Perspective

Have you ever reached a point where you feel like things are crashing down around you? You’re burnt out with your job, annoyed with your spouse, even fed-up with friends? Nothing’s really wrong, except that you just feel fried by life. You need a vacation!

That’s where I was recently. Nothing was really wrong. Life is good. My grandchildren are beautiful (I’m having the best time crocheting toys for them!). And my husband and I are in a good place with jobs and our marriage.

So, what’s the deal? Why do I feel like I need Calgon to take me away? (I’m may be giving away my age with that reference!).

But as I attempted to have a pity party with myself, another part of me stood up to smack me in the head. The other part of me remembered where I was 10 years ago this month. How things have changed, but how good things have been in the last decade.

You see, ten years ago, I was diagnosed with my second bout with cancer. Something we had thought we had beaten five years earlier reared its ugly head again, in a slightly different form, and tried to take over my life, or more accurately, take my life.

Facing my cancer diagnosis together

This time, I had a double mastectomy, but chose not to have chemotherapy. It was an aggressive cancer to be sure, but the reasons for chemo just weren’t there. I’ve had my share of radiation from my first time with breast cancer.

So, as I think back at that time in my life, the diagnosis coming right before my birthday (the picture was taken on my birthday, knowing the diagnosis but still not knowing what the treatment would be), and the surgery coming a month later, I realize I have NOTHING to be down about. Since that time, I’ve been blessed with my children’s marriages, and two beautiful grandchildren. Yes, there’s been tough times, including cancer battles for my mother and brother, but there’s been so much joy, too. And many, many blessings.

When I feel down, or annoyed, or fed up, it doesn’t hurt to still want a vacation. It’s good to take a break. But I need to put these feelings in perspective. I’m still here. I’m strong. I’m healthy. I’m tremendously blessed with family and friends.

No time for a pity party here. It’s time to celebrate 10-years of being cancer-free instead. That’s my kind of party!

How do you keep perspective?

Scoring For the Other Team

This past weekend, the Senior Pastor at my church delivered a message called “Know Your Enemy.” Our enemy is Satan, a fallen angel. This enemy can have us turn on each other. He can have us do things that take us further from our walk with Christ.

Our pastor gave a good analogy of how sometimes we think we are doing good and doing the right thing, but maybe we’re not. Like a hockey player who has the puck but he is going the wrong way down the ice towards the opponent’s goal, and ends up scoring for the other team.

How often have I scored for the other team by my actions or attitude? Am I doing what I want or want Christ wants?

I’m also studying Romans 8 right now, via Dineen Miller’s “You Are Loved” book. In Roman’s 8:1, it states: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Dineen also states that the enemy’s mission is to condemn us and destroy our faith. If we have no condemnation as Christ followers, then how can the enemy do this to us? Easy – he is a deceiver. And if we’re not paying attention, then we’re scoring for the other team.

We need to remember how Jesus treated others. Are we so busy judging everyone else that we forget to take a look at ourselves? Are we so self-focused that we don’t care what anyone else is doing? Do we say, “I have to get there faster, I have to take care of my own stuff, I’ll ignore that because it has nothing to do with me.”

If we are no longer condemned as Christ followers, then what gives us any right to condemn others? If we are forgiven and set free, why can’t we forgive others? If someone lives a lifestyle different than mine, am I treating them with kindness or am I condemning them? Judging them? Spitting in their face because they’re different than me?

Or are we so busy trying to shine our light for Jesus that we end up with a strobe light in someone’s face instead? How can they see the light of Christ when we’re blinding them? Blinding with our attitudes and judgment.

It’s a dark world, but we know who has the ultimate victory. So, this week, as I think through all of this, I have to ask myself, “Is my light shining brighter in kindness, or in condemnation?”

In other words, I don’t want to keep scoring for the other side.

 

 

Is Your Stuff Weighing You Down?

Have you ever reached a point where your stuff overwhelms you? Stuff meaning your material possessions, your social media or any other distractions that take you away from your family or work.
Coffee Bar
Recently, my husband and I did a remodel of our kitchen. We took down a wall to add a coffee bar. On the other side of that wall is our master bedroom closet. It’s always a little scary digging in to a closet to take some footage away, so we remodeled our closet as well to maximize the space. (I love being married to an architect, who is also into construction!)

It seemed this was an obvious time to go through my closet and do some major purging. Ugh! Just the thought of digging through all of my stuff was overwhelming. It would be so much easier to shove everything back in the closet and ignore it. But no, there was just too many clothes. This was ridiculous. Time to purge!

