories.  What would’ve happened if we stopped time right there?  Obviously, things like my one niece’s high school graduation and the excitement and hopes we have for her as she moves on to college would be gone. We wouldn’t see her blossoming into the young woman filled with sky-high, wonderful dreams.

With my other niece, if time had stopped when she still held her arms up for me to carry her, we would’ve missed her wedding, and her beautiful son.  Would I trade meeting my great-nephew to keep his mother as a toddler?  Look what we would’ve missed!  No way!

Most times, we’re nervous graduating college.  The bubble of academia and college life was something we quickly got used to. What would the real world be like?

Yet, if we don’t transition, then we miss out on marriage, family, and watching our own kids grow.

Transitions are scary, there’s no doubt.  But I wouldn’t want to miss the journey going from my own wedding day, to the day I went wedding dress shopping with my own daughter to watching her being escorted down the aisle by her father. If I could’ve stayed young, I  would’ve missed too many sweet moments.

I look forward to growing old(er) with my husband. We made the transition from a house full of teenagers to empty nest.  And yes, the empty nest time has been very sweet.  But when the next transition comes along, possibly of grandchildren, you can bet I’ll be standing in that doorway ready to leap.

Life is scary. Growing up and growing older can be frightening.  But I don’t want to stagnate — and I don’t want to miss the next exciting part of my life that God has planned.

What about you? Were some transitions in your life more difficult than others?

 

Expect the Unexpected

The words “expect the unexpected” should be a familiar phrase to most of us.  It illustrates what life is all about.  Just when we think things are routine or even boring… BAM!  Something unexpected comes along.

Most who know me, know that I’m a big fan of tennis. No, I don’t play much anymore, but I love watching, especially the grand slams.  If you look back at my blog posts, there will be at least one tennis related post during the summer months.

Currently, I’m watching the French Open. And as tends to happen in the tournaments, today is looking to be “upset day.”  Already, the #1 seed on the women’s side, Serena Williams is out.  Her sister, Venus, followed shortly thereafter.  The #2 seed on the women’s side, Li Na, lost yesterday.  And the #3 seed on the men’s side, and current Australian Open champion, Stan Wawrinka (what a great inspiration from the Australian Open!) lost in his opening round match.

Some say tennis might be boring, with Nadal, Federer and Djokovich dominating the top of the game.  However, along comes Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Wawrinka and the hold at the top isn’t quite so tight.  (Watch out for Del Potro if we can get him healthy!).  Today, we saw that the Williams sisters can have their off days and are no longer invincible.  The women’s game is quite wide open these days.

I remember when Sampras and Agassi were the top players.  Heck, I go back to the days of Borg (one of my favorites) and McEnroe, who had such epic battles…with Lendl and Edberg always close.  Remember Evert and Navratilova? Steffi Graf?

As great as these top tennis players are, they all have dealt with the unexpected. Despite the routine of training and working hard at their craft, they’ll have an off day.  Is it the end of their career? No.

Serena Williams lost in the first round of the French Open a couple of years ago.  Shocking at the time. But was it the end of her time at the French Open? No way.  She came back last year and won the entire tournament!

So, she lost in the second round today.  She’ll use this loss as motivation. Watch out for the rest of this year and for the French Open next year!

On the unexpected days, we need to roll with the punches. Learn from the loss and move on to be better next time.

Sometimes the unexpected days are for good (Stan Warwrinka breaking the stranglehold of the top four winning all the grand slams or Andy Murray winning Wimbledon last year), and that should inspire confidence to move forward, striving with more confidence to your goals.

While we can get comfortable in our routines, we need to know the unexpected is coming. It can make us stronger, teach us and help us grow.

So, in life, learn to expect the unexpected.  Even if it seems to be negative, it’s something that can be turned into a positive.  It’s up to us and our attitude to make it good.