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.

Being Positive, Even on a Bad Day

I’m feeling like a bit of a louse recently. Whether I can cite the excuse of the holidays, or how busy work is, or whatever, those reasons don’t excuse poor behavior.

I was unintentionally sharp with someone, who didn’t deserve my attitude, and who happened to be on the receiving end of a bad day.

We’re all guilty of snapping at someone who was just in the way of our bad mood. But because we all may understand that doesn’t make it right, and now I feel like a heel.

I’ve done what I can to rectify the situation. But that impression of me and my actions are still out there and still affected this person.

No matter how nice I will be going forward, does this person I treated poorly have a long memory or will my actions always be part of how they treat me going forward?

I can’t take it back.

What lessons can be learned?

First – the golden rule still applies: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. In other words, treat others with kindness. In fact, I love the phrase “kill them with kindness.” If someone is being rude and having a bad day, the best way to diffuse the situation is to stay calm and treat them with kindness.

I’ve found the yelling or matching their level of rudeness only escalates the situation.

Second – the other lesson I’ve learned is to be forgiving. It is true that if you hold a grudge against someone, even if they are in the wrong, you’re the only one who continues to be hurt. You’re not hurting them by holding that grudge and by remaining angry.

We all need to “Let Go and Let God.”

God needs to work through me to make me aware of my actions and how those actions affect others. My thoughts, actions and words can have a positive influence or a negative influence.

When I had that bad day recently and exhibited poor behavior to someone else, I may have hurt them, but I’ve also hurt myself.

The whole conversation would’ve turned out different had I been able to hold my tongue, answered their questions and moved on, instead of lashing out at them.

Taking a deep breath, not having a snap response, especially when it’s not a good day, can make all the difference…not just to someone else, but to myself as well.

To the person to whom I snapped, I hope they forgive me. And I hope I show that same spirit of forgiveness the next time someone else has a bad day and snaps at me.

How do you handle your bad days? What do you say when you do have a bad day and have hurt others?

How do you show a spirit of forgiveness?

I’d love to hear from you so maybe we can all help each other be a positive influence.

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.

The Simple Things and a Positive Attitude

Last week, I talked about finding peace during the holiday season.  Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you ask for.  In this case, it’s all positive.

I live in the Dallas area, and last week, the great ice storm of 2013 hit. The picture below is the view outside my living room window.

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So, with the ice storm, hubby and I were stuck inside. No way to venture out when there’s 3″ of ice on the ground. It seemed the entire area shut down for the weekend.

We were fortunate. I had shopped ahead of time, so we had plenty of food. (How come all I want to do is EAT when I’m stuck inside!) We never lost power either.  We turned the weekend into relaxing time together, watching Christmas movies and basically unplugging.

Several friends of ours lost power during the storm. One couple in particular lost power for about 21 hours.  Remember, the temperatures were in the 20s outside, with wind chills in the teens. Even inside a house, it gets cold quickly.  But our friends were amazing. They had such a wonderful attitude.

They posted pictures on Facebook (while they still had battery power) of their roaring fire in the fireplace, they talked about catching up on their reading, playing Scrabble by candlelight, and making s’mores!

I’m sure it was an uncomfortable, and maybe a little scary for them. But they accepted the day with grace, humor and a wonderfully positive attitude.  They focused on the simple things and got through the day with a smile.

And when the power was restored, you can imagine the celebration!  They were thankful to the power crews who were working hard and late into the night, instead of complaining.

I think the lesson here is clear. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the busyness of our lives (especially during the holiday season), and we’re so “plugged in” with our smart phones, tablets, computers and more, that we’ve forgotten how to slow down, unplug and enjoy the simple things.

Scrabble by candlelight?  Sounds delightful to me!

Don’t wait for an ice storm to force you to slow down.  Take a day, unplug, and revel in the simple things in life. As a Christian, our day of rest is suppose to be Sunday.  But even that day can get busy.  We need to make the conscious choice to just stop and enjoy a quieter day.

So, tell me, how do you unplug? How do you slow down to notice, and more importantly, partake in the simpler things around you?

The Small Moments

The last few blog posts have been about blending a family together. I’ve talked about the positives of this, because there are so many positives that come from opening your heart and making the choice to be a family.

I will never know the feeling of being pregnant, giving birth and holding my own child in my arms for the first time. But I am blessed to have the kids I have via marriage.

I jumped in with both feet with two teenagers and I don’t think I’d trade it for anything. I have a close relationship with both my kids.

My daughter was younger, and my husband had to travel a lot for his job, so she and I had to find our own way together. Our fondest memories are our afternoon movie when school got out. We’d have popcorn and hang out on the couch and watch a chick flick. Like any mother and daughter, we could get on each other’s nerves on occasion. But we couldn’t stand to stay angry at each other. Our “fights” lasted about 10 minutes, then one or the other would apologize for our outburst and then we’d break out the hugs and the popcorn to set our world back to rights.

My son was 17 when my husband and I married. While I knew he and I would get along and be ‘friends’ — I guess I didn’t expect a deep parent/child relationship with him. I expected him to only be home another year and a half as he finished high school, then he’d leave for college. He’d be too caught up in the fun of high school, girlfriends, proms and planning for college. Oh yes, let’s not forget his rock ‘n roll band in the garage (which had to score me some points as the coolest “stepmonster” around!) 🙂

Remember, he is technically my husband’s step-son. He has his Dad and another step-mom that he’d go see most weekends. So, he was surrounded with parents already by the time I came along. But lo and behold, our ‘mother/son’ relationship did begin to develop.

We talked… we were interested in what was going on in each other’s lives. And yes, I was cool because he could have the garage band — and I always seemed to have enough food to feed the army of teenagers that invaded our house. He lived at home an extra year before he left for college. I was glad I had more time with him than I expected, all for the good. Fast forward to last month.

My son is married now, but thankfully lives about 5 miles from us. He and his wife took a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate their anniversary and her birthday. My husband and I got to babysit their dog. Yep, we have a grand-dog.

My husband and kids always had dogs. There were four of them when my husband and I were dating. We had three dogs until 2007. I never grew up with dogs, I wasn’t used to them. My kids have spent all this time trying to get me attached to the dogs.

Well, when my son came over to pick up his dog, he found me in the backyard with her, playing with her. He couldn’t resist teasing me about turning into a dog lover. I’m not sure I’d call myself a dog lover, but I do like his dog. And I guess it showed.

Anyway, on this particular day, we sat on my back porch, playing with the dog and just talked. We didn’t talk about anything too deep or world-changing, and it wasn’t for a long period of time. But it was still a sweet time. Especially because he couldn’t resist teasing me about playing with the dog.

I don’t think I ever want to take for granted mornings like that one. Where I can just sit with my son, talk about stuff, and end with promises of dinner with him and his wife sometime soon.

Our kids are precious. Anyone who is a parent knows this. My husband and I have held on to the idea that children belong to God… and we’re only entrusted with them for a brief time. At some point, you have to let them go and have to let them grow up. But if you’ve used that time wisely, then you can have those special back porch moments, chatting with your adult son while playing fetch with his dog.

So, what are some of your special moments with your kids? Please feel free to share.