I was brutal. Even if I loved a particular item of clothing, if it didn’t fit me today, right now, then it went. I only kept what fit me now. No more saving that pair of pants for when I lost weight, or hanging on to that oversized shirt in case I gained weight again. It had to fit me today.
Nine Bags
I was brutal with my shoes as well. Even if they were cute, if they rubbed my heel or squashed my toes, they were gone. If I hadn’t worn them in years, they were gone. I literally had a pair of heels that I hadn’t worn in over 25 years!!! They were still in good shape but why was I keeping them? Out they finally went. In the end, I filled nine – count them, NINE large garbage bags with shoes and clothes.

And you know what? It felt GREAT! I felt lighter! I was cleansed! In the process, I found a couple of really cute shirts that I forgot I had that I never wore. So, while I got rid of a lot of clothes, I found some “new” and never worn items to add back in.
New Closet
This major closet cleansing has inspired me to keep going. Right now, I’m focusing on social media and my writing. I subscribe to way too many blogs that are supposed to help me with writing. All they’re doing is creating more noise in my head and taking up too much time.

I also like the latest, greatest program to help organize my writing, or do the best outline, or create characters this way. Well, those are also creating noise. I’m going to find one and stick with it! I don’t need the latest, greatest thing – I need the one that works for me. None of these programs is going to help me a better writer. The only way I can do that is to sit down and write, every day! No program will help me with doing the actual work.

Next will be my kitchen, as we’ve continued with the remodel by replacing all of our kitchen cabinets and moving some things around. Time to get brutal – I mean, how many spatulas does a girl really need? We’ll soon find out.

So, here’s hoping I can carry this “cleansing” attitude around for a while. I’ve been weighed down for a long time without even realizing it. By simplifying and purging, I’ve lightened my load and regained my focus.

How about you? How do you keep from being weighed down by stuff?

The Daily Decision

You know those times when you’re reading a blog post or a meme and something just jumps out at you and smacks you in the face. It’s happened to me a couple of times. (Hmmm… I need to put all of those sayings together so I can remember what smacked me in the face).decisions-by

Anyway, I had words smack me again today. I was reading a blog about being a writer and the challenges that can be faced with choosing a writing career. (Check out the post on Seekerville by Debby Giusti).

Debby said that you have to make a decision to write. Talk about words leaping off the page: you have to choose. You have to make the decision. Such a simple thing, but somehow it smacked me. I have a really made the decision to pursue writing? If so, then it’s a choice DAILY to sit down and write.

I think that’s true with most things in life. You have to choose.

If I really want to pursue a career in writing, I have to make the decision every day to put words on a page.

If I want to blog regularly (ahem!), then I have to choose to think of topics and again, put the words on the page.

If I want to get healthy and lose weight, then I have to choose to exercise or go to the gym. I have to make the decision to eat healthier.

Don’t get me wrong, I know things can happen that can totally derail your daily choices. I’ve had cancer twice, so I get that. I’ve been derailed! But when events happen that change your path, then you still make a choice of how you’re going to handle interruptions to your regular schedule. What will be your next decision?

To accomplish most things in life, you have to make the decision to do it. And do it. It’s a daily decision and a daily choice.

The Look in Her Eyes

I recognized the look in my friend’s eyes. I could see beyond her smile and her hugs. Deep inside, I saw fear. Fear of the unknown she is facing, and the new path she’s now walking. You see, my friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
I could see beyond her brave face, because I’ve been down that road myself…twice.

Our small group gathered around her and her family the night before her first chemo treatment, to pray for her. She was strong, and her faith was evident, but I think only someone who’s walked in similar shoes could see that particular look in her eyes – overwhelmed, fearful, but trusting, because it’s times like these where you need to trust God more than ever.

When you’re told you have cancer, before you can even comprehend those words, you’re suddenly whisked off for a battery of consultations, tests and scheduling.

Cancer barely penetrates your mind, yet it’s looming over everything you do from that moment forward. Your world has shifted upside down, and you’ve stepped on the roller coaster. And it can be quite the ride.
25fec-beckyandvince
Here is a picture of my husband and me where I can see “that look” in my own eyes. This was taken on a Sunday, on my birthday. We were having a great day, enjoy the celebration with friends. But the Friday before, I had been diagnosed with my second bout of cancer, and the next day, a new round of tests, doctors, and mapping out treatment plans was beginning. So, as I turned another year older, I knew that year was going to be challenging, and scary, yet I had my husband right by my side and my faith to guide me. But I still had that fearful look of not knowing quite what to expect, trying to hang on to faith, while facing an unknown, frightening path.

It’s the look I saw in my friend’s eyes the night we prayed for her.

While I’ve walked in similar shoes as my friend, her journey will be different. Everyone’s is. But I will walk beside her, and pray for her and her husband and family.

That’s all I can do, and trust that God will hold her like He’s held me.

Little Things

This summer seems to be filled with anger from an ugly political season and violence. Many people I know are also facing tough times, with health issues and tragic deaths in their families. For me, I’m just upset about computer problems. That may seem minor, but my entire job is on the computer and this time of year, having everything work is critical.

Ok, compared to what others are going through, I have no problems. However, all that to say is when you feel surrounded by sadness or anger, how do you battle through? How do you keep from being pulled into the pit of negativity? Life events may take us to negative places, but how do you not stay there?

For me, I find solace in little things. Admittedly, sometimes I have to look hard for the little things that are positive, but they’re there. The other night, in the midst of my computer frustration, a friend texted me. The conversation evolved from what I’m not doing to how to reach future goals. She lifted my spirits in unexpected ways.

Then the next day was just coffee and breakfast with a friend. Thinking that I really didn’t have time to be away from my desk, I felt rushed and hurried when I arrived to meet her. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see my friend. But I was concerned about the timing of our visit. As always, God showed up then. That breakfast had good conversation, serious thoughts that moved to laughter, and a sweet morning of sharing. I’m so glad I took the time. It was the boost I needed to power through the rest of my work day.

None of this will solve the grief my friends are experiencing with tragic deaths of relatives, or help others with serious health issues. But friends, family, and little moments can help all of us get through one day to the next. Knowing friends are there for prayers and support are God’s way of saying “I still have this.”

So despite the turmoil surrounding us, we cling to our faith. God’s still got this. He has us! He’ll make a way for us to walk through these trying times.

I’m determined to cling to His promises and to look for the little things.

For a Limited Time

We’re surrounded on a daily basis with advertisements that say “Act Now,” only available “For a Limited Time.” The goal is to make the consumer believe they can’t live without the product or that your life will be enhanced if you have this product RIGHT NOW.
Sandglass-flat
All of that got to me thinking about our life here on earth. Most of the time we walk around with the attitude that we have plenty of time (at least I do). Even after two bouts with cancer, I still feel like I have a long life in front of me. And maybe I do. Only God knows how long I have here.

But most of us also know of someone we lost way too soon, whether it be to cancer, an accident or any other cause. Thinking about a life gone too soon makes all of us not want to take our own lives for granted or throw away the time we have to spend.

We are all on this earth “for a limited time.” So, what are you doing with your limited time?

There are days when I feel like I’m wasting time, throwing away those precious days. If we truly believe we are here for a limited time, then what’s stopping us from achieving our goals? Calling a friend? Telling a family member that you love them?

Our life is precious — let’s make it count, for our limited time.

Fighting Back from Discouragement

We’re several weeks into the New Year… and this is traditionally the time when we’re already failing in our resolutions that we made three weeks ago.

How are you doing with your goals for the year?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of tennis. The first Grand Slam of the year is going on now with the Australian Open. And a major upset of the tournament just happened — Roger Federer lost his match. The first time since 2003 that he won’t be in the second week of the Aussie Open. (This is one of the reasons I feel like he’s the greatest of all time… his consistency in the sport to reach semi-finals and finals of the tournaments…but that’s another discussion for another day.)
Roger-Federer-5-418x300
Last time Federer was upset this early in a slam, everyone was talking that his career was over. It must have been a discouraging time for Roger. His desire to play the game is still so strong, yet, these defeats will happen. So, now, at the ripe old (in tennis years) age of 33, is this his swan song?

I can’t wait to see. After the last time he was defeated early in a grand slam in 2013, he played inspired tennis for 2014, and was so close to reclaiming his #1 ranking. He started out this year with his 1000th career win (see why I believe he’s the greatest of all time?). I believe that Roger will take this defeat and turn it into an even stronger, burning desire to compete and win. I don’t think he’s giving up yet. Wimbledon will definitely be the tournament to watch for him.

Watching tennis inspires me again and again to fight my discouragement. I fought for years with my weight. About 2 1/2 years ago, I started to win the battle and lost 85 pounds! It felt so good. Now, the pounds are creeping back and discouragement is settling in. It would be so easy to have the attitude of giving up and belief that I will never beat this.

That may be true. I’ll be fighting my weight for the rest of my life. However, knowing I have achieved success makes me hungry to achieve that success again. And that takes hard work. Roger Federer is the great tennis player he is from hard work. And like Roger, I need to go back to the “practice court.” Sometimes you have to start with the basics and build back up again.

I need to start with what’s in my diet that’s sabotaging me. I need to get back to my strong exercise routine. We’ll see if I ever equal that 85 pound weight loss again. But I know I need to fight back. I feel stronger, more energized when I know I’m doing the right things. Whether I lose another pound or not, I’m going to fight this discouragement, one day at a time.

Roger will fight his discouragement one practice, one tournament at a time.

So, if you’ve fallen away from the goals you set for the new year, today’s the day to take a step, pick up your racquet and step back on the practice court.

Fight against the discouragement. You might be surprised how far you’ll go.

A Blink of an Eye

It’s amazing how things in your life can change in the blink of an eye… and take you into a completely new direction.

I’ve experienced this personally with my own journey with cancer. It profoundly changes you.

Losing parents and family members will change you. Becoming a parent… and so on…Good things and bad things can change your trajectory.

A couple of people in my life are experiencing things that will profoundly change them.

Sometimes processing the change and the impact it has on you is daunting. Knowing that you’ll never be the same again… but sometimes change is good, even when it starts out as scary or even life-threatening.

Having cancer, I’ve learned to appreciate life more. A lot of the little stuff that could be bothersome are no longer bothersome. Appreciating time with my husband, my kids, family — even watching the seasons change, makes me want to enjoy every day.

I’m a big believer in having a positive attitude. Attitude can help you through the lowest times. My faith in God, the hope that I found with faith also carries me through.

Going through the dark tunnel can bring even brighter days.

We may be resistant to change, but most times we have no choice. So having the positive attitude, and knowing that this won’t last, can carry you through.

After all, something else will come along, in the blink of an eye.

In Our Darkest Moments

NOTE FROM BECKY:  Hi everyone. My friend and fellow writer, Jennifer Slattery, is guesting on my blog today — with a great message of hope.  Please enjoy!

In Our Darkest Moments:
Jennifer Slattery
by Jennifer Slattery

I stood in the back of a large, cafeteria-styled room, Bible in my hand, and stared at the broken women and children in front of me. I’d been asked to speak, to share God’s Word, and never before had I felt the pressure of such a task more intensely.

They sat with hunched shoulders, faces drawn. They’d come for a meal and maybe a bed. The one who pierced my heart most was a teen with thick, tightly curled hair and wide brown eyes. Close to my daughter’s age.

My mother’s heart ached as questions surfaced. How does a homeless child fare in the cruel, clique-laden, shallow halls of high school where poverty is seen as a disease? Does he dream for better? Or drown his pain in busyness and noise? Or booze?

Nothing I could say would fix these women and children’s problems. I couldn’t fill their bellies tomorrow or buffer them from the heat or rain or cold.

But I could share the story of a man who’d been right where they were, one who found glory in the darkness.

His name was Joseph. He was the youngest of twelve sons, favored by his father and despised by his brothers. One day, his brothers turned on him, and his life instantly changed. They stripped him of his robe, threw him in a cistern, and sold him into slavery.

From there, owning nothing and with no hope for aid, he began the long, treacherous journey to Egypt. He arrived in this foreign, pagan land, completely alone, his life at the mercy of the highest bidder.

Or so he thought. But even in the depths of Joseph’s despair, God was watching. And loving Joseph to his very core. In fact, I believe Joseph sensed God’s presence with every step and every bid. Those strong arms surrounding him, buffering him, giving him strength and holding him close.

For a while, things went well. Joseph served with faithfulness, and God blessed him for it. But once again, when he least expected it, a human betrayed him, and Joseph was thrown into a dark, dank prison, indefinitely. No hope of a trial by jury or even a trial at all.

And once again, God was watching, and loving Joseph to his core. I believe Joseph sensed God’s presence with every shiver and hunger pain. Those strong arms surrounding him, giving him strength and holding him close.

Because Joseph clung and surrendered to his Creator, he was able to bring light to a dark and hopeless place. One morning, he noticed two inmates looked upset, so he asked them about it (Genesis 40:5-7). They told him they had two very unsettling dreams, and Joseph used their revelation to point them to God.

This encounter-Joseph’s noticing the pain of other prisoners, compassionately engaging them, and pointing them to God-resulted in Joseph standing before the Pharaoh, the leader of an immensely powerful pagan nation, pointing him, also, to Creator God.

Joseph alone was in a position to speak to those inmates, and God had used his lowly position for something so glorious, pastors preach on this event today!

Had Joseph been consumed with self, he would’ve missed it, and how different this story would’ve been. A lonely man, betrayed first by family than by strangers, left to die in a dark, dank prison.

This was the message I gave those women, and it’s the one I give to you. Each day, we have countless “Joseph” moment, opportunities to look past our circumstances to those God sets before us, individuals in need of hope.

In need of God.

Will we allow God to use us in our lowly, broken state, for His glory?

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Slattery/e/B00JKQ4ZTW/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

Beyond I Do:
beyond I do
Released Sept. 2014

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

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 ignite 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.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here: http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